I like to take the opportunity when I can to get out and away from home with the family. It’s nice to get out of the house (even if it’s only a short 15 miles away), to have someone else clean up after us and prepare our meals, and to swim in a pool and soak in a hot tub.
I’ve been tentatively planning another getaway, this time in Freeport. We really only go up there to shop at L.L. Bean. However, after a little research I discovered that Freeport offered a variety of good activities and places to go. I discovered there was a chocolate factory and shop that offered Saturday morning tours. Win! I checked hotel rates for Comfort Suites (with a pool of course) which seemed reasonable. I learned that Freeport also had a performance venue called the Theater of Awesome. I saw on the calendar of events that the Squid Jiggers, a Maine-based folk duo, were going to perform Irish songs on Saturday night as a tribute to St. Patrick’s Day (which was the following Monday). I’d never heard of them, but they looked very entertaining, and this performance was going to be a live recording for their upcoming album. Knowing Hayley really likes Irish music, and seeing that there were only four tickets left, I quickly bought the last ones. I then reserved a room at Comfort Suites, and told the girls we were going on a little weekend getaway to Freeport.
I planned on taking the three girls to Freeport myself, as Brent had plans to go snowboarding all day. Skye wasn’t interested in going, though, and claimed to have a lot of homework to do. She prefers to sleep in her own bed and wasn’t thrilled about the idea of staying at a hotel, nor was she very excited about the chocolate factory or listening to Irish songs played and sung by folk singers. Jenna and Hayley, on the other hand, were ecstatic. Tanner, our neighbor and good friend of Hayley happened to be staying the night Friday night at our house. I thought she might enjoy coming along, and the two girls would enjoy having her come as well. When I invited her, she was thrilled (as were the other two girls), and she got permission from her parents to take the adventure with us. So we set out on our 30-mile drive to Freeport Saturday mid-morning.
We arrived in Freeport just before the tours were scheduled to start at Wilbur’s of Maine chocolate factory. The shop was brimming with various attractive and delicious-looking chocolates and other confections. There were several samples; I especially enjoyed the “Maine Mud” fudge sauce. We didn’t browse too long before one of the staff called together everyone interested in a tour. She gave us the history of Wilbur’s (the name of a moose), and we learned that they started out selling chocolate and candies made by other companies. They now make over 90% of their confections in the factory. Our tour guide constantly gave us samples of the many different chocolate treats they make. They ranged from chocolate-covered blueberries, apples and pretzels to chocolate creams and gummies.
After hearing the history, and learning about the machines and chocolate/candy-making process, we put on hairnets and walked into the factory area where we had the opportunity to each make chocolate-covered Oreos. The Oreos took a journey through several chocolate showers along a conveyor belt. Once the tops and bottoms were covered, those who wanted sprinkles poured them on while the chocolate was still wet. While they continued their journey along the conveyor belt for several minutes so the chocolate would dry and harden, we were brought into a chilly room where the chocolate balls went into a tumbler which transformed them from dull and rough into shiny and smooth; similar to a rock tumbler. After our tour and a plethora of chocolate samples, the girls each picked out chocolates in the shop to bring home. They were exquisite! I have a weakness for high-quality dark chocolate.
We then headed over to the hotel to see if we could check in early. The desk clerk gave me the room keys; I went back out to the car and told the girls “I’m sorry, I was mistaken. This hotel doesn’t have a pool.” The shocked and disappointed looks on their faces was priceless! After I told them I was just kidding, Tanner said “That was NOT a funny joke!” :-) The girls loved the room, and Jenna was especially enthusiastic about the the couch in the “living area.” The girls undressed and put on their swimsuits in record time. They had a great time in the pool, and I went in for a short time. I don’t care very much for swimming myself, mostly because I find the water too cold.
After the girls showered and watched the last half of a movie on the television, we left to find somewhere to eat for dinner. Tanner especially was craving pizza, and we found an Italian restaurant called Antonia’s Pizzeria. I ordered a Greek salad (my favorite) and a pita & olive oil appetizer. The three girls ordered personal pizzas. It was pretty good.
The girls got in some more swim time after dinner, and we then go ready to go back out to see the Squid Jiggers perform. The Theater of Awesome was a small theater with a lot of character. The Squid Jiggers was composed of two funny, lively, and talented men, Dave and Troy. They had a great stage presence, strong singing voices, and between the two of them played several instruments including guitars, a bass, tin whistle/flute, harmonica, and bodhran (Irish frame drum). I love how they constantly involved the audience in their songs. The audience was also a very lively bunch, particularly an older lady who seemed to be a big fan of the Squid Jiggers and had clearly had a few drinks. I got the girls some Maine blueberry and some orange soda pop. Hayley then then went back to the concession stand and bought some popcorn. Dave and Troy were delightful, and I could see the girls really getting into the music, singing and clapping along. The Squid Jiggers composed most of their songs, but the ended with the Irish Rovers’ “Drunken Sailor”–a favorite of Hayley’s.
We had each put our names into a drawing for a Squid Jiggers t-shirt, and the winner was announced at intermission. When Dave pulled the winner’s name out of the bowl, it turned out to be Tanner! She was very excited. I noticed Hayley was a little disappointed, because she really likes Irish songs and wanted a Squid Jiggers t-shirt. So I bought her one. She and Tanner picked out identical shirts–the same color blue. I was able to track down Dave after the performance. I complimented him on his performance and asked if he’d pose for a picture with the girls. Jenna, unsurprisingly, didn’t want to be in the picture. Dave stood between Hayley and Tanner with his arms around them while they held up their t-shirts. Another audience member thought it was such a great picture, she asked them if they’d stay posed so she could also get a photo. I’m so glad we went!
The hotel provided a complimentary breakfast, so we went down to the lobby as soon as we were all up the next morning. I wasn’t great, although I wasn’t expecting it to be. We planned on getting in one last swim before heading home, so we quickly changed into our suits and headed back down to the pool once again. This time I actually immersed myself entirely in the water and swam. It was really nice and fun to hang out and play with the girls in the water. We paid another visit to Wilbur’s of Maine to buy some chocolates to bring home to Brent, Skye, and Tanner’s parents. It was great trip! Although I wish Skye would have come, I really enjoyed my time with Jenna and Hayley, and it was fun to have Tanner with us as well. I look forward to more excursions in the future!