We can smell the finish line now, with this post covering the last of our yet-to-be-reached states (though, like our more recent entries, this one entails a region we’ve explored quite a bit prior to Rogue Trip.)
Yet again, we were treated to the hospitality of Mitch’s family, which admittedly made us somewhat lazy travelers. Prepare to be underwhelmed! Unless of course, you like humorously oversized boots.
Under cover of night, we blazed a trail into the land of lighthouses via Freeport, which claimed to have its own roadtripper’s lighthouse in the form of a business open 24 hours. Was it a cafe? A laundromat?
Nope. It was the flagship L.L. Bean store, occupying an entire city block on Main Street.
As expected, it’s pretty much a ski lodge with more reasonable prices. Fish ponds, fireplaces, aquariums… everything one would want in a bathroom break.
Credit where credit is due, though: it was such a marvelous place that we ended up buying stuff anyway… partially out of guilt for being the only people using a 200,000 square-foot store’s facilities at 1am.
Also, see below: Mitch claimed he was standing exactly like this for about two minutes as Hailey walked through the Men’s Outerwear section looking for him. Worth noting, he does this kind of thing constantly.
The next morning, after a delicious breakfast ruined by the most determined bee in history, we headed to the uppity city of Portland for some actual lighthouses.
Bug Light… this li’l guy stands at a scant 30 feet:
Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse… obscenely picturesque, with its rugged rock-hop out into Casco Bay:
And of course Portland Head Lighthouse, which many claim to be the most photographed lighthouse in America. Out of respect for the numerous lighthouses we’d contend are equally marvelous, we’re not going to give this one the satisfaction of taking the classic shot. Instead, you get it up close and personal:
Three lighthouses within a few minutes’ drive of each other, and about 57 others in the state if you’re willing to schlep it. That’s why we come to Maine, folks!
Well, that and lobster rolls. It’s come to our attention that some of you are going around living your lives without the vital knowledge that lobster rolls are, objectively, the best food. Please recalibrate your priorities accordingly given this new information.
We’ll give you the cheat sheet on lobstah rolls in a moment. For now, let’s start with a bit of delicious blasphemy at Eventide Oyster Company, who stuffs their lobster meat into a steamed bun for a bit of Asian fusion:
Purists will knock this thing for having too many ingredients… we only dock points for the turn-and-burn nature of this uber-popular restaurant, which had the server standing behind us with check in-hand while we finished our last bites. Worth it? Debatable. But a magnificent snack, nevertheless.
Hailey’s dad gifted us a real hotel room for the night, affording the convenience of being able to stumble around town aimlessly after the single martini shown above (not having friends to drink with has turned us into real lightweights.)
The next morning, we were southbound towards Kennebunkport. On the way, we ended up parked next to this free — in every sense of the word — taxi service. You pay with your soul, perhaps?
We drove through the seasonal town of Old Orchard Beach, and as it was off-season, we have nothing to show you. Google a photo of an abandoned funnel cake store and you’ll get the vibe.
A little further along, Mitch bee-lined for Len Libby Chocolatier in order to get Hailey the moose sighting she’d been striking out on throughout the trip thus far.
The coastal village of Kennebunkport smacks you in the face with quaintness.
It’s the summer home of ex-President George Bush (the good one), and more importantly, it’s also the home of America’s greatest lobster roll as declared by us.
Behold, the Clam Shack.
As promised, here’s your 60-second primer on America’s best food:
It’s served two ways based on regional preference. Connecticut style is hot lobster, buttered (for a mental shortcut, think “hot and bothered”), while Maine style is cold lobster mixed with mayo. The latter, as you might guess, is a little easier to half-ass, and so it’s sometimes referred to with disdain as a “lobster salad roll”… in keeping with the result of adding mayo to chicken or tuna.
Maine usually serves it on a toasted frankfurter roll, which is different from the hot dog buns most of the U.S. is accustomed to. Predictably, most of the debate beyond that revolves around the choice of lobster parts used by any individual restaurant, followed closely by how much extraneous crap you add to it, like jalapeños or tomato. Hint: adding anything is bad form.
Hailey prefers Connecticut style, and Mitch prefers Maine. This Clam Shack number, though, is both buttered and mayo’d. If Connecticut is West Germany and Maine is East Germany, this lobster roll is the Berlin Wall being torn down. Taste the democracy!
Ok, that was a bit of a rant. Our apologies… we just hate to see you guys unwittingly eating any food that is not the best one when you could, in fact, be eating the best one.
Ogunquit is the last town of consequence before you cross Maine’s southern terminus, and man does this state go out with a bang. It’s a refined beach resort culture which stays appealing even in colder seasons, partially thanks to the beautiful Marginal Way coastal walk. This wasn’t new to us, but we’d be crazy to pass up any chance to stroll such serene coastline.
The oceanfront homes range in scope from modest to magnificent, allowing you to pretend for a second that you might one day be able to afford the smallest house on the block. You can’t.
At this point in the trip, we’re getting dangerously close to Halloween — and Ogunquit celebrates with the best of ’em. Here’s a rather unusual lawn ornament consisting of King Kong surfing a wave in his undies.
On the morning’s drive out, we stopped at another familiar must-see destination: Nubble Lighthouse.
While less accessible than Portland Head Lighthouse, this one’s just as picturesque. The C2 Corvette doesn’t hurt, of course.
Technically you have to pass through a hunk of New Hampshire to get from Maine to Mass… but if you’re relying on Rogue Trip to learn America’s geography, you should stop that. We’re tricksters.
After a quick pause in Exeter, we made it to Salem: The Witch City! Well, if we’re being honest, it’s really “The City Once Consumed By Mass Hysteria”, but that doesn’t look as good on a brochure. And who are we to complain when it’s late October in one of the nation’s most superstitious spots? Let the haunted candy fly!
To be sure, this is Salem’s tourist season, and they pulled out all the stops. The Witch Museum was in full bloom. Who’s pulling up to the Witch Museum in a Lincoln Town Car?
Apparently even being a horrific monster has its limits. Frankenstein had to leave an angry note asking tourists not to sit in his chair.
We had to pay a visit to the spot where the infamous yet innocent “witches” were hanged. Fun fact: the French burned witches. The English, and by extension the colonial Americans, hanged them… although one of the Salem Village victims was actually crushed to death by having large stones placed on his chest. It’s all very scientific.
Like many early New England ports, Salem has history to burn, witches notwithstanding. Quite a few of the homes display placards revealing their ancient-by-America’s-standards build dates, such as thi– oh, apologies for the skeleton’s indecent exposure.
Salem was a big surprise for us! A damn fine city for its small size. We look forward to visiting the area again… especially since Boston is less than an hour south.
Speaking of, Mitch’s mom had yet another lifelong friend following Rogue Trip closely, and now that we’ve reached her neck of the woods, Grayce demanded that we stay with her. Unfortunately, just as we were getting into town, there was a death in the family which put everything in a different perspective.
However, Grayce was unwavering in her hospitality and took us out to dinner so that we could spend time with her and her loved ones. Really, a humbling experience… what a great human being supported by an equally wonderful family. Thank you Grayce! Pit Stop #43 goes to you.
Nearby Nahanton Park gave us some exercise, and an excuse to take another canoe pic. This is probably our 79th canoe picture this year.
Rolling into Boston proper, we putzed around a bit on the Boston College campus, ate a few more lobster rolls, and then relaxed at the Lawn on D with its unorthodox swings:
As you may know, Boston is home to many a reputable place of higher learning. The neighborhood of Cambridge, specifically, boasts your Harvards and MITs and what not. It’s not enough that these kids are all packed into coffee shops rather than their own dorm rooms (like, can we have your dorm if you’re not going to use it? Jerks?) But the young woman below took it a step further, turning the Starbucks into her own personal office complete with makeshift “standing desk.”
Standing desks are stupid. Best of luck, kid.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S., and as such, the information you’re about to receive is also very small.
We spent about 24 hours here, all of which within the confines of its capitol city, Providence. Here’s an awesome sunset over one of the local university buildings:
Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
Surprise! Mitch has family here.
Surprise! They gave us candy.
Surprise! They all showed up in the same place to make dinner for us.
Pit Stop #44: Aunt Fran and her offspring! The best Halloween treat of all, though Frankenstein-flavored Peeps would give anyone a run for their money.
The next day, Fran accompanied us to the endearing village of Litchfield, where we basked in the unseasonably warm weather while scarfing down some picnic turkey sammiches.
Does Litchfield have a historic church? Does a bear poop in the woods?
As we parted ways, Aunt Fran notified us that the Litchfield Turnpike is the most scenic way to get to our next destination. It’s a drive she knows pretty well, since it ends at her sister’s house in New York. More aunts, please!
Just a day after we doled out Pit Stop #44, we handed #45 to Mitch’s Aunt Teresa and namesake Uncle Mitch.
The company is pretty tough to beat, but the added bonus is the slowly-decaying stash of comic books Mitch’s cousin Richard grew up reading. Like the worst family heirloom ever, these rags entertained Mitch on many a night, years after his cousin had since grown up and started a hair band.
After a delish breakfast the following morning, we toured a real local’s gem: Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, home of the largest indoor Buddha in the western hemisphere. Now all of you can finally stop asking us, “gee, where’s the largest indoor Buddha in the western hemisphere?!”
Ok, no time to dilly dally! We’ve got a date with… ourselves.
For our first two anniversaries, we managed to make it back to the spot of our first date in Astoria, Queens. Welp, this was Anniversary #3, and despite a year of gallivanting around the nation, we ended up back in the right place, at the right time, in the right seat! Hailey’s even wearing the same thing she wore on date #1, as is her tradition.
A few of our best buds were in town to help celebrate as well…
Now, we all seem to have a bit of a glow, thanks to the awkward camera filter. But the two ladies bookending Hailey are glowing because they’re both pregnant, and both of them revealed this information within 30 seconds of each other! Hailey went into a brief spasm of joy which, for a moment, looked a little dangerous. You can’t be springing this level of news back to back, ladies!
Friends and fam abound, and we really can’t stress enough how much happiness it’s brought us to be able to see all of you during our travels this year.
Speaking of which… there are more. Good lord, does it ever end?
Trudging through northern New Jersey en route to Delaware, we hit yet another perfect storm of local Mitch relatives. We all gathered at Christine’s (3rd from right) as she and her fam whipped up a five-star meal. By the way — the guy kneeling is aforementioned cousin Rich, the one-time comic book nerd. Look at him now, all grown up and definitely not hiding a comic book under his shirt.
Rich’s youngest son James regaled us with tales of a looming legal battle over the name of his neighborhood band. See, his band had their name first, but there’s this other band on YouTube who has the same name. So obviously, the suits need to get involved at this point.
This nine-year-old is researching trademark law on and we’re brushing our teeth in Starbucks. Where did we screw up?
Well, that’s our time for today folks. The next post will be the very last leg of Rogue Trip 2017! The homecoming, if you will. Of course, if you follow us on Instagram, you already know about Phase II of our journey. Nevertheless, all will be revealed in future posts.
To Delaware, and beyond!