Vacation: Part the Second

Posted: May 18, 2007 in best things, Calvin, Food, Journal, Maine, photography, vacation

Monday:

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for just about the entire week we were in Maine – a fact that the “natives” were more than happy to inform us on a number of occasions. After having the Patriot’s Day Storm just a couple of weeks before our arrival, the nice weather we experienced was considered to be “freak”.

Calvin and I went to Eggspectations for breakfast on Monday morning. This was the place that I took Marie and her friend a few times when we were in Maine during my Sabbatical in ’03. I believe they were more enamored of the waiters than the food. Suffice to say, the food was acceptable but no more. A strange occurrence when you consider the RHAPSODIES we generally had over our meals during vacation. Ih, what can you expect from a chain restaurant. The ONLY chain establishment we ate at the entire vacation, by the way.

After breakfast we drove through Portland’s West End, which is occupied by many stately manors and old Victorian and Colonial architecture. We had to stop at the State Street Church for about a thousand pictures (okay, ten that I posted, but a bunch more that didn’t make the cut).

State Street Church
Driving on we took the Casco Bay Bridge over to Cape Elizabeth for the traditional and required visit to the Portland Head Light and Fort Williams (here is an interesting article on the Forts of Maine). We lingered for several hours at the light, exploring the tidal pools among the rocks below. I just sat and breathed for a long, long time. It felt so good to be there, and when it came time to leave I kept stopping and looking around to try to infuse my spirit and mind with the peace I felt there. The whole trip was filled with moments like this, as I tried to take away as much of Maine as I could, not knowing the next time I would be able to be there again.

Portland Head Light
We spend a couple of hours after leaving the light, exploring around Cape Elizabeth and gawking at the OH MY GOD houses there. Multi-million dollar properties perched along the rocky cliffs, owned by old money and old people who probably have rat bastard children who don’t deserve to inherit the properties.

Hmm. Moving on.

Our next stop was The Lobster Shack, situated on the edge of Two Lights Park in Cape Elizabeth. Some adjectives: “cozy”, “quaint”, “teeny”, “delicious”… and very, very typical of a Mom and Pop establishment in Maine. Complete with attack seagulls that whisk away your popcorn shrimp if you so much as glance in another direction, if you happen to be sitting outside on the picnic tables. Which we did not, but were vastly amused by a shrieking woman who did. Damn flatlandah didn’t know bettah.

Seagull on the prowl
Leaving Cape Elizabeth, we headed back to Portland for a drive around Bayside and Back Bay/Back Cove, then north a bit to Falmouth Foreside for some more gawking at some more houses that we would never in our lifetime be able to afford. I guess any homes right on the ocean are going to be like that, no matter where they are.

We had a lot of fun with our little Audi A4 (and Calvin was devastated to learn how far outside of our financial reach its big brother the R8 is). We both got some pretty wicked sunburns on the top of our heads from buzzing around with the top down. Who remembers to put sunblock on their HEAD, for godsakes? But the weather was glorious, the roads beautiful with the trees just starting to bud their leaves, the ocean everywhere you looked, and the smell of the crisp salt air tinged with green, growing things. The best smell on the planet.

We went back to the hotel in the early evening for a shower, dinner, and then bed at a reasonable hour for us old folks.

Tuesday:

Tuesday was another early starter for us – who wants to sleep when they’re on vacation? Except for the times when that is the point exactly. Anyway, we again grabbed breakfast at 20 Milk Street before driving south a little ways to Old Orchard Beach. We were early enough (in the day and in the season, come to find out), that very few shops and restaurants were open. We were okay with that, though, as we were mainly there to walk along the sandy beach. I love the fact that Maine has rocky coastlines to explore and sandy beaches to walk along. I took my shoes off to stroll barefoot in the FUCKING COLD sand dampened by the FUCKING COLD ocean. And there were actually people SWIMMING. Or, well, running in, shrieking, running out, then running back in again. Whatever, weirdos. Our stay was fairly brief (I had to GO, SO BAD, and no restrooms were around and/or open), and Calvin and I were suddenly struck with weariness, so we decided to go back to the hotel for a nap.

me at Old Orchard

A couple of hours later we were awakened by the hotel front desk. Apparently there was a leak (we didn’t do it, SWEAR) in the room below us, and in order to get to it they had to go in from above the leak, and would we mind terribly moving to a different room for the rest of our stay? Well, since it meant a free upgrade to a suite (we were in a standard king room), we said “Hell, yeah,” and packed in record time. We left for a hour or so for lunch at Sebago Brewing Company, and when we returned they had moved all of our belongings to our new room. We ooh’ed at the flat panel TV and the skylight in the bathroom and the general increased roomyness, then unpacked and made ourselves at home again.

Departing the hotel once again (and the valet guys made a killing off us that week, I swear), we set off to see if I could remember the location of “that really old cemetery off of Stevens Avenue”. I must say that Calvin gave me some rather strange looks when I told him where we were going. I believe his exact words were, “You’re going to take pictures? Of graves??? That’s just creepy, Laura. Why the hell would anybody think to go to a cemetery for FUN??? Oh, wait, this is YOU we’re talking about…”

Huff.

I’ve always liked the Evergreen Cemetery – it’s enormous and just seems to keep on going and going. And it’s way old, with graves from the late 1600’s and early 1700’s, all the way up through present day. I find it very interesting to read the inscriptions and look for family associations – mother to child, sisters, brothers, husbands lauded with fancy inscriptions while their wives get just a name and “wife of…”. Lots of babies dying in their first year, lots of mothers dying in childbirth, many people in general dying at an age we would consider to be young today. Evergreen also contains a lot of monuments to historic people – Samuel Wilde, Henry Goddard Thomas, and the Wadsworth Longfellow’s are some of the more commonly known.

Wilde Memorial Chapel
The inscription portion of the photo contest still has yet to be won, by the way.

We left the cemetery after taking fifty million pictures (34 of which made the cut) and drove north to my old stomping grounds of Gray/New Gloucester. We had some time to kill and stopped at Cole Farms to satisfy another one of my, “When I’m in Maine I have to eat HERE,” cravings. My mother worked at Cole’s up until she passed away, and I spent a lot of time there when I was little. Plus it was a popular employer of the local high school students, and one of the few restaurants close enough to where I lived to warrant a mid-week visit if the craving struck. Calvin got himself a burger, and I ordered fried clams with french fries and a side of their house dressing. Dipping fries in this dressing (when I was little I called it “doodle sauce”) is something I used to get cravings for when I lived there. Calvin ordered dessert just because he knew I wanted a slice of their chocolate cream pie (to. die. for.) but was going to deny myself because I was, once again and perpetually during this trip, full.

We moo’ed our way back to the car and drove “out Poland way” to visit my sister and her husband and four kids. Their driveway was inaccessible without a four-wheel-drive vehicle (which we DEFINITELY weren’t driving), so we agreed to meet them all at her neighbor’s, who kindly opened up the use of his garage (heh, a Maine thing) for us to congregate, drink, and be merry. It’s a distinctly Maine trait to fix up one’s garage/barn/shop before “finishing” the actual home.

Propane tank behind the garage – left side’s ladies room, right side’s mens.

Calvin and I took turns taking all of my sister’s kids out for rides in the convertible, and I got to have a little bonding time with my niece, who is 14 and taller than I am. My sister is fond of accusing her of being, “just like your AUNT LAURA.” As if that could possibly be a bad thing. She is a lot like me, though – same sense of humor, same sarcastic mouth, same inability to NOT make little zinging comments about everything in general. I love the hell out of her.

We hung out for a few hours just gabbing, reintroducing my sister and her husband to tequila, greeting my sister’s friends who have known me since I was born (she used to drag me to her parties if she was stuck babysitting me), and gawking at the stars (which are SUPREMELY visible in Maine and nonexistent in Arizona). It being a Tuesday, though, we didn’t want to keep everyone up when they all had to work the next day, so we excused ourselves at around 10:30 and made plans with my sister to go partying in the Old Port on Friday night.

L-R: my nephew, my niece in the black, my sister's neighbor, my sister, and her husband.  In the neighbor's garage drinking tequila and beer.  Yeah.
Okay! Next part will be up sometime this weekend. And I have a TON more I could have written about this trip so far.

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