We arrived at our vacation cottage in Old Orchard Beach, Maine on Saturday, August 6th, with a sense of excitement. Vacation at Last!

I’ve been coming to Old Orchard Beach since I was five years old. It’s become a nostalgic place for me. For that matter, my wife, Joanne, has been coming here for over thirty years so it’s become a nostalgic place for her, too.

Despite being retired, a vacation is still a refreshing change. The main highlight, of course, is the beach. It’s just a five minute walk away to the beautiful, sandy beach and the delightful ocean surf. Then there are the usual places we like to visit. These include cinemas, shopping malls, and restaurants. But another key attraction is the freedom from the list of household chores. There’s no lawn to mow, gardens to tend, or hedges to trim. The order of the day, instead, is to kick back and relax.

Vacation at Last! The pier and beach at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, taken from the beach.

The pier and beach at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, taken from the beach.

For us, the day starts quite simply. What do we want to do for the rest of the day? Although I like to be busy most of the time, it’s a refreshing change. Some days we go to the beach. On other days, we might go shopping or go see a movie. One of Joanne’s favourite activities is browsing stores that specialize in second-hand merchandise. I never knew there were so many of them. I think we’ve been to about six of them so far and I know we’re not done yet.

Another big attraction for me is controversial. We have a train track at the back of our property. There are five Amtrak passenger trains in each direction each day, plus a variety of freight trains. These are not quiet. There are three road crossings within walking distance and, as required by law, the trains blow their whistles at each one. During the day, this is not a big deal. But they’ll wake you up several times overnight. But for me as a child, the trains were a huge attraction and they remain an exciting part. I must admit, though, that my appreciation of them at night has waned somewhat.

Vaction at Last! Looking up Old Orchard Street from near the pier in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Looking up Old Orchard Street from near the pier in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

One special treat for us this year is that my sister and my middle brother (I’m the oldest) are coming up next week with my sister and family in the front cabin and my brother and family in the back. My brother has invited us to stay with them for a couple of days so that the three siblings (of four) have some overlap time. So, we’ll be going home on a Monday instead of the usual Saturday, staying with Jon and family in the back.

Because both Joanne and I are retired, for the first time we don’t need to return to work at the end of our vacation. We extended our travel insurance to cover a third week so that we might stay longer in Old Orchard Beach. Or, we may take the slow route home, visiting a few other places. We’ve decided to defer our decision until Monday. It’s nice to have such options. So, in a way, vacations are even better when you’re retired!