//-->
KRIKA.COM
EXPLORING COASTAL MAINE
 
   Home    
   See our   Silver Collections
   See our   Christmas Crafts
   See our Ebook at    GettingCreative.org
   Tour our destination Sites
   Visit our gardens at     GreenGardeningCookingCuring.com
EXPLORING COASTAL MAINE

In August this past summer my husband and I went on a memory lane trip where one of two takes the other on a voyage into the past. We flew into Boston, rented a car and headed north taking the very slow scenic route the whole way until we reached Lubec, the most northeasterly point in the United States. It was a moving event in many ways as we were on the road and I was as well on a journey of remembrances.

Even though it was very late in the evening because of a delayed flight and still high season in New England, we found a lovely hotel with a very comfortable and well appointed room for the night. The night desk was womaned by two friendly older women who were terrific at telling us whom to call for food at that hour. Our first night on the road to Maine was auspicious so we felt good about the coming trip and we were right. It was wonderful.

Following the coast north soon passed from Massachusetts into New Hampshire to see a coastline totally new to me. We saw the Seabrook Nuclear Plant and I wanted more than anything to be as far from it as we could get as quickly as we could get there. My husband is a mechanical engineer trained largely to work in power plants and he felt as on edge being so close to Seabrook as I did. An accident in such a place is only a tragic moment away. Somewhere along this coast we stopped overnight in a funny little place with cabins near the beach. All but one were occupied and we heard lovely things about the place from all the folks from New York who had been coming for years of summers.

 

FREEPORT

The next day on the road was filled with enjoying the differences between Guatemala and the US and especially enjoying New England. Our first goal was Freeport and the L.L. Bean store where I was going to buy lots of a particular type of men's pants that make me look better than I am.

In a book I'd picked up somewhere we found a cabin motel, the Maine Idyll Motor Court, on the far edge of town. It sounded perfect and it truly was. We got very lucky as they had one of their 20 cabins still available when we stopped by in early evening. I grew up in Rhode Island and inherited my wanderlust from my mother who regularly piled the three of us into the back seat of our giant Ford to take off exploring. Back then there were no highways in New England, so we drove hither and yonder and saw and experienced everything along the way. We always stayed in tiny cabins and much of what I remembered about traveling with my family as a child returned to me with great warmth and fondness on this trip in Maine.

 
If you just love hydrangeas like I do, please visit my plant site to see many more.
http://www.greengardeningcookingcuring.com/H.html#Hydrangeas

Having unloaded our luggage, we drove back into town to the very chic supermarket, got some food to cook that evening and sat outside our cabin enjoying the receding sunlight. Next day, after a leisurely wake up we got on the road to Freeport and the L.L. Bean store for our big shopping experience. We are both looking better for our perfectly fitting new pants and I am walking happily in my new shoes. It may seem hard to believe, but after the Bean store we got back on the road north leaving behind hundreds of other shopping possibilities in tiny Freeport.

For many people, The Freeport shops and the natural environment in nearby places might make it an ideal place to stay a while and explore some of the many faces of Maine. There are lots of mid and upper range places to stay along with the little cabin place and dozens of good restaurants.

Maine Idyll Motor Court, 1411 US Rt. 1, Freeport, ME  04032
www.maineidyll.com

BOOTHBAY
Still traveling north on Rt. 1 or 1a, I was thrilled to be approaching Boothbay having read about a new and huge Botanical Garden there. Since I write a website entirely devoted to gardens and gardening for me this was one of the high points of the trip. If you love gardening too, take a look at Green Gardening, Cooking and Curing. At a roadside information booth along the way we found notice of a camp site with cabins for rent. It sounded intriguing. The phone call we made to them was a bit strange, but we headed in that direction anyway figuring we had nothing to lose by taking a look.
 

We found our way to the campsite on a tiny island across a short, busy, swinging  bridge from Boothbay and were shown to a small house with a porch overlooking Boothbay Harbor. It seemed perfect. Two bedrooms, kitchen, large living room with fireplace and a glorious porch. What could be better for two days or so? Alarm bells did ring and were ignored when we were asked to remove our shoes so we could be shown the house. We didn't notice the broken porch chairs, no firewood, no ice, no small courtesies in the kitchen like sugar and salt.

It was perfect, though the owner's OCD issues made leaving, even without stealing anything, more than dreadful. At $200/per night, I am not usually usually asked to empty the waste baskets. I would never stay there again even though our two days in Boothbay were delightful. There are many old and charming houses to rent and knowing what's coming does make a difference.

 

In and Around Boothbay

Boothbay is a wonderful area of coastal Maine, with sailing and seafood, a town full of charming shops and restaurants, biking and walking and full service hotels with every New England bit of charm and centuries old guest houses full of antiques. It is lovely.

Photographed: On the Road to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay, Maine, 2013.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Sadly, the botanical gardens that had brought us here proved expensive and disappointing, a place I considered "tourism product."

But, the small town of Boothbay was delightful. Yes, it was touristy, but it was still an authentic New England summer town. I found a perfect hat and we bought huge Maine lobsters to cook along with a dozen ears of sweet corn.

To see more of this garden, please click here,
http://www.greengardeningcookingcuring.com/Botanical%20Gardens.html#CoastalMaineGardens

MT. DESERT ISLAND AND BAR HARBOR

From Boothbay we continued north heading toward Mt. Desert Island. This is one of the best known of Maine destinations and truly for good reasons. There are towns like Bar Harbor to entertain even the most jaded of us. With gardens, many streets of non-generic shopping and maybe a hundred non generic restaurants, this is the "real deal." You will also find all of the name brand stores and restaurants you have seen everywhere if that is what you are looking for. But, you aren't limited by the all too familiar.

Photographed: On an Afternoon in Bar Harbor in August, 2013.

Leaving Bar Harbor, we followed the Mt. Desert Island circular road that follows the island's edge and its towns, parks and sights along the way. Not too many places that are so easy to get to offer so much beauty. Except for skiers or other winter sports enthusiasts, Maine is not such a great place in the winter, being freezing or at least very cold for much of the year. But, Maine at its best in the summer is glorious for those of us with year round cold toes!

One of the real treats on the island is Thuya Garden, a "pay what you want on the honor system" place of peace. Thuya was a very pleasant surprise. Not only was it an artfully landscaped garden, it also did its beautiful plant work organically, once again proving that it can be done. Here is their statement, "We at Thuya Garden are proud of our organic horticultural practices. We exclude the use of all non-organic pesticides and herbicides and strictly limit the application of any chemical fertilizer." I could not have said it better myself.

To see more of Thuya garden, please click here to visit my gardening website,
http://www.greengardeningcookingcuring.com/Botanical%20Gardens.html#thuya

Leaving Mt. Desert Island in the late evening on a Friday night made us uneasy as we had a terrible accident caused by a young drunk driver some years ago also on a Friday evening. We still haven't recovered so when night falls, we get off the road no matter where we are. As it turned out we stopped by a little tattered place with cabins and a string of motel units and encountered a sweet sixteen year old Indian girl, daughter of the owners who were out at the time. She showed us what was available. She was very helpful and we opted for one of the kitchen equipped motel units at what seemed a very reasonable price.

Across the road was a big place advertising "Barbecue and Lobsters." Having settled into the motel, we ventured across the busy road to explore our options at the restaurant. I think a southern born friend of mine would have described it best, "Not our kind of place, dahlin." 

DIXMONT
Leaving the well known and very popular Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert Island, we headed west, a bit inland, to a small town called Dixmont where in my youth I had thought to start a small homestead. It was a heartfelt and grand folly, but decades later the folks there remembered me as fondly as I remember them and maybe in the end it doesn't get better than that. My husband Stassi and I walked up the hill to where I thought my old property was. We were talking of experienced youthful dreams and follies with much warmth and no regrets.

I lived in the woods in Dixmont for two summers clearing my small piece of land. With my two Irish setters I slept in a two man pup tent and cut trees on the land with an antique buck saw I had bought years before. I bathed daily in a narrow river flowing beneath a short bridge and got bottles of water from an ever flowing spring in the center of town. At that time it did not have plastic tubing.

Just above my tent site across a ravine with a pond full of frogs there was an old couple living in their traditional family home. They had a huge barn and still maintained a large kitchen garden.

Back then, the Town of Dixmont consisted of a small general store, a beautiful centuries old milk cow farm and a post office pictured to the right. The building is still there, now replaced by a modern brick building post office a few blocks away.
 

CHERRYVILLE

Leaving Dixmont we headed back to the coast again heading north. We hoped to pass through a town I remembered well for its colonial homes and feeling of community. Cherryville has changed a little bit over the years as others who passed through found it equally appealing. Folks from New York retiring into the antiques business, folks from chic neighborhoods in Boston hoping to move into the gourmet restaurant business and others of that sort have settled there. Some have done well; some will be moving on after another winter.

 

MACHIAS

From Dixmont with emotions almost in check, we headed north and east back toward the coast, spending a night in a college town with a large motel at its entrance and another at its exit. The first one we passed didn't seem to have the charm we had gotten used to so we drove on to the end of town and stopped by to see the end of town motel. It was okay, but the chemical spray of some flowery smell was just more than we could bear so we drove back to the beginning of town and checked in.

In the morning we dawdled a bit and then got back on the road north finding along the way a Saturday morning caravan of crafts and foods vendors. Ah, a chance to get out of the car. I found a lovely old cruet and sadly we passed by a fellow who had made wonderful wind chimes out of cuttlery. My husband kept saying how are we going to pack this? We also found a young woman selling beautiful ripe tomatoes who turned out also to be from Rhode Island. She'd picked up from her home there and bought a small piece of property in the middle of no where Maine. I was immediately reminded of my younger self and I truly wished her all my best.

LUBEC, MAINE, AND CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, CANADA

 

LUBEC HERRING SMOKEHOUSE MUSEUM

On the trip I'd made to Maine in my youthful hunt for utopia, I'd traveled north to the US border with Canada and the most northeasterly part of the United States. Last year, we were headed that way again to see some of what I remembered and more of what had happened over the years.

Not long after leaving Machias, we were gliding on into Lubec, the end point of the US east coast. On my quest for land I had arrived here with my two Irish Setters in the back of the car, shouting with glee, "Civilization!" when I spied a huge old barn with six foot very faded painted letters spelling out -- MUSEUM. As we neared the building I was able to discern the smaller letters spelling out "Herring."

Understandably, my enthusiasm waned, but you can see in the photograph to the left things have changed.

 
 

I drove on into town looking to the left toward the sea with ever more open eyes as the ocean had retreated, leaving small and medium fishing boats sitting in the bay's bottom mud tied to lines stretching 20 or more feet to the docks above.

On this recent voyage to Lubec, much was changed. We drove into town and there actually was a town and it was very appealing. There was still a "sardine museum' and the bridge to Campobello, the Canadian island where President Roosevelt and Eleanor had a home, and where a comfortable afternoon might be spent in any of the few warm months of the year. Back in Lubec, we watched the tides come and go, emptying the harbor and then filling it again. It was as I remembered, still just as strange and as peculiarly wonderful.

Below are photographs not of surging seas in the channel between Lubec and Campobellow, but of the simple change of tides in this extreme environment.

Below are photographs of the much changed town of Lubec. It is charming now and the surrounding area is extraordinarily beautiful. Much of the town's economic survival still comes from fishing, but now there is tourism too.

 
From our hotel we could see this dock where in under an hour a huge number of shellfish were offloaded, packed and loaded on trucks for the journey south.

Back then I passed a motel and drove on a short way seeing few residences, even fewer businesses and then a bridge to Canada. I thought twice about it and turned back toward the motel where the setters and I would sleep before turning back south.

The motel is still there and looking better than it did back then.

In this very chilly most northeastern point of the United States there are many things to fill the days once the shopping has been exhausted. Of course whale watching tops the list, but renting kayaks or a sailboat for the day bring up close seconds for excitement. For me, I think of packing a lunch, getting back on a bicycle, crossing the bridge to Canada spending the day exploring backcountry roads almost entirely free of cars. I don't think it gets better than that.
 

 

 

LUBEC LIGHTHOUSE

CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, CANADA

We had stopped by this old graveyard and pristine church to wander amongst the stones. As we were just there, by a dirt road came a young man in a motarized wheel chair with a beautiful large golden retriever tied to the arm. We stopped to talk. Having been sent off to war whole he had lost the use of his legs. Returning to his life as a fisherman here in Campobello was not going to happen.

1970's Lincoln Continental in Perfect Condition
The old fellow selling this car had made himself comfortable in a plastic lawn chair where he appeared to have spent most of the day. In a situation where "hope springs eternal" he awaited the one customer who was going to drive away in his "baby." At the end of the day she would go back under wraps where no doubt she had spent much of her life.

Lubec seen from Campobello Island

Campobello Island Lighthouse

 

BELFAST
Belfast is a relatively affluent large town in Maine. We were on the road south heading toward Rhode Island when we were passing through and thought it the perfect place for an overnight. We lucked out and found ourselves in a two bedroom cottage with a porch in spitting distance of a calm ocean beach.

Belfast has streets and lanes with beautifully restored historic homes. Chic restaurants and shops line the town's main streets. As we drove toward the huge and wonderful supermarket, we passed ship shape shipyards which is probably from where the town derives much of its income.

We got back to the cottage with lovely food and settled in for the night. In the morning we decided to stay yet one more night before saying "Goodbye, Maine."

ESSENTIALS

Food in Maine: You will find seafood in all forms and shapes and preparations in almost every restaurant in Maine. It is always a good choice. In many restaurants, you can expect good comfort food, but only rarely will you find something one would call gourmet. In Portsmouth you will find a whole range of food options just like you do in every city everywhere. One of my favorite places was a place on a country road south of Dixmont. Its sign said "EAT." Occasionally taking orders well, I put on the brakes and went right on in. I had a hamburger made by a grandmother with her own hands from a small pile of ground beef. It was fabulous! Of course it was also many years ago.

Accommodations in Maine: For the time being, you are still going to find an entire range of possibilities. There are five star places that you can find anywhere in the world, lovely roadside motels with pools and all services, places with charming cabins that lack wireless and cable TV, and seemingly run down places that turn out to be very well cared for by a loving family. Where ever you stay you are unlikely to be disappointed.

Dressing
Maine is little different from the rest of the US, but you will find it more comfortable if you have a sweater along with you even at the height of summer.

Courtesy
This is New England and people you encounter may be more reserved than people are in other parts of the country. It isn't that they are unfriendly or guarded; they give to and expect a lot from a friendship and they don't give it away in a breeze. Being courteous is always a good beginning.

THUYA GARDEN
Seal Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Maine
www.GardenPreserve.org
Tel: 207-276-3727

Back to TRAVELS AND OTHER TALES HOME PAGE