Monday, June 3, 2013

So the other day I’m lounging in Travel Slob HQ1, enjoying a delicious and nutritious breakfast3 when my Editor rudely interrupts my reverie with more outrageous demands4:

Editor:  Listen, it’s been ages since you’ve written another travelogue

The Travel Slob:  I’m conserving energy.  I need it for writing my Great American Novel

Editor:  You’ve never started writing a novel.

The Travel Slob:  I’m still saving up enough energy, and you’re delaying the process.

Editor:  Well I’ll delay that more.  We need a new one right away.

The Travel Slob:  Fine.  I’ve got notes on my honeymoon, we can use that.

Editor:  Your honeymoon?  That was almost six months ago.

The Travel Slob:  Yes, but we traveled.  To Maine.

Editor:  Y’know what?  Fine.  Go with it.  I’m tired of arguing.  Besides, that’s the farthest I’ve heard you traveling.  I can’t believe I pay you for any of this.

The Travel Slob:  You don’t pay me at all.

Editor:  And you don’t give me anything, it’s a mutual relationship.


So here I am, writing once more for you, dear readers (reader? Anyone out there?  Hello?  Hello?)  And yes, I am recently married to a gorgeous woman.  She even said she’d read my blogs which means that she may now be doubling my readership!  Thank you, darlin’!

After a lovely wedding (which henceforth I shall refer to as the Best Wedding Ever), we enjoyed a limo ride to gather our things, and then to our honeymoon hotel.  Of course, the wrong hotel was given to the driver so we ended up taking a little longer drive – much to our driver’s consternation.  We spend the night in the Little America Hotel where PRIVACY PLEASE!  Sheesh, you people just have no decency.  Except for you, honey.
This is all you get to see.
Friday morning we board a plane in Salt Lake City, Utah.  A connecting flight is made in Detroit.  I can now say I have set foot in Michigan but I shall not as I don’t count airports.  I’m fairly certain the Detroit airport is the cleanest thing in Detroit and it is indeed kept rather immaculate.  Of interesting note, the airport sports a tram in one section which is raised above the walkways but visible from the side.  It gives one the sense of being in Disneyland except without the mice or princess parades, and you’re in Detroit.  Food prices match about the same, however.

The next stop, Portland, Maine!  The airport there is definitely made to give one the sense of coastal Maine.  Heck, one can buy live lobster in the airport of all places.  Rocking chairs are among the amenities allowed travelers waiting for planes.  It’s a small airport with a homey feel.  Well done, Portland.
Seriously ... lobster at an airport.

Mrs. The Travel Slob and I, excited about our recent Best Wedding Ever, check in at Enterprise rent-a-car.  Though I reserved a compact model, they say for just a little more – the price of a mid-size – they’d upgrade us to a luxury car just for our honeymoon.  So, instead of a little Toyota Bucket on four wheels, we spent the weekend driving a Chrysler 300.  Well done, Enterprise.  Our next destination, the mountains!

The Bear Mountain Inn lies near Harrison, Maine only spittin’ distance from New Hampshire (note to the good people of New Hampshire: We did not spit).  It lies within the hills and mountains of Maine, with a lakefront and fine accommodations.  We rented the Sugar Bear Cottage, a small building off the side of the inn which gave Mrs. The Travel Slob and me the privacy we desired because all you people just need to back off already!  The cottage was cozy, sporting a bed, small table and chairs, a kitchenette, a bathroom to the side, and a fireplace that got plenty of use.  Hanging in the bathroom were two Turkish Bathrobes which were long and fluffy and comfortable.  It’s like wearing a teddy bear without the disturbing Furry enthusiast implications.  Win-win!
Mrs. The Travel Slob next to cozy cottage.

It was late, but we went for dinner at the Old Mill Tavern in town nearby.  That night they had the Maurer Meals Charity:  All food on their specials menu were grown or harvested by locals and half the price of dinner was donated to a scholarship fund.  Mrs. The Travel Slob enjoyed a delicious Delmonico steak, while I opted for a shrimp meal.  Along with dinner we had Pumpkinhead Beer – a local brewery’s pumpkin spice ale.  Satisfied and tired from travel, we head to bed.

Saturday morning welcomes us.  Breakfast was French toast, turkey bacon and herb potatoes.  Not much happens for us tourist wise because you don’t need to know!  Go away!5  We later enjoy dinner at the Black Horse Tavern – which I suspect is our favorite spot in that area now.  Mrs. The Travel Slob enjoyed a Filet Mignon, while I partook of the prime rib.  Mrs. The Travel Slob also tried “The Great Pumpkin” cocktail which took Pumpkinhead Beer, ginger apple vodka, and cinnamon sugar around the rim of the glass.  That coupled with a shared dessert of Mississippi Mud Pie made for a meal so decadently good we felt sinful even though we were just married.

On the way back, we buy a half-rack of Pumpkinhead at a grocery store.

Arriving at back at the inn, the Innkeeper, Jim Kerrigan, offers to start a fire near the outdoor deck.  It being a lovely night we agree.  Jim is a friendly man who clearly loves the area he lives in and loves running his inn.  As he struggled to get the fire to start – and it did take some time – he regaled us with stories of the surrounding area, great places to visit, and some of the experiences of guests in the inn’s past.  Mrs. The Travel Slob and I enjoy cups of Chamomile Mint tea when the fire blazes at last and let time pass as we enjoy each other’s presence and the quiet of our surroundings.  We go back to the cottage, satisfied.  Fade to black.

Sunday, breakfast is a Frittata with sides of herb potatoes and sausage.  Mrs. The Travel Slob updates her social networks as I take notes of our honeymoon.  We decide to go to nearby Bridgton to shop and walk the streets.  Architecture in this area has a certain feel to it that fits the region.  The people in the area are neither standoffish nor overly friendly, and we felt quite welcome and rarely overwhelmed.  We stop at an antique / flea market style store. Strange items and curios were in every section.  We even found a used Moose Menorah.  Nothing says Hanukah like a cartoon moose with candles coming out of his antlers.
“Hey Rocky!  Watch me commemorate the rededication of the holy temple during the Maccabean Revolt!”

We pick up an Arthur C. Clarke Novel, I one by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a random fifth so we get the 3 books for $5 deal.  We walk down Bridgton Street a bit further and discover a little book store.  Well we’re suckers for books so we go in and enjoy the little shop.  Mrs. The Travel Slob gets postcard for neighbor’s grandson and a magazine.  We soon have a large stack of books including those we brought with us.

Dinner was at Ebenezer’s, which took several passes on the road to find.  It’s nestled in what’s almost the middle of nowhere near a golf course, according to the Innkeeper who proves right.  Ebenezer’s sports a long list of beer like none I’ve seen.  On the west coast we tend towards the heavily hopped bitter beers.  Ebenezer’s had more in the sour variety.  Our waitress was concerned we might not be ready, but Mrs. The Travel Slob and I are no cowards (when it comes to beer)!  She went for one called My Blueberry Nightmare, a blueberry sour beer that we both decided was the best of the evening.  The waitress takes our photo with enthusiastic congratulations for our recent Best Wedding Ever.
This is the beer list at Ebenezar's. At least part.
The Best Bride Ever enjoying a Best Blueberry Beer Ever.

Back at the inn, Jim informs us that as of that night, we’re the only guests.  He lets us choose a different room if we so decide (we decline), and allows us to choose what time we’d like breakfast.  Normally it’s at 8:30am, but we opt for 10am.

We end the night in the cable with a warm fire and a movie on DVD.  We see “All the Pretty Horses”, a Matt Damon film based on a book by Cormac McCarthy.  I thought it a good movie, but Mrs. The Travel Slob found it too violent, too darkly themed, and lacking in enough horses.  So basically it was a movie based on a Cormac McCarthy book.

Monday we luxuriate in our early breakfast.  Blueberry pancakes are on the menu!  While the innkeeper is out, we tour the rooms out of curiosity.  The inn has a large number of comfortable rooms and even a suite in uppermost floor that was at least twice as large as the space in our little cottage.  Since we’re alone, we check out every room like a pair of burglars casing the joint (note: no joints were cased).  We then explore the grounds around us, taking in the spectacular scenery and peaceful surroundings.

We leave for North Conway, New Hampshire, but first stop at Pietree Orchards.  According to Jim, these Orchards were once doing poorly and a developer almost bought the land in order to build condos.  However, author Stephen King lives not too far from that area and did not want to see the region’s character spoiled with condos and the amenities that condo dwellers are known to expect.  So he purchased the Orchards in his sister’s name.  Good show, Mr. King!
The Unofficial Stepehn King Orchard. Abandon all hope (of eating apples of the non-tasty variety) upon entering here.

North Conway is quaint, but we arrive too late to try out the tourist train.  Still, we wandered outside the train station to see what it was like.  North Conway is the largest town we’d been to for any length of time so far, and far busier than any else.  We walk the streets, again enjoying the area before heading home.  We stop at a Starbucks for some coffee on the way.  Big mistake!  For some reason our coffee tasted just weird.  Very weird.  We blamed the water or New Hampshire or aliens or something.  On the drive back we have a sign that specifically forbids “out of state firewood” in Maine.  I have to wonder:  How do they know?

We go back to Bridgton for dinner at Bridgton House of Pizza, a small mom-n-pop operation that was nothing fancy at all, but still simple and light.  We return to the Black Horse Tavern for more of that mud pie and cocktails.  We liked it that much.  We return to the cottage, tired.  Another fire is made and then we Fade to Black.

Tuesday, breakfast is scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.  We decide to take a hike at nearby Hawk Mountain, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the inn.  The hike is easy if a bit rocky and rather wet thanks to heavy rains the previous evening.  There’s a false lookout point with a great view, but we braved a little further out and found the real lookout point at a rocket spot nearby for great rewards.  We ate Pietree Orchard apples at the summit – they were delicious!
We're certain the leaves were changing just for our Honeymoon. Look at that view!
Speaking of Pietree, we return for more apples because dang those apples are good, and a mini-pumpkin pie.  At this point, I think we have a bit of a dessert backlog.  The cashiers informed us that the view from the orchards is wonderful as well, so we brave heavy winds and were duly reward.  No hauntings or monster chasings to speak of, however.

Back at the inn, we get a little tea and pick up Horse-Opoly from the Inn lobby to relax at the cottage to a bit of game.  There is, of course, a vigorous amount of horseplay (hur hur), so much so that my chair breaks mid-game!  Mrs. The Travel Slob is of course, concerned, but no harm was done.  Except to the chair.  And to my pride.  Mid game there’s also a strange rumble and shaking.  Mrs. The Travel Slob feared an earthquake.  I dismiss it, having been in California too long.
One of the dangers of playing Full Contact Horse-opoly.

Wednesday morning, we watch the news when we get up and discover that yes indeed, there was an earthquake!  Boy is my face red!  It’s our last full day in the area.  We explore the grounds again, enjoying this area and thinking about what a great place this is.  We also head to Norway, Maine to see some more sights.  Norway enjoys a main street that maintains the old character of the town.  As a man from the West, such sights are amazing, and the drive to preserve such is commendable.  We pass a civil war memorial that causes me pause.  There’s a lot of history in the east and they do their best to maintain it.  In the west, we seem quick to replace old things, and often things don’t remain preserved.
Our lives are short, brief, a blink of the eye in the passing of history.
It’s our last night at the inn, and we enjoy some champagne as we sit near the fire again.

Thursday, we pack our things and get ready to check out.  The innkeeper recommends a lobster shack near twin lamps before we go.  We sign the guest book in the cottage so that others can perhaps share some of our memories.  We also opt to buy a couple of those wonderful bathrobes.  Mmmmmm!

We head back to Portland, Maine.  Our hotel isn’t ready right away for us, but we wait a little, and then afterwards drive to Twin Lamps for lobster!  We both get a lobster meal that they boil up right in front of us.  I thoroughly enjoy my crustacean, but Mrs. The Travel Slob has many issues with the food, in that it looks back and has way too many legs.  The lobster shack is built right next to the shore, so we eat outside at a small table where we can watch the waves crash against the rocks as we enjoy lunch.
I think Mrs. The Travel Slob is inching away slowly from our lunch.
At night, we walk the streets of Portland, just taking in the sights and window shopping, then return to the hotel to finish the night with pie, whipped cream, and more champagne.  We fall asleep in a room larger than the cottage but certainly not as friendly and inviting.  Also there was no fireplace.  Boo.

Friday morning is our last day.  We check out and go downtown Portland to walk around again.  We window shop at a comic book store, a toy shop, and other places.  We have a quick lunch, the reluctantly make our way back to the Portland airport to prepare to go home.  It’s been a long week, but so rewarding.  We both will miss Maine and hope to see it again soon.  We definitely want to get back to the Bear Mountain Inn and to enjoy more Mississippi Mud Pie.





1Actually, it’s just an office.2

2Actually, it’s just a cubicle.

3Pop Tarts, Black Licorice, and all the coffee in town

4Editor’s Note:  Outrageous demands?  I find occupying a cubicle and doing absolutely nothing outrageous.  Me:  Hey, get out of my writing!

5Editor’s Note:  Please don’t go away.  He needs all the readers he can get.