Thu 27 Jun - Portland, ME

Retail therapy (hiking and traveling style). Today we are off to L.L. Bean's flagship store in Freeport, ME. This means not a big photo day, well, how many photos can you really take of a shop and stuff you bought.

For those who don't know L.L. Bean is a long established outdoor gear retailer, set up in 1912 as a mail order catalogue business by Leon Leonwood Bean. Mr Bean patented a waterproof hunting shoe known as the Bean Boot. The bottom half was rubber (ie: the foot part of a gumboot) then stitched to leather uppers. He always had a 100% guarantee policy, which must have kept his early customers happy because a design flaw on the original boot meant 90% were returned! He fixed the design and replaced the boots and kept the customers.

Today, L.L. Bean's founding store in Freeport (about 20 minutes from Portland) gets 3 million visitors a year and was a veritable playground for us! We spent more than 3 hours there. The store was fabulous.

Part of this shopping trip was getting some belated birthday presents for Hans and he did well - we both could have spent thousands of dollars in this store but we restrained ourselves (a little).

Here is the obligatory self portrait outside the main entrance that was furnished with a statue of the Bean Boot.

L.L. Bean's main store is spread over multiple levels and mezzanine floors and is a delight. We entered through the hunting, fishing and archery section. They had an archery range and this replica of a trout stream - with lots of real trout.

Now the fun part of this was intended for kids but we wedged ourselves under the "aquarium hood" to get a close up look at the fish. Hans took a turn - and yes, it took a bit of bending to get him back out.

An underwater photo of the large brown trout. Now what we need is a net and Di's uncle Holger to smoke it for us... Yummy.

Di didn't want to miss out on the experience so here she went under the hood too. There were a few kids who saw us and were therefore waiting to also get in and so she had some spectators to her unladylike exit - she wriggled out sitting on her bum.

Now for the serious stuff - we had seen online that L.L. Bean specialized in "Outerwear", meaning a jacket for every outdoor condition. They advertise that The Weather Channel staff use their jackets. Good enough credentials for us.

Hans and Di both needed better jackets for the weather we expect in Europe. We had read about their 3 in 1 Weather Challenger jacket that was fully waterproof and separated out into 2 jackets. Combine them for snow/winter conditions. Sounded great for us.

Hans had no trouble. They had jackets to fit regular as well as tall - so he got a perfect fit in the color of his choice. All good and perhaps 1/3rd of the cost of what we would have paid in Oz.

Di is rolling her eyes because as usual the same is not true for women! She wanted the same 3 in 1 jacket, but there was a very limited selection of this jacket for women, not one single jacket in her size. We therefore went back to men's section but even then only found 1 in bright red for a small man. Several staff members tried to assist with searches but no luck. We will try another store in Massachusetts for Di's jacket or buy online and ship to friends in London. Waiting...

Hans got some nice birthday presents. Not just a jacket but also 2 great long sleeved lightweight hiking shirts and a new daypack. This is the central stairway from floors 1 to 2 and has another trout pond and is surrounded by canoes suspended from the ceiling. Yes, L.L. Bean sells canoes too (or course).

Di got a nice long sleeved hiking shirt too - after some searching. Again the women's stuff tends to be less practical and more pink.

We did take a break for coffee and explore the store. Every corner seems to have some interesting display. Like these taxidermed animals. A range of New England mammals with our mate the moose.

At the edge of the camping store section they had these huge moose - actual beasts as they were found on a woman's property - their horns locked in battle to the death.

Here is the story behind them being found and preserved here. We did not make it to New Sweden as it is way north towards the Canadian border but considering how much of Maine looks like Old Sweden to Hans we bet it looks similar.

We left L.L. Bean at 1.30pm after a fun few hours and headed back to Portland for a late lunch. We spotted Denny's near our hotel and stopped. It was pretty quiet - not many customers this late - just us and a few seniors. We tried for the 55+ seniors 20% discount for Hans but it turns out it starts at 3pm (to 5pm) but can't complain - we had a substantial meal for a total cost of $17. Pretty cheap.

Hans showed off his new goodies in the room, a backpack, the 3 in 1 jacket and 2 long sleeved lightweight hiking shirts. Not bad for birthday "presents".

The weather is a bit dull so we decide on a quiet afternoon. A bit of coffee and reading fills our time.

We found this sign on the wall of our room next to a fire sprinkler - amusing - it speaks volumes to the clientele they must encounter.

We have to admit that many of our fellow guests don't look so bright at breakfast time but we had been assuming that was lack of coffee... (Several of them needed help with how to operate the waffle maker... Answer; you turn it and it starts cooking until the 2 mins and 30 seconds are gone on the display, then you turn it back, open it and take out your waffle...and instructions are printed on the machine).

We did a bit of washing in the afternoon, but were generally "lazy". Nice.

It is Jeremy's 19th birthday today 28 June Oz time so by 7pm, 9am Sydney time, we Skype with him.

Hip, hip...hooray

Dinner in the room followed and then some TV. Good night.


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