I figured I couldn't start the blog back up with any kind of clear conscious until I shared some of the adventures Monika and I had while we went back to visit my family in Maine.
I left my camera behind because the last time I traveled to Maine I discovered that packing too much in this day and age of charging for checked bags was not a good idea. Plus, I grew up in Maine. I've seen it. And, Monika was there with her camera.
And she's much more camera happy than I'll ever be. So, I let her take all the shots while I tried to relax. Of course, the problem with her using her camera was it took me a while to get some of the photos she took so I could post them to the blog.
But, last night I finally got to go through all the photos she took and pull out a couple of my favorites.
Monika was already having me take pictures of her "on vacation" the moment we set foot in the Denver airport. I actually even found a few she took while I was paying the guy from Super Shuttle for driving us down to the airport. Like I said, she is camera happy and didn't want to miss any part of the trip.
So, of course, the moment we landed in Portland she took a photo of the sign welcoming us.
And, if it wasn't enough to take a shuttle and then an airplane to go on vacation there was also a boat ride in our future if we were going to get to my parent's house before dark.
It's always a welcome sight to see Peaks Island coming into view off the bow of one of the ferry boats. It always feels like I am coming home when I see that image.
My parent's house hasn't changed a bit since I was there last. The house was the same, the feeling was the same and, of course, the beautiful view was the same.
Nothing seems to calm me down more than watching the sun set on the front lawn of my parent's house while feeling the cool evening breeze of late summer/early fall.
But, not one to sit and relax, Monika had a few plans for us. Early in the trip Monika wanted to take a walk around the island. The problem with walking around an island is that you get to a point somewhere in the journey where, no matter how tired you are, it's actually easier to just keep going forward than it is to quit, give up, and walk back the way you came.
I don't think Monika realized how far it was and when we finally go back to the house Monika collapsed in the front yard, just a few feet from the front door.
But, she made it!
Another idea Monika came up with was to take my Mom and I on something called a "Duck Tour".
It's a guided tour of Portland with a guy telling us all about the city's history. I wasn't really enthused about it. Imagine growing up somewhere, living there your whole life, hoping to escape, and someone then taking you back there for a guided tour of it.
But, it was actually a fun ride and I learned a lot about the city.
And, the fun thing about a "Duck Tour" is that you're in a bus that can actually drive around the streets of a city, drive on down to the water's edge, and then keep driving right out into the bay.
So, with a whoosh and a giggle and a giant grin on Monika's face...
...we hit the water and drove right into the bay!
It was cool but very slow and very cold. The wind coming off the water on a cool September was a bit much for the thin sweatshirt I was wearing. But, it was really cool.
We tooled around the bay a bit and then drove back out.
Next up we took a drive south with my Mom to the Portland Head Light. I hadn't been there in years so it was a welcome return to a place I loved as a kid.
It's weird being a tourist in your own town but, what can I say, it was fun.
More and more often Casco Bay is seeing a lot of cruise line traffic and it's not uncommon to see a giant ship in the bay.
Monika snapped a few shots of one of these ships as we rode by it in the little Casco Bay ferry.
But, it's not until you see one of these behemoths actually docked up and in port that you realize how HUGE they are!
That's one of them next to a three story building. Look how small the tiny little cars look.
Another idea that Monika had was to take a mail boat run down the bay to see a few of the other islands. If I wasn't too enthused about a duck tour the idea of taking a three hour ferry ride on boats I used to take to and from school every day of my middle and high school life really didn't appeal to me.
But, I love her...and she had already bought my ticket. So, I went.
And again, I really enjoyed it.
Going down the bay you can see how some of the other islanders live. I thought I had it bad with a boat that pretty much ran every hour. These people have to deal with a boat that only comes to and from their island about three or four times a day.
But, I love this picture. If you're tired of the ferry boats, just rig your van to a boat and call it a day. From what I've heard this thing actually works and the guy can control the boat from inside his van. That has to make an interesting trip to and from town every day!
Along with myself and Monika, my brother Josh's wife, Heather, joined us. Here is a picture of her and Monika enjoying the mail boat cruise.
It was great to spend some time with Heather and talk about her and my brother.
This is when I got the push that my family wanted me to move back to Maine.
I've never really thought about moving back to Peaks Island or Portland but, since my brother moved back to town a few years ago, my small family is all back in one place. I'm the odd one in Colorado in the middle of family living on an island in Maine and family living on an island in Hawaii.
So, the seed has been planted and we'll see what happens. What do you think, could you live in a place like this?
And if the three hour tour wasn't enough excitement for one day, after dinner with Monika, my brother, and Heather, Monika and I headed out on a haunted walking tour of Portland.
Now this was an odd tour.
It was neat to hear the ghost stories that took place in the Old Port of Portland and our guide was really great.
The funny part for me is that every place he took us, every nook and cranny that a tourist would never see, were all places I had used to duck in and out of Portland while trying to get from point A to point B. This haunted dock here, that was where I used to cut through to get from the old people ferry terminal to the car ferry. This haunted alley way where pirates used to kill people, this is where I used to cut a few minutes off of my time as I headed towards the ferry terminal.
So, that was weird but it was a good time. And it made Monika happy.
But, there was one more thing to see.
Monika had seen somewhere that a short drive away lived a life sized moose sculpture made entirely out of chocolate. So, of course we had to go see that.
So, here is Lenny, the world's only life sized chocolate moose.
I made Monika buy me some jelly beans for a trip to this place so I was justly rewarded.
All in all it was a really great trip. I saw all kinds of things and even learned a new thing or two about the town I grew up in.
Here's a photo of Monika, me, and my Mom, all waiting for the boat to ride back uptown. As much as Monika loved the island I don't think she enjoyed the constant stress of trying to catch a boat to go into town or back home. There is no being three minutes late for a boat. Either you're on it when it leaves or you're stuck until the next one. No excuses.
Not everyone enjoys that kind of stress. For people like my parents, they seem to thrive on it.
And, as for me, I really enjoyed my time home with my family and my girl.
I got seeds planted in my head on moving back home and settling down with Monika and starting a family.
But, as you can see by this photo of me and my brother's dog, Sophie, I'm not sure what kind of father I would make. At least I didn't drop her on her head.
But, for now, it's bye bye Maine and back to Colorado.
I definitely plan to get back east much more often and not let five years go by again until I visit.
It's just too much fun and, to me, it's still home.
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