Saturday, February 11, 2006

Long Pond & Mansell Mountain - A November Hike in Acadia, 11/20/05

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving it was sunny and relatively warm with temperatures in the fifties, just perfect for a fall hike in Acadia National Park. Although I set out intending only about an hour's walk along the shore of Long Pond, it was so nice that I couldn't turn back and wound up hiking the complete loop through Great Notch, to the summit of Mansell Mountain, and then finally back to the pumping station at the foot of Long Pond. Time seems to stand still on the trail while in reality it evaporates quickly, which meant that I almost missed breakfast at Jordan's Restaurant in Bar Harbor (a long held Sunday tradition); as it was I made it there by about 1:45pm, just in time to get in before the 2pm closing. Here's a sampling of photos from along the trail; click on each photo for full size view.

Plants & rocks in the November light.

A reminder of impending winter.

The view across Long Pond.

The south shore trail.

The blue paint stripes mark the trail ascending Mansell Mountain.

A nice view from a mountain not known for its views.

A classic Acadia stone stairway.

Looking down toward the pumping station.

Long Pond view from the pumping station.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Nicky's Cruisin' Diner, Bangor, 11/25/05

An airport run to Bangor on the day after Thanksgiving facilitated this find, located just across the street from the Bangor International Airport at 957 Union Street. After braving a bit of black Friday shopping, I was looking for something a little more local than a national chain restaurant, maybe even hoping for some fresh local seafood, even at this time of year. As you can see, from the outside Nicky's Cruisin' Diner looks like nothing special, in fact I've driven by it many times over the years without even a thought of stopping.

The main room you enter looks like a typical diner and you can see the automotive theme reflected in the mural on the wall. At this point, the food was more impressive than the surroundings, with delicious offerings reasonably priced, including some very tasty seafood.

A kind waitress noticed me taking this picture of their wall of license plates and suggested I check out the back room, which it turns out is really the main event here at Nicky's.

From the front you wouldn't even know that there was another dining room, so this was quite a surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at Nicky's Cruisin' Diner and definitely plan to come back. Click on each photo for full size view.

Nicky's Menu:

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Balance Factory Store, Skowhegan, 11/25/05

New Balance Factory

Not far from Waterville, located just a few miles off I-95 between Augusta and Bangor is the picturesque town of Skowhegan, best known for its proximity to the ski mountains of central Maine. A classic old brick industrial building houses the New Balance shoe factory and an old school house immediately adjacent is the site of the New Balance Factory Store at 12 Walnut Street.

Unlike many so-called outlet stores that offer little more than an average discount, this is a true factory outlet. Unless you are really familiar with the company, you'll be amazed as I was to see how many varieties of athletic shoes they make. The factory store stocks virtually all of them, with a huge selection of sizes unlike some outlets that sell just the unpopular sizes. New Balance is also one of the very few companies to offer most of their shoes in wide widths. The prices in the outlet store are amazing too. My NB canvas sneaks had given me many years of good service but were ready to be replaced. These same canvas tennis sneakers which sell retail at $44.99 in Bar Harbor are available in the factory store at $19.99, even less with coupon from the Bangor Daily News.

The outlet ostensibly sells factory seconds, but I could find no flaws in any of the shoes I looked at. And here's another surprise: New Balance also makes Dunham boots and shoes, and the factory store is similarly well stocked with Dunham's product line including some really nice hiking boots, work boots, and leather shoes.

Dunham 4128SB

On a whim I bought the above pair of leather slip-ons which were so reasonably priced I couldn't pass and I'm now pleased to report that these are without question the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned, and I like the look of them as well. I spent the better part of the afternoon browsing here, and as you can see in the photo below it was starting to get dark by the time I finally made my purchase. Click on each photo for full size view.

New Balance Factory Store

Coupons for the factory store can usually be found in the Out & About in Downeast Maine guide published by the Ellsworth American; you can also find one in the Experience Maine special advertising section published periodically by the Bangor Daily News. There may be coupons in other tourist publications as well; you can find a complete collection of tourist guides at the Maine State Visitor Information Centers which are located at several locations in Maine including one that is located just north of the Kittery exit on the Maine Turnpike.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Christmas Shopping in Freeport, 11/25/05

Shopping the outlets of Freeport might not be the sanest thing to do on the biggest shopping day of the year, but by early evening the town had almost entirely cleared out. A few stores are open 'till 9pm and after that L.L. Bean is the only game in town, open 24 hours, 365 days per year. As you can see in the photos that follow, I pretty much had the town to myself for some leisurely and most enjoyable gift shopping. Click on each photo for full size view.

The L.L. Bean Hunting & Fishing Store

The stairway from Main Street down to the lower parking.

A fun shop near the L.L. Bean Factory Store.

The view along Bow Street.

The other side of Bow Street.

Main Street across from L.L. Bean.

Visions of nalgene water bottles danced in their heads.

Kayak city at L.L. Bean.

One more view of the store that knows the outdoors.