“I love the big fresh starts, the clean slates like birthdays and new years, but I also like the idea that we can get up every morning and start over.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
Monday was my mother’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old she is because I would like to see my next birthday. We spent her birthday exploring Maine. Our goal, on the coast an hour and a half away, was Acadia National Park.
En route we had to cross the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which turned out to be very interesting. It’s a Verrazano-style bridge with a single row of massive tension cables running through the middle of the length of the bridge. The bridge, which opened in 2006, spans 2,120 feet from shore to shore, is 135 feet above the water and cost $85 million to build. The really interesting part is the observation deck you can ascend via an internal elevator.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge is the only bridge observatory in the United States and only one of four bridge observatories in the world. It’s 447 feet above the river and offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Me, Allison and my favorite sister-in-law Jill rode the fifty second elevator ride to the top to be rewarded by the expansive, breathtaking view.
Also at this location, adjacent to the bridge, is the other Fort Knox, built pre-Civil War to defend the Penobscot River Valley from naval attack but never saw any action despite its one million dollar price tag. This Fort Knox and the one in Kentucky, the one with all the gold, are both named after the same person, Major General Henry Knox, America’s first Secretary of War and Commander of Artillery during the American Revolution.
After that we drove to Mount Desert Island, which Acadia National Park is on, looking for a flamingo carnival in Southwest Harbor but it was already gone, so we went over to the other side of the island to Bar Harbor for some shopping with the rest of the tourists. After all that, we ran out of time to actually go into the national park, so we’ll try again on Friday.
Tuesday was my brother’s birthday.
We spent the afternoon exploring a nearby river by kayak, starting at the Swan Lake Dam, traversing 6.66 miles down the Goose River to Mason Pond. The first mile was narrow, buggy and full of low-hanging branches, but still fun. The remainder of the trip was a leisurely glide downstream as we passed miles of tiger lilies, lupine, lily pads, pussy willows and a plethora of other verdant vegetation. There was an abundance of wildlife including numerous beaver, large snapping turtles, ducks, bass, deer, birds of all kinds and dancing dragonflies. The best part of the journey was the peaceful solitude. My brother and I barely spoke, each enjoying the enchanting peace and beauty of the place as we listened to the hum of the cicadas, the occasional jump of a fish or simply the breeze rustling through the marsh grass.
At some point during the day, when we reached a certain road, we were supposed to carry our kayaks over the road to the other side — my brother did, I didn’t. Instead, I chose to lay down flat in the kayak and charge through the three-foot wide, spider infested drainage tunnel to reach the other side. At one point I felt my hat brushing the roof of the tube, luckily, I don’t suffer from claustrophobia or arachnophobia. Upon exiting I’d only picked up a few eight-legged friends, who I quickly dispersed, and one albino inchworm who became my traveling companion for the remainder of the ride.
The last mile of the trip we spent racing each other like Olympic athletes vying for gold, sweat pouring down our brows, muscles pumping like a fully stoked steam train chugging down the tracks, me passing him, he passing me, yearning for the finish line. Sibling rivalry you might wonder…? No, in truth, we were really just racing a thunderstorm that was approaching with lightning and rolling thunder just over the horizon; the first drops of rain hit the windshield as we climbed into the truck. It was an awesome day – I think my brother enjoyed his birthday kayaking expedition immensely.
Wednesday we celebrated my niece/goddaughter Allison’s 13th birthday because I won’t be here in August for her real birthday. It was a mostly uneventful day since we were socked in with rain all day but we made the best of it and had some good family-time that involved a half-hour drive to the nearest Wal*Mart, lots of food, a birthday cake and presents, singing in the car and laughter.
Three days, three birthdays, three generations, three blessings, three people I will miss very much when I’m three thousand miles away.
I hope you spend quality time with family.
The gam continues…