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Nice post for me to leave sitting out there for more than a week, huh? Hope nobody accidentally stumbled across my blog or they’d never return!

I happened to be on vacation last week. Yes, a real, super fabulous, sort of random, lucky-for-me vacation. You know how my parents go on these bike trips every year? Well, my dad had his knee replaced in the spring and then his other knee scoped in August and my mother was suffering from bike trip withdrawal and pathetically requested my company so she wouldn’t have to go an entire year without a Backroads trip and I, being the good daughter and not wanting her to suffer too much, sacrificed myself and tagged along.

Okay, well, that’s not exactly how it went. It was really my husband who sacrificed me and let me go along. Thanks to short work days for Mark and long playdates for the boys, I had the distinct pleasure of going with my mom for a week of cycling through coastal Maine. I know when people think “bike trip,” images of roughing it come to mind. But no, this is quite the opposite. We certainly worked hard on our bicycles (there are no flat parts of Maine, as far as I can tell), but these trips are quite luxurious, with leaders taking care of every detail and van support in case you want to quit (needless to say, we never did) and lovely hotels and inns and fantastic gourmet dinners each night. For me, the combination of intense exercise, quaint seaside towns and delicious food and drink could not be more perfect.

Day One: Ready to go

The weather was iffy (and that’s an understatement) but the scenery was beautiful. We were quite close, in  fact, to where the boys and Mark and I went last fall.

Best of all, we had a great group of fourteen cyclists and two leaders, and spent a significant portion of our non-biking time just talking and sharing and laughing.  We knew we were willing to get to the heart of the matter when our second night dinner conversation revolved exclusively around religion, inspired by one lapsed Mormon and many lapsed Catholics.  So much for not talking religion or politics with strangers!

View from hotel

My favorite part was Day Two, the toughest by far, which included a climb up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. As our leaders described the route, they predicted it would take us 40 to 45 minutes to bike the 3-and-a-half miles up. Forty-five minutes for three-and-a-half miles? On a bike?! That seemed crazy to me and as soon as I thought, “I could run it faster than that,” I knew how I’d be spending my afternoon.

After cycling more than thirty miles on unpaved, trafficless paths, I met our van at the base of the mountain and handed over my bike, ready to  tackle a run up the mountain. “Oh-kaaaay,” my leader had said when I suggested it at lunch. “We’ve never had anyone request that before.” Which, of course, made me want to do it even more.

A few hundred yards into my run I had a brief moment of doubt — what was I thinking? — which quickly dissipated as random drivers and cyclists cheered me on. Every time I got a wave or a clap or a toot of a horn (or even a head shaking), I’d smile and just keep going. (It always helps, you know, like today as I ran down North Park and someone leaned out of a minivan window and shouted, “Run, Krissy, run!” I haven’t a clue who it was but I sure appreciated it.)

Partway up

Still going

The hardest part was not knowing how far I’d gone. Because I was slower than usual (and had forgotten to look at the exact time when I started), I had no idea if I was just around the bend from the top or only halfway there. It reminded me of those final weeks of Austin’s treatment when we were never sure of how much more chemo we had ahead of us. It’s always easier when you have a clear goal, an end post, to set your sights on. The not knowing makes it so much harder, both physically and emotionally. Do I push now and finish strong or conserve for all that remains ahead?

The whole run reminded me of the cancer journey.  Cancer’s like that, you know. One small step, one foot in front of the other. If you look up and try to take in the whole path ahead of you, you’d be too overwhelmed to ever even start. The summit would seem insurmountable. So instead you put your foot down and you take one step and then you take one more. Focus on the one tiny inch in front of you — that’s what my dad said before we started the second round of chemo. Just that one little inch. And before you know it, you’re there. You’ve done it.

And then it’s all downhill.

We’ve been in Chautauqua for the past ten days. Each day I think I’ll go brrow my dad’s laptop and dash out a quick update but somehow my days are filled and by the time the kids are tucked into their bunks at night, I am done. Mark was here for 4th of July weekend and then it’s been a steady stream of my girlfriends and their children. At one point, we had seven kids in the house, all younger than Braedan. Between waterskiing and tubing, running and biking, shopping for, preparing and cleaning up after the never-ending mealtimes, we are all plenty busy … and plenty tired.

The kids are at such a better age for a trip like this without Daddy. They’ve got friends to entertain them day and night and, with Gram and Gramp right next door, there is always someone willing to go fishing off the dock or give an extra push on the swing. It’s really been quite nice and, according to Mark, we are very lucky to not be home since the painters are going full force, resulting in the entire house’s worth of windows being covered with plastic (not so nice when it’s 90-plus degrees out … and no, those hundred-year-old houses do not have air conditioning!). 

But I am super excited to go home and see firsthand the progress that’s been made. The pictures Mark texts me at the end of each day are pretty fabulous. The painting should be done by week’s end and I promise that as soon as I’ve seen it in person, I’ll post photos here.

But for now, I’ll fall asleep yet again with the waves crashing outside my window and I’ll have my morning cup of coffee out on the porch and then the kids and I will plan another day of chock full of relaxing.

 

What a great trip. First it was four days in Cape Cod, with beautiful weather and old friends (well, they’re really Mark’s old Peace Corps friends, but they feel like my old friends, which is really really nice). Long lazy days of bike riding on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, kayaking around the pond and indulging in Maine Wild Blueberry ice cream cones (yum).

Note the labels on the benches

Note which side we’re sitting on

Long lazy evenings of grilled dinners on the deck, kids playing happily and competitive puzzle-building (yes, puzzles can get competitive!).

Then it was off to Boston, a city filled with nostalgia for me. The kids enjoyed the swam boats in the Public Garden and the Duck Tours past all the historical sites, ending with Braedan steering the amphibious truck in the Charles River. A rainy afternoon at the New England Aquarium, followed by an always-too-short visit with my college roommate and her kids at Quincy Market. When we woke up to rain yet again on Thursday morning, we decided to hit the road early, skipping the planned visit out to Tufts, which was really just for me and would have only been a bunch of brick buildings and grassy hills to everyone else (and probably another ice cream cone for good measure).

All in all, it was a perfect blend of beautiful nature and beautiful city, from cartwheeling in the sand along the ocean to running down the path along the Esplanade. Friends and family, old memories and new memories, good food and, well, … ice cream.

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February 2020
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