Romance does not always arrive gift-wrapped like a box of chocolates, and seasoned travelers may prefer it that way. Our writers share their adventures of the heart.
OF A WATERFALL, LONGING - AND GENEROSITY
Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington, near the New York and Connecticut borders, plunges 60 feet to a deep pool. When my wife and I hiked in one morning, we met a woman in her 70s who recounted the tale of an Indian maiden who dove over the falls rather than be captured by pursuing trappers. The maid was never seen again, except as an apparition on moonlit nights. Our informant loved the tale and her own memories of visiting the spot with her husband and young children. When he died, she scattered his ashes at the base of the falls. We were feeling like intruders on a private grief until she smiled and gave us a lesson in love and generosity. Recalling the Indian maiden, she said, “I know what my husband is doing on moonlit nights.’’
A GREAT WAY TO GET DUMPED
We loaded our bags into a canoe on the shore of Rainbow Lake, which sits in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak. With a nod of his head, our float plane pilot from Katahdin Air cranked up the propeller, punched the throttle, and flew away. For the next three days the lake, 20 miles from the nearest human, was ours. After setting up camp, the wine flowed into tin cups as fish fed in the cove in front of our tent. A meal of fresh, almond-encrusted brook trout put us to sleep. The silent night was interrupted only by the gentle splashing of a wading moose and the creamy, green glow of the northern lights rippling above.
One Christmas my college boyfriend bought me a vintage, manual typewriter hoping to encourage my fledgling writing career. Come spring, he insisted I needed to write somewhere beautiful to feel inspired. So at the first sign of sunshine, he trucked that thing in a backpack on his bike from the Boston University campus to Boston Common. We spent a warm afternoon sitting on the grass, gazing at Beacon Hill, where the dogwoods were just starting to bloom. A photographer, he snapped photos while I typed. I lost what I wrote that day but have kept the typewriter that launched a collection and - I like to think - a career.
TIME TASTES SWEET
Bright sunlight woke us early the first time we marked my husband’s birthday in his hometown of Belfast, Maine. It was, he told me, almost always gorgeous weather on this late June date, which frequently concluded the school year. I have always loved his stories of spending the summer hauling lobster traps, having clambakes on offshore islands, and biking to a nearby historic fort. We spent the morning walking the shore, where he pointed out his boat’s anchorage. Climbing the hilly streets of town, we saw the 1790s house where he grew up and we bought cinnamon buns at the bakery of his best friend’s family. The calendar seemed to roll back, and I could picture my (prematurely) white-haired husband as a dark-haired boy.
DEEP BREATHS OF SALTY AIR For our first desperate escape from our children, ages 3 and 1 at the time, we begged my sister-in-law to baby-sit. It was the middle of winter and we went north to Kennebunkport. Over the course of one day, we learned to cherish Maine in the off-season, walking the beach with the local dog walkers, shopping for (who else?) the kids, and having a magical dinner at the White Barn Inn. It was not just the serenity and sublime food, far away from the shrieks and demands of toddlers. There had just been a heavy snowfall and the pines outside the window were leaning over with the weight of it, creating that perfect Currier & Ives image. And we got 24 hours of each other, uninterrupted. Sheer bliss.
‘CAMPING’ IN MAINE
One summer we decided to go camping to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Aside from being much cheaper than staying at a fancy inn, the rugged adventure would be far more romantic. We would cook a special dinner over a live fire, eat by candlelight, and sleep under the stars. After locating our spot in Acadia National Park, we headed to market. In addition to coffee and breakfast goodies, we purchased ingredients for pasta topped with lobster fra diavolo, a green salad, and candles. Then, we needed wine and cookware, including a soup pot in which to boil the lobster and pasta, a cheap skillet for the sauce, a plastic salad bowl, napkins, matches, cutlery, and a corkscrew. Suffice it to say, these provisions cost more than a night at an inn. But it was an amazing dinner and night, the economics of which still makes us laugh.
NEARBY YET FAR AWAY
When my wife surprised me for our ninth wedding anniversary last fall, I didn’t expect to end up at the Green Turtle Inn, a floating houseboat in the Charlestown Navy Yard. The comfortable accommodations (two rooms complete with kitchenette and breakfast featuring crispy applewood bacon) have a relaxing feel, but they are not nearly as soothing as being rocked to sleep with the motion of the waves and awakening to the din of seagulls in the morning. We also enjoyed a sail around Boston Harbor, sharing a six-pack of Red Stripe, the beer we drank when we first met some 16 years ago in Jamaica. Altogether, our escape showed how easy it is to get away without ever really leaving.
HUGS, KISSES, AND HUTS
Maine Huts and Trails is a not-for-profit offering plush, full-service backcountry lodging options. Their eco-friendly huts can be linked via a new system of trails that can be hiked, biked, or skied. The Flagstaff Lake Hut has another unique approach my fiancé and I took: a two-hour kayak paddle along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in the shadow of the Bigelow Mountains. After a dinner of pork loin and squash soup, we sank into leather couches and listened to the crackling fire. A late-night swim under a full moon prepped us for a quiet night in our lakeside cabin, radiant floor heating and thick bedding keeping us warm and rested for the next day’s adventures.
A TREK TO REMEMBER
We had planned a romantic Maine escape, complete with cozy inn and gourmet dinner. Hoping to do some snowshoeing, we arrived early. Our innkeeper recommended a nearby trail. “Should take you about an hour-and-a-half,’’ he estimated. What he had failed to add was, “by snowmobile!’’ On foot? Well. . . . We merrily tromped along, until we noticed we were following deer tracks, not footprints. Trail signage was obscured by snow cover. “Let’s build a snow shelter,’’ I suggested. That AMC course would finally pay off. “I’m a city boy from Newton. We don’t do snow shelters,’’ my husband said. He searched his backpack for flashlights and the space blanket and found - Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and Skittles! We had grabbed our son’s backpack by mistake. Hours later, we stumbled upon a house, with a nice lady who drove us to our car. We missed our gourmet dinner, but we had shared an adventure (and burgers at a local pub).