Day Two. Lightyears away from Day One. Partly because we learned so much yesterday and partly because Kennebunkport, Maine, is not Worcester, Massachusetts.
This morning we woke up early in Shrewsbury – I experienced Ellie and Jim’s incredible showerhead – and we hit the road at 7:30, the same time Ellie left for work. We headed northeast towards Maine, and as our morning progressed, so did the rain. It was pouring (and freezing) when we pulled into a Target parking lot in New Hampshire to use a bathroom and get some breakfast snacks. Sarah conducted two great pre-interviews over the phone today, speaking with our scholars from the University of Maryland who we’ll be interviewing in person on August 8th, when we enter Maryland on our official 60-day journey.
Despite the rain, we got onto Coastal Route 1 upon entering Maine, driving through several beach towns – I’ve had a fantasy about moving to Maine for a while now, and today pretty much sealed the deal. We got out and ran onto the beach in Ogunquit, but the pounding rain and wind sent us back to the car pretty quick. We drove. We turned sometimes. We were getting tired. We were ready for our day to begin. So we pulled into the Cape Porpoise Kitchen where we had our first interview of the day with Tim, met some locals, got recommendations about where to go, and also had one of the best cookies I’ve ever had: a Buffalo Chip cookie stuffed with chocolate and walnuts and gooey like a fresh brownie.
Taking the recommendations, and eager to get out of the car and experience a specific community, we parked in Kennebunkport, just ten minutes away. We loved the small-town atmosphere, cute shops, and water all around. The rain was even calming down to welcome us. We had a great feeling about Kennebunkport.
We got a purple plastic bag from Poofberry’s toy store to protect the camera from rain. We tried the Chamber of Commerce, but they were too busy to speak with us. We went to BH Provisions, a town landmark that let us shoot in the store and speak with customers. We would actually return later and meet Audrey, a college student our age, who was home for the summer, who was eager to help us and said she’d talk to her mom and give us a call (more on this later).
We went to Maine-Arts and several other stores and spoke with owners and customers along the way. Everyone we met was very friendly, and very enthusiastic about how friendly everyone else was, but once we popped our question (paraphrased: “Can we stay with you?”), everyone said that they couldn’t personally host us, but they had no doubt we’d find someone. We were often directed to go to a certain place to meet people, but no one wanted to invite us themselves.
Once we met Karen in her store Daytrip, our day began to take a turn. Karen is part of an artistic sub-community that clearly stood out from the people we were mostly speaking to. Although she couldn’t invite us to her home (her wedding is in 16 days!), she said she’d contact people via phone and Facebook and try to get us in touch with someone that way. She also recommended two people to visit in town, other storeowners who we might have good luck with. The first of her recommendations we visited was Chris at his store Minka, which features artwork by Chris and jewelry by his wife Michelle. Chris was a little nervous, and then a little taken aback by our ultimate question, but he actually said yes – with the catch the he had to talk to his wife first so he would call us later. In the meantime, he passed us on to his friend Finn.
Finn runs an inn nearby, but wasn’t interested in being filmed – however, his eyes lit up with an exciting idea of his own. He called the Maine Stay Inn, just around the corner, and asked to speak with Johanna, the daughter of Walt, the owner. Once Johanna got on the phone, Finn said, “Johanna, I’m sending two very interesting people over to you now.” And that was that.
Excited, nervous, and with no idea what was going on, we went over to the Maine Stay Inn, where Johanna met us with a beautiful smile. She sat down with us in the dining room, heard our story, and wanted to give us a room. The discussion eventually included her father and mother, and turned out to be a no – obviously a wise business decision for a bed and breakfast. But Walt and Johanna were eager to pass us on to good luck, like everyone else, and recommended we head to the monastery in town.
We were visiting Karen at Daytrip again, to update her on our chain of events, on our way to the monastery, when Chris called me and said he and his wife would love to have us. And so it was that we didn’t make it to the monastery after all. Instead, we drove half an hour to Chris and Michelle’s house in Saco.
We arrived around 7pm, and had a phenomenal night. Michelle made the best pizza we may have ever had, as well as her own unique herbal tea experience for me to enjoy. We took a walk with Chris, Michelle, and their dogs Igby and Sophie, just past sunset, with a gorgeous blue sky, moon, stars peeking out, over to the ocean, the Saco river, onto the wooden marina, and through their neighborhood. It was beautiful, peaceful, and absolutely felt like strangers turning into friends. Later on, Michelle read our Native American medicine cards, a wonderful way to cap a night of positive energy – in our experiences and our conversation. Chris and Michelle were so friendly, so interesting, and so generous. Although we initially planned on sleeping on their couch, they decided to let us stay in the apartment above their garage – giving us plenty of space, privacy, and even a bed. Not just a home, but our own home, if only for a night.
Chris wasn’t the only person to call us back – later in the night, while we were already settled at their house, Audrey from the Kennebunkport HB Provisions gave us a call, offering us two places to stay! There’s a lot of truth in what they say about friendly folks in Maine.