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For Purple Mountain’s Majesty…From Sea to Shining Sea

19 Jun

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Today began with another delightful breakfast provided by the inn where we stayed last evening.  Jimmy had the french toast and I had the crab souffle.  We both skipped the healthy option…why start now?  We had an opportunity to chat with the innkeepers at breakfast, and learned they were from Boston and ran the inn as part of their semi-retirement.  It is only open for the season, and closes down in October as most of the inns on the island do.  They spend about 5 months out of the year in Maine with the inn, and they spend their winters in the Virgin Islands!  What a retirement!  Our server was a girl from Bulgaria who lives in the US during the tourist season working at the inn.  At the conclusion of the season, she goes back to her home country for the remainder of the year.  This is her third year to work this way and she says she really enjoys it.

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Fortified with breakfast, we walked down the harbor to the sandbar that allows access to a little island during low tide.  We knew the tide was going out based on the tide charts, but we were a bit too early to walk all the way across. We were warned that we’d have to watch our time if we did walk across.  There is a 16 foot change in depth of the water between high tide and low tide, and that once the tide came back in, we’d not be able to get back across.

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Back in the day when the island was still a remote destination for the “Rusticators”, there was much discussion about building a bridge over to the little island.  Some thought that the island should be developed and a bridge would be necessary.  They wanted to be able to access it quickly, not having to wait for the sand bar to appear at low tide. Yet others wished to preserve the untamed  wilderness just as it was so that the area could continue to be a back-to-nature retreat for city dwellers.  The discussion ended when John D Rockefeller quietly bought up half of the island (the half that contained the sandbar) and no development was pursued.  After seeing the sandbar, we drove into Acadia National Park, the jewel of Maine!  Pictures cannot adequately depict the beauty of this place.  I thought so often about our awesome Creator as I viewed His handiwork!  Our first stop was the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  During certain times of the year, this is the first place that it is possible to see the sun rise in the US.  It’s an easy drive to the top and you are rewarded with incredible views in every direction.20140619_092151_1

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Our next stop in Acadia was an area of the park containing gardens of indigenous plants.  They were all labelled and we enjoyed walking through the different garden paths.

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From there, we parked the car and hiked the Ocean path that rims the ocean.  Beautiful shoreline views were our reward!

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By this time, it was approaching lunch.  We’d made reservations at Jordan’s Pond, the only restaurant within the park.  Since the late 1800’s summer vacationers have been enjoying lunch on the lawn at Jordan’s Pond.  They are famous for the popovers served with butter and homemade jam, and for their fresh squeezed lemonade.  We were seated at a table with a front row view of Jordan’s Pond (actually a very big freshwater lake) and started right away on a popover and a glass of blueberry iced tea!

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Lunch under the umbrellas on the lawn of Jordan’s Pond

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We ordered and when our food was delivered, we were impressed with the quality of the food.  Sometimes the food at parks is not the best, but this was really good!  I had the chicken salad and Jimmy had crab/lobster cakes.20140619_131549_1

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And we managed to eat dessert as well, mostly because we were enjoying the scenery so much and we had such a great table location, we just didn’t want it to end.  I had the flourless chocolate cake and he had the berry crisp with ice cream.20140619_134351_1

 

 

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After lunch, we walked along the shore of Jordan Pond and explored a section of the old carriage roads.

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20140619_141015_1We could have spent much more time at the park, but after a full day, we headed to our next destination (and sadly final night on this trip).  We headed south and took the secondary roads again that afforded us the best view of rural Maine.  We made one stop on the way to Deer Isle to get a glass of iced tea.  It was a cute little co-op that sold a little bit of everything.  Much of the produce was from local farmers, and they had pictures and descriptions of the farms hanging above the produce section.

 

 

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Our destination for the night was The Pilgrim’s Inn on Deer Isle.  As we approached the island, we traveled over a cool suspension bridge and through a narrow section of road lined with stones that wound its way over the bay.

IMG_5111_1We arrived shortly afterwards and were given a tour of the house.  The inn sits on a hill overlooking the bay to the front and an old mill pond to the rear with a narrow strip of land just wide enough for the road to span to the other side.  The house was built in 1793 and the family had 9 children.  It’s a very large home and that may explain why.  After the original builder of the home passed away, his granddaughter inherited the property and was the first one to turn it into an inn in 1889.  She named it “The Ark”.  Guests arrived by steamer from Rockland, Portland, and Boston. “Between huge meals, the guests occupied themselves looking at stereoptic pictures or playing cards in the parlor by the fireplace, or taking walks around the mill pond.”  Sounds a lot like what vacationers still do, especially the huge meals part!  The inn retains much of its original features.  Wide plank floors, original fireplaces, original plaster walls and ceilings.  It’s really cool to step back in time for one night.  There’s no TV in our room, but the views are much better than anything on TV, and we are able to have WiFi in the room.

 

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original fireplace in our room

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the rear of the house facing the old mill pond

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mill pond

 

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looking toward the inn from the road that crosses the bay

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wild lupine growing on the banks of the mill pond

IMG_5078_1An interesting bit of history occurred here in 1895 while the inn was still called “The Ark”.  A group of townspeople gathered to choose the first “America’s Cup” sailing team to ever come from one community in the US.  The “Deer Isle Boys” as they were called, went on to win the cup in both 1895 and 1899 with the yachts the “Defender” and the “Columbia”.

After we settled into our room, we got back into the car and drove on down to Stonington which is right on the ocean at the far end of the island.  Stonington is a village of hard-working fishermen and lobstermen.  Many of the homes’ front yards contained stacks of lobster traps.  The downtown area on the water was not your touristy “gussied-up” village, it was a real community with places that real people would shop and eat.  That’s what made it so charming.  It is not at all geared toward the tourist, because this is a very rural area, away from the usual touristy crowd.  But that is largely why it was so appealing.  We drove for quite some time and I took many pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites.IMG_5079_1

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a dock full of lobster traps

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Suzy’s Scissor Shack (Barber/Beauty shop)

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Not only can you have your car repaired, you can buy a lobster while you wait!

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We really enjoyed our tour of the little village of Stonington, but had to get back to the inn for our dinner reservation.

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the rear of the house containing the restaurant, which is open to the public. We ate dinner here.

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Seafood chowder

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chicken pot pie and salad

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Grilled halibut over lobster risotto

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banana cake with caramel sauce served with vanilla and banana ice creams

After dinner, we retired to our room where I am enjoying this view while posting this to my blog! IMG_5120_1

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Big Blue Nation is EVERYWHERE! (Even in Maine)

18 Jun

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We woke up this morning to a steady rain outside, but it stopped before we walked over to the main part of the house to have our breakfast.  The innkeepers are Sharon and Jim, and they make a great team.  They run the inn together, but Jim is also the chef.  And what a chef he is!  For starters, we were served polenta with a golden raisin rum sauce with fresh fruit.  I’d never eaten polenta as a warm breakfast cereal, but it worked very well in this dish.  Next, they brought us Eggs Blackberry.  This was Jim’s own creation, named after their establishment, The Inn at Blackberry Commons.  It consisted of two pieces of homemade bread, toasted, topped with either ham or salmon, (Jimmy went with the salmon, I had the ham), two poached eggs on top of that, and topped with a mayo-aoli sauce and fresh asparagus.  This wonderful breakfast was included with our room for the night.  It was outstanding!

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As we sat in the little dining room enjoying our breakfast, we struck up a conversation with the couple next to us.  It turns out, they both grew up in Kentucky, he in Corbin and she in Louisville!  The University of Kentucky shirt that Jimmy proudly wore today was the conversation starter.  We found that Jimmy and the man had been students there at close to the same time.  We talked for a minute or two longer, then went our separate ways, wishing each other safe travels.

We loaded the car and since it was still overcast from the rain, decided to drive out to the Owls Head lighthouse.  We wanted to give the skies time to clear before we drove up to Mount Battie, where we were told you could see for miles in all directions.  Owls Head lighthouse is near a little tiny fishing village.  It consisted of a place that sold lobsters, a general store, post office, and pond that was for the exclusive use of the local fired department.

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Owls Head Post Office

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Duly noted!

We parked at the little parking lot and trudged up hill to the lighthouse.  It was smaller than the others we’d visited but the views were awesome.  That’s where we met another member of the Big Blue Nation.  As we were walking down from the lighthouse, a family was walking up.  Once again, the UK shirt was the conversation starter.  The man said, “Kentucky eh”?  Jimmy said, yes.  Turns out the man grew up in Middlesboro and was raised on UK basketball.  He and his family now reside in Virginia.  The man said he vividly remembered growing up and hearing his dad yell at Adolph Rupp through the TV.  He and Jimmy talked awhile, then we were on our way.

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Jimmy chats with another UK fan.

Since we’d walked every bit of 1/2 mile by now, it was time for an early lunch.  Aspen, the very helpful attendant at the inn the previous night, steered us to the Owls Head General Store.  It is known for it’s 7 napkin burger, but their real claim to fame is the fact that Bobby Flay challenged them to a throw-down and they beat him!

We were greeted by Sherry, a little white haired lady that is just the sweetest thing!  I imagine that much of the store’s success is due to Sherry’s involvement.  You can tell she absolutely loves her job and takes such good care of everyone that comes in.  We enjoyed chatting with her very much.  One of the things I love the most about travel is getting an opportunity to meet nice people like her.  The general store is just as cute as a button, and looks like it could have been taken right off the streets of Mayberry.

Jimmy and I both ordered the 7 napkin burger, chips and iced tea.  I can see why Bobby Flay met his match here, the burger was outstanding!  I’m proud to say I finished mine with 6 napkins and one wet-nap.  Does that equal 7 napkins?

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Six napkins and a wet-nap!

As we waited for our burgers, a local couple asked us if we liked blueberries.  We assured them that we did.  They said, well you must come back and try the blueberry pancakes next time,  they are the best pancakes in Maine.  Hmmm, sounds like a good reason to come back soon!

By the time we finished the burgers, the skies had cleared and we headed back to Camden to drive up to the summit of Mount Battie.  It was a beautiful drive and when we reached the top, we were rewarded with some beautiful scenery.

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We climbed the observation tower for the best view. The wind up there gave us matching hairdos!

 

20140618_133456_1After Mount Battie, we wound our way Northward with our ultimate destination to be Bar Harbor.  We stopped at the Breakwater in Rockland and really enjoyed the walk out to see the Rockland Breakwater light house.  The Rockland Breakwater was started in 1881 and was constructed from almost 1 million tons of solid granite.  It is actually an engineering marvel if you think about it.  It is very level, but you have to watch your footing because the granite pieces are placed to fit like a giant jigsaw puzzle.  There is no mortar to hold them together, just huge chunks of granite expertly placed.  It is 7/8 of a mile down the whole length of the breakwater to the lighthouse.  You really can’t watch the scenery too much though as you’re walking, you have to pick your way among the cracks to be sure to stay on the solid granite.

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The path to the breakwater

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On the breakwater looking back toward shore.

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The lighthouse comes into view on the end of the breakwater

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20140618_124201_1After that little walk, it was on to Bar Harbor for the night.  We checked in to another family-run inn, and were given a tour by a very knowledgable lady who works at the inn.  She told us all about the house that was to later become the Bass Cottage Inn.  It is a beautiful old home and was built in 1893 by the Bass family.  They began to open their home to summer visitors, as many homes did here when Bar Harbor gained popularity in the late 1800s- early 1900s.  Back in the day, there was the belief that it was healthy for people to embrace a rustic lifestyle, therefore the islanders were called “Rusticators.”  I think they were on to something there!  We thoroughly enjoyed the Bar Harbor history lesson and were also given some great pointers on things to do and places to eat while in town.  We dropped off our suitecases and took a walk on the Harbor path that rings its way around the harbor.  It was there that we met another member of BBN.  As we approached a fellow walker on the harbor path, he yelled, “Go Big Blue!” Jimmy greeted him in return and as we passed, he yelled, “UK ALL THE WAY!” They exchanged exuberant “thumbs-up” and we continued on our stroll.

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The ferns here grow wild and some are as large as 3 feet tall. They are beautiful!

After the harbor walk, we threaded our way back to the waterfront, enjoying the sights along the way.

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The fire hydrants in Maine are marked with a pole at the top so they can be easily located in heavy snow that’s common here in the winter.

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The old burial grounds for the town. Graves dating back to the early 1700s.

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20140618_180430_1And to end a lovely day, a lovely meal on the deck overlooking the waterfront park.  Squash cakes over arugula for me, and twin lobster tails for Jimmy.  What a treat!

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Two Forts, One Lighthouse, and a Kentucky Colonel!

17 Jun

20140617_144918_1This morning began with a delightful breakfast delivered to our door by the innkeeper.  Sharon had asked us when we checked in what time we’d like to have breakfast.  She said she would deliver it to the room or to the garden, whichever we preferred.  Since the temperature got very chilly overnight, we decided to eat in our room overlooking the garden.  Promptly at 8:00 am, we heard a tap on our door and Sharon’s husband was our delivery man.  He handed me a heavy wicker basket and said, Enjoy your breakfast!

20140617_080310_1_1We sat it on the table and unpacked a delicious breakfast of fresh hot biscuits with butter and jam, fresh squeezed orange juice, homemade granola with fresh fruit, and hot coffee.  It was all very good and such a neat way to serve us our breakfast.

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20140617_080722_1We were sad to leave this charming room over the carriage house, but we had other places to see.  We looked at a few more sites in the area before heading on up the road.

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Lobster traps

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The old Wiscasset jail, built in 1810.

As we traveled Northward, we hadn’t gotten very far out of town when we saw a sign for historic Fort Edgecomb.  We took a little side trip and enjoyed walking the grounds of the old fort.

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20140617_100049_1We continued our drive, staying to the backroads and staying on the coast as much as possible.  We were really able to get a good glimpse of rural life in the midsection of Maine.  And the scenery!!  It is beautiful here.  Everything is lush and green and the meadows are full of wild lupines in a variety of colors while the wooded areas contain large wild ferns, lilacs, and rhododendron, all in full bloom.

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We ate lunch on the dock at Boothbay Harbor then got back on the road.  We especially enjoyed the drive down to Ocean Point, it was beautiful.  From there we looked at the old fort at Pemaquid Point.IMG_5014_1

 

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The old burial ground at the fort containing graves from the 1700’s

 

The next stop was the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point .  It is a functioning light house and was just opened to the public in the last few years.  It’s one of the few lighthouses that allow you to climb up for a close view of the light.  It was built in 1835 and has been continuously in operation.  The little town of Bristol is responsible for manning it, and they’ve agreed to keep it open for tours as long as they can find volunteers to staff it.  There’s a little museum in the old keepers cottage, an art gallery and a town hall.  Once we walked through the keepers cottage, we got in line to climb up the spiral staircase to the top.

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We didn’t have long to wait, and when we stepped through the door, the older gentleman that was on duty today greeted us with, “Where are you from?”  He asked everyone as they stepped in line.  The 2 people in front of us were from England.  When it was our turn to respond, we said, ” Kentucky!”  He shuffled off of his stool, pulled out his wallet, fiddled around with it for a minute or so and pulled something from it.  He walked over to us and showed us the card he had retrieved from his wallet.  We both peered down at it and noticed the great seal from the state of Kentucky embossed on the card.  He was a Kentucky colonel!

20140617_141859_1Back in the day, when he was a reporter for a newspaper in Dayton, Ohio, he and a group of others periodically traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to perform for the patients at the Shriners Hospital.  He was a magician, and the governor of Kentucky had made each of them  Kentucky Colonels  for their work with the patients at the hospital.  That was many years ago, and I found it very touching that he still carried that little card in his wallet.

Another friendly volunteer was at the top of the lighthouse to greet us and tell us all about how lighthouses are used.  We learned that each lighthouse has its own unique signal.  He was very informative and the view from the top was amazing!

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20140617_142848_1We walked around the grounds a while longer, got an ice cream at the little general store next door, and hit the road again.

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20140617_144200_1We headed on toward Camden from there, our destination tonight.  We arrived at around 5:00 pm,  and were shown around another lovely inn.  The inn was built in the late 1700’s and our room is called the hidden garden.

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We walked around pretty little Camden, and were able to eat dinner once again outdoors on the wharf.  It stayed very cool today, so we were ready for a cup of coffee after our meal.  We walked around the docks and noticed that a large waterfall runs into the back of the bay.  We took some pictures and walked up the hill to find coffee and dessert.

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We stepped into a little place called the Camden Deli, mainly because of their display of gourmet brownies, and bought a couple of sweets to eat with the coffee.  As we walked to the back of the deli to be seated, we noticed that the seating was directly over the waterfall with wall to ceiling windows.  What a delightful way to end the day and enjoy our coffee!

 

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A Day of Grazing Delights and Beautiful Sights

17 Jun

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We woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky and the sun rising over the ocean. It was so nice and cool over the evening that we slept with all of the windows open. That’s something we sure can’t do at home during this time of the year, unless you’re willing to sweat through your PJ’s!
While one of us decided to sleep in just a bit longer, the other one (me) decided to take a morning run along the sea wall in front of our inn. I ran about 2 miles along the oceanfront before returning just in time for breakfast, which we will call, for the sake of simplicity, food stop #1. But then again, you can’t really call this a food stop, I mean we were already here for the night, so that meal didn’t really count did it? It was a package deal, it came with the room! I had to eat it! If I’d known how these food stops were going to add up throughout the day, I would have been smart to run a marathon this morning!

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But I digress, and the day was filled with both culinary and scenic delights! We checked out of the inn after breakfast and headed to Walker’s Point to make one last ditch effort to snap a picture of the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport before leaving the area. We had already made two attempts on the previous evening to get a pic, but the small parking space provided for the photo op was jammed with crazy tourists both times. Lucky for us, most crazy tourists sleep later than we do and we were successful this time.  President Bush celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday (by skydiving no less!) and his across the street neighbor had hung a birthday banner at the end of his driveway to mark the occasion.

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After the photo, we headed north and began our trek up the coast. We stopped in a little village called Cape Porpoise and that’s where we made food stop #2. Cape Porpoise is a working fishing village with beautiful homes, a little library, a combination grocery store and post office, a tiny fish market and two or three little restaurants. We parked the car and walked through the village admiring the homes and meeting a couple of the residents. One older couple offered us paintbrushes as they were painting the picket fence in front of their home. Two ladies sitting on their front porch said good morning to Jimmy (I was lagging behind as usual taking pictures). When they noticed him looking back, waiting for someone or something, they asked him if he was waiting on a child or a pet? He said neither, he was waiting on his wife who was taking a million pictures. The older lady said in a matter-of-fact voice, (after hearing him speak), You’re from Texas! He said with a slight shake of the head, “Kentucky”. She said oh…well that’s close. Lol!
We have found the locals to be so friendly and helpful. They always ask where we are from and usually ask what made us decide to visit Maine. There are nice people wherever you go, that’s for sure!

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After our stroll through the village, we decided to have a snack at the Wayfarer. Since it wasn’t quite lunch time yet, and we’d already eaten breakfast, we didn’t quite know what to order. So I had a raspberry oat muffin (the special for the day) and Jimmy wanted to try a side of corned beef hash! It was really good and energized us for more exploring.

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We continued on the backroads, and our next stop was in Yarmouth. We stopped at Royal River Park and walked the trails alongside the river to see the four waterfalls. It is a beautiful little park and sits on the site of a once prosperous and booming part of town, since the falls supplied the power for several big factories. They are all gone now, and the only thing that remains are a few brick fragments and the beautiful falls.

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As we drove back through Yarmouth, we could not resist a visit to Handy Andy’s General Store. The store sells Shaine’s of Maine ice cream out of a side window and it also contains the town post office. That makes Handy Andy’s food stop #3. I noticed on the menu that one could order a half scoop, one scoop, two scoops etc. I assumed a half scoop would have been a child size, so I ordered one scoop of Maine tracks (instead of Moose Tracks) just to make sure I’m keeping my strength up. It was huge! One scoop of Handy Andy’s equals two scoops anywhere else. But I had no trouble eating the whole thing unfortunately…

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We drove through Freeport (home of L.L. Bean) and made a little side trip to the Desert of Maine. We took the short shuttle tour and found it very interesting. The desert is a 40 acre tract of fine sand that was exposed by poor farming practices. The initial small patch of sand that was exposed by overgrazing sheep and failure to rotate crops eventually completely overtook the farm of the Tuttle family. The family abandoned the land in 1919 as the desert grew and all that remains of the farms’ buildings is the large barn that was built in the late 1700s. The dunes covered everything, including a spring house, outbuildings, and trees. The site is preserved as a natural curiosity and has been a tourist attraction since 1925. It was really quite interesting to see and was a neat little side trip.

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From there, we continued to drive northward to our final destination for the day, Wiscasset. It is a beautiful little town with picturesque homes, gardens and neat little shops.

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We had made reservations at the Marston House. This bed and breakfast is in the carriage house that sits behind the main house where the innkeepers live. They live upstairs in the main house (which was built in 1790) and run an antique shop on the ground floor of the house. The antique shop wasn’t open today, but Sharon (the innkeeper) was inside the shop wrapping birthday gifts for her grandchildren. She welcomed us in and allowed me to look around a little, while she got us checked in. It is a beautiful old home, and Sharon and her husband divide their time between Wiscasset and France! She specializes in French textiles and they live in France during the winter months, buying things for their shop back in the states, then return to Wiscasset for the summer. Our room was in the carriage house, which was built later than the main house. Sharon estimated that it was built at around the same time as the extension on the back of the house, which was during the time of the Civil War. Our room is simple, yet beautiful. There’s no TV, no wifi, and no AC (but it’s not needed here) and the windows overlook the lovely garden. We haven’t missed the TV at all, but thankfully, we got soccer updates by text message from our son as the US played Ghana in the World Cup. (When you see this post, you’ll know that we found a coffee shop somewhere to stop long enough to upload the post to the internet).  Sharon asked what time we’d like our breakfast, that it would be delivered to us in a basket either in our room or in the beautiful garden that her husband tends.

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Now for food stop #4 (but at this point, who’s counting?) If there’s one place that has put Wiscasset on the culinary map, it is a little shack beside the bay called Red’s Eats. People drive from miles around and from across the country for that matter, to eat a world-famous lobster roll. Red’s claim to fame is that they put the meat from a whole lobster on one roll. We both had to have one! The lobster was delicious and we enjoyed every bite! Red’s does a booming business and they have lived up to their reputation.

 

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We did as much walking as we possibly could after that, seeing the town and taking photos, and believe it or not, were still able to work in food stop #5 at Sarah’s Café. Jimmy had a great little pizza and I had a salad (after all, I am watching what I eat…)

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As we left Sarah’s we ordered two de-caf coffees to go so that we could enjoy food stop #6 when we returned to our room for the night, and that was the blueberry corn muffin and the chocolate almond cookie we’d bought between food stop #4 and #5 from a little bakery across the street from our Bed and Breakfast. But again, who’s counting….?

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The Mailboat Run

15 Jun

 

20140615_095217_1_1This morning dawned clear and bright after the drizzly rain of the previous day, so we were glad we saved the mailboat run for today.  We had breakfast again at Becky’s Diner and then headed to church at Eastpoint Christian.  We enjoyed the service and its always refreshing to worship with a group of believers in another part of the country.  It does something to encourage your own faith, knowing there are people everywhere that share similar values and beliefs.  Especially touching was the baptism at the end of the service where a young dad baptized his wife and two sons.  Very fitting for father’s day! As soon as the service concluded, we headed back to the wharf area of Portland to buy our tickets for the mailboat run.

The Casco Bay Lines carries mail and parcels for the US Postal service, and in this part of the country, that means mail delivery to the main outlying islands twice a day, seven days a week.  Passengers are welcome to ride along (for a reasonable fee) and watch the packages (and occasional passenger) be off-loaded.  It’s a great way to see a sampling of the islands in the Casco Bay.  There are 365 islands in this area, so they are collectively called the Calendar Islands.  Not all are inhabited, but the mailboat made a number of stops at the larger ones for deliveries. The scenery was beautiful and each docking area was unique.  There would usually be one or two people waiting at the docks, knowing they had a delivery coming in or expecting a family member to arrive on the mailboat.  We saw all sorts of items delivered, including a couch that two women hauled off the dock and into the bed of their waiting pick up truck. The last island on the mailboat delivery route was Cliff Island.  On that island stands the only remaining one-room school house in the state of Maine.  It’s an elementary school for the young students that reside on the island.  This school year, there were a total of 4 students enrolled.  The middle and high school students ride the same mailboat we rode, and leave the island each morning by mailboat at 6:00 am.  They catch the 2:45 pm mailboat out of Portland and return to their island home at 4:00 pm each afternoon.  That makes for a long day, but a beautiful commute!

There were remnants of at least 3 old forts and a few remaining buildings from military installations in places.  The captain of the boat narrated a few points of interest as we traveled, pointing out the remains of a couple of ship wrecks just visible above the water.  The mailboat run took about 3 hours and I would recommend it for anyone wanting a good overview of the Portland Harbor.  Below are just a few of the pictures from the cruise. 20140615_122951_1

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After the boat ride, it was time for lunch!  We stepped off the boat and ate lunch at Gilbert’s Chowder House right at the end of the Casco Bay Line pier.  It was here that we tried our first taste of whole belly clams.  Up until today, we’d only had clam strips.  This area is famous for whole belly clams and though I find the name somewhat disturbing,  they weren’t bad.  I ordered the seafood chowder which was chocked full of shrimp. lobster, crab, and white fish.  It was delicious.  Jimmy went for the scallops and french fries.  The food was good and we really enjoyed the outside seating on the dock on such a beautiful day. 20140615_131756_1

20140615_131803_1After lunch, we headed south to Kennebunkport.  We took back roads all the way and enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the coast.  We checked in to our first true Maine Bed and Breakfast, The Beach House Inn, built in 1890.  We’ve found that family-run inns and bed and breakfasts are primarily predominate here, there are a few chain hotels and motels, but the inns and b & b’s far outnumber the chains.  We were delighted that our room overlooked the ocean and we will be sleeping with all of the windows open tonight!  It’s cool at night and warm and sunny during the day but not hot. 20140615_154551_1

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We dropped off our suitecases and walked across the street to the beach and walked along the beach for a bit.  The water is very cold and though there were a few folks on the beach, we only saw two kids actually brave enough to be in the water.  Later in the afternoon, we decided to drive a ways along the coast to see more of the area.  We came to a nice little park near Walker’s Point (where the Bush family compound is located) and pulled off to explore.  It was the site of a beautiful old stone Episcopal church, Saint Anne’s,  that was built in the mid 1800’s.  The park was right on the ocean and there was an open air altar and pews on the point over-looking the ocean.  The old stone church however, was really the eye-catcher.  All the doors were standing open and inside we read that it was built on that spot to always be a welcome refuge for people.  The Bush family had provided some of the structural improvements and restorations that had been necessary throughout the years 20140615_171511_1

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After driving a while longer, we began to get hungry so we headed back to Kennebunkport and stopped for dinner at Arundel Wharf.  We were seated right away under an umbrella on the dock overlooking the Kennebunk River and enjoyed watching the schooners travel up the river to dock for the night.  I had a wonderful salad and shrimp cocktail.  Jimmy went for the scallops once again.  Can’t wait til tomorrow’s meals…

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The Maine Thing

14 Jun

IMG_4887_1After many days of planning and research, our Maine trip is here!  We had talked off and on for several years about heading up to Maine, and after seeing a friends pictures on Instagram of her trip, (thanks Casey!) we decided to take the plunge this summer.  After a long day of travel we landed in Portland, Maine in the late afternoon.  We rented a car at the airport and easily found our way to our hotel.  We unloaded the car, dropped our suitcases in the room and immediately began the search for fresh seafood for dinner.  The concierge at the hotel was a great help and directed us to a little place right across the street, and down an alley called Street and Co.  (http://streetandcompany.net/)  It was cool and rainy but it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm, and Street and Company did not disappoint us. The Old Port area of Portland, where we are staying is full of charming little shops and cobblestone streets, and this little restaurant is a gem.

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We were seated right away in the quaint dining room on an elevated wood floor that overlooked the very small, yet very organized open kitchen.  A number of chefs wasted no motion in busily preparing food for the restaurant.  It was quite entertaining to watch them work as we waited for our meal.  I ordered scallops and Jimmy went for the garlic shrimp pasta.

20140613_191829We  ordered dessert after our seafood, and  I chose the chocolate hazelnut torte and he went with the bourbon pecan pie.  It was a memorable meal and has set the tone for the week.

20140613_194146This morning for breakfast, we walked to a diner down by the wharf called Becky’s Diner. (http://www.beckysdiner.com/)

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We had done our research and had read good things about this family owned business that opens at 4:00 am to feed breakfast to the lobstermen and fishermen before they go out on the boats.  Jimmy ate the wild blueberry pancakes and I had a fruit, yogurt, granola bowl.  One interesting thing we noticed was that when the waitress told us about the breakfast specials, she mentioned that today’s side was a bowl of beans, and she meant for breakfast, not lunch.  That was a first and we decided to pass.

IMG_4849_1_1IMG_4850_1_1We left Becky’s and walked back to the hotel, got the car and headed to the Saturday farmer’s market in Deering Oaks Park.  Deering Oaks is a beautiful park shaded with a canopy of tall oak trees.  The farmer’s market sets up in the center of the park each Saturday beginning at 7:00 am.  We walked along the rows of fresh produce, flowers, artisan cheeses, specialty meats and just enjoyed nature’s bounty.  It was a great market and we enjoyed mingling with the locals.

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20140614_090755IMG_4875_1We left the farmer’s market and headed to Victoria Mansion.  I love touring old homes and seeing all the interesting architecture, and learning about life from different time periods.  Thankfully Jimmy is very tolerant of this and always willing to tag along.  We arrived about 30 minutes before the first tour was to begin, so decided we’d pass the time waiting with a cappuccino for him and hot tea for me.  We found a little cafe called Artemisia right around the corner from the mansion.  (http://artemisiacafe.com/)  The weather today was perfect for a cup of English breakfast tea!

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We finished our hot drinks and headed back to the mansion for the tour.  If you are in the Portland area, and enjoy old homes, you’ve got to see this one.  This particular house was outstanding.  It was built before the civil war and used as a summer home by a family from New Orleans.  It had 95% of it’s original furnishings and was very elaborate.  Photos were not allowed inside the house, but you can read about the mansion at  http://www.victoriamansion.org/

After the tour, we headed to Port Elizabeth to see a couple of lighthouses, but especially to eat lunch at another family owned restaurant we’d heard about called The Lobster Shack (http://lobstershacktwolights.com/)  .  The light house was beautiful and the food and atmosphere at the Lobster Shack was thoroughly Maine!  We stepped up to the counter and placed our order, then took our food outside to the picnic tables overlooking the ocean.  I had a delicious bowl of clam chowder and Jimmy went for the lobster roll.

IMG_4878_1IMG_4879_1IMG_4882_1IMG_4881_1IMG_4880_1After lunch, we walked around the park surrounding the Portland Head Light (lighthouse)

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then headed back to the city to walk along the wharfs, then on to the Eastern Promenade which is a public footpath along the banks of the harbor.  The view overlooking the water was beautiful and many families were out enjoying the afternoon.

IMG_4897_1IMG_4895_1IMG_4903_1After a long walk, we headed back to our hotel, got cleaned up and walked to dinner at David’s Restaurant. I ordered the grilled vegetable Napolean and a wonderful salad with a cranberry vinaigrette.

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Jimmy ordered the lobster dinner (which did not come with instructions, and was not split down the back as we’ve usually had).  They handed him a pair of lobster “pliers” and he did pretty well with it (after I Googled instructions on how to eat a whole lobster).  We had a good time (and many laughs) trying to tackle it together!

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IMG_4911_1And as you can see, we had one more round of dessert before calling it a day…that’s blueberry cheesecake and a salted caramel cashew chocolate torte!