Posted September 9, 2019 – Narrated by Carmen
“The soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through.”– Edna St. Vincent Millay
Writing this journal of our travels is usually done on a stormy day, or a smoky day, or a sandstorm day, or a crazy-hot day, or a freezing day, or during any condition when staying inside is a solution for what’s going on outside.
In our first year, I wrote these entries at night but …
… you LIB and you learn.
Before we set out, three years ago, I’d planned once-a-week updates. But after a year of late night blogging, I learned to settle into the rhythms of road life and wait for the inevitable conditions that drive us inside once every two weeks, roughly.
Throughout 2019, we’ve depended on those opportunistic indoor days to catch up on email, rest and reflect … until we entered New England in July.
Idyllic conditions have carried us through August. In fact, we’re wondering if we’ve found our permanent summertime Camelot along this eastern shore of the USA.
It’s a place I always imagined from novels and poetry and, we’re here to say, “It’s true! It’s true!”
Just the country drives are worth the trip.
Still, The Beast is almost on vacation. From Newport to Cape Anne, we only logged 230 miles in three weeks.
The roads are more like lanes – more narrow than most California driveways – with no shoulder to pull off, so I have to take snap shots from the passenger window and hope for luck.
Supermarkets are rare on these coastal scenic routes, so we stock up on superb produce and locally crafted maple syrup, dairy, nuts and bread at country markets.
Once we settle in, we cycle rail trails, walk on beaches, hike forest paths and exploit the crystal clear glacial ponds for swimming and paddling.
The average move here is 40-100 miles. After staying near a charming colonial village for a few days, we pack and move on. We’re barely traveling. But according to my FitBit we’re walking 17,000 steps per day …
… so, food is important.
We’re downing seafood like a couple of starving old pelicans. In Brewster we brought home a two-pound lobster-in-the-rough, split it in half and served it with homemade sides, traumatizing Pico to no end – maybe even for the remainder of his natural life.
Breakfast is important, too. Heaping bowls of fresh wild Maine blueberries and yogurt make us ready for a …
stroll through Ipswich, incorporated as a town in 1634 .…
or Gloucester – founded in 1623 …
In Rockport we noticed a billet in the window about a concert we wanted to attend.
We were lucky to get the last two tickets to see Kat Edmonson at The Shalin Liu Performance Center. We love her!
One glorious moment after another.
That’s how summer goes in New England.
“Beauty is whatever gives joy”– Edna St. Vincent Millay
But it finally rained. Every corner of Maine was drenched from dawn to dusk. NOAA called it a tropical depression from Hurricane Dorian out in the Atlantic on the way north to Newfoundland. The National Park administration posted dire warnings throughout the campground predicting forty-five mile-per-hour gusts, but it was merely a downpour.
We take all weather alerts quite seriously, but trust our instincts as we look to the sky and trees and watch the birds activities. Both Jim and I had a sense that we were in for a rain and some gusty wind, but no extremely harsh weather, and we were correct.
But there is no predicting these moments of ecstatic joy that lately come upon me as the first signs of Autumn make their appearance.
As I woke in Beauty, the aromatics of the wet forest and Jim’s coffee brewing, made my heart nearly burst with love for everything and everyone in the world.
This sense of exquisite joy that pierces me almost to the point of pain continued through our breakfast of hot spiced sweet potato dolloped with yoghurt and drizzled over with maple syrup.
“I would blossom if I were a rose.”– Edna St. Vincent Millay
Are these kamikaze moments of oneness with heaven and earth a hardwired response to Autumnal seductions? An ancient human response to harvest time and celebration?
Whatever, it’s a force here in the East Coast.
In San Diego this season is so subtle that you have to throw a coat in the car and drive an hour or so to the mountains to hunt it down in Idylwild or Laguna or Julian – and when you pull up in front of The Julian Pie Shop and step out into the air your toes freeze because you’re wearing sandals.
This Autumn’s message to me is, “Nature is not here to serve as backdrop for your ‘important’ life.”
The light, the colors and the sharpness of the air refine my senses, heighten my emotions and instill a longing for community – it’s as if Nature steps right through me like a phantom and then gallantly bows out, relaxing my grip on the hand-picked, dried-up bouquet of anxieties and fears of aging that slip to the ground.
After breakfast, not wanting the moment to pass, I recline with Pico – all snuggled warm beneath the down comforter on my lap – and watch the tree branches nod and sway, splattering the skylight like children playing in a garden sprinkler. I silently confirm to myself, to God, and to all the world, the pure joy and sweetness of Life. And that is the purpose of this partial, belated but faithful update of the First-Ever LIB Coastal New England tour.
38 thoughts on “We’ll Take Two Capes, Please”
” This sense of exquisite joy that pierces me almost to the point of pain”
The willingness to look at that. That sort of joy that can show up if we are willing to be open to it. How good of God to give us such a vibrant picture of that joy, in the changing of the seasons , so that we might even start to become more aware of it in the quieter and more subtle moments of life. Glad to be a part of your extended community.
Wonderful to hear from you, Jan. You’re family! xoxo
– Carmen & Jim
Thank you for blazing yet another trail I can’t wait to follow! Hoping to make it that direction next summer.
Thank you for being with us, Pickle! When we’re through New England we will publish the micro-details for more info, so stay posted.
Thank you, Ben!
Very much enjoyed this weeks blog and photos! This year’s early Autumn has been particularly sweet in Central New York State, too. Perhaps because it my first year of retirement!
We are coming to NY in 3 week and traveling through the Catskills and Shawangunk Mountains. Do you think we will see autumn colors? Thanks from Texas!
I live in the Hudaon Valley and would guess yes. Enjoy
Hey Karen! I agree with Allison. Bring your camera, the colors should be there. Stay warm and have a great time!
Cat C, thank you for your comment. We’re planning to white-knuckle the East Coast and only move south east until we can’t feel our fingers. So beautiful here! Isn’t retirement fabulous?!
Another great blog with amazing photos. We did New England and The Maratime Provences six years ago. It’s time to go there again!`
Thank you, Frank. Debbie will love the outlet shopping in Maine. Also, you’d enjoy using your new bikes for the carriage trails in Acadia National Forest … spectacular!!!
Carmen & Jim
Incredible photos! You inspire us all!
Thank you, Barbara! We miss you! Oh my, we thought of you when we were riding the carriage trails in Acadia. Have you done that?
Carmen & Jim
Lovely share of your travels and the pleasure each day brings you. Great photos but your description of the experiences is truly exquisite. Makes me want some of what you are having!! TFS. Jan xoxo
Thank you so much Jan. We are so blessed to have your support and friendship.
Carmen & Jim
Oh my! I just loved the reading of your blog today in New England. We are rv’ers too. Retired. Snowbirds between NM and AZ. Just listed house and want to travel more. Thanks for the inspiration!
Thank you, Lisa! Wow, what an adventure you have begun. Enjoy this planning time. It’s the best. Dream big and just go out there. There’s so much to see and no matter what you hear, there’s plenty for everyone. Best wishes for a quick and profitable escrow and congratulations!
Did you have to make reservations for campsites far in advance? Haven’t done the east coast yet.
Hey Mike. Great to hear from you! The answer is yes and no and maybe. No for any reservations after Labor Day. Yes for any National or State parks. Maybe for private parks over weekends – especially in areas where there are few parks. With the exception of National Parks, we only make reservations about two weeks in advance – and then only if there is no cancellation fee or a small charge – and, so far, it’s been working fine for us. Often we’re only able to get a dry-camping spot but we’re okay with that. But even dry-camping and electric-only is expensive on the East Coast. With few exceptions, we’ve found that full hook-up sites are close to the highways, over-priced and crowded. Harvest Hosts spots have all been wonderful though. It’s a lot of research, but once you’ve toured New England, you will have an ivy-league degree in camping.
Love the photos! Any campground recommendations?
Hello! Thank you for the compliment. We will give a full list of campgrounds that we recommend on our New England wrap-up post – but if you need info before then, email us and we are happy to share.
Great essay! Loved the pictures! Have you slipped over to see Lexington, Concord and the Minuteman National Park between them? You can walk/bike the Battle Road where the Colonists harrassed the Redcoats after “the shot heard ‘round the world“ at The Old North Bridge? Envying your autumn in the historic part of NE. Can’t wait for the next installment!
Thank you Jim and Melinda for your inspiration. We’re so happy to know that you are digitally riding shotgun for us. We missed so much in MA, including Minuteman NP. Now, we must come back to experience, https://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm
Miss you two so much!!
Carmen & Jim
Thanks Carmen and Jim, it’s so inspiring, we want to hit the road immediately. Regarding concerts, you might want to have a look at Indian Ranch in Webster, MA https://indianranch.com/concerts/. We saw an amazing concert by Buddy Guy a few years ago in a lovely setting. Claudia
Always wonderful to hear from you, Claudia! Thank you for the tip. We will have to miss it this time, but maybe readers will benefit. We loved Massachusetts, and we will pin in Indian Ranch. Thank you!
Another saved blog for a future journey, thx!
Thank you, Bob Grimes, for being with us!
So rich. So beautiful. Have you considered writing a book? I would certainly read it!
So nice to hear from you, Sabrina. Thank you for the inspiration. Travel elevates my awareness. It’s like having a magic window that answers my questions before I have the wisdom to ask. LIB is a life of constant discovery. Jim and I feel that there’s no more important work that we could be doing right now – to explore and experience. This adventure is an ongoing story, but a book? I’m not sure. But we will certainly think about it. Thank you for the suggestion.
Beautiful post! I lived in Boston for years and you took me back with such color and emotion that I truly felt I was there again. Your writing is so powerful: “Nature is not here to serve as a backdrop for your ‘important’ life.” Wow ❤️
Thank you, Tamara. We’re quite taken by the friendly locals, natural beauty, culture, outlet mall shopping and seafood. Who knows, maybe, someday, we’ll be fair weather New Englanders. Next visit we will spend more time in Boston, perhaps you can recommend some activities?
I truly loved your journey this time in New England. I sit here and San Diego, La Mesa to be exact, in ponder your wonderful words. Thank you for sharing your fabulous journey I’m looking forward to more of your wonderful writing ❤️💗
We plan to stay in New England through Leaf Peeping Season, but it’s getting so cold! I’d like to stay here and see the Fall color but my feet want to be someplace nice and warm like La Mesa. Happy Autumn! Enjoy a slice of Julian apple pie for us. Thank you for being with us.
You have a way with words. Enjoy your posts immensely.
Thank you, Doc. What a pleasure it is to have you with us.
This post so perfectly captures all that is wonderful about coastal New England in the summer. Key part – as you’re finding out – “in the summer.” 🙂 It’s funny to think about the downsides of living all year in Southern California. It sounds positively dreamy to us now, but I do wonder if we’d ever miss the experiences that come with the change of seasons… Hopefully we can find out eventually. In the meantime, I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying all that New England has to offer. Love Pico’s commentary on the lobster, by the way. Too funny!!