Countdown to Beach-Land (part one of a series)

Mike’s family has been going to the beach of Maine every year pretty much forever. Even back before they were married (or possibly even dating?), Mike’s parents went up the area between Wells and Scarborough. Actually, I think his mom is actually from Biddeford, at one point or another. Anyway, it’s what they do, and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited and involved for the last few years.

Five Years Ago

This was the first time I really spent any kind of time with Mike’s family. I remember having a distinctly difficult time remembering what they looked like. I actually think I said to Mike at one point, “I don’t remember what you’re mom looks like, except that she looks just like a mom should look.” I don’t think he was amused, but I was concerned because I didn’t know who to walk up to in the grocery store where we were stocking up for the week.

I don’t think Mike and I were there for the whole week that time. We were both working some pretty sweet internships, and probably didn’t take much (if any) time off. It’s too bad my memory is such crap.

I do remember being nervous during that first drive up north. We were in Mike’s old pile-of-bolts vehicle. It was a boat on wheels, complete with chivalry door (the passenger side door didn’t open from the inside) and a fan system that Mike personally installed (the switch looked remarkably similar to the one on my industrial grade blender). It was a warm sunny day, and that combined with my nerves to make me do the one thing that I always do when I’m stressed – sleep. I dozed off in the car as we worked our way up Route 1 from York through Ogunquit to Wells. I wasn’t alone in my non-driving behavior, however, as the guy in front of us was totally playing a banjo from the driver’s seat. To say the traffic was moving slowly would be an understatement.

But we made it. We drove out to the end of the Wells Beach peninsula and parked paying some trivial amount for the privilege. Then we switched to our sandals and walked out on the beach until we found Mike’s family. No doubt his dad was already swimming, before they even got the keys to the cottage. The man loves the ocean.

The rest of that first visit is kind a dim memory. We were staying in a very small cottage that had a name, like Betty or something, painted on the outside. The sleeping situation involved trundle beds and the floor. Mike’s sister Kate had a friend with her (probably Sarah, but I can’t be sure), and the three of us all got some serious sun burn action. This was when we discovered lidocaine-laced aloe. Also it was blue, and that pleased us.

Four Years Ago

Holy crap. Did we even go four years ago? Mike had just graduated, and was busy getting his first apartment lined up. I had just come back from two months living in London (I should probably write about that…). I remember the Fourth of July from that summer, but I don’t really remember the beach. But we must have gone, because there are definitely three different cottages in my memory, and the last three years were all the same one. So, I’ll have to assume we went, but only for the weekend, and you’ll have to assume it was fun.

I’ll also go ahead and assume that, since we were likely in Wells, we probably went climbing. Along the end of the beach there, is an inlet for boats to come to shore. And keeping that in place is a huge pile of rocks extending way out to sea (Edit: Tara tells me this is called a “jetty.” I totally knew that. I swear I did!). Actually, calling them rocks is probably somewhat rude. They are boulders. And they’re fun to climb and walk along. I really like it, even though I have some height fears. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, I really do enjoy those adventures.

Of course, the adventure is less awesome when you come back to the sandy beach with a bleeding foot… (This memory just sprung back to me in full force.) I had cut my foot on one of the pointier boulders, and was trailing drips of blood along the path back. Mike was predictably freaking out, but I knew the cold of the water would sooth me. So, I walked back to our chairs keeping my foot somewhat submerged in the cold, cold North Atlantic Ocean.

Three Years Ago

This time, I was the one who had just graduated, and as such I had no spare vacation days. I think I did squeeze one out, so we could stay an extra day. Kate had no such restrictions, and was there for the whole week. I remember her being both disappointed when we left but also glad to take the bed room from us after sleeping on the fold out couch well within earshot of her uncle’s severe snoring.

This was the first year in the nifty cottage up in Scarborough. Man, this place is awesome. Big open living room, two bed rooms, fully useful kitchen, easily room to sleep six, if not as many as eight or more if sleeping bags are brought along. The place is less than a block from the beach, and right next door to a convenience store that also conveniently sells subs at lunch. Aside from the occasional people who, every year, think our front porch is seating for the sandwich shop, it’s pretty much perfect.

Scarborough is also pretty convenient, since (where we were anyway) it is only a mile or so from Old Orchard. Old Orchard is like a continuous church carnival, complete with sketchy rides and fried food. Pier French Fries are Mike’s mom’s most favorite, and we were now close enough to get them pretty much whenever she wanted.

The beach week also happens to coincide with Mike’s birthday just about every year. This means we are always looking for someplace nice to take him out for dinner. In Scarborough, we found his favorite – Japanese teppanyaki. This particular place takes great delight in making mixed drinks that kick you in the pants, great food cooked right in front of you, and a huge racket to celebrate someone’s’ birthday. They even take a Polaroid. I have one of them hanging up on the fridge.

More tomorrow…

August 10th, 2006 • 11:41 am • dinane • Posted in Life, Vacation
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