Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Maine Challenge

So this year I was faced with a real problem (of the "first world" variety). We weren't going to Maine because we had other things we wanted to do over the summer and had to pick and choose. For those of you who have read my blog, met me, know me, etc. you know this is a very big problem for me. And as you can imagine, I wasn't handling it well.

Pearl Jam was high on my priority list this summer. Their show in Boston seemed to fit the bill in  many ways: outdoor venue (summer gig, duh), ease of transport (driving up at our leisure), accommodation (free hotel room for two nights at the Copley Square Hotel we won at a charity raffle), and proximity (1.5 hours drive from Maine).  Friday night was the concert and it was incredible. It may warrant its own post since I waited 25 years to see them in concert on their own and they did not disappoint. This left Saturday open for whatever recreational activity we could come up with. And with the Pearl Jam Sirius station playing and re-playing the concert all day, being in the car was actually a treat.

Our first priority was sleeping in. As any parent can attest to, you don't get a hotel room away from the kids to set an alarm. No, we would be waking up when our bodies woke up. Not when a little voice or pitter pattering feet woke us up. Sleeping in is my version of parental decadence. I recommend making it happen at least twice a year in an attempt to maintain sanity.

But back to Saturday... we had one entire day to fit in as much of Maine as we possibly could. Sounded like a fun challenge, and one we were more than up for. Aside from a gazillion other things, the fact that my husband not only didn't scoff, but also embraced this crazy idea is why we're meant to be together. It wasn't a day for the faint of heart or stomach.

Last year we were in Maine for two full weeks, so spending nine glorious hours was quite a small window to fit it all into. Naturally, things had to be sacrificed. I wasn't happy about that sacrifice, but then again I was in Maine for a whole nine hours, so I was ecstatic.

I don't recommend doing Maine in nine hours. It's silly and you'll miss out on a lot of great stuff. But if you do, feel free to use our game plan as a sort of stomach busting road map goal.

10:00 am - depart Boston en route to Vacationland, heartbroken as we just phoned the Wayfarer in Kennebunkport to discover they stop serving breakfast at 11:30 and we know we won't make it.
10:01 am - get over it since we know we have another breakfast spot to hit.
11:35 am - spot the Maine sign and breathe a sigh of relief that we didn't have to go a summer without seeing it.

Aaaaaahhhhhh. Love it.

12:00 pm - pull into Bintliff's Ogunquit. For those of you who follow my Maine eating adventures, you'll recall that we have a love/meh relationship with Bintliff's. It's usually great, but we have had a year or two in the mix where it was just meh. For that reason my husband shut it down last year and sat out our trip there, which incidentally was a great one. I was nervous, but thankfully once I had one of their signature Bloody Mary's in me, I ceased to feel anything but giddiness. The corned beef hash is why we come, and as it was noon and we hadn't eaten yet, we were feeling greedy and each ordered our own. Normal people might have split it, knowing what was to come from the day, but not when my first meal is at noon. Not gonna happen. So one each, and I don't regret a thing. Not even the cheeky creme brûlée French toast side order we split.
Delicious. And quite potent as the first thing you put in your body all day.
I should just warn you now, I rarely remember to take a picture before I've taken a bite... or three. I believe that makes me a slightly less annoying person in general, though a much weaker food blogger for sure.

1:00 pm - slightly buzzed, I decided not to drive just yet, so we walked around Ogunquit for a bit, buying some candy and presents to bring back home. Great tip: the Harbor Candy Store has a basket up front with tiny bags of the off cuts of fudge for $1.50. If you're like me and like fudge but never can eat the whole block when you buy them because it's too sweet, too big or gets stale too quickly, this is a great cheat. They also have great butter crunch, caramel, chocolates, as well as all the individual Jelly Belly flavors. I was able to make my daughter a bag of just toasted marshmallow ones which was a huge hit.
2:00 pm - Sober and back in the car headed to Congdon's to pick up our doughnuts. Yes, just pick up, not pick out as we had phoned our order in on the drive up to avoid missing out on any of our favorite flavors. Got there and realized we only had 11, so threw in more for a cool dozen... well those plus our five bismarcks for a cool 17. The funniest thing was how hard the guy laughed when we said it was just for two people. We all had a good laugh actually; us laughing at him laughing at us laughing at how fat we are.
From top left: maple cream, powdered cream, bavarian cream, chocolate cream, maple cream x2, apple fritter, chocolate cream, blueberry jelly, raspberry jelly, chocolate coconut, and oh my god, am I so fat that I ate one of them and can't even remember what it was? shit. Second box had four more bismarcks, seen top middle.
quite a view... I'm talking about the trolley, of course.
3:00 pm - Feeling a bit sluggish from the Bismarck and maple cream doughnuts we ate on the drive over, we slowly walk through Kennebunkport. We promptly find a grassy spot under some trees and lie down for a five minute power nap.
3:05 pm - Feeling slightly better we go for a walk through town picking out pjs and sweatshirts for the kids and a great t-shirt I didn't buy that said: "Support the right to arm bears" which had a cut out picture of a bear strapped with ammo. Now that I'm home, I'm happy that I passed on it, but it seemed really funny when I was standing in the store.
4:00 pm - Not exactly hungry, but no longer actively full we stop at the Clam Shack and split a lobster roll. The decision to split felt borderline anorexic, but like a lot of the other calls of the day, it was the right call.
the promised meat from a one pound lobster, butter AND mayo as they suggest.

5:00 pm - arrive in Ogunquit to walk around and try desperately to drum up an appetite for dinner. Decide to walk on the beach because a-it's a great beach when the tide is going out and most people have gone home for the day and b-we needed to avoid the trappings of the shops and bars in town to preserve ourselves for the feast to come.
6:30 pm - roll up to the Ogunquit lobster Pound and greet Bill at the tank who is the most welcome sight year after year. 
these guys make me happy
The guy doesn't age, which proves my theory (and that of the sign makers) that Maine truly is the way life should be.
7:00 pm - select our lobsters... I asked for a generous 2 because I didn't want under 2, but in the absence of 2.25, I ended up with more like a 2.4. Husband went 2.5 and it's anybody's guess which one each of us actually ate since they looked similar going in and nearly identical coming out of the pot and onto our plates. We split a bowl of the clam chowder because we had to have some and felt like splitting a cup was lame. Got the beans and coleslaw as sides mostly because they still don't offer corn. I will continue to object to that void as I believe corn goes with lobster, but as this day didn't require an additional carb, I will move on.
 Chowdah! I skipped a few of the potatoes because I'm borderline anorexic.
She's a beaut!
8:30 pm - Enter the Kettle Boys in York Beach to purchase bags of flavored popcorn to take home. Old faithful is the Sweet Cheeses, a caramel/cheese combo, and then a toffee crunch since it looked decadent and unnecessary. Also promised my daughter rainbow popcorn, which she didn't remember/didn't believe existed. Apparently she spent the 48 hours we were gone talking all about it and how excited she was for it. She ate five pieces and hasn't come back to it three days later.
So addictive... salty, sweet, crunchy, can't stop...
8:45 pm - Finish up the day at Dunne's ice cream. Dunne's used to be Brown's down the road, for those keeping track. We realized as we pulled in that we would have to forego our usual Nubble lighthouse photos as it was already pitch black out. I went for the coffee Oreo, which isn't usually my thing, but after that day I needed some caffeine and another jolt of sugar to get us safely home. Husband got blueberry, which was delicious. Not sure how I had never thought of blueberry (in Maine of all places!), but stick it on the list for next year.
These are smalls, and I took the photo after only one bite because I'm not that fat.

10:45 pm - return to hotel in Boston, unload car and devour another three doughnuts before bed (bavarian cream, raspberry jelly, 1/2 powdered cream, 1/2 apple fritter).
11:00 pm - go out for walk around the block, because we're not that fat.
11:30 pm - pass out in a sugary haze.

So, that's what we did. The popcorn and fudge are still in our house, which I have slowly been chipping away at this week. We also gave some doughnuts (read: half eaten pieces of doughnuts) to my sister, all in the interest of not being that fat. Of course I missed my breakfast sandwich and honey bun from Chute's, but that would have been three more hours in the car that we just didn't have. Same with the blueberry cake from Becky's diner, or the sandwiches at Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland. But we had to make sacrifices! It was hard, so back off!

Yes, of course I would much rather spread the eating out over several days/weeks. But I got there and am insanely grateful to have made the trip at all. I'd take nine hours over nothing any day. And while I don't necessarily recommend doing it this way, I do recommend doing it. It is without a doubt, from the oversized ice cream cones to the ever changing tidal beaches, from the cream stuffed doughnuts to the sweet Ogunquit river water, from the bloody mary buzz to the cheap candy and naps under a tree, THE way life should be.

I should probably mention that neither the state of Maine nor the places we visit compensate me in any way for what I write here... But they damn well should!

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