Disclaimer:  I think repeated posts about pieces of vacations are really boring, and I usually get tired of the re-telling and leave off the last half of vacations to avoid the lameness of it all, so this is a GIANT vacation post that may seem ridiculous.  If so, here’s the short version for you:  our vacation was awesome, I caught a lobster and took my picture with Nathaniel Hawthorne, so now my life is complete.  The end.

As I mentioned previously (perhaps too many times!), H and I spent Columbus Day Weekend investigating the Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine coasts. It was a wonderful trip.  We tried to squeeze in a lot of activities while still relaxing (and catching some college football) during our short visit.  Here’s a quick run-down for you:

Day One:  Salem, Massachusetts, York, Maine, and Portland, Maine

First stop, Salem.  I’ve been wanting to visit Salem for ages.  [Random side story — Junior year of college, my little sister in KD and I drove up to Charlottesville, VA for fall break and made a stop in Salem, VA — which turned into a running joke about “where are all the witches?”  Wait, what?  Massachusetts?]

The Salem Witch Trials Memorial in Salem, Massachusetts. Each stone jutting out from the wall represents one victim of the trials.
Quotes from the Accused line the entryway: “I do plead NOT GUILTY.”

So, I was pretty excited about this whole trip idea. I had this dream that the witch museums would be out of control and that there would be gallows and history everywhere. And, to be honest, I was a little disappointed. Instead of lots of witch history, there were a lot of Halloween-related gimmicks. So that piece of the journey was a little disappointing. However, the Witch Trials Memorial, installed twenty years ago, was beautiful. Surrounding a graveyard in which Cotton Mather’s brother was buried, was a rectangular area surrounded by a stone wall on three sides, with memorials to each victim of the hysteria in 1692-1693.

Me with the House of the Seven Gables
The statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne

However, much to my history-loving delight (and not exactly to H’s delight), there were tons of other fun historical items on our agenda!  We had a photo shoot with the statue of Nathaniel Hawthorne in the town center, toured the House of the Seven Gables, and visited the home of his birth and upbringing (which has recently been moved onto the same property as the House of the Seven Gables).  Fact:  did you know that when Hawthorne was alive, the House of the Seven Gables really only had three gables?  The owner had torn down the other four gables to make the home more stylish.  Since that time, preservationists built the other gables back onto the house.

H in front of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site Museum
These are new ships made to look old, but they are still pretty cool! This one was built in Brazil.

Also, there was a lot of pirate history (still pretty gimmicky, so we skipped the live-action museum, haha), but the ships [real historians know that “boats” are submarines and on-top-of-the-water vessels are always called “ships” — don’t you forget it!], custom house, and National Park were very entertaining.  The water was also beautiful, and made for a pretty wonderful day.

The Cape Neddick (“Nubble”) Lighthouse in York, Maine.
So delicious!

Next on the list, a quick stop on the Maine coast in York, to see the beautiful lighthouse and eat the best ice cream in the world.  Well, I can’t really say for sure that this is the best ice cream in the world, but it was mighty fine and came highly recommended by our friends up north.

 

The Elms, Greater Portland

Then, we were back in the car and on our way to our evening destination:  Portland.  Portland was a weird little city.  We stayed just outside of the city on Friday night at a bed and breakfast we loved, but where our hosts basically told us that Portland was only good for eating and drinking beer.  We were okay with that. We spent the evening in a huge room overlooking the river, and enjoyed dinner that was so delicious we forgot to take photos, but included a huge bowl of the most delicious mussels I have ever eaten in my entire life.

Day Two:  Scone-off, Lobstering, and the Great Shopping Experience of 2012

We woke up Saturday ready for some action.  Our B&B served us fantastic eggs

The bakery with a sad looking carafe of coffee but the greatest most beautiful blueberry pies I have ever seen (still wish we had tried a slice!).
The Coffee Bar around the corner.

benedict for breakfast.  We were very happy food-wise, but the coffee was a bit weak for us so our first stop in the Old Port area was for a dark-brewed beverage.  We stopped first at a “famous” bakery to get pastries and coffee, but quickly discovered that they probably were not going to have the coffee we wanted.  So, we bought a maple scone to save face and then headed to the another coffee shop.  There, we ordered two mugs of drop coffee, a second scone, and sat down to read the local paper and plan out our day.

The scone on the right from Two Fat Cats Bakery was the clear winner.

So even though we’ve already eaten a delicious breakfast, we are sitting not an hour later at Crema devouring two scones and two coffees.  Don’t judge — it was mandated by the circumstances, and it was fun and delicious.

 

 

 

H and Me showing off one of the seven lobsters we caught!
This is the tool you use to determine if the lobster is the proper size for harvesting.

Then, after a few hours of exploring the Old Port area’s shops and offerings, we boarded our Lobster Cruise with Lucky Catch and baited traps, pulled up traps, evaluated our catches, secured lobster claws with rubber bands, and explored the islands off the coast of Portland.  This was perhaps the most exciting part of our entire trip — we wore the gloves and aprons and went all in.

Our guides taught us how to tell if a lobster is male or female and what the laws are in Maine which protect and increase the number of lobsters in that state.  At the end of our cruise, we went over to J’s Oyster House and I ate my first lobster.  It was not as delicious as I anticipated and quite a lot of gross.  I prefer crab legs, shrimp, and steak any day!

Then, we drove up to Freeport, Maine, to visit the L.L. Bean Factory Stores and to do a little shopping.  And let me tell you — those L.L. Bean stores are OUT OF CONTROL!  And, there aren’t really any good deals.  It’s more about the

The Hunting and Fishing Store.

experience.  So, we bought a few things because it was so COOL to be there but spent most of our time there just hanging out and experiencing the crazy that is five separate L.L. Bean stores in one location and about five-billion-cars and twenty-billion-people everywhere.  Who knew?  We did both purchase new winter jackets (H’s from L.L. Bean, mine from the North Face Sample Sale) and grabbed a few select items from J.Crew (how typical…)

 

Day Three:  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and a Scenic Coastal Drive

Fort Constitution
Rock sculptures along one part of the coast.

We woke up mid-morning on Sunday and drove to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for lunch.  It was a cute little city but we forgot to take photos because, frankly, it looked just like everything else we had seen all weekend.  We had lunch at “Me and Ollie’s” bakery and, while the cashier was not super great at ringing up orders, our sandwiches were fantastic.  Then, we hit the road back toward the airport, following Ocean Blvd. down the coast of New Hampshire.  This was so much fun and really

The rocks were green from some sort of algae.

interesting, because the coastline up north is so different from down South where both H and I have typically vacationed.  We stopped at a couple of forts (obviously, I wanted to stop at more but H did not!), took photos at different look-out points, and saw exactly what we wanted to see.

 

 

The only thing missing from our trip was seeing a moose!  We weren’t far enough west to really expect a moose-sighting, but we still really want to see one so we may have to venture up to Maine again in the future to mark that off our bucket lists.

The closest we got a seeing a moose — this statue at the gas station!
Why Hello, New England!
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