Traveling with a baby on a plane is a mixture of exhaustion, fascination, frustration, and curiosity topped with a larger-than-normal suitcase, more carry-ons and no chance of sleeping yourself. Everything covered with who-knows-what germs wants to go in the mouth and the regular baby screeches seem to echo across the claustrophobic cabin. Sam was a trooper though, totally rocking the air travel, falling asleep and even allowing me to carefully read my book while he snored in my arms. It was great doing the first time airplane ride with Jamie, the three of us figuring out the maneuvers, tricks and systems of functioning in a small space with many people.
From the comforts of Bozeman we departed in early July, navigating security with a Bjorn and baby bag. We were delayed and missed our flight in Atlanta to Portland, forced to spend a night in the crazy city that was seeing more rain than it had in years. Sam took it all in with such poise and grace, bouncing without a cry in the Bjorn, cooing and ahhing at the falling rain. Sleep in a strange crib in a hotel room with loud AC. Sure. I can do that for you, he seemed to say. We made it to Portland the next day and to our rental car, winding our way along the tangled Maine roads to South Casco and Jamies grandmother's house. The soothing waters of Thomas Pond welcomed us, a sure relief from a humid, hot day. Sam oozed sweat like he never has before, introduced to the East Coast humidity where you move a muscle and perspiration pours out of you. It makes your skin so young looking though and you hardly have to use any moisturizer.
The little trooper continued his adventures after the festive fourth of July and traveled to Vermont, stopping along the way when the car seat got too unbearable. Vermont was having serious flooding and we showed up at the farm where my friend was getting married in a downpour. The mud was thick but the spirits high, and we found a relatively dry place to pitch our tent, wondering if we were being bad parents by not finding a dry hotel room nearby. Sam rocked it again, sleeping soundly on the tent floor, oblivious to the buzzing mosquitoes and the rain playing a lullaby above his head. I think that he enjoyed being outdoors, nestled between his mom and dad. Such a fun wedding with such good friends. The sun shone and the sunset stunned and my college buddies and I closed down the dance floor with cupcakes in hand.
Arriving at my parents house in mid-coast Maine after a seven hour drive from Vermont with baby was welcome. The quiet of the woods and the warmth of the day were immediately enveloping and my parents overflowing joy at seeing all of us, especially Sam, was so settling. Over the course of two weeks, Sam was introduced to the ocean at Curtis Cove, oohed and awed over by people I have known my whole life, learned how to use a sippy-cup, walked on the carriage trails of Acadia National Park, developed his johnny-jump-up jumping skills, met his new friend Olivier, and enjoyed mashed peas for the first time (sort of). Maine is a place I want to return to every year with Sam. I want him to know the wild, tree-filled state that I grew up in, be comfortable in and on the ocean whether swimming or sailing, eat soft-serve ice cream cones from a dairy bar, and enjoy fresh seafood and sea air.
The trip home solo with Sam was enhanced by a visit with my aunt in Chicago and her son and grandson. Just three hours spent with other adults who could hold and love on Sam made the whole traveling day that much easier. It is so interesting holding a squirming, active seven month old in your lap in a space that you yourself barely fit into, while trying not to hit the woman next to you and praying that the diapers hold their contents inside. There was a slight accident somewhere over Nebraska, but with the help of friendly seat mates and stewardesses it was fairly pain-free and Sam and I cleaned up well in the airplane lavatory. How delicious it was so land in Jackson, step off the plane and see the towering Tetons and Jamie's smiling face.
It was so nice to travel and see so many beloved family and friends. And it was so wonderful to return to this place that I love and be back in my home filled with boy hugs and doggie kisses.