Autumn colors
Greetings from the Harraseeket Inn!  As Thanksgiving draws near, it's time to thank our guests for their loyal patronage, and this month a very special thanks goes out to those of you who were staying with us during the rare "bomb cyclone" on October 29-30 that knocked out power to half a million Mainers. Apparently this meteorological phenomenon is also referred to as "bombogenesis" and it occurs when low-pressure systems rapidly intensify, dropping at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.  When two separate storms slam into each other it tends to create a super strong bomb cyclone, and this is what happened. (This is a brief video of the folks up in Camden and Rockland harbors scrambling to secure their boats.) We were warned to expect torrential rains and hurricane force winds, but the inn is on a very special grid, similar to the grids that service hospitals and other critical infrastructure.  Not because we're that critical, but because LLBean's flagship store, along with the police and fire station, are very special, so we don't have power outages all that often and when they do occur, they're almost always remedied within a few hours.  
Looking north on Route 1 from the inn.

The power went out around five thirty am on Monday morning after a very wild night, and we had a lot of guests to serve breakfast to.  We don't have a back-up generator but we do have gas ranges in the kitchen and a very talented and unflappable breakfast chef, Ken Collins, who also works in the Broad Arrow Tavern. He cooked breakfast as if it were any other day, wearing a head lamp so he could see what he was doing. We also have an equally heroic morning crew, who showed up despite the challenges of navigating under and over downed trees and power lines, in high winds and driving rain, to make it to work. They got breakfast out on time and though we couldn't make toast, nobody went hungry and the coffee was hot. Our housekeeping crew was two hours late but they persevered. Every time the road they were on became impassable, they turned around and tried another route. When they finally arrived, they cleaned guest rooms using cell phone flashlights in the bathrooms for illumination and hokeys on the floors.  What a great team of employees we have, they all just rolled up their sleeves and pitched right in. We kept waiting for the power to come back on, but it didn't. A big tree was visible to us, sprawled across Route 1 just north of the inn, tangled in the power lines, and all day long we didn't see a single CMP truck, a pretty good indicator that things were just as bad everywhere.
A typical side street after the storm.

Our phones were dead, the computers were dead, everything that required electricity was dead and because the tavern had no power to operate hood fans, the only source of cooking was the brick oven.  Chef Dave Duda and his crew set up a lunch buffet using food from a cancelled meeting, and pizzas were on tap for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, we were facing a night without electricity because, according to a recording at CMP accessed by cell phone, it could be another day or so before power was restored. In spite of this, guests weren't checking out and high tailing it for home. They were staying put, and our incoming guests had no idea they were checking into an inn without power, because we couldn't contact them. So off to LLBean we went, in search of LED lanterns for guest rooms, public areas, hallways and bathrooms.  We nearly cleaned out their lantern section (thank goodness for LLBean) and also used the battery operated Halloween candles in the gift shop, which lent a ghoulish ambiance to the front desk.  Votive candles flickered romantically on all the tavern tables, but it was starting to get dark.  Really dark.
Ken in Tavern
Breakfast chef Ken in the tavern.  Take away 90% of the light and that's how dark it was.  Perfect Halloween ambiance!

Then, just as guests were settling into the really dark tavern for their evening pizzas, the fire alarm went off.  This was triggered by a loss of pressure in the sprinkler system, which uses an air compressor to keep the lines charged. The fire department came and the building had to be evacuated until the cause of the alarm was found and fixed.  Meanwhile, the pizzas got cold.  The fire chief announced that employees would have to patrol the halls all night long in the absence of a working sprinkler system.  It was shaping up to be a long and challenging night when all of a sudden, at seven pm, the lights came back on.  No matter where you were standing in the inn, you could hear the rousing cheers of both guests and employees.  Let there be light!  We were very, very lucky.  Some Mainers didn't get their power back for ten days. Fortunately the weather wasn't bitterly cold or it could have been much worse.  Compared to what happened to Puerto Rico, this power outage was a minor inconvenience. Many thanks to all the linemen and women, some from Canada, who worked non-stop to restore power to our state.
breakfast buffet
No delicious breakfast breads on "bomb cyclone" day, they had just gone into the oven when the power went out.

How great are our guests?  One charming woman, a guest who stays with us often, came to the front desk Monday evening and handed us a generous stack of wonderful homemade chocolate bars.  "I thought you could use these," she said.  That delicious chocolate was just the boost we needed to get us through what had been a very stressful day. The next morning I was sharing breakfast with my mom in the dining room and another guest approached our table, gave us a big smile and said, "I just want you to know, that was the best Halloween party ever!"

We give heartfelt thanks to all of our wonderful guests and our loyal and dedicated employees, many of whom have been with us for decades, for making this inn such a special place. No matter what happens in this often times crazy and always fast paced world, it's always such a comfort to walk through the doors of this inn and see the many friendly and familiar faces. It's like coming home, even when the lights are out.
  popping corn at the fire pit

*L.L.Bean's  Northern Lights Celebration runs through December 31.  They have a wonderful schedule of events, check it out and don't miss out!

*For those who are sharing Christmas with us this year, if you haven't yet brought an ornament for our "Guest Tree", you're welcome to add your own; just put your name on the ornament and the year you began staying with us and find a place for it on the tree.  Our guests spend a lot of time admiring the ornaments on this very special tree, it's a real favorite! 

*Gift Certificates to the inn can be purchased in any amount and can be used for either food or lodging. We'll mail them to you or the recipient. It's an easy way to do your holiday shopping. 1-800-342-6423

*  I f you book your room reservation directly with us you'll get FREE full buffet breakfast and afternoon tea!  Our front desk staff knows the property and all the different room types, and you won't get that kind of expertise with a third party booking.  Want a quiet room with a garden view?  A room with a two person jacuzzi tub and a fireplace? Need special pillows to ensure a good nights sleep? Want to know the best packages available for the dates you're staying? These are all good reasons to call us at 1-800-342-6423.  We can make your stay special.
Nancy Gray with friends
That's innkeeper Nancy Gray hanging out with Reading Education Assistance Therapy Dogs Freeport, Penny and Mr. Cooper in the photo above. She turned 85 years old on November 10th! Many thanks to the Helfers for sharing their special dogs with us over the holidays for the past several years. We'll have a sign-up sheet for this December's "doggie sessions" at the front desk . Kids love hanging out with these beautiful therapy dogs and so do the adults!

* We offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the train station any time of year.  For more information on Amtrak Downeaster's special rates  click here Stroll along Freeport's brick sidewalks and shop dozens of famous brand outlets lining the charming and historic streetscape.  Do your Christmas shopping in the most popular and festive shopping village on the coast of Maine and leave the driving to Amtrak!
* Sparkle Weekend is the first weekend in December. If you have children, or there's even a tiny little bit of childlike wonder left in you, you'll love the town of Freeport on Sparkle Weekend.  It'll make you believe in Santa Claus even if you're a big time scrooge. You'll feel the magic of Christmas in the air as sleigh bells ring and snowflakes fall on this village of holiday enchantment.  There are all sorts of fun and festive activities going on, check out the schedule and plan your itinerary.  Oh, and don't forget to bring the kids along, too!

* Freeport USA calendar of events and special sales.  Get your holiday shopping done and have FUN doing it!

* NordicaTheater Shows and showtimes

* Wolfe's Neck Farm Night Tree Event, Saturday December 2.  Wonderful way for kids to hear an awesome story and decorate edible ornaments that they put out for the wildlife on a walk through their beautiful woods afterward.  This is a beautiful salt water farm within a few minutes of the inn and well worth the drive!

This month's trivia is another easy one; What was the top wind gust recorded on Mount Washington during October's "bomb cyclone"? (Hint: the answer is in one of the newsletter links.)  All correct answers win a voucher worth $5. toward food or lodging on your next visit.  You may use up to 12 vouchers at one time, a $60. value, preferably in the year they were won.  One answer per household, please.  We cannot print these vouchers for you, you must present them yourselves when you visit.  Please be patient with my replies, but if you haven't heard back in ten days, re-send your answer.  Some of your responses do get lost in cyberspace. 

To all of you from all of us,  Happy Thanksgiving!
Best regards,
Penny Gray
The Gray family