Road trips to New England seem to be a recurring event in my life. When I was eight years old, my family took a trip to Cape Cod for a wedding. We visited Plymouth Rock and wandered around old towns and walked on the rocky shores of the Atlantic and I got my hair cut into a bob. My aunt bought me a compass that I refused to take out of the box. My mom gifted me a glass dolphin that my dad told me I'd break within a month. (I still have it.)
When I was seventeen, my mom took my best friend and I on a weekend trip to Boston for my birthday. We visited my second cousins in New Hampshire and drove through the New England countryside and eventually made it to Boston where we explored its rich history. The summer after my freshman year of college, my parents and I took an aimless trip toward southern Maine. We spent a couple of days in the charming little city of Portsmouth, NH. We wandered through Strawbery Banke and looked at all the old houses, visited the harbor and watched people come and go, and perused the local shops. We went on a whale watch off the coast of Maine and were lucky enough to witness several blue whales and humpback whales surfacing for air. We spent a night in the woods of Vermont in a rundown hotel that sat on the edge of a little lake and drove along the winding highways with no particular destination in mind.
In early September, my family embarked on yet another New England road trip. However, this one was different because it was our last road trip together before I move away from home. I could feel the melancholic undertones throughout the entire week. That's not to say that we didn't have fun and enjoy every moment of our trip, because we certainly did. But there was a sort of unspoken understanding that this was the end of an era and that soon after our return, everything would be different.
We started our trip by heading to Vermont, where we visited the Quechee Gorge at sunset and vaguely planned our route. We decided to head north with the intention of heading toward Bar Harbor. We meandered through the White Mountains in New Hampshire and visited the town of Stark, where my mom spent a blissful seventies summer with her siblings. We stayed at an inn on the Atlantic and spent our mornings walking where the ocean meets the land. We spent two blissful days in Bar Harbor, exploring Acadia National Park and hiking along the Atlantic coast. We witnessed a foggy sunrise over the Bar Harbor waterfront. And in between, we laughed and we listened to our favorite oldies and made the most of the time we had together. And while on the surface, this seemed like just another ordinary family road trip, it is one that I will cherish for the rest of my days because in a way, it was goodbye.