Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rainy Beaches and a Chocolate Moose

Now Playing -
You Run Away by Barenaked Ladies

Life - 
Today is how a day off should be. Especially when you consider it was kind of a work-related trip. We sell live Maine lobsters at work, the only drug store in the nation to do so, and I've kind of become the Lobster Manager by default, dealing with the tank, keeping us in stock, etc... And one of the best/worst parts is actually obtaining the creepy little things. It means an hour of driving down to a small town called Pine Point, to the south of Portland to the lobster co-op, a drive that I'm not too fond of, but the guys at the lobster place are pretty cool, and the route takes me along Old Orchard Beach, which is the closest thing we've found to an old fashioned beach here in Maine. 
So, when we found out I'd need to get some extra lobster for an event at work on Monday, we decided to head there on my day off so that I could take Lindsay with me and wander around the beach. 

Of course, we awoke to rain. Which was fine by us. We love wandering around little beach towns in the rain, that's why we love Washington and Oregon so much! We got going pretty early, splitting a huge breakfast burrito at the Fairground Restaurant in Topsham and swinging by the store for some cash and something to bring the crustaceans back in. The roads were a bit gnarly on the way south, but nothing too horrible, but we did take a couple of brief detours to Toys-backwards R-Us, where we picked up a few Lego minifigs and a Lego board game (More on that some other time) we also swung by Len Libby's, a chocolate shop that boasts a 1,700 pound solid chocolate moose. Which was goofy, but kind of cool. He was also accompanied by a couple of dark chocolate bear cubs, a white chocolate pond and an indifferent cashier. 

A bag of puffed molasses caught our fancy and later in our teeth, and we hit Old Orchard. Essentially two streets, lined by all manner of motel, hotel, b&b, vacation rental and parking lots, Old Orchard does suffer a bit in comparison to other towns we've vistied, but I liked it all the same. They have a charmingly rickety amusement park and a pier filled with diversions jutting out into the ocean. Everyone seems to sell "Fried Dough" and "Pier Fries" and there were a ridiculous amount of clothing stores. Apparently, no one visits the beach wearing anything, which must make for some awkward first arrivals.
Of course, being a rainy Thursday at the first of the season, virtually no one was open and we saw a surprising number of vacant storefronts. Maybe those fill up for the summer, but it left some stretches of street feeling a bit forlorn. 

We grabbed some fries at a window dedicated to selling fires and nothing but, and wandered up the street for lunch at Al's "Famous" roast beef. We later learned that Al's was a new arrival from Boston, so I'm not sure where it was famous, but we were kept entertained within, if nothing else. Al's is a tiny place, only a few tables and a long, narrow hall leading back to the kitchen, and that space was filled by nearly a dozen silver haired ladies from New Hampshire that had ridden a bus up there for the day. 

They were all waiting for food, chatting in an odd combination of good natured ribbing and crotchety old lady complaining. A large black man, who we assumed worked nearby had stopped in for an order and found himself playing waiter for the ladies while the cooks were having some sort of issue in the kitchen. It was a kick to watch them all together.

When our food finally arrived, we took it outside and ate outside of a nearby church on some steps, in a drizzle that was just light enough to be pleasant. The roast beef was great. Light, super-tender and plentiful. We also got a Steak and Cheese... something. Which ended up being a small tube of shredded steak and cheese wrapped in egg-roll covering and deep fried. Very odd.

There was a great candy shop open though, filled with freshly pulled taffy, dancing jelly beans, homemade caramel corn, fudge, wham-zingers, rock candy and any other old-school candy you could think of. I would imagine the place in summer would be packed to the gills but still worth visiting just for the ambiance. 

Next door was a game store with more puzzles than I have ever seen in my life, including the worlds largest, a 23,000 piece puzzle. (Which was a horribly gaudy compilation of bright images that I could never possibly fathom spending the time it would take to complete staring at it.) We browsed for a bit, until the batty ladies from across the street wandered in and we made our escape, walking contentedly back to the car.

A lot of fun. We'll have to come back later in the season though, there were a few shops that looked interesting that were closed, and the entire pier, which looked like it was filled with all manner of fun things, was closed too.

Then we went to my lobster guys. Who are awesome. Legit, ruddy faced fishermen, I love coming here. They unload the boats right out back and know their Sea Cockroaches. He chatted with us for a while (I was looking into starting a shipping service with my work) and he showed off for Lindsay a bit, giving us an education on lobsters, using a few 4 pound beasts as examples. The entire trip was worth it just to see Lindsay's face. 

We can't wait to have some friends or family come out to visit so that we can hit the beach for a day, get a couple of lobsters on the way home and have them for dinner. (Hint hint..)

 Reviews Of Unusual Size

Five Things About...

by Carl Hiaasen
1987, 384 pages, e-book

1 - This was my introduction to Hiassen, back in the day, and one of his first novels, though he did write a few crime novels previously with Willaim D. Montalbano. (Which I thought were really great.)

2 - When a terrorist group pops up in Florida, with the goal of scaring everyone in the state away, crippling the tourism industry and giving the place back to the animals, it was never going to be easy catching them, especially when the PI on the case knows the leader. And when they use a giant crocodile to do their dirty work.

3 -
I've always like Hiassen, and this book is one of his better ones. It has a wacky plot and bizzaro characters, while still retaining a bit of a message about the history and wildlife of Florida.
4 - It's interesting to re-read his earlier books. Hiassen's style of writing hasn't changed much, but he seemed a lot less hesitant back then to go over the top. Which sounds funny in reference to a book that features men in suitcases, beauty pageants and shriners with guns.

5 - That cover above? Crappity-crap! It's like one of those artists that get big bucks selling badly photoshopped pictures of dogs with tennis balls in their mouths at L.L. Bean just started out, and only had fingerpaints.


1 comment:

randymeiss said...

I really enjoy the sightseeing photos and comments about Maine. Who knows if I'll ever get to that state so it's nice hearing about it from someone who lives there.