Friday, October 29, 2010

Maine State Law

As I weeded my way through traffic at the crosswalk at Walmart today I was reminded of something I learned while in Maine. The state has established a strictly adhered to law which states all traffic is to yield to pedestrians in all cross-walks. Rich's son had been stationed for a while in Brunswick and had told his dad about the law but I don't think it really sunk in until we experienced it for ourselves.

The rule for the pedestrian is simple. It's the 3 W's. Wait, Walk, Wave...
Wait: make sure the driver has seen you and understands the law (unless they're new to town, say like from Texas and hasn't read ALL the warning signs). Walk: make your way across the street. Wave: acknowledge the driver who has obeyed the law and has allowed you to walk across the street.

Once we got the hang of it, Rich and I decided we really liked this law. It seemed to establish a mindset of courtesy for all concerned. It made us more aware of our surroundings (not like we weren't, for heaven's sake...we were in the beautiful state of Maine!), made us more conscientious of people walking, and more so when we were the one's walking and people stopped to let us cross.

I realize this sort of law would not be feasible for say, a city the size of Houston, but wouldn't it be nice. Nice to not only understand and acknowledge cross-walks are supposed to be safe places for people to walk, but to have drivers to stop at cross-walks instead of barreling through them (either unaware or don't care) as some do. And finally the wave. A simple gesture that says "hey, I appreciate it."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Flew into Portland, Maine Saturday afternoon. Rented a car and headed north on Highway 1. Ended up in Belfast, a small coastal town between Brunswick & Bar Harbor (were told it's pronounced "bah-hahba"). Stopped at a Lobster Stand in Freeport for lunch. Paid $19.99 for a jumbo, extra-large lobster roll. Guess things are bigger in Texas. Was more comparable to a regular po-boy you could get anywhere in Galveston. Was good though, just a bit pricey.

Stayed Satuday night at the Belfast Manor Inn, with an Atlantic Ocean-view room. These small privately owned inns have a quaint, cozy feel that I don't usually feel at a chain (Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn, Motel 6, etc.). The inn-keeper was wearing a warm pull-over sweater and khaki slacks (not a uniform), leaned forward with his elbows on the counter top to talk about what was in the immediate area as far as grocery/liquor stores or restaurants.

It's chilly here. The low Saturday night was 31 degrees, hence the sweater-wearing inn-keeper. Big shock to my internal thermostat after leaving Houston which boasted a high of 86 yesterday with humidity to match. If it wasn't for this trip, I wouldn't even realize it was fall. Fall in Houston is usually identified by fewer times the yard has to be mowed and not completely drenching in sweat from taking the trash out or feeding the dog.

It's nice to be reminded there are actual places in this country that have true seasons. When I saw pumpkins in yards and fields up here (and there were a lot), they seemed to "fit" in with the back-drop of yellows, oranges and rusts of the turning trees. The majority of Halloween decorations I've seen are tons of scare-crows propped up among a slew of uncarved and carved pumpkins.

Maine to me means lobster. And a lot of it. Saturday evening we drove 7 miles up the road to Searsport to The Anglers Restaurant (recommended by the inn-keeper). Rich went straight for the 1 1/2 lb. boiled lobster. I chose the native Maine fried shrimp which was ear-marked as an "Angler Specialty Choice" on the menu.

Now, I'm a native Houstonian and am no stranger to shrimp. I grew up on eating shrimp. I fry, boil, sautee, grill shrimp every chance I get. What I am used to is Gulf shrimp, which are awesome.

Saturday was my first experience with native Maine shrimp. I ordered the 1/2 lb. size which was $11.99 and came with a salad and a baked potato (salad was actually a true mix of healthy greens, not the typical chopped iceberg). When my platter was place in front of me, I should have counted the number of shrimp before I dug in. I didn't. But if I had to guess, I'd say I had 20-25 shrimp on my plate. Native Maine shrimp are smaller than Gulf shrimp and larger than what we in the South know as popcorn shrimp. These native Maine beauties don't come pre-battered like most orders of popcorn shrimp I've seen in the Houston area. These little jewels were lightly battered and fried to golden perfection. They were tender and had a shrimp "sweetness," if there is such a thing. I was hooked. Turned out the shrimp was much better than the 1 1/2 lb. boiled lobster, which honestly didn't have that much taste. I suggested to Rich a sprinkling of salt to possibly bring out some flavor in the lobster.

I'll comment later on more eating adventures while in Maine but wanted to get this out. It's another deviation from "Texas" Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. I know Maine is not a place people from my part of the country might just happen to drive or drop-in on...however, you never know. I wouldn't have ever probably been able to come to Maine if Rich wasn't attending a conference here. Thank goodness for those conferences. I'm knocking items off my bucket list right and left. Last year I was able to visit Portland, OR and the Pacific NW, the year before I payed my first visit to Washington D.C.

I'm gonna have to start a new bucket list...