Saturday, 19 August 2017

My vacation, part I -- Getting Away

I wrote my last blog post just before leaving on vacation. Now that I am back at work, I thought I should write about it. A lot happened, things that I can say without exaggeration changed my life.

Part I: Getting away

My vacation time started with a long, leisurely drive to the lovely state of Maine. Actually, to be honest my vacation started with an attempt to drive to Maine the day before, but a flat tire and a driving rainstorm put the kibosh on that plan. A friend and I took in a film that night instead -- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Wow, was it dull. I know that vacations are meant to be for rest, and I was pretty tired, but I rarely start to fall asleep in a movie theatre. The film really earned its bad reviews.

The drive to Scarborough (just south of Portland) was lovely. I stopped at Saint Benoit du Lac abbey on the way for a brief time of prayer. I should have known that would never work: I was spotted by a monk who spotted me for a bishop, and he offered to give me a tour. How could I refuse?

After the monastery, I also dropped in at a small village sitting off highway 55 on the way to the border. My parents had a cottage there back when the family lived in Montreal. In those days, the village was called Katevale, but today is called Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley. Since "Kate" is an English diminutive for Catherine, either way the name makes reference to the lovely country church we worshipped at during the summers (and some winters) we spent there as a family.

I have such fond memories of that place. The pastor at the time was so very kind to us, especially the kids. I still remember the priest coming for a meal at our cottage, and the impact that made on us. My brother and loved going to mass there, even though it was all in French and we didn't understand much.

There was a wedding rehearsal going on, so I had a chance to go inside and look around. It seemed smaller than I remember, but the sanctuary was still set up the same way. I served mass there for the first time, and I still remember sitting in the big chairs next to the credence table, waiting for the priest to tell me what to bring over next.

I headed a bit further down the road and found the path that led to where our cottage once stood. I have to say, it was hard to find. The new owners did extensive renovations, so I had to use and old landmark to identify it: a large rock that you can see in this picture that would have too big to move unless it was really necessary.

After this trip down memory lane was done, I started for the border. The crossing to the USA via Stanstead put me first on an interstate, but there is no major highway that connects Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Pretty soon, I was crossing the Appalachians on country roads. I passed Mount Washington, which I would have loved to climb had I the time (I love mountains). I also drove past Bretton Woods, a place of legend for those of us who studied economics or finance.

It was getting dark by the time I was getting close to the Maine coast. A fog had rolled in off the ocean, so thick I had to use the fog lights on my car for the first time. Now I know where Stephen King (a Maine resident) had gotten his idea for his novella The Mist. While I would probably have gotten lost if I was replying on street signs, GPS came to the rescue. Night had fallen, but I finally reached my destination: a house on Higgins Beach.