They say that getting there is half the fun. I'm fairly certain that we'll always remember that adage from this vacation. The return trip home was a reminder that God has His hand of protection around us and we're so very grateful. The accident that we saw was so horrific that Becky had a nightmare and woke up crying, and I'll be haunted by it for the rest of my life.
It's the trip to Maine, however, that we'll laugh about. We left for vacation at 11:30 PM and drove all night. Sam drove for a few hours, but since he'd just worked until 11:00, he was exhausted. I took over and let him sleep. There is very little traffic in the overnight, and the kids sleep. It's such a win in our book that we'll probably always choose to arrive at vacation destinations this way. The downfall is that one tends to get tired in the wee smalls of the night, and when nobody is awake to talk to, boredom will also set in.
That's why, at 4:30 AM when I saw a bug on my door, it was kind of a big deal. It was probably there all night, but there were a lot of street lights on the drive around NYC. The newly lighted interior alerted me to the fact that a bug was on my door staring at me just like I was staring at it. While staring at the road. I was convinced that it was going to jump on me so I woke Sam to get me a tissue so that I could squash that thing into oblivion. He did. So I did. The nephew was awake and just rolled his eyes at us.
Things like this are kind of a big deal when you've been driving for 5 hours with nothing to break the boredom. Well, except for running over the Great Unknown Thing at 2AM and putting a hole in the passenger side door, but we didn't know that at the time.
The bug incident kind of blew over and I was losing the adrenaline high when I saw the mouse. There was a mouse just walking across my windshield like it belonged there. In all my years of driving, I've never seen a mouse walking around on the windshield, whether I was driving or not, so I wasn't sure how to handle the situation. Plus I was really overtired. And caught off guard. Nobody expects a mouse at 5 AM to walk across their windshield when they're driving around New York City doing 70 mph. I did what anyone would do.
"A MOUSE. THERE IS A MOUSE ON THE WINDSHIELD. LOOK!"
Sam, being awakened from sleep yet again, was very nonplussed. How the heck?!
"Turn on your windshield wipers."
So I did. Except that the mouse was down in the wiper well area and all I managed to do was smear bug splashes. Epic fail. And the mouse was gone. So much for that. Right up until it emerged again.
"LOOK! THERE IT IS AGAIN!" And I flipped on the wipers. But the mouse was faster than I was because I was still in the "caught off guard by a mouse on my windshield at 5 AM while driving 70MPH around NYC" stage and I fumbled in finding the right lever for the wipers. We've only owned the van for two years.
The third time is a charm, though. When that unfortunate mouse came up out of the depths of the van front, all I could think of were the brown droppings it would leave behind everywhere it went in the van, and how disgusting it was, and how I hated that mouse. I flipped on the wipers, the mouse rode the wave to the top and then let go. It couldn't have been planned any better. It soared over the top of the van and was never seen again. Our little country mouse is now a city mouse.
I will admit to throwing both hands up in the air and cheering. Its what one does for entertainment at 5AM when you've been driving all night.
Sam and I vacationed to New England last fall for our 20th anniversary. We loved it so much that we instantly knew we needed to share it with the kids. So here we are, in New England, sharing it. In case anyone missed me up in here, it's why I've been MIA all week. The rented house we had for the last several days didn't have free WiFi. No worries, the kids survived.
One of the super-duper fun things we found to do was lobstering. An online search back in February helped me stumble upon Lucky Catch Cruises, and since they only take 14 people on the boat to ensure that everyone has a hands-on experience, I called immediately to book our reservation. Given that we were half that crowd, I didn't want to miss out on space. And approximately every third week in the following four months, I'd worry about whether or not Micah would freak out while on the boat.
We've talked about taking a Disney cruise at some point, but the whole "what will Micah do when he's out on open water" thing was a question we weren't willing to spend thousands of dollars on to find out. That one time we were driving across the Bay Bridge on the way to Delaware and Micah started to freak out because we were just a bit too far from land to make him feel comfortable still sticks in our minds and makes us nervous to take the boy on a boat for several days on end. It's not like Disney will turn around and head for shore, or send a helicopter to pick up panicky cruisers. So I was hesitant about taking Micah on the lobster cruise, but figured that ruining a 90 minute excursion with a panic attack and wasting $15 on his ticket was far FAR better than just jumping in with both feet on a Disney cruise.
The big day finally arrived that the kids had been anticipating for months. (Seriously. They were. This lobstering thing sounded like a good time had by all, even before a good time was had.) We rescheduled three times due to weather once we were here, but we finally hit a non-rainy day and headed out to sea. One of the first thing they did was dole out protective wet gear. Micah was none too happy about that, but when he realized it was standard issue for everyone, he was okay with it. Orange was his color of the day and he wore it with pride.
The captain was amazing. He included everyone in the work, making sure we each had a hand in the all-important job of lobstering. Micah had several hands in, and the other passengers were super kind in not complaining about that fact.
The first thing you do is fill bait bags with herring. Five fish go in each bait bag, and then you pull the draw string closed. Micah proudly counted to five while someone held a bag for him.
Then the captain pulled in a buoy and reeled in the traps attached to it. He'd pull out the lobsters or crabs that were in it and told us all about them. The crabs went back into the bay. We got to do that.
The captain showed us how to measure lobsters to see if they were big enough to keep. If they weren't, they, too, went back into the bay.
Yep. We got to do that as well.
If they were of legal size, they were keepers. They needed their claws banded to keep them from injuring each other while in the holding tank, and we got to help with that.
Those are Becky's hands doing the work there. We learned lobsters have a dominant claw like people have a dominant hand. The dominant gets two bands because it's strong enough to crush another lobster's claw, or pinch it right off. That happens a lot, apparently. Several lobsters we pulled up were limbless. And those claws grow back! See the new growth? Fascinating.
We learned how to tell a male from a female, and that not all females will lay eggs. When one is found that has eggs, she is marked with a nick on a tail fin so that anyone who ever catches her in the future will know to put her right back where she came from so that she can make more lobsters. It's the law. And wouldn't you know it, we were fortunate enough to catch a female with eggs. She was unmarked, so we also got to watch and see how to do that.
(See the eggs all over the underside of that girl? No? Look closer. The muddy looking round things. Yep. Tons of them.)
Once the lobsters are measured, banded and/or let go, we then get to re-bait the traps. First you remove the old bait bags. Remember the five herring? The lobsters were in the trap eating them through the bait bag, so at this point the day-old herring are nothing but smelly, rotting fish corpses. The seagulls loved this part, because you dumped that mess overboard.
That's Luke, getting ready to dump a smelly mess overboard.
And those are the seagulls, glad that he did his job. Those seagulls freaked Becky out quite a bit because she has a phobia of birds that swarm and flock near her. Micah does as well, and yet that boy told me he wanted one to land on his arm. The sea does magical things to him.
Once the old bait bag is removed, you tie the new one with fresh herring inside the trap and close the lid.
And then the only thing left to do is toss that trap overboard.
And then you do it all over again until all the traps have been checked. And Micah was right there in the thick of it every time, wanting to do All The Jobs. And between jobs, he hung over the rail watching the water splash against the boat as we cruised the harbor. I was right there, too, with a death grip on his overall straps. The captain was right there piloting the boat, panicking a bit over the boy's obvious lack of fear.
And then when we were all done and the flattering orange gear was given back, Micah realized what was on his shirt. He was so excited that he had to point it out to the captain.
And it's official that the boy loves water. We're now a little worried that if we'd ever take a Disney cruise, we'd never get Micah to go inside to bed. But there are worse things, like freaking out in a panic attack because you have sand on your feet.