Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Roadside Attractions

Salem, Mass. to Old Orchard Beach, Maine

June 15, 2010

We awoke to a bright blue sky with no rain in the forecast. Since we have had at least some rain every day for the past week, the weather was cause for celebration, and for a drive the long way from Salem to Maine--following the craggy coast, and stopping along the way to enjoy the sights.

We had a photo fiesta in Rockport, a town of narrow streets lined with colorful shops, all decorated with planters and window boxes overflowing with flowers. The wharf--known as Bearskin Neck in honor of an errant bear that perished swimming there--is filled with moored boats. A red shack with old wooden lobster trap buoys hanging on one wall is a focal point of the harbor, known as "Motif #1." It is reputed to be the most often painted building in America. We took over 100 pictures of it ourselves—from every angle, near and far.

The next town over from Rockport is Pigeon Cove, where there is a house built of newspaper layered 215 sheets thick (although, as you can see, it has a real shingled roof with wide eaves to protect it from turning to pulp in the rain). The furniture inside is also made of newspaper, much of it still readable. The two-room oddity was the dream home of Elis F. Sterman, who began it in 1922, and worked on it with his family for the next twenty years or so, consuming an estimated 100,000 newspapers in the process.

On to our next oddity, Lenny, "The World's Only Life-Size Chocolate Moose," made from 1700 pounds of superlative quality milk chocolate. Lenny has resided inside the Len Libby Candy Store in Scarborough, Maine since 1997, and looks pretty good for his age. There is a video running nearby showing how he was made, but it doesn't address the question of whether he has required renovation over time. It doesn't seem like chocolate should be able to last sitting out in the open for 12 years, does it? He looks pretty shiny—we are thinking perhaps many coats of varnish may protect his chocolate exterior.

Lenny has recently been joined by Libby, a 380 pound dark chocolate bear, and her two 80 pound cubs. We are not sure if Libby is the world's only life size dark chocolate bear, but there is a pretty good chance of it. (And, it probably goes without saying that we didn't leave Len Libby Candy Store empty-handed—if we had we would surely be the world's only visitors there who were able to resist the tantalizing aroma of chocolate and the wide array of hand-dipped chocolates and other candies, including beer brittle—made with a local lager.)

Our last roadside attraction, of a sort, was the studio of Winslow Homer. We'll talk more about it tomorrow, when we visit the Portland Art Museum, which has a large collection of Winslow Homer's work. As we will learn tomorrow, the museum recently acquired the studio, as well.

We ended the day at Old Orchard Beach, a classic beach town with rickety wooden hotels, motor courts and cabins packed shoulder to shoulder with ice cream stands and variety stores. Summer season still hasn't begun here, so the amusement park is eerily still, and half of the restaurants are still boarded up. Ever the bargain hunters, we snagged the most expensive room at the Sea Cliff Inn—with a big Jacuzzi tub, and a spectacular view of the ocean and a wide beach that stretched as far as we could see in either direction--for just $74, and then had lobsters for dinner at a local hang-out, where our tab came to a mere $27.

1 comment:

  1. Beer Brittle.... sounds fun. That recipe was NOT in my Anheuser Busch cookbook.