Over the years my travels to visit family in Maine have provided me with many first time experiences
I guess it’s Independence Day that kicks off the summer travel season. For my wife Nancy and I, we took advantage of the long weekend to amble our way up the Jersey Turnpike into New England for a bit of hiking between Amesbury, Massachusetts and Bald Rock Mountain in Camden, Maine.
We brought along our 12 year old Border Collie Tripp, as his specialty is that of a trail blazer.
It was in Amesbury that we visited my politically and environmentally correct friend Richard and his wife Sally, who introduced this country boy to the sweet aroma of scented doggy poop-bags as we hiked along the shores of the Merrimack River in Maudslay State Park.
It “almost” made it a pleasure to pull those little green baggies out of my new hip mounted dispenser to collect droppings of excrement along the trail… Truly gave new meaning to the phrase “a walk in the park!”
The primary purpose of the journey, however, was to attend the wedding of Emily Russell, the daughter of my first cousin Robin (for you genealogists, Emily is my first cousin once removed). The extent of my family members in Maine is as broad as that of the propagation that my five siblings and I have provided Maryland. We are close bunch of cousins with relationships that now span five generations in the little seaside Down Eastern vacation village of Castine.
Castine, with a permanent population of about 1,400, is in many ways a microcosm of Frederick. It shares a very strong sense of community. Their annual 4th of July celebration parade has got to be one of America’s best. And for anyone who cares to, you can get to know all the movers and shakers of the town within a matter days, or in minutes, especially if you stop into MarKel’s Bakehouse off Main Street for breakfast, where you will find my cousin Kelly and husband Mark doing their magic in the kitchen producing some of the best Danish pastry south of Bar Harbor.
To pass the time in the evening, one can always stop in at Danny Murphy’s Bar down along the dock. Ownership has changed hands a few times since Kelly and Mark were married twenty-five plus years ago. That happened to be the last time I visited the establishment, when a large contingent of the wedding party migrated there to continue the celebration after my Aunt Dorie and Uncle Bob shut down the backyard reception so they could get some sleep.
Mainers can be a rowdy bunch.
As it turned out the after-party in the pub didn’t really go all that well. It was another cousin of mine Chip of New York fame, who tried to order a drink by bellying up to the bar that night … which was crowded elbow to elbow by a pack of visiting merchant marines. I’m not sure if it was his thick New York accent or that he may have made a smart ass remark as he attempted to wedge his way through that inebriated crew of bulky sailors. It wasn’t long before the fists and chairs were literally being flung in every direction. At that point, my only focus was to save what was left of my New York blood line.
It was a short walk up the hill to the medical clinic, where Nancy, my brother and I dragged a battered Chip to get stitched up before the numbing effects of the alcohol he ingested had worn off.
As the three of us stood on the front entrance steps of the clinic waiting for Chip’s return, we breathed in Castine’s cool midnight air. Unfortunately it was my brother who became the next victim of too much celebration – Mainer Style. This family member’s name is being withheld to protect the fine reputation he has earned in the Frederick community over the years… So let’s just say that the freshness of the air turned a rancid green as he lost his lunch (and his reception dinner) on those steps within minutes of Chip’s admission.
Speaking of reputations to protect, the Maine Maritime Academy makes its home in Castine. Established by the state legislature in 1947, it is a public post-secondary college and nautical training institution. My late uncle served as the medical doctor for the Academy back in the 1980′s. Today, my Cousin Heather’s husband Billy serves as the president of the nearly 1,500 student organization.
A pre-wedding party was held at the centuries old presidential mansion which rests atop one of Castine’s highest points offering expansive views of the wide mouth of the Penobscot River with the Academy and the town on the foreground.
So clearly this time around everyone and President Billy himself had to be on the best of behaviors, so as not to tarnish the family image.
As the full moon rose over the river that evening, we partiers once again journeyed down to the dock as we did 25 plus years earlier. Not to imbibe at Danny Murphy’s, but to watch the fireworks that were rained out from the past week’s 4thcelebration.
Turns out that Fire Marshall Randy (not a relative) had planned to shoot them off the next night, but since he was invited to Emily’s wedding, he did himself a favor and lit the clear night sky with a spectacular display from out in the river. With the full moon perfectly situated off to the right, it was hard to imagine that this show would not match any other any where.
Have you ever watched fireworks under a full moon? It was another first for me!
The next day was a perfectly clear and cool Maine day. The 4 o’clock wedding was set at a former family “camp” along the shores of Alamoosook Lake (aka “the pond”) about half way ‘tween Castine and Bangor. Now the home of Cousins Kelly and Mark, the outdoor event brought in family and friends from all over the country.
Gathered around an old canoe filled with local craft beers and wine covered in crushed ice with white Christmas tree lights draped above in the trees, the crowd began to migrate to their seats as the setting sun offered up a golden backdrop reflecting across the lake. What a setting for Emily and her soon to be wedded partner Kate to walk down the lush green pathway to recite their vows!
Yes, it was my first gay wedding, and it was a wonderful event. Meaningful words were shared about the value of deep personal relationships that brought tears to the eyes of many. With the understanding and love of all the attendees, the bride and bride stated their vows, and then the real party started.
It truly was a beautiful event that carried on well into the early morning hours in true wicked Mainer style.
As I am now less than 120 days away from qualifying for Medicare, I continue to discover the joy of life and the fresh experiences it has to offer.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
The author: Rocky Mackintosh, President, MacRo, Ltd., a Land and Commercial Real Estate firm based in Frederick, Maryland. He has been an active member of the Frederick, Maryland community for over four decades. He has served as chairman of the board of Frederick Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Frederick County Charter Board from 2010 to 2012, to name a few.