Dear readers, I must warn you ... this is a ginormous post! Even for me, this is a very lengthy post - so I must apologize if vacation photos are not your thing! I attempted to set up a photo album for my "travelogue" but it was taking me too much time to organize - and my free moments were precious and few this week. So instead, you've got the whole shebang here in one ridiculously long post! I do hope you enjoy the pictures, and I can't tell you how much fun this weekend was - though, I'll certainly try! ;)
So my dear friend, and college roommate, Kathy, set this whole adventure up - a "moms" getaway weekend for our group of college girlfriends. We hoped to have as many ladies join us as possible, but in the end, there were just five of us. As I mentioned, we all went to college together (and roomed in the same house) and have happily stayed in touch all these years! Twenty at last count!
Now, a couple of years ago - the year most of us turned 40 - we went to Newport, RI for a long weekend. This time we set our sights (and navigation systems) on Cape Elizabeth, Maine ...
The Inn by the Sea is located just about 15 minutes outside Portland. It was very easy to find, and I am very grateful to my friend Lynne for driving me there and back (not to mention chauffering our group around Portland), and I deeply appreciate all the research and legwork Kathy did in finding this inn and booking our cottage!
So, we arrived at the Inn around noon on Friday ~ and we were just overwhelmed by its loveliness - not to mention quite impressed by its eco-friendliness.
Here is the central lobby in the main building. To the left are the check-in desks (not shown) and the restaurant entrance ("The Sea Glass") just beyond. To the right is a handsome little lounge - all dark, shiny wood and a large crackling hearth.
Tired from driving and ready to chat, we opted to have lunch on the deck - and here I am, soaking in that glorious Maine sunshine!
I could not pass up a lobster roll - this was Maine after all, and nothing says Maine quite like lobster!
After lunch our lodging was ready, so we ambled over to the "Beach Cottage." As the mother of boys I had to laugh at the sight that welcomed us on our way up the stairs ...
Our cottage had two levels ... here's a glimpse of the upstairs loft where I slept:
And here's the view from our deck!
I must tell you, this was the perfect weekend for our visit. Not only was the weather amazing - mid 60s, crisp and bright - but Saturday just happened to be "Open Lighthouse Day" across Maine. The ONE day a year when lighthouses are open to the public!
The Inn's gardens were beautiful and seasonally-inspired ...
And a short walk through the September woods ...
... brought us to a secluded beach.
One thing I love about New England beaches - the craggy coastline.
Beautiful to look at, but not always comfortable for bare feet!
The colors in the water are striking ...
... and the wildlife is plentiful (and oftentimes, pushy). These gulls however, were quite well behaved.
After a long afternoon walk, we made our way back "home."
(Lynne took this photo. It was a very silly moment.)
The woods were just brimming with late summer bounty ...
Michaelmas daisies, rose hips, goldenrod and cattails ...
Oh, and spider webs! They were everywhere!
In the evening (this is Friday), we headed out to scope out the local lighthouse locations. This here is Two Lights State Park.
Here's a group shot of our "gang," from left to right: Dionne, Nancy, Lynne, me and Kathy.
I have to point out - our colors very nicely tie in with the park habitat!
Sunset was closing in so we got ready to head out ...
Interesting sculptures at The Lobster Shack, located at the end of Two Lights Road.
We did a quick drive-by the Portland Head Light, but the park was closing.
We picked up pizza for supper and enjoyed a movie before bed (a "chick flick" Bill would call it). We needed our rest for a busy day ahead!
And not surprisingly I was first up ... here is my sunrise moment on the deck:
Watching the light come across the marsh was amazing!
After a delicous breakfast (Lynne brought a wonderful egg casserole) and "Good Morning" calls home, we headed out bright and early to see ourselves some lighthouses!
First up - Portland Head - only we were denied immediate access, and instead assigned a time to come back. So we made our way to "Bug Light" instead.
Which was tiny but oh-so lovely!
Gorgeous Grecian architecture!
All the lightghouses had precarious staircases - the only way to gain access to the towers.
But so worth it!
Another group shot ... don't we look well rested?
Next up - Spring Point Ledge Light:
At each lighthouse we were welcomed by some really wonderful people - very knowledgeable in Maine maritime history - full of stories and that true Yankee spirit.
We were also met at each lighthouse with something like this:
But again, the steep and somewhat scary climb was totally worth it!
Such a view!
Of course, nature nut that I am, I couldn't help but notice this tiny black creature nimbly nativagting the rocks:
(According to the lighthouse representative this is a mink!)
During our visit, we each got to try on the lighthouse keeper's hat:
And learned about the workings of the lighthouse system in general, and Spring Point Ledge in particular:
(Needless to say, all kinds of "unit study" bells were going off in my head!)
Finally, it was on to Portland Head!
One of the most iconic Maine sights:
Another climb, not as narrow, but quite a bit higher ...
And again ... that view!
This plaque reads:
"Henry Wadsworth Longfellow often walked from Portland to visit this lighthouse. The Keepers were his friends, and it is believed he sat here for inspiration for his poem, The Lighthouse."
(More information can be found here.)
Our next stop was downtown Portland - a place I'd never visited, but had heard lots of wonderful things about!
We were all stah-vin so we found a neat little pub for lunch ...
My Saturday lunch: a turkey/smoked cheddar sandwich, and a cup of clam chowdah ...
So, so yummy.
Some fun window shopping ensued ...
The prettiest pottery/candle/soap shop I've ever been in:
A shop entirely devoted to cupcakes!
And another, all about hot sauce!
(I bought Bill a bottle of "Thai Monkey." One step hotter than he's used to - a kajillion steps hotter than I can handle!)
The one place I parted with some of my pin money - Stonewall Kitchen:
I bought some Halloween treats for the boys and some autumnal delights like Maple Pumpkin butter and gingebread latte mix.
I kept myself in check and soon we headed for the parking garage - passing a very neat building on our way ...
Once home, we changed up and headed to the beach for some "book" time.
First, Nancy and I took a moment to pose in the gazebo ...
Thanks to Kathy for the picture!
My girls, enjoying our Saturday together:
My view ... I sent this picture home to Bill and the boys via my iPhone. I called these two "Mabel and Madge."
On our way back to the cottage ... where a lovely wedding had just taken place.
Our Saturday night involved eating by the hearth, a nice bottle of wine, and some s'mores by the fire pit. Fun and relaxing!
Sunday morning sunrise ... a bit more subdued at first sight:
But then the sun broke through ...
We had brunch at the Sea Glass and having had my fill of coffee back at the cottage, I opted for a mug of "seasonally flavored steamed milk."
I chose "caramel" ...
It was a little bit of bliss.
I also had Maine blueberry pancakes - and they were spectacular - though as I told Bill, not quite as good as Daddy's Flying Flapjacks. :)
After brunch we packed up and headed home. Home to our hubbies, our homes and our kids. Feeling rested, rejuvenated and just relishing the relationships we've kept current these many years. It's so easy to get carried away with our repsonsibilities these days - we're all so busy and our kids are so busy and it's so easy to forge on and forget. I am as guilty of this as anyone. My life is absorbing - I love my children and my husband and my home, and I love this path we've carved ... but I also love my friends, these dear women who've known me since I was a girl. I am truly blessed to be friends with these ladies - they have shaped me in so many ways and I treasure their support, their friendship and love.
All that said, it felt so good to get home. :)
And here is my favorite souvenir ...
Something I'll use all through the fall, winter and early spring - sipping tea and coffee and cocoa ... and remembering this very special weekend.
Next year is already in the works ... our 2012 destination?
Thanks SO much for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed a peek at our "Maine Moms Getaway." If you've never been to Maine I hope I piqued your interest - it truly is a "vacationland" for all seasons. There are many memories to be made here ...
I cherish the ones I brought home with me!
(See you all again sometime soon!)