Sunday, December 02, 2007
This week, I was on a training trip to Maine, and I wasn't sure if I was ever coming home. The Man asked if we were in "Cabot Cove," and pointed out that I should be more vigilant...we all know if ol' Jessica Fletcher shows up in your town, the swath of bodies she leaves in her wake is amazing. It makes you wonder how many populations of small Maine villages were decimated during the run of Murder, She Wrote.
The funny thing is, we are actually in the general area that the fictional Cabot Cove would be, if it were real. The above picture is of the view from my B&B room balcony as the sun comes up. That little tugboat-like structure actually was a tugboat at one time and has been turned into the kitchen and some rooms of the aptly named "Tugboat Inn."
We were in Boothbay Harbor, and I am absolutely dead serious when I say that I was contemplating just staying. I've been lucky in my business travels and have gotten some pretty choice trips--San Diego, Puerto Rico, coastal Oregon, Manhattan--but never have I actually felt the way I felt about being in Maine. I was all set to find me a little B&B of my very own and set up shop; The Man and poodles could make their way up as soon as they could pack.
The second picture, to the right, is the view out of the back of the agency where we were working. It was located in a old house, right next to the local hospital. The boats are lobster boats, which belong to the house next door. Note the pier/dock--it's the hospital's, and is used for a water ambulance and the Coast Guard.
The third picture is of the end of the island. We would go exploring every morning after breakfast and on our way to the agency. We couldn't do it at night, because the lights go out in Maine at about 4:15 p.m. during this time of year. Seriously. It was like someone flipped the big sky switch and the sun went down and the stars came out...a'la The Truman Show. The road pretty much ended at the water, and standing on the pier, we could see out into the Atlantic. And, it was so quiet there. Just the wind, the lapping of the water against the dock, and the occasional call of a sea gull. It was more perfect than any Hollywood offering.
The food in Maine was amazing. We had a home-cooked breakfast every day (homemade sausage with apples!!), and every night was a new culinary adventure. The people in Maine are very pro-local: shop local, buy local, and evidently eat local, because most of the menus touted the use of local ingredients. The funny thing, the worst meal we had, which wasn't bad, but wasn't "write home about" good, was from a place owned by a couple of CIA chefs. Like I said, it wasn't bad, but compared to the other places we ate, it was just mediocre.
The best meal we had was the last night we were there. We drove north about 20 minutes to the town of Damariscotta. There, we ate at the Damariscotta River Grill and had some of the most amazing food. They offered a pork chop that was produced locally--organically fed, etc.--and it was the most succulent and tasty piece of pork that I think I've every had...it put brining to shame.
I did eat lobster, but since it wasn't really in season, the price was a bit high. We also had local clams and shrimp, and beer! Maine is home to a lot of local breweries, and I think they all produce some exceptional beers.
One night, we went to Freeport, ME, home of L.L. Bean. The L.L. Bean flagship store is humongous, and it really is open 24/7/365. The area around L.L. Bean is full of outlet stores, but they are the nicest looking outlets stores you will see. Evidently, Freeport has some strict zoning laws--even the McDonald's is in an old Victorian house--which makes it a lovely town in spite of the commercialism.
I'm fast running out of adjectives to describe the week...I can only say "amazing" so many times before this blog turns into Angels & Demons or The Da Vinci Code (yeah, Dan Brown, I went there, because how many times can Robert Langdon get stuck in an air-tight room that has all the air sucked out of it? More than once is pushing it, don't ya know?)
As the plane took off on Friday afternoon, I felt like I was leaving part of myself behind. It was the oddest feeling, and no amount of self-analysis can explain it. I told The Man that we were going there as soon as we could--either in June or October, which are the best months according to the locals--and that I really wanted to look for a B&B to buy. Sounds like crazy talk, but there is a small part of my brain that says it's not THAT crazy. And, when you are staring at a big ol' plate of lobsters, nothing seems crazy...