Thursday, August 20, 2015

New England Vacation – Day 12: Diver Ed, Bar Harbor, and the Nice Day with the Terrible Ending

Does this sound familiar: we had a pretty good day, spoiled by a very ugly end to the day.

It was a foggy morning on the Maine coast.

Our activity for the morning would be to take the Diver Ed's Dive-In Theater boat ride.

Diver Ed is the captain and a very gregarious fellow. His outgoing, fun personality was a perfect match for all the kids on this trip, including Kai.

Ed takes his boat out about 15 minutes into Frenchman's Bay, then drop anchor. He dons his dry suit and dives down about 60 feet with an underwater video camera. We are able to watch on the large video monitor while he speaks to us from the bottom of the ocean. His wife, Naomi, up on deck with us, also comments on what Ed is showing us.

Ed found and showed us many sea creatures, including this sea urchin.

This lobster was feisty and Ed had fun with it.

Here's a colorful sea cucumber.

The underwater shots were amazing, but that was only half of the adventure. While underwater, Ed was collecting creatures to bring with him back up into the boat.

Here he shows Kai a sea urchin.

Kai is flabbergasted when Ed puts a sea cucumber in his mouth.

And Kai was laughing as Ed was about to kiss this crab.

Once Ed was done showing everyone the creatures he brought up to the boat, it was time for the kids to get hands on themselves. Here's Kai holding a sea cucumber.

And here he is enjoying another sea cucumber.

Let's examine this lobster. Is it a boy or a girl? Diver Ed showed us how to tell the difference.

Here Kai is examining a sea star. Diver Ed explained that the sea stars (formerly known as starfish) are all very small these days. They don't see any much bigger than this one.

Before we left the hotel in the morning, I had told Kai that there would be other kids on the boat. They might get to hold some of the creatures first so he would have to be patient and wait for his turn. We did not want him to get frustrated or angry. While he said he understood, my wife and I were on pins and needles the entire time hoping that nothing would set him off. Fortunately, he was happy the entire time.

This was probably his favorite activity of the entire vacation. He loves seeing and, especially, holding creatures so this was the perfect activity for him. It was very educational, but with Diver Ed and Naomi entertaining the kids (and adults), it was also very fun. We highly recommend this for anyone with kids who are traveling to Bar Harbor.

After we got off the boat, we went into town for lunch. We were tired of eating mostly western food. Surprisingly, Bar Harbor does not have any sushi restaurants so we settled on Chinese. I am not picky about Chinese food; you can't have a bad Chinese meal. But this restaurant was disappointing. It wasn't horrible by any means, but definitely nothing too special.

After lunch we took a walk along the Bar Harbor shore.

We came upon this Balance Rock. It looks like just one little push will send it into the ocean, but apparently, despite appearances, it is still standing there.

After completing our shore walk, we toured down Main Street and stopped for ice cream. It took the entire wait in line for Kai to finally decide on coconut, while my wife had blueberry ice cream (apparently blueberries are very popular here), and I tried the lobster ice cream (vanilla with chunks of lobster). I liked the blueberry the best; the lobster one tasted just like vanilla.

After that, Kai and I went back to the hotel so that Kai could have his break. My wife went shopping, then came back so I could see a few shops. Then, it was time to go to the pool.

For dinner, after walking all over town, we decided on a restaurant along the docks. My wife had crab cakes, Kai had a pizza off the kids' menu, and I had a baked stuffed lobster. I was hoping that the "baked" part would make the lobster different enough from the previous night's lobster, but the "lobster" part just could not compare to the phenomenal lobster I had the night before. Plus, despite that Kai's kids meal was very cheap, the cost for all of us was higher than the three lobsters we had at the lobster pound.

After dinner we walked over to the land bridge to Bar Island. This land bridge is exposed only for a couple hours during low tide, and connects the mainland to Bar Island. During high tide, it is under water.

As the sun had already set, and the fog had rolled back in, we could not see the island from the mainland. As we started walking along the land bridge, we had no idea how long the path was. My wife was all for turning back, but Kai wanted to keep going all the way to the island. I was surprised that he wanted to walk so much, but he was in a great mood and very curious about what lie ahead.

It took about 15-20 minutes, and we finally made it to the island. Although it was nearly pitch black by then, using the flashlight on my cell phone, we could see that many other visitors had piled stones into miniature stone sculptures.

We then hurriedly walked back to the mainland, my wife being concerned that the tide would come up and strand us.

Up to then this had been perhaps our best day of the vacation. Kai had enjoyed all of the things we did that day.

And then, suddenly, it all changed.

When we got back to the mainland, Kai saw where we were and he got very upset that we would have a long walk back to the hotel. He demanded that I find a short cut, but when I explained that there is no short cut, he got very angry. I told him that there was nothing we could do but walk back to the hotel. Of course, it was, as always, all my fault.

He was very angry the entire way back to the hotel, often using 4-letter expletives to loudly voice his displeasure. I tried not to think about what other people were thinking of us. I felt like I was seeing first hand what he must be like at school every day.

When we were back in the room, he continued to express his anger. And as is common when he is like this, he makes very nasty personal comments. We told him to just be quiet, but he continued to persist.

When he makes things this personal, it is very difficult to stay calm. And on this night, my wife and I did not.

We had had enough of his complaining and anger and being nasty. We felt like we do everything for him and he constantly behaves in the most selfish, spoiled manner. When we told him this, he said that it is because he has autism.

While I know that there are many challenges that arise from his autism, we hate when he uses that as an excuse for all of his problems.

How much of his behavior is the direct result of autism? How much of it is due to his own personality or mindset?

Having autism may cause one to become frustrated more easily and not think rationally, but does it also mean that you have to be so nasty to your loved ones when you are frustrated?

For a moment, my wife wanted to cut short the vacation and see if we could find an earlier flight home. I didn't think that was practical, but in that moment, I was thinking that I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to take another vacation with Kai again.

As time passes, I'm sure my thinking will change.

But I can feel that every time something like this happens, my resolve gets worn down little by little.

Can I be the Balance Rock that stays standing despite the odds?


  1. That boat ride with the hands on of the sea life must have been a lot of fun for Kai. Sorry to hear about the later frustration. Still...what a great vacation all of you are having!

    1. When I step back, look through the photos, and think about what we've done, I know that it has been a good vacation and Kai has enjoyed much of it. Just wish he didn't give us such a hard time sometimes.

  2. Yes, overall a very wonderful vacation! But I do agree that bad behavior cannot be tolerated. Autism is not an excuse to be cruel or even disobedient. Kids do learn quickly what they can get away with. It's not fun, but they have to know who is boss. My boys might be bigger than me but they have some healthy respect/fear of disobeying me. lol....

    I love that fog! And as I was reading, I was so afraid you were going to get caught in the tide coming in! glad you didn' would have had to have slept on the balance rock all night! Not fun!

    1. It has been challenging trying to find a punishment and way to teach Kai a lesson that will have lasting effects. Usually he gets very angry over any punishment, and then it's not always evident later that he really understood why we disciplined him. But we'll keep trying, of course.

      The fog was really cool, especially at night. Haha, that would have been miserable to get caught out there when the tide came in.

  3. Many hugs
    We def have moments like this in every vacation - we have learned to be very hard hearted and tell R that despite ASD - he has to act properly - otherwise no one will want to be with him
    That Balance rock metaphor was lovely - that is how we special needs parents are forced to be

    1. Thanks, K. Kai often moans about how he doesn't have friends; when he is being nasty with us, we try to tell him that if he is mean and unpleasant with others, no one will want to be with him. I don't know if he really understands this, though. He usually just thinks that others are mean to him, but can't seem to understand that he often brings it on himself.

      May you remain balanced as well!


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