Back in early July, Chad went on a quick and fun road trip with the guys from Route 2 Media. They saw a bunch of neat stuff, scarfed down some great road food, and generally laughed themselves silly. To be blunt, I was jealous. Even after watching Chad take what looked to be some excellent chili and jam it full of french fries like a nine year old boy, I was craving roadside adventure. It was at that point I decided to make a family decree (which looked a lot like me quietly asking my wife) that we would set off early the next morning to points unknown!
Ok, that was a little dramatic. The points were in fact known, this was a day trip after all. We decided to head off to Old Orchard Beach, Maine for a day of cool cars, killer food, and old fashioned fun. My trusty wife hopped in the passenger seat, the two intrepid companions strapped into the back, and I pointed the most hated-on car in the history of the internet, our wallowing, slow, inefficient, heavy, uninspired, 2004 Pacifica northward!
Why Old Orchard Beach? A couple reasons, actually. It is a neat old school New England beach with a big pier, an amusement park, and lots of great food. My wife was last there when she was about nine years old and I had never been there. I wish there were more to report with respect to the actual ride to the beach but nothing major happened. I cursed out a few idiots who dared drive the posted speed limit, took in a few roadside sights, and debated the merits of setting this junkbox car on fire for fun.
We arrived at the beach and the kids were immediately drawn to the sight of amusement park rides, like I am to a cotton candy machine.
More on the rides in a while. My wife was most concerned about getting at least some time on the beach, so we trudged onto the sand and set up camp. The tide was out and that presented a huge amount of room for everyone to hang out on. The last time I was in Maine, the temps were 10-15 below zero. On this day, it was in the mid-80s. Note the expanse of this place and take a good look at the pier, which we ate our way down. More on that in a minute.
After exactly one hour at the beach, yes, one hour, the intrepid companions were looking to ditch the sand for some food and rides. We dipped our toes into the frigid North Atlantic waves one last time before heading off the change clothes and set to eating our way onto and down the pier. Mission one was to track down the french fries that had been haunting my wife’s mind for the last twenty years. The smell led us here….
As the sign says, these guys have been making fries for 70 years! Their experience showed as we got the large order of fries, some catsup, and settled into a table in the middle of the food stand action. We then descended onto the fries like lunatics.
I am proud to report that they actually exeeded my expectations. These were, without a doubt, the best french fries I have ever had. The kids nearly went into Ultimate Fighting mode while scrapping over them, so we knew that they were into it as much as we were.
Seconds later, our our formerly full container looked like this!
Next up, we decided to head onto the actual pier at Old Orchard Beach to explore what dining options we had there. The first pier at Old Orchard Beach was built in 1898 and it burned down a couple times between then and now. The combo of cooking, fire, hot oil, etc and dried timber meant that there was always a risk of fire and more than a couple times, that risk manifested itself into blazing infernos. Damning the risk, we forged ahead in the name of good food!
Once the kids caught a whiff of hot dogs in the air, it was on like Donkey Kong. Tom whalloped this dog down in no time!
After some hot dogs were knocked back, my wife and I saw a sign beckoning us. The magical sign read “RAW BAR”. We snagged the kids and headed over with thoughts of raw oysters in our heads. The place was hella cool, a little, maybe 30 seat, restaurant that had a full bar and several fish dishes and a full compliment of raw clams and oysters. We did say beer too, right?
The oysters were great. If you’ve never tried them, you should. Yes, it seems like they’d be gross, but they really aren’t. Slap a little horseraddish and sauce on them and blamo! You’ll be in love!
The restaurant provided a great vantage point to gawk down at the beach from.
After escaping the raw bar we headed down the line, following the sounds of great live musci to the restaurant and bar at the very end of the pier. When we got inside the place it was like a Mexican bar landed in Maine!! Cold cervezas for my wife and I and a couple of cokes for the kids. Party on!
After soaking up some sun and a couple of tasty beers, the kids were dead set on hitting the amusement park for some rides. They’d been troopers all day in the car, at the beach, and hanging with us as we chowed down on raw seafood, so we decided to make it happen.
While walking back over to that area we saw a handful of cool cars cruising the beach. If we had the time, we would have camped out and blasted a whole gallery of cars because we saw all this stuff in under 10 minutes, walking along the road!
For whatever reason, I like the looks of police Harley Davidson bikes and this one looked really handsome with this paint scheme and all the chrome polished up!
Once over at the amusement park we like the dudes pick out a couple rides they wanted to hit. Of course they all involved “driving” of some sort, and since this is an old school place, they have old school rides. Check out how BangShifty the little cars are on this one! The engines have a small block Chevy valve cover on top, the little fan from an alternator as a fan for the engine and what appears to be 16-cylinders! I think they cars date from the 1960s as they appear to be loosely based on Corvettes and they’ve got vintage Chevy Super Sport badges on them. Pretty cool stuff!
After a few rides the kids were all up in our business for one last snackola before we hit the road. Since it was hot as blazes, they went for a couple old school standby treats!
On the way back to Massachuetts, the junkpile Pacifica passed one of those hallmark automotive milestones. The tank flipped 100,000 miles.
Our last destination was for dinner, yes, more eating. We stopped on Route 1 in Saugus, Massachusetts to eat at the Prince Spaghetti restaurant, denoted by the famous “leaning tower of pizza”. My grandfather actually had a hand in the construction of this building and the tower itself, so it is a cool little personal landmark. Anyway, it was a few old Italian standbys for dinner and then we completed our cruise home, ending a one day adventure that didn’t include as much cool stuff as Chad’s but it did involve just as many calories!