I love road trips! There is something about the open road and miles and miles of conversation and unexpected surprises. Places and people and experiences that are unexplored.
My dad came to visit me for 10 days, the largest amount of time we have ever spent with each other alone. In a spur of the moment we hit the road with a general direction and last minute reservations to 2 hotels and a Whale and Puffin watching tour in Maine.
I remember taking trips like these when I was in college, sometimes deciding where I was going on the way to such place. That is how I ended up sleeping in the car in the Grand Canyon (North) with my mom and brother because we couldn’t find our tent spot in the pitch dark, rocking Mardi Gras one spring break, visiting friends in Houston and driving to Amarillo, TX on a Monday, arriving just in time for a last call drink before the city shut down, just to drive back the next day and head into work.
Road trips are exciting, but it is the feeling of freedom that I enjoy most. Unfortunately, after years of corporate allotted paid time off, I was re-programmed to get the most out of my time off in the shortest amount of time. Driving somewhere for hours on end with no plan and no agenda was just impractical and costly. Vacations were about forgetting work and relaxation, letting the mind rest and the body recuperate. Fortunately, due to some recent events and my mom and dad’s visits, I realized I had to re-prioritize my life and take the time to enjoy a road trip once again and to get to know my dad like I never did before.
So we packed up and headed to Maine, driving through 8 states in 4 days. Crazy right?
Mm, terrible ideas… Don’t you just love those? – Under the Tuscan Sun
Along the way, we got lost in NYC, drove through Bronx and Harlem, and stopped in Providence, Rhode Island for the night, a neat town that is often overshadowed by Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod.
Next day, we had an unexpected stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for a much needed stretch. We strolled through the town center and to the harbor stopping in a quaint bakery in a quiet side street.
On we went – to Maine. We stopped at the Visitor Center and decided to change our route and stop in Boothbay Harbor for lunch. Our plan changed again when we drove by Wiscasset and decided to try one of the highest rated Lobster Roll establishments in Maine.
A couple hours and more Lobster that I could handle later, with full bellies, we drove to Boothbay finding a sleepy little fishing town with plenty of antique shops along the way and easy smiling, hardworking people.
We arrived in Bangor, Maine almost at the end of the day, tired and hungry. We dropped everything at the hotel and after a good shower, we headed to town for food, which was provided riverside with a beautiful sunset and free concert across the waterway courtesy from Bangor’s summer concerts series. I was so exhausted, I forgot to take any pictures of the city.
Sidenote: Isn’t Bangor such a strong and dark name for fictional character or penal colony? I didn’t realized until after we left that Stephen King lives there…
The following day, we woke up at 6am and headed towards Bar Harbor (pronounced Bah Habah by locals) to go on the only reserved event in our itinerary- a Whale and Puffin watching tour. I love wildlife and whales are on my list of favorite, must-dive-with-in-the-future mammals. I have seen a few times before, but couldn’t pass up the chance to do it again.
Off we went for a 4 hr tour through Maine’s coastline. Unfortunately, before we could see a Whale, my seasickness put me down across the seats in the inner compartment of the boat and away from all the fun. It was a terrible decision- get sick for the rest of the trip or see these magnificent creatures. This time I could not even decide, once I laid down my head I was not coming back up. My body weighted a ton, and any movement sent the world spinning so I let go and fell asleep. An hour and a few Mink and Right whales, puffins, porpoises and seals later, all of which I missed, I willed myself to get up just in time to see Humpbacks really close to the boat and snap a few shots. It was definitely worth the dizziness and apocalyptic feeling in my stomach.
Note to self: two Dramines next time… one is not enough.
In the afternoon, we walked the town to get back my “land legs”, had lunch and drove around the nearby bays.
We drove back home the next day, only stopping in Boston so my dad could see Quincy Market and the harbor. Boston can’t be explored in a few hours or days. The more you stay, the more the city unveils itself, but those two locations are a must if you stop in for a few hours.
We headed home, tired and squared butt, but infinitely closer as father and daughter.
So you are asking yourself, what did you learn about your dad? Well, a lot.
My dad took the road less traveled in life because he wanted to prove to himself he could do it. He was a hippie, but couldn’t fathom going a day in his life without a shower. He attended the best engineering university in the country just to drop out as a sophomore to teach Math because he loved it! He laughs at himself, is happy naturally, harbors no resentment to those who have hurt him, lives in the present, makes fun of me without malice, loves to tell stories and eat, handles pain with silence and is absolutely the scariest driver I have ever seen. My dad is satisfied with simple things in life, he loves without prejudice and without expectations and he puts others ahead of himself, but never forgets that to be truly happy, you have to first accept and love who you are when no one else is looking…
I learned a lot about myself as well, but most importantly hat I am my dad’s daughter in most aspects… except I am a good driver and I suck at Math. =)
I love road trips and all they provide – the freedom, the experiences, the adventures and the deeper connection to the people you dare to take the road less traveled with…
So go on, plan that road trip today and Happy Xploring!