Field trip to Augusta.

It’s not enough to simply live here.  Over the past several weeks my daughter has been indoctrinating us in ALL THINGS MAINE.  Often at dinner, when none of us can get away.  What is the Maine state bird?  The Black-Capped Chickadee.  What is the Maine state insect? The Honeybee. And the largest vegetable export? Po-ta-toes.  Being non-natives, I actually find this knowledge helpful and interesting, if not strictly practical.  Perhaps someday I’ll be invited to a cocktail party where this sort of thing will simply WOW my fellow guests.  ANYWAY. Yesterday was the culmination of this Maine school segment – at least for me.  B/c yesterday I chaperoned my older daughter’s class trip to Augusta.  For those of you with fuzzy recollections, Augusta is the capital of Maine.  It’s where the State House is located, the governor’s mansion (The Blaine House), and more.  My daughter & I were EXCITED!!!  Not only to soak in our new capital, but to have a capital adventure together.

Behold!  The beautiful Maine State House.  The building below is its next-door neighbor.  It looked governmental, so I took its photo too.  [I believe it houses the cafeteria.]

Our group arrived early.  Mostly b/c we live in MAINE where traffic is virtually unknown.  To pass the time, the students were grilled on Maine facts.  YES!  I thought!  TIME FOR ME TO SHINE!!  Until I realized they were only asking the 4th graders.  Not wanting to seem pushy, I kept my mouth shut.  Even though I knew all the answers.  YOU KNOW I DID.  Those 4th graders were thrusting hands in the air, chanting in unison and even singing a song about all sixteen counties.  (I did not know that one and will now have to practice.)  Before we knew it, the time had flown and our tour guide had arrived!

But WAIT!  That’s no tour guide — that’s

Governor Baldacci ~!!

Who delighted each & every one of us with a PERSONAL VISIT!

[Insert Loud Applause]

After all, Maine’s motto isn’t THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BE for nothing!  Even though our beloved Governor is beyond busy, he took the time to greet us, let us all traipse through his office and – he even shook my hand!! (AND Yes, I did wash it grudgingly this morning.  But only b/c I knew I “had to.”)

PS: Governor Baldacci is so cool and important, he’s even got a RED PHONE.

But the Governor has a job to do – so back to the tour!  Our (real) guide led us upstairs to the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Conveniently located at opposite ends of the enormous hallway.

This is the House of Representatives.  No offense to the Senators – who likely prefer their chamber b/c of its cozy size – but I found the House much more impressive.  It’s HUGE!

And the Representatives allow tour groups to sit in their chairs.  Which we didn’t have time to do b/c of the Governor’s surprise visit, but still it was a nice offer.  Those Representatives are really nice about their stuff.  Remind me to register to vote sometime.

This is the Senate.  At the other end of the hallway.

Like I told you, meh.  They’d tried to curry favor with us by including an electronic welcome message on the board:

But the tour guide kept reminding us not to touch anything.  Senators are really particular about their stuff.  No chair testing.  HANDS OFF!  You’d think these Senators would share the wealth a little bit (seeing as we TAXPAYERS are footing their bills..)  Sheesh.

In the middle of the hallway is the Rotunda, and BOY is it lovely.  You can look straight up several stories to the inside of the capitol dome.

I was also really impressed by the scope of the artwork on display throughout the building.  TONS of exquisite oil portraits, as well as landscapes, and in Governor Baldacci’s quarters, even Norman Rockwell originals!

And then, all too soon, our tour was over. But the fun wasn’t!  We proceeded a short distance across the complex to the Maine State Museum.  A hidden gem of a place, that truly everyone in Maine should visit at least once.

After eating lunch, we broke into smaller groups in order to take in the exhibits.

I kept thinking how much my husband & family would enjoy it.  It really is such a neat place.  They have displays on everything imaginable in Maine’s history.  From the earliest Paleo Indians to the industrial revolution and beyond.  And all the native Maine trades are covered.  Things like Agriculture, Stone Quarrying, Timber, Fishing, Ship Building.

I particularly liked the display of colorful sardine tins.. But was incredibly saddened to hear from my husband last night that the last remaining Maine sardine cannery had recently closed.  A tragic loss for a state where jobs are already incredibly hard to come by.

Many thanks to the Maine State Museum for keeping it alive – at least in spirit.

And when you get a chance to visit Maine – check it out yourself!  You’ll be glad you did.