I always thought the formal term for people from Maine was, “Mainers.” Then a friend told me the term was “Maniac.” Can that be right? I’ve heard that before but thought it was more of an inside joke amongst people from Maine. Or perhaps both can be used interchangeably?
Last week I mentioned I had a quick turnaround trip to Maine to complete my goal of visiting all of the lower 48 states before I turned 30. A couple of flight delays meant it would be be a real quick trip. I ended up getting into Boston after 4:00, over to a lengthy rental car process and finally out of the maze of airport roundabouts. I didn’t end up really, “hitting the road,” until about 5 o’clock. I had a 6am flight from Boston, and knowing I definitely didn’t want to wake up and then have to drive hours back to Boston, so I had decided beforehand I’d sleep in Boston.
I had asked for feedback via facebook, to those in or around Maine of places to visit with limited time.
I got some great ideas, but now with truly limited time, wanting to get some sleep, and not really sure what would be open after midnight anyway, I figured I had about 7 hours, including driving. A straight shot up I-95 would allow me to pass through Portland, and then a slight detour up to Freeport, home of L.L.Bean, their flagship store, and one of the recommendations I’d received.
I had never realized that Boston was so close to the tip of Maine, but within about an hour, I’d crossed the border. Seeing that “Welcome to Maine” sign and knowing I’d accomplished my goal brought a great deal of satisfaction. We live in world and a culture where we place far greater value on knowing the lyrics to pop songs than knowing equations to formulas for math or science. Our culture tends to shun those who set high marks for themselves or seek to achieve lofty goals. We tell them to, “be realistic” and stop with the crazy talk. Visiting a bunch of states wasn’t exactly splitting the atom, but I felt good nonetheless.
You know when your mother tells you not to go out because the roads are bad? Yea… this was one of those times. I’d been warned about a possible ice storm and while I was south enough to not bear the brunt of it, the normally 60 or 65 mph highways were all labeled as 45 mph. A trip up to Freeport that might have taken two hours took me closer to 2:45. But I made it, and got to experience the LL Bean flagship store in downtown Freeport. I was very impressed by the town. You could definitely see that this was a great place for about six months of the year, but even with the Christmas season, everything was pretty much shut down when I pulled into town before 8pm. But excited to learn that LL Bean was open 24 hours, I made my way up the stairs and stepped inside.
The place definitely did not disappoint. Lots of clothing, footwear and a very respectable camping section. Christmas decorations and stuffed deer heads on every other way really set the mood. Outside were two moose in a display case labeled, “The Final Charge.” I picked up a Maine postcard, a magnet for my mother and some blueberry jam.
I had made it my mission to get lobster when I was in Maine. No matter what capacity, if I went to Maine I wanted to come back saying I’d gotten Maine lobster. Unfortunately as I mentioned, Freeport was mainly shutdown and the restaurants I sought out had closed. A few options remained that I was cool to, so knowing I had to head back south through Portland anyway, I decided to get dinner there. When I arrived I decided on a place called “J’s Osyter,” which wasn’t much to look at from the outside nor from the inside. It had a massive wrap around bar that took up 70% of the dining room, leaving just enough space for a few tables scattered around the outside of the room. Like the other places I’d seen, I definitely sensed that this was a summer town. The look of the place was irrelevant though, I wanted lobster and the reviews for this place were good and the food turned out to be excellent as well. For some reason their website doesn’t load and says the name is for sale. Maybe they didn’t renew the url.
The food was very good. I got the clam chowder, which was definitely among the better ones I’ve had. The cold lobster claw cocktail which was a good value for the amount of food I got, and then the seafood bouillabaisse, a seafood stew that I’ve heard about many times but never actually ordered. It was a generous collection of clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops and lobster.
And with that I headed back to Boston. I had finished my visit to Maine with goal to, “Do something memorable” being fulfilled by seeing a moose in person for the first time (albeit a stuffed one), having seafood bouillabaisse for the first time and completing my goal of visiting all of the lower 48 states. A tremendous trip, a memorable experience, and the final achievement on a goal I had given myself a year and a half before.