Thursday, March 22, 2007


Am I nuts to spend eighteen hours in a week in the car with my kids?

Family vacations. Are they not two of the most laden words in the English language? So much joy, so much stress, so much fodder for the boys' future therapists.

The window for successful family vacations is really rather small. For the first couple of years, it's too hard to travel because of the pack'n'play and the stroller and the several pounds of receiving blankets. And yet we're probably not very far from the days that they don't want to be seen in public with us. So we'll make the most of these prime years to torture the boys build happy family memories.

Last year, we had great fun with our Quebec City adventure. I've been idly considering for a few months now on what we could do that would be similar to that: within a day or so drive, engaging enough for a stay of two or three days, and with something interesting to do on the way home. And not Toronto, or London, or Windsor. I spent way too much of my free time on the 401 over the past 20 years, and that's my only caveat. No southern Ontario. Not this time.

And then, out of the blue, I had an epiphany. Or maybe it was gas. But regardless of whether it was the chili dog repeating or a moment of genuine insight, I suddenly decided I wanted to go to Maine. Bar Harbour Maine, in fact.

Why Maine? I've always wanted to go there. I've been reading Stephen King since I was nine years old. I'm fascinated with the idea of Maine, and I've heard of Bar Harbour, and that was enough to get me started.

So I google mapped it, and while it's not as far away as Alert, it's not exactly close. It's a straight line, which is strikes me as a good start. It's a nine hour drive, which is a lot for one day with three and five year olds in the car, but I don't mind breaking it into two days.

Sherbrooke Quebec is about half way, and the Granby Zoo is not too far from there. So we could do Ottawa to Sherbrooke one day (maybe even with another pit stop to see our favourite Montreal people?), then on to Bar Harbour the next day. Stay there for two days, and then back the way we came. Hey, that sounds like a plan. That could work!

So, Maine. Any thoughts? I have to admit, I'm mildly intimidated that the map shows a whole lot of nothing between Sherbrooke and Bar Harbour. And since everything I know about Maine I read in Stephen King books, I really have no idea what the geography is, except for lots of forests where Bad Things happen. Does one have to spend an inordinate amount of time driving through miles of said forests, or is it more like upstate New York where there are gorgeous little towns everywhere?

The only *other* thing I know about Maine is that it has great outlet stores. If you draw a straight line from Ottawa to Bar Harbour, how far off that line do you have to travel to get to the outlet stores? And to a Target? I've never been to a Target. It's on my lifetime "to do" list.

I'm not 100% sold on Maine yet, either. Nor on Bar Harbour in particular, since I just kind of pulled the idea out of thin air. Got any other good ideas for family vacations somewhere within an eight to ten hour drive of Ottawa? Lake Placid was another idle thought. Not as cool as Maine, but a little bit closer.

Tell me, bloggy friends. What should we do for our summer vacation?

Labels: ,