Monday, October 06, 2008

Maine for the Weekend!

Jamie asked me to be a guest writer on the blog... a first! But there is good reason to break with tradition. Last weekend (10/4) Ben and I had a once in a lifetime experience and Jamie asked me to record the event.

It started Saturday morning. Jamie, Ben, and I went to the Lake Clear Airport for breakfast at the diner. But this was no ordinary breakfast. It was a farewell to launch Ben and I on our adventure.

Jamie's colleague George Bailey, a sixth grade teacher at the Lake Placid Middle/High School, arrived after breakfast and ushered us through the security gates to the private plane area. George has a strong Maine connection and he offered to fly Ben and I to visit for the weekend while he caught up with some friends...

That was exciting enough... but it just kept getting better. The plane seats three (including the pilot) and Ben got to fly as the co-pilot! George has been flying longer than he has been driving, and after this Ben may be following in his footsteps.

We waved goodbye to Jamie...who looks about as nervous as I felt...

but hey... we were in great hands... even if the co-pilot was only six!

Once we got the fuel guys to leave their coffee break and fill our tanks we were headed down the runway.

The view was amazing! The fall colors are just a little past peak. Slightly muted with dustings of snow on the high peaks.

Ben was speechless for the first twenty minutes or so as he examined the ground below for familiar landmarks. We had a little turbulence which reminded Ben of a roller coaster. (He loved it). The sun was bright between the clouds and George indicated that we were probably going to end up flying above the cloud line. He needed his sunglasses and started to look in the back for his shades. Leaving the flight in the hands of the co-pilot...

That's right... George may have been kidding when he said, "Hey Ben, take the wheel" but Ben didn't need to be told twice. He immediately grabbed the wheel and channeled his inner jet fighter. He started swooping the plane. George said turn to the left, Ben went right...

...then back to the left. When George took back the controls he was amazed that we were still on course. I was amazed that my six year old had flown a plane for about two minutes!

As the clouds closed in we pulled up above the cloud line. Ben studied the fluffy floor and worked to keep the sun out of his eyes.

We charted a course that took us past Lake Placid to Middlebury, VT then over to Laconia, NH and up to the Lewiston/Auburn airport.

We touched down at the L/A airport. It is a little smaller than LAX. Especially considering George drove us up to the door where my sister and brother-in-law were waiting. Uncle Steve and LaLa helped us claim the baggage (from the backseat of the plane) and we were off on the next leg of the adventure.

First we headed to Wallingford's Apple Orchard. We picked up fresh apples off the tree and warm donuts made fresh from scratch on site. After sampling the goods, we headed back to LaLa's for lunch.

After lunch we went over to Wolf's Neck State Park.

The park is about five minutes from Freeport. As the park's website states, Wolf's Neck State Park "contains varied ecosystems, including climax white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the rocky shorelines on Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River".

The rock path is jagged and we all found it a little tippy to navigate between the ocean and river waters.

La La pointed out the resident osprey nest sits on top of the white pine on Googins Island.

Ben particularly liked rescuing the periwinkles on the rocks.

He and La La took examined the rock types and threw stones and shells into the water.

La La gave impromptu geology lessons...

...but Ben was most interested in the acorns. We don't have a lot of oak trees in the Adirondacks, so finding acorns with the "hats" on is a real treat. After the park we went back into Freeport where I was treated to a facial and Ben and La La went shopping. La La found the perfect pair of sunglasses for the budding pilot. Perfect for the flight home.

The next morning La La, Ben and I headed over to Portland to cheer Uncle Steve on in the Maine Marathon. Steve's relay team (who we cheered to victory in Vermont a few months ago) hit the pavement again for the relay portion of the race. Steve ran the first leg of the relay and we were there with big voices and our sign... next time we need a cow bell!

After the race, La La, Ben and I went over to Pine Point near Old Orchard Beach. In the summer this spot is usually crowded, but off season it is wide open, populated mostly by dog walkers and locals. Ben made a giant treasure map in the sand and spent a lot of time running in circles and making big noises.

I think it is no secret the La La loves "her" Ben.

It was a perfect day to roll up the pants and walk barefoot in the frigid Maine ocean.

Last summer at Popham I found quite a few sand dollars, so Ben knows they are my favorite. He found this one for me. I thought it looked strange until I realized that it was still alive! I've never seen a live sand dollar before. We touched the cilia and watched them move. Took videos and pictures and then released the creature back into the water.

It was a little before noon as we headed back to Freeport to meet Uncle Steve for lunch. Before we got there George called to let us know that there was going to be spotty rain on the way home and he wanted to leave a little early to make sure we got home safe in the daylight. So we finished up lunch, grabbed our stuff from La La's (including our new pet basalisk that hatched out of an egg left for Ben by Hagrid...) and then headed back to the L/A airport.

Ben the old pro co-pilot donned his new shades and waved goodbye.

The trip home was beautiful. Cool cloud formations and columns of rain and sun beams. We had a great time racing the geese and identifying landmarks. We stayed below the clouds and got an amazing show. As we headed back toward home we flew past Jamie's school in Lake Placid. Jamie was waiting as we touched down back at home. We were all back safe and sound before 4:00 - wow - what an adventure.... Thanks George!

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