Thank you to everyone who suggested, after my crankypants bitterface post about being frustrated that we've been waiting and on hold for so long, that a vacation would be a good idea. Something a little different from the norm, but still driving distance.
We are creatures of habit, though, so certain destinations have to be on the map.
We haven't seen Bryce's mom in a long time, so we are going to spend the middle of the week up there, with them, near Augusta, Maine.
BUT...on either end... a little familiarity and a little novelty.
We decided to go to a town outside of Boston on our way to Maine, so that we can take be only a few hours from our destination and spend some time somewhere relatively new, and save money by staying in a town where there's a train to Boston -- no parking woes and less expensive accommodations, yet easy access to the city's attractions.
WE'RE STAYING IN SALEM! I'm so excited. I have never been there, and it's such an interesting place steeped in history, albeit some shameful early American history. It's supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the U.S., which I have conflicting feelings about. BUT, what a cool place to stay!
Then, we're going to take the train into Boston and walk to the Aquarium, where I haven't been since a high school band/orchestra trip. They did have that giant layered cylindrical tank then, and the sea turtle is burned in my brain. I also read The Soul of an Octopus over winter break, and have a new appreciation for those creatures. There are apparently interesting ones at the Aquarium. Once upon a time I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I still love sea critters.
We'll spend the day in Boston and then head on back to Salem either before or after dinner, and then the next morning after breakfast we'll head up to Portland. For as often as I've been to Maine since meeting Bryce, I've NEVER stopped in Portland. We always go further north, occasionally stopping in Freeport on the way up but not Portland. So, we're going to spend the midday there, go for a hike, have a nice lunch with a friend, and then off to Bryce's mom's house for dinner and a stay of a few days.
Bryce's mom's house in the summer is like living in a botanical garden. It's gorgeous, and they have generously offered to have their fifth wheel camper hooked up for water so we can use the toilet/brush teeth at night and stay out there, which is lovely because while we love their home it gets HOT upstairs and the bed isn't quite long enough for my 6'3" tall husband. So we'll get the best of both worlds -- lots of visiting, but privacy at night. We'll probably go to the Maine Coast Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, and maybe a trip up to Damariscotta so we can go to the Maine Coast Bookshop. Maybe we'll go into Camden. There's a farm nearby that Bryce's mom has been dying to take us to, too, so maybe that will be in the plans. Lots of good eating, walking, and woods and/or ocean air. Ahhhh.
Then, we leave for our favorite romantic getaway, Grafton Vermont. It's weird going there in the summer, since we usually love the winter fun (snowtubing! snowshoeing! fireplaces! sleigh rides we've never gone on but look and sound great! snowball fights by the frozen creek! warming up with wine and delicious food at the end of the day!), but there's good stuff in summer, too. It is air conditioned even though the buildings are historic, and there's a swimming hole. I have conflicted feelings about the swimming hole too though, because it seems like a haven for snapping turtles that want to bite your toes off and/or a great place for some skeletal hands to reach up out of the depths and snag your ankles, because whatever's down there wants company in the murky deep. It also looks refreshing, and we've seen it in the winter when it's drained so we know there's nothing creepy down there. When it's empty, at least.
We'll hike and eat yummy food and drink yummy wine and go into Chester, which has...an independent bookshop! This one is smaller than others in the area, but the collection is gorgeous. It's the Misty Valley Bookshop, and in addition to great books, they have the most beautiful letterpress notes. I love me a handwritten note.
We'll also go into Manchester, Vermont and go to the Northshire Book Store, which is one of my favorite places in the world. I could spend hours there. We don't have independent bookstores in Rochester. There's one in Brockport, but that's 35 minutes from me. I've enjoyed going there once so far, but it's such a novelty to go to a beautifully curated, independent bookshop. I already have quite the stack of books for summer reading, and so I shouldn't get more, but who can say no to more books? Plus supporting authors through actual bookshops. So many reasons to love.
Finally, back home, after 10 days of New England exploring -- both new haunts and familiar ones. If we get a call and have to cancel, well then hopefully we have a baby. If we don't get a call and it's life as per usual (our new normal), well then, we've had a gorgeous, relaxing, somewhat adventurous vacation together, with a mix of family and romantic alone time in new settings. That sounds pretty good to me.
Note: Always, always ask... both hotels put notes in to waive any cancellation fee or loss of deposit if we have to cancel due to adoption-related events. Also at one I asked about a teacher discount and while they don't have one, JUST FOR ASKING I got 10% off our stay.