For the second year in a row I was lucky enough to be able to make a brief costal switch in October. It’s somewhat of a pilgrimage to restore my sanity and re-charge the batteries if you will. Living in a season-less, sun filled “utopia” can be creatively draining, especially when Fall is your favorite time of year. So I once again laid plans to return to the east coast, only this time I had a list of specific shops to visit in order to spread the word about Nice Life’s new and improved product. In addition to that I would visit a few places I vaguely remembered from my childhood and view them in a whole new light. It’s funny just how much of a difference a few years makes. If you’d told me 4 years ago that I was not only going to make a point to drive up to the L.L. Bean Flagship store in Freeport, ME but be excited to share it with two friends who’d never been to Maine, I would have probably taken offense, as I would have assumed you we’re poking fun at my rural upbringing. Oh what a difference a few years makes.
After waking up bright and early at our lux accomodations in the South Seaport area of Boston, we piled into the Charger(American cars are BACK!) and headed north on I-95.
The we that I speak of consists of skateboard wiz and Nice Life family member David Abarta, as well as the newly funemployed Paola Teran. It was Dave’s third time making an East Coast journey with me but Paola’s first. Dave and I had lucked out on weather the previous two years(a rarity) so we blamed the steady rain and thick fog on Paola. After all, the east coast sometimes likes to welcome newcomers by showing her true colors. The drive up to Freeport was a re-education in New England freeway driving habits(the gas is the skinny pedal on the right) and re-introduction to how bad the radio is (I forgot an AUX cord). An easy two and a half hours after leaving Boston we found ourselves rolling past a multitude of outlets in old buildings, oh Freeport how you haven’t changed.
We chose to enter the store through the hunting and fishing section as that’s how L.L. Bean got it’s start. Leon Leonwood sure as shit wasn’t planning on making backpacks that last over a decade or outfitting the real house wives of Kennebunkport but hey, times change. Thankfully for all the “other” stuff L.L. Bean makes, they’re still committed to offering all the right things to the customer base that allowed them to grow into the company that they are today.
After thoroughly inspecting the hunting/fishing section we moved onto the general retail side of the store. Dave’s first comment was “holy shit, there’s more?” which was followed by “holy shit, there’s still more?!”. I laughed but to be honest, even I was surprised. The last time I’d been at the store I was probably 10 years old and at that point everything seems huge. I had no memory of the indoor trout pond, the fish tank, the cafe, the four levels of fun that make up the flagship store. This is why I had wanted to come, I felt a true sense of gratification. I’d wanted to come to the store to see something I remembered being awesome through a new pair of eyes and I hadn’t been disappointed. It was only upon arriving home in Vermont four days later that I felt any sense of failure to have the best time possible. My mom(a Maine summer resident for many years) told me what we did was all well and good but that if we really wanted to do it right, we had to go at two in the morning, because L.L. Bean is after all open 24 hours a day. Next year mom, next year.
After wrapping up at the store we grabbed lunch at the neighboring Jameson Tavern(try the locally brewed Jameson Ale) and headed back to Boston for a quiet night in as we had to drive to Burlington the following day. The sun broke through the clouds somewhere around Portland and our solar powered Californian spirits came back to life. We hit the town, after all there was a Bruins game on and Jerry Remy’s sports bar was right across the street from our accommodations. Say what you will about rowdy Boston sports fans(and I’m sure you have a-lot to say) but they know how to have a good time. We did manage to call it quits at a reasonable enough hour that there was still time for a few rounds of Apples to Apples when we returned to our friends’ place. When all was said and done we bedded down with the satisfaction of knowing only a little over 24 hours had passed since we’d arrived in New England, the best was yet to come.