Okay, so…I left off after a day spent at the beautiful Wolf Neck State Park, I believe? I didn’t even mention the breakfast we ate that morning in an old restaurant on the edge of Freeport, the nice people we chatted with, or the big old frogs we were super lucky to hear (they sounded like ducks, you guys! We were searching that little pond for ducks!), and then finally, to see, in a little pond beside the restaurant.
Anyway, after a long day out in the sun, shopping, sightseeing, and hiking, we headed back to the hotel. We had promised Cam that we would take her to Palace Playland, the amusement park at Old Orchard Beach, but unfortunately, we hadn’t planned it out too well, and found out that they closed early on Sunday and wouldn’t open up again until the following weekend. Hazards of showing up on the East Coast before summer truly begins, I suppose. I felt so bad! Camryn did that thing where she cries quietly with gigantic eyes…so much worse than a temper tantrum, I’ll tell you that much. But there was nothing we could do about it- except bribe her with swimming in the hotel pool. So that’s what we did. We got her some goggles, and we headed to the pool.
After a little while of swimming and a longer while of sitting in the hot tub, we got dressed and went looking for food. This was the one regretful meal of the trip. It was one of those things where you’re hungry and exhausted and a million miles from home, so you just put your reservations aside and roll the dice on a place that looks like a dive, because, hey! You might get lucky! Well, this time, we did not. The place was called JJ’s Eatery, and from across the street it looked okay. Up close, however, the entryway was littered with plastic condiment cups and ketchup smeared across the sidewalk. Not great, but okay.
I don’t want to dwell on the whole experience, but lets just say this- I am the least squeamish person, I swear I am. If I am having misgivings about a place, it has to be pretty bad, and I was. I honestly think it might have been the first time I’ve ever felt worried about eating somewhere. For whatever reason, neither my mom or I were willing to voice our concerns, though. I ordered (eventually, when someone came around) a drink, some steamers (clams) and salad bar. I thought I’d try to keep it light. Any worries I had were quickly ramped up when I headed to the salad bar and caught a glimpse of the kitchen. It. Was. Filthy. Garbage overflowing the can and all over the floor- simply dismal. The salad bar, while sparse, was probably the best part of my meal. To summarize, the clams were some mutant species I’d not seen before (and hope never to again) and were slimy and filled with sand. It took a million years to get our check, and I left with an unfilled stomach, BUT, mercifully, I had also lost my appetite, so that was good. Oh, and my mom ate a bug while we were there. It landed on her fork right as she paused to finish speaking before taking a bite, and she ate it before we could say anything. It all happened very fast. Cam and I swiveled our heads to look at each other in disbelief, and we all laughed very, very hard about that. We will not be returning to that fine establishment.
The following morning, it was raining, but nothing crazy. We got dressed and headed to Portland. We hoped to take a Ferry ride out to some of the islands, but once again, our poor planning and out of date online info made that impossible. Darn it! I was really looking forward to a boat ride. Instead, we wandered around Portland, which is a gorgeous, clean city- it was like if San Francisco and Boston had a sweet little baby city together, and drank in the sights. There are marvelous views to be had, and so many cool shops and coffee places. Unfortunately, I was a bit grouchy and I’m not my best in any city- the traffic and pace are rough for me, especially if I don’t know where the hell I am- so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I might have if I were…someone else, I guess.
We did get a chance to visit the Longfellow House museum in Portland, and, though I thought for sure Cam would be bored with the whole thing, she really enjoyed it! That kid is full of surprises. The house is filled with not just period appropriate furniture, but the ACTUAL furniture that was in the house during the life of Longfellow…or, more precisely, his sister, who had refused to have the house updated in her lifetime. The kitchen had been left in it’s 1700’s condition, even though she’d lived there in the 1800’s. She really didn’t like change, I guess.
I had to come back & edit this in because I totally forgot! We also took a drive out to the Portland Head Light Lighthouse. We didn’t stay long, but what a beautiful drive, through a gorgeous neighborhood, and into a breathtaking old fort, I guess? Hell, I don’t know…it was just super gorgeous, whatever it used to be. 😂
The absolute highlight of the day for me, though, was the evening. We went back to Old Orchard Beach to freshen up, and then we went to meet up with my long-time friend Derek, who had moved to Arundel, Maine (neighbor to Kennebunkport) about two years ago, with his lovely wife, Krista, and their two daughters. We did get rather lost on our way to them- my GPS took me to a neighboring town. We knew something was wrong when it told us we had to get out and walk the rest of the way! Hahaha!
Eventually, though, we did find their amazing home, and trust me, if you’re going to get a little lost, the countryside of Maine in June is not a bad place to get lost in. Again, it was so green and wooded and pretty. After lots of hugs, and a tour of the property, we all piled into their two cars and headed out to dinner. I believe we ate at the Arundel Wharf restaurant? Anyway, we had a FEAST. God, it was so good to be with friends! What a relief to visit with people you know and love when you are so far away from home. I had something called Shoreman’s Pie, which is kinda like Shepherd’s Pie, but with lobster, scallops, and shrimp in a cream sauce, topped with truffle mashed potatoes. Yep. It’s as good as it sounds. A wonderful time was had by all, and Derek very kindly paid for everything, which I did not expect, and it was so sweet. The views from this place were incredible! The sunset over the little harbor, the whole vibe…so nice.
Best of all, their littlest daughter, Gabby, has always gotten along well with Camryn, so they were thrilled to hang out. Their older daughter, Jules, is incredible with the smaller girls. I just enjoyed their company so much, I’m really glad we made time for that. After dinner, we went for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and Krista and I took some silly photos and let the kids play in the grass outside the shop. Arundel is ridiculously picturesque. It’s one of those places where you already want to come back to while you are still there. It felt like I was on the set of Gilmore Girls or something, I’m not kidding.
After we’d finished there, Derek went ahead with the kids, while Krista showed us around town and took us out to Kennebunkport to see the Bush…what? Compound? Is that what it’s called? Anyway, it’s a big fancy house that is built out on a rock outcropping over the sea. Very nice. The scenery there reminded me exactly of parts of Ocean View Boulevard here in Pacific Grove, mixed with a little Carmel and Pebble Beach.
After a little time visiting back at their house, it was time for us to go. The little girls exchanged addresses and agreed to be pen-pals, which is the best thing ever, and after more hugs, we headed out, far happier than we’d been all day. And that is how you know you had a really good night. When you head home smiling and full of that joyful feeling that comes when you’ve spent time in the company of really good people. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Maine, and that is saying something, because Maine is AWESOME.