"What I Learned On My Summer Vacation In Maine" by Bill, age 30.

1. The boy really does not like car trips longer than 90 minutes, maybe 2 hours max. Not that I blame him.

2. Inflatable swimming toys have this thing now that prevents air from automatically escaping the second you stop blowing into the little valve, but it ends up making them really hard to inflate. Or deflate, for that matter.

3. I'm used to bites from black flies and mosquitoes. They're annoying, but that's about it. Deer fly bites, though? Those kind of hurt.

4. I could not find Humpty Dumpty brand ketchup-flavored potato chips anywhere I looked. It's a sad time for the state of Maine.

5. There's now a pawn shop in my hometown of Bangor called Needful Things. I hope Stephen King (a resident of Bangor, for those who don't know) gets a kickback off of that. Not that he needs it, but still.

6. Radio in Maine is just as bad as I remembered it. Unless you like country or adult comtemporary, you are largely S.O.L. if you stick with terrestial radio north of Portland (and even then, your only other choices are WCYY and the FNX affiliate).

7. The Fourth of July parade in Farmington is everything a local parade should be - local color, folks handing out candy, a few politicians shoring up some votes for the fall, a local band or two, and lots of cute kids and dogs. Best of all, it's short, so you''re not left baking in the sun all morning. Plus, free hot dogs and popcorn.

8. The boy really dislikes swimming in cold lakes. Again, can't say as I blame him. He didn't mind my parents pool as much, though, once he was given time to acclimate himself to the water. But for the most part, he prefers a nice, warm bath.

9. Thanks to my brother, I learned that the Mentos/Diet Coke trick is really cool in person, but doesn't work as well with a regular 12 ounce bottle as it does a 2 liter one.

10. My family owes us many, many visits now, because it's really difficult to make a 5 hour car trip with a toddler.

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