Vacation perks

The sun faded into the horizon at 7:12 PM on Labor Day, proclaiming the unofficial end of summer at Goose Rocks Beach, Maine. About 20 minutes prior to the sun’s slide, I hopped on my aqua rental bike and pedaled well into the after-glow.

Inside picket-fenced lawns, cone-shaped snowballs of hydrangeas and tall, willowy Black Eyed Susans swayed with the evening breeze. Across porch railings, damp beach towels flickered their colorful, yet reluctant goodbyes.

On the tail-end of my ride, I biked down the narrow strip of road that stretches along and just off the beach. A few lingering holiday travelers dotted the shoreline in an attempt to savor the idyllic weekend. 

I cannot, in all honesty, say that my heart pounded with the same melancholy as those who, less than 12 hours later, found themselves in cars or on trains or school-buses, headed back to organized days. 

Labor Day marked the end of their getaway. It was the start of mine.

Vacationing Labor Day week has its perks. We played the holiday away with everyone else. Then, everyone else stowed away their kayaks and deflated their floats. They packed their cars and drove away.

We played on.

Vacationing with adult children has its perks. Adult children don’t have to report back to school. They are free to vacation in October or February or March or May or Labor Day or all of the above. 

I don’t have to keep my eye on my now adult children when they cross streets or swim with the tide or ride off on bikes.  No one is ordered to bed early. They can stay up all night as long as they don’t expect me to stay up with them. But I hold my own.

After dinner, we play games. We watch football and tennis. We roast marshmallows by the light of the fire-pit and feast on s’mores. We dance. We laugh—a lot.

Mornings are unhurried and quiet. Early risers are not permitted to wake sleepyheads—that’s the rule. 

Food is fun with adult kids. When we vacation, they give their opinions about what and when we eat. The best part? They want to cook. 

“Have at it,” I say. “Make my day.”

When we vacation in New England, fresh lobster is our “Maine” fare, but we won’t turn away mussels or clam chowder or pepper-seasoned burgers grilled to perfection.

Goose Rocks Beach is four miles from Kennebunkport. The place we call home there truly feels like home.

The house, though newly renovated, has been in a friend’s family for generations. Inside those walls, it’s easy to imagine (and envy) magical summers growing up on this quaint beach paradise. Now, he and his wife carry on the tradition with their kids and grandkids.

The trip to Boston from Kennebunkport is under two hours by car and a little over two hours by train. The train experience is more fun and less traffic.

We took the morning train to Beantown and tried to leave our initials on every corner of the city. We capped off the evening at Fenway Park, munching on Yankee Lobster Rolls as the Red Sox battled the Astros. 

Grownup kids survive crazy-busy days and the latest of nights with barely a whine. 

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy traveling with my children when they were in single digits. I did. All went well as long as we stayed within their limits. 

Now, I just try to make certain that my presence doesn’t limit them. They are relieved not to have to go everywhere I go. I am relieved not to have to go everywhere they go.

When vacationing anytime with anyone, I treasure both togetherness and solitude. Thus, the reason for good books and bike rides.

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