Sunday, October 13, 2013


Portrait series taken by Brendan.

Phase three of our road trip took us South from New Brunswick to Maine. Old Orchard Beach is the long standing Riff family holiday destination and this year we went along to join Nana and Papa, Scott and Shannon and cousins Dustin, Duncan and Deakin.

We were pleased to discover that the campsite we had chosen turned out to be the best of the bunch in the area, so we settled in for the week. Then followed a few days of beach play, family time, visits to the amusement park (aka "the circus") seafood suppers, pool time, campsite chilling, rock pool exploring...

The boys and their cousins had a blast on the amazing beach that is Old Orchard. The sand and waves are really just perfect for little kids, especially when the tide was out and a sand bar was revealed. They dug holes, built dams, looked for sealife, played with beach toys. Brendan and Duncan seemed to connect well this time, the two of them being the closest in age of the cousins, except the babies I'm just realising. Plenty more to look forward to there over the years! I enjoyed chatting to Dustin about the ocean, he's so curious about things and really fun to talk to. Tadhg, being Tadhg, was meeting everyone on the beach and in the campsite and playing with random kids, his confidence and friendliness standing out.

If you ask the boys their highlights of this time, they would undoubtedly say the amusement park. I think we went 3 times, each time they tried something different. They loved going on rides with their cousins as well as some with Steve and I.  Merry-go-round types, a ferris wheel, a water slide, a rollercoaster, the spinning one like the old "waltzers", bumper cars... and others.

The campsite was a good one. Swimming pool and playground just 30 metres away, a good road for Brendan to cycle round, a little snack bar (though nothing healthy sadly) and a friendly atmosphere with a quiet nights policy that was respected. It was not too big and perfectly located, although our plan to cycle the 1.5km to the beach each day didn't really work out. We tried but the timing was never right for Araliya. When it takes so much effort and time to get everything ready, everyone fed and watered and bikes packed and ready the poor baby was neglected and then needing held and cuddled and nursed before she could be comfy in the bike trailer. So that plan was abandoned in favour of the car. Maybe next time!

We went to Portland on the middle day. A trip to check out the Children's Museum ended up being a whole day, with 6 hours spent happily in the museum with a trip out for lunch in the middle. The boys could have stayed there longer and are still talking about it. It's a tiny museum but all hands on with lots of dressing up and imaginative play places. For lunch we headed to a local noodle bar that had been recommended to us by a Fredericton friend, and the boys were surprisingly well behaved given that they were pretty excited and we were sitting on a picnic bench outside on a busy city street.We had been to Portland before we got to Old Orchard and were keen to go back. What an awesome city! The Standard bakery was worth the wait in line, if not only for the baked goods, which were yummy of course, but also for the free tasters and the camaraderie and chit chat with the locals (and their dogs.) 

Portland: the kind of place where even the vending machines are crunchy! (haha, get it? Crunchy, for those of you across the ocean, is a North American word for a more alternative lifestyle, healthy living, green, liberal social attitudes, that kind of thing) Portland is also the place where I caught myself looking twice in pleasant surprise as I passed an interracial lesbian couple embracing. Not your everyday scene in Ottawa.

Although awesome in so many ways, this was perhaps the trickiest phase of our holiday as we did our best to fit in with a well established beach holiday routine. Lots of late nights, fair rides and ice cream right before bed- a child's dream of course, but hard on mum and dad the next day! We balanced it with some downtime at the campsite pool and playground, a midweek visit to the children's museum in Portland and lots of enforced quiet time (or naps if we were lucky.)

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