Portland, Freeport, and Popham Beach

Day two in Maine I took a quick trip down to Portland (yes there is a Portland somewhere besides Oregon) to look around!  

Lots of old buildings...

Lots of old buildings...

I love wandering new cities. Just getting a feel for the vibe of a place, seeing what the locals do, and taking in as much as possible. I drove by the waterfront, wound up on a freeway headed out of town and quickly found my way back, and looked for a good 20 minutes for a free parking space so I could get out and walk around.  The people of Portland, ME are almost as weird as Oregonians, just tiny bit classier. Think rich hipsters with the occasional odd duck. There was a peaceful protest outside what I am assuming was an abortions clinic based off the signs they were holding. And just a block down the road was a group of people poor testing the original protesters. All very calm and peaceful.

I wandered down to the bay and the city center with a giant monument I swear I took a picture of, but guess I didn't.  After that I had to head back to the car since I could only find a parking spot for an hour. After driving around a little more, I found a park overlooking the bay with one of the main reasons I decided to stay- free parking!  I climbed the hill and sat in a bench taking in the view, and pulled out my water color pencils to sketch. I didn't get very far because I kept getting distracted by the beauty of the bay sitting there in front of me, full of islands, sailboats, and serenity. 

When my bench began to get shaded and chilly, and my west coast weather intolerance starting kicking in I put my things back in the car and hiked back up the hill to find lunch and look around a little more. I came across an old cemetery that looked like it had been there forever, old houses that looked straight out of story books, and walked along a wall if swear must have been built hundreds of years ago. 

I found a little coffee shop for another latte and slice of amazing pound cake (my appetite wasn't back quite yet). After wandering back to the car and driving around a bit, I headed for the Girl Scouts of Maine office! With it being so close I had to stop by and pick up a patch for my coworkers. After several wrong turns, u-turns, and missed exists, I finally made it...only to find that it was closed!  Oh well, it was still fun to see. 

I headed back to Freeport, taking the scenic route part of the way back. Since It's such a tourist destination for east coasters between L.L. Bean and the beautiful coastline, Freeport is full of outlet shops tucked in historical building, and a McDonalds that I didn't recognize til seeing a sign on the other side, and had to look twice to make sure I was reading correctly. 
After a bit if shopping (and camping out in Starbucks to steal their power and wifi) we made dinner back at the campsite and headed out clamming!  My friend had been once before and described how horrible it was: covered in smelly mud, bugs biting, and three hours of torture. Thankfully that was not the case! After barely 45 minutes, no bugs and minimal mud, we had reached the maximum amount we were allowed to take, and we were chasing down the stationary clams with more glee than a kid in a candy shop.  I grabbed one out of the mud but we worked better as a team, him grabbing clams and me following behind checking the size, cleaning, and collecting in our bucket. 

The best part of camping on a remote area is the stars!  The only thing I miss in city living is seeing the sky full of stars and just staring at them, looking for shooting stars. And boy was the sky full of them!
The next morning we got up early to get to Popham Beach as soon as possible!  I didn't get any pictures because when we got there we left most of our stuff in the car and ran to the waves.  We walked to the spot where the waves meet after splitting around an island and make incredible x-shapes waves!  We built a shelter with logs and a towel, we dug lounge chairs in the sand, and then we hit the water! 
I honestly have never properly swam in an ocean. Growing up in California you would think I would have spent my whole life swimming in the ocean, but I guess I just never did. Once we got far enough into the water that we were numb to the cold, we did not mind the temperature and had fun jumping over, through, and swimming with the waves, walking farther up the beach and letting the current slowly take us back to where we started. 
After I had reached my limit of time spent in cold waves and my eyes were full of salt water, we took to the beach to warm up and eventually built a sand fortress complete with a functioning moat full of sea water!  
Both of our pasty white bodies ended up a little fried, but what a fun way to spend the last weekend of summer. 
I watched the sunset over the bay that night, wishing I lived closer to the ocean. It's so peaceful to sit, watch and listen to the waves, and not have to worry about anything.

My last day we cooked up our clam haul for lunch and boy are they...interesting. I've had clam chowder, but never straight clams. I know I have a strong gag reflex and a habit of letting the appearance of food get in my way of enjoying something new, so I did my best to fight through my uneasiness and give them a try- and honestly they're not that bad!  For clams we pulled out of the ground and cooked ourselves, it was pretty delicious. I could only stomach about six before I had to call it quits, but I guess that's not bad for my first time?

I spent some time in Starbucks again (what can I say I'm an internet junkie, plus I didn't feel like sitting in the campsite bathroom to charge my phone), and then took to the beach to work on my second book of the trip!  I read so much this trip I'm going to miss having all the time to sit and read half a book at a time.

For dinner I had to get some lobster, because how can I go all the way to Maine and not have lobster?  I was recommended Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster as the best place to go, and boy was it good!  I definitely pass on the recommendation to anyone who will be near the Freeport area.

Harbor looking out form Harraseekets

Harbor looking out form Harraseekets

While I did a lot and feel like I had a great Maine experience, there are so many things to do that I couldn't get to all of them!  I guess I'll have to make a trip back some day and go kayaking to an island, or see a lighthouse up close (I saw Egg Rock Lighthouse from the shore). It was a great trip to end both summer and my gap year, and encourage everyone to spend a little time along the Maine coastline to recharge and relax.