Easter has traditionally been a celebration of church, spring, family and treasure hunting! It was always an opportunity to band together with Terry and his creative mind to challenge our kids with a different Easter Egg hunt each year. Last year... when we were faced with our first Easter without our entire family home (Korea gained one expert hunter that year), we turned the weekend into a Easter Egg hunt for my niece. She and her mom came for Easter and it was the first time Michelle was involved in the "planning" of the traditional hunt. It was a nice change and made it not so hard to deal with the absence of my oldest.
This year... Easter was as nontraditional as I have ever had, and it was a really fun change. This year, we took advantage of the 4 day weekend and hit the road....
If you remember last year... Debbie and I along with each a daughter (who are childhood friends too) took off for our first ever adventure to the United States of America on an Outlet shopping excursion. (Click here and here to enjoy our many experiences while being "abroad" for the first time ever) We took advantage of a boring March Break last year, but this year's March Break was not good timing. Easter and its 4 day weekend were about the only time we could squeeze a shopping trip in! I feel, for me, it was perfect timing...
Because this was our second time doing the cross border shopping trip, we had a better idea of what we wanted to buy, where we wanted to go, and not go. I had Nike Sneakers in mind, maybe some yoga stuff, Lindor chocolates and anything that was a good bargain! Debbie had a similar list, and the girls had specific things to look for too.
Last year, we relied on "Gertie" the GPS to safely get us where we needed to go, but this year we had the luxury of a big screen GPS that we called Big Betty!
She was a blast, and a great help as well! We crossed the border at 8 am Good Friday morning (after a long rainy drive to Michelle's on Thursday night).. and we hit our first USA gas station about an hour later. I stocked up on some "foreign" chocolate bars like Peanut Butter Twix, Peanut Butter Snickers and Hershey's Milk Drops.!
Our first shopping stop was in Freeport where we hit Nike, Coach, Jockey, Maiden Form and Johnny Rocket. We avoided the cutsie gift shops, the ice cream hut and the winter coat stores. We searched for the Lindor store, and the Body Shoppe, as well as a Teacher store... and they were all closed! Very disappointing. But we hit the road and made our way to our Hotel in Portland and we totally unloaded the car to make room for our next shopping trip.
Our favorite shopping tool was ready and waiting for us at the door, I think our hosts knew we were coming.! After we unpacked, reorganized our purchases and had a little rest, we hit the road to go to the Christmas Tree Shoppe.
Now this store really compares to Bargain Harleys meets "Rewards" here in Canada but it was super fun and very cheap. Last year when we went, both Debbie and I were very excited about it but the girls seemed unimpressed and bought very little. But this year, Ashley exclaimed earlier in the day that she was going to take "the Christmas Tree shoppe" way more SERIOUSLY this year. That made us laugh all day long... and we certainly did take it serious!!
This was the back of the car.. after that one store!!!! We headed off to the Maine Mall after this picture was taken and that was Michelle's favourite stop of the day. She had a blast at the Motherhood store, trying on tops, pants and even several sweet little summer dresses. She posed with the pillow that simulates a later pregnancy to see how everything will fit when she was further on. She left that store with cords, jeans, 4 or 5 tops, Pajamas and 3 summer dresses! We browsed the Apple store (see sweet little baby belly on Michelle)
The Body Shoppe was next and then, Debbie and I parked our butts on the old lady couches and rested while the girls did some clothes shopping. We left the mall and piled more bags into the back of the car. We certainly laughed at the amount we bought, but really weren't too worried about the back of the car, until the next morning when we loaded up the car with ALL our belongings... and we still had a day of shopping to go!!
Supper at "On the Border" where we met a totally sincere and funny waitress who was a delight! We all have people we know who have pet names or pet sayings for others. This waitress said the phrase "You got it" so many times in the few conversations we had with her, that we were in fits of giggles the rest of the weekend when we managed to fit "You Got It!!!" into our own conversations!
The next day we left Portland with the car packed to the top with over stuffed luggage, shopping bags and shoes (not in their boxes) and the rains began the minute we left the hotel. Our day in Kittery was wet beyond belief but it didn't dampen our spirits!
Can you see the smiles on the girls faces when I got out at our LAST shopping stop, to readjust the back of the car and "unbox" several pairs of shoes and runners to make more room! When Debbie bought her golf shoes, I interrupted the sale and told the clerk not to give us the box... we had NO ROOM LEFT!!!
This year our time spent at Kittery was very organized and productive.
We knew exactly what we would enjoy and what we didn't need to bother looking at. Last year, we went in almost EVERY store in each pod of stores, but this year we avoided leather stores, kitchen stores, several shoe stores and several dude clothing stores too. Lindt was a productive stop for all of us and I personally left there with at least 5 lbs of Lindors in several amazing flavours!!! The Le Gourmet Chef was a fun store and the girls bulked up on samples while they waited for us to meet them there.. This is my Spork store.... for those of you who envy my Spork!
We hit the road for Bangor and drove the 2 hours in the pouring rain while we chatting about our bargains and then began to mentally tally up what our spending totals. We played a couple of car games (you know, "A" my name is Alice, my Hubby's name is Albert, we live in.....well, you know, you get it) and I think there was even a cat nap or two. Bangor welcomed us by not raining, at least long enough for us to unload our entire car into our room, which sadly took more than one trip, and we even had a trolley to use :(
We reorganized our bags, and we each took a corner of the room to pile our belongings and gather receipts. Shoes were a fun purchase for everyone, and I must say, I had two experts help me in my shoe shopping and I ended up with 5 pairs of shoes/sneakers/hikers and of course the practical "Uglies".
They were the most hideous waterproof sneakers you can imagine, but also the best bargain and the biggest necessity for me. a $90 pair of Sorel sneakers, and I got them for $12 and they kept my feet dry and even my pants dry. Well worth the $12, even though I felt I had to apologize to anyone who saw me in them... for how ugly they were. (you can see them in the middle of all the shoes, denim with the big white rubber bumper soles). Interestingly enough though, they sort of grew on all of us, and Michelle ended up claiming that she would get lots of use out of them for the wet walks she would take with all her students....
Our Math whizzes whipped out their iPhone calculators and started tallying our receipts and it got rather funny for a while. The news wasn't good for Debbie and I but suddenly our underwear receipts got flushed down the toilet, and our lovely daughters took on some of our purchases and all was right with the world.
Last year I promised to bring back some cool USA "Smokes" for Terry since they were so cheap. But I was rather greedy last year and didn't buy him not a ONE pack! This year, I totally promised to bring him back tons and tons of cigs! Sadly, not only did I run out of room on my "total" allotment of USA purchases, I also ran out of money, and energy to go get some.
But after some colorful receipt juggling, we found room in our total limits to buy him a couple of packs and to buy Ashley's Bryan some "cool" USA beer. So off we went to the biggest WALMART I have ever seen and went to liquor section first and chose a dozen beer purely by what the labels looked like, and off we went to check out #23 that is the only checkout to sell smokes. While waiting in the line up... I was excited to read a sign posted that said that anyone appearing to be under 45 years old would be asked to show ID. I was hopeful that my face washing and my night creme routine would prove to be working, and she would ask for my Identification.. proving that was indeed over 45. Well, I think I flustered her by asking for "menthol" cigarettes.... something "fun" looking. She sort of gave me the stink eye and waved her arm at all my choices. Geesh... I ended up picking 3 different brands and brought terry home a total of 80 smokes... its all we could afford!! She totally forgot to ask for my ID.
Early the next morning, we hit the road before 8:30 and was crossing the USA border by 10:30. The very nice customs lady asked if we had any cigarettes or liquor to claim, we proudly stated we had 12 beer and 80 cigs... and she raised her eyebrows at us and said "is that all?". We laughed and told her our total purchases and she asked a very knowing question "did any one individual go over the $400 limit?"... and then she smiled.... barely waiting for our answer before she told us to have a nice day... and let us drive off without a second glance!
The rest of the day went by pleasantly as we sailed across mountains and fields (according to our GPS Betty because she couldn't find the new highway in her data banks) and arrived at my sisters for a quick Easter Brunch with all her family and then we said good bye to Michelle, picked up Terry (who spent the weekend with Scott doing home improvements) and he drove us the rest of the way home! We are already planning our next trip and the new spots we definitely want to try as well as the favourites!
Thank you for reading this whole thing, if you made it this far.. Sorry, it is so long, but we found it very helpful to read last years blogs about this trip because we forgot a few of the highlights. This is almost a shopping reference for us next year too!!!!