A Week in Maine - The Tourist Stuff

As I said yesterday, we worked hard at my friend Nancy Whitbeck's dairy goat farm in Litchfield, Maine.  There wasn't much about it I didn't love.  It was cold each morning but warmed up in the afternoon.  The flowers were magnificent.  The grass is thin bladed and feels soft and fine underfoot like it did growing up in the Chicago area.  No St. Augustine grass here.  We had mostly sun but also some rain which seemed to come up without warning and leave quickly.  We got up early and worked for several hours before we were ready to venture into town and worked for several hours in the evening before bed.  A farmer's work is truly never finished.  But we had a great time doing tourist things too!

We shopped at the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport.  L.L. Bean was famous for their work boots and are now famous for all sorts of active wear clothing.  They have quite a few building spread out along Main Street for all their various different lines of clothing - hunting, cycling, water sports, etc.  It's pretty impressive when you've only seen the catalogs before.

Also in Freeport is the Mangy Moose - a great store for t-shirts and other gift items.  Someone suggested that this is the same company that used to operate the Mangy Moose restaurant in Jackson Hole, WY.  I don't know if that's true but it's a nice story.  Ron and I had a great meal there years ago when our kids were little.  We took turns eating so the kids could run around outside in the grass. 

We visited Friend's Folly Farm in Monmouth to check out their "Yarn in a Yurt" and their fiber mill and goats.  Pogo and Marcia were so gracious.  They were all packed up for the fiber festival the next day but still gave us a tour of their processing mill and the wonderful yurt.  I fell in love with the yurt.  Peggy and I talk periodically about building a real life brick and mortar store but I think maybe a real life yurt would be even more wonderful.  We'll see.

The Maine Fiber Frolic was on Saturday and Sunday in Windsor.  We spent most of Saturday checking out each vendor and looking at the animals.  It's always fun to go to a fiber festival where the vendors are completely new.  I found glass stitch markers, natural dyed yarn in wondrous colors, a pattern and yarn for a beautiful shawl and both yarn and fiber from the lovely ladies at Friend's Folly Farm.

Sunday we took a tour boat from Boothbay Harbor out to Easter Egg Island to see the puffins.  This was not my best event.  It was a cold, blustery and rainy day which meant a very cold, very blustery and very choppy boat ride.  I didn't actually throw up but I felt like it was only moments away for the entire 3 hours on board.  Puffins are actually very small birds weighing only about a pound each.  They have long wings for their body size and are very fast flying.  Between their small size, their quickness in the air and the dark skies it was very difficult to recognize them.  Only once did I catch sight of their stunning and unique beaks.

We drove over to Bath to Halcyon Yarn.  Halcyon is another company I have known only by it's catalog.  They carry everything - weaving and spinning tools, patterns, weaving yarn, knitting yarn, etc.  I felt like this was going to be nearly a religious experience.  It turned out slightly different than I expected.  Yes, all the tools were there, and all the yarn and all the patterns.  And it's really cool that you can walk among tall sets of shelves full of thousands of cones of weaving yarn.  I found some linen yarn I had to have.  I found the perfect warp and weft for a run of cashmere scarves on my new loom.  I looked for some hemp weaving yarn.   They didn't have any 100% hemp but they had a whole rack of yarn in stunning colors that was hemp/flax and cotton.  Either hemp/cotton or flax/cotton yarn would have been usable but this yarn was labeled as hemp and/or flax.  Really?  Hemp and/or flax?  Sounds like mystery wool to me.  We use that description when we have long since lost track of the fiber labels.  I asked several of the sales associates and got the same answer - "Well, flax and hemp are the same so it doesn't really matter what its called."  No, they are not the same.  Yes, they are similar - both are bast fibers, both are long and thin and can be spun wet or dry but the same?  I think not.  So I left Halcyon with very mixed feelings.  It was great but it left me feeling that they didn't really know what they were talking about.  What else did they state confidently that wasn't true at all? 

I didn't have a bad meal the entire week in Maine.  The fish 'n chips were fabulous, the fried clam strips were good enough that I may actually order them at some point.  The lobster pie was good but the lobster roll was amazingly wonderful.  We shared a great cheese plate, had good wine, great french fries, wonderful ice cream, a brand of sweet potato chips I intend to order for myself, a wonderful grilled cheese and ham sandwich served by a man who may or may not have been in the correct time zone.  Did I mention there is a Dunkin' Donuts on every other corner?  I drank more full strength coffee and ate more yummy donuts in this one week than I have in years.  My tummy wasn't really happy but it was all worth the discomfort.  Thank goodness, I've already started to shed some of the weight I gained while I was gone.  I'm not sure if its a testament to a great vacation of an indication that I really have no self control. 

I'm glad to be home now, sleeping in my own bed, feeding my own livestock and working on my new loom, but I really had a great time in Maine and plan to go back again.  I don't think Nancy will turn me away if I show up at her door sometime this fall.