Sunday, November 16, 2014

We Went to MAINE!

If you were wondering why it was all quiet over here on the Sweet B's front, it's because Mr. B and I were off enjoying the chilly air, colorful trees, and sights of Maine. It was glorious. I didn't want to come home. I'm already planning my next trip back.

While we were only gone for a couple of days, it was just the perfect mini vacation I'd been longing for, desperately in need of an extended time out. I came back feeling refreshed and ready to dive head-first into festive plans and endless shopping for the upcoming holidays, not to mention the load of programming at work. I'm ready, ready, ready. But first let me share with y'all the vacation details.

Mr. B and I love being in the car, road tripping our way to the next vacation destination, and instead of putting the miles on our own vehicles, we always opt for a rental. We see it as part of the vacation, experiencing various types of cars and discovering what we like and don't like (which is how I fell in love with the Dodge Caliber. We drove it while spending a week in Buffalo, NY. I was determined it was going to be my next car, until the kind salesman informed us the transmissions have issues. And that's how I ended up with my Ford Fusion. But I digress). However, this time we decided to go through Enterprise for the rental. Big mistake. Huge. Yes, it might have been a tad cheaper than the airport, but you pretty much had to sign over your first-born along with a heap of other personal information, and Mr. B said it was ridiculous and took our business to Hertz.

This was our first time with them, we usually go with Budget, and I'm 100% sure we are always going to go with Budget from now on. The car they gave us was a Chevy Spark. Watching Mr. B try to cram himself into this little two-door car had me shaking my head, terrified of spending hours in this car driving through multiple states alongside huge semis, and wondering how in the world I'll fit all of our luggage in this sad excuse of a trunk. Thank goodness, Mr. B was of the same mind, heading back into Hertz and coming out with a Kia Forte. Better. Because of this delay we were unable to make my alma mater's Homecoming Football game (which we saw as a great kick-off tour vacation week); it was no biggie really with it sleeting and all, we'd just go home and enjoy the warmth. Negativity begone. Alas, we came home to a garage door that decided it no longer wanted to work. Said garage needs fixed and won't be fixed until early next year. Goodbye, luxury. Hello, manual labor. Negativity begone.

After all that, we hit the road by 3:30 a.m. on Sunday and almost 13 hours later arrived in Freeport, ME. The drive up was absolutely gorgeous. The absolutely gorgeous day helped. We were able to see the beautiful colors while detouring in Connecticut, and let me tell you, boy, do they have some steep roads in their neighborhoods! I can't imagine driving down some of those in the dead of winter.

And Maine has THE nicest, cleanest, and friendliest rest areas I've seen, kindly reminding visitors that "snacking is not a meal replacement" and to do it wisely. Love it. When we arrived at our hotel, we discovered we had been bumped up to a king suite with a decent kitchen and separate living and sleeping quarters. Sweet. Mr. B was excited because that meant two TVs, one for watching his 49ers, the other for The Walking Dead. He went back and forth from room to room. He loved it. I was quite amused.

That night we had dinner in a neighboring town (I can't remember where or the name of the restaurant!), where I enjoyed some fantastic crab cakes along with THE best French onion soup. It was the perfect ratio of broth to onions to melted cheese. Even Mr. B wanted to gobble it up, but he had his Lobster Alfredo to eat. I tried it and even ate a steamed claw. <--Big Deal for me. The lobster was fabulous but still a tad expensive. The next morning found us across the street exploring a fantastic, albeit expensive, natural food store where I wanted to buy everything in sight and had Mr. B reaching for a bag to breathe in. I settled for a handful of organic dark chocolate squares along with a few new-to-me Australian yogurts, while Mr. B was satisfied with his bag of apples.

And then it was onto the most anticipated part of the vacation, Portland (about 15 minutes south of Freeport), where we went on a 90-minute Lighthouse Lover's Cruise. It was freezing on the water, but quite beautiful. I was in awe of the well-kept state of the oldest U.S. lighthouse and learned the water never goes above 63 degrees. A second Starbucks stop was needed to thaw my hands before we window-shopped various stores on the historic waterfront strip where we spent a ridiculous amount of money on the perfect winter coat for Mr. Darcy at a cute shop called Fish & Bone. He's going to need it when he tunnels through the snow that will amount in our backyard this winter.

We headed back to Freeport for lunch at the town's local Restaurant and Pub where I was in heaven with my lobster stew. At $10 a cup, I devoured it, along with my side of sweet potato fries, very slowly. Not only was I impressed with how sinfully tasty this cup was, but also with the amount of decent-sized lobster pieces. If I could have shipped this back home I would have. After lunch, we hiked through Wolf's Neck State Park where, thankfully, we did not encounter any large animal the sign so kindly warned us about, such as moose, bears, mountain lions, and the like. This park was breath-taking with all of it's foliage and little paths leading us to the water. I would have liked to hike longer than we did, but it was getting dark, and you know, there were bigger animals than squirrels out there.

That night we had dinner at Buck's Naked BBQ because who wouldn't? When driving past I hollered "HERE!" and Mr. B pulled in, and I enjoyed a nice plate of ribs while the hubby dined on a huge steak tip salad with rice. They know their BBQ in Maine, too, folks.

The following day brought the rain so our outlet shopping was cut short enticing us to head into Hartford, Connecticut a few hours earlier than planned. However, this allowed us time to hunt down the life-size chocolate moose that I kept seeing signs for. Mr. B didn't believe me, and the entire time we were in Cabela's (where, yes, I bought a new flannel shirt, and no, Mr. was not allowed to get another coat) he tried to convince me I was making this up. Thankfully I kept the hotel pamphlet, dug it out of the luggage in the trunk, and within a couple of minutes our GPS led us to the chocolate shop where I finally met, Lenny.

The chocolate smell greeted us at the door, along with hundreds of chocolates. Surprisingly, we only left with a miniature white-chocolate version of Lenny.  Afterwards, we made our way into Hartford, where we hit afternoon traffic and discovered the city of Hartford is not as pretty and quaint as Portland. We had dinner at Ruby Tuesday's because it was close to the hotel, near a Target, and you can't pass up that awesome salad bar. We both filled up on salads, and didn't have any room for our burgers, leaving us with quite the late-night snack back in our hotel room where we watched the first game of the World Series. Yes, even on vacation we don't miss our sports. (I'm the girl who planned her entire wedding/honeymoon around the NFL Draft.)

Before heading home, we made one more early morning stop. There was no way I could stay over in Hartford and not see Mark Twain's house! Mr. B was aware of this, too, and made the necessary arrangements. This house is unbelievable. Honestly, ignoring the fact it doesn't have modern day amenities, this house felt like I could live in it today. The restoration on it was that phenomenal. Other than the fact I couldn't touch anything but the staircase banister, still immaculate.

On our way home I finally convinced Mr. B to give Panera a try. Can you believe he wasn't impressed? He said he'd much rather go to Zoup. Yes, I too, love Zoup. But come on, who doesn't like Panera??! I'm sure I'll never get him back there again. We arrived home about five hours sooner than we originally planned, but we missed our puppy. And he clearly missed us.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and we both decided we would love to go back some time soon. Possibly to Bar Harbor? While our vacation in Georgia is still my absolute favorite, I'd return to Jekyll Island every year if my bank account and vacation time allowed, this is a close second.

Vacation recap:
Packing a cooler full of healthy snacks, beverages, and deli sandwiches prevented us from eating crappy fast food AND saved us money to put towards shopping :)

Where we ate, the notable ones:
Breakfast was at both hotels, The Holiday Inn Express.
Freeport Grill Restaurant and Pub
Buck's Naked BBQ
Ruby Tuesday's

Places visited:
Freeport, ME (home of L.L. Bean, the Big Indian, and great outlet malls)
Portland, ME (Lighthouse Lover's Cruise, various quaint shops)
Wolf's Neck State Park
Freeport Public Library (I'd love to work here just because of the work environment!)
Scarborough, ME (Cabela's and Lenny the Chocolate Moose)
Hartford, CT (home of The Mark Twain House & Museum)

With Love and God Bless,

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