29 June 2008

Bed, Bath, and Beyond

Monday, 23 June 2008

We really hated to leave Denise's wonderful house, especially the Bed and no *#& Breakfast part of it! But we had miles to cover, so armed with a full pitcher of fresh tea, we were on the road by 8:30. It was a foggy, cool morning - the kind I'm really missing now (as you can tell, it's almost a week later that I'm posting this entry...) We had planned to have breakfast at the local Bristol Diner, but they were on vacation (the week before the 'real' season begins) so we set our sights on Bath, sure that we could find something to eat there. On the way, we stopped by the hugely popular Taste of Maine restaurant (not open for breakfast) and took a picture of the big lobster (we didn't know he would be a Bubba Lobster!) out front. In addition, they had a lobster fisherman in his yellow slicker and hat (carved out of wood) and a huge pole for osprey nests.

Bath is on the coast north of Portland, on the Kennebec River, and it's a huge shipbuilding port. It was home to Bath Iron Works, which has been sold and is now General Dynamics. Their biggest customer is the US Navy, and they've built battleships, frigates, cruisers, and destroyers here. It has a HUGE crane that you can see as you cross the bridge into town. We got off the highway (US 1) and went in search of food. Right away, we spotted the Starlight Cafe, but we had already passed the street we needed to turn on before we turned. As we drove around town, we enjoyed the 19th century architecture and then we passed Beale Street Barbeque. Given that Kim is from Memphis, we doubted the authenticity of the place, so we found our way back to the Starlight. Boy, can we ever pick them! This was the cutest place - sort of underground, I had to duck to get in. There was a counter and several small tables. A friendly local woman urged us to try (with absolutely no hesitation) the cinnamon bun French toast. Since I could see the cinnamon buns right in front of me, I bit. The woman told me I wouldn't need to eat for hours later and that I'd be on a sugar high all day! Kim, ever the steadfast companion, had scrambled eggs and ham and a humongous biscuit. We loved checking out the place as we waited for our food. Each table had a different set of salt and pepper shakers - ours were lobsters, next to us was Dagwood and a huge sandwich, etc. Oh yeah, I also was unable to resist the blueberry scones that were on the counter next to the cinnamon buns, but I got it to go and didn't eat it that day. I was stuffed by the time we left, and was on such a high that I didn't even mind when Jill got us so lost that we were going the wrong way down a one-way street. In fact, I didn't even notice it, but thankfully, Kim did and we were eventually able to wind our way out of Bath and back to the highway without attracting any unwanted police attention. There are hazards to having a red car, though...

The next curiosity on our list was a 'Moose or Monster' sculpture found in some gas station parking lot next to the highway near a Holiday Inn and a McDonalds. Believe it or not, we found it! I will spare you the ugly details about our parking lot escapade. We emerged unscathed, and no animals were injured, including humans. Or other vehicles, by some miracle. By the way, we think it's closer to a moose than a monster.

We saw a cute little cow in a coffee cup on the ceiling of some java joint - Kim got a great shot of it, and we weren't even expecting that one! We arrived in Freeport with one item on our agenda - to take a picture of the giant boot outside the LL Bean retail store. Well, we did that, and then we needed to go inside in search of a rest room, so now we both have a new pair of hiking boots and I have a new pair of comfy brown slides. I did not buy the $7 socks - I can get those at Target! It was a good thing we did not have time to do any more shopping, because we are running out of space almost as fast as we are running out of money. Of course, there is always UPS...

On the way to Yarmouth, we passed an outdoor furniture shop with a giant Adirondack chair, so we turned around to get a shot of it and the bit Indian across the street from it. Yarmouth is home to Eartha, the world's largest rotating globe (a certified Guinness World Record) at the DeLorme map store. She measured just under 131 feet around, and 41 feet, one-and-a-half inches across her middle, and she's reportedly gorgeous at night, when she's all lit up and you can see her from the highway. It was pretty impressive to see her in broad daylight, but impossible to photograph her in a way that does her justice. You sorta have to be there, but you can also check her out at http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10408

Next stop - Portland, Maine's largest city. As you may know or have guessed, it's also on the coast and we spent our time there in the Old Port district. We parked on the street (no mean feat, but for once on this trip I did not have to parallel park) and stopped in at the visitor center. We took a long walk along the waterfront down to the Maine Narrow Guage Railway Museum. We opted not to take a three mile train ride, but we did spend some time in the small museum there. We got to see men actively restoring some old rail cars, and we got to walk through several different kinds of passenger cars. Check it out at http://www.mngrr.org/ and learn all about narrow guage railways! Toot, toot!
We had thought we might walk UP to the old Observatory, but we satisfied ourselves with a photograph since we only had two hours parking time (on the other side of town) and we still were due for lunch at some point. Plus, it looked like it could rain at any minute. Read all about it at http://www.portlandlandmarks.org/portland_observatory/observatory.shtmlww.portlandlandmarks.org/portland_observatory/observatory.shtml - it's really cool and we would have liked to have seen it. Huff, puff. On the way back towards the car, we passed the Maine Customs House (official business only, no weapons, show your ID and you'd better have a damn good reason to go in!) and walked down several cobblestone streets. There was lots of neat shopping and some cute stores. We ducked in one that was full of maritime junque - we first saw some mermaids and other neat carvings, and when we went in there was a parrot sitting on the proprietor's shoulder. It was a fun place to look around - kind of like Mom's house, had she lived at a seaport.

On the way down the street, we passed a brewpub called Gritty's and then remembered that was a place Denise had suggested we eat. So we did! I had a steak salad that was really tasty, and Kim had chicken caesar. We split some homemade potato chips and wisely (but with difficulty) avoided having beer. While there, we saw not one but TWO men wearing Tennessee shirts/jackets - these were the first even remotely close to Tennessee people we had seen on the whole trip, while we North Carolinians get around. Kim went over to talk to the guy with the UT Lacrosse jacket on - he was in town on business and was a UT alum. He said the bartender at his hotel was also from Tennessee.

We had already decided that we were going to need to take the interstate from Portland on if we were to have any chance of seeing the Paper House in Rockport, Mass, before it closed. That turned out to be a really good choice, because it began pouring down rain just after we got out of Portland. What a dreary trip! We sped through Portsmouth (sorry, Danielle!) but we did see the two HUGE state liquor stores at the NH state line (one of each side of the road). Somewhere along the way, we got off the interstate and found a road that took us through Ipswich, Essex, and into Rockport, and even more amazingly, we found the Paper House! Before it closed!! You will surely want to check it out at http://www.paperhouserockport.com/ because our photos don't begin to do it justice. My favorite thing about it was the honor system used for charging for the obviously self-guided tour. Put $1.50 per adult in an envelope (provided) and drop it in the mail slot of the house next door! We did, although we had to raid our laundry money since we only had twenties! Other items of interest there were the grandfather clock made out of newspapers from each state capital and the desk made of newspaper accounts of Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic. Now you know what to do with all of those papers you've been reading!!
We went to Gloucester in hopes of getting some good shots of the Gloucester fisherman (http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc22624.php) but our hopes were dashed by the DOWNPOUR of rain. We waited it out (of course, we had parked and were walking) at a neat Spanishy Greeky (not sure which) restaurant where we had sangria and some roasted tomatoes and goat cheese. While at the bar, we learned all about the 'Gloucester Twenty' (the high school girls who for some insane reason got pregnant on purpose) since they (but not the boys involved...) were the news story of the day. Except for the weather, which was really the top story. So much for our lovely drive around the northern coast of Massachusetts...
Undaunted, we went to Salem even though all of the attractions there were of course closed, since it was after six by now. We found the Salem Witch Museum and what we thought was a statue of a mean old witch, but it was really just a pilgrim, Roger Conant, who was the first settler of Salem. He was born in 1592 and died in 1679. Salem must have agreed with him - good thing he wasn't a woman! We loved the crosswalks - they were bright green with witches on them. We found the Essex Peabody Museum (highly recommended by several people) but it was closed, too. We did not see the Bewitched statue and did not look too hard for it.
Since this was one of two nights that we did not have hotel reservations, we thought we should be finding a place to spend the night. But first, we saw signs for the House of Seven Gables, so off we went. It was closed, too, but we saw the outside, the water, and several OLD houses (built in the 1770's). From there we went to the Hampton Inn Peabody (peeBUDdy, for those of you who thought it was really Peabody) but they were booked, and so was the next closest one at Wooben (I thought he was asking me if I wanted a Reuben sandwich and maybe had a speech impediment) which is really Woburn...no wonder we couldn't find it on the map. Good thing we don't have to speak to Jill (Well, we do, but thank God, she can't hear us! I hope!)

Since we were striking out in the Boston area, and we were going to America's Stonehenge (betcha don't know about that one!) the next day, we just decided to drive to Manchester, NH, and stay at a lovely (really - it was great!) Hampton Inn and Suites. We even had a fireplace in our room! And a kitchen and a couch! Too bad we were there for about 9 hours, most of which were spent in a deep slumber. We didn't eat dinner (thanks to our tapas break) until after we got to Manchester. We ate at Bugaboo Creek (okay, it's a chain, but it was close and open and nothing else was!) I had French Onion Soup (made with their ale) and lettuce wedge and a Maine blueberry mojito (really yummy!) and Kim had a chicken quesadilla. The restaurant was decorated in that north woods look, complete with a talking moose (over the mantel) and a flying squirrel that were not Rocky and Bullwinkle.

I had issues getting an internet connection so that's one of my many excuses for being so late to post this blog entry!! But, true to Hampton form, they gave us a $25 gift certificate to Brookstone for the inconvenience. Can't beat that with a stick.

Not quite from beyond the pale,



SuziQCat said...

I've been pondering over Peppy #1 since you posted...I kept thinking I've seen this picture before, but couldn't place it. Then it dawned on me this morning, that this is a picture from last years trip!! Peppy is at the USS South Dakota Memorial!!

jenna2556 said...

I'm from Bath...Too bad you missed out on Beale Street Barbeque because it is AMAZING, and I've eaten BBQ all over the country, including the Renezvous and Corky's in Memphis. Glad you liked the Starlight!