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Maine, located in the northeastern part of the United States, is best known for its picturesque landscapes and delicious seafood. The state boasts numerous coastal attractions, such as the iconic Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth near Portland and Acadia National Park, a stunning destination offering diverse ecology and beautiful vistas.
Maine is also known for its abundant lobster and clam harvests, providing seafood lovers with a delightful gastronomic experience. Additionally, the state’s vast forests, mainly consisting of beautiful pine trees, have earned it the title “The Pine Tree State”. Finally, people associate Maine with its cold, snowy winters and mild, pleasant summers, making it an attractive region for seasonal outdoor activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, camping, and hiking.
Here’s a full list of what Maine is known for.
Food & Drink Maine is Known For
Lobster, an integral part of Maine’s culinary and cultural heritage, is synonymous with the state’s identity. Lobster fishing has deep roots in Maine, providing a livelihood for generations of residents and contributing significantly to the local economy.
Maine-style lobster rolls, a famous delicacy known worldwide, illustrate the local preference for simplicity and authenticity. Consisting of fresh, sweet lobster meat lightly dressed with mayonnaise and served in a lightly toasted, buttered split-top roll, Maine lobster rolls present the perfect balance between indulgence and the natural flavor of their star ingredient.
The lobster roll is not just a sandwich but an iconic symbol of Maine’s enduring relationship with the sea. Locals and visitors alike eagerly await the lobster season to feast on this classic dish at festivals, community gatherings, and numerous seafood shacks dotting the state’s stunning coastline.
Red Snapper Hot Dogs
Red Snapper hot dogs are a culinary institution in Maine, celebrated for their unique character and taste. Also known as “red dogs” or “red franks”, these vibrant crimson sausages are natural-casing frankfurters dyed with FD&C Red #40, giving them their distinctive red color.
The snap one hears when biting into these hot dogs – a result of their natural casing – is the inspiration behind their “snapper” moniker. Traditionally grilled or steamed and served on a bun with traditional toppings like mustard, onions, and relish, they are a staple at family cookouts, local eateries, and roadside stands.
The Red Snapper hot dog embodies the persona of Maine, offering a distinct, some might say quirky, take on a classic American food, and serving as a delightful, unique part of the Maine culinary experience.
A cornerstone of Maine’s dessert landscape, the Whoopie Pie is an iconic sweet treat that holds a special place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Composed of two rounds of soft, rich chocolate cake sandwiching a creamy, often vanilla-flavored, filling, the Whoopie Pie offers a simultaneously satisfying and delightful indulgence.
While the exact origin of this delectable dessert remains a subject of debate, Maine has embraced it as its own. So much so, that it was declared the “official state treat” of Maine in 2011. Frequently found in bakeries, supermarkets, and festivals across the state, the Whoopie Pie epitomizes Maine’s love for homely, tempting goodies.
Whether you prefer the classic chocolate-vanilla combination or venture towards more adventurous flavors, a taste of a Maine Whoopie Pie is a must for any fan of comforting, nostalgic desserts.
Maine is renowned for its flavorful wild blueberries, so much so that the state provides around 10% of the world’s blueberries. These tiny, deep-blue fruits are known for their intense, tangy-sweet flavor and are widely harvested in the state’s rocky and acidic soil.
Naturally, blueberries find their way into many facets of Maine’s cuisine, with blueberry pie being one of the most cherished. Made with fresh, locally sourced wild blueberries and a flaky, buttery crust, Maine’s blueberry pie is a mouthwatering delight that perfectly captures the essence of summer in the state.
This delicious dessert teases the palate with its balance of sweet and tart flavors, enhanced only by the warmth and comfort of its homemade appeal. Often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Maine’s blueberry pie is a local favorite and a testament to its celebrated blueberry heritage.
Moxie is more than just a beverage in Maine; it’s a cherished part of state tradition and identity. Originally patented as a medicinal tonic in the late 19th century, Moxie has a unique, somewhat bitter flavor that sets it apart from typical sweet sodas.
Though its taste, derived from the rare gentian root extract, is often characterized as an acquired one, Moxie has a loyal following among Mainers and was designated the official state soft drink in 2005. It’s so ingrained in the state’s culture that there’s even an annual Moxie Festival celebrated in Lisbon, Maine, an event full of fun activities, food, and of course, plenty of this beloved beverage.
Whether consumed as a nostalgic sip down memory lane, chosen for its distinctive boldness, or enjoyed as part of a cultural tradition, Moxie symbolizes Maine’s spirit in a can.
Needhams, a cherished confectionery delight in Maine, showcases the state’s penchant for crafting uniquely delicious sweet treats. Other regions might not be familiar with these indulgent candies, but Needhams hold a special place in the hearts of Mainers.
These small bites blend the unexpected combination of sweetened shredded coconut and mashed Maine potatoes, wrapped in a luscious, smooth chocolate coating. Many speculate that the potato is included for texture, but its mild flavor lets the coconut shine, while providing an intriguing foundation for the candy.
Steeped in local history, Needhams are named after George C. Needham, a 19th-century Maine clergyman, and their origin story is imbued with an air of legend and lore. Irresistible, enticing, and a testament to Maine’s unique culinary tradition, Needhams are a must-try confection for all who appreciate sweets with a touch of the unconventional.
Clam chowder is an integral part of Maine cuisine, celebrated for its superb seaside flavors and timeless appeal to both visitor and local palates alike. The pristine waters of Maine’s coastline give rise to delectable clams that form the base of this hearty, creamy, and wholesome chowder.
The dish features tender chunks of local clams simmered alongside diced potatoes, onions, and salt pork or bacon, in a rich and comforting broth thickened with either a roux or crushed crackers. What sets Maine clam chowder apart from its more famous counterparts is its innate simplicity: delicate flavors are allowed to speak for themselves, resulting in a perfect balance of tang from the sea and savory richness from the cream and pork.
Clam chowder in Maine can be found at cozy family-run diners, local seafood shacks, and upscale restaurants alike, each offering their own spin on this iconic dish that pays homage to the state’s maritime bounty.
Places Maine is Known For
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park, located predominantly on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, is a gem that encapsulates the diverse natural beauty of the state. Welcoming over two million visitors annually, it’s famed for its breathtaking landscapes that range from rugged coastal cliffs to serene woodland, granite-domed mountains to freshwater lakes, all spreading over 49,000 acres.
The park is home to Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain along the eastern coast of the United States and the first site in the U.S. to greet the sunrise. Hiking trails, like the popular Jordan Pond Path and the challenging Precipice Trail, offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the park’s splendor.
Given its biodiversity, Acadia is also a great spot for bird watching, and opportunities for biking, camping, fishing, and even stargazing abound. In essence, Acadia National Park is a testament to Maine’s wild, untouched scenic grandeur, offering unforgettable exploration opportunities for every nature lover.
As Maine’s largest city, Portland is a vibrant cultural hub, nestled on a peninsula extending into the stunning Casco Bay. Known for its beautifully preserved 19th-century architecture, especially evident in the cobblestone streets of its famed Old Port district, the city reflects a perfect blend of historical charm and modern sophistication.
Portland boasts an active arts scene, plentiful boutiques, and an impressive array of local eateries that have gained national acclaim, making it a foodie’s paradise. The city is also home to numerous breweries, cementing Portland’s status as one of America’s top beer cities.
Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the expansive trails of the nearby Casco Bay islands or the mesmerizing views from the iconic Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse. Combining maritime heritage with cosmopolitan flair, Portland offers a truly unique Maine experience, enriched by its thriving local culture and picturesque coastal beauty.
Picturesquely located on Mount Desert Island along Maine’s Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor is a popular resort town known for its stunning natural beauty and charm. Once a 19th-century elite’s playground, today Bar Harbor welcomes visitors from all over the world who are attracted to its scenic coastal landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities.
The town serves as the gateway to Acadia National Park, one of the nation’s most beloved parks, offering trails for hiking, paths for biking, and spots for bird watching, amid rugged cliffs, serene ponds, and lush forests.
Bar Harbor’s downtown provides a delightful mix of local boutiques, art galleries, and renowned seafood restaurants, famous for serving fresh and delicious Maine lobster and clam chowder. With its remarkable combination of natural splendor and characteristic New England appeal, Bar Harbor remains a cherished destination, embodying the quintessential Maine experience.
Kennebunkport and Kennebunk
Renowned for their classic New England charm, the neighboring towns of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, sitting just off the Southern Coast of Maine, offer an enchanting mix of history, culture, and coastal beauty. Kennebunkport, with its quaint Dock Square, filled with unique boutiques, art galleries, and excellent restaurants, is a favorite destination for visitors. Known for its maritime heritage, the town is also famed as the summer residence of the Bush family, witnessed by the iconic Walker’s Point compound. Just a few miles away, Kennebunk plays host to a vibrant historical district and beautiful sandy beaches, including Gooch’s Beach, Middle Beach, and Mother’s Beach. The Kennebunk River adds to the towns’ scenic appeal, offering opportunities for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and scenic boat tours. Both towns, with their inviting charm and picturesque scenery, capture the essence of Maine’s coastal allure, offering memorable experiences that invite repeat visits.
Situated along the stunning Penobscot Bay, Rockland, Maine, carries a vibrant blend of maritime heritage and cultural sophistication. Once a prosperous shipbuilding and lime production center, today’s Rockland is recognized as the “Lobster Capital of the World,” celebrating this highly-prized crustacean during the annual Maine Lobster Festival. Beyond its seafood fame, Rockland is also a thriving cultural hotspot. It’s home to the renowned Farnsworth Art Museum, showcasing Maine’s significant role in American art history, along with the Maine Lighthouse Museum, preserving the state’s rich lighthouse heritage. The historic downtown, lined with unique shops, boutiques, and a diverse range of restaurants, exudes a distinctive character. Moreover, the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, at the end of a nearly mile-long granite breakwater, is a beloved landmark, offering panoramic bay views. Whether for its culinary scene, cultural attractions, or scenic coastlines, Rockland embodies the best of Maine charm and adventure.
Embedded in the heart of Midcoast Maine, Camden, with its stunning natural beauty, quintessential charm, and rich maritime history, is often referred to as the “Jewel of the Coast”. Anchored by a picture-perfect harbor filled with windjammers, the town’s center is brimming with historic architecture, eclectic shops, and inviting restaurants. Camden Hills State Park, that borders the town, offers breathtaking views of the harbor and the Penobscot Bay from its summit, Mt. Battie, which can be accessed through a network of hiking trails or by the auto road. Camden’s thriving cultural scene includes the Camden Opera House, which hosts a range of live performances, and the renowned Camden International Film Festival, celebrating the finest in documentary filmmaking. From its exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities, vibrant cultural outlets, to its idyllic downtown, Camden encapsulates an authentic New England coastal town, making it a must-visit destination in Maine.
Sugarloaf Ski Resort
Tucked within Maine’s scenic Carrabassett Valley, the Sugarloaf Ski Resort serves as one of New England’s premier mountain destinations. As the largest ski resort east of the Rocky Mountains, it features an impressive variety of terrain with over 160 trails and glades, and also offers the only lift-serviced above-treeline skiing in the Northeast. Sugarloaf’s summit, accessible via the famous Timberline Quad lift, provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding rugged wilderness. In addition to excellent downhill skiing and snowboarding, the resort provides ample opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking at its Outdoor Center. During summer, Sugarloaf transforms into a golfer’s paradise with a top-rated, 18-hole golf course, and also offers mountain biking, hiking, and zipline tours. Combining exceptional facilities, a friendly atmosphere, and picturesque scenery, Sugarloaf Ski Resort offers a year-round, memorable mountain experience.
Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach, known affectionately as OOB, is a popular summer resort town located along the picturesque coastline of Maine. The town’s iconic centerpiece is its seven-mile-long sandy beach, one of the longest and most beautiful in New England, optimally designed for swimming, sunbathing, or sandcastle building. OOB’s famed wooden pier, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, hosts a variety of eateries, shops, and amusement offerings, making it a key gathering place for visitors. The town also contains Palace Playland, the only beachfront amusement park in New England, which offers rides and games for all ages. Adding to its appeal, OOB is renowned for its lively nightlife scene, with numerous establishments offering live music and entertainment. Whether it’s a leisurely beach day, thrilling amusement park rides, or enjoyable seaside dining, Old Orchard Beach continues to provide timeless summer vacation experiences.
Landmarks and Attractions Maine is Famous For
Maine’s collection of lighthouses, affectionately known as “Beacons of the Sea,” punctuates its rugged coastline with iconic and historic charm. With the state boasting over 60 standing lighthouses, it provides ample opportunity for exploration and admiration. Maine’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Head Light, constructed in 1791, stands as an iconic symbol of the state’s maritime heritage, offering stunning views along the rocky coastline. West Quoddy Head Light, painted in distinctive red and white stripes and marking the easternmost point in the United States, is another notable structure. From the jagged cliffs of Pemaquid Point Light to the scenic shores of Bass Harbor Head Light, each lighthouse unique in its architecture and setting, provides a glimpse of Maine’s rich coastal history. Collectively, Maine’s lighthouses serve not just as navigational aids for seafarers but as captivating landmarks that continue to delight visitors and residents alike.
Maine’s captivating rocky coastline stretches over 3,500 miles, offering a panoramic tapestry of dramatic cliffs, craggy islands, and rugged peninsulas that exude a sense of wild, natural beauty. The dramatic, glacier-carved coastal landscape is characterized by its iconic gray granite rocks, interspersed with pockets of sandy beaches and tide pools teeming with marine life. Lighthouses stand guard over the jagged cliffs and challenging waters, serving as symbols of the state’s maritime heritage. The rocky coastline also provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife, including seals, seabirds, and at certain times of the year, migrating whales. Particularly breathtaking views can be experienced along the scenic drives like the famous Route 1, from hiking trails in Acadia National Park, or from the many coastal towns, each offering their unique vantage points. Embodying a blend of raw natural grandeur and rich maritime tradition, the rocky coastline of Maine creates a compelling allure that continues to charm visitors and locals alike.
Autumn in Maine brings flamboyant displays of fall foliage, with landscapes transforming into vibrant tapestries of reds, oranges, and yellows. The spectacle typically begins in late September in the northern regions and higher elevations, like Baxter State Park, then cascades southward and toward the coast through mid-October. Maine’s diverse tree species—maple, oak, birch, and beech—all contribute to the unique palette of fall colors. Visitors can enjoy this natural artistry through numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or simply driving along scenic routes like the famed Acadia Byway or Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway. The annual Fall Foliage Festival in Bethel and the hot air balloon rides in Lewiston offer distinctive ways to admire the resplendent fall colors. With its crisp, cool weather and dazzling display of autumn hues, fall in Maine presents an enchanting season that draws leaf-peepers from all over the world.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Nestled along the idyllic shores of the Sheepscot River, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens serves as a living testament to Maine’s vibrant natural beauty. Spanning across 295 acres of diverse landscapes, from lush woodlands to colorful gardens and tranquil waterfront edges, it has become one of the New England region’s most acclaimed horticultural attractions. Visitors are treated to a stunning array of flora, including vibrant perennial gardens, a fascinating interactive children’s garden, and the serene Haney Hillside Garden, carefully designed to showcase nature’s wonders throughout each season. The winding trail system within the preserve offers opportunities for peaceful strolls and the chance to discover hidden garden gems. Special events such as the annual Gardens Aglow, featuring dazzling light displays throughout the winter months, have become visitor favorites. Showcasing the best of Maine’s native plants and natural environments, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens offers an inspiring and rejuvenating retreat for all who wander its enchanting paths.
Portland Museum of Art
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) is a cultural gem and Maine’s oldest and largest public art institution. The museum’s expansive collection, which spans over two centuries, showcases exceptional works of American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic pieces from Maine’s distinguished artistic heritage. Notable holdings include masterpieces by renowned artists such as Picasso, Monet, Winslow Homer, and Rockwell Kent. PMA frequently hosts thought-provoking exhibitions, artist talks, and educational programs that stimulate discourse and appreciation of the visual arts. The museum complex itself, which includes the stunning, I.M. Pei-designed building and the beautifully preserved, historic McLellan House, is a noteworthy architectural landmark in the city. With its commitment to promoting art accessibility and engagement, the Portland Museum of Art serves as a vibrant cultural hub in Portland, offering rich artistic experiences for its visitors.
History, Culture and Traditions Maine is Known For
First Chartered American city
The seaside town of York, nestled along Maine’s southern coast, holds the prestigious distinction of being the first chartered city in America. Granted by England’s King Charles I in 1641, this charter recognized the small settlement of Agamenticus as a city, renaming it Gorgeana in honor of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, the “Father of English Colonization in North America”. This significant historical event unfolded almost two decades before nearby Boston received its charter. While Gorgeana eventually reverted back to its former status as a town and reclaimed its original Native American name of York, its rich history remains imbued in its centuries-old buildings and landmarks. Today, York is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its picturesque beaches, historic sites, and quaint coastal charm. As the first chartered American city, York mirrors a deeply-rooted past, offering a fascinating window into America’s nascent colonial era.
Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the iconic outdoor retailer L.L. Bean holds a significant place in Maine’s history. The company, which began its journey in Freeport, Maine, owes its inception to Bean’s innovative Maine Hunting Shoe, designed to prevent wet feet during prolonged hunting trips. The immense popularity of these boots led to the establishment of L.L. Bean’s first retail store, which quickly gained a reputation for durable, high-quality outdoor gear. Today, L.L. Bean remains synonymous with Maine, each product reflecting the state’s rich outdoor heritage. L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, has become a tourist landmark. The company’s dedication to quality, customer service, and love for the outdoors embodies the hearty spirit of Maine, making it a timeless representation of the state’s overarching ethos.
Maine Lobster Festival
The Maine Lobster Festival, a beloved tradition held annually in Rockland, Maine, is a testament to the state’s vibrant coastal culture and its world-renowned lobster industry. Held over five days at the beginning of August, this community-driven event attracts thousands of visitors each year, eager to partake in the seafood-centric festivities. At the heart of the festival is the serving of thousands of pounds of fresh, succulent Maine lobster, prepared in an enormous, open-air lobster cooker. However, the festival offers more than just a feast; it also hosts a wide range of attractions, from a grand parade, live music, and art exhibits to cooking contests, local craft vendors, and a popular “Sea Goddess” pageant. The Maine Lobster Festival not only celebrates the state’s famous maritime bounty but also brings together community members and tourists alike, fostering a sense of camaraderie and exuberant enjoyment that extends beyond the lobster dinner table.
What is Maine Known For Producing?
Known for its vast stretches of rocky and acidic soil, Maine is the ideal breeding ground for wild blueberries and is often celebrated as one of the largest producers of this antioxidant-rich superfruit in the world. The state’s blueberries, in particular, have a distinctive, intense flavor and are smaller than their cultivated counterparts, making them highly prized for both their taste and nutritional value. The harvest season typically runs from late July through August, during which “rakers” scour the barrens, fields studded with low-growing blueberry bushes, using both traditional and mechanized methods to collect these tiny, dusky-blue gems. Beyond the fields, Maine’s blueberry industry significantly impacts the local economy and underpins many community traditions like the annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival. As such, the humble blueberry holds a illustrious spot in Maine’s cultural and agricultural narrative, chronicling a history steeped in tradition and a taste unrivaled in its pure, sweet-tart delight.
Maine is historically renowned for its potato production, a legacy rooted in the state’s unique geographic and climatic conditions ideal for cultivating this versatile tuber. The fertile soils of Aroostook County, often referred to as “The County,” produce the majority of Maine’s potatoes, where family-owned farms spanning generations manage thousands of acres of potato fields. These farms yield an impressive array of potato varieties, including the superior Russet and the buttery Kennebec, each appreciated for their distinctive characteristics. Maine’s potato industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy, offering employment to thousands and distributing potatoes locally and across the nation. Committed to sustainable farming practices, Maine’s potato growers continue to leverage technological innovations, safeguarding the health of the soil and surrounding environment. Indeed, the potato, in its humble grandeur, stands as an emblem of Maine’s enduring agricultural heritage and commitment to sustainable farming practices.
Despite being small and unassuming, toothpicks possess a storied past in the industrial history of Maine. The state once held the title of “Toothpick Capital of the World,” during the late 19th and early 20th century, with the town of Strong standing at the epicenter of this production. The Strong Wood Products plant, at its peak, manufactured an astounding 20 million toothpicks daily, utilizing the abundant white birch found in local forests. These toothpicks were not only supplied across the United States but were also exported to various countries, bolstering the state’s economy significantly. Although toothpick production gradually phased out with the plant’s closure in 2003, the important role of this diminutive utensil in Maine’s industrial past should not be underestimated. Today, this historical association serves as a testament to the state’s inventive spirit and entrepreneurial fortitude in exploring the potential of its forest resources.
Famous People from Maine
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush had a deep connection to the state of Maine that extended far beyond his political career. Known for his Presidency from 1989 to 1993, Bush considered the town of Kennebunkport, Maine, his true home. The Bush family owned a historic oceanside property, famously known as the Bush Compound or Walker’s Point, where the Bush family would retreat to during summers and after terms in public office. The idyllic town, with its quintessential New England charm and scenic beauty, offered an intimate and peaceful respite from Washington D.C.’s political buzz. In fact, Bush was frequently seen actively involved in the local community and was known for his love of racing his speedboat along the Atlantic Ocean waves. Thus, Maine held a special place in George H.W. Bush’s life, establishing a heartfelt affinity that deeply endeared him to the state’s residents.
Iconic author Stephen King, widely acclaimed for his prodigious contributions to the horror and suspense genres, has deep-rooted ties to Maine. Born in Portland, King has spent most of his life in the state, with its distinctive New England character serving as inspiration for many of his renowned works. Small-town Maine has been masterfully sculpted into locations like Castle Rock, Derry, and Jerusalem’s Lot, fictional settings that nonetheless resonate with the authentic spirit of King’s home state. His residence in Bangor, with its striking wrought-iron fence adorned with mythical creatures, is as captivating as his stories. King’s profound connection with Maine synthesizes a sense of place, community, and lingering eeriness, imbuing his narratives with a grounded realism that augments their suspense. In essence, Stephen King and Maine share an entwined narrative that transcends the written page, forging an indelible mark in the realm of pop culture.
Actor Patrick Dempsey, best known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in the hit television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” hails from the state of Maine. Born in Lewiston and raised in the nearby towns of Turner and Buckfield, Dempsey’s early life was steeped in the quintessentially charming and rural landscapes of Maine. His fame in Hollywood has not estranged him from his roots; rather, Dempsey holds a deep affection for his home state. He notably founded the Dempsey Center in Lewiston, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families impacted by cancer. He also hosts the annual Dempsey Challenge, a run, walk, and cycle fundraising event that supports the center. Thus, Patrick Dempsey, while a celebrated Hollywood star, has never forgotten his Maine origins and actively gives back to his community, further endearing him to his fans, fellow Mainers, and beyond.
A Final Word
In conclusion, Maine is a state of rich natural beauty and bountiful seafood, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and food lovers alike. From its iconic lighthouses and captivating coastlines to the breathtaking vistas of Acadia National Park and its vast pine forests, the state exudes a unique charm hard to replicate. Indeed, the combination of Maine’s fresh lobsters, serene scenery, and diverse outdoor activities continues to draw visitors year after year, reinforcing its reputation as a gem in the Northeastern United States. Whether for its wintry landscapes, summer activities, or the appeal of losing yourself in mother nature’s grandeur, Maine truly is a state worth knowing and experiencing.