Story 4: Planning Memories

By Jenie Fu

The destinations and discoveries we make during our travels are vessels of our memories of happiness.  It is with those memories and hope in mind that I set about our summer trip planning.

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Maine is simply beautiful. I have so many wonderful memories of our summers here with our kids.  We have developed a routine over the years.  We usually hunker down near Cape Neddick and we have made many little discoveries about the mid-coastal area. We have to watch the salt-water taffy demonstrations at GoldenRod in York Beach. The walk along Marginal Way. Our kids climb and scramble over the big jagged rocks along the coast line. Pie in the Sky has THE BEST Maine blueberry pie.

We have not been back to Maine in about 6 years because we wanted to explore other parts of the country and the world. We always talked about coming back, but just like that, 6 years flew by.  My son turned 10 this year, and my daughter is hurtling her way through her pre-teen years.   With their burgeoning independence and developing interests beyond our family, I suddenly feel a loss, a longing for the togetherness we used to share. My memories of Maine came back to me.  My mother was visiting us this summer, and I wanted to relive our Maine experiences with her.


Planning the trip was going to be a cinch. I want to go to every single town we’ve ever visited in mid-coastal Maine and I want to meander our way to Acadia National Park.  I’m not sure how that came to mind. I must have seen images of Acadia National Park on tv… It’s the 100 year celebration of national parks system. I’m now searching for pictures of Acadia…looking for advice on best ways to visit the park. Did the Obamas visit there?

I can just picture how much fun we are all going to have. Now I can’t wait to go.


We’d already signed the kids up for various summer camp sessions.  Squeezing this trip in would mean missing some camp days.  I rationalized that taking advantage of July 4 holiday and missing two days of camp was going to be okay.  But that meant we really only had 5 days.  It’s okay…we’ll leave the night before to maximize our time in Maine. My husband was shaking his head….but onboard.

Now with only 5 days to play with on the schedule, I was still trying to figure out how we can hit 5 midcoast towns and still spend a couple of days at Acadia National Park. I know…I know…Pragmatism set in once I started looking at a map. Googlemaps indicates an 8 hour drive.  For us that really means 10 or 11 hrs…because of our typical pit stops.  Then it was another 4 hours drive to our old stomping grounds of southern Maine. What about accommodations? I really don’t want to arrange 5 different hotels for 5 days. I’m beginning to realize there is nothing simple about this planning at all.

With the hectic driving and moving of hotels in mind, 5 towns became 2. Oh and also, Acadia National Park was OUT because my husband was really unsure how much time we were realistically going to be able to spend there to enjoy the park. SIGH. Checking on hotels prices and availability, we narrowed our choices to Rockland and Wells.  If we can’t make to Acadia, then at least we have to check out an island in Penobscot Bay. Vinalhaven Island it is. Maybe we can bike around the island for a day.

I was starting to feel disappointed about our less than ambitious travel plans. My husband assured me that was the more enjoyable pace. (I was still secretly hoping that I can still squeeze in some extra towns).  But I booked everything like he and I discussed and felt fairly confident that we were going to have a lot of fun as a family. A lot of stress and compromise, but things are coming together.

Days passed and I realized…I forgot about Grandma!  Where was she going to stay?! Getting two rooms for 5 days blew our budget.  I guess the whole family’s rooming together. I called the hotels to make sure that one room could accommodate 3 adults.  This was going to be a very tight sleeping quarters. Anxiety creeps in. Not feeling so good about this trip anymore.

Feeling guilt for the rooming situation, I lobbied for renting the dreaded (by my husband) mini-van. At least the drive will be comfortable.


The day of the departure was frantic. Frantic is an understatement.  Drop the kids at summer camp in the morning, pick up the minivan from the car rental agency.  Pack the dog’s food and bed. Drop off the dog at the kennel.  Attempt to do some actual work(!) Last minute packing. (We did have the sense to make the kids pack the night before.) Get snacks and fruit for the road trip, AKA one LONG picnic in the car. Water my tomato plants and herbs. Clean and close up the house for the week. Load the car. Go back into the house multiple times because we forgot the keys or the charger.  Where are my sunglasses? They’re on my head. Where are the house keys?? In the abyss of minivan luggage. Unpack. Repack. Ugh!! FINALLY, we are off, and I’m exhausted.  I’m so grateful my kids did not scream their heads off during this slightly traumatic transition.

About 30 minutes after we get on the road, my husband asked me about the island tour.

I totally forgot.

Next time, I will plan to plan

Jenie Fu is a co-curator at Swell Travel, and also the co-owner of OgoSport, an active lifestyle toy company. Jenie travel quite a bit for work and fun, solo and with her family and friends.

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