What is the best road trip or vacation you have ever taken? Who was there? Where did you go? What did you see along the way?
I’m not feeling inspirational tonight so this story is going to be entirely anecdotal. Every vacation is special in its own way so it’s hard to qualify them, but the following story certainly ranks in the top 3 for me.
Many summers ago, going on a decade now I think, I got the bright idea to gather up my main social circle of about 8-10 friends and do a massive group camping trip to Maine. I want to say this was the summer after my first year of community college and thus the last summer before most of these friends went off for their freshman years at various schools.
We all spent the majority of our free time together so it just made sense to have one last hurrah together as well. Camping was the cheapest option, as we could share the cost of the sites. I think it broke down to something like $40 per person for the whole stay. Which, for outgoing college students, was a bargain.
As the summer progressed though, people started backing out. Couldn’t get the time off work, prior engagements, “well if they can’t go, I don’t think I want to go,” etc. In the end it was just me and my two best friends, Nick and Bob. Honestly, it was probably for the best.
The 3 of us loaded into my little 2 door T-bird with all of our camping supplies and hit the road. It’s a 4-5 hour drive from our hometown to Maine, and I’d never driven it myself, though I’d traveled that way many times with my family. I had my MapQuest directions, Nick was my navigator, and I had made four Road Trip Mix CDs which we cycled through all the way there.
It was a beautiful day, blue skies and sunshine. I don’t recall much traffic, although I’m sure there must have been. The campgrounds were really nice. We never got around to using the pool since we spent most of our days on the beach instead, but they had one. We spent most of that first afternoon setting up our campsite. There were some struggles getting the tent staked into the ground because it was solid rock in half the area we tried to pitch it. Eventually we made it work.
We had brought coolers of snacks and hot dogs and we had things to make sandwiches. The best thing we brought was a grilled cheese toaster tool. It made delicious grilled cheese sandwiches in the fire.
The first night we went up to Wells and walked the beach at low tide, just getting excited to be there. I had always gone to Wells with my family as a kid so I was super excited to show them.
Day 1 we went to Old Orchard Beach, another of my favorites from my childhood. We spent the whole day at the beach, swimming and tanning and eating and relaxing. The boys tried to fight a particularly bold seagull. Nick dubbed it King Seagull and vowed to vanquish it. It might have stolen some fries or something, I don’t remember.
I do remember getting burnt to a crisp though. I did not apply nearly enough sunscreen, or at the very least forgot to reapply at some point. The tag on my swimsuit bottoms was sticking out while I napped and I had a neat little square on my tan (burn) line on my back.
That night we decided to check out York beach. There wasn’t much by way of entertainment or excitement, but we always find ways to amuse ourselves. We mostly just walked the beach like we had at Wells the previous night.
Day 2 was a bit more overcast, which was welcome considering some of us had tender skin after day 1. We were woken up by a thunderstorm. It was really disorienting to me because it was so early and there wasn’t any rain. There would just occasionally be a crash of thunder. At first I thought it sounded like a dump truck emptying a giant commercial bin. To this day Bo and Nick tease me about the “dump trucks.”
We spent the day at Drake’s Island Beach. It’s not a commercial beach like Wells or Old Orchard, so there were 0 amenities. There might have been Port-O-Potties at the dirt parking lot, but that was it. We brought our coolers and had sandwiches on the beach. The breeze was a lot cooler without the sun though and we only spent half the day there. Also King Seagull returned to torment Nick. He and Bob did their best to catch it, but it evaded them.
That night we ate like kings ourselves. It was out last night at the site, so we finished off all the snacks. I made popcorn over the open flame. It was the most fun I’d ever had with food in a fire. There were sandwiches and hot dogs and chips and s’mores. One of our chocolate bars had melted out of the cooler but then refroze when it went back into the cooler so it looked a little deformed, but it tasted just as delicious.
The campgrounds we stayed at also had an Excursions group based out of it that would take people sea kayaking. We were able to sign up for the morning we were supposed to leave. We loaded a bus and learned about what we were going to be doing. I honestly can’t remember where we cast off though. The one thing I remember was that it was the three of us, the instructor, and an older couple in a tandem, and the water was really choppy because there was a storm offshore. Even so, we impressed the guide with our stamina and made it to the cove for a snack before heading back.
We had to pack up as soon as we got back though, since we were supposed to check out by 11, but the kayak tour didn’t return until closer to 12. We’d had most of our stuff ready to go, but we couldn’t dally either. The skies never really cleared up and the drive home was pretty dull. I’m pretty sure the boys both slept most of the way.
I was sorry everyone couldn’t come, but after all was said and done, I think it would have been too overwhelming with any more people. It was the first vacation I ever took that wasn’t with family and the first time I had ever been camping on my own. It’s been almost 10 years. It might be time for a reunion tour, haha!
Notes: I actually took my husband to that campground in September. After a particularly frustrating week we decided to just hop in the car and see where we ended up. We got a new tent for a wedding gift so we brought that along in case we got the opportunity to break it in. When we headed towards Maine I remembered the campground and brought it up on my phone. We pulled in, they had a few sites available, we picked one, and just enjoyed a short respite.
I had a few ideas as to how I would have written this as a short story instead of an essay but I just couldn’t get it going. Sometimes them’s the breaks and you just gotta deal with it. That’s what writing is all about. There’s material here for future stories anyway.
Tuesday’s prompt: You look outside: Ah, it is snowing! But look closer. Those are not snowflakes falling from the sky! What is it snowing at your house?
Well that could go a few ways. I like this prompt. Maybe I can tie it in to the one from last week. Man, I am sick of snow. Tomorrow is supposed to be the start of spring but yet another nor’easter is forecast for Wednesday. Hopefully this will be it! Out like a lamb! Anyway, see you tomorrow!