RV Short Stops
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lobsta - Maine style!

More than 25 years ago my family discovered a wonderful little spot hidden on a quiet inlet in the pretty town of Kittery, in southern Maine. We'd been visiting the beach in Ogunquit for many years and would often drive the local backroads. One day we happened across a small pier in Kittery that led to a dock with a tempting sign: "Chauncey Creek, Lobsters."

Lobster sounded mighty good, so we headed down the wooden gangway onto the floating dock where a few picnic tables were scattered about, overlooking the pine-shaded briney inlet. Lobster traps were piled along the sides, the fragrance from the open kitchen was somewhat like that of a warm aquarium, and the ten or so people at the tables were busy cracking, butter-dipping, and savoring their boiled lobsters. We joined them that day and so began a long-standing annual tradition.

Today, not much has changed... you still have to pretty much know the back road in. There are a few more picnic tables on the dock, each year painted in fresh, bright colors. Most of the dock is open air; a covered shelter holds about 8-10 tables for those summer storms. You bring your own side dishes, desserts, and wine or beer (or the making for whatever drinks you like to enjoy. You can get fries at Chauncey's now, and even tuna sandwiches for those who aren't into lobsters... but personally I ignore all of that.

My mother has always baked a chocolate roll for our desserts there, and we almost always bring along a cucumber and tomato salad, and lots of good, crusty bread. Together, we go into the little room with the live lobster holding tanks, reverentially look them over with awe and wonder (trying to discreetly wipe the drool off our faces), point to the one with our name on it and go back to our table... and wait.

Meanwhile, the lobsters are taken "to the back" and yes, boiled in large pots of Atlantic sea water. A sad fate if you stop to really think about it, but one that I can somehow always manage to "move past" emotionally.

Out come the friendly staff bearing cardboard trays, plastic bibs with a big red lobster picture, the necessary nutcrackers, fork picks, and lots of napkins. Oh and the melted butter. We talk, have a drink and behave in a (mostly) patient and civilized manner for about 15-20 minutes. Then back come the friendly staff, trays piled high with bright red pound-and-a-halfers -- and yes, those are what I consider the perfect personal-sized crustacean of the lobster variety.

Chauncey Creek has never let me down. I know that on this tiny dock in a picturesque Maine village, surrounded by a watery inlet bordered by pines, bobbing trap buoys just off the dock, with the perfume of steaming brine in the air -- and my family around me -- I will lose track of time and worries for a perfectly delicious couple of hours.

I am also happy to report that now three generations of my family make the annual pilgrimage to Chauncey's. And oh... if you want to do as the local do, here "down east Maine"... order a LOBSTA.

For the record, Chauncey's is located 16 Chauncey Creek Road, Kittery Point, Maine. Phone 207-439-1030.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

World's Biggest Egg awaits in Winlock, Washington

Do you enjoy eggs for breakfast? Do you really, really enjoy eggs? Then point your RV toward Winlock, Wash., where you can visit, up close and personal, the world's largest egg. It's on a pedestal way above your head, so you can only look.

You can probably figure this out by yourself, but I will tell you anyway: the egg is fake. It's made of concrete and weighs a bundle -- about 1,200 pounds, which means don't stand beneath it in case the once-every-100-year earthquake shakes things up.

Until the 1950s, Winlock was America's second largest egg-laying town next to Mentone, Indiana, which today has a big egg of its own and claims it's the biggest one in the world. Who knows? But our vote is for the Winlock egg for the simple reason that how the heck could there ever be a bigger egg?

To see this impressively large orb, exit Interstate 5 at exit 63 (in the south part of the state) and drive just a few minutes west to Winlock. You can't miss the egg. It's "Extra Large!"

And if you happen to be in the area the third week in June, then lucky you! You are just in time to attend the famous Winlock Egg Festival!

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Triple Caramel Crunch- yum, yum!

Triple Caramel Crunch was the flavor of the day when we toured Ben and Jerry's in Waterbury, VT. What a fun tour! There were cow puns galore and a short but humorous "moovie" of how the company got started. We could see the workers and machines processing one of the two flavors of the day. And, of course, got our sample cup.

You can either purchase a regular ticket for the tour at $3/adult or $2/senior or the $20 package which includes tour, tshirt and a coupon for a free pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Kids are slightly less and tours are free for those 12 and under.

Of course there is the gift shop and a place to purchase cones and shakes made from the other flavors. George had Creamy Broulee (delicious) and I had Coffee, Coffee, Buzz, Buzz. When we later visited the flavor graveyard, we found one for Coffee, Coffee. Apparently it has been resurrected!

To read about how to find a job working at Ben and Jerry's and other Vermont attractions, go to "Vermont Possibilities" at the Working on the RV Road Blog.

The tour is lots of fun so if you are in Vermont, be sure to add that to your itinerary. Jaimie

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Friday, August 10, 2007

See carnivore plants on the Oregon coast

A few miles north of Florence, Oregon along U.S. 101, not far from the shores of the Pacific, a daily carnage of death takes place. But you cannot hear the screams.

The victims are insects. The preditors are innocent-looking plants called Darlingtonia, which sounds a whole lot like darling. But hah! For insects that fall in love with these lush green plants, the word darling does not apply. For these plants -- unlike most plants that crave simply soil, water and if they are lucky an occasional shot of Miracle Grow -- are carnivores!

An unsuspecting victim lands or crawls onto a plant's leaf, lured by the sweet nectar on its colorful petal-like appendages, and its welcoming entryway. Once inside, alas, there is no return. The confused creature tries to escape but becomes terribly confused (not hard to do when your brain is smaller than a pinhead) by the many transparent areas of a leaf that appear to be exits. But no, they are not! Eventually, the insect becomes trapped in the plant’s lower tube by sharp downward pointing hairs. The victim then plummets into a pool of liquid at the base of the leaf, where it is digested and absorbed through the plant's thin walls.

If you can stomach being in the proximity of such a life-and-death scene, then point your RV or car to the heavily wooded Darlingtonia Wayside off U.S. 101 where there's a big parking lot, and walk 100 feet to the plants. Afterwards, if you can muster an appetite, there are picnic tables where you can dine and perhaps say a few kind words in memory of the victims just yards away.

Admission for humans is free, but not so for insects.

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