Where we went, and who was coerced into going:
I couldn’t wait to try out our new, matching Go BIG or Go Home T-shirts, which I purchased in a frenzy of blind gooberness while ordering business cards on Vista Print. It didn’t matter where we went, so long as we could wear the coordinated attire which would brand us fools.
The shirts arrived just in time for our trip to Maine, both to attend a college reunion and to see “Eartha,” the world’s largest rotating and revolving globe in Yarmouth. As an added BIG bonus, we also went to the L.L.Bean flagship store in neighboring Freeport. Outside the store stands a 17-foot boot.
Happily, no coercion was necessary to get the four of us psyched for the trip. Matt got to take the new family roadster, a Mazda CX-9, on the open road for a little zoom, zoom, zoom. The Boy got to miss a day of school. The Girl was very excited to stay in a “soyal.” This is the word she’s decided to use instead of the widely-accepted “hotel.” We don’t know how and where she picked this up, but she’s quite certain that this noun describes a place offering overnight lodging.
Our trip to a “soyal” actually became a nifty bargaining chip the week before the trip, as in “If you don’t let me brush your teeth, we’re not going to the soyal.” She’s three. There’s a lot of negotiation happening in the course of a normal day.
WHY did you go there, exactly?
I attended Bates College in Lewiston, ME, and my 20th reunion gave us the perfect opportunity to visit the “Vacationland” state together as a family. As well as distract me from the unsettling fact that it’s been two freakin’ decades since I was a college-aged student.
Conveniently, Yarmouth is on the way to Lewiston, and is also the home to the DeLorme Map Company. The 41-foot globe sits in the company’s glass-enclosed lobby.
Okay, what was so cool about it?
Eartha is immense, so regardless of your age, your first reaction is “Wow!” To even see the northern hemisphere, you have to take the stairs or elevator to the second and third floor observation balconies.
Open heights are not my favorite, a genetic gift I’ve passed along to The Boy. He plastered himself against the back wall, as far from the glass–paneled railing as possible. The Girl is every bit as fearless as we are jelly-kneed, so I sent Matt after her when she scaled the railing to get a better look. You’ll learn more of this dysfunctional dynamic when I post about our walk across the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge.
Eartha rotates on a giant cantilevered arm underneath, so while you’re standing still, you’ll the see the world pass before your eyes. After dark, the globe is lit up from inside.
The DeLorme gift shop is worth a look, for its extensive selection of travel toys, globes, atlases, maps of countries in all corners of the world, and any souvenir which they can smack a map on — umbrellas, dog toys, even foil-wrapped chocolate balls. Yeah, we gave them some of our money.
I also have to give props to the little Tex-Mex place we found for lunch, less than 2 miles south. Bruce’s Burritos serves up hearty, wholesome, delish burritos, tacos, and quesadillas with your choice of fillings. And The Boy would like me to remind you that Maine is the birthplace of the Whoopie Pie, the delicious cream sandwich book-ended by two saucers of chocolate cake. The flavor selection at Wicked Whoopies in Freeport may make you swoon!
A little background info about the place:
Eartha is a three-dimensional scale model of the earth with mountains and landforms in full 3D, which rotates and revolves to simulate the earth’s real movements. She measures 41.5 ft in diameter, after two years of construction. She was unveiled on July 23, 1998, and earned the title of “World’s Largest Revolving/Rotating Globe” by the editors of the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999.
Eartha tilts at 23.5 degrees, just as the earth does. She revolves on a specially-designed cantilever arm, and rotates on an axis. This action is powered by two electric-powered motors, operated by a computer. At maximum speed, a full revolution and rotation will take just one minute.
BIG Bonus: Just two miles north is Freeport, home to the immense L.L.Bean flagship store. As well as many other outlets which I, sadly, could not explore further because of, well, the whole husband and kids-in-tow thing. There’s a 17-foot tall iconic L.L. Bean duck boot in the outdoor courtyard. It was built for the retailers’ 90th anniversary in 2002. It’s not the largest boot in the world, but it’s worth a stop.
We also caught a pic of the 25-foot tall Native American statue along the way on Route 1, in a restaurant parking lot.
How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):
I wanted to give Eartha a 6, but Matt talked me down to a 5. She a beaut of a globe, but overall, a visit to see her is a one-dimensional experience. Granted, it’s a free attraction, but I would have paid admission had there been some educational, interactive components. (e.g. Read this poster to find out more about Icelandic culture. Push this button and watch Iceland light up on the globe. Let’s go to the craft table, make a replica of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and watch these toy airplanes fall from the sky!)
Hey, if you work for DeLorme and would like to hire me as a consultant, please visit the “Contact Us” page!
Epilogue: My college reunion was really enjoyable. The “feeling old” part was tastily mitigated by the lobster dinner we were served on the first night. Drawn butter soothes many ills. The highlight was the alumni parade, which was lead by a few spry 90-year olds celebrating their 70th reunion. I’ll be happy to make it the 50th! Alumni came from all over to attend this event…one person traveled all the way from Beijing.
Which goes to show, the earth may be large, but size is not an obstacle when you really want to be somewhere special.
Hey you! Go BIG!:
DeLorme Map Company, Two DeLorme Drive, Yarmouth, ME 04096. 800-642-0970
L.L. Bean, 95 Main Street, Freeport, ME 04033. 877-755-2326