Monday, August 21, 2017

Boston Summer 2017 - Positively Portland

The final leg of our Boston 2017 Summer Adventure would consist of a full day spent in Portland, Maine. The idea was to stage ourselves relatively close to Boston, so we could drop the kids off and catch our flight with ease. It also meant a couple more nights in a hotel and a couple less nights in a tent.

Last Wednesday, we had no problem driving from Acadia National Park to Portland. The kids were craving swimming time in the pool, and shortly after we got to the hotel that's where we headed. All the kids enjoyed the pool, but Tzipora, fresh off of swimming lessons, was the clear fish in the group. The underwater selfies we captured were just too precious.

My personal highlight for that first night in Portland was getting a hot shower after spending three days camping. Man that felt good!

Thursday was spent exploring Portland, which didn't disappoint. Our first stop was the Maine Wildlife Park, a sort of zoo-like facility run by the Maine Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. It was the perfect way to guarantee that the kids would see some classic Maine wildlife, including being just a few feet away from a Moose. When Chana found out that Acadia was home to foxes, she was excited and getting to see one up close at the wildlife park was just too awesome. When I asked each of the kids which was their favorite animal, Dovid chose the peacocks, Tzipora the cougars but Chana refused to be pinned down--sure she loved the foxes and coyotes, but really she loved all the animals.

Much of this trip had been planned out, like the visit to Plimoth Plantation or even specific hikes in Acadia National Park. But for Portland, we just figured it out on the fly, and the Wildlife Park could not have been a more perfect activity for the kids (and adults). It was truly one of the most unique animal parks we've been to.

After the Wildlife Park we made our way to the LL Bean flagship store. As Shira noted, I was in both Heaven and Hell. On one hand, there was all this sweet camping gear on display for me to oggle. On the other hand, it's LL Bean, so the prices aren't particularly low. And, we had three kids in tow, so we had a limited attention span to deal with. The store does contain some fun features, like a knot board and various taxidermied animals on display. In one moment of complete cuteness, the kids plopped themselves down on a couple of large chairs and browsed through some of the kids books they were selling. We also visited the nearby LL Bean Outlet, which had more potential for sweet deals, but again, the kids were pretty shopped out by that point.

After shopping we made our way to the Portland Headlight, which is a terrifically picturesque lighthouse. While you can't climb the lighthouse (d'oh!) you can explore the nearby cliffs, which we all did. Give these children rocks to climb on, and they're happy! We played until it started getting close to dinner time. It's a shame we had to cut our time at the Headlight so short, as there were a number of other interesting features that would have been fun to explore, from the Children's Garden to various remnants of a Fort. Still, we had managed to squeeze in three major activities in the day, so I had nothing to complain about.

Before we knew it, it was Friday morning and time to head back Boston. We made one attempt to stop at a park in New Hampshire, which brought us mixed results. On one hand, we got to see a vertical lift bridge in action (whoo!), see some whale bones and do some beach exploring. On the other, we got rained out and the Science Museum on site was too pricey for the amount of time we had to dedicate to it (which was about 20 minutes at most). The rain served as a good reminder that we'd truly received an amazing gift this week: awesome weather. As we fled back to our car in the rain, it hit me that this could have been happening every day. Whew.

A bit more driving and we were back in Boston! We spent a little time with Elana and Shmuel, bringing them up to speed on our adventures. The kids had kept a journal throughout the week, and were proud to share it with their parents. And with that, we exchanged hugs and kisses and headed off to the airport.

What a week it had been! Plymouth, Acadia, Portland - they turned out to be the perfect locations to take the kids. What fun! I figure we have a few weeks to rest up, and then it's time to start planning next summer.

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