Throughout 2002 Bob and I continued to spin our web of dreams of a future living on the coast of Maine, while being fully present in a life of raising children, working full-time in two academic medical centers in Manhattan, and enjoying our friends. By the end of the year we had spent countless hours exploring real estate online both for sale by owner and through agencies. The winter blues had not quite set in but I was feeling impatient and wanted to visit some of the places we had identified as possibilities. We made an impetuous decision to give ourselves a Christmas present – to take a week of a “just us two” vacation time and travel up to Deer Isle in January 2003.
We didn’t have much time and weren’t enthralled with the idea of driving 10 hours in each direction during the winter so we splurged on airline fare. Bangor airport is the closest one to Deer Isle and unfortunately in those years there was no direct flight from our area to it. So we booked a flight with a short stopover in Boston and also reserved a rental car in Bangor.
We quickly realized that despite being the second largest island off the Maine coast, we did not have the selection of accommodations one would expect in a place like Bar Harbor. However this didn’t deter us as we only needed one. The Inn on the Harbor in Stonington (www.bedandbreakfast.com/me-stonington-innontheharbor.html) looked romantic and the innkeeper Christina Shipps was a friendly and encouraging inspiration as she too had relocated to the island. Furthermore the inn was conveniently across the street from the office of the realtor and another transplant to the island from “away” Richard Smithson of Downeast Properties (www.downeastproperties.com ). Conversations with Richard had already proven to be a wealth of humorously delivered practical information and later he became a friend.
What we didn’t count on when we made our vacation plans was a snowstorm. Delays in the two airports meant that our trip grew from a total of 3 hours to a grueling 10 hours from Newark Airport to Bangor Airport. Not the best way to start our journey however when we arrived in Bangor we were greeted by such gracious and accommodating people, we were soon soothed and expectant. A quick call to Christina assured us that when we arrived, the room would be warm and ready and so we began the 1 ½ hour drive from Bangor to the island.
First impressions are lasting. As we drove through the Maine winter wonderland we were charmed by the historic houses that showed “pride of ownership” and the shimmering snow-covered trees. Somehow despite our exhausting trip up to that point, we felt energized and optimistic. Mile by mile we took turns pointing out luminous and enchanting views. “Caution Moose Crossing” signs encouraged us to search for a sighting in the forests however we have yet to see one to this day.
Eventually we reached the long, humpbacked, narrow Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. Historically this bridge, which was patterned after the Golden Gate Bridge and built in 1939, replaced an inadequate ferry system and encouraged Deer Isle tourism. Admittedly approaching the bridge with the skepticism, as we crossed over it I first felt something astonishing that has since become an habitual experience – a sense of all stress and nervous tension flushing from my body. It was one of those rare “aha” moments when one realizes that something extraordinary is happening in one’s life. By the time we passed countless houses with yards decorated by stacks of lobster traps and reached the inn, I was mesmerized by the spectacular ocean vistas, the quintessential New England towns of Deer Isle and Stonington, and the magic of this quaint area.