The Joy of the Soul: Part One

Life has a way of tumbling from one day into the next, routines blurring together in a way that makes you feel like life is living you instead of the reverse. Vacations justifiably have a reputation for being anything but restful, but I think rest can be construed in a number of ways. There is physical rest for the body, which I surprisingly get plenty of as an adult with a regular work schedule. And then there’s rest for the soul, but how do you rest something so intangible? You stop abusing it with drab routines and send it on vacation to take hold of life.

John and I had the opportunity to take a four-day trip to Maine this past weekend, which wore my body out completely but has left my mind and heart more content than they’ve been in what feels like a long while. In the interest of sharing this gift of rejuvenation with a hundred of my closest friends, here are my notes on puttering about tourist-style in our home state…

How To Lift Up Your Spirit In 3 Simple Steps

Step 1. Take the Scenic Route

On a light traffic day, it takes us about three and a half hours to drive from our apartment to John’s mother and step-father’s house. On Friday, we left our apartment at 6:30 am. We arrived at my in-laws shortly after 6:00 pm. By the time we got there, we were a bit tired, but we were not sick of one another because we followed the cardinal rules of road trips: (1) Bring tunes everyone can enjoy. (2) Begin the day with donuts and go downhill from there. (3) Do what you feel like, not what you planned.

We had thought to stop in Portland to catch the ferry out to Peaks Island, but our timetable would have had us just missing the 9:15. We’ve been meaning to go wander around Peaks together since we first started dating, but somehow the timing never quite works out. Someday we’ll get out there, or not. Friday, we decided to head straight to Bradbury Mountain instead.

The hike up the Summit Trail was actually too easy, so we meandered our way down the North Ridge Trail, where we discovered some awesome mushrooms, an oak sprouting from an acorn, and a downed tree across the trail. It was small and easy to climb over, but I felt like a good citizen when I reported it to the ranger, who hadn’t heard about it yet. Even if I did call it a maple when it was apparently an oak. Ah well, you can’t not look like an idiot all of the time.

The trip from Bradbury to Popham Beach took us through Brunswick, where we stopped to pick up some grilling food. We had some charcoal and lighter fluid and a deep conviction in the pleasure of bratwursts and mustard with a hint of sand. Neither John nor I had been to Popham in years, and I’m not sure either of us had ever grilled there,¬† so we were operating on the assumption that my memory of the information on the one website out of several I had looked at the night before was accurate in telling us there were grilling facilities. We parked close to the bathhouse on the right side of the parking lot, loaded ourselves up with our beach gear, and struck out in search of grills.

The path to the beach revealed a very grill-free area, so we went back to the parking lot and walked over to the bathhouse on the left side. There were no signs, so we assumed that the beach on that side would be equally grill-free. Still laden with our stuff, we trekked over to the booth at the park entrance to ask the ranger if there were, in fact, grills. After waiting five or ten minutes for her to process incoming cars and answer phone calls, we were told that they were, in fact, up the left beach path just a short ways. D’oh.

By the time we got to the grills, we were very hungry and, therefore, very impatient with the way the sea breeze kept blowing out our charcoal. After three douses of light fluid, we thought we finally had the coals going. They weren’t nice and grayish-white, but we were so hungry that we decided to put our brats on anyway. Three minutes later, we realized the coals were out again. My brilliant solution, instead of moving the brats, was to squirt the lighter fluid in sideways. My family history may have endowed me with a slight subconscious tendency toward pyromania; I really have no sense of moderation when it comes to using accelerants to get a fire going. When I flicked the fire finger on, the flames billowed up at me and around the brats in really a very impressive way, triggering chuckles from the older couple watching us grill from a nearby table.

What can I say? Lighter fluid has never seasoned meat so deliciously.

We left the gorgeous beach decidedly sunburned with a camera full of waves, sand dollars, and driftwood to drive straight through a raging thunderstorm for pie at Moody’s Diner. Seriously–do you see how blue the sky is behind me? The morning had been gorgeous, but we hadn’t been in the car ten minutes when the sky broke open and starting dumping on us. It poured steadily all the way to Waldoboro and let up just before we pulled into the diner’s parking lot.

If you don’t know Moody’s, it’s a Maine tourist tradition of sorts. It’s just a diner, but it has a long history, as diners go, and their coconut cream pie is otherworldly.

If you want to find out what steps 2 and 3 to lifting the spirit are, I’m afraid you will have to exercise patience and diligence. Bringing joy to the soul is a topic worthy of a series, don’t you think?

3 thoughts on “The Joy of the Soul: Part One

  1. What I like is the fact that they put that pie on a small plate so it looks like that pie is huge! I never understood the concept of putting dessert on a large plate, makes them look so skimpy! I bet that pie was awesome!


  2. Ah, pyromania…..another connection between you and John….not one you think to check out on the first date, though:)
    Love your blog, Melissa. I always look forward to seeing what the two of you have been up to. And thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for posting all the pics. Love you.


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