Sunday, July 15, 2012

Loving the Lighthouses, Lobsters, Beaches & LLBean of Maine OLA

LLBean, the company that grew from making boots, on its 100th anniversary! 
Well, finally we reached the last state of the Eastern coast of the US this blistering summer of 2012. I thought it was quite smart for us to be here at this time. But we still got caught in the web of the record heat wave. We had 90s in Maine for several days!  Good thing Maine is blessed with a long coastline (3,500 miles), second only to Florida in the Atlantic coast..

Ogunquit Beach, Maine
We brought M'a 'turn to Webb RV in Bangor, Maine for a redo of our flooring (strip it of its old carpet and replace with wood laminate tiles). We pick it up when we return from Bill’s reunion with high school buddies in Nova Scotia in Canada. Then we visit Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park and pass through northern Vermont on the way to Quebec and Ontario in Canada.

the Portsmouth Light, most photographed lighthouse
 in the Atlantic Coast


We have been taking pictures of many lighthouses ever since they first caught our attention at the Outer Banks. And why not when they always carry the aura of romance? Even if their bright beacon lights and eerie sounding foghorns no longer have quite the significance they had in this day and age of the GPS, their distinctive figures still strike a commanding pose against the sky, the sea, and the land. So they continue to evoke the drama of their pasts each time, all over again.
Nubble Lighthouse
Maine has such a jagged coastline that more than 60 lighthouses dot its coast, starting at the south with the well-known Nubble Light in York, one of the most photographed lighthouses because it sits elegantly in a nubble of rocks. Going north, Kennebunkport has the Goat Island Lighthouse. It took us quite a while to find the Wood Island Lighthouse at Biddeford Pool.  But we finally got a view of it from a little park where the bell that it once had stands together with a memorial to its light keepers over time.  

Portland Observatory
At Portland is the oldest and most photographed lighthouse in the east coast, the Portland Head Light. Downtown also features the only existing maritime tower, the Portland Observatory, that was used to warn ships. Then there are four other lighthouses in Cape Elizabeth. Two are in Two Lights Road strangely amidst residential homes. One of them was ostensibly used as a lighthouse before, while the other one never got commissioned. Then nearer the harbor are Halfway Rock and Ram Island Ledge.  

Long Beaches

pretty beach at low tide in Ogunquit
Maine beaches come in various sizes and shapes. White sands cover much of the southern coast, like the other Atlantic beaches down south. As you go north, they begin to just dot the coastline because the beaches become rockier. The coastline becomes more jagged with many pretty little coves.  Perkins Cove with its Marginal Way gave Bill nice hikes with awesome vistas, much like Cliff Walk in Newpoirt, Rhode Island. It is very near our campground, Moody Beach Resorts.

at Perkin's Cove...
And there’s Ocean Avenue that hugs the Ogunquit and Wells beaches, lined by pretty vacation cottag4es, sometimes on both sides in the midst of acres of salt marshes. At low tide, the boats are pretty lying in wait for the next high tide to come. Parking is cramped so you can pretty much take a trolley for $1 to your favorite destination.  The beaches offer  refreshing dips with lots of rocks for playing, unique stores for shopping, and eateries for the freshest of seafood to go, cooked or fresh.

sweet, succulent lobster at Kennebunk wharf in Maine

lobster roll with fix-ins at LLBean
I fell in love with the certified Maine Lobster, succulent and sweet, especially if done just right (crabs used to be my favorite). Beginning in Massachusetts we have seen Lobster Rolls being advertised often. So we had our first such order at an outlying pier of Kennebunkport. For $12, it was a lot of lobster, mostly the prized claw meat, wedged between the two bends of a slice of bread. Wow! We thought a lobster roll was like a chicken salad sandwich!. No sireeeee…it was pure lobster joy!  So I ordered one again at LLBean in Freeport, Maine and also at Sea Dog Bar and Grille in Bangor, Maine.

Sea Dog lobster roll
Lobstering in Maine is worth more than $300 million a year to its 6,000 licensed lobstermen.   2011 was a record catch of over a 100 million pounds. The is a model of a well-managed sustainable fishery program. Only two species of lobsters are of commercial importance: H. americanus, found mostlyin the Gulf of Maine and H. gammarus, the European lobster, found along the western European coast. They have five sets of legs, including a pair of large, meat-filled claws. The world’s largest lobster was caught in 1977 in Nova Scotia, Canada, weighing over 44 pounds and measuring almost four feet long. 

locked moose, preserved as they were caught with each other,
at LLBean Flagship Store in Freeport, Maine
Other Interesting Points 

Fortunately, Maine has diversified from just tourism and fishing. We visited the well-known LLBean, a quality outdoor apparel manufacturer that grew from a boot maker to a large corporation that is celebrating its 100 years anniversary this year. With its flagship store in Freeport, Maine, the town has grown to be a shopping mecca. An outlet mall and almost all brands have branches there. I had a heyday shopping because everything was at a sizeable discount for the 4th of July weekend sale!

Tom's of Maine at Kennebunk
The other well-known Maine personal care products manufacturer is Tom’s of Maine, manufacturer of natural organic-based toothpaste, soap, etc. When I was teaching business in Seattle Community College, I used it as a case study many times as an example of a successful niche strategy. However, it did not offer tours of its plant headquarters in Sanford, Maine. But we found a good outlet of its products in Kennebunk where it also had its corporate offices.

the George H. W. Bush estate in Kennebunk, Maine
But the most interesting for me was seeing the beautiful George H. W. Bush estate, jutting out from Kennebunkport, Maine.The northeasternmost state of the US is truly spectacular. and we haven’t even seen Acadia and Bar Harbor yet! There are a lot of dramatic things to see:  long sandy and rocky beaches with pretty little coves and awesome vistas, island-dotted bays, and harbors filled with ships, camera-worthy lighthouses of all sizes and locations, and all the fresh lobster you can eat!