You can’t see me, I know, but after I wrote the title, I sat here wide-eyed with my hands out, palms up, in the classic “WTF?” pose. For two days, I have been ignoring my desperate need to get this all out, commit it to the screen and perhaps untangle even a small corner of the mess that is spreading into every corner of my brain. Even my sleep isn’t safe anymore, my dreams just one more running commentary (albeit, a very abstract commentary) of the chaos within and around me.
But where do I start? Should I dive right in? The last time I posted was like July, I’m pretty sure, on a day where I felt peaceful and was yammering on about acceptance. Then I went quiet for a while. Stuck in the weird global pandemic time-warp where every day blends into the next and you’re just treading water, waiting for something to change. The only thing that changed was things looked like they were going to get better for a minute, so I went into the office for the first time since March a total of two times, and then…the shit hit the fan in a big way here in California, and they told us to stay home again. Thank God. Then the entire west coast caught on fire for months- pretty sure there’s a bunch of it still on fire, though I’ve honestly stopped keeping track- and the pervasive feeling of doom just crept closer.
In August, during the two minutes when things appeared to be returning to a more normal routine, I had booked a flight and Airbnb in Maine. By the time my trip rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I should go or not. And maybe it was selfish and stupid of me to follow through with it, but my mental state demanded that I feed it some type of happiness before it fell into a pit of despair, so…off I went for a Covid swab and a plane ride across the country.
There were 72 people on our flight, including the crew. Rows of empty seats following the fastest TSA check in line I’ve ever experienced- and that includes me having to go back through the detector thingy three times AND get patted down (Still no idea what the hell was setting the thing off). Everyone wore masks and gave each other as much space as they could. Mostly, I tried not to think about it.
Maine, once again, exceeded my expectations. I was in Mid-coast Maine this time, in Bristol, near Pemaquid Point. Trust me when I tell you, if you are looking for a socially distant vacation, this is the place to be. The cottage looked directly out onto the water- I could throw a rock and hit the inlet if I’d wanted to. But mostly, I just wanted to look at it, the old Atlantic ocean…it really does feel older to me than the Pacific, for some reason. Older, more serious, more magical. At night, you can see the milky way with your eyes, and more stars than you even believe can exist. There is no light pollution, no sound to interrupt the wind in the trees and the rhythmic pulse of the water on the shore. For the first time in months, I could breathe again. The worries of the world- the pandemic, politics, distance learning, tragedy and mayhem…they faded into the background, where they belong.
And while I was there, something pretty incredible happened…but I’m out of time, so dammit! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest of the story. My apologies, I really want to tell this the right way!
I have been the absolute worst about following up since I have been home, and there is really no reason why, other than my work schedule has changed and adjusting is always hard for me. So please, accept my apologies, and enjoy these photos from the last leg of my trip to the East Coast!
So, we took our time on our way to Massachusetts- got lost on a few detours to find bathrooms, and ended up having the best time on the winding little roads past beautiful homes interspersed with amazing houses, and of course, the requisite cemeteries every few miles. I am endlessly fascinated with the graveyards on the East Coast, and could spend days just reading the headstones. I know that sounds morbid, but really it isn’t. I love the history and the artwork on the stones, and…well, I’ve always loved cemeteries. They are peaceful and beautiful, and the ones in Maine and Massachusetts are super cool.
From Maine to our place in Rockport, Massachusetts, was only about an hour and a half drive! For me, a born and bred Californian, this is mind-boggling. It takes hours and hours to get out of California, but on the East Coast, I was in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts all within the span of a few hours! I was trying to take a picture of some river or another and missed the New Hampshire sign, which bummed me out, but oh well!
The little air bnb that my mom rented in Rockport was just perfect. We both felt like it was the most comfortable little house, as if we’d been there a million times already and were just returning. It felt like going to grandma’s house, if you know what I mean. That first afternoon, we dropped off our stuff and strolled into Rockport. The funny thing is, I’d been there only eight months before, but somehow missed a ton of the town. In my defense, it was freezing cold when I had been there in October, and we were on the opposite side of town searching for beanie’s to warm our frozen ears, so we weren’t really strolling very much.
Rockport is incredible in cold weather, but it is PERFECT when it’s warm. We spent some time on the little beach right before town, then wandered around Bearskin Neck (pretty sure that’s what the street is called, for some odd reason) and looked in the shops. Eventually, we were starving to death, so we decided to eat at Roy Moore’s Fish Shack, mostly because they had items other than seafood on their menu- at that point, I was sick of seafood and needed something else! I had a BLT, Cam had her normal cheeseburger, and my mom had the lobster mac & cheese. I was all lobstered out. 🙂
To be honest with you, the next few days are all kind of a blur to me now. We did spend one afternoon in Salem which was cool! Funny thing is, I loved Salem so much the first time I was there but it was too crowded for my taste in October- going back in June, it was much less crowded, but after seeing so many beautiful places in the preceding days, it wasn’t as awesome as I remembered. Maybe it was the Fall magic that was missing? I did get to visit the Salem Witch Museum, which was very cool, and Camryn REALLY liked it there. We also visited Salem Willows, a super old-timey park with old rides and an arcade. I got sunburned like crazy that day, and we were very tired by the time we headed back to the house. I believe Cam and I stayed in that night playing dice while my mom went to town and ate dinner alone.
We spent a lot of time just driving around, looking at houses, to be honest. I’m really glad my mom was into that, too, because it’s just so much fun back east. Even though it’s all in the USA, it couldn’t be more different than California- and that’s what makes it so incredible!
We never made it to Boston, and we didn’t do the walking history tour at night in Salem like I’d hoped, but I was more than willing to let those things go just to enjoy the little town where we were. We walked so, so much and just did a lot of sightseeing, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way it all worked out.
Before I knew it, it was time to head home. I was glad to be back, but I will always, always love New England- and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one day I called it home.
I would like to start this post by saying this: As much as I love Massachusetts, I loved Maine even more. After some time to let the whole trip settle, I can tell you exactly why- Maine is PERFECT for me. It has all of the beauty and charm that I love, but like a quarter of the people. Now granted, it was the very beginning of summer in the little tourist town of Old Orchard Beach where we stayed, so I’m sure it gets busier as the weather continues to warm, but I promise you, it was one of the best places I have ever been.
The weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there- there was one morning of rain, but it didn’t last, and it wasn’t enough to prevent us from exploring. The little Inn I rented online (always a gamble when you don’t know the area and you don’t really know what you’re going to get) was small but spotless, and it was literally half a block from the beach. I could stand on the step of our room and see the sand.
The first thing we did once we checked in and dumped our stuff was to walk to the beach, of course. My mom nor Camryn had ever seen the Atlantic ocean, which might not be a big deal to some, but it was to me. To think that that very morning I’d flown off from the edge of the Pacific, and a few hours later I was standing on the opposite side of the United States- that’s so cool to me. Cam splashed around a bit and we stretched our legs, then headed in to clean up and find dinner.
At the recommendation of the clerk at our Inn, we ate at a place called The Shack, which is right on the edge of the Palace Playland, a small amusement park that reminded me a lot of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We sat outside on the upstairs deck and had the first of many, many seafood dinners. I had a lobster roll. You know what? I am not a huge fan of lobster. I’ve tried it enough times now to know for sure that I prefer crab any day of the week, but whatever. It was still yum. The best part was just being there, in a brand new place, with my mom and my daughter. It is still such an amazing thing to me, that I get to make these plans and achieve these little dreams of mine.
We turned in pretty early that night and I was up before everyone else, naturally. The cool thing about being on the East Coast is that I wake up at an almost decent hour there! If I’m out of bed at three at home, it’s six there, and the sun is already up! So I took a little walk by myself through the neighborhood- and it was a neighborhood, as we were at the very end of the hotels. The houses were just stunning, and the greenery and flowers blooming were spectacular. I was so overwhelmed with joy at the natural beauty, I couldn’t stop smiling. I picked a really, really good time to go to Maine, I think.
I found a little store in Ocean Park and bought some coffee and cinnamon rolls, and some juice for my mom, then headed back, chatting with a few people who were out and about. When I returned, my mom took off, and I got Cam ready for the day. That day, we drove to Freeport, but found that it was mostly full of outlet stores, which was not really what we were looking for- we can do that anywhere. But in one cool store, the lady asked us if we had been to Wolf Neck State Park, which we had never heard of. We decided to check it out.
Major score! First of all, the drive there was worth it even if the park had sucked, which it didn’t. The neighborhoods in New England are really something to see- each house more amazing than the next, so old and well-preserved. Even the new houses are made to look like they are old. I really like that. The park itself was gorgeous. The trails were flat and easy for all of us, and the forest and ocean and all the little islands you could see from the trails were so, so cool.
I have never seen green like the green I saw in Maine. I have never seen the ocean look so much like a lake. I have never seen so much forest two inches from a bustling town. If I was going to move to the East Coast, I think it would definitely be Maine for me.
As I wait for Cam to thoroughly wet her hair in the shower so that I can come and wash it for her (we are working towards her doing it on her own, but if I want her to smell like a human child rather than a wet dog, for now, the work must be done by me), I thought I would drop by with a few tidbits. Yes, it takes her that long to get her hair wet. Don’t get me started on how frustrating it is, raising a child who has two speeds- slow, and stopped. She gets that from her dad, for sure.
Anyway, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it recently, but my trip to Maine is almost upon me! We leave Friday afternoon for an overnight in the city, and fly out of SF early Saturday morning. This will be Cam’s first flight ever, so I’m a little nervous about that- I sincerely hope it doesn’t freak her out. I’m not much of a brave flyer myself, so if she falls apart, I’m in trouble. Actually, I’ll probably find myself becoming very calm if she is upset, as mothers often do, but still…I hope she loves it. That would be ideal.
I left my house exactly twice this weekend, and on one of the outings, I braved the bathing suit section at Target. I did what I always do, despite my many promises to never do it again, and bought a bathing suit, a pair of shorts, and a top, without trying any of them on. This is such a bad idea. Especially when you factor in the part where it is nearly impossible to get me to Target in the first place, let alone to go back and return or exchange something. Anyway, the shopping Gods were smiling on me this time. The suit not only fits, but it’s super flattering, and the shorts and top worked out well, too. So, after my stuff, Cam’s ton of new stuff (she’s grown yet another size in the past few months), dog food, cat food, and travel size items to take with us, I was out about three hundred dollars. Not that I expected anything less.
I’m getting excited about this trip! I’m meeting my mom there, and we should have a great time, fingers crossed. I cannot wait to see Maine, finally! I just wish I could skip the flights and be there without all the hassle.
Anyway, the last thing…I did something kind of weird yesterday. I got in bed in the afternoon, right after a bath, and I made a conscious decision to do absolutely nothing. I mean, no TV, no music, no phone, no ANYTHING. I wasn’t even trying to meditate. I honestly can’t remember the last time I spent 15 minutes in utter, total stillness. The things your mind will do when you give it no material to work with! My God! My thoughts were doing the River Dance, the Can-Can, and all sorts of acrobatics trying to get my attention. I just tried to stay out of it. It’s not easy to do nothing.
Eventually though, for probably less than a minute, I experienced complete and total silence. The house was silent, my thoughts were silent…did you know that silence actually has a sound? It is almost like the low hum of electricity, except it’s in your ears. I don’t know why I wanted to do that- I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything. It’s just…it isn’t often that I’m not trying to accomplish something, even if it’s just watching a show on TV. I just wanted to see if I could do it, I guess. Wanted to know if I could sit with myself, how it would feel.
It felt nice. You should try it sometime.
Okay, I better go see what she is doing. This is ridiculous.
I know, I know- this is a weird time of day for me to write a blog post. I don’t even know if anyone will see it, but I want to get my trip recap out of the way because I have something I want to post tomorrow that has nothing to do with this, and my brain is funny that way.
So, we got a later than intended start on Friday afternoon- instead of leaving the coast at 2 like I’d hoped, we didn’t get on the road until 4. A considerable difference when you have a 6 hour trip ahead of you. Nevertheless, we were all on board and out the door two hours late, it is what it is. Also, didn’t factor in the colossal number of pee breaks my eldest daughter would need, and the hunger issue. Basically, we finally made it into Tahoe and our room at almost eleven Friday night, and we were SO TIRED.
Saturday was the only real time we had, and we made every second count. Up for our free breakfast at the lodge at seven in the morning, I was totally impressed with the spread offered at Granlibakken (the little baby ski resort I’d booked us at). This was not your standard hotel fare- this was REAL food. Great coffee, piles of bacon, sausage, breakfast casseroles, cinnamon rolls, blintzes, fresh fruit…basically, anything you could dream up was available. I really liked that part, and I am not even much of an early morning diner.
We went straight from breakfast to our private snowboarding lesson, just one instructor for all three of us girls. Let me be straight with you- I had no real desire to learn to snowboard. That was strictly my daughters’ idea. I would have been quite happy skiing, but I thought, what the hell- kids want it, I want to be with the kids, I’ll try something new! Funny, then, that Camryn called it quits within 15 minutes and Aisley quit after 30. So I was more determined than ever to succeed, and I’m proud to say that I did. Well, sort of- I learned how to board down a tiny hill, and how to stop falling and how to stop without falling over. I also learned that snowboarding is probably not for me, and I am okay with that- at least I gave it my best shot.
After the boarding debacle, we went up to the room, changed into our suits, and hit the hot tub and heated pool. We got super lucky- everyone was so busy playing in the snow that not a single soul was in the gigantic hot tub. We had the whole place to ourselves, with a gorgeous view of the snowy slopes behind us. We even went in the sauna for a while.
After that, we cruised into town and grabbed lunch, then went back to our room and rested for maybe an hour. Then it was go time again! We all got cleaned up and drove to the other side of Lake Tahoe to take Aisley on her first casino adventure. We had a ball! Cam stayed with her dad at Harrahs arcade while Aisley and I roamed the casino, and I showed her how to play the slots. I won 35 bucks straightaway on a video poker machine, then we found a super generous machine where we stayed for like an hour. I walked away with a hundred bucks extra, and Aisley won and lost about two hundred altogether. She still left 20 bucks richer than she came, so that was cool.
Finally, I waited in the long, long line at the buffet while Aisley went with Cam’s dad to gamble for a little longer. The wait was worth it, though! Crab legs for DAYS, I ate. I’m not kidding, I killed two full plates of crab legs, not to mention prime rib, sesame balls, and who knows what else. When everyone else was eating desert, I was working through a bowl of butter and more crab legs.
We all got back to the room, passed out, woke up, ate, and headed home. It was a short trip, but it was good. There were a couple little bumps in the road, personality clashes and bullshit, but… I’m choosing not to focus on that. From my perspective, it was a great time, and if anything I learned exactly how to make it perfect the next time around. And it was good enough that I definitely believe there will be a next time.
So that was my two night, one full day trip. I made it home safe and sound, and I’m excited for the what’s next! Stay tuned! I’ll be spilling my plans tomorrow.
Hello, there! Can you believe it’s February already? Okay, okay…I know- some people like to complain about how long January was, but can I tell you something? It really bothers me when people are wishing their time away like that. I know it’s complaining in fun, but seriously, life is so beautiful in every season, the world would be a much happier place if we all could spend more time appreciating things than we did whining about them. Says me in my best whiny voice. Also, I do live in California, on the coast, where at most we get a little frost on our windows maybe once a year. But I saw plenty of my local friends complaining about how long January is when they know full well that they were barefoot at the beach last Sunday. Big babies.
Anyway, I made a promise at the beginning of the year to re-visit my rather lofty list of resolutions at the beginning of February and see where I needed to put in a little more work, so that’s what I’m here to do. I just went through my resolutions post with a fine-tooth comb, and here is how I am doing:
I wanted to have a two-tiered step goal, with the gold standard being 10k and the silver being 7k. I hit my high goal 10 times and my low goal 12 times, getting within about 20 steps of my low goal several times as well. There were also a few days when I only got like 3000 steps, so I must have been spending the day in bed or something, because how is that even possible?! Anyway, I think this one needs a little work.
As far as my other fitness related goals, although I didn’t get started right away, I am in the midst of a 30 day at home challenge which I really like. I’ve done some yoga (at home) and I have been excellent about walking Miss Lucy pretty much every day without fail, unless it is absolutely pouring outside. Also, we have been hitting her off the leash goal as well by hitting the beach in Carmel on the weekends, which is so much fun for both Cam and I. I feel really good about all this stuff!
I am going to break one promise, however. Can I tell you that I did not go to the gym, not even once, in January? January is the WORST month at the gym. So many new people, it’s crowded and gross. So I am going to give myself one final month- if I don’t make it ten times in February, I really will cancel. It’s just too expensive. I might start at a cheaper gym, I might forgo the gym altogether, but this is truly my last chance.
I have kept my promise of no fast food. I haven’t missed it one bit. I am doing Hello Fresh, and Cam has been helping me, and I am really impressed with how much I am learning, and how much fun it is. I will probably take a break soon to try a different service, but so far, so good. My eating has been really excellent this past month.
Again, I didn’t start right away in January, but I did meet my no smoking, no vaping goal. I started January 11th, made it a few days, messed up. Started again January 17th, made it ten days, smoked. Started again the same day that I smoked, the 27th, and today is the 3rd, so it’s seven days again. That’s about 20 days altogether, so I’m okay with that. I’d like to have no slips at all in February. It really only makes it harder when you mess up.
As far as the house goes, I think quitting smoking and trying to be more active in general has really helped me with the house keeping stuff. I have all this nervous energy, trying to avoid cravings, so I find myself doing laundry and cleaning out drawers just to give myself something to do. Yesterday I cleaned and organized all my drawers and closet, and got rid of a huge garbage bag full of clothes I hate or never wear. I am trying to get in the habit of cleaning up every day, and I’ve definitely seen improvements, but I need to keep at it. I have gotten way better about keeping up on dishes, though.
Savings are definitely up!
My writing routine is not where I want it to be. I am going to get back on track this month, for sure.
And as far as my “Two trips this year” thing goes, guess what? I’m headed to Tahoe next weekend for a skiing-sledding-snow ball extravaganza. So, looks like I will be knocking both trips out as planned. As long as I make it to Maine in June, which I will.
I have spent a fair amount of time with friends already this year, as well. Far more than usual, and I’m so glad. It is so good for me.
All in all, I’d say I’m doing far better than I imagined I would be. Maybe there really is something to writing down your goals, eh?
And how are you doing with the goals you set for yourself, if you set any? I’d like to know!
It seems crazy that it’s almost been a week since I’ve been home. The funny thing about travelling is that it takes up your mind for so long after you get back. Not to mention how strange it is to have this momentous event in your life and then, suddenly, you are right back in the middle of your normal life, trying to get back in your groove. Maybe seasoned travelers don’t go through that, I don’t know. But for me, it’s been really weird.
On the third full day of our trip, we decided to go to Boston. I am not a big fan of cities, but it did seem like something that I shouldn’t miss, seeing as how I was going to be so nearby. So when my friend Alicia said she wanted to see Boston, I agreed. Boy, am I glad I did. We parked our rental car in a giant garage and took the train into the city. Honestly, for me, this was one of the coolest things ever. I don’t take trains, ever, so I just felt very sophisticated, even if it was kind of nerve wracking trying to figure out how to buy a ticket and which train to get on. Lucky for us, there were no lines and there were signs everywhere that said exactly which train went where. We hopped on with no trouble, and took the fifteen minute ride to the government center stop.
We wanted to walk the Freedom Trail, so we struggled for a minute to figure out where, exactly, that was. I told her to ask the guy dressed in period clothing in the Starbucks where we should go, but she chickened out, so…we were on our own. Luckily for us, it was not hard to find, as it is literally painted and bricked into the ground, so, after chugging down a familiar latte (I swear to God, there are Dunkin Donuts on every corner, but the Starbucks are few and far between) we quickly found our path. But before we could go more than a block, we stumbled across yet another amazing cemetery, and of course I had to go in. This one was tiny, wedged between buildings in the middle of the city, but WOW. King’s Chapel and Burying Grounds is beautiful. We wandered through, reading all the information, and I snapped a few pictures. Then we went inside King’s Chapel, and let me tell you- they don’t make churches like that anymore. The pews were like booths with doors, and from what I understand, you had to buy them? Maybe I’m not getting that right, but there were many placards describing the men who owned them, so…You’ll have to forgive me, I was very, very tired on this final day, and it’s all kind of a blur.
After that, we found ourselves at the State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, among other things. The museum inside was well worth the ten bucks, and we really took our time checking it out. I can’t emphasize enough how mind-blowing it was to read about the very early history of the country as we know it while standing in the places where history was made. It kinda…well, it gave me a bit of an emotional moment, honestly. It was just very cool. I’ve been much more interested in American History since I’ve been home, wanting to know more about how those days and years played out.
From there, we ran through Faneuil Hall, then made our way tiredly to Paul Revere’s old house. Very crowded, but so, so neat! I didn’t take any pictures because it was forbidden, but did you know that Paul Revere had 16 children? Yeah, me neither. Another thing- you can’t walk through that place without the words “The British are coming!” playing on a loop inside your head. It’s impossible.
After Paul’s house, we walked back to the Government Center, which by the way, passes right through what has got to be Boston’s Little Italy-I can’t believe I wasn’t hungry enough to try a legit cannoli. I’m still mad at myself. Anyway, we took an Uber from there to Cheer’s- not my idea, by the way, but…once you see it, it does cause a little nostalgic thrill. For people my age who grew up watching the show, it doesn’t suck. The inside looks nothing like the bar on TV, but so what? I had my Shirley Temple at the bar, and felt like I’d done something cool. Cheer’s is right across the street from the Boston Public Garden, so we strolled around there for a few. They have some serious squirrels in Boston, let me tell you. Fatter and far more spry than any I’ve seen here in California, there were so many of them that it started to give me the creeps. If they ever decide to organize, Bostonians will be in trouble.
Our final destination on our quick jaunt through Boston was the Museum of Fine Arts, and I am SO glad we went. My one regret is getting there at 3, just two hours before they closed, because you could truly spend an entire day in there. As it was, we saw a good portion, but we had to rush, which wasn’t the best. I was so excited to see Monet’s work in real life, but you know what? That wasn’t even close to my favorite. I loved the Egyptian display- it was thrilling to see things so old and so well preserved- and the Greek sculptures. There was so much more that I wanted to linger over- stained glass and fabulous paintings by who even knows who. My brain was just overwhelmed with the quality of the things in that museum. I learned another thing about myself on this trip-I REALLY love museums! I kind of knew that already, but living in a small town with just a few little museums, it’s hard to comprehend what a large museum is able to show to you. Unbelievable!
After a slow ride back in another Uber, through terrible rush hour traffic, our driver deposited us safely back at Faneuil Hall so that we could grab a few last minute gifts before catching the train back to our car.
The thing you learn on your first trip somewhere is how to spend your next trip there, right? I know now to never visit Salem in October, and that if I ever go back, I should give myself a few more days to spend on the things I love- namely, museums and exploring the little towns along the coast. But there are so many places I still want to see, not only in my own country, but in the world- who knows if I’ll ever make it back there? Seriously, though…I have a strong feeling that I will.
Since I can’t seem to get my body back on “normal” (West Coast) time, I figure I might as well go ahead and tell you all about day 2 of my trip. Day 2 wound up being my favorite day, and I learned some important things about myself as a traveler- namely, that I am happiest without an itinerary, and much, much happier in more idyllic settings, with far fewer people.
The day started off super slow- we were both so tired from the debacle in Salem the day and night before that we were not in a big hurry to get anywhere. To be honest with you, I actually felt hungover. I had been so tired the night before, but I couldn’t seem to fall asleep, and then I woke up way earlier than I wanted to, so I wasn’t very rested. I felt achy and dehydrated, and just generally shitty, but…when you are on a short vacation in a new place, you find it within yourself to soldier on. Which I am so glad I did!
Anyway, after an incredibly unappetizing hotel buffet breakfast, we hopped in the trusty charger and headed…north? North-east? Anyway, we headed out of Peabody and away from the more populated areas. The thing about these little towns off the freeway is that they are literally right off the freeway. The parking lot of our hotel exited onto the actual freeway. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. They also have stop lights on the freeway and places to make U-turns. Crazy. But we made it on safely and before you know it, you are in the middle of massive beauty. The bright red and orange trees, and water, just everywhere. I still don’t know which were lakes, rivers, or inlets, but I guess it doesn’t matter…all I really know is, for me, water is the key. I love being near large bodies of water. I just feel better.
Just off the highway, we stopped for the first time at a big old candy store in the middle of nothing. Nichols candy house has been in business for 86 years, according to the sign. They make all their candy on site, and the ladies running the counter looked like they might have been there when the store opened. Seriously, they were adorable, in a no-nonsense, getting shit done kinda way. I didn’t buy anything there, which is my one regret of the whole trip. Alicia did, and I was lucky that she shared with me, because they know what they are doing. My advice to you? If you find yourself there, buy the truffles!
Anyway, after that, we programmed directions to a lighthouse into GPS. This was one of many times that Siri failed us on this trip. We asked for a particular lighthouse, she steered us to the middle of a neighborhood in Gloucester and told us we were there. After that, she stopped speaking to us. I’m assuming she was embarrassed. So, here we are, lost, trying to figure out why the ocean was so far away from a lighthouse, and we turned a corner to find…oh my God, the most beautiful graveyard in the world. It was called Oak Park Cemetery, and I demanded to be allowed to wander through it. I could tell Alicia was hesitant (she’s got weird Catholic guilt) but I was going, no matter what. I am so glad I did. The wind was super chilly, but the sky was bright blue, and the trees looked like they were bursting into flames, and the cemetery…so peaceful, and so insanely full of history. The headstones back east are incredible. I wish I had taken more pictures, up close, so that I could look into the symbolism. But at that moment, I was just so happy to be there, experiencing REAL fall weather, ambling quietly through this beautiful place, surrounded by graves that were hundreds of years old. It was one of many perfect moments I had that day.
After a while out in the cold, the warm car was a welcoming place. We got back on the road, missed another turn, and wound up in downtown Gloucester (pronounced “Glah-stah” by the locals 🙂 ). Sometimes those wrong turns are fortuitous. We easily found parking (yay!) and walked up the hill to a little coffee shop to get a warm drink and figure out what next. The place was called Drift Coffee, had a wonderful view of the water, and, much to Alicia’s delight, a full bar! I had a fancy latte, she had a glass of pinot noir, and we figured out our next move. I have to tell you, I had my next perfect moment sitting at that little coffee bar, staring at the street below and the harbor across the way. It was so beautiful, so peaceful, and so quiet…I was in heaven. THIS was the trip I had imagined, and I couldn’t have been happier to be where I was.
We wandered the down the cobbled street a bit, did some shopping and sightseeing, then headed down to the harbor to see the lost fisherman memorial. We saw our first drawbridge thingy- that’s what they’re called, right? Anyway, it was delightful. And I picked up some shells and sea glass to take home. After a while longer in the icy wind that was no longer quite as bracing and more like torture, we headed over, on the recommendation of one of the friendly shop owners, to Rockport.
Rockport, if you can believe it, was even more idyllic and quintessential New England, (or what I imagined New England to be like, anyway) than Gloucester had been. We parked near a little white church with a tall steeple, and braced ourselves for the now freeeeezing wind rolling in off the ocean. Holy smokes! It was so cold. The first thing I did was find a store that sold beanies, and happily threw down 20 bucks for a super warm cap. Once my ears had recovered some feeling, we walked around a little bit, and decided to check out the little harbor. It was incredible. I know I keep saying this, but the sky there is just SO blue. Coming from the coast myself, there were so many similarities, but differences as well. The ocean smells saltier and brinier there, somehow. The scenery was just breathtaking.
By this time, we were starving to death, so we found a little place called the Blue Lobster Grille, and grabbed a table. I had hot apple cider- it’s a whole different thing over there than any I’ve had here- and a giant plate of mussels, followed by seafood pasta that I could barely put a dent in. So, with full bellies and to-go bags, we raced to the car, waved goodbye to Rockport, and headed back to our room to get rested for our final day in Boston.
I’ve been home less than 24 hours, and I’m not (very) ashamed to tell you that I am still wearing the clothes I flew home in. In my defense, I wore stretch pants and a t-shirt, so they are kinda like pajamas anyway, PLUS…oh dear lord, I was so tired when I got home that I felt kind of drunk. We got up at 3 in the morning, which would be 12 midnight here, so that we could catch our flight on time, so the long and short of it is…I am all kinds of screwed up right now. It’s barely 4 a.m. and I’ve already been up for an hour. I have no experience with jet lag or time zone weirdness, but I’m learning fast. I got home yesterday, handed out gifts, hugged my children, ate some food, and passed out. I meant to shower and change, but I slipped into a coma instead, and that was that.
I’m going to break this down into three posts, since each segment was such a totally different experience, and I thought I’d start at day one- Friday- which was my first little taste of Salem. Little did I know it would be the most sane part of my visit to that particular town. Anyway, we flew into Logan, grabbed our rental car- I was expecting a Jetta, but apparently, a Charger is about the same thing (NOT), and either way, that’s what we got. My dear friend Alicia volunteered to drive, thank God, and we headed out of Boston to Peabody (pronounced Pee-biddy, apparently) where our lodgings were. After dumping our stuff, we hightailed it toward Salem, in search of food. Along our route into town, we saw a place called Kings, advertising the best roast beef sandwiches AND lobster (lobstah) rolls- two things I wanted to check off my list. Let Me Tell You Something!! That lobstah roll was good, no doubt, but the roast beef sandwiches on the east coast?! Holy smokes! I will be dreaming about that super thin, super rare, tender, delicious beef for years to come. Oh man. SO good! You know that feeling of disappointment when you realize you are going to be too full to finish your dinner? That happened. But the super friendly guys running the place wrapped it up for me, and I was able to have a little midnight snack later. It was still delicious the next day.
Oh, that’s another thing I don’t want to forget to mention- the people we met, and I mean almost without exception, were the friendliest, chattiest, funniest, warmest people I’ve ever run into. I was in seventh heaven, as my chatty game is on point. I felt like I’d found my people. Anyway, onto Salem…
So, on Friday night, we made it into downtown Salem just in time for the end of the night market- I think this is a thing they do only in October. There were booths selling all sorts of Halloween or dark-themed items, and we wandered around, noting stores we wanted to return to the following day. We didn’t stay too long- it was already past nine and we wanted to be well rested for the next day, so we were in and out, after some oohing and ahhing over the amazing architecture and cobbled streets.
Saturday morning, we decided to Uber into Salem since we were worried about parking. The plan was to get there, Uber back in the afternoon, and then head back over in the evening for a ghost/history tour. What ended up happening, however, is that we decided to stay, from like 11 in the morning until around 10 at night.
Everyone said it was busy in Salem in October. I am not pretending like we were not forewarned. But “busy” isn’t exactly the right word for what we experienced. “Pandemonium” would be better, or “utter fucking chaos” even. It was intense. We couldn’t get into the restaurant we wanted to eat at, we couldn’t find a place to go to the bathroom, we couldn’t get into any of the stores we wanted to shop at. I mean, we could have done all of these things, but only if we wanted to wait in line for at least 30 minutes for each thing. I am not even remotely exaggerating. Even the stores had bouncers outside, letting in small amounts of people at a time. It was crazy.
Even so, we did have a good time. We had lunch at the Howling Wolf Taqueria, and I tried deep fried avocado for the first time. I promise you, it will not be the last. The service was great, and the atmosphere was happy and fun. We got to see the graveyard where the “hanging judge” John Hathorne is buried, and the graveyards back east are not to be missed. I tried real hot apple cider and cider donuts, I drooled over the houses and the history and the greenery away from the crowds, and a few times, I managed to lose myself in the merriment of it all.
One saving grace of the day was the Peabody Essex Museum. Not only did it have the most amazing Maritime exhibit I have ever seen- and the east coast has an awe-inspiring maritime history, let me be clear about that! But-and this is important-for the price of admission, you can come in and out all day, using their clean and uncrowded bathroom as many times as you please. I loved that place.
Alas, the museum closed at 5, leaving us to wander the streets like pitiful, tired zombies until our pre-paid ghost tour at 8. So we wandered over to the Salem Commons, and I am so glad we did. We found a tree to park ourselves under and sat and watched the carnival on the periphery, and closer, families playing, and the big trees bursting with fall color. That was a happy moment. We wandered the side streets a little more, taking pictures of houses, and then made our way back into the fray, being swept along by the crowd, which showed no sign of thinning anytime soon. I saw the Bewitched statue, and managed to elbow my way into a store and buy hoodies for my kids. And finally, FINALLY, it was time for our tour. At this point, I had already clocked about double my normal amount of steps on my Fitbit, and I was tired enough to cry, but…
The walking tour was MAGICAL. Seriously, if they offer a walking tour in a town you are visiting, you should take it. You learn so much. Every time I have ever taken one, I’ve been so happy I did. This one was extra cool, though. I wish I could remember the name of the one we did- there are many to choose from in Salem- and I will definitely be doing some research to find out, as I want to give a good review on trip advisor or something. Anyway, our tour guide was a young woman and practicing witch, and she led us through town, telling us all about the history and the legends of Salem. Even as tired as I was, I could have kept going for twice as long just to hear more.
In the end, we made it back to the hotel in one piece, exhausted and definitely overwhelmed by our October Salem experience. I would definitely go back, no question about it. But not in October. No freaking way. That being said…I’m still, oddly, very happy that I had that experience. It was wonderful. I bet it would be even more wonderful in, say, June. Ha-ha!
Two nights ago, I had a stressful dream that my purse was stolen. I was with my boss, at a restaurant, and realized it was gone. I was so upset! It had EVERYTHING in it- my ID, my credit cards, my makeup, my money! I didn’t know what to do. And then I realized it had my car keys in it, too, and now the thieves could steal my car. What a nightmare. Literally. But, I woke up, chalked it up to another one of my weird stress dreams and moved on.
Last night I dreamed that my car was stolen. It was a new Nissan Pathfinder (in my dream) with leather interior and all the bells and whistles. I was extremely proud of that dream car. I went down the coast to see my sister in law, and I asked her if she wanted to see my new car, which, of course, she did. We went outside, but there were suddenly so many cars, and I couldn’t seem to find mine. So I thought, hey, I’ll just click the alarm button and listen for the sound, but…my keys were gone. Eventually, I realized my car was gone. I knew who stole it, but there was nothing I could do. I freaked out. I woke up, again, very stressed out.
A single dream like this would be par for the course for me- but two? Two in a row? I know what is happening here. As my trip grows closer, I am spending my waking hours planning and being excited, and for God’s sake, not imagining every single thing that could possibly go wrong while I am an entire continent away from my children. But deep in the dark and morbid recesses of my brain, the “what-ifs” are hatching, like terrible gremlins on a gremlin-hatching conveyor belt in the fear factory of my mind. If I refuse to give them any space in my waking-hours mind, they will come out wherever they can.
This morning, as I desperately googled “stolen car dream meaning”, seeking to reassure myself that my dreams weren’t a harbinger of crashing planes and imminent death, I realized that my anxiety had me right where it wanted me. Alone, afraid, and miserable at five in the morning. Wondering how mad my friend would be if I cancelled on her two days before our trip. Hoping I came down with strep throat so I had no choice but to stay home. My anxiety is so ridiculous that I wished illness upon myself to avoid doing something fun and wonderful. Let that sink in for a minute.
So, I took a deep breath, and made a plan. When my anxiety asks “What if something happens?” I will say, “Something will happen! I am going to have fun, and see a new part of the world, and expand my horizons a little bit.” And when my anxiety insists, “Yes, but what if something BAD happens?!” I am going to say “Something BAD could happen just as easily with me here as it could with me gone- something bad could happen at any moment of any day, but mostly, it doesn’t. So stop it.” And when my anxiety continues to pester me with thoughts and images too awful to transcribe for you, I am going to fight fire with fire, by reading and remembering all the wonderful posts about women who travel all the time and make it home safe, happy, and healthy. Other people do it every single day. I am no different.
My anxiety will tell me I should just stay home. But my therapist, who I happen to have at least a bit more faith in than my own anxious brain, told me that my anxiety is dishonest…but that I will never know that if I don’t stop listening to it all the time. The only way to combat anxiety is to do the thing it tells you not to do. I mean, unless it’s telling you not to kill someone. In that scenario, your anxiety is 100% correct, and you should definitely listen.
Because my anxiety doesn’t just want me to stay home. My anxiety wants me to stay home, keep everyone I love in the house with me, close the blinds, and board up the windows. If we leave, we leave in a group. My anxiety wants not only me as a prisoner, it wants everyone I care for imprisoned as well. My anxiety calls it “being safe”, but even I know that’s not honest. That’s not living. So I will take my trip, and I will not let anxiety win this one.
And if something happens? Well…what if something wonderful happens? You can’t stop living because you are afraid. You can, actually. You can stop living because you are afraid. But I have no intention of living that way.