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Best of Boston 2009

Cheap thrills

Paw Sox, Penny Slots, and Ponies — so cheap, it might cost you
By ELLEE DEAN  |  June 14, 2006

If you know where to look, New England can be a cheap date
Summertime inevitably raises the question: what are we going to do with our crazy, hot selves? There’s the obvious . . . throw some money at the heat. Buy an itinerary and don’t lose the tickets. But must you pay cash to escape the un-air-conditioned hovel that is your apartment?

If you said yes, then think again. We found that natural-rock water slides may leave a mark but are worth the rush, and that the poor man’s hot-dog, pizza, and fried-dough diet leaves a spare tire, but tastes great with free beer. Cheap prayers were answered in a Stone Church. Temptations were enjoyed. Lobsters were sacrificed. And an international border was crossed. We figure being cheap cost us pretense, attitude, and possibly our hygiene — but since when did class or smelling good make for a fun summer? Enjoy the freebies, the spending shortcuts, the taste tests, the pants lost, and the culture gained, gratis. Wake up on a mountain summit. Fall asleep at the slots. And use your spare change to buy an air conditioner.

Acadia National Park, $10 (seeing the sunrise before the rest of the 50 states will cost you your sleep.)
Sand Beach’s Atlantic chill, Thunder Hole’s booming swells, deep woods and granite-domed mountains, sea-cliff climbs or Echo Lake dips —these are the things a $10 seven-day pass to Acadia Park’s 47,000-acre terrain will buy you until June 22 (it’s $20 after that). At a cool 1532 feet above the Atlantic seaboard, Cadillac Mountain claims the country’s first sunrise. Hike in the dawn silhouette of pink granite, spruce, pitch pine, and wild blueberries toward Acadia’s Mount Desert peak. Atop Cadillac Mountain’s stone summit, see the sun wake, lighting the Cranberry Islands’ velvet fog. So what if you didn’t sleep in?
Acadia National Park, Maine | 207.288.3338

Flo's Hot Dogs, $1.75 (seven dogs will cost you calories, as if we’re counting.)
Since 1959, Flo’s roadside hot-dog diner in Cape Neddick has been serving up steamed dogs with its signature brown spicy-sweet onion relish and your choice of mayonnaise or mustard. The odd hours — open 11 am to 3 pm and closed on Wednesday — the long lines, the low ceilings, the old linoleum, and the cranky counter service don’t deter tube-dog lovers. votes Flo’s garnished dogs the country’s best. Wait 20 minutes, order seven dogs each, and touch the dark sauce with the tips of your tongues. Satisfied, sit down to suck down the squashy treats. Flo went to work the day she died — at 92 years old.
Flo’s Hot Dogs | 1359 Route 1, Cape Neddick, ME

Box seats at the minors, $9 (thirty-three innings of cheap baseball will cost you your day job.)
Buy cheap $9 box seats, good for games against the Trenton Thunder, the Yankee–farm league losers. Sea Dog games at Hadlock field — the Maine Monster — feature Double-A baseball, fireworks, bobblehead giveaways, and Slugger, the team mascot. Players to scout from the small stands include pitchers Phil Seibel and David Pauley, infielder Zach Borowaiak, and outfielder Brandon Moss. This just in: Sea Dog David Pauley became the 126th Portland player called up by the big leagues. Here’s to scouting from the cheap seats!

In Rhode Island, the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the longest game in baseball history this season. The 32nd inning ended at 4:09 am, on April 18, 1981; the 19 fans still standing were given lifetime passes to McCoy Stadium. The game continued two months later when the Rhode Island Paw Sox finally won 3-2 against the Rochester Red Wings in the 33rd inning. Pawtucket’s Bruce Hurst, who pitched innings 27–32, says of the game: “I remember striking out Cal Ripken on a three-and-two breaking ball at four o’clock in the morning, and I don’t think he ever forgave me.” Paw Sox to watch include hard-throwing right-hander Craig Hansen, lefty hurler Jon Lester, shortstop Dustin Pedroia, and outfielder David Murphy. Here’s to ballparks that close after the bars shut down!
Portland Sea Dogs | Hadlock Field, Portland, ME | Pawtucket Red Sox | McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket, RI

Estate Brewery tasting, free (it's a tasting, not a guzzle fest — you can't afford the cab home, you cheap drunk.)
A short way from downtown Bar Harbor, the Atlantic Brewing Company’s Estate Brewery pours ginger root and wildflower-honey boils, ale fresh from the tank, and six-month cellar-aged porter. Built on an old farm site, the brewery sits on ten green acres and houses six standard ales, creamy Old Soaker Root Beer, and sweet Blueberry Soda. Reservations are unnecessary and the small independent brewery gives free tours and tastings. The backyard-style barbecue will cost you, but take your time in the tasting room — with shots of S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter) and black Coal Porter — and toast Brother Adam’s Bragget Ale (11.8% ABV). Cheers to Maine’s nearly two dozen breweries open for summertime tastings!

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Related: Wild things, Acquiring minds, Must warn others, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , AA Baseball, AAA Baseball, Arthur M. Sackler Museum,  More more >
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