Today’s my birthday. I’m now 25.. and I’m stuck here at work writing a blog entry about it. LOL. Having a summer birthday is great b/c as a kid, I was almost guaranteed to have the day off. But as an adult, if it falls on a weekday… not so much, especially since I work for my dad.
Due to circumstances, this is only my second birthday where I’ve had to work. The last time was when I had moved to Florida to work at Walt Disney World. I wasn’t working that day, per se. I was in training and was being paid, but the Disney training classes were fun and interesting… this is boring and tedious, and I really don’t want to be here. I hate phones, and I’ll be spending the day on the phone. I’m 25 now… it’s time I grew up (I dun wanna!!!)
A month ago, my mom decided that because this birthday is a milestone, that we should go on a trip and that we could go where ever I wanted to go. I instantly said “Portland!!!” Okay, I’m from New England, so to my family the instant shout of “Portland!!!” means Maine… not Oregon. Hell, I sometimes forget that there’s a Portland in Oregon. My parents waffled on the whole Maine trip because the last time we went, it was rainy and cold and miserable the entire time, but I held my ground. It’s my birthday, I want Maine!!! So as the date approached, my dad asked me where I really and truly wanted to go, even if the weather was bad and I stated again: “Maine! I want to go to Maine!” So, he managed to talk my mom into the trip and a few days later, I booked the trip. Right after I booked the trip, the weather report came out for the weekend we were planning on going… it was to be beautiful weather: 85ºF and sunny with a slight chance of rain on both days. YES!!!
So on Friday, August 24th, I was given a 1/2 day at work (the joys of working for a parent) and at noon I went home to pack for the trip. 2.5 hours later we hit the road. This was it! I was going to Maine!!! With our driving directions from Google Maps (far superior to Mapquest), we headed out of state and northeast to our destination. 3 hours and 45 minutes later, we were at our hotel in Portland. We stayed at the Embassy Suites that are right near the airport b/c there was nothing available in downtown Portland that would not bankrupt us (one hotel wanted $360 a night!!!!). The room was big and nice. It’s amazing how nice it is to be able to watch TV on a couch instead of a bed while at a hotel… and how nice it feels to not be right on top of each other. We grabbed dinner in the hotel restaurant and then settled in for the night. I completed a few more rows on my Tyrolean Stockings (from Interweave Knits fall 07 issue) before heading to bed.
|Portland, Maine (8/24/07-08/26/07)|
The next morning, we woke up early to take advantage of the free breakfast and then drove into downtown Portland for the day. After an adventure to find a parking garage that wasn’t full, we finally found peace and a parking spot in a garage near Spring St. To our delight, we found an arts festival on Congress Street and walked down the middle of the street looking at the art work and I was also looking for an LYS (that will go unnamed). I did find the unnamed LYS, and was disappointed. I think I’ve been spoiled on the LYS I go to here in Connecticut, but this place had no high end yarns. They had brands like Lamb’s Pride, Berocco, Patons, and Reynold’s… and when I asked, the snobby woman told me that they didn’t have any locally produced yarn. I left disappointed and sad. I had had high hopes for this LYS, the ads I’d seen for it hailed it as one of New England’s largest yarn shops, but this place was small with limited selection. If this place is large, I’d hate to see the others in the area.
Defeated, I left the LYS and went back out onto the street and started looking for another LYS I had been told about… I couldn’t find it. I gave up on my quest for yarn to bring home, so I resigned myself to look at the artwork that was on display on the closed off street. As we walked, I felt disappointed. I got sick of the downtown area, so I decided to head to the Old Port neighborhood to wander around there. As we walked towards the Old Port, we walked by a sign outside of an office building. I thought nothing of it b/c the picture looked like a bunch of dresses… but my dad, my wonderful dad, read the rest of the sign and called me over. He had found a yarn shop!!!! Not just a yarn shop, but a local hand-dyer!!!! We rushed into the building and found the elevator. We didn’t know where we were going, there was no other sign and I almost gave up thinking it was just a phantom. But I decided, it was worth a shot and boarded the elevator where we found a little label next to the basement button that had the same name as the sign Tess’ Designer Yarns. I hit that button and as we descended I readied myself for disappointment. I walked off the elevator and saw a door, it had that same name on it, but the lights were dim. I thought it was closed so I was ready to turn back, but my dad egged me on telling me to try the door. I did… it opened. I walked in and saw my heaven… piles and piles and racks upon racks of… yarn… beautiful hand-dyed vibrant, soft squishy yarn. I was so scared… most of the LYSes I’ve been too have treated me horribly just b/c I’m young, but Melinda (the owner) was super friendly and helpful… and embraced my youngness with open arms (her daughter, the label’s namesake, is younger than me and knits). I marveled in this woman’s talents. Her stuff is nicer than Lorna’s Laces!!! Oh, and at better prices too. After about a half hour of conversation with Melinda and some very satisfactory yarn groping, I settled on my purchases: 2 skeins of sock yarn, 1 skein of superwash Marino wool, and 2 skeins of 50/50 silk/wool blend. All hand-dyed, all absolutely beautiful. I spent $130 and it was so worth it. (pictures of my purchase can be found in the album link above).
We then headed to the car to secure my purchases… but not without one last grope. With the yarn safely stored in the car, we headed back to Congress St to search out a Starbucks for some, um, rest. Starbucks has crap coffee, but it’s a great place to just hang out and relax after a long afternoon of urban hiking. After Starbucks, we finally made it to the Old Port. The Old Port is a newly resorted historic neighborhood. It’s home to alternative lifestyle stores and some really WASPy retailers, brew pubs, restaurants, Irish pubs, and tourist shops. It has this old world charm mainly because the streets are narrow and made with granite cobblestones and the sidewalks and buildings are brick. It’s like walking back in time… until you stumble across a t-shirt shop, then you’re bitchsmacked back into the 21st century. The first thing we do is head to our favorite ice cream place, Beals Ice Cream for blueberry flavored ice cream and to rest our feet. This is a tiny basement store, but the ice cream is damn good and worth sweating in the stuffy store (and standing in line too). After our ice cream, we did a little shopping in the local stores and boutiques. I didn’t buy much because of my large purchase at Tess’, but I had fun wandering the shops and streets nonetheless. After a while, we decided to grab some dinner at one of our favorite pubs, Bull Feeny’s where Lobsters Love Guinness… and I love lobster and Guinness, so it’s a good pairing. I feel a bit ripped off though, $19 was a lot for such a small lobster roll… are they sure there were 15 oz of meat on that thing? We’re they weighing the bun too? Whatever, it was tasty and I was hungry… and I wasn’t paying.
After dinner, we walked back to the car and waived goodbye to Portland… it was only 6pm but we had seen and done almost all there is to do in the city (and all I wanted to do, not to mention my bad ankle was close to giving out), the next day was filled with possibilities and thanks to the brochure rack at the hotel, we were able to figure out where we wanted to go… and that was Freeport.
Freeport is a small town just 15 minutes north of Portland. You’ve most likely have heard of it. It’s world famous for two reasons, 1) it’s got a lot of outlets and 2) it’s home to LLBean and they’re flagship store. It’s also home to something you have probably never heard of and won’t believe… more on that later.
Yup, we did the outlet shopping. I went to three outlets: Burburry, the Estée Lauder cosmetics company outlet, and the North Face. Burberry was disappointing. Everything was still exorbitantly priced and nothing was worth spending even the discounted amount on. Hell, I can get Burberry items at the local Nordstrom for the same price as the discounted price! So, like every time I go into a Burberry outlet, I left disappointed. Next up, the neighboring cosmetics outlet. Cosmetics, that’s a cool word… now I’m wondering about it’s etymology… I digress. I walked into the outlet and immediately was overcome by the smell. It smelled more than a Yankee Candle store… I instantly started coughing. I made a loop around the store, looking for eyeliner… there was none to be found. But wandering I noticed the source of the stench, they sold a lot of discontinued perfumes and perfume gift sets… the smell was years and years of women spraying on the scents to “try them out” and with the bad ventilation, it had all stayed put in the store. I walked out gasping for breath and as I walked over to my dad, who was sitting outside the entire time, and said “Good thing you didn’t go in! It smells like an old women’s convention in there!” Ahh one of my best lines ever. The place smelled of old perfume and that was the best way to sum it up… it smelled like a bunch of over perfumed old women.
So we wandered down the street and found the North Face outlet, which was amusingly across the street from LLBean. We walked in to see if we could find the Denali jacket that I love so much and that my mom really wants for herself. After searching and searching, we came to the realization that they didn’t have it, probably never had, and won’t for another few years when the jacket becomes less fashionable. The stuff they had was comical, my favorite was a bright green pile fleece jacket that looked like a skinned Muppet. Yup, it looked like someone had skinned Cookie Monster’s cousin and made a jacket out of it. Disappointed yet again, we walked out of the store.
I’m noticing a trend here… outlet shopping = disappointment… hmmm then why do I keep torturing myself with it? I don’t know… I really don’t know.
After leaving the North Face, I decided it was time to see the LLBean store. This place is huge. It doesn’t look it from the street b/c of all the trees out front and it’s designed really well, but walking in was just amazing. I didn’t know where to begin… my dad refused to have us buy him anything, so up the stairs to women’s outwear we went! My family loves LLBean. We adore their outwear and luggage, the clothes… well for my dad and my mom, not for me… it’s too old looking (and the waists are too high… ick me no like mom jeans). So I try on jacket after jacket b/c my beloved LLBean fleece jackets are now too big due to a dramatic weight loss. I probably try every fleece jacket in the place, and that’s a lot of jackets. Finally, my dad, comes over to me with a beautiful blue ski jacket and tells me it’s my size (oh he knows my size, and I didn’t think he paid that much attention) and helps me try it on. It’s just perfect, it’s exactly what I wanted. It’s the Weather Challenger Jacket it’s one of The Weather Channel endorsed products that LLBean now carries. (I got mine in light blue). It’s 3 jackets in 1… just perfect for life in New England where the weather is unpredictable. My mom loved it too, and after I convinced her to get one… she got one in purple. Guess what happened next… my mom forced my dad to get one too. He chose the dark blue (men’s style of course). I also got cute shoes and my mom got some more practical shoes. After grabbing some coffee at the cafe, we headed back out to the street and got some pictures with the giant Bean Boot. I even took some pictures inside the store. I know, I know… that’s a bit weird, but this place is really cool. If you love LLBean, this is a place you should check out.
We went back to the car and we went to see some other Freeport attractions. Remember that thing I told you that you won’t believe… well that’s what we went to see. What is it? It’s the Desert of Maine. Don’t write me off as crazy! There is such a thing as the Desert of Maine! It’s a glacial sand dune right smack in Freeport, Maine. It’s really cool… and kinda crazy. We took the tour then walked around the dunes, I took tons of pictures (see the album linked above), it’s very pretty and oh so peaceful. That’s what I love about Maine, it’s quiet. There’s no traffic noise, just bird noises and the sound of the wind through the trees. That’s it. It’s glorious. This place is so kitschy, it’s worth checking out if you’re ever in Freeport (and get sick of shopping).
After wandering the desert, we headed out of town and towards the beach. I can’t remember the name of the beach we went to, but it was beautiful. It was low tide and we were able to walk along the kelp covered clay and rock flats that made up the beach. There was no sand, just clay, rocks, and kelp. The views were amazing. It was so strange to look out to the opposite shore and see nothing but trees, no roads, no houses… no human life, just trees. Did I mention that I love Maine?
After a bit of wandering, we decided that because it was 6pm it was time we had some dinner. My dad wanted to get some food at the rest area on I-95, blech… no thank you, fast food makes me sick. My mom had mentioned that there was a lobster stand not far from where we were standing according to her brochure, so we decided to check that out. The lobster stand is the Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster. Now I hate seafood, and I can’t eat most shellfish… so the parents went to order their just pulled out of the ocean today steamed lobsters, I opted for a lobster roll from the other window. The food was great, the desserts amazing… the prices? A bit steep for a lobster stand, but hey, it wasn’t greasy fast food. The restaurant is right on a pier and the views of the area are just amazing, I took loads of pictures. I so looked like a tourist doing that, but I wanted to remember how lovely this place was, so I wanted to document it through pictures.
After dinner we bid adieu to Maine and headed back towards I-295 then I-95 to head back home to Connecticut. We hit the interstate by twilight and I was marveling at how beautiful the sky was when the idea struck to take a picture. Which I did, and it’s probably the best way to end the trip and the following slide show. Soon after that moment, I turned to my parents and told them “This was the best birthday weekend ever!” And it most certainly was.