Coast of Maine

David wearing Annabelle, with Ada in Maine
We loved Maine, and the Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park was all we had hoped Maine would be:

A trail through the woods is dotted with wild berry bushes but you have to keep a sharp eye out to spot the tiny raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. It isn’t a feast, but it is a sweet taste, and Annabelle learns a lot about which berries we eat and which are “not for picking.”

I tell her that some of the berries “aren’t good for us, they’re for the birds to eat.” Reliable Ada pipes up with “And the fairies!”

As we get closer to the beach (but don’t yet know it), wild rose bushes become abundant with plump and healthy rosehips mimicking the form of your local innkeeper’s shy but buxom daughter. The bushes are everywhere, as are their hips, and the remaining roses nestle in their leafy nests like pink jewels in a wildwood crown.

And suddenly the woods fall back and you’re on a pebbly beach and the pebbles grow until they are flat slabs and round boulders couching sparkling pools that each forms a whole universe to the seaweed and snails and coral growing there…

Ada builds stone alters while Annabelle climbs, sometimes two-legged, sometimes four-legged, and peers into the pools Pooh Bear style: knees bent, bottom stuck out, leaning too far forward until inevitably becoming a part of the wet landscapes she is observing with a splash and cute red lips making the letter “o” with surprise.  This happens enough times that her clothes are soaking wet and we lay them out on the rocks to dry.

My shoes and socks become equally soggy after the third time ending up in the ocean up to my ankles to snatch at the naked and speedy little imp whose mission has become losing herself in the untamed ocean waves.  So Ada and I take off our shoes and socks, leaving them high enough up on the beach to dry out, only when we come back for them, we’re lucky they haven’t floated away in the rising tide.

David and Cassidy are far off on the rocks that jutt out into the ocean.  I send the girls after them and we’re lucky when our speed reaches snail pace in a forwardly direction, but whenever we’re close enough to shout, David urges me to come see the tremendously beautiful view just around the next bend that outdoes the one I’ve just accomplished.  So we press onward, careful on the wet rocks, and the girls don’t care what’s ahead because they’re loving it where we are.

Plenty of rocks to choose from when I sit down to nurse and when David takes Cassidy out of the wrap, Annabelle is suddenly done exploring and wants to be wrapped up and since we only brought one wrap, we’re just as happy to have the heavy one wrapped, and she stays that way all the way back along the rocks, through the woods, and right into our livingroom parked in the parking lot that is really just a wide shoulder of the road.

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beautiful Maine coast

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nursing on a rock in Maine

my family on the rocks in Maine

Cincinnati with Friends

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Amanda and Gwydion are two of my closest and dearest friends from college, and now they have spawned a third to create a lovely triumvirate who I wish I could hug daily, but currently don’t.  I was, however, thrilled to get to hug them for a few days, to slip into the old familiarity, banter and laughter, and our families are perfect for each other.  They should get married.  And have children.

Speaking of which, Amanda is going to do that soon, which makes me wonder what the four person version of a triumvirate is?

We were there over the Fourth of July, so of course we did that:

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And the park and playground:

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And best of all the creek, and our friends Becky and Steve joined us, too:

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West Virginia – Grand View

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We had the best time with Robby over several days.  The West Virginia woods were beautiful and astonishing, the company was jovial, the skies clear and the sun bright.  The girls were loving it, Cassidy was still too little to tell us what he thought about it, and the caves were amazing.  The grass was green, the forest shady and dappled, and there was almost no one else around.  Just thinking of it makes me sigh a peaceful sigh.

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Berry Picking in New York

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Between Buffalo and Schenectady, the lovely couple who own Abbot Farms let us spend the night on their beautiful farm, complete with farm animals, apple and cherry orchards, and U-Pick raspberries and blueberries!  After a french toast breakfast made with today’s eggs, provided by the chickens we fed last night, we went berry picking.  That was a mistake.  We should have gone on an empty stomach because there’s no charge for the ones you eat off the bush!

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Apollo Beach and Lithia Springs Park

Lithia Springs Park
Lithia Springs Park (Hillsborough County Park)

Yes, it’s taken us a month to get away for our first weekend in Benny!

This was our first time really using Benny as a home.  We’ve turned on the lights now and then, and the toilet’s been used several times in my weekday activities with two kids.  But we really needed to get away and use all the systems in order to learn how to use them.

We started out with a trip to Apollo Beach to see the manatees that hang out in the warm waters of the TECO plant during the winter months:

TECO smokestacks
TECO smokestacks--surprisingly aesthetic on this beautiful day
TECO solar panels
Part of Tampa Electric's largest solar panel array.

manatees at Apollo Beach
Millions of Manatees!
TECO manatees
Us girls in front of the manatee viewing.
David and Ada at the manatee viewing
David and Ada at the manatee viewing

happy passengers
Happy Passengers

Florida Mesa
I didn't know we had mesas in Florida?

Then we drove to a county park to spend the night:

hooked up motorhome
Benny hooked up to a campground for the first time.

Lithia Springs Park trail
Exploring the Park

Lithia Springs Park Trail
Exploring the Park

Family at Lithia Springs Park
I LOVE THIS MAN!

He made my weekend.  He did all of the man stuff–propane, hookups, driving, navigating–and most of my half of the work too–carrying children, cooking dinner, washing dishes, reading stories, sweeping, etc.  I got a much needed break, even though he probably needed one just as much.  David, you are my valentine 😉

At dusk we were back at the campsite:

Hooking Up the Water Hose
Ada helped David hook us up to the campground water.

one year old eating watermelon
We enjoyed some watermelon.
dinner in motorhome
David made dinner (our first time cooking in the RV).
Dinette Bed
We made the dinette into Ada's bed for the first time.
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Our Cozy Bed in the Morning Sunlight
Toddler Walk
Setting Out on a Morning Walk

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Waldorf Doll
Ada takes such good care of her littlest sister!
Lithia Spring
Natural Warm Spring is 76 degrees, year round.

Lithia Spring
Not warm enough on this chilly morning!
girls behind fence
Poor Caged Children

My favorite part of our short stint living in the RV was how easy it was to focus.  Instead of going looking for Ada to come brush her teeth in the morning, potentially getting sidetracked by an emergency diaper change or potty trip, a spilled cup of water, the ringing phone, and Annabelle’s finally being unable to wait to nurse any longer . . . instead of all that, I just said, “Ada, come here–let’s brush our teeth.”  And there she was.  And while we were there, I brushed my hair and hers.  Then we prepared breakfast, and cleaned up breakfast.  And keeping an eye on the children was built in because they were RIGHT THERE interacting with us.

One thing at a time.  Easy peasy.

In a moment of too much honesty, I will report that mine and Ada’s hair don’t necessarily get brushed every day because the children get hungry and I have to start cooking, then we’re late for wherever we’re supposed to be first, and I haven’t sliced apples and prepared other snacks to bring with us, and Annabelle needs to be redirected away from the oven, and someone gets hurt and needs comforting (even though I need to be stirring the scrambled eggs), and on, and on.

Having all of our family activities in 176 sq ft (and that includes beds, cabinets, engines and drivers seats), brought a level of simplicity (although it reeked slightly of randomity) that I appreciated.

Ada with Winnebago
Ada and Benny