The Good, the Bad and the Bugly

If crabs, lobster rolls, ice cream and used books are appealing then head up to northern Maine. I passed lobster and ice cream shacks, a spiral staircase shop, and a used bookstore in a chicken shed on little country roads, and thought I was in heaven. But I didn’t have time to stop as I wanted to get to Bar Harbor in time for a 4th of July cookout at my motel. The hosts were feeding everyone, grilling all kinds of meat, and I met the family, was fascinated by the Maine accents (from Bah Hahba), visited with other guests (like the Oscar Madison know-it-all talking with his mouth STUFFED full), and listened to a bagpiper playing on a rock overlooking the beach. The ambience was enlivening and I felt a thousand miles away from my normal world, I guess I was.

The bagpiper plays at this same beach every Saturday and certain holidays and I just happened to be there to witness the event. It reminded me of the time in Cinque Terre, Italy when my girls and I happened upon a once a year festival and the breezes brought a voice singing Andrea Bocelli arias up to our open hotel window. There was magic in the air.

I whisked a short way into the village to enjoy the evening town festivities. It was the perfect place for July 4th. I had wandered into a Stars Hollow town, from Gilmore Girls fame, and LOVED listening to the band playing in the park gazebo (they were amazingly good!), shopped in cutesy stores, visited with strangers and got invites from two men to come join them and their friends on their blankets in the park to watch the fireworks! There were so many people swarming the park that there was no way to find anyone’s blankets and I was happy to stand for the 15 minute show in the foggy air. The weather was iffy, so we were all happy to see fireworks at all and the colorful glow in the fog was at least a novelty.

I was told the traffic out of town after the fireworks was horrific so I went looking for a place to hang out for an hour. I walked by a hopping bar that looked like they were in a contest to see how many people they could stuff inside. The large window was open and they beckoned me to join them and well, I have learned not to resist. But I am not the pushy type and as I was weighed down with a purse and bag from shopping I stood politely in line to get a drink. A very darling young man gave me advice on getting to the bar and when I looked skeptical, he offered to buy my drink for me. Who says gallantry is dead? He was my knight in shining armor and when Daytona (nice name, huh?)  returned wine in hand we visited a bit and I found out he did some acting in high school but now works for the coast guard. I took my glass of wine outside and enjoyed the evening watching the traffic subside along with my wine. It was a wise move to wait as my drive back to my motel was traffic free.

Later that night things started to go sour. I sat up in bed at 4:30am itching my ankles. I had bites and I started to freak out wondering if there were bed bugs in the motel. I was wide awake and so searched the internet to find out info about bed bugs, none of it soothing and finally went back to a fitful sleep. I had to get up and out to Acadia National Park to do some hiking the next morning so pretended that the bumps on my ankles and legs were mosquito bites from being out the night before. I am ashamed to say that ALL that day was consumed by thoughts of bed bugs and I found it so hard to stay present even in the midst of such great beauty and torturous hiking. My mind was always falling back to the trauma of how I was going to deal with the bug dilemma as I had found a lot more bites on my legs. The motel owners were so nice I didn’t want to accuse them of having bed bugs and yet I was not looking forward to spending another night in that room!

I did an exciting hike up Beehive Trail, which gets so steep you have to clamber up using metal rungs, climbing and pulling and holding on with your arms. I don’t think I have done anything like this since the cable at Half Dome in high school, so to arrive at the top and see the gorgeous views felt like a real accomplishment. And I must add, to do it alone somehow makes everything a bit more intense. From the top I wound around to a lake and then hiked to Gorham Mountain, another ascent but without the ladders and rungs. More wonderful views of the ocean, wow so SO beautiful. But I would find my mind, even when faced with all this beauty worrying about how I was going to de-bug my suitcase, clothes, and car at the end of the day. I would do some self-talk and put it behind me only to find it creep to the forefront of my mind a few minutes later. I kept comparing it to staying present in the moment when I am on stage, the challenge that no matter what happens you stay in the now. Well, I hope I do better with stage work because the bed bugs were in quite a battle to take over my hike.

Coming down from Gorham Mountain I walked along the rocky banks of the ocean and sat for awhile at the beautiful coastline watching lobster boats and seagulls. I think this is where I finally won the bug battle and melted into the sun and sea.

Back to my car I drove to Jordan’s Pond restaurant, a place I was told I had to stop and have popovers, as it was tradition. The wait for a table outside was an hour, and I happened to have a good book and found a chair so the hour went by rather quickly and the popovers were pretty delish!

Shared my cookout scraps with this big guy

Back at the motel I was determined to ask for a different room. They were very accommodating, claimed they had NEVER had bed bugs but said “maybe” it was fleas since I was in one of their “pet friendly” rooms. They moved me to a nicer room (a bigger shower so I no longer had to do the yoga tree pose to shave my legs), and I checked the mattress and was relieved by the hope of a better night’s sleep. I also called Marjie (see my post “Me and Otis…”), who is a nurse and a self-proposed bed bug expert and asked her about my bites. She said it did sound like fleas, and as my second night in the motel was bite free I am happy to report no more itching or bites. Ugh and yay.

I left Bar Harbor knowing I wasted a whole day worrying about something out of my control. There’s a lesson here, but I don’t know if I learned it so am not going to wax poetic on some philosophical vein. I proved I’m human, how’s that? I’m happy that I am not spreading bed bugs around the country. And I am constantly trying to accept life as it comes. I also realized that I have not been encouraging myself to feel. I have been clamped down and controlled so as not to hurt people’s feelings, letting my thinking side take over. On my way out of Bar Harbor I allowed all the flood of emotions back in and it was a relief to identify fear, and sadness and let them reign for awhile. It was only by really letting them in and feeling them, that I was able to move into happiness or whatever other feeling is waiting in the wings. Stuffing them is what deadens them all, definitely not how I want to live. Ha! I got philosophical after all! Guess I am learning something.

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2 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Bugly

  1. I was thinking the bites may have been from the concert in the park, if you were on a blanket over grass. I have been bitten from park grass picnics and beach picnics. None the less, glad you were able to bring yourself back into the moment…some of us get more buggy than others…I’m right there with you!!!

    • Hi Bethany, I was looking for other ways that I could have gotten those bites but it just didn’t add up. I was wearing tall boots, it was raining, I didn’t sit or even stand on any grass, but glad to have it behind me now. Whew!

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