Many trips to our flagship store in Freeport, Maine, are peppered with adventure, though some trips are more eventful than others — especially when you factor in the weather.
A few years back, Arthur Perry, a lifelong L.L.Bean customer from Philadelphia, shared his most memorable L.L.Bean adventure story with us. And now, we’d like to share it with you.
Growing up, we spent our summers on Bustins Island. So going to L.L. Bean was a common occurrence. On my 13th birthday, my aunt, uncle and cousins were visiting the island for the first time. When she heard that Bean’s in Freeport was open 24 hours, she insisted on going at 10pm. We all thought that would be fun idea and a great way to introduce my extended family to the home of the Bean Boot.
For those not familiar with Bustins Island, it’s a small island 1 1/2 miles off the coast of Freeport, Maine. There are two ways most islanders travel to and from Bustins: by a scheduled ferry or by personal powerboat. We used the latter. So we rallied the troops and boarded our two motorboats, Harry II, a 10′ Starcraft and Nell, a 8′ skiff we rescued in a storm, and casted off for some late-night shopping.
Our initial crossing was uneventful. We arrived at the mainland and headed into town. My aunt was thrilled. We shopped and explored all our favorite departments. I looked around in the camping and canoe departments. The rest of crew were spread all over the store. After we all stocked up on Chamois shirts, Swiss army knives and other camping related loot, we headed back to the boats. When we reached the boats, the weather had changed radically. It was raining hard and very windy with the sound of thunder off in the distance. Also the tide was going out, so we had to cross now or wait until morning for the water to return. We chose to make the crossing. My dad was at the helm of Harry II and I was piloting Nell. My dad was leading us through back to Bustins through a very tricky route making sure not to come too close to hidden ledges and under water boulders made even more dangerous with the low tide.
As we were making our way, the weather worsened. The rain came down harder and the wind began to stir up the ocean like a writhing beast. Being 13 and new to running a boat on my own, I was scared that I would hit a rock and damage the outboard motor or capsize or get hit by lightning. But I kept going, spurred on by the encouragement of my cousins and my desire to complete this most challenging and dangerous adventure. We finally cleared the minefield of underwater obstacles, but now we had to try to avoid a sandbar covered in mussels that appears at low tide, plus the waves and lightning.
I trained my eyes on the stern of my dad’s boat, correcting my course whenever my dad did to ensure I didn’t run aground. A wave of relief swept over me when we passed the last of the sandbar and both skiffs pulled into our cove to tie off. After I finished stowing all my boat’s gear and securing the stern line, my dad gave me a tight hug and said “I am so proud of you and how you handled yourself”. I was so chuffed at what I had accomplished and thought to myself what a way to spend my 13th birthday.
Have you made memorable trips to our Freeport store through the years? What would you have done in Arthur’s shoes? Just as Arthur did, you can Share Your Story with us. We’d love to hear from you.