What Happens in Maine…

…doesn’t always stay in Maine. In this case, I brought back a cold.

Not just any cold, but a miserable head cold complete with sore throat, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes—I can’t remember the last time I felt so sick. It started a week ago Monday night while we were in Freeport. By the time we returned to our lake house outside of Bar Harbor on Tuesday, I was going downhill fast. By Wednesday, we decided to cut our vacation short and head home.

Thankfully, we squeezed a lot into the time we were there. We spent two days in Bar Harbor, a day in Freeport, and enjoyed the serenity of the lake house. We ate at a lot of great places (lobster and seafood!), met some wonderful people, took a 2.5 hour nature cruise with views of seals, porpoises, the Egg Rock lighthouse, elaborate mansions, cliff faces and islands. In addition, I did a ton of shopping. So although the trip was cut short, we still had an awesome time.

The house was amazing, with a soaring two-story coffered wood ceiling and two rows of trapezoid windows plus two sets of French doors overlooking the lake. We loved relaxing each evening on the deck and watching the sun set. Peaceful—and very remote.

A dirt lane with trees on either side

A mile drive on dirt and gravel to reach the house

The property sat back from the main route several miles. We took a country road four miles back off the main drag, then turned onto a dirt lane where we drove another mile through woods before arriving at the house. My phone cut out before we even turned onto the country road. Not having cell signals or a land line (and no one around) was kind of freaky but the setting was so peaceful, it was easy to overlook.

First day in Bar Harbor

The next day we hit Bar Harbor, which was a 45 minute drive away. A great place, but it was PACKED with people. We spent two days walking the town. It’s loaded with all manner of eclectic shops and eateries, and is located on the water. Each day a cruise ship arrived and water-taxied passengers into town. We heard a lot of English accents in the shops. When afternoon rolled around, we grabbed a beer in a brew pub. I’m more of a wine drinker, but even I thought it was good. I couldn’t fit my glass in the selfie I snapped (at left).

Author, Mae Clair, standing beside a full-size statue of a knight

Shopping in Freeport

We spent an entire day in Freeport, where a highlight was visiting the L.L. Bean Flagship Store. This thing is humongous. It’s the anchor store of the L.L. Bean Campus, which includes separate stores for hunting and fishing, bike, boat and ski, a home store, and a discovery park. We only ever made it into the Flagship store, and I’m not sure we even made it through the whole thing. I bought two sweater coats and DH bought two down vests. The really interesting thing about this store is that it’s open 24/7, 364 days a year. The only day the store closes is Christmas. Other than that, you can shop any time or any hour.

At the British Goods store (on left), I had to stop for a shot with a friend.

Close up of slender nail

The culprit

Later, during the trip we discovered our left rear tire was leaking. We’d chosen to use a rental car rather than put mileage on one of our vehicles given it was a 11.5 hour trip one way, and while in Maine we planned to do a lot of driving. Freeport was a 2.5 hour trip from the lake house where we stayed. We did book an overnight for that, but given the location of the house, everything we did was at least a half hour to fifty minutes away. Turns out we picked up a nail somewhere, which meant finding a garage to remove it and plug the hole. We tried three before we finally found one who could take care of the problem. The guy was a man of very few words (I think he probably spoke a little over a dozen the entire time we were there), but he was a lifesaver. No way could we have driven 11.5 hours home with a tire leaking air.

Chatting with Millie

Among the people we met, Millie in Freeport really stands out. DH and I were relaxing after dinner with a drink at the outdoor fire pit, when Millie came out and joined us. We spent the entire evening chatting with her. She was an older woman, traveling from Massachusetts with her husband (he had already headed up to their room), and a sheer pleasure to chat with. We connected with so many enjoyable people on the trip, all of who will remain part of our memories. Despite having to head home early, we squeezed a lot into the time we were there, and look forward to returning at a later date.

We were expecting autumn temperatures, with most all of the clothing we packed suited for mid 60s weather. Fortunately, we each packed some lighter items as well, as the days were unseasonably warm in the mid to upper 80s. We did get to see an array of beautiful fall foliage, but the peak color comes later this month. No moose sightings, but several moose crossing signs. I tried to snap a picture of one from the highway but it came out as a brown and yellow blur.

No cryptids either, but the surroundings were inspiring. I dreamed up an extensive character list and plot for a story which I’ve decided to make my upcoming NaNo project. I can’t wait to get started!

In closing, I’ll leave you with some photos taken while in Bar Harbor. It’s definitely a cool place to visit! Starting next week, my Wednesday Weirdness posts will begin. I hope you’ll join me for a weekly dose of strangeness!

 

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More News: Blogging Schedule

Hi, friends! Last week I told you about my new website. Today, I’m sharing plans for a new I blogging schedule. Beginning soonish. Probably Octoberish.

I’m on a roll! But first. . .vacation.

DH and I are headed to Maine the end of next week, through the end of September. Please excuse my lack of comments on your blog posts while I’m gone. I’ll look forward to chatting with you when I return in October.

An open tablet, pen, and a pair of glassesAt that time, Book Review Tuesdays will continue, but I’ve also decided to add another regular weekly post. Those of you who have been longtime followers of my blog may remember Mythical Mondays. It’s a theme I kept up for years, eventually abandoning for lack of time. No, Mondays are not coming back, but something sorta/kinda/quasi-similar­—Wednesday Weirdness.

Like my Mythical Monday posts, you’re apt to find myth, legends, and folklore, but I’m also planning to share anything I come across that’s too “weird” for explanation. That opens the door to mysteries, strange coincidences, unexplained happenings, and even a few personal experiences. I’ll also be chatting about the “oddness” that inspired each of the books I’ve written. I’ve missed sharing that aspect of my writing and look forward to trotting it out again.

You may see other random posts from me here and there, and as always, I’m happy to host friends with new releases and other news you’d like to share. Give me a shout and we’ll get something scheduled!

So, why am I telling you this now? It’s been said that if you publicly state an intention, you’re more apt to follow through. Who wants to promise something, then fail to deliver? With that said, picture me nervously gnawing my fingernails (my nail tech is not going to be happy).

I know I’m going to be insane when I return from Maine. There will be a ton of catch-up on my day job, October is NaNoWriMo prep time, and the Story Empire Something Wicked Blog Tour will kick off toward the end of the month. But there’s always something to delay plans, right? I’m going to ignore all of the potential hurdles and go for it. I have Staci Troilo and Joan Hall, to thank for inspiring me with their own blogging schedules.

And while I’m in Maine, as Craig Boyack told me—“Find some great New England cryptids while you’re there.”

Sounds like good advice to me! 🙂

 

From Beach to WIP

I’ve been off the radar for several days, taking some time to recuperate and unwind. My husband and I decided to celebrate his birthday by taking an extended weekend trip to the beach. The weather in March along the eastern shore is hit or miss. We’ve been visiting this particular beach since we were teenagers in high school. When we were in our twenties, his family owned a modular home there, and we became part owners in a pontoon boat. During the summer, we spent most every weekend at the beach for approximately fifteen years. It’s a four hour drive from Central PA, but for fresh seafood, crabbing, flounder fishing, and sunning on the shore, those trips were worth it.

These days, we normally head to the beach once or twice a year, shelling out for a hotel. I’ve been at the shore when it’s been 80 degrees in December, and when it was freezing cold in June. This trip, the weather was perfect—full sun and only a light breeze. We were able to be outside in sweatshirts.

As we’re much older now, we did a lot of reminiscing of those early trips when we were just kids, and how much the area has changed. We’re no longer “June bugs” but prefer the less crowded months of March, September (still hot enough to use the beach) and December for our trips.

Here’s a few shots from the hotel where we stayed.  The place is styled after an old Victorian boardwalk hotel, and is one of the two hotels we regularly use. This trip, they were hosting two weddings in the banquet rooms, but other than closing their cocktail lounge for three hours one afternoon (I vented to the front desk when leaving), the stay was one of the best we’ve had. More memories of our “home away from home.”

This is the entrance, with registration and the main lobby up on the second level. If you walk back through the hall there are elevators to the upper floors, or you can continue straight to the beach.

a hotel entrance with a split staircase

This is the main lobby. There’s a jewelry shop off to the side where I’ve purchased multiple pendants through the years. There’s also a huge covered porch that faces the beach and extends the entire length of the hotel. It’s lined with high-backed rocking chairs, perfect for enjoying the view with a drink or reading.

Hotel lobby with seating

The view from our hotel balcony.  My husband took shoots of the sun rising each morning but I was slept through it. Something about the coastal air always makes me sleep extra soundly.

view of beach and ocean

We spent an afternoon on the boardwalk. See the huge JEWELRY sign in the background? I picked up a sun pendant there, while hubs checked out M.R. Ducks, next door.

boardwalk with shops and eateries

Mae Clair on standing on balcony with beach and ocean in backround

Now that I’m rejuvenated, I’ll be concentrating on finishing my WIP, End of Day. I have an April deadline, so if I’m a little scarce over the next few weeks, it’s because I’ll be burning extra hours trying to reach “The End.” Cross your fingers I can finish it up by the middle of the month. I normally treat myself to something when I finish a manuscript, but in this case, I put the “treat” ahead of the finish. *gulp*

For all of you trying to pummel your WIPS into submission, I wish you happy writing—and a break to rejuvenate, even if it doesn’t involve a beach town!

Back from Vacation and Back to Blogging!

Hi, friends! After an extended vacation in Cancun, I’m resurfacing in the blogosphere. We actually returned late last Friday but it’s taken me several days to catch up with email and social media. I think I’m back on track now and will be resuming my regular blog rounds. Vacations are wonderful, but sooner or later you have to come down to Earth. I had a wonderful time visiting Mexico. There was a large group of us who went, so we dubbed ourselves the Cancun Nine.

Group shot outside the Royal Solaris

The Cancun Nine

The photo above is before we headed downtown to Carlos ‘N Charlie’s a restaurant/bar, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. That’s me and hubby on the far left (and yes, that’s what my hair actually looks like when I let it dry naturally, LOL). My sister is the one in green.

At Carlos ‘N Charlie’s there is a costumed balloon-maker who visits each table and makes balloon hats for all the customers. Everyone in the place ends up with one of these things on their heads. The photo below isn’t very clear, but you it should give you a good idea of the atmosphere.

Wearing balloon hats and Carlos' n Charlie's

We also got to experience the wait-staff doing several dance performances as the music was constant and the energy level off the wall. I’m more of a low-key person, so it was an experience to say the least.

The highlight of the evening for me was when the wait staff passed out softball-sized white balls. I think they must have been made of Styrofoam, but they had a light covering to give them some weight when tossed. We had no idea what was going on, and then—BOMBARDMENT! Everyone in the place pummels everyone else. No one is spared—wait-staff, DJ, bartenders, customers—a freefall of everyone pummeling each other for a good five to ten minutes with white balls rolling around everywhere, on the tables, bar and floor. What a blast! After that, it was across the street to Senor Frogs for a quick stop, then back to the resort. I don’t think anyone goes to Cancun without stopping at Senor Frogs.

Obviously a great vacation. Throughout the stay we got to see a Mayan fire dance on the beach, a Moroccan dance inside the “Black Bar” (our name for it because the bar top was black marble). Below is a shot of the chandelier inside the Black Bar area. I thought it was so different and couldn’t resist a snapshot.

Chandelier inside Royal Solairs in Cancun, Mexico

We set one morning aside for shopping—or I should say the girls did, and the guys chilled at some tables in the mall.

Chilling at the mall in Cancun

The pools were spectacular, one with a swim up bar and one with a walk up bar. Both had food stations or buffets offering a variety of snacks, fruits and meals throughout the day. There were restaurants just a step from the pool, and as the resort was an all-inclusive (all meals and drinks free of charge), there was plenty to choose from. The grouper (fish) was fantastic!Pool with Bali Huts

In the evenings we hit the restaurants, switching up between open-air beach casual, and semi-dressy. We got spruced up for the “Members Dinner” in which the women were given roses and the main entree consisted of filet mignon and shrimp. Since I don’t eat beef, they gave me double shrimp. Best. Shrimp. Ever!Dressy for the Members Dinner

Many nights we closed the evening listening to live music or hanging out in the “Premier Bar.” Even on those nights when we headed to our room near midnight, hubby and I would grab a few minutes of unwinding on our balcony. We had a bay view, rather than a Gulf view, but who could resist a few moments relaxing with this breezy vista…Night time view from a hotel balcony overlooking bay

We discovered a mobile passport app which made the return through customs go much quicker. I came home with many wonderful memories, along with an early tan. Of course, Raven had to make her presence known while we unpacked suitcases.

Black cat, Raven, with suitcaseBeing away from writing for so long makes me eager to get started on my next project. And to return to blogging and making the rounds of seeing what all of my friends are up to, including those at Story Empire. Today SEer, Harmony Kent, shares how to offer autographs for your digital books using the free service Authorgraph. Check it out!

I had a blast on vacation, but it’s good to be back! 🙂

 

Fibbing for Fun by Mae Clair

Recently, my friend and sister author, Cd Brennan, invited me to her blog to share to share five facts about myself for her Sunday S’more feature. Well, actually four facts and a fib. Visitors had the chance to decide which of the five “facts” was an untruth.

Thanks for everyone who hopped over to take a peek at that post. It’s time to spill the beans on Cd’s blog, so I thought I’d spill them here too. This is your chance to see if you were right or guess again. 😀

And, the contenders are:

~ooOOoo~

My husband and I have enjoyed many years of bay fishing and river fishing. Once, while fishing for bass on the river, we got caught in a freak thunderstorm—rain, wind, lightning and hail. As we didn’t want to be sitting on the water in an aluminum pontoon boat, we looked for a place to beach with shelter. There were several small islands nearby, a few with summer cottages, so we beached on the nearest. The guy in the house saw us struggling, and motioned us inside. We anchored our boat and hurried after him.

After about ten minutes indoors we heard a massive crack directly overhead. Not thunder, but something else. We raced outside to find a large tree had been struck by lightning and dropped onto the roof. Seconds later, my husband spied our boat one step shy of being swept into the river—the storm had ripped our anchor free.  Fortunately, he was able to grab it at the last moment and haul it back in, but had the tree not fell we would have been minus a boat. Thankfully, no one was injured and the cottage only had minor roof damage.

~ooOOoo~

The high school me.

The high school me.

My nickname in high school was Starchild.

~ooOOoo~

I was a bit of a rebel in high school and during my senior year led a protest that involved barging into the teachers’ lounge, and demanding that the principal meet my group in the auditorium. There was about twenty of us who cut class, pulled down “no smoking” signs and demanded we be given our own smoking area outside. Remember, this was a looooong time ago, and people didn’t realize how bad smoking was. I was the ringleader of that protest and am still amazed I wasn’t expelled.

~ooOOoo~

A number of years ago I attended a business conference in Arizona as part of my day job. My husband went along and we extended our stay for a mini vacation. The conference was held at a resort of villas that included eight suites, each villa with a private pool.

Late one night, hubby and I went for a romantic moonlight swim. The place was deserted, no one about. We had the pool to ourselves—right up until a helicopter swooped down, hovered above us, and nailed us in the beam of a high-intensity spotlight. I freaked out, my husband yelled something not very pleasant, and the helicopter took off.

We went back to our suite and my husband spied someone prowling around below our balcony. Turns out it was a cop who warned us to stay inside as a convenience store had been robbed several miles away and the armed suspect had been chased to our area. I hate to think if he’d stumbled upon us in the pool!

~ooOOoo~

I grew up with an Italian grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. from Castelleone when he was 28.  He was proud of his cultural heritage and taught me to speak Italian when I was just seven years old.

Pop-Pop looking dapper

My grandfather

~ooOOoo~

And the untruth? It was the last one. My grandfather was from Castelleone and came to the U.S. when he was twenty-eight but he never spoke Italian around us. Even my mother didn’t know a word of it. The only time I ever heard my grandfather speak his native language was when he called home to the “old country” and chatted with his relatives over the phone. To this day, I regret I never learned Italian.

So . . . did you pick the fib? 🙂

 

A Helicopter, Robber and a Moonlight Swim

A number of years ago I had to attend a 3-day business conference in Phoenix for my employer. Since I’d never been to Arizona, my husband came along, we tacked on a few extra days, and made it into a vacation.

I fell in love with the Sedona area, ate rattlesnake and Indian fry bread, saw my first professional hoop dance, and came home with one very cool kachina doll. But my most vivid memory of Phoenix? You guessed it . . . a helicopter, robber, and a moonlight swim.

I can’t remember the name of our resort, but it was divided into groupings of two-story buildings with eight suites in each. The buildings were sprawled over acres of ground, each building with a private pool. Nice, right?

I thought so too until the helicopter showed up.

Late one night, hubby and I decided to take a dip in the pool (yes, we had our clothes on, thank God!). There we were, enjoying a moonlight swim when a helicopter nailed us in the beam of a high-intensity spotlight. I felt like a fugitive on America’s most wanted! Helicopter-1; romantic moonlight swim-0. Talk about killing the mood!

After it took off, we went back to our suite and my husband stepped onto the balcony to nose around. He saw a cop snooping below and asked what the problem was. Apparently someone had held up a Quickie-Mart and been chased to the area. Given the helicopter, I think the guy was probably armed and the hold-up ugly. The cop didn’t share details, but advised we stay inside. Of course, my writer’s imagination kicked into overdrive.

We’d been oblivious to the danger when in the pool, enjoying the moment, unaware of our surroundings. What if the robber had been lurking in the darkness with a gun?

So, why am I thinking of this now? Because events, no matter how random or long ago, are worth tucking into the idea book you carry in your head. I’m not sure that moonlight swim will ever make it into one of my novels, but I’m going to hang onto the memory. It freaked me out when it happened but, hey, how many people can say they were caught up in the middle of a manhunt?

How about you?  Are you one for collecting ideas and nuturing them indefinitely?

Oh, and by the way, should you ever make it to Phoenix I highly recommend the rattlesnake at Rustler’s Rooste. It really does taste like chicken!