Krissi picked me up at the Portland airport at 12:30, and we headed off up I-295 toward Brunswick to show me some of the Maine coast. Made a stop in Yarmouth at the DeLorme headquarters (the map people) so I could see Eartha, a giant globe with the surface images made from satellite imagery and bathymetry. We climbed the two flights of stairs so we could look at the northern hemisphere, to give you an idea of the size of this thing. Then we wandered happily in their store, both being map people--we both have geology degrees, and K. spends a good bit of her time at work on cartography using GIS-geographic information systems. I ended up with some postcards (Maine lighthouses, though K. warned that we wouldn't see any Maine lighthouses if we pursued her tentative plan for the day) and bookmarks (you'll see a theme here for the day as I go on...), a deck of playing cards with US maps on them, globe-patterned marbles for the nieces and nephew, and a few globe chocolates. Despite loving the look of it, I passed on the globe notepad and holder--it was a little globe stand, maybe 6 inches high, holding a half-circle notepad fanned out to form a sphere, and the paper printed to give the effect of a globe.
When we dragged ourselves away from the map goodies, we headed on to Brunswick and got briefly onto U.S. Route 1 before turning on a road leading down one of the peninsulas. This part of the Maine coast is a classic "drowned coast"--no sandy beaches of sediments carried down to the ocean over thousands of years, but rocky fingers of land (the peninsulas) stretching into the sea representing ridgelines of mountains that were "drowned" when the sea level rose quickly after the last round of continental glaciation. Route 1 runs fairly far inland of the ends of these peninsulas, and there are narrow roads running down them out to the homes and small villages out on the ends.
We headed down Maine 123 toward Harpswell first, drove almost to the end and stopped at a parking area to take pictures and wander a little on the beach. It was low tide, so there was a lot of shelly/rocky/sand expanse visible, with some seaweed. The coast is so different from the ones I am more used to in the southeast--rocky islands, tall trees right down to the waterline, and of course, a different and older architecture. Rambling fishermen's houses, obviously ones that grew with the years as the families did, some smaller cottages, and everything focussed on the water and boats. We both wandered with our digital cameras for a while (K. has a new 8 megapixel Nikon--I'm still using my old 2 megapixel Nikon 950 as I'm shooting vacation snapshots), then got back in the car and went to the tip of the peninsula in search of a reversing waterfall between the ocean and a cove. Not sure if we found it--we got close, saw a small set of riffles in the water that might have been it, but as it was still very low tide the effect was rather ... underwhelming. Or the falls could have been around the tip of the peninsula and only visible from private land...don't know.
Next we headed back up the peninsula half-way to a road and bridge that led to the next peninsula to the east. On this one, Maine highway 24 heads to Orrs Island and Bailey Island--the two islands are the continuation of the peninsula, basically. The nominal goal here was to look at a historic 1928 bridge that connects the two islands--it's a "crib bridge" or "cobwork bridge", built of granite blocks shaped rather like greatly oversized railroad ties that were placed in a criss-cross fashion to build a structure that would hold a road deck but still allow the water to flow through. No fasteners were used to tie the blocks together--the weight was enough, it seems. We again got out with cameras, and walked across the bridge and back taking pictures and looking at the bridge. Just about the time we got back to the car, the sun came out--oh, what a difference from the cloudy day we'd had until then. Photos made after this look a lot more interesting. <g>
Having exhausted the bridge-exploration possibilities, we went on to the tip of Bailey Island, stopped for a while in the kitschy souvenir shop where I bought more postcards (one of the crib bridge), a magnet of the crib bridge, and a magnet that says "if you want the best seat in the house, you'll have to move the cat". We wandered for a while longer on the shore, spotting two things of interest on distant islands--one might have been a Maine lighthouse, so I'm saying I saw one, and the other was a monument of some sort. But they were too distant to get any details, and so far my Web searching hasn't identified either one.
We decided that we weren't hungry at this point, so we passed up the many possibilities for a lobster dinner (K. doesn't really like seafood that well and I've never had lobster that I can recall, so neither of us was inclined to push ourselves into it) and headed back up to U.S. 1, and then on to Freeport for LL Bean's.
We actually did eat before hitting Bean's, finding a small counter-service seafood-and-chicken finger sort of place a block away. I had a nice "Greek salad" with 5 huge fried scallops added to it, and K. had chicken fingers. K. offered the opinion that a Greek salad in Maine is any salad with Greek olives in it...this was certainly not the Greek salad style I've seen other places, being a spinach salad with cucumbers (yuck!), tomatoes, the aforementioned olives, and a creamy dressing of little character. But it was fresh, the scallops were sweet and not overcooked at all, so I did very well after removing the noxious cucumbers.
Then it was on to Bean's (I would have said "to LL Bean", K. the Maine native says "to Bean's"). First was the separate Hunting and Fishing Store, where K. bought a life preserver. Then to the main store, where we wandered happily through various clothing departments, looked for water shoes for both women and kids for K.'s sister-in-law and nephews, checked out the food/housewares where I picked up assorted souvenir items (will hope the 3 small chocolate moose survive the trip without melting as I go south--my younger niece has been asking for chocolate mousse, so here's a way to give her one without the cooking), looked at pet items (heavily weighted toward hunting dogs) and toys/games/books, I browsed the bicycle accessories, and K. talked to a salesman about how one gets in and out of a kayak as compared to a canoe and was given a demo of the technique with kayak and paddle. I did buy a shoulder bag/purse to replace the Target one I'm currently using that is showing signs of wear in addition to the food souvenirs, more postcards, another magnet for the fridge, and a lovely wooden bookmark with a dainty cat cutout. We left, finally, at 10:15 PM, after standing in a rather long line at checkout with all the others taking advantage of the "never closes" part of the Bean culture.
K. then headed up I-295 and I-95 to Augusta, found my hotel (Comfort Inn-Civic Center), and dropped me off.
Today she'll come get me shortly and we'll run a few errands in Augusta before heading to her parents' home near Vienna. It looks to be a gray day with the possibility of thundershowers, so I don't think we'll be out on the lake in a paddleboat like we talked about, but may do some walks around the lake before dinner. Then I'll get back to the hotel so I can do a little prep for the meeting that starts tomorrow.