Sunday, 19 August 2012

Old Orchard Beach or Baby Boomer Beer Bellies on the Beach

Old Orchard Beach. A small area in the state of Maine, next to Portland, that from my observation after going there, is actually owned by Quebec. There are more Quebeckers there than there are Americans. That area is a vacation hot spot for Quebeckers, and I was there during the construction holiday. I felt right at home. (Oh god...)

Now, what the fuck is construction holiday you ask? Well, it's pretty simple. 90% of the province of Quebec in under construction all year round with people trying to fix our decrepit roads, crumbling bridges and collapsing tunnels. But, construction workers want to take vacations too! They can't work all the time talking together next to potholes all day and stand between a few orange cones on the highway blocking three lanes in rush hour all year round! So in an effort to minimize efficiency and the impact it would have for them to leave on finishing a project after deadline and over budget, the government had the brilliant fucking idea to send them all on vacation together all at once during a couple of weeks to make sure no work gets done and take big metropolitan cities' population hostage for a couple of weeks. That's what construction holiday is. Over time, the people got smart and decided to all take their vacation during that same period to escape the city before every construction site closes down. So you end up with massive traffic clogs on every road out of Montreal at the beginning and at the end of that period when people leave and come back. Anyway, enough ranting about Quebec's gross ineptitude to manage itself. On with my holiday.

So, I went to Old Orchard Beach with my folks because I desperately needed a change of scenery. It sure helped me bring my mood back up after being so bummed out for so long. We called just a week before the construction holiday and we were lucky enough to reserve a motel room right on the dates we wanted and just a few steps from the beach. My family went there a few years back and they had loved it! So how lucky were we! The place is called Patra's Grand Beach Motel. It's a quaint little motel that offers great rooms at fairly competitive prices compared to other places around and especially with such close proximity to the beach. The rooms come complete with either 1 or 2 beds, cable TV, A/C, fridge, microwave and full bathroom.

This is the view from our motel room door. 
That's how close we were to the beach.

The trip there was long, approximately 6 hours, but it didn't seem as much because the scenery was beautiful. America really is a beautiful country. We made our first pit stop a while after crossing the border somewhere in the hills in New Hampshire. (LIVE FREE OR DIE!) As luck would have it, we stopped at the famous place of the famous Betty and Barney Hill abduction. And I don't mean a kidnapping, but a close encounter of the third kind with friggin' aliens!

We come in peeaacee! Also, can we borrow the keys to the washrooms?
I've been holding it in since we passed Zeta Reticuli and I'm about ready to burst.

There was a board where people could write their own experience with aliens. Sadly, it was mostly filled with garbage and words from old fans of the X-Files.

Apparently, Devon has the clapp?

After several more hours driving through beautiful New Hampshire and Maine on country roads that took us across quaint little villages with amazing houses and beautiful trees, we finally got to our destination. By then, we we all starving. We went to our motel, unpacked the car and headed straight to Venetia's restaurant for some lobster rolls (read lobster hot dog. Grilled hot dog bun, lobster mean, tartar sauce. That's it) and some amazing fried clams. I ordered fried clams and man were they good. You can tell they were fresh from the sea. Absolutely delicious. I accompanied those tasty bits with a cold Samuel Adams' special summer ale which was a nice refreshing wheat beer with a hint of lemon. It was a match made in heaven. The tasty batter with a hint of pepper surrounding the clam's taste of the sea really brought out all the flavours of that beer. Truly a great combination.

Fried clams, fries, cole slaw and tartar sauce.

After we stuffed ourselves we completed the unpacking at the motel and went for a walk downtown to where the action is. There's a big carnival that is set up with all sorts of games, rides and carny foods. It's a lot of fun. A lot of kids brought their girlfriend/boyfriend there and went on rides and tried to win stuffed animals at skeeball or by popping balloons with darts. Such a typical cute thing to do.




The first thing we did is go up on the pier and looked at the different little kiosks selling cheap jewellery, sunglasses, baseball caps, spray painted t-shirts, etc. Typical tourist trap stuff. However, at the end of the pier we had an outstanding view of the carnival.



My mother really wanted to go on the ferris wheel and get a nice view of the beach and the carnival, but my dad being afraid of heights, I had to go with her. The view up there was great. It was a beautiful clear night and the moon was almost full. We got a clear view of all of Old Orchard Beach and the pier.





After that we were tired from the trip so we called it a night.

The next day was just as beautiful. The sky was clear, the sun was bright, but Gawd Damn it was cold! We took our chairs, put on our bathing suits and flip flops took some blankets and walked down to the sand. The wind was strong and blew cold air at us all day long. It was such a shame. The sea was right there, waves crashing, calling us, asking us to come over and let ourselves be gently rocked by the currents of the ocan as we stood there, nipples erect, nuts retracted and filled with bitter disappointment as we heard the rush of the cold ocean winds as if it was telling us that we looked like a bunch of poor suckers.

Not as hot as it looks. But, it's still such a wonderful view.


So we opened up our beach chairs, sat down and made the best of it. We just listened to the crashing waves, looked at the beautiful ocean and relaxed. I spent most of my time walking on the beach, hoping to find a local hottie to hang out with, but to no avail. One direction was completely empty, the other, as you get closer to the pier, was cramped with people. All Quebeckers. Thounsands of baby boomers and their family crammed into every inch of sand. And the guts. My God almighty! Baby boomer beer bellies on the beach! (Try repeating that as fast as you can 10 times!)


What an ungodly sight. Their daughters on the other hand....

Anyway, after spending so much time on the beach on such a cold summer day, we all felt like a bunch of fishsticks cooked at too high a temperature in the oven. Burnt outside and frozen inside. So we packed our beach supplies, got dressed up and decided to go sightseeing in Kennebunkport instead.

Kennebunkport is a quaint little port town known for being the place where the Bush family have their summer home. Yes, the former presidents Bush. The town is such a nice little place and the people are super friendly. It was late in the afternoon and we felt a bit peckish so we stopped at a local clam shack. It just turned out to be a main attraction for having some of the best food around. We ordered ourselves a clam chowder with some crab cakes. I swear, this clam chowder was so good! I could've died right there and I would've died happy. It was the tastiest chowder I ever had. All I've had for chowder for years were those poor excuse of a soup that is Campbell's Chunky Clam Chowder in a can. This was completely different. It's on a whole other plain of existence of clam chowder goodness.




To top it off, this kid had a freshly squeezed lemonade stand. The boy made the lemonade by hand, squeezing lemons in a citrus squeezer with water, ice and sugar. The most refreshing drink on a nice summer day. This wasn't such a bad day after all.

We walked around for a few more hours, visiting the local shops, checking out the treasures and trinkets and artwork. And looked  around at the neighbourhood and the architecture. We noticed that almost all the buildings were on piles. The tide was really low though, but throughout the afternoon, it quickly rose again.






And then we went into a candy shop that sold fresh homemade salt water toffee! All sorts of different flavours! I bought like, a whole pound!

All the colours of the rainbow!

Close to dinner time we weren't really hungry. So we went to a bar for a drink and had a locally brewed beer. These guys down in New England really know how to brew some tasty beer, I tell you! I wasn't disappointed a single time. We went to a restaurant called Federal Jacks of the Kennebunkport Brewing Company right next to the docks and each got a different beer. Being a purist, I went for a real authentic beer. A cask Taint Town Pale Ale. That my friends is how they used to make real beer in the good old days. The beer is kept in a wooden cask in a cold chamber and it naturally becomes carbonized. Classy! And oh so good! My dad got the regular Taint Town Pale Ale and my mother got the Goat Island Light ale. And boy was it light. Look at it. It's almost water. And it didn't have a lot of flavour either. That's too bad. Sorry ma!


That's what a true, old fashioned ale looks like.

We had a nice little relaxing time on the patio, watching the tide slowly rise in the little marina. When the beer was gone, it was time to go have dinner. We had a reservation at a restaurant called Mabel's Lobster Claw restaurant. The place was mentioned on a sign in town as being featured in a book called 1000 things to do before you die. So we called them up to get a spot for dinner. And there we went.

The place is a quaint little house with pictures and newspaper articles framed all over the walls. There are quite a few celebrities that ate there. We sat down and our waiter got right to us with the menu. The first items off the list were the most tempting. Stuffed lobsters. They sounded pretty good, so we each ordered one with a bottle of white wine. The waiter pointed out that the one my dad and I had ordered, the lobster savannah, was leading a poll in Mens's Health magazine for being America's manliest meal. We both looked at each other with big smiles thinking "BRING IT ON!" In the meantime we got served some blueberry cake bread with butter. A lot of those seafood places serve either some form of blueberry cornbread or some sweet blueberry bread-type snack with their dinner. That's pretty odd. Then again, I'm a poutine eating, maple syrup sucking French Canadian, so what do I know about American cuisine?

The wait was long, but we didn't mind. On our table were these paper covers with instructions for properly taking apart a lobster and get to all the flesh. Basically, you rip the big claws off its body and you crack them open with a nut cracker. Then, you bend the lobster backwards and pull the tail off leaving nothing but the upper body. You bend the tail backwards a bit to loosen up the flesh and then you rip off the little fins at the end of the tail. You take your fork and you push the flesh in the tail from the tip where the fins were and push the meat out the other side that was attached to the upper body. You can also take the small legs and crack them open to get the flesh inside, there's good meat in there as well. Leave the upper body alone though, that's just gross organs and shit in there that you don't want to eat. Anyway, we were looking at all the pictures around us and making all sorts of comments when finally our plates arrived...

That was the most epic lobster I've ever seen. A 2 lbs monster. Stuffed with shrimps, scallops, mushrooms and creamy Newburg sauce, topped with provolone and parmesan and roasted peppers and grilled to perfection. We all just stared at our plates in awe and or a moment, a tear rolled down my cheek from the sheer beauty of what I was about to stuff my face into.

Behold! The manliest meal in America!

This was, by far, the best lobster I've ever had. When I was done with it, there was nothing left but an empty carcass. That must've been the tastiest, most satisfyingly filling meal I've ever had in my life. And the great thing about seafood is that you can eat a lot and you won't get this gross heavy feeling you have when you eat a large 40oz steak. Eating this lobster was a big delicious mess and it was definitely worth it. Now I guess I can say that I'm part of one of America's manliest men for eating this meal and can cross that one thing out of a thousand that I gotta to do before I die. After this gigantic meal, we headed back to our motel and went for a long long walk to help digest the amount of food we just had.

The third and final day there was a lot nicer. The weather was a bit warmer and the sun was out for most of the afternoon which allowed me to go for a swim. I finally got to dip myself in the ocean after so many years. It felt great to let the sea rock me back and forth and to dive under the crashing waves and do a bit of body surfing. I just love to throw myself at the foot of a wave like superman and just let it carry me all the way to the shore in a big rush of crashing water. It's one of the best feelings ever. Then in the evening we went for some more lobster at a local restaurant, had a quiet relax evening and prepared for our return home the next morning.

And thus ended my magnificent week at the beach of the baby boomer beer bellies in the kitchy area of Old Orchard Beach.

By the way, while I was there I got myself some tasty SWAG! Check it out!

That's my groceries for, like, a MONTH!

That's to pour into the cereal.

And yes, that is cheese in a can that you see in the first picture. Cheese. In. A. Fucking. Can. I've been meaning to try something out ever since I watched Goofy Movie as a kid:

That's the voice of the infamous Pauly Shore.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, at last, after over 15 years I finally get to live one of my dreams.

Sooooo cheeeeesyyyyy! In SO many ways!

Now here I was, not even a week back home after a trip to Old Orchard Beach that I'm already heading south of the border yet again. This time to San Francisco. Ain't that amazing? I didn't even have time to finish this post that I'm already back from San Fran. These articles take a lot of time to write. Anyway, I'm going to write something about my visit to this beautiful city by the bay pretty soon. Just be patient!

UPDATE: By the way, here's a neat little button that should take you to a website that lets you find neato hotels, cabins and other places to stay in do Old Orchard Beach:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephane,

    My name is Jocelyn and I am with Dwellable. I am looking for fun and authentic blogs about Old Orchard Beach and yours happened to catch my eye. If you’re open to it, shoot me an e-mail at jocelyn(at)dwellable(dot)com.

    Hope to hear from you soon!
    - Jocelyn

    ReplyDelete