In the Beginning: Ogunquit, Maine
I posted my last post asking for suggestions on how to go about documenting this trip, and I got many great replies. And then I went back to look at my notes from the first day of our trip, and I realized that I actually attempted to write daily blog posts each day for a good four or five days–that is, before throwing my exhausted hands up in the air and resigning myself to just bulleted lists full of things we did and epiphanies I experienced. But just now, as I glanced over the opening portion of my very first ‘post’, I smiled. It seems to explain exactly why I’m having a hard time figuring out how to begin. Here’s what I wrote:
Sometime in the past year I started thinking differently in terms of travel experiences. Perhaps because of my blog—or my desire to write for actual publication—I’ve started thinking in terms of ‘articles’. As in ‘this specific experience would make a really great article’. Examples of this kind of writing-thinking include my recent post on ‘how to enjoy Disney Dining with a picky eater’ and ‘how a Disney vacation is like a Europe trip’. Thus, I expected my down time on this trip to be filled with article writing—even though I’m not writing said articles for anyone but myself.
But I don’t have anything like that for this trip.
We’ve officially been on this trip—as in ‘at our first destination’–for just over 24 hours, and I’m already not thinking in articles or blog posts or book ideas. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m sure my husband would agree that it is good.
Well gee. Perhaps that’s why I’m struggling? That being said, I’m going to post the description of day one that I wrote way back then. Let me know what you think. Oh–and I’ll be sure to post lots of photos!
Day One–Ogunquit, Maine
We actually did get up at the crack of dawn yesterday, which mean that we were showered and pulling out of our driveway at 6:30 in the morning. After the usual flipping out I typically do as I drive away from our life for an extended period of time, the trip was quite uneventful. With about a 45 minute break for lunch (at an unpleasantly crowded rest stop on the Mass Pike) we made it to Maine by 2:30 and stopped at the first tourist information center we encountered. All the way up here I kept telling myself ‘there’s nothing magical about a state line’ and ‘it’s all going to look pretty much the same as PA’. Ummm…no. Even the Maine rest stop—on I 95—was picture worthy. And of course it was chock-full of thousands of tourist brochures and flyers that I made myself refrain from collecting (though I’m not sure why!)
Side note—the rest stops in New Hampshire are also liquor stores. We didn’t stop at one—but what’s up with that?
We got a bit turned around when driving into Ogunquit proper, but only in the ‘oh wait that’s the road we want’ sort of way. The bonus to this is that because we drove maybe 20 yards too far in the wrong direction, I immediately realized how well located the inn I selected truly was. In addition to the location, we also immediately noticed how beautiful it was—er, is (I’m typing this from a wicker chair on the front porch of said inn!) I took a photo before I even fully got out of the car. I swear to god we passed an actual chipmunk and a monarch butterfly as we made our way to the check in office.
In no time at all we were oriented to the inn—and its wine and cheese shop—and made our way to the all-important first stop: a harbor-side bar. At the suggestion of the innkeepers, we went straight to Barnacle Billy’s for a rum punch. Boy was that strong!
We then poked around the harbor area—called Perkins Cove—for a bit, checking out the outside of the cute little shops and locating (quite by accident) the also all-important public restroom. We then retired to the inn to change for dinner.
Small Maine beach town travel tip #1: When staying at an inn or B&B, ask for restaurant advice from the innkeeper…and then take that advice.
We walked away from the (touristy) harbor area towards the three restaurants our hosts suggested. We looked at the menus and thought that perhaps we’d do something ‘cheap’ instead and then head back to one of the clearly fancier places the next evening. So we followed everyone else down to the harbor area where we found…everyone else. Every single restaurant with a view—none of which were suggested by the innkeeper—had a line out the door. Why? The view, stupid. Additionally, the prices were no better—in fact, they were far worse when you compare what you were getting for the money. Why? The view, stupid.
So we walked back UP the hill, away from the harbor, and walked into the first restaurant we were directed to in the first place—Prime. It was, as it sounds, a steakhouse. We were seated immediately in a half-empty dining room, complete with candle light and linen napkins.
But wait! It gets better! For the cost of a lobster roll and a bag of chips in tourist trap filled with screaming children, we each had an appetizer, filet mignon (the husband) and half of an actual honey glazed fried chicken (me) served with two sides (creamed spinach and twice baked potatoes) and two drinks! And it was a-ma-zing. I have half of the chicken left over in the fridge in our room.
Yes—for our first dinner in Maine we had steak and chicken. But don’t worry—I’ll get to the lobster roll soon enough.
After driving for eight hours, consuming a rather strong rum punch, walking up and down a hill several times and enjoying a wonderful dinner, we were done for the day. We were both asleep by 9:30!
We’ve since decided that we’re looking forward to an early to bed, early to rise trip. We still get to rest but we don’t miss out on the best part of the day—the part where everyone else is still sleeping.
The next day was (is—it’s still that day as I type this) our only full day in Ogunquit. The plan was to walk the scenic Marginal Way walk all the way from Perkins Cove to the beach in Ogunquit ‘proper’. We figured we might as well spend the day on the beach because, after all, the point of our first day was relaxation.
This plan changed, however, when the innkeeper told us that he was, in fact, planning on sailing that (this) afternoon. He said we could meet him at the dock at 1:00. Doug asked me if I was ok with it, and I agreed, as I’ve gone into this trip with this rule: ‘if something sounds fun or adventurous and you are given the opportunity to do it, say yes.’ So…I said yes.
Because we got up so early, we still had time for a leisurely breakfast and everything else we’d planned for the day—minus the actual ‘laying on the beach’ part. We walked the breathtakingly beautiful Marginal Way path all the way from Perkins Cove to the beach…stopping to climb out on the rocks and/or to take photos all along the way, of course. I’m currently sporting one very unattractive sunburn, complete with camera strap lines!
Before arriving at the beach, the scenic pathway ended and we had to take a short detour through town. We window shopped, found yet another public restroom, and then made our way to the beach.
The beach in Ogunquit is stunning. It’s just really…big. Really, really big. And pretty darn empty, too.
Oh sure, there were people there—but there were VAST stretches of area where there were no people at all. And the water was knee deep for hundreds of yards out. Bracingly cold but crystal clear—perfect for walking along the shore, fully dressed, snapping photos. Between the Marginal Way, the town, and the beach, I’m confident that we walked at least three miles before 11:00 that (this) morning.
And we forgot to put on sunscreen before we left. Thus the ridiculous sunburn.
Because I had ‘take the trolley’ on my list—and because we’d already walked three miles and it was approaching time for our sail—we took the trolley back to Perkins cove. It wasn’t as scenic as I’d hoped, though that didn’t prevent me from being excited about it. And anyway—it was only $3 for the two of us.
After a brief visit to the inn to store my camera, we made our way toward the harbor. My husband was briefly traumatized by having to ‘save’ a sail boat from smashing into the drawbridge by finding and correctly pushing the button to raise it. I, of course, snapped a photo.
We then met Scott—our innkeeper and, for the afternoon, our captain—at the specified dock at the specified time. After watching him pull an amazing maneuver akin to parallel parking (but with a boat) that should have been set to the tune of The Blue Danube, we boarded with one other couple and were off.
The sail was a good idea.
It was a 26 foot single-sail sail boat (I have no idea what one calls a single-sail sailboat—I’ve never even been ON a sail boat before!) and it was a beautiful, quiet day. I don’t remember anything ever being as quiet or peaceful. I actually tried to store up some of the peace and quiet for later use—if, perhaps, we are forced to eat lunch at that awful Mass Pike rest stop again! Additionally, because the female part of the other couple on board liked to ask questions, we got to learn a lot about Maine, Ogunquit, and even the history of the inn in which we were staying.
But by far my favorite part was getting to steer the boat. ‘Captain Scott’ asked if anyone would like to steer—and the male part of the other couple volunteered. After a little while his wife asked if she could steer—just for a little bit—and even admitted to ‘just wanting a photo of her doing it’. I love that kind of honesty! She then urged me to try, and told me she’d take a picture of me. So, sticking with my ‘say yes’ mentality, I got behind the wheel.
In addition to the photo I was promised, I also found that it was really quite fun steering. I was told to steer towards a tour boat that was giving a presentation on lobster fishing, as we’d get to see the lobster fishing ‘thing’ without having actually paid to go on the (admittedly rather noisy and definitely more expensive) tour. So I steered towards the boat, only pausing briefly to decide which way he wanted me to go when I was told to ‘steer around the stern’. I was probably within 10 yards or so of said tour boat when two things happened at once—I thought ‘gee—I really shouldn’t be steering this thing anymore’ and captain Scott said ‘I can take over from here’. I laughed and, relieved, sat back down with my husband.
It was really fun, though.
After our two-hour or so sail we were starving. We’d been going on one blueberry muffin—provided with tea and juice at the inn—and it was after 3:00. Fortunately, right off the dock was The Lobster Shack, which was having a special on chowder and lobster rolls (free chowder with lobster roll purchase). Doug and I shared the meal, and it was definitely enough. Score one for thrift!
The funny thing is—my husband doesn’t like lobster OR mayonnaise. But he remarked that the roll was really good. Ok honey—next time, you eat the roll and I’ll eat the lobster!
We poked around in a few of the cute little shops—by which I mean I poked around and Doug sat outside—and then we made our way back to the inn to sit on the porch, drink wine, and write this!
In summation—so far on this trip, I’ve had a fantastic drink overlooking the water, enjoyed an amazing meal, slept for almost 10 hours, walked for three miles past rocky cliffs and on a sandy beach, spend two hours on a sail boat, had a lobster roll, shopped, drank, took around 200 photos, and have written…2,116 words. Now 2,119.
And this was only our first full day!
Thus ends the post I wrote in Ogunquit. Don’t worry, I won’t be posting all five or six full journal entries that I wrote on the road. Why? Reason number one–they are way too long. And reason number two–fixing the formatting when transferring from my PC netbook to my desktop Mac is MADDENING. You know the Janis Joplin song ‘Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz’? Well, Lord, please buy me a macbook. I just can’t keep doing this! Grrr!
Ok. Sorry. Done complaining now.