August in DC can be pretty miserable, so Mike and I decided to take a trip to Portland, Maine to escape the heat and humidity. We left Norah with her grandparents and enjoyed a wonderful week sans baby! It was the first time the two of us had been away from Norah overnight since she was born, which was over a year ago!
Our afternoon flight had us landing in Portland in around 2 pm, so we rented a car and headed to Whole Foods to stock up on provisions (read: lots of Maine microbrews!) before heading to an apartment we found in the West End on airbnb. Deciding to rent an apartment for the week was the best decision ever. We loved having places to sit and relax, and having a kitchen to eat breakfast and make appetizers before dinner was perfect for us.
Our first night in town we headed to Portland Lobster Company for dinner on the water in the downtown harbor. The first of many lobster rolls:
After dinner, we went to my first Minor League Baseball game! The Portland Sea Dogs hosted the Akron Rubber Ducks, and we had a blast. We also got ridiculous seats behind home plate and the mascot (Slugger the Sea Dog) was on the dugout for much of the game. I kept trying to get my picture taken with him, but he kept giving me the cold shoulder. The Sea Dogs won!
Wednesday morning was a cold, dreary, rainy day. So we scrapped our plans of going to Kennebunkport and beachin’ and decided to go on a DIY driving lighthouse tour instead. Our first stop was Bug Light on the breakwaters outside of Portland. It was a really cute, small lighthouse, and we loved learning about the history of the area. The docks and shipyards of Maine were utilized to build a ton of ships during WWII, which I hadn’t known before our trip.
Then our drive took us to Spring Point Ledge Light, which was right near Southern Maine College. It doesn’t look too menacing from the picture, but the granite walkway from the beach to the base of the lighthouse was crazy! It was slippery from the rain and SUPER windy. I thought we were going to blow away during the entire 200 yard walk. (In the picture below, you’ll see a family with four kids just frolicking and leaping from rock to rock. Mike and I were a bit more cautious. Once we got to the lighthouse, I almost cried thinking about having to walk back across the walkway to the car. We were soaked!)
Yikes! I was super happy to just be back on solid ground when we finished with the Spring Point lighthouse, and there was a bit of a drive to the next lighthouse, which was the Portland Head Light lighthouse near Fort Williams. We spent some time walking on the hiking trail around Fort Williams, and enjoyed some sunshine that broke through the clouds while we were there. It was beautiful!
By this point, it was lunch time! We drove to our last stop (due to the weather, we crossed a couple of lighthouses off of our list) which was in Cape Elizabeth. We had been told by a couple of people that The Lobster Shack at Two Lights Point in Cape Elizabeth was pretty awesome, so we had to stop. We think that The Lobster Shack must be pretty amazing when it’s sunny! We were really bummed that the weather deterred us from enjoying the views and deck. We sat inside, but we still had a great time. We ordered two lobster rolls and a cup of the hottest clam chowder we’d ever had! We were still cold and wet and we ate it all, but we both burned our tongues! I wish I could tell you if it was good or not. While we were there, we saw two more lighthouses, both of which are no longer open to the public. One is a private residence (it was turned into an apartment…how cool!)
After we decided to skip the rest of our lighthouse tour, we figured that we should head indoors. We drove about 30 miles northwest of Portland to Freeport, Maine to the headquarters of LL Bean. We had heard that the flagship shop of LL Bean was HUGE and near some outlet stores. We thought we’d spend a fun afternoon walking around the outlets. Well. By the time we GOT to Freeport in the traffic on 95 (somehow we were still plagued by traffic on 95 even though we were in Maine!!) and then found a parking spot in what could only be described as “Disney for Hikers” we descended on LL Bean Land. We walked through LL Bean Home, Hunting and Fishing, Boat & Ski, Shoes, an entire store devoted to duffel bags, becoming more dazed with each turn of an aisle. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was really cool, and there were many things I thought I would need. But, by the end of the LL Bean venture, Mike and I were ready to call it quits (which is saying something…we love shopping.) We were still damp, and feeling tired, despite a mid-afternoon Ben and Jerry’s stop. We called it quits, and headed back to the apartment. (Somehow we were at LL Bean for 2.5 hours and didn’t take one picture of the monstrosity.)
Once we were finally home after sitting in traffic again, we both changed into pajamas and cranked the heat in our apartment. We made it home in the nick of time; as we walked in the door, the wind picked up and the rain started coming down in buckets. Renting an apartment again proved to be the best idea, because we took advantage of the owner’s Netflix and AppleTV account and watched a bunch of movies while the rain came down. We ate chips and salsa and drank beers and had a wonderful afternoon. (The pictures do NOT do the rain justice-the news stations reported the next day that between 6 and 9.5 inches of rain fell. There were reports of parked cars floating away!) Once we got hungry, we decided to run down the block to a pizza joint called Bonobo and had a great dinner. We were the only ones in the restaurant and had some delicious crispy pizza. Totally worth getting soaked again!
The next morning dawned bright and beautiful so we decided to drive to Kennebunkport to enjoy the beaches and hiking trails around the town. Unfortunately, the heavy rains the day before caused some pretty high seas so our lobster boat tour was cancelled! Which was a huge bummer, because we were pretty stoked to haul lobster pots, Deadliest Catch style. We didn’t find out until after we had gotten up early to catch the boat, so we got some coffee to keep us going. Coffee By Design=delicious.
We headed to an AMAZING beach outside of Kennebunkport called Goose Rocks Beach, and had so much fun walking up and down the shoreline. By the way: the ocean in Maine is really cold. We only got our ankles wet, but had a lot of fun watching kids splash around like it was 102 degrees in Daytona. Note to self: we’re totally coming back to Goose Rocks Beach. We spent the majority of the morning discussing the merits of becoming “summer people” in Maine. And we tried to take a selfie, but we’re just bad at them.
We drove around Kennebunkport before heading to lunch and saw the Bush compound! We went to lunch at The Clam Shack and were pretty excited because it was voted best lobster roll for 2011, 2012 and 2013. We went into it thinking, “How good can they be?” We had already had a ton of delicious lobster but we went into with an open mind and Oh.My.God. were the lobster rolls delicious. It was a literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten. Each lobster roll came with over a pound of meat on it (two claws and three tails) and no dressing, just a cup of melted butter to pour over the bread and sweet lobster before you ate it. We split a lobster roll and a basket of full belly clams (and didn’t take a picture before we started!) One of the reasons people say The Clam Shack is the best is that the lobster is so fresh. We can attest to that, as we saw a delivery of lobster right as we ate! As the fisherman was walking out, he called to the hostess, “Pick you up at 4:30!” Talk about local products! Love.
We had to forgo our reservations at Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport because we had dinner at Fore Street that night! Easily the highlight of our trip, we made reservations the minute we decided on Portland. Even with 4 weeks notice, the only time we could get for dinner the entire week was 9:30 pm on Thursday. We decided to get appetizers at Eventide based on Van’s recommendation, and had some delicious cocktails and 2 dozen oysters. We had 4 Komomuto oysters, and asked the waitress to select 20 of her favorite Maine specialties, and she didn’t disappoint! They were delicious, and my Manhattan and Mike’s Allagash Tripel were amazing as well.
After we polished off some oysters at Eventide, we headed to Fore Street (based on Ana’s recommendation) and waited at the bar with a bottle of wine before we sat for dinner. We had pretty ridiculous food for dinner, and started with a trio of mushrooms salad. I had hangar steak for dinner, and Mike had duck. Both were incredible and we polished off our plates! Easily one of the most fun times we’ve had in awhile. We contemplated getting dessert, but we were so stuffed that we declined.
On Friday morning, we woke up bright and early (much too bright and early given the cocktails and wine from the night before) to catch the ferry to Peaks Island. We had booked a kayak tour and I was so excited!
Once we arrived on Peaks Island, we met our kayak tour guide and met with the rest of our group. We decided to take a tour of various Civil War forts around Casco Bay and set off for a three-hour tour. As we reviewed the safety information, our tour guide mentioned the possibility of capsizing. “Don’t worry, ” he said, “No one capsizes, it’s very rare. But if you do, you’ll be back in your boat in one minute.” He also mentioned that the water temperature is normally 66 degrees in August, but due to the recent rain, the water was 60 degrees. “Trust me,” he said, “You don’t want to feel the water.” Well. In the middle of our trip, one of the kayaks had mechanical difficulties and lost its rudder. By the time our guide noticed, the kayak was 100 yards behind us. Our guide took off like a rocket to the broken kayak, and I turned sharply around in my kayak to see what was going on. Well. My weight shifted, and somehow I rolled out of my kayak. Yep. One second I was floating along all happy, then the next second I was In.The.Atlantic.Ocean. Thankfully, I was within 10 feet of Mike. I was freaking out because I was having trouble breathing. The water was so cold that I lost my breath and it took me awhile to calm down. Mike paddled over to me and I hung onto his kayak while I calmed down and he called to our guide to come help. The guide got to us really quickly and turned my kayak over then he helped talk me through rolling back into the boat. Overall, a stressful experience! But by the time we finished the tour, we were all laughing about it and I figured I had earned a beer for lunch at The Inn on Peaks.
That afternoon we toured Allagash Brewery and enjoyed a tasting in the Wild Barrel room, where our favorite barrel was called “The Password is Taco” (The League, anyone?!?).
On our last night we decided to walk to a nearby sushi restaurant and watch some more Netflix movies. We had an early flight Saturday morning so that we could get home to our baby before breakfast. We so loved Maine and are itching to get back! Our weather was less than stellar for much it, and we felt like we spent the entire trip saying, “Next time we should…” That being said, it was an amazing first getaway since Norah’s birth and we had so much fun. Now that we are back home we can’t wait to get back!