Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's a long, long road to Stonington

A long road indeed. This morning (this was written Monday, though posted later), we said our farewells to Ogunquit and prepared to head northward. As usual, however, departure was neither early nor quick.

That was largely my doing, of course. I was determined to go to one more yoga class at Sacred Movement Studio, and while I managed to do a lot of my packing before I went, I still had wide-open suitcases and bags and whatnot strewn about my room when I zipped out of there at 8:45.

The yoga class was meant to be Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Now, I need to look up exactly what Vinyasa yoga is, but in my mind “flow” yoga means lots of series of sun salutations and the like. This class was more of a power yoga, in my opinion.* Not a Warrior pose to be seen (although we did do some triangle variations). Instead we endured intense and extended repetitions of strength poses involving variations on plank and downward dog, and a solid ten minutes of abs (which is a long time to do ab work without a respite, believe me). (Trudy—my boot camp Pilates instructor—would be proud.**) We finished with some deep glute stretches and twists (all of which are very welcome the day after a long run, even if the pushups and ab work are less so!).

And, if I haven't mentioned it, the temperature in the studio is cranked up to 75° for the class. Certainly not Bikram yoga level, but warm enough to raise a good sweat. I was rather afraid of the heat, but surprisingly it wasn't that bad—although I know I would never want to do Bikram! When I left my hair was wet (so much for my curling iron work earlier) and my shirt was damp enough that I decided to change before we left the cottage (certainly not typical after a yoga class).

Despite the Pilates self-torture I put myself through twice weekly and my various yoga classes, this was difficult enough that I let myself rest occasionally during the workout. It helped that the woman next to me, who did not look like a wimp, had to rest as well! I thought to myself (and wanted to say aloud, even though no one seemed to care about my breaks, they were more concerned with their own agony), “I just ran 13.1—actually 13.19—miles yesterday, no wonder my legs are tired!)*** (How that would explain my abs or upper body, I don't know.)

Christina, the yoga instructor, seems like an interesting character. She's very upbeat and positive (though not perky), calls everyone “beautiful lady” (which seems flattering until you hear her say it to everyone else), and is quite feminocentric. (Both class I've been to she talks about the Spanish Inquisition, where they apparently killed thousands of women because they were thought to be intuitive. Killing women—bad. Intuitiveness—good.) During some of the stretches she talked about how the poses affect the “feminine” and “masculine” side of the body—although on Saturday I'm sure she said the left side was feminine and today I thought she said the left side was masculine! (She also said, which I find very interesting, that we hold a lot of our stresses in our hips—family, work, etc., and stretching and releasing the hips helps let some of that go. I guess I need to keep working on hip openers every time I get into a snarky fight with my dad....)

From some of her comments this morning—I think many of the class members are regulars and know much more about her, so she says things in passing, without explanation—I gathered that she was quite a wild child in her youth, and now as a mature woman she has gotten sober, gotten into yoga, and changed her life immensely. She is still obviously a free spirit (who talks openly about things that might embarrass many of us) but in a more positive, life affirming way. (Not all positive—one of her throwaway comments involved how much she detests George Bush!)

So all in all it has been quite the pro-female weekend for me. An all-women's half-marathon on Sunday, sandwiched by consciousness-raising yoga classes on Saturday and Monday. Talk about girl power! My friend Marie, who is a flag-waving feminist (while I'm more of a quiet, light under a barrel feminist) and sends e-mails suggesting things like making a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name, would be proud. Although I'm not sure—since I wasn't demonstrating or protesting anything; it was really all self-centered (in a good way), wasn't it? (And actually, there's plenty of girl power in my world; up until last fall my law firm was all female, then we hired our first male attorney and now we have two.****)

Anyhow, I seem to have digressed. As we were finishing up the active portion of the yoga class, I heard my phone ring. Luckily with the music and the clamor of voices it wasn't very audible, so I quickly silenced it and turned off the ringer so it wouldn't ring again during Shavasana. I figured it was my mother, as I had said the class was an hour but it was now after 10:00. But there was no way I was abandoning Shavasana after the workout I had just gone through!

When I called back after I left the yoga studio, of course my mother had been the caller, wondering where I was, because it turned out check-out time was 10:00. She's a little uptight about this kind of thing. I doubted that they would be too upset if we left a few minutes late on a Monday in late September. It's not like there were crowds of people waiting to check in! But if I had known the checkout time was early (instead of 11:00 like we thought), I would have made more of an effort to finish packing early.

My parents had already brought their bags to the car when I whirled in and resumed packing my things. (I rushed back so quickly that when I ran across the lawn and burst into the cottage, I was startled to see a bed in the middle of the living room! Turns out I had actually gone into the wrong cottage. Oops! It seemed to be deserted though. Apparently those tenants managed to check out on time.) My belongings had been expanded by a number of purchases, but I saw no reason to try to pack everything into my luggage at this point. I just condensed down to a minimum of extra bags so there would still be room for passengers in the car. We also had some extra bags with the food we were still carrying, bottles of water and diet coke, as well as lobster salad and rolls for lunch on the road.

By then it was 11:30, and we decided to travel on the turnpike as far as we could, since further north the roads would get more rural. But even on I-95, we progressed in fits and starts. First a stop for gas in Wells. (The price of gas would be an ongoing topic. Once we committed to a fill-up in Wells, my dad agonized over every station we saw along the way with a lower price.) Then twenty minutes later I saw a service plaza with a Starbucks and demanded a stop (hey, that would probably be our last Starbucks for a long time!). Some thirty minutes after that, I needed to stop for a bathroom and we pulled into an information center rest area outside of Freeport. That also seemed like a good time to eat lunch, so we stayed long enough to eat our lobster rolls.

Even after we were on the road for good, the pace (as driven by my mother) seemed glacial.
At Thomastown we stopped so my dad could visit the prison store—a gift shop selling things made by inmates in Maine prisons. Sounds creepy but the goods are fine—woodwork, souvenirs, etc. I think, though, that the store is also staffed by prisoners, and that is a little weird! Either that or the staff just happens to be rather burly middle-aged men wearing outfits that look like scrubs.

I also took over the driving at this point. We'd been on the road for almost 3½ hours and weren't nearly halfway—maybe even closer to a third! This would not do. I didn't know if it would be any faster with me driving (though I certainly suspected), but at least it would feel more like progress to me.

I took the approach that we should go fast where we could (regardless of speed limit, within reason) and slow down where we had to (trafficky areas, towns). The speed limits are so variable on Route 1 that they can only be taken as a suggestion.

As we passed through Camden, a lovely harbor town that is fun to stop in when there is time, I started noticing all the inns and B&B's with quaint, enticing names. For example... Victorian by the Sea, Blue Harbor House, Wildflower Inn, Berry Manor Inn, and more. Wouldn't it be lovely to stay in such whimsical places? Most of those were on the water side of the road. On the opposite side of the road were the motels, with curious names of their own, (Birchwood Motel, very summer camp in the woods), quirkier than the elegant white inns but yet rather appealing as well.

After Camden the traffic died back and we were able to make some good time on a wide, straight section of highway. As we got further north, however, the road became more narrow, windy and hilly, and in some spots quite rough. You might think that would slow us down, but on the contrary—barreling along narrow, windy roads is my specialty. (I can even do it on the wrong side of the road, in a foreign country.) I flew up and down hills, whipped around the curves like a race car driver, slowed prudently in towns where there might be pedestrians or fine-seeking police, and got us to Stonington at about 5:30 p.m., 2½ hours after I took the wheel. (And yes, the entire journey took six hours... I was never so glad to get out of a car!)

Stonington is on Deer Island, so our trip took us across a large bridge and a low-lying causeway across the water (which reminds me a lot of the Tommy Thompson Parkway in Anacortes). Sometime before we leave for good—probably on the day of departure, if history is any indication—I will take some pictures.

We were staying in the Shipps House annex to Stonington's Inn on the Harbor. The two bedroom suite we had wanted in the main inn was booked, so we went with the Shipps House instead, about 4/10 of a mile away from the main inn. It's the upstairs of the owner's private house, probably late 19th century era, a little older than my own house. Actually it reminds me a little of my house, with slanted ceilings in the upper level and, of course, patched up wall cracks and peeling ceilings. You enter through a private entryway and climb a very steep flight of stairs that leads directly to one bedroom, which then connects to the second bedroom and a large bathroom in between. On the other side of the second bedroom there is another little hallway (with another steep flight of stairs that goes to the main house, apparently) and a small study with comfy chairs and a TV. The network of doors and rooms means there is not a whole lot of privacy, but aside from some debate over the best way to know if someone is in the bathroom, we seem to have managed so far. I have the room that leads directly to the exit stairs, which is actually quite convenient for me, as it allows me to go out early to run without bothering anyone else.

The one thing that did disturb me (although it hasn't been a problem) is that there is no kitchenette (not that we need to cook), or hot water pot for tea and so forth. To think that I decided not to haul along a hot water heater because everywhere I go seems to have at least a coffee maker! But after the initial dismay, it turns out that we've been out of the house enough to not miss the hot water. Breakfast is provided in the Inn's dining room (along with wireless internet), and they have hot water and coffee during the day, if we were around to want it. One thing I would say is that the Shipps House would not be a good option for anyone who might have trouble climbing steep stairs! Just a little travel tip.

Before crashing for the day (driving all day really takes it out of you), we had dinner at the Harbor Cafe. This is my dad's favorite place to eat, probably because it is pretty cheap (as much as any place that sells lobster can be) and homestyle in food and attitude. This will undoubtedly be where we eat dinner every day here.

On Tuesday morning my plan is to go out running early, before breakfast. (I can say that safely, considering that it is now Tuesday night by the time I have finally finished writing this.) This will be my first time out running since Sunday's race. Time to get my legs moving again!

Pictures will be posted later.

*Not that there's anything wrong with that.

**In fact, as I am writing this at 9:55 Eastern time on Monday, the Pilates class back home is just coming to an end. Do I miss it? Hmmmm.... ***Although I really think my mini-quasi-ice bath helped. I have very little soreness today, not even in my ankle and achilles tendon. My quads are a little achy—no wonder considering the hills, up and down both—but of course I did not immerse them in the water at all.

****We also have a new, no inter-office dating policy which we didn't need when it was all girls. We say that it's to keep Lorraine, my secretary, away from Mike the computer guy, and then laugh hysterically. As would anyone who knew Lorraine, or Mike. But doesn't everyone know “the computer guy”? Who mutters grimly about having things on your computer that could compromise the security of the system? Who suggests you should have policies to limit the staff from non-work-related internet use? (Yeah, like that would fly. Like a lead balloon.)

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