Friday, September 30, 2016

St. Louis Cardinals' Wild Card Race

The Seagos revealed they were in possession of free Cardinals tickets for tonight and they were down to share. Hurrah.

Not only do I enjoy free things, and enjoy baseball games, but this particular game was "important". The Cards were in the running for a wild card spot.

Long time Cardinals baseball smasher Matt Holliday's future with the Cardinals is looking dim after an injury, and as this was one of the last games of the regular season the team gave him an at-bat. He hit a home run. No big deal. After running around the bases he emotionally gave one of those little cap waves to the cheering stadium. Baseball is so dignified.

I got a Holliday ticket this time.

It started raining in a very light and misty fashion that was just enough to cause officials to delay the game.

We retreated to the Redbird Club for shelter and waited a bit before finally giving up and heading home. The good guys won 7-0 so I felt safe that victory was assured. I really like this area's old-timey tobacco baseball card wallpaper.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Debate Watch Party

Today we went to a presidential debate watch party at Public Media Commons.

First I had to put on my team gear.

It was pretty crowded. We narrowly found a place to put our folding chairs.

It was pretty awesome to watch the debate in public, especially to witness other people's reactions to this ridiculous spectacle. I really hope that Trump is the worst presidential candidate that I live to see.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bull Riding at Ballpark Village

Our friends Wing and Joel invited us to Ballpark Village tonight. I sort of loathe the place because it's so artificial and corporate and I think it's hurting the surrounding small businesses. On the other hand I like to hang out so what can you do?

Our destination was PBR Bar. Everyone always laughs when I tell them how disappointed I was the first time I went, thinking PBR stood for one of my favorite brews Pabst Blue Ribbon when in fact it's Professional Bull Riding. Oh well.

The main attraction of the place is the free mechanical bull you can ride.

One of the bar workers was showing off after our pitiful attempts.

Ballpark Village gives away little promos on the Cardinals' away games. This time it was this sweet snuggie. Joel is a Cubs fan so I think this was a big first step toward his recovery.

I don't really know.

Just another night in the Lou.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Whale Watching Off Bar Harbor, Maine

We started bright and early to head over to Bar Harbor, Maine for a whale watching tour with the imaginatively named Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.

We grabbed our ticket and then killed some time at the few shops that were open this early.

What "Bar Harbor" sounds like in New English.

I kept seeing whoopie pies for sale everywhere so we finally had one. It's pretty much how it looks, like two cake buns with icing in the middle. It is the official state treat of Maine, not to be confused with the official state dessert of Maine, the blueberry pie.

With time officially killed and our stomachs full of icing, we boarded the Atlanticat.

A dutch cruise liner was nearby and there wasn't a dock to accommodate the massive ship so they were ferrying people in on these cool little boats.

Then we headed out into the Gulf of Maine.

There were tons of Sic-Sacs, the trademarked original motion sickness bag, on every table in the ships cabin. I made a game of seeing how many I could stuff into Zoe's purse while she wasn't looking. While this was a whale watching tour, as one of the top Google reviews warns, "The only thing you are guaranteed to see is people throwing up." 

Once the ship was out in whale territory we were on high alert. A few times we saw the whales' blowhole breath shooting high into the air but by the time the boat reached it the whale was gone. I saw a big shimmering fin one time but that was about it. On the way back the captain officially designated the trip a bust which meant we could return for free on another trip. My cousin Brendan is getting married in Maine so I'm hoping we can give it another try then.

The tour company had warned us to bring a hat and gloves. I thought it was funny, it being summer and all, so I brought a giant hat and the thick gloves I bought in Iceland. I was glad I did. Once that boat got going it was crazy cold out there.

One of the ship's marine biologists was walking around with a piece of baleen from a whale's mouth. The whales playing the krill game have these instead of teeth. They get a mouth full of water and then push it out through this hairy structures to strain out the deliciousness. How the largest animal on earth (the blue whale) ended up eating these barely visible shrimp things is pretty hard to understand. Fun krill fact: Wikipedia says in "the Southern Ocean, one species, the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, makes up an estimated biomass of around 379,000,000 tonnes, making it among the species with the largest total biomass."

We passed the Dutch mothership on the way back.

Atlanticat exterior.

On the way back to Portland we stopped at little shack restaurant called Fish Net in a town called Blue Hill for one last lobster roll.

We returned to L. L. Bean to pick up Lydia's newly monogrammed backpack.

We spent the night in Portland and that was the end of the game. Our flight the next morning was crazy early.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Maine: Lobsters, Lighthouses, and L. L. Bean

It was pretty late at night when we arrived in Portland, Maine yesterday so the next morning we took the opportunity to check out the city a bit. It has a pretty cool brick Old Port downtown. It's sort of like a nicer nautical version of St. Louis' Soulard.

Our first order of business was to check out the Holy Donut. Zoe's a good trip member because she does research and finds places like this. Sometimes traveling with other people is like carting grumpy children around and hoping they like what we planned.

This one was maple bacon with a handsome amount of bacon happening. We all agreed that these were better than anything available in St. Louis. Sorry Strange Donuts. Their secret ingredient is Maine potatoes.

Maine does a pretty good job of having a few foods that it does well and telling you about it. One of those things is blueberries. Wild Maine blueberries were advertised along the road and were additives in all sorts of dishes. I really had no choice but to have a blueberry donut.

The other big thing that Maine is crowing about at every opportunity is the lobster. A little restaurant that sells nothing but lobster is referred to as a "lobster pound". We popped into this one but I didn't see anywhere to actually eat. It was more just like a fish market.

My understanding is that they pump in sea water to keep the lobsters ready for their big day.

Yesterday at the jetport I made a solemn vow to the stars that I would make a pilgrimage to see Lenny, the world's only life size chocolate moose. Unfortunately Lenny lives in the opposite direction of everything else we wanted to see today, but only a little. It was totally worth it.

Lenny lives at Len Libby Candy Shop in Scarborough, Maine. He is big and chocolate. He weighs 1,700 pounds. The pond that conveniently saved the artist from having to learn how to do feet is blue tinted white chocolate.

Other than Lenny we got to see an extensive collection of Maine related tchotchkes, none of which we purchased. Onward!

Then we returned to our scheduled programming. Freeport was next, home of the headquarters and flagship store of L. L. Bean.

Lydia told us a sad story about when she was a kid, all the cool kids had monogrammed L. L. Bean backpacks. She humorously bought a Land's End backpack by accident, and has been haunted by her resulting uncoolness ever since. She was determined to finally get cool, and made a beeline for the backpack department.

I'd heard the legend of L. L. Bean's crazy lifetime return policy. Of people returning their dead dog's collar. Buying a tent for a concert then returning it the next day. Of buying old stuff at Goodwill then returning it. L. L. Bean is the heaven of returns so I wanted to take part.

Luckily my mom had an old coat with a hole in it. I was worried that such a storied return line would be a mile long and DMV-ish to punish returners, but it was fine. I asked the lady behind the counter what size she thought it was because I wanted to get the same one for my mom. "We don't make this coat anymore sir", she tersely replied. Lydia and I laughed afterwards. I want to say I got a $36 gift card from this 15+ year old coat with a hole in it. Success!

Well I figured my mom could just pick a new coat out of the catalog. I've learned that buying other people clothes is pretty much a suicide mission, so I figured I would just burn this store credit on something useful. Why not grab a pair of the famous Bean Boots?

They are pretty sweet-leather on top and rubber on bottom. And made in Maine. Grabbed a pair, left Lydia's backpack to be monogrammed, and got outta town.

Little chocolate Bean Boots.

Big non-chocolate Bean Boots. Bean Boots.

While walking around the little shopping areas of Freeport we met a lady with a pug puppy who of course the girls had to talk to. The dog had its own Instagram with more followers than all three of us combined. Stupid popular dogs. Got more friends than me.

Anyway so we continued driving north along the coast to Wiscasset to get away from that snobby baby dog. This was supposed to be the spot to get a lobster roll.

Red's Eats in particular was the spot I read about to get that sammy. Well turns out a lot of other people got that same memo. The line was crazy long and not moving. Sprague's Lobster was across the street with a shorter line and seemed to be selling the same damn thing so we sauntered on over.

Turns out lobster is expensive. We spent like $80 at this little roadside shack on lunch.

The lobster rolls were delicious and surprisingly basic. It was pretty much lobster meat on a roll without much else. It was also served cold which would not be my first choice but whatever.

I got a lobster roll but also just a lobster. They put my order on this clothesline and wheeled it over a few feet to a shack where the lobster boiling was taking place.

I washed down my sea creatures with a Capt'n Eli's Blueberry Pop.

Lydia ordered a roll but got the clam chowder too which was fun to taste. I'm sad to report that I prefer the Campbell's Chunky soup kind.

Zoe the vegan was grossed out by the alien autopsy I was performing on this big red sea bug. I was cracking its body parts and juice was spraying all over. Hey don't be delicious around me and I won't have to rip your arms off. That's the deal.

I assume this means that the snow gets so high here that they can't find the fire hydrants.

I had a vision last night. What if some mad genius combined beer, which I like, with lobster, which I also like? Well I googled it, and turns out that these geniuses do exist, and they work at Oxbow Brewing Company. Again magically it was a bit out of our way but not by much. Why not check it out?

We barely found the place even with GPS. It was sort of like some kids with a tree fort in the woods all grew up and decided to make it into a brewery.

I was impressed by their beer street cred when I spotted this Orval beer sign. First time I tried Orval was in the parking lot of the Orval Abbey in Belgium. Check it out, player.

At a risk of ripping apart the very fabric of the spacetime continuum, here is our taste test of the lobster flavored Saison Dell'Aragosta a few days later at our St. Louis apartment.

Next up was the Pemaquid Point Light which is located in New Harbor, and marks the entrance to Muscongus Bay and Johns Bay.

Pemaquid is the lighthouse featured on the back of the Maine state quarter.

This is the shade I have to put up with on this trip when all I'm trying to do is educate someone on the fun facts found on the backs of state quarters.

The lighthouse itself is so narrow that only a few people can go up at the same time. A volunteer was on hand to give us a nice informative talk while we waited our turn in the base on the building.

I was very impressed by whatever the heck this mirror, magnifying glass, deathray looking thing was.

We popped over to Camden next to see what remained of the 2016 Camden Windjammer Festival.

I read about it but I still don't really get it. I'll just say windjammers are big ships with lots of square sails and leave it at that.

We had a pretty lackluster dinner at the Burning Tree in Otter Creek. 

We finished the day's journey with a couple blueberry beers at the fleabag Belle Isle Motel in Bar Harbor and called it a night.

We pounded out a pretty good chunk of Maine's coast in one day's drive. All of that time in the car gave us plenty of time to work on our Maine puns. We discussed our "Maine objective", our "Mainedatory activities" and I insisted that Lydia address me as her "macho, macho Maine".