Come for the lobstah, stay for the other lobstah

I just finished a short vacation in Dover, New Hampshire.

That’s not a sentence you read often. But that’s where my friend Kathy lives, so Dover it is!

If you’re like everyone else not living within 10 miles of Dover, you have likely never heard of the place. It has an interesting history: it was founded in 1793 by Bostonians who were being persecuted for their beliefs — particularly, their belief that the Red Sox are “wicked retahted.” They fled Boston intending to head south to Dover, Delaware, but they held the map upside down. To this day, their descendants have no idea where they’re going.

Anyway, they confidently walked towards Delaware until they saw a sign reading “Welcome to Maine.” They unanimously decided it was close enough, and Dover NH was born within spitting distance of the Maine state line (maybe two miles — Colonial Bostonians were were potent spitters).

While visiting Kathy is more than enough reason to go to a small NH town, there was another reason: I’m preparing to GTFO out Atlanta. That means a I need to move somewhere else (stop me if this is going too fast). At the moment, I have more friends in New England than anywhere else. Could New England welcome a humble Southerner eager to discover seasons other than “pollen” and “recruiting”? It was time to find out. I think I still owe Kathy gas money.

FRIDAY: Dover to Kennebunkport

I flew into Boston late Thursday and spent the evening catching up with Kathy and her affable golden retriever Jake the Indestructible. By that, I mean I talked to Kathy periodically between throwing tennis balls for Jake. I believe after all the fetching, Jake was in favor of me moving to the area.

On Friday, another friend, Liz, came up from Boston to to help us decimate the lobster (sorry, lobstah) population. I wasn’t exactly nervous about two of my best friends meeting. It’s just that they each have different piles of dirt on me. I could tell if I was out of earshot for more than 30 seconds, I’d return to find them both pointing at me and laughing.

Those fears were unfounded — I didn’t need to step out of earshot at all. (I didn’t tell them that at the time, so no one told me to stop being a “fuhkin’ pussah.”)

Some observations on that first day:

  • Kathy works in a town called Kittery, Maine, which is basically a large outlet mall with a road paved through the middle. This is a powerful magnet for tourists when it’s raining too hard to hit the beach. Which it was while we were there.  People from Vermont can’t merge worth a crap, by the way.
  • I had my first lobstah roll. It’s a hot dog bun with a light coating of mayo, stuffed with lobstah meat. It’s as good as it sounds except 10 times better. The best side dish for a lobstah roll is another lobstah roll.
  • Live lobstah is $5.29 a pound. I believe that’s cheaper than pork. Hell, I think it’s cheaper than green peppers. You can be a vegetarian in Maine, but it’ll be more expensive.
  • Maine is gorgeous.
  • The closer you get to Kennebunkport, the more businesses have a photo with George H. W. Bush posing with the business owner. He isn’t so mobile any more, but during the Clinton years, he obviously spent time running into random stores and smiling until someone grabbed a camera.
  • The key to boiling lobstah is to get a bucket and fill it with sea water. But be damn sure you get a lid for that bucket — a lesson I learned to my cost.

We had a plan. It involved reducing the total lobstah population by eight. Kathy has a friend in Atlanta named Heather who is terribly allergic to shellfish, so we were cutting back on the chances of her encountering something that will harm her. (You’re welcome, Heather!)

We had a bucket. We were at Nubble Lighthouse, famous for being quite near the ocean. It was foolproof.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook probably noticed that I went off the grid about this time.  I was like Arnold Schwarzenegger when he thinks evil government agencies are hunting him.

When we stopped to get lobstah, I sat in the car with the water bucket between my legs. My iPhone was sitting on my lap. I turned to take the lobstah from Kathy when I heard the two sounds no smartphone owner wants to hear:

  • “bloop”
  • Liz laughing her ass off in the back seat

What I said before about putting a lid on your bucket? I fuhkin’ MEANT IT. (Hey, have you noticed I haven’t posted any pictures? No reason.)

I read that you can sometimes fix a wet phone by soaking it in rice. It kind of worked but not really.

BONUS QUESTION: How do you get a grain of rice out of an iPhone charge port? Leave your answer in the comments. Please hurry. The winner gets a lifetime of of karma and a great deal on a slightly used non-buoyant iPhone. No calls, please.

Dinner was as good as you might expect. It was actually better than I expected. There wasn’t any gravy or cornbread in sight, but this Southerner still got it down and looked around for more.

Liz left for Boston, and Kathy and I prepped for:

SATURDAY: L.L. Bean to Portland

You know what Mainers love?  Central heating. But also dogs. Dogs were welcome in almost every store and restaurant we saw. There was a dog carnival at the massive L. L. Bean compound in Freeport. Dogs everywhere. Dog parades, dog competitions, dozens of tents with vendors selling dog products. It was cool if you like dogs.  If you don’t like dogs, this is the wrong state for you. Go back to Indiana, you freak.

The L.L. Bean compound is impressive. It’s a good place to ride out a zombie apocalypse. Especially if you know how to kill zombies with kayak paddles and fleece-lined jackets.

From there, we headed to Portland, Maine’s largest city. (Population: 66,000 — or roughly the population of any three-mile stretch of I-85 South in Atlanta during morning rush). Kathy had signed us up for a lobstah-based walking foodie tour of the city.

You might think a lobstah tour of Portland is similar to a water tour of the Atlantic Ocean. With some justification. But it was really a tour of some of the best places to eat along the waterfront. It was fun and interesting and we got samples everywhere. You won’t get that with a walking tour of even the finest Waffle Houses and Chick-Fil-As anywhere in Georgia.

We were then on our own to wander around and HEY, AN AT&T STORE! With employees who don’t ask a lot of stupid questions! My replacement phone is on its way.

We did a driving tour of seven of the 60 or so lighthouses still dotting the Maine shoreline. Thanks to GPS technology, these charming structures have no practical uses now, but they’re still really cool. Part of me wishes they still served the same purpose, but the more rational part of me realizes it’s good to have more accurate positioning for our ships. Have you noticed we haven’t had any more songs like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a long time? And lines like “as big freighters go, it was bigger than most”? For that alone, we owe GPS technology our thanks. And also it saves lives. And we are free to mock the captain of the Costa Concordia is a way that we don’t mock the captain of the Titanic, although they were both idiots.

Um. My point is the lighthouses were neat.  Go look.

At this point it had actually been more than 2 hours since we’d eaten any lobstah, so back to Portland! Try the Lobstah Mac’n’Cheese!

Two great days in a row. I was sad to be leaving the next day.

SUNDAY: Goodbye, My Friends to Gidda Fuhk Outta Heah, Ya Mook

I didn’t sleep well Saturday night. You know when your brain is churning on something you secretly suspect is dumb but you might as well let it ride and see if it reaches the same conclusion? I had a lot of that.

Was this the right place for me? Would I really be happy here on the days when my favorite people weren’t driving me around? If I did move to New England, would I be better off inserting myself into the lives of my friends and their habits and groups and and all (I know me, and I know I’d be more inclined to join in with the people I already love, even if it short-circuited their own lives, since they’re too nice to tell me to go away) (except for Amanda, who would just punch me)? Should I go someplace completely new, armed only with Shammy and inadequate winter clothing, and start from scratch?

It was thoughts like these that kept me up and drove me to walk around Dover by myself for a long time Sunday morning. Other thoughts included “where the hell am I?” and “how on Earth can I get lost in a town this small?” and “shit, did I just jaywalk in front of a cop?”

No actual conclusions. I reached a kind of truce with my brain until we figure out what’s happening jobwise. I need to become a heavy drinker for times like this.

I eventually got over myself and found Kathy’s apartment, just in time for brunch with a local friend of hers and to pick up a lid for her water bucket. Because Kathy’s grandmother is coming to visit soon and GOD FORBID something splash on HER legs or eat her iPhone!

Our last adventure came in the form of the Museum of Science in Boston, where we met up again with Liz, who had Bob in tow. The Museum is really geared for children, but there was plenty of neat stuff for us jaded adults who think science is a big ol’ fib.

The highlight was probably the Pixar Studios exhibit. Thankfully, none of it was narrated by that volcano in the Lava short from Inside Out. You don’t want to be at a science museum that teaches kids you can overcome plate tectonics with a ukelele and loneliness.

It was all great. A nice place to nerd out alone or with nerd friends. I’d have happily stayed longer, but I had to get back to the airport in time for my flight delays.

Come see Maine, y’all. If I wind up there in the next four months or so, I’ll show you around the lobstah!

NEXT TRIP: Ummmm… well, quite possibly Maine again.  Can anyone recommend a waterproof phone case?

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