It was a warm, humid morning on July 15, 2008 as I went down in the elevator with my large new suitcase and duffle bag. While exiting the front door of Liberty place, I thought, “Hope I make the ride. I cannot miss this train to Boston. If I do my day will be ruined.” It was 6:35 when the driver took my suit case and began driving to Leominster station.
I have always believed if you have a good attitude and smile, the universe will be good to you. That day was no different, and a kind man helped me on to the 7:07 train. I then had to wait two and a half hours for the down-easter to Portland, Maine. It wasn’t a big deal, as there was always Duncan Donuts or McDonald’s nearby. It was comfortable on the air-conditioned commuter train arriving at North station at eight thirty. The same gentleman was kind enough to take me to the Amtrac ticket counter. I handed my ticket, saying, “I need assistance on the train.” The ticket agent said, “You will be taking the 9:05 train, the 11:05 has been canceled. “That would be good,” I thought to myself, because maybe I would get to enjoy the dog fish restaurant in Portland.
The train ride was comfortable the seats were very plush. I admire blind travelers who can walk freely to the dining car, but I am not one of them. I like getting snacks or lunch right at your seat when you can pull down a tray. I was looking forward to seeing my step daughter, Pam, and the grand kids, Sharon and her husband John. The train made a few stops on the way; one in Woburn, another in Haverhill, and two stops in New Hampshire. Old Orchard beach in Portland is its destination. When we arrived, I walked out in to a sunny, warm July day. A mild sea breeze made me think of the beach. To my dismay, I discovered, Grey hound does not stop any where near Amtrac. I thought all stations were like South station in Boston, where you can catch any bus. Luckily a man took me to a waiting taxi, and for $5 I got to the Greyhound station in five minutes. After my transactions, the agent led me to a small, New England-style restaurant. She was trying to save me money, claiming “The cafe is very expensive.” It was a sub shop and I ordered lobster bisque, a lobster salad sandwich, and a coke. Unfortunately, the bisque was watery and luke warm, and the sandwich was too full of lettuce celery and mayonnaise. I left, trying to independently walk to the Greyhound station, as it was less than a block away. The girl at the counter had confidently told me that it was just straight across with a little alley. As I walked the lady came saying, “You are in back of the station.” She corrected my path and as we walked, I smelled the delicious aroma of fish. “Was it the dog fish restaurant?” I thought. I decided that if I was ever in Portland again, I would go there. Surely their food would be better than a simple sub shop.
I sat engrossed in a cassette book when the 2:15 bus was called to go to Bangor. The agent boarded me, saying, “If you get the three fifteen, you might miss the 6:30 bus to Holton.” I was glad to be on my way. I felt as if I was in a large city with the constant racket of loud radios and honking traffic in downtown Portland. As we drove away from the Maine coast, each time the bus stopped the air got noticeably cooler. When we got to Bangor, the agent in the tiny station was very helpful and kind. I actually almost missed the Holton bus when I was almost locked in the small rest room The driver assisted me with my bulky suitcase as I frantically got on the bus. He had a deep Maine accent and a great sense of humor. When we would come to a stop he would say, “Five minutes break, be back in time or you will miss us.” He said all this in a jolly way and would tell us about local sights in Bangor. He fondly mentioned a bakery, saying, “The doughnuts are made right on the premises. They sell out of them every day.”
As we traveled into the Maine wilderness, the air got much cooler, and I almost wished I had brought a coat or sweater. We finally arrived in Holton at 8:40. I was not tired, but rather excited, looking forward to seeing Pam, John, Sharon, and the kids. As I was dialing them on my cell phone, they pulled up in their truck to get me.
The air had an autumn chill and must have been in the sixties. I was so happy to see everyone, feeling their love and warmth.
The weather in northern Maine is cooler than it is in Massachusetts. Wednesday morning, the low temperature was 49 degrees. I was very thankful for the extra blankets they had given me to sleep with. During the days the shill would be replaced with wonderful summer weather, and it was usually around eighty to eighty five degrees.
The week was quiet, and I did a lot of reading and talking to Pam and Sharon during the day. Wednesday evening we had a cookout, having grilled salmon with veggies. You did not dare go out evenings, though, as there were a multitude of mosquitoes and small flies that would eat you alive. Flies were everywhere, in and out of their old house. They had chickens so I could have fresh farm eggs as often as I wished.
Monday night we had a farewell meal, consisting of fried chicken, biscuits, veggies, and mashed potatoes. I had such a wonderful week catching up on news, feeling the love and acceptance of everyone. I was sad to leave, and Tuesday morning came to soon. Pam kindly made me one last plate of scrambled eggs for my last breakfast with them. I took a cab to the Holton bus stop. The cab driver was friendly, talking about “this gas crisis,” and how everyone was too “soft.” I caught the eight thirty bus to Bangor and the 11:24 to Portland. It rained buckets on our way to Portland, and I was stuck without a raincoat. In Portland, it was warm and sunny, and I got the 2:35 train to Boston. Unfortunately, a delay made me miss my 5:20 train to Leominster. The conductors, being very friendly, made sure I got on the 6:20 train to Fitchburg. Calling ahead, I got a cab home from the Leominster station. In Leominster it was again pouring. “Where was the 95 degrees that I had heard in the forecast?” I thought. I happened to find a very nice gentleman to lead me to the cab. He even gave me a raincoat so I would have to spend my ride home soaked in the back of a taxi.
As fun as it is to travel and see our loved ones, it is a process that takes a lot out of you. It tries your patience and tests your fortitude at times. But the important thing is to keep your smile and be open to the generosity of others along you way. Once all is said and done, you can finish your return trip and say, “There is no place like home.”