The Secret Lives of Lobsters

Last week my daughter & I visited the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, a nonprofit marine science center located right in the heart of Portland’s harbor.

My daughter’s 5th grade class had been invited to participate in a special program called Lobster: Untold Tales and I was tagging along as a chaperone.  I’d never thought much about lobsters before – apart from how tasty they are – so I was interested to see what I’d been missing. After being briefed in the lobby, we were led into a state-of-the-art interactive exhibit room for our LabVenture!

As someone easily impressed by things like salt free food and wild turkeys, you can imagine how taken in I was by the (nearly) $2.5 million facility above.  With its gigantic screens and its dark lighting and shiny metal kiosks, I felt like I’d stepped right onto the set of CSI!  But instead of being ordered to stand behind the camera, the LabVenture! program is all ACTION!  Not only were we set loose in the “lab” to investigate, but we got to (hold your breath) TOUCH LOBSTERS.

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Snow Tubing

Friday we got another foot of snow.  Yeah, I thought spring was on its way too, but HAHAHHAHAHAHHHH!!  We live in Maine.  So yesterday (Saturday) we decided to put all this white stuff to good use. Via SNOW TUBING.  We drove to Seacoast Snow Park in Windham.  Only 25 minutes yet a world of fun away!

Here we are at the bottom of the hill.  When we first started we were feeling perky and WAY EXCITED!  So we hoofed it up the hill.  I overheard a family walking alongside us saying it was GOOD to walk, that we were all doing it the old fashioned way.  (Old fashioned = code language for WORK OUT)

Here we are at the top.  I cannot tell you how much FUN!! it was cascading down.  Snow spraying hitting your face, the wind in your hair.  I felt positively giddy.  As you can see, there’s not a huge wait for a lane.  This is b/c there are 12 lanes to choose from. And snow tubing sessions are divided into 2-hour blocks.  Only *so many* tubes are sold per session, so things keep moving.  Single riders can go in any of the 12 lanes, but if you want to link your tube up with other riders, you have to choose the proper lane: 2 riders, up to 6 riders, or more.

The four of us hoofed it up the hill once and rode down.  Then we hoofed it up again and went down again.  After this we were TIRED.  The hill’s not that high but it ain’t that short either. So we decided it was time to be carried.   That’s right; CARRIED!  Not on the backs of sherpas but via conveyor belt or rope tow!  The conveyor belt works just like you’d imagine.  You step onto it and stand with your tube as it whisks you up the hill.

Image: Seacoast Fun Park

We didn’t use the conveyor belt method. Mostly b/c all the double tubes had to be carried that way and the wait was much longer.  As we were all using single tubes, we opted for the rope tow.  The rope tow line was fairly short and the method more appealing.  You sit in your tube and relax.  A handle connected to your tube is looped onto a metal claw attached to the rope.  You and your tube are yanked up the hill to the top, where at a specified location you toss yourself off your tube and proceed a few steps to collect your ride.

Image courtesy of Geoff (maybe that's his kid?)

Here we are waiting at the bottom of the hill in the rope tow line.  You can see the mechanism to the left, pulling the happy tubers up to the top.  The wait was short and while waiting we listened to music over the loudspeakers.  They were playing “The Q” – the Top 40 radio station here in Portland.  Very toe tapping / booty shaking music, sure to put you in a good tubing mood.  My younger daughter is a BIG Q fan – but that’s for another post altogether..

Me & “Greenie”

Here we are back at the top, waiting in line for Lane 1.  Lane 1 is the best lane – single riders only – it’s curvy and has a mogul in one spot.  Worth the short wait.

After this I couldn’t take anymore pics b/c my iPhone camera stopped working.  Personally, I think it got jealous of the fun we were having and decided to stick it to me.  So I didn’t get any shots on the rope tow, or while tubing down any of the lanes.  But that’s probably for the best.  We went a total of 9 times in our 2 hour session, mostly linked together in a big mass of four tubes.  The added weight only served to increase our speed, velocity & fun — so together we FLEWWWW down the hill, Whoopping & hollering and having a BLAST!!  I’m glad I couldn’t take photos — for once I simply sat back and enjoyed the ride. 🙂