We are on Peaks Island, an island three miles from downtown Portland. We arrived yesterday, having shuffled luggage and coolers and miscellaneous bags from the car, hustling about 5 blocks downhill from the county parking garage just outside the courthouse, where we boarded the ferry for a 20 minute cruise to the island. The temperature dropped as the mainland slipped into mist.
We are staying at the 8th Maine Regiment Lodge (and Museum). Not a Bed & Breakfast, it is more like a camp from years gone by. The building is massive with a common hall that comprises the main level. A broad wraparound porch circles the entire building. Below the common hall and porch is a pseudo basement, above grade at the back where four simple bedrooms run along the oceanfront. We ar I. Room 104 -- quaint and a little claustrophobic...
But clean and refreshingly simple. This hallway of rooms is just off a crazy dining room/kitchen space. The dining room has about 14 kitchenette stations, each with a cupboard and a two burner gas hot plate thingy. The dining room regulations require that your table is always set. We were assigned table four and station 4 upon arrival. We have space in refrigerator 2, located in a line up of 8 refrigerators that serve guests by room and kitchen assignment.
Upon arrival, Steve gave us a quick tour of the kitchen which is stocked with more pots, pans, plates, glasses, mugs, gadgets, tea towels, etc. clean up is an honor system, with three sinks for washing, rinsing and sanitizing. We didn't really come expecting to cook... But now that we know the lay of the land, attempting a meal seems like part of the adventure. As I type, we are sitting in a parlor located in a massive turret on a corner of the wraparound porch, facing the ocean. We emerged into the upper hall from an afternoon nap after walking the entire island earlier in the day. Books in hand, we were ready to curl up, watch the fog and read.
But as we neared the top of the steps, we were surprised to find a ballet class taking place in the hall. As surreal as it seems, it also really fits...quirky, opportune, practical -- a place for adolescent girls and women who are probably vacationing for an extended stay with parents and grandparents to get away and try something new or reconnect with an old skill (think Dirty Dancing and the ballroom dance lessons....). (Parenthetically, the woman teaching dance just explained within a single story that she studied for a year at the Ailey School and that she is a plumber.)
Amazing stuff. It would be great to bring the family, in part because it is so different from typical vacation expectations. Simple, lo tech but not wireless, ocean but not beach, gourmet but not restaurant soaked.... Right now we can't even see the Casco Bay for the fog, but we know it is there.
Tonight, crackers, wine and cheese and figs with the sound of the ocean, good books and fog as a backdrop.