You can grow up studying maps and globes, but I don't think it's until you actually live in an area that you understand the land. Southern states are big! Traveling as a child meant being stuck in the backseat with a little brother who was destined to end up on "my side" and make my life miserable, plus being in a car for 5 hours and still being in the same area code you started in. Those maps in school always showed most of the Northern states so small, you figured you could probably make it across them in just a day...well, turns out you can!
The Southern mindset that it takes forever to get somewhere (try driving in Texas y'all) is completely blown if you ever road trip it up here. I got the chance to mark visiting New Hampshire and Maine off my bucket list when my mother had a business conference in Portland. While I'm still not convinced my Garmin wasn't trying to kill me on the two-lane winding roads out in the middle of nowhere, I crossed some of the most scenic and beautiful roadways I've ever traveled on my way to Portland. And the whole trip only took just a little over 4 hours!
That was even with a stop in New Hampshire at a state liquor store, where apparently they don't charge tax. The place was overflowing was shoppers pushing carts filled like it was New Year's Eve!
NH State Motto: Live Free or Die! Um, ok.
Some places in the South are funny about alcohol. Nope, it's not all mint juleps and hurricanes from Pat O'Brien's. When my husband and I met, we lived in a dry county in Arkansas. Meaning, no alcohol was sold there at all. Seriously, I'm not making that up! You had to drive over to the next county to pick up a case of beer or a bottle of wine and our news director would generally frown if we took the news car through the drive though at those places when we were out on a story!
After all those distractions, I finally made it to Portland, and was reunited with my momma! It had been 2.5 months since I had seen her last...I'm pretty sure I heard the soundtrack to An American Tail playing in the background when I finally hugged her! It didn't take long for the Flanigan women to regroup and we were off with some of the other Missouri delegates from the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences Conference to see the sites!
We hit the beach at Kennebunkport and stuck our toes in the freezing cold ocean. I can imagine how packed that place had to be in warmer weather! We got a big kick out of searching for sea shells, you just don't have things like that where we're from. It was like hitting the jackpot when my mom came across an unbroken sand dollar!
The Flanigan Gals: Heather & Phyllis
We even checked out where President G. W. Bush vacations in the summer. We were total paparazzi stalkers photographing his house (there were dozens of other tourists doing it too!) on Walkers Point. I'm petty sure there was probably a Secret Service agent hiding in the grass taking our pictures too. In my news reporting experiences working with the Secret Service, I can assure you they have no sense of humor and are arguably some of the most terrifying government officials I've ever met. There were tons of beautiful homes in the area, but could you imagine being neighbors with the President? Talk about walking in tall cotton!
G.W.'s Summer Crib
You know I couldn't go to Maine without bibbing up and taking a crack at some lobsta'! Growing up land locked, you had to be pretty leery of seafood because sometimes it was just a nasty case of food poisoning waiting to happen. Fortunately, Portland is New England's second largest fishing port so we were in luck. Those lobsters were bigger than some cats I've seen in the South! And finger lickin' good too!
Portland is such a beautiful city! My mom's hotel room looked right over the harbor and it was pretty cool to just stare out the window at the sailboats and cruise ships. I was surprised to learn that Portland was the second largest port of call for cruise ships in Maine. From her window, you could see from Fort Gorges to Spring Point. The view was spectacular! She says that's just the way Extension Agents roll...
View from the Top!
Now thinking I may have to add a couple of other states to the I Heart NY Y'all name...