Maine Travel Maven https://www.mainetravelmaven.com Maine trip planning and info Wed, 26 Jul 2017 12:56:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 13231986 Marsden Hartley’s Maine: The view from Katahdin Woods & Waters https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/marsden-hartleys-maine-katahdin-woods-waters/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/marsden-hartleys-maine-katahdin-woods-waters/#respond Tue, 25 Jul 2017 17:50:49 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=12020 Artist Marsden Hartley captured the magic and beauty of Maine’s Katahdin Woods & Waters region decades before it was even under consideration as a national monument. When I look at his paintings depicting Katahdin or a brawny lumberjack or flowing water or jumbled logs, I see the same images that I’ve experienced when traveling in […]

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Experience Marsden Hartley's Maine by visiting the Katahdin Woods & Waters region in the Maine Highlands.
Visit Maine’s Katahdin & Woods region and step into Marsden Hartley’s, Mt. Katahdin (Maine), Autumn #2, 1939–40. Oil on canvas, 30 1⁄4 x 40 1⁄4 in. (76.8 x 102.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Edith and Milton Lowenthal Collection, Bequest of Edith Abrahamson Lowenthal.

Artist Marsden Hartley captured the magic and beauty of Maine’s Katahdin Woods & Waters region decades before it was even under consideration as a national monument. When I look at his paintings depicting Katahdin or a brawny lumberjack or flowing water or jumbled logs, I see the same images that I’ve experienced when traveling in this region.

Katahdin's distinctive silhouette as seen aboard a cruise from New England Outdoor Center. ©Hilary Nangle
Katahdin’s distinctive silhouette remains the same as when Marsden Hartley painted the iconic mountain. ©Hilary Nangle

Beyond earning recognition as The Painter from Maine, artist Marsden Hartley also strove to serve as Katahdin’s “official portrait painter.” Between 1937, when he made an eight-day pilgrimage to Maine’s tallest peak, and his death in 1943, Hartley made more than a dozen paintings of Katahdin.

Pair a visit to Marsden Hartley’s Maine, on view at Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville through Nov. 12, 2018, with one to Baxter State Park and the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in the Maine Highlands region. While the river drivers are long gone, you can experience the era in ways similar to Hartley.

For a real immersion into Maine's logging heritage, plan a visit to the Ambejejus Boom House, a National Historic Landmark accessible only by water, in Maine. ©Hilary Nangle .
The Ambajejus Boom House is sited where the West Branch of the Penobscot flows into Ambejejus Lake, in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, in Maine. ©Hilary Nangle .

Visit the Ambajejus Boom House

The last log drive on the West Branch of the Penobscot occurred in 1979. For a vision of that era, visit the Ambajejus Boom House (donation appreciated), a property on Ambajejus Lake that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 The Ambajejus Boom House recalls the era depicted in Marsden Hartley's Log Jam, Penobscot Bay, 1940-41, oil on hardboard (massonite).
Experience the river driver’s life depicted in Marsden Hartley’s Log Jam, Penobscot Bay, at the Ambajejus Boom House.

The boom house, erected here in 1906, was used as a rest stop for 65 years by rugged river drivers, lumbermen who “boomed out” (collected with immense chains) and actually rode logs downstream to the sawmills. Chuck Harris, a onetime river driver who is often on-site, made the meticulous restoration of the once-derelict house a personal project. It’s filled with incredible lumbering-era artifacts.

Here’s a wonderful video about the Boom House  that appeared on Bill Green’s Maine.

Here’s the rub: The only access is via boat or snowmobile. You can arrange a cruise or canoe rental through the Big Moose Inn (provide at least 48 hours notice for a cruise) or a canoe rental or guided trip with New England Outdoor Center or do it yourself.

If you go on your own, launch your boat in Spencer Cove on the west side of the Golden Road, and paddle or motor out and around to the right, to the head of the lake. Stay close to shore, as the wind can pick up unexpectedly.

Raft the Penobscot River

One fine and fun way to experience the area is on a whitewater rafting trip down the West Branch of the Penobscot River. One-day Penobscot River rafting trips pass through Ripogenous Gorge, a rip-roaring chasm of roiling Class IV and V white water, over nine-foot Nesoudnehunk Falls, through a few other Class IV rapids and a few ponds, all in the shadow of Katahdin. It’s a fabulous adventure, and a riverside lunch is included.

Book a trip with the New England Outdoor Center, based in updated and renovated historical sporting camp on Millinocket Lake with gorgeous Katahdin views.

Hike Katahdin in Baxter State Park. ©Hilary Nangle
Katahdin as seen from Daicy Pond in Baxter State Park. ©Hilary Nangle

Hike Katahdin

Mile-high Katahdin, northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, is the Holy Grail for most Baxter State Park hikers—and certainly for Appalachian Trail through-hikers, who have walked 2,158 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to get here.

Katahdin comprises a single high point (Baxter Peak, 5,267 feet) and several neighboring peaks (Pamola Peak, 4,902 feet; Hamlin Peak, 4,756 feet; and the three Howe Peaks, 4,612-4,734 feet).

Thousands of hikers scale Katahdin annually via several different routes. The climb is strenuous, requires a very full day, and is not suitable for small children; kids under age 6 are banned above the tree line. You’ll be a lot happier and a lot less exhausted if you plan to camp in the park before and after the Katahdin hike. Cut-off time for most trails ascending Katahdin is noon.

Of course, there are plenty of other options: Baxter offers more than 200 miles of trails with options for all abilities, from nature walks to the big kahoona.

Along the Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway. ©Hilary Nangle
Drive the Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway which gives a taste of the new National Monument. ©Hilary Nangle

Katahdin Woods and Waters

A gift to the nation by conservationist and philanthropist Roxanne Quimby in 2016, the rugged and remote Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument is a work in progress. Sited west of Route 11 and east of Baxter State Park, in the Unorganized Territories north of Millinocket and south of Patten, the monument is remote and without many services, with access via dirt road woods roads that best suited for vehicles with high ground clearance. This, of course, will change as the National Park Service develops infrastructure.

Woodlands, wetlands, free-flowing waterways, and rolling mountains pepper the 87,654-acre outdoor playground. Highlights include the East Branch of the Penobscot River, hiking trails in eastern Katahdin foothills, spectacular views of Katahdin, and the biodiversity and geology of the Maine Woods.

Culturally, the lands are important to the Penobscot Indian National, recall the era of lumbermen and river drivers, and have ties to Henry David Thoreau, John James Audubon, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, fish, camp, paddle, ski, snowshoe, watch wildlife, and star gaze here, although facilities are primitive at best.

Drive the byway
Katahdin dominates the landscape from one of the pullouts along the Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway. ©Hilary Nangle
Katahdin as seen from the Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway in Patten. ©Hilary Nangle

One of the easiest ways to get a sense of the monument is via the 89-mile Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway. The route winds between Millinocket and Patten, following the Baxter State Park Road and Routes 11 and 159, offering views of Maine’s highest peak and taking in museums and sights en route. A map-brochure, detailing the byway and sights and services along it, can be picked up locally or downloaded from www.exploremaine.org.

Here’s my recommended detour from the byway: On a clear day, detour west off Route 11 on the Happy Corner Road, about two miles south of downtown Patten, follow it about two miles to the Frenchville Road, on your right, and take that (gravel in sections) north to a T intersection and bear right on the Waters Road, which will connect with Route 159, turn right to return to Route 11 and Patten. The biggest rewards for this loop are the panoramic views of Katahdin from the Happy Corner Road; the rest is a delightful country byway, with some nice ridge views east from the Frenchville Road. It’s simply gorgeous in autumn.

**By the way, if you want to view works depicting this region by contemporary artists, visit the North Light Gallery in downtown Millinocket.

Also in this series:

Marsden Hartley’s Maine: The view from Corea

Marsden Hartley’s Maine: Must see at Colby College Museum of Art

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Bernie, Maine’s dog-friendly expert, makes his final post https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/maines-dog-friendly-expert-makes-final-post/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/maines-dog-friendly-expert-makes-final-post/#comments Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:15:50 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=11978 Last Friday I said a final goodbye to one of my favorite travel companions and my resident expert in dog-friendly experiences. Bernie, my 11-year-old Leonberger, earned his wings at 8 weeks, when I picked him up and flew home from Chicago’s O’Hare. Once he’d mastered guest etiquette, he accompanied me often, checking out pet-friendly accommodations, […]

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R.I.P Bernie and thanks for all your research.
My travel companion Bernie, an 11-year-old Leonberger, is now exploring doggie heaven.

Last Friday I said a final goodbye to one of my favorite travel companions and my resident expert in dog-friendly experiences.

Bernie, my 11-year-old Leonberger, earned his wings at 8 weeks, when I picked him up and flew home from Chicago’s O’Hare. Once he’d mastered guest etiquette, he accompanied me often, checking out pet-friendly accommodations, sniffing out the best hikes, helping determine the best ice cream stands and lobster shacks, and just keeping an eye out for other special places.

Bernie was a pro at checking out walks and hikes as well as accommodations and restaurants. ©Hilary Nangle
A winter walk on Crescent Beach, while staying at the uber-dog-friendly Inn by the Sea. ©Hilary Nangle

Over the years, Bernie picnicked and visited lighthouses; enjoyed yacht-spotting in Northeast Harbor; grooved to the music at the Grand Lake Stream Folk Arts Festival; feasted at restaurants with outdoor seating; hiked trails; browsed dog-friendly stores.

In his prime, Bernie checked in and checked out numerous lodgings statewide and never had a complaint. Here are some of his recommendations for his favorite dog-friendly accommodations.

Pet-friendly travel expert in-trainingCashel on his first trip at 3 months. ©Hilary Nangle
Cashel made his first road trip at 3 months (and yes, he grew into those paws). ©Hilary Nangle

He also helped train Cashel, my 2-year-old Leonberger, who will be assuming the Dog-Friendly Researcher-in-Chief title as soon he matures a bit more. (In his puppy exuberance Crashel, as he’s affectionately known, accidentally broke my shoulder earlier this year when he lunged unexpectedly and I went airborne. I should mention he’s a big boy, about 140 pounds of energy). He’s not quite ready for prime time, but likely will begin selective reviewing later this fall or winter.

A few parting shots:

Leashed, well behaved dogs are permitted to attend the Grand Lake Stream Folk Arts Festival. ©Tom Nangle
Groovin’ to the music at the Grand Lake Stream Folk Arts Festival. ©Tom Nangle
Bernie always was eager to see what was on the menu at restaurants with outdoor pet-friendly seating. ©Hilary Nangle
Waiting for lobster at McLoon’s Lobster Shack in Spruce Head. ©Hilary Nangle
Until we meet again. ©Tom Nangle
Bernie, the world’s best dog. ©Tom Nangle

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Marsden Hartley’s Maine: The view from Corea, with Joe Young https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/marsden-hartleys-maine-the-view-from-corea/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/marsden-hartleys-maine-the-view-from-corea/#respond Tue, 11 Jul 2017 12:45:31 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=11902 I recently toured Marsden Hartley’s Maine, on view at Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville through Nov. 12, 2018. The exhibition, which first showed at the Met Breuer in New York, is a Maine travelogue via the works of Hartley, a master American modernist and the Painter from Maine. One way to experience the […]

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Lobster Fishermen, painted in Corea, Maine, by Marsden Hartley
Marsden Hartley, Lobster Fishermen, 1940–41. Oil on hardboard (masonite), 29 3/4 x 40 7/8 in. (75.6 x 103.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund

I recently toured Marsden Hartley’s Maine, on view at Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville through Nov. 12, 2018. The exhibition, which first showed at the Met Breuer in New York, is a Maine travelogue via the works of Hartley, a master American modernist and the Painter from Maine.

Hartley used the upper story of Corea's abandoned baptist church in 1940.
Lobster Fishermen’s church by the Barrens, 1942, oil on hardboard (masonite_. collection of Karen and Kevin Kennedy.

One way to experience the Hartley show is to visit some of the locales depicted in his works.

For starters, let’s drop into Corea, Maine.

Marsden Hartley and Corea

Sixth-generation lobsterman Joe Young, a descendant of Corea’s original settlers, owns the Corea Wharf Grill & Gallery (one of my favorite Maine lobster shacks). From 1940-1943, Hartley lived with Joe’s grandparents Forrest and Katie Young.

Hartley’s Lobster Fishermen is the image topping this page. According to interpretive signage: “Hartley incorporated into this painting of lobster fishermen on break the panoramic harbor view he would have seen from his makeshift studio on the second floor of Corea’s abandoned Baptist church.”

As you can see from my photo, if you go to the wharf today, you’ll see pretty much the same dreamy view. Corea’s harbor remains lined with trap-topped wharves and filled with lobster boats.

The abandoned Baptist church in Corea that Hartley used as a studio.
Church at Corea, 1941, oil on canvas board. Collection of Karen and Kevin Kennedy.

Hartley used the church as his studio until moving into a chicken coop the Youngs rented to him. The church, as seen in Lobster Fishermen’s hurch by the Barrens, above left and Church at Corea, right, also served as a subject.

Family stories

The last time I visited Joe, he was kind enough to share a few stories. In the first video, Joe shares a story about his aunt, photographer Louise Z. Young, and her interaction with Hartley. Joe sells prints of images taken by his aunt in the gallery on the wharf. Be sure to browse through, when you stop in for a lobster roll.

 

In this video, Joe shares a story from when his grandparents when to New York to view a Marsden Hartley exhibition.

 

 

 

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Marsden Hartley’s Maine: Must see at Colby College Museum of Art https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/marsden-hartleys-maine-must-see-at-colby-college-museum-of-art/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/marsden-hartleys-maine-must-see-at-colby-college-museum-of-art/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 14:08:23 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=11932 Lobster! Katahdin! Portland Headlight! Crashing surf! One would be hard pressed to create a travel itinerary taking in Maine’s icons better than that presented in Marsden Hartley’s Maine, on view at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville through Nov. 12, 2017. A collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marsden Hartley’s Maine presents […]

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Marsden Hartley, The Lighthouse, 1940–41. Oil on masonite-type hardboard, 30 x 40 1/8 in. (76.2 x 101.9 cm). Collection of Pitt and Barbara Hyde

Lobster! Katahdin! Portland Headlight! Crashing surf! One would be hard pressed to create a travel itinerary taking in Maine’s icons better than that presented in Marsden Hartley’s Maine, on view at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville through Nov. 12, 2017.

A collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marsden Hartley’s Maine presents approximately 90 of the American Modernist’s paintings and drawings depicting his home state of Maine.

Marsden Hartley, The Lighthouse, 1940–41. Oil on masonite-type hardboard, 30 x 40 1/8 in. (76.2 x 101.9 cm). Collection of Pitt and Barbara Hyde

You don’t need to be an art aficionado to appreciate this exhibit. Go because it encapsulates the best of Maine. I  promise that you’ll recognize some locations and be inspired to visit others.

Born in Lewiston in 1877, Hartley resided in New York, Paris, and Berlin, traveling widely, but returning frequently to Maine, before dying in Ellsworth in 1943. In between he established himself as The Painter from Maine, a legacy made clear in this exhibition.

Marsden Hartley, Mt. Katahdin (Maine), Autumn #2, 1939–40. Oil on canvas, 30 1⁄4 x 40 1⁄4 in. (76.8 x 102.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Edith and Milton Lowenthal Collection, Bequest of Edith Abrahamson Lowenthal

Hartley’s paintings transport viewers along Maine’s coastline from Ogunquit to Corea, out to Vinalhaven island, inland to the western lakes and mountains, and north to the Katahdin Woods and Waters region.

Along the way, we visit gurgling streams, mountain-backed lakes, ships at sea, and forested peaks. We also meet the locals, from burly bathers to hardy fishermen.

In future posts, I’ll focus on some of the locations depicted, using Hartley’s works as an entry point.

Marsden Hartley, Lobster Fishermen, 1940–41. Oil on hardboard (masonite), 29 3/4 x 40 7/8 in. (75.6 x 103.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund
Co-curated exhibtion

Co-curators Elizabeth Finch, Lunder Curator of American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art; Donna M. Cassidy, professor of American and New England Studies and Art History at the University of Southern Maine; and Randall Griffey, curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art  at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, have created an exhibition that follows Hartley’s development as an artist and identifies the various influences on his works.

Marsden Hartley, Canuck Yankee Lumberjack at Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 1940–41. Oil on Masonite-type hardboard, 40 1/8 x 30 in. (101.9 x 76.2 cm). Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution

Even if you were fortunate enough to view this exhibit at the Met Breuer this spring, come see it at Colby, too. I’ve enjoyed it in both locations, and honestly, I think I like the Maine venue more—perhaps because the works have come home.

If you go:

The Colby College Museum of Art is open 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday and noon-5pm Sunday; admission is free. NOTE: Every Tuesday at noon, a curator leads a free tour of Marsden Hartley’s Maine.

While here, don’t miss the companion exhibit Visionary Painting, curated by Alex Katz, on view through Aug. 27.

 

 

 

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Insider Scoop—Ogunquit, Maine: 5 questions with Allyson Cavaretta https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/insider-scoop-ogunquit-maine-5-questions-with-allyson-cavaretta/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/insider-scoop-ogunquit-maine-5-questions-with-allyson-cavaretta/#respond Sat, 08 Jul 2017 21:49:40 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=11857 My list of Ogunquit must-see/do includes the gorgeous sand beach, of course, as well as strolling the Marginal Way, poking around Perkins Cove, attending an Ogunquit Playhouse production, and seeing the exhibits inside and out at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. But there’s more to this pretty seaside town. During a recent visit, I […]

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My list of Ogunquit must-see/do includes the gorgeous sand beach, of course, as well as strolling the Marginal Way, poking around Perkins Cove, attending an Ogunquit Playhouse production, and seeing the exhibits inside and out at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. But there’s more to this pretty seaside town.

During a recent visit, I stayed at the Meadowmere Resort, founded by Allyson Cavaretta’s father in 1983. I loved this campus-like property. It’s ultra green and extremely family friendly, with indoor and outdoor pools, a full-size fitness center with sauna and steam room, a game room/arcade, a barbeque area, an intimate TV room, a pub, nice gardens, a wonderful Roman spa, an outdoor hot tub, and plenty of places to hide away for privacy. Plus, it’s adjacent to Jonathan’s Restaurant, within walking distance of everything Ogunquit offers, and it’s open year round.

I figured Allyson might have a few insider tips to share, and she did.

If visitors only have a few hours to a day in Ogunquit, what must they see and any tips on making it special?

That’s a challenging question, because Ogunquit has so many lovely little spaces.

In summer season, make sure visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art and especially the grounds—go all the way down to the cove entrance. There’s something very special there, beyond the sculptures—you can see Perkins Cove from a special angle.

When walking the Marginal Way, everyone sits on the benches with the big views, but just above Perkins Cove are nooks with benches tucked among knotty trees, and these have special views. If you’re walking along at low tide, head down on the rocks—the tide pools are wonderful.

There’s also something fun about sitting in center of town and watching the hustle and bustle—the traffic and people going in all directions. Just take in the energy.

And, you can’t come here without getting on the beach—our 3 miles of amazingness. If you’re athletic, get on a paddle board and go further up river into the estuaries, you will hear and see outstanding birds and the tranquility up there is amazing.

What are some of the area’s best underappreciated if not undiscovered places?

Grant Common Park is a great place to let kids run or to sit and enjoy the outside; it’s serene and wooded. Also here is the Ogunquit Heritage Museum, with its heritage garden. It’s a gem most people don’t even realize is here. It’s a nice spot to take a nice deep breath.

There’s a hidden sculpture park at the base of Perkins Cove. When visiting, it feels as if you’re walking onto someone’s property, but it’s an open park with sculptures in the middle (It’s not associated with the museum). Walk from the cove and go over the bridge. It’s on a bend in Shore Road; look for a sign pointing you down toward it. You have to walk, there’s no parking.

Just inland, you can drive, bike, or hike to the summit of the Big A, Mount Agamenticus, for great bird watching and ocean views.

Any tips for the beach?

When the tide is out all way, where the river mouth meets the ocean currents, the river has a very special interaction with the ocean. You’ll find tide pools, and that’s when conditions are perfect for building dribble castles from the sand. It’s also when the fish are running. If it’s low tide, get on the bend on riverside, back there is great. If the tide is high, it’s worth the walk to go further down and escape the crowds. Dunes are there, too, and it feels as if out on remote barrier beach.

Parking—the municipal lots fill quickly; time it right to park right at the beach. Better yet, use the trolley or walk. The beach has been here for generations; it will give you five extra minutes to get there.

I’m hungry, let’s talk food:
 • Lobster roll: The trick to finding the best lobster roll is to go all the way in to Perkins Cove and around the back to The Lobster Shack. There’s very little seating, so take it to go and sit on cove pilings and enjoy a real treat.
• Family friendly: Ogunquit Lobster Pound because kids love the lobster tanks. It’s fun to sit on the picnic benches. And Jonathan’s—most people think of it as white tablecloth restaurant, but it has an amazing kids’ menu and amazing kids’ area to color and play. It’s farm to table without being fancy.
• Cheap Eats: You can’t go wrong with a classic picnic: Go to Village Food Market for sandwiches and prepared foods, then enjoy it on a bench on the Marginal Way or on the beach or in Grant Park. But if you want a restaurant option, Jackie’s down in the cove. It’s a classic, been there forever, not fancy, but you get an ocean view with a burger.
 • View: Hand’s down, MC Perkins Cove*. No question. Whether on first or second floor, it’s like you’re eating on the bow of an elegant yacht surrounded by water.
 • Fine dining: MC does excel at that, too — it’s simply wonderful. But for a romantic dinner, Northern Union has great little seats and sections—go for the wine list and the culinary talent and the intimate atmosphere
 • Casual dining: Fun hip spot is Cornerstone. If it’s winter or it’s rainy, there’s a warm wood-fired oven. Otherwise, sit outside on patio for the people watching. They figured out how to put lobster on a pizza and it’s amazing. It’s also best place to try Maine’s craft beer scene
 • Wild card: Just outside of Ogunquit, in Cape Neddick, is Frankie & Johnnies. You must be stunningly hungry, because the portions are big. It’s not a looker; it’s all about the food. Dining here is like being in someone’s house. Don’t be in a hurry; relax and enjoy. It’s also BYOB and cash only.
What do you wish all visitors knew before they came to Ogunquit?

Sometimes people think it’s too congested in the summer, but the truth is, if you park your car and walk, there’s plenty of space. Once you’re here, Ogunquit is best discovered on foot—then traffic doesn’t matter. Just slow down, you’re on vacation, park the car, walk, or ride the trolley.

* Check out the Meadowmere Resort’s Hit the Deck summer package including overnight lodging, dinner at MC Perkins Cove, a copy of the Maine Classics Cookbook, breakfast, and the resort amenities.

 

 

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Beyond farm to table: These Maine farms serve farm-fresh meals and more https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/beyond-farm-to-table-these-maine-farms-serve-farm-fresh-meals-and-more/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/beyond-farm-to-table-these-maine-farms-serve-farm-fresh-meals-and-more/#respond Sun, 02 Jul 2017 19:25:33 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=11872 Farm-to-table is so yesterday; in Maine, you don’t even have to leave the farm. At these farm-based Maine restaurants, cafés, pizza ovens, most if not all ingredients are sourced onsite. The Well at Jordan’s Farm, Cape Elizabeth Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Jason Williams presides over The Well, a mobile kitchen set amid the fields, […]

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Farm-to-table is so yesterday; in Maine, you don’t even have to leave the farm. At these farm-based Maine restaurants, cafés, pizza ovens, most if not all ingredients are sourced onsite.

The Well at Jordan’s Farm, Cape Elizabeth
Dine on the farm at The Well at Jordan Farm. ©Hilary Nangle
The Well at Jordan Farm, Cape Elizabeth. ©Hilary Nangle

Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Jason Williams presides over The Well, a mobile kitchen set amid the fields, greenhouses, and gardens of Jordan’s Farm, a 122-acre third-generation family farm on a land trust. Dining is mostly alfresco, with seats at picnic tables, in gazebos, or at the kitchen counter. Visit the well-stocked farm store before dinner, pick some fresh flowers for the table, and savor a scratch-made farm-fresh meal. Definitely make reservations.

Primo, Rockland
Meat, poultry, and produce are raised on the grounds outside Primo. ©Hilary Nangle
Tour the farm and gardens before dining at Primo. ©Hilary Nangle

While most places on this list were farms first, Primo, owned by two-time James Beard award-winning chef Melissa Kelly and her partner, Price Kushner, was first a restaurant. Over the years, Kelly and Kushner have cultivated the property, sowing crops and adding gardens, beehives, and livestock. I love arriving early to wander around the produce and tea gardens, view the hives, and visit with the pigs, chickens, and guinea pigs in the pastures. Primo has both a formal dining room and more casual lounges. Definitely make advance reservations for the dining room.

Deer Foot Farm Natural Market and Cafe, Appleton

Veer inland from the Midcoast along the gorgeous (especially in autumn) Georges River Byway, and stop into Deer Foot Farm for lunch any day or breakfast on weekends. This is my back way to Belfast, so I travel it often. And over the years, I watched this farm store grow into a wonderful little cafe with very good food, nothing fancy, mind you, but hearty and healthful and delicious.

Seal Cove Farm, Lamoine
Goat cheese and goataroni along with farm fresh produce top the pizzas at Seal Cove Farm. ©Hilary Nangle
Watch goats frolic in the field while waiting for your pizza at Seal Cove Farm, Lamoine. ©Hilary Nangle

Visiting Acadia? Nose out to Lemoine and watch Nubian goats romp in the field and play king of the rock, while you wait for your personal pizza (~$12) to be made and cooked in Seal Cove Farm’s outdoor oven. Pizza menus vary to reflect what’s currently fresh from the farm, but each is topped with Seal Cove’s various goat cheeses and, if you want, goataroni. Go on a fine day, as there’s no indoor seating. The farm store sells the cheeses as well as goat gelato, when available. The pizza oven operates for lunch Friday through Sunday.

Misty Meadows Organic Farm, Lille
You can't miss Misty Meadows, on Route 1 in Maine's St. John Valley. ©Hilary Nangle
You’re in The County so enjoy fresh farm spuds among other fare at Misty Meadows in Lille. ©Hilary Nangle

Whenever I’m in the St. John Valley, which edges the namesake river at the crown of Maine nudging New Brunswick, I come here for lunch. Fresh produce, preserves, salted herbs, pickled veggies, baked goods, and even crafts fill the Misty Meadows Organic Farm store, which doubles as a country café. The menu features Maine spuds with all manner of toppings, as well as typical luncheon fare. There are sweets (oh my, the pies!), a barbecue pit (Thursdays), and hearty daily specials, too. There’s seating both indoors and outside. Say hello to Princess the pig, if she’s hanging around outside.

Stutzman’s Farm Stand & Bakery, Sangerville
Pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches, and specials fill the menu at Stutzman's, in Sangerville. ©Hilary Nangle
The pizza buffet at Stutzman’s Farm is inexpensive and expansive, but there’s plenty more on the menu. ©Hilary Nangle

I try never head north to the Moosehead or Katahdin & Lakes regions without detouring to Stutzman’s, another third-generation family farm with a store stocked with farm-fresh produce and a bakery producing scratch-made breads, pies, pastries, and more. Ahhh, but it’s the café that steals my heart—or maybe stomach. It serves soups, salads, desserts, daily specials, and wood-fired pizzas drawing from the farm’s bounty. The pizza buffet, around $12, is an all-you-can-eat feast with varied pizzas, salads, dessert, and beverage.

Nezinscot Farm Store and Cafe, Turner
A bit out of the way but well worth finding for delicious farm-fresh fare is Nezinscot Farm in Turner. ©Hilary Nangle
Not only is Nezinscot Maine’s first organic dairy farm, it’s also a great place to dine on farm-made cheeses, charcuterie, baked goods, and made-to-order fare in the cafe. ©Hilary Nangle

Nezinscot, Maine’s first organic dairy farm, is a multi-faceted find.  Sited on 250 organic acres edging the Nezinscot River are veggie gardens, farm animals, and a huge farmstead and barn housing a gourmet food shop, cafe and coffee shop, bakery, fromagerie, charcuterie, and a yarn and fiber studio. Go for brunch or lunch, or simply stop in for the fresh-baked pies, doughnuts, breads, and sweets. Make a picnic addiing cheeses and charcuterie, veggies, and other finds. The Cafe, serving meals 8am-3pm Thurs.-Sun., offers a full breakfast menu including crepes, quiche, and even poutine, along with soups, sandwiches, burgers, pizza in season, and specials.

Pair your pizza with fruit picking at Pietree Farm. ©Hilary Nangle
Pizza with a view is prepared in the outdoor oven at Pietree Farm in Sweden. ©Hilary Nangle
Pietree Orchard,  Sweden

Tabitha King, wife of horror maven Stephen, owns Pietree Orchard a hilltop orchard with eye-candy mountain views that are gorgeous anytime but glorious in autumn. The farm store carries produce and house-made baked goods and sweets, including cider doughnuts, but plan a visit around the baked-to-order pizzas cooked in the outdoor wood-fired oven. You can even go home with a tasty souvenir: Depending on the season, fruit-picking opportunities range from strawberries to pumpkins.

Apple Acres Farm, Hiram
No, the lobster roll isn't sourced from Apple Acres' farm, but it's still mighty good. ©Hilary Nangle
Apple Acres is most lively in autumn, when the apples are ready, but it’s a fine stop anytime for simple farm (and ocean) fresh fare. ©Hilary Nangle

The best time to visit Apple Acres Farm is in autumn, when the apple orchard is heavy with fruit and the hills surrounding it are ablaze with color. That said, stop in anytime for apple-cider doughnuts, ice cream, and oh yes, doughnut-ice cream sandwiches, not to mention sandwiches, pies, and—surprise!—even a decent lobster roll.

 

 

 

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10 terrific Maine summer vacation adventures https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/10-great-maine-summer-vacation-adventures/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/10-great-maine-summer-vacation-adventures/#comments Sat, 17 Jun 2017 20:00:40 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=6058 Add one of these made-for-the-memory-books experiences to your Maine vacation. 1. Hike in the 100-Mile Wilderness Using the Appalachian Mountain Club’s  Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins as a base, spend a few days off-the-grid in the 100-Mile Wilderness region, northeast of Greenville. Built as a private camp in 1867, the AMC  completely renovated the lakefront […]

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Add one of these made-for-the-memory-books experiences to your Maine vacation.

1. Hike in the 100-Mile Wilderness

Using the Appalachian Mountain Club’s  Gorman Chairback Lodge and Cabins as a base, spend a few days off-the-grid in the 100-Mile Wilderness region, northeast of Greenville. Built as a private camp in 1867, the AMC  completely renovated the lakefront facilities, which comprise a main lodge, where homestyle meals, included in the rate, are served, eight rustic cabins, a bunkhouse, and a central bathhouse with hot showers and a sauna. Pack a trail lunch, and head out to explore more than 20 miles of trails, including one to Screw Auger Falls, in Gulf Hagas, called the Grand Canyon of Maine. Other good choices include Third and Fourth Mountains and West Chairback Pond Falls. Guests have free use of canoes and kayaks on Long Pond and stashed on more remote ones, such as Trout Pond, a 6-mile hike.

2. Pedal the Maine Coast

Spend a few days or a week pedaling along the Maine coast and soaking up the vistas with Summer Feet, a Maine-based company offering bicycling tours. Courtesy photo. Join Summer Feet on a guided bicycle trip along Maine’s Gold Coast beginning in Portland and taking in Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Peninsula, Islesboro, Camden, and Rockport. The five-night tour includes lodging, most meals, a schooner sail, ferry ride, sea kayaking excursion, entrance fees for Acadia National park, hybrid bike rental, transfers, van support, and more. Summer Feet also has shorter excursions and self-guided tours available.

3. Begin or add to your birding life list

Join Maine Guide Michael Good of Down EAst Nature Tours, on a birding tour of the Acadia region. Hilary Nangle photo.Osprey or eagle? Woodpecker or warbler? Spend a few hours or days with Maine Guide Michael Good, of Down East Nature Tours, and beginning birders will gain an understanding of native East Coast species, while avid ornithologists might add a coveted bird to their life list. Programs range from a four-hour introductory session on Mount Desert Island to advanced searches for unique species in Down East Maine. Good provides transportation, with pick-up at local accommodations, as well as a spotting scope.

4. Paddle an ancient Native American route

The Northern Forest Canoe Trails is mapped in sections, detailing a chain of waterways from the New Hampshire border to Fort Kent. Paddle it all or pick and choose. Credit Rebecca Schinas/Northern Forest Canoe TrailThe Northern Forest Canoe Trail flows through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec, but more than 350 of its 740 miles are in Maine. It enters the state at Lake Umbagog and winds northwestward following lakes, rivers, and streams to Fort Kent. The trail is mapped in 13 sections, with the Maine portion beginning in section 8. Maps detail the waterways, portages, dams, communities, and natural sights along the route, making it easy to dip your paddle in waters that fit your abilities and travel preferences.  Purchase a guidebook ($24.95) and maps (Maine set is $59.70) and find trip-planning information on the organization’s website.

5. Climb Katahdin

Plan ahead if you plan to hike Katahdin, Maine's tallest peak, especially if you plan to add the Knife Edge connecting Baxter with Pamola Peak. Hilary Nangle photo. Mile-high Mount Katahdin, in Baxter State Park, near Millinocket, is Maine’s tallest peak and the end point for those heading north on the Appalachian Trail. Although one single mountain, Katahdin comprises several peaks: Baxter, at 5,267 feet is highest. Climbing it is a belt-notcher for serious hikers. It’s a strenuous, full-day hike that requires being prepared for any type of weather. If summiting this massif isn’t enough, hike the aptly named Knife Edge, a treacherous 1.1-mile-long granite spine, no wider than 3 feet in places, linking Baxter Peak with neighboring Pamola Peak. Plan well in advance and see website for details on parking, camping, hiking guidelines, nonresident fees, and especially rules for park use.

6. Surf’s up!

Grain Surfboards of York, Maine, has almost a cult-like following for its handmade wooden surfboards, and you can build your own in a Grain workshop. Courtesy photo. Grab your board and head for York Beach. If you don’t have a board, build one. York’s Grain Surfboards has practically a cult following for its handcrafted wood boards, and it offers classes for those who want to learn how to build their own. Four- to seven-day classes begin at $1,750 per person, which includes materials and supplies and daily breakfast and lunch.

7.  Explore an uninhabited island

Old Quarry Adventures in Stonington, Maine, offers day trips to Marshall Island, which is owned by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Photo courtesy Maine Coast Heritage Trust.Marshall Island, in Jericho Bay, is the largest undeveloped and uninhabited island on the East Coast. About once a month in July and August, Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, in Stonington, offers a day-trip aboard the Nigh Duck to the 985-acre island, which is owned and maintained by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Charters also can be arranged. You’re on your own to explore the seven miles of mostly granite shoreline, two sand beaches, and 10 miles of trails lacing the inner forests. An island map can be downloaded from MCHT. Box lunches are available, but must be ordered a day in advance.

8. Cruise to the woods

Learn about the towns lost when Flagstaff Lake was created on a pontoon boat tour of the lake, then spend two nights at Maine Huts and Trails Flagstaff Hut. Photo courtesy Maine Huts & Trails.Spend a weekend in western Maine’s wilderness at the Maine Huts Flagstaff Lake Hut. Sure you can hike or mountainbike in, but for a different experience, consider a cruise. Depart Stratton in late-afternoon aboard a pontoon-boat with Flagstaff Lake Scenic Boat Tours. Master Maine Guide Jeff Hinman will explain the lake’s history, tell tales of the lost village of Flagstaff under its waters, and point out local flora and fauna. Spend at least, ideally two nights. During the day, hike the Maine Huts Trail, swim in the lake, paddle one of the huts canoes or kayaks, or simply relax in the main lodge. Return after lunch on your last day.

9. Pan for gold or go rock-hounding

Gold bought, sold, and lied about here” proclaims the sign outside Coos Canyon Rock and Gift Shop, in Byron. Check out the exhibits of some of the nuggets found in the Swift River and ask for a free hands-on demonstration. Now try it yourself right across the street. A rental pan and screen are $2 with a $5 deposit; a trowel is $1; or get fancy with a sluice box, bucket, and shovel for $15, with an $85 deposit. Who knows, maybe you’ll strike it rich! Or, dig for gems, including Maine tourmaline, with Maine Mineral Adventures, which offers field trips to Mt. Mica (the oldest gem mine in the country), The Bennett Quarry, The Orchard Quarry, The Intergalactic Quarry, and other locations in the Oxford Hills. Expect to pay about $60/day or $25/hour adult; half price for kids 16 and younger; plus entry fees for private sites.

10. Jam with the wind

Members of the Maine Windjammer ASsociation fleet parade by the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse during the annual Parade of Sail in 2011. Tom Nangle photo.Sure, you can take an hour or half-day sail, but nothing beats casting off all ties to real world and saiing on a member vessel of the Maine Windjammer Association. Even better, it’s a budget-controlled situation, because everything is included in the price: cabin, meals, and sail. Now don’t expect fancy accommodations, most are just a few notches above camping, but the experience of being ruled by wind and tide triumphs all. Some boats are even family friendly. Sail from two days to a week or longer; themed cruises—wine, knitting, etc.—are offered.

 

 

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Keepers of the Flame: Blind Hope and Passion Fuel Lighthouse Restorations https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/keepers-of-the-flame-blind-hope-and-passion-fuel-lighthouse-restorations/ Sun, 04 Jun 2017 14:31:25 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11696 Credit the Maine Lights Program, launched in 1996, and the National Historical Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, for saving more than 40 of Maine’s 64 historical beacons from destruction and neglect. These programs allow transfer of lighthouses to nonprofits or, when none step forward, private parties. Those entrusted with a lighthouse’s care must preserve it […]

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Credit the Maine Lights Program, launched in 1996, and the National Historical Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, for saving more than 40 of Maine’s 64 historical beacons from destruction and neglect. These programs allow transfer of lighthouses to nonprofits or, when none step forward, private parties. Those entrusted with a lighthouse’s care must preserve it with no funding supplied and, if restoring it, must do so accurately. Not an easy task.

Burnt Island Lighthouse, Boothbay Harbor

“It’s a labor of love,” says Elaine Jones, Education Director for the Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. When she first learned that Burnt Island Lighthouse, off Boothbay Harbor, was available, it sparked her interest. She needed a place to house teachers during the summer and she envisioned a living history program. While she had the department’s support, there was no money available. The house had been abandoned for 10 years. “The bones were there, but a lot of work had to be done,” she says. A lighthouse is like a boat, she adds, “it’s a hole in the water that you throw money into, only it’s on a rock.”

Jones wrote grants and tugged at heartstrings, approaching locals and summer people. She traveled widely to research the light’s history, making friends in Washington D.C., Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. She chose to portray the year 1950, found 14 keepers who were still alive, and interviewed them and their families. “Every once in a while I’d get a package from the Coast Guard—they found this or that in their files,” she says.

“Once people see you’re enthusiastic and passionate, they jump on the team.” She cobbled together a tremendous support team. “I opened my files as wide as I could and got a lot of free help,” she says, ticking off AmeriCorps, Landmark Volunteers, Master Gardeners, Maine Conservation Corps, teachers, students, and even prisoners. The sons of lightkeeper James McCullough donated their weekends to help to restore their childhood home.

Jones has handed the living history program’s operation to the not-for-profit Keepers of the Burnt Island Light, but she launched a $200,000 fundraising campaign for further restorations. Although ninth-oldest overall, Burnt, constructed in 1821, is the state’s oldest original lighthouse and the first built after Maine became a state. “If I stretch [that truth], in [2021], Maine’s oldest lighthouse will be 200 years old.”

Monhegan Island Light

One of Maine’s earliest lighthouse adaptive reuse projects dates from 1959, when the Coast Guard automated Monhegan Island Light and declared the keeper’s house and outbuildings as surplus. Monhegan Associates, a local conservation nonprofit, envisioned a museum. Island residents responded by donating photographs, documents, furniture, equipment, Indian artifacts, memorabilia, and artwork. When the museum’s collections outgrew the space, the assistant keeper’s house was reconstructed as an art museum, opening in 1998.

Rockland Breakwater Light, Rockland

The Maine-based American Lighthouse Foundation is steward for nine Maine lights, including Rockland Breakwater and Owls Head, which wink at each other across Rockland’s harbor. “From the challenge perspective, [Rockland Breakwater] may as well be an offshore lighthouse,” says ALF president Bob Trapani, noting that volunteers and workers must foot-slog the nearly mile-long breakwater’s uneven granite slabs. Simply restoring the wood floors was a huge project, he adds.

Volunteers endeavor to staff the Rockland Harbor lighthouses throughout the summer season and open the towers to visitors at no charge. “One of the advantages with our volunteer Friends group is that by opening the lighthouses and sharing their stories with the public, we get some donations that we put right back into the project,” Trapani says. “If we do our job, the public actually helps us raise money.”

Little River Light, Cutler

No two restorations are alike, Trapani says, as each provides different challenges. Guests can now overnight for a fee at Cutler’s restored Little River Light. “Its beauty is its remoteness, but that’s also its biggest challenge,” Trapani says. Its Friends chapter has raised more than $350,000; no small feat in economically-strapped and sparsely-populated down east Maine.

Perkins Island Lighthouse, Kennebec River

“We own the Perkins Island tower,” Trapani says, referring to the lighthouse on an island in the Kennebec River. Local private residents came forward and donated $50,000 to restore the exterior of the keeper’s house, which is owned by the state. “This couple was just interested in helping and found a creative way and they were able to fund the work,” Trapani says. “Here we were on the verge of potentially loosing the house over the next few years, and it looks awesome now. There’s always hope.”

Head Harbour Lightstation, Campobello Island

Blind hope fueled restoring Head Harbour Lightstation, the 1829 all-wood tower, with its distinctive red-cross pattern, sited on Campobello, a New Brunswick island tethered by bridge to Lubec, Maine. In 2000, a group of senior citizens, primarily women, formed a friends group. Six years later, they took possession of the province’s oldest surviving tower, along with the keeper’s house and outbuildings. “It was a falling down set of five leaking buildings,” volunteer Joyce Morrell says. “We had no clue of what we were getting into. We auctioned off paintings for paint. We scraped, painted, shingled, and kept at it, and it started to look better and better.”

The tower, keeper’s house, and ancillary buildings topped on an offshore rockbound islet. Reaching it required descending and climbing ladders and navigating slippery seaweed- and rock-covered sections of the ocean floor during low tides. On most days, tides limited the treacherous access to a four-hour window. Almost all supplies were carried by hand. Despite the difficulties, they painted the tower twice, wallpapered the interior, hauled over the period furnishings, and even managed to get a refrigerator onto the island and into the house.

As they made progress, more and more visitors ventured over to the island. “They wanted to get inside,” volunteer Deanna Baldwin says. “They peered in the windows, knocked on the door, so we started giving tours to raise funds.” Now the plan is to offer nightly rental. “It’s the most magical place in the world to stay overnight,” she says. “You can sit here and watch the whales, minke, finbacks, humpbacks, sometimes even right whales.”

It’s that kind of excitement that fuels continued interest. “As long as there’s a community heartbeat, an organized effort, people who are energetic and passionate about saving lighthouses, there’s hope,” Trapani says.

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2017 Garden Tours blossom throughout Maine https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/maine-garden-tours-2017/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/maine-garden-tours-2017/#comments Sat, 27 May 2017 18:00:25 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=7683 Take time to smell the flowers during annual garden tours throughout Maine. While most tours occur on only one day each summer, a few are spread out over the season. Hint: Buy tickets in advance, when possible, as they usually are less expensive (but do note that tours are usually rain or shine, so you […]

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Garden 2 Tom Nangle photo Take time to smell the flowers during annual garden tours throughout Maine. While most tours occur on only one day each summer, a few are spread out over the season. Hint: Buy tickets in advance, when possible, as they usually are less expensive (but do note that tours are usually rain or shine, so you take your chances on the weather).

Belfast Open Garden Days

What: One garden in greater Belfast will be open each Friday for touring and refreshments.

When: Fridays, June 16, 23, 30; July 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4, 11, 18, 2017

Cost: $5 one garden or $30 for all nine (purchase at Left Bank Books, Belfast), benefits maintenance of 12 local public gardens and scholarships for Waldo County students studying horticulture and related subjects.

Peony Society of Maine Garden Tour

What: Visits various gardens focusing on peonies, although other plants are on view

When: June 17 and 24, 2017, 9am-4pm; tours depart from 1348 Ohio St., Bangor

Cost: $3 donation appreciated; benefits Peony Society efforts to educate and propagate.

House Tour of Historic Homes & Hidden Gardens of Bath

What: Fifteen annual self-guided tour of historic homes and gardens in Bath. Tour begins at the Winter Street Center on Washington Street,

When: June 17, 2017, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Cost: $25 advance, $30 day of tour; benefits Sagadahoc Preservation, Inc. (Bath B&B’s guests receive a discount).

Raymond Garden Tour

What: Self-guided tour of eight private gardens in the Sebago Lake region. Post-tour Strawberry Festival with speaker and shortcake ($10/adult, $5/child).

When: June 24, 2017, 9am-3pm (rain date June 25)

Cost: $15/advance, $20 day of tour; benefits Raymond Village Library.

Celia Thaxter’s Garden Tour on Appledore Island

What: Walking tour of the restored garden of 19th-century poet and writer Celia Thaxter, author of An Island Garden.

When: June 29; July 16, 8, 21, 25, 29; Aug. 4, 9, 2017

Cost: $100, including round-trip transportation from New Castle, N.H., guided tour, and lunch.

Open Days at Garland Farm, Bar Harbor

What: Garland Farm, the ancestral home of Lewis Garland, property manager for landscape architect Beatrix Farrand’s famed Reef Point property, and Farrand’s home and gardens. Farrand moved here after dismantling Reef Point in 1955, and worked with architect Robert Patterson to design the addition, where she lived, utilizing some of the architectural pieces and furnishings she saved. The house, library, and garden are open to visitors for guided house and self-guided garden tours as follows.

When: June 29-Sept. 28, 2017, Thursdays, 1-5pm,

Cost: $5 donation recommended

Hidden Gardens of Munjoy Hill

What: Self-guided walking tour of select private gardens on Munjoy Hill; begins at Fort Allen Park HQ on Portland’s Eastern Promenade

When: July 9, 2017, 10am-4pm

Cost: $15 advance / $20 day of event; benefits Friends of the Eastern Promenade

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden Open Garden Days

What: Self-guided tours of the Walled Garden and grounds of the Rockefeller Aerie Estate in Seal Harbor, on Mount Desert Island.

When: Thursdays, July 13-Sept. 7, 2017, 9-11:30am and 12:30-3pm

Cost: Free, advance reservation required. Reservations open June 1 for season.

Cape Elizabeth Garden Tour

What: Nine private coastal gardens in Cape Elizabeth and South Portland

When: July 15, 2017, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: $25/advance; $35 day of tour; benefits Fort Williams Foundation Arboretum Project.

Gardens in the Watershed

What: The self-guided 26th Gardens in the Watershed (of the St. George River) Tour features five private gardens in Union, Appleton, and Alford Lake, as well as a short talks. Reserve in advance for lunch ($10) and after-tour reception

When: July 16, 2017, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Cost $25 advance, $30 day of tour; benefits Georges River Land Trust.

Camden House and Garden Tour

What: The 70th annual tour presented by the Camden Garden Club features seven properties including small town cottages, an 1820s gem updated for modern living while maintaining the charm of its origins, a 60-acre transformation of one man’s unique and personal vision, and a magnificent Arts and Crafts estate sited on 21 acres overlooking Penobscot Bay.

When: July 20, 2017, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: $35 adv./$40 day of tour (no credit cards day of tour

Boothbay Region Garden Club Tour

What: The Sea Around Us featuring homes and gardens on the Boothbay peninsula.

When: July 21, 2017, 9:30am-4:30pm

Cost:
$30/advace, $35 day of tour; benefits scholarships for advanced educationinecology, marine biology, horticulture, botany and earth sciences as well as YMCA Camperships for local children.

Bar Harbor Garden Club Tour

What: A Tour of the Quietside Gardens of MDI featuring seven gardens and an Outdoor Market.

When: July 22, 2017, 10am-4pm

Cost: $20/advance, $25 day of tour; benefits community projects and helps fund college scholarships for horticulture and environmental studies.

Garden Conservancy York County Open Garden Days

What: Self-guided tour of three private gardens in York:

Braveboat Harbor Farm, with formal and informal borders, a vegetable garden, orchards, and collections of various flowering trees and shrubs. Apples and pears are espaliered on the Georgian-style house and along the walls of the formal front garden. Water features include a newly expanded pond in the woodland garden, a farm pond with rustic bridge, and the Atlantic Ocean. Garden is protected by a sculpted arborvitae hedge, a mature stand of hickory, and an extensive screen of old lilacs. New projects include expanding the collection of magnolias and rhododendrons, introducing hydrangeas, an espaliered pear fence, a woodland walk, a summerhouse with views to the pond and the sea, and replanting the front walled garden.

Boardman Vegetable Gardens, a mini-homestead adhering to organic and permaculture principles.

Pondfield: the primary garden is designed to serve as the foreground and to frame the expansive view across tidal Barrell Pond, the Wiggly Bridge, and the York River. Densely planted, the color scheme is key—pink, purple, and blue. By contrast, a gravel courtyard is enclosed and intimate. The color scheme of the planting beds surrounding the courtyard is yellow, red, and orange.

When: Aug. 5, 2017, 10am-4pm, and Aug. 6, 2017, 12:30-4pm

Cost: $7 per garden.

Open Doors of York House & Garden Tour

What: Old York Historical Society tour of homes and gardens

When: Aug. 10, 2017, 10am-4pm

Cost: $40/advance, $45/day of tour; benefits Old York Historical Society

THe homes of Maine Garden Tour takes place Sept. 9, 1917.
Shepherd’s Knoll II – Wayne, Maine
Homes of Wayne— A Home and Garden Tour

What: This year’s tour peeks into historic family camps, charming older homes, beautiful newer homes, fall gardens, and architectural landmarks in the region between Pocasset and Androscoggin Lakes.

When: Sept. 9, 2017

Cost: $25/advance, $28 day of tour; benefits The Wayne Community Church and the Cary Memorial Library.

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Elephants at my doorstep: Satao Elerai Lodge, Kenya https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/elephants-at-my-doorstep-satao-elerai-lodge-kenya/ Fri, 26 May 2017 18:45:20 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11631 I’m sitting on the deck of my tent (an understatement, canvas walls, yes, but also full bed, wood floor, and shower bath) gazing over the savannah grasslands at snow-capped Kilimanjaro, when I hear a rustling. Elephants! Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, located in the savannah grasslands beneath Mount Kilimanjaro, is world renowned for its elephants. It’s […]

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Elephants in Amboseli National Park I’m sitting on the deck of my tent (an understatement, canvas walls, yes, but also full bed, wood floor, and shower bath) gazing over the savannah grasslands at snow-capped Kilimanjaro, when I hear a rustling. Elephants!

Elephants viewed from the safari vehicle in Amboseli National ParkIMG_8755Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, located in the savannah grasslands beneath Mount Kilimanjaro, is world renowned for its elephants. It’s one of few places that’s remained relatively undisturbed by population growth and loss of wildlife habitat, thanks to tourism, researchers, and the Maasai people who live in this region. Here, it’s possible to see elephants from newborns to bull males in their 40s and 50s. The park and surrounding Maasai tribal lands double as a migration path for the elephants. Unfortunately poaching, both for meat and the ivory tusks, remains a problem.

Elephants gather at the Satao Elerai watering hole within view of the pool. hilary nangle photoIMG_8831The effort to keep the mammoth mammals safe from poachers is continued at Satao Elerai, a tented safari camp located on a private, 5,000-acre conservancy about 10 kilometers outside the park. The lands are on the critical Kitenden Corrider, which links the Kilimanjaro Forest Reserve in Tanzania with Amboseli National Park and beyond, says Wilfred Ngonze, who manages the Maasai-owned conservancy as well as a neighboring one. I’m chatting with him over tea in the main lodge, while more than a dozen elephants cavort in the watering hole outside the window.

View from the Satao Elerai tented camp lodge in Kenya. Hilary Nangle photo IMG_8826“We have a protection team of 12 rangers, and we have a population of more than 100 elephants at any given time,” Ngonze says. “We have observation points and patrols, and when we catch a poacher, we prosecute.”

Although currently penalties are lenient, there’s a current bill in parliament that, if passed, will stiffen them, he says. He’s hopeful about that. Factors contributing to poaching, Ngonze says, are the instability in neighboring Somalia and southern Sudan coupled with sport hunting in adjacent Tanzania. “In Kenya, we only shoot with a camera,” he quips.

Wilfred Ngonze, Satao Elerai Conservancy manager, Kenya. Hilary Nangle photo. IMG_9362Poaching isn’t the only challenge to managing the conservancy, Ngonzo says. Watering holes are few, and the local Maasai, their livestock, and wildlife share them. Not so the mud bath outside the window of the lodge. That one is reserved for elephants and other wildlife. Guests can cool off in the pool, sip cocktails, or dine while watching elephants belly up to the bar. Even better, rates help support the conservancy efforts.

Check out the tusks on this big boy. Hilary Nangle photoIMG_9347On daily game drives, it’s easy to see elephants of all ages up close, along with giraffes, baboons, hippos, zebras, wildebeests, ostriches, warthogs, and other critters. The sightings were far beyond my expectations, but my favorites were the ones seen from the lodge, and the two elephants I viewed from tent.

View from my tent at Satao Elerai, just outisde Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Hilary Nangle photoIMG_9376

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Postcard from Edinburgh: Forsyth’s Tea Room https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/postcard-from-edinburgh-forsyths-tea-room/ Fri, 26 May 2017 18:39:20 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11626 While gadding about Great Britain by rail (especially easy with a BritRail pass) a few years ago, I stumbled into this delightful tea room, while exploring Chalmers Close, one of the many inviting alleys that radiate off Edinborough, Scotland’s, Royal Mile. The entire shop looked like a Hollywood set, and Christine, the proprietor, was right […]

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Forsyth's Tea Room in Edinburgh. Hilary Nangle photo

While gadding about Great Britain by rail (especially easy with a BritRail pass) a few years ago, I stumbled into this delightful tea room, while exploring Chalmers Close, one of the many inviting alleys that radiate off Edinborough, Scotland’s, Royal Mile. The entire shop looked like a Hollywood set, and Christine, the proprietor, was right out of central casting. I ordered, then took a seat and checked out the surroundings: stone walls, tablecloths, tea cozies and tea towels and mugs for decor; equally cozy and comforting. I settled for a Scotch pie, a meat-filled, seasoned pastry , tea, and, of course, shortbread.

 

 

 

 

 

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Roaming Northern Ireland’s Antrim Coast https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/roaming-northern-irelands-antrim-coast/ Fri, 26 May 2017 18:15:57 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11621 I attained enlightenment in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Not the lights-flashing, God-appearing, Hallelujah! type of enlightenment, but rather a far-more-subtle, restorative, all’s-right-with-the-world kind. This enlightenment hit me not while clambering over the Giants Causeway, not while swigging a dram of whiskey at Bushmills, nor while white-knuckling my way across the tightrope known as the Carrick-A-Reed […]

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Dieskirt Farm, Glenariff, Northern Ireland. ©Hilary Nangle

I attained enlightenment in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Not the lights-flashing, God-appearing, Hallelujah! type of enlightenment, but rather a far-more-subtle, restorative, all’s-right-with-the-world kind. This enlightenment hit me not while clambering over the Giants Causeway, not while swigging a dram of whiskey at Bushmills, nor while white-knuckling my way across the tightrope known as the Carrick-A-Reed rope bridge. No, I found it in forested glens, along cascading waterfalls, on windswept headlands, and on a remote island.

Not that I came to Northern Ireland looking for enlightenment or even spiritual renewal. I came, along with my husband and father, to noodle the highways and byways, explore the castles and ruins, and soak up the Irish craic or good times along with a pint of Smitty’s or Guinness. Sure, I had a laundry list of must-sees and must-dos, but as soon as I arrived in the Glens of Antrim, I tossed it aside and let serendipity rule.

Forested glens & tumbling rivers

Glenarm Walled Garden, Glenarm, Northern Ireland. Hilary Nangle photo. Legend and lore permeate the Glens, glacier-sculpted valleys of woodlands and grasslands, peatbogs and beaches, cliff-edged mountains and rock-bound headlands that stretch along 50 miles of County Antrim’s coastline. Wee fairy folk allegedly reside in woodland caves and coastal crags. Rural byways are peppered with ancient ruins and historic sites. Listen closely, and it’s almost possible to imagine hearing long-ago battles amidst the peaceful quiet disrupted only by bleating sheep and bellowing cows.

Sheep shearing at Dieskirt Farm ©Hilary NangleTea is what drew me to Glenarm Castle, in Glenarm, one of Northern Ireland’s oldest estates. It’s been home to the McDonnell family, Earls of Antrim, since the 17th century. The castle isn’t regularly open to the public (only on select dates), but the tearoom and the walled garden are. We detoured off the main road for tea and scones, but couldn’t resist exploring the garden, which dates the 18th century. The bright colors of blossoming spring bulbs and fruit trees appeared as if fairy folk had engaged in a paintball match.

Continuing north, the splendidly scenic Antrim Coast Road squeezes through the Red Arch, a landmark tunnel through a headland cut in 1817, before arriving in Glenariff, Queen of the Glens. It would be hard to imagine a finer place to absorb this queen’s beauty than Dieskirt Farm Bed and Breakfast, James and Ann McHenry’s 350-acre working sheep farm.

Dieskirt Farms sits high in the glen, offering glimpses of the distant sea over sheep-manicured lawns dotted with lambs and a corralled horse and donkeys. I grew to love this simple place, with its generous breakfasts and congenial hosts. James even invited us to watch him hand shear a sheep.

Waterfalls lace Glenariff Forest park. ©Hilary NangleOut the B&B’s backdoor, Glenariff Forest Park beckoned. The Glenariff and Inver rivers tumble through dense, century-old oak, ash, willow, and hazel trees in this waterfall-rich woodland. Light filtered through the canopy, dancing off the rushing waters and illuminating pools as I moseyed along. Trails edge the flows, crossing bridges over gurgling stepped falls and passing though mossy-walled gorges, where plunging cascades mist the air with the damp, strangely life-affirming scent of winter decay blended with spring renewal.

We walked and wandered, hoofed up Glenariff Mountain, and refueled each evening at Laragh Lodge, a comfortable restaurant tucked in the crag at the head of the glen.

Antrim’s big-ticket sights

Crossing the wobbly Carrick-a-rede bridge isn't for those with a fear of heights. ©Hilary NangleWhile the glens whisper their appeal, the coast shouts, with iconic sights that demand attention, such as the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. Originally used by salmon fishermen to access their nets, the rope-and-slat bridge spans a 66-feet-wide, 75-feet-deep chasm separating Carrick Island from the mainland. Crossing the bridge isn’t for the faint of heart or the fearful of heights, but even so, there’s nearly always a line, in part because almost everyone stops midway across for photos. Since no one regulates the one-way flow, you can wait a while before the tide of human foot traffic reverses its flow. Touristy, yes, but I enjoyed the wobbly,  fun-house-like crossing and my brief wander around the island.

A bagpiper on The Giant's Causeway. Hilary Nangle photo.Wish I could be equally enthusiastic about the Giant’s Causeway. Every guidebook, brochure, and magazine highlighting this region points to this icon as a must see attraction. The name is appropriate name, given this causeway of polygonal basalt columns truly appears as if placed for a giant to happen along and climb up and out of the frigid blue seas that lap aggressively at their base. Legend has it that Irish giant Finn McCool built it so he could walk across the sea to battle Scottish giant Benandonnier.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site maintained by the National Trust, the Giant’s Causeway is being loved to death. Maybe years ago, before the hype and the tour buses, before the visitor center and the endless parking lots, maybe then this was a marvel to stumble upon. We found it extremely crowded, and the only thing that broke through the commercial chatter was spying a lone bagpiper playing out on a point. This was, without question, the low point of our Antrim Coast visit. I suspect that had we visited first thing in the morning or had the time to hike the two-mile Runkerry Head trail, we might have had a better experience.

Dunluce Castle appears as if it should be featured in a romance movie. ©Hilary NangleWe could have drowned our experiences in Bushmills, which has been distilling whiskey for more than 400 years. Instead, we opted to drink in the views from Dunlace Castle, a spectacularly romantic ruin topping a cliff just west of town.

Although there’s evidence that the castle dates back to the 14th century, the existing drawbridge-accessed ruins are late medieval and 17th-century constructions. No matter, this castle is a stunner that becomes all-the-more impressive when prowling around inside and realizing the immensity of it.

Island lure

Ferry to RathlinIsland with the inn behind. ©Hilary nangleMy penchant for going off the beaten track demanded we visit Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s mostly northerly outpost. I’d first heard Rathin’s Siren song when we’d taken a spin out to Torr Head, a smashingly scenic headland with views to both Rathlin and Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre. Way back in 1306, Robert the Bruce took refuge on Rathlin, when driven from Scotland by England’s Edward I. Legend has it that, inspired by watching a spider succeed after trying repeatedly try to bridge a hole in its web, he gathered new forces and returned home to fight for his kingdom.

Birds on the stacks at Rathlin Island. ©Hilary NangleThese days, Rathlin is best known as the site of Northern Ireland’s biggest seabird colony, with a center maintained by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Getting to it requires ferrying 6 miles across the Sea of Moyle from the market town of Ballycastle.

The Puffin Bus meets the ferry, carrying those who don’t have the time or inclination to walk the 4 miles to the center, based at an upside-down lighthouse on the island’s western tip. The one-lane road snakes over the mostly tree-barren island, soaring to heights with head-swiveling views, descending to valleys, and eventually arriving at a lofty headland, from which a marked path zigzagged down toward the lighthouse, before giving way to 89 (count ’em) steps to the viewing deck.

Rathlin Island's upside-down lighthouse with the bird colony below. ©Hilary NangleThe cacophony of bird cries fills the air, as tens of thousands of seabirds—fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes, puffins, and razorbill—perform avian antics, flitting, fishing, and nesting around the cliffs and stacks. When we finally departed, I promised myself I’d return, book a room at the Manor House, an 18th-century Georgian-style inn on the harbor, and spend a few days hiking the trails. I want to immerse myself in this wild and remote paradise that gifted me with a lightened sense of renewal as clear and as pure as the ocean-cleansed air.

If you go:

Northern Ireland uses British sterling (GBP) as its currency.

For general information with links to lodging, dining, and sights, see Discover Northern Ireland,

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Postcard from Vienna: Gaststrube Pürstner https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/postcard-from-vienna-gaststrube-purstner/ Fri, 26 May 2017 18:02:29 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11618 Where: Gaststrube Pürstner, Vienna, Austria; operated by the Purstner family for three generations. Menu: Traditional, prices from 9-26 Euros (most in the 15-18 E range) Dish: Spinatnockerl (Spinach spätzle with ham and blue cheese), came with a side salad for 8.60 Euros. Portion was huge. Why: I asked the concierge at the Palais Hansen Kempinski […]

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I'm still thinking about this dish, spinach spaetzle with ham and blue cheese sauce. It came paired with a green salad. RESTAURANT DETAILS Hilary Nangle photo

Where: Gaststrube Pürstner, Vienna, Austria; operated by the Purstner family for three generations.

Menu: Traditional, prices from 9-26 Euros (most in the 15-18 E range)

Dish: Spinatnockerl (Spinach spätzle with ham and blue cheese), came with a side salad for 8.60 Euros. Portion was huge.

Cask Room in the Gaststrube Purstner, Vienna. Hilary Nangle photoWhy: I asked the concierge at the Palais Hansen Kempinski for a recommendation for a low-key, traditional, comfort-food experience with reasonable prices.

Setting: A warren of intimate rooms, each with a different character. I dined in the Cask Room, accented by tables set in in wine casts along with traditional artwork, including hand-painted murals. Other rooms featured ceiling paintings, wood carvings, and other folk art. Waiters in lederhosen, of course.

Bottom line: Perfect! I’m still thinking fondly of this dish and trying to replicate it at home. Service was punctual–not warm and fuzzy, but efficient and friendly. I’d return again, and I’d order this again (although there were plenty of other enticing options on the menu).

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London’s Courtauld Gallery is a treasure within a treasure https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/londons-courtauld-gallery-is-a-treasure-within-a-treasure/ Fri, 26 May 2017 17:52:21 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11607 Works displayed at London’s Courtauld Gallery aren’t crowded, making it easier to appreciate them. Hilary Nangle photo. I was more than content to admire masterpiece after masterpiece displayed in The Courtauld Gallery, a small, university museum on London’s Museum Mile. Then, cued by the upward gaze of another visitor, I glanced—then gawked—at the lavishly augmented […]

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In London’s Courtauld Gallery of Art, masterpieces are displayed in concert with decorative pieces in the neoclassic Somerset House. Hilary Nangle photo.

Works displayed at London’s Courtauld Gallery aren’t crowded, making it easier to appreciate them. Hilary Nangle photo. I was more than content to admire masterpiece after masterpiece displayed in The Courtauld Gallery, a small, university museum on London’s Museum Mile. Then, cued by the upward gaze of another visitor, I glanced—then gawked—at the lavishly augmented and painted ceiling.

The Courtauld Gallery in London is a double treat, with art masterpieces displayed in the magnificent neoclassical Somerset House. Hilary Nangle photo.

The Courtauld Gallery is housed in Somerset House, designed by Sir William Chambers, built between 1775 and 1801 to house the Royal Academy and other offices, and now part of the Courtauld Institute of Art. Chambers, one of England’s top architects, was charged with designing a “great public building… an object of national splendor.” The design alone is exquisite, but set against this backdrop is one of the world’s finest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.

In many museums, masterpieces crowds walls, vying for attention and overwhelming the viewer. Not so at the Courtauld. Works are displayed in a series of rooms on three floors. Each room is personal and yet formal, intimate and yet grand, a neoclassical confection that complements rather than competes with the art displayed. Exquisite period details, such as ceiling medallions and paintings, elaborate cornices, moldings, and fireplaces, and delicate apses and ornate friezes enrich the overall experience. A spiraling stone stairway, a work of art in its own right, connects the floors.

The gallery’s founding collection was a gift from industrialist Samuel Courtauld, who began collecting art in 1922 and helped establish the Courtauld Institute in 1932. In many ways, Courtauld was a maverick. He purchased art that spoke to him personally rather than following accepted principles of the time. He favored French Impressionists and Post Impressionists, acquiring works by Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir, Seurat, and Gauguin, among others.

The Courtauld is renowned for its Impressionist collection.One of the most heralded works is Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergere,” painted one year before the artist’s death. It is widely considered the culmination of Manet’s interest in painting contemporary urban life. Critics call its composition a visual puzzle, with inconsistencies in the point of view.

Another standout is “La Loge,” painted by Renoir in 1874 and exhibited that year at the first Impressionist group exhibition. Professor John House, the Institute’s Walter H Annenberg Professor of the history of art, describes this painting as a play on the relationship between men and women and a prime example of the Impressionists capturing contemporary Paris social life of the time. “In technical terms, it’s an extraordinary painting, conveying a whole lot of detail through extremely informal and sketch-like handling. It’s a virtuoso display of what Renoir could do with the brush.”

It’s hard not to be captivated in a morbid yet curious way by Van Gogh’s masterpiece “Self-Portrait with a Bandaged Ear,” painted in 1889, shortly after the master mutilated his right ear. Nor is it hard not to be delighted by viewing Degas’ paintings of dancers paired with his sculptures of the same or viewing “Montagne Sainte-Victoire,” painted by Cézanne in 1887 at the pinnacle of his career.

While the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists garner the most attention, they’re not the only reason to visit. The gallery’s collection ranges from the early Renaissance to 20th-century Modernists, and in addition to paintings, it comprises more than 6,000 drawings and watercolors, 20,000 prints, decorative arts, sculpture, and furniture.

A mid-17th-century harpischord inlaid with ebony and ivory, on view at the Courtauld Gallery, in London. Hilary Nangle photo.

Decorative arts share space with paintings at The Courtauld Gallery. Occupying the center of one room is a mid-17th-century harpsichord. The painted inner case depicts the story of David and Goliath, and both the instrument and its inner case are inlaid with ebony and ivory. In another room, the late 15th-century Morelli-Nerli wedding chests are remarkable in that they’ve survived with their painted backboards and documentation. Crafted by Zanobi di Domenico and painted and gilded by Jacopo del Sellagio and Biagio d’Antonio, both are illustrated with families’ coats of arms as well as stories from ancient Rome intended to entertain and educate.

Also earning repute is the museum’s collection of Rubens, part of a bequest by Count Antoine Seilern. Of note is the Flemish master’s family portrait of his friend Jan Brueghel the Elder with his wife and two children. The gallery has a significant collection of oil sketches by Rubens that show the artist working out ideas. One late-in-life landscape depicts his private estate by moonlight, and a close inspection shows that a mother and child originally in it were painted over.

One of the Gothic ivories on view at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Hilary Nangle photo.

The Courtauld also has an impressive collection of church-related artworks, such as this Gothic ivory.Other highlights enhanced by the architectural splendor of Somerset House include Gothic ivories; paintings by Bernardo Daddi, Giotto’s pupil, and Fra Angelico, the monk painter of Florence; “Adam and Eve,” painted in 1526 by Lucas Cranach the Elder; the Lamentation Triptych by the Master of Flemalle, a masterpiece of early Netherlandish painting; sculptures by Matisse and Rodin; and modern works that range from Matisse to Kandinsky, Kokoshanka to Sutherland.

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The Maine Travel Maven’s Favorite Maine Lobster Shacks https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/the-maine-travel-mavens-favorite-maine-lobster-shacks/ Fri, 26 May 2017 12:50:06 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11248 When I eat lobster, I take no prisoners. All that’s identifiable in the carnage left behind are the eyes, antennae, swimmeretes (those feathery appendages on the underside of the body), and dismembered carcass. Finished, I’m literally dripping in lobster juice and goo. The only place for such a messy operation is a classic lobster shack, […]

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When I eat lobster, I take no prisoners. All that’s identifiable in the carnage left behind are the eyes, antennae, swimmeretes (those feathery appendages on the underside of the body), and dismembered carcass. Finished, I’m literally dripping in lobster juice and goo.

The only place for such a messy operation is a classic lobster shack, a sometimes rough-and-tumble operation that’s usually within sight and scent of the ocean.

I’ve dined at lobster outposts from Kittery to Eastport. Some serve only lobster, others a full menu ranging from hot dogs to blueberry pie.

I favor the in-the-rough, order-at-the-counter, eat-out-on-a-picnic-table shacks. These are usually pet friendly and often come with free entertainment: You can watch lobstermen unload their catch and refuel and restock their boats. No need to dress up — better to dress down so you can skip the bib. Another plus: Most allow you to bring the go-withs; think cheese and crackers, salads and rolls, wine and beer, even tablecloths and flowers.

And remember that while lobster prices reflect market conditions, the farther you travel from the trappings of civilization and the deeper you get into bona fide lobstering territory, the fewer frills and the less costly the goods.

My favorite lobster shacks from south to north:

Chauncey Creek, Kittery Point

IMG_7513 Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier (16 Chauncey Creek Road, Kittery Point, 207-439-1030) overlooks tidal Chauncey Creek (prettier at high tide). Like Muscongus, it has both deck and sheltered seating (heated), all at brightly colored picnic tables. The menu has choices for landlubbers – chicken dinner, hot dog – as well as mussels, oysters, cherrystones, tuna roll, and even shrimp, but lobster is why folks come. Be forewarned: It can be very crowded, parking is a nightmare, and bug spray is a must.

Cape Pier Chowder House, Cape Porpoise

The scenery is top notch at the Cape Pier Chowder House (79 Pier Road, Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport, 207-967-0123), which tops a pier in a traditional lobstering village. The views (bring binoculars) extend to Goat Island Light House. There’s inside seating, so it’s weatherproof, which gives it a longer season than most; it opens in April and goes to November. The menu has a lot more than lobster, and it’s open for breakfast on weekends.

Lobster Shack, Cape Elizabeth

If you’ve had enough of quaint fishing village vistas, head to The Lobster Shack (222 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth, 207-799-1677). It has everything: rocky ledges, tide pools, crashing surf, a broad menu, dive-bombing seagulls, big-ocean views, and a lighthouse (with foghorn – avoid on a foggy day or bring earplugs). It’s a classic with frills: dining inside and out and a menu that includes sandwiches and fried seafood.

Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, S. Freeport

Take a break from power shopping L.L. Bean’s and the outlets and head to Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster (Main Street, Town Wharf, South Freeport, 207-865-4349), a popular spot on the working harbor. Not much fussiness here; picnic tables on pavement and a tiny dining room are the seating options. The menu, however, is pretty extensive for a lobster joint. You can decide for yourself whether fried clams are better battered or breaded.

Five Islands, Georgetown

IMG_5623Five Islands (1447 Five Islands Road, Georgetown, 207-371-2990) tops a lot of lists for favorite lobster shack, and for good reasons. The setting is idyllic. It tips a finger of bridge-connected islands. Sit on the wharf – that’s the only choice – and watch sailboats play hide-and-seek amid the spruce-topped islands in the harbor and lobster boats chug to and fro pulling traps. The headliner is lobster, but there are plenty of other options, from chowder and fish ’n’ chips (hand-breaded) to burgers and chicken tenders. It earns points for making its own tartar and mustard dill sauces and cilantro mayo. You get the idea: These folks are passionate about their products.

Round Pond Lobstermen’s Co-op, Round Pond

When given a choice, I opt for simplicity: If the joint does only one thing, there’s a better chance it’s doing it right. Take Round Pond Lobstermen’s Co-op (Round Pond Harbor, Bristol, Pemaquid Peninsula, 207-529-5725), a more-rustic-than-most spot overlooking a picture-postcard harbor. Buddy Poland serves lobster, steamers, corn-on-the-cob, and chips. Period. When he runs low on lobster, he saunters down the dock, climbs into his dingy, putt-putts out to a lobster car – that floating crate where the crustaceans are stored – and brings back reinforcements.

Muscongus Bay Lobster, Round Pond

For those who don’t like lobster, just steps away is Muscongus Bay Lobster (Round Pond Harbor, Bristol, Pemaquid Peninsula, 207-529-2251), a larger and wee bit fancier place with a bigger menu. I have friends who favor this spot not only because of the expanded choices – lobster and crab rolls, stews and chowders – but also because it has some sheltered tables, if the weather looks threatening. It also serves fresh Pemaquid oysters, which gives it points in my book. And it earns extra points for having a touch tank filled with all manner of slimy and spiky sea critters for the kids.

Miller’s, Spruce Head

IMG_3826If the line’s too long, or you prefer something a bit more remote, segue over to nearby Miller’s Lobster Pound (Eagle Quarry Road, Spruce Head, 207-594-7406) on quiet Wheeler’s Bay. It’s on a working wharf, and if you time it right, you can watch lobster boats unload their catches. The emphasis is on lobster, but it serves other shellfish, hot dogs, and homemade pies, too. There is some sheltered seating. Beer and wine are served.

McLoon's lobster shack, Spruce Head, Maine. Hilary Nangle photo IMG_8568McLoon’s, Spruce Head

Dreamy, spruce-fringed island views are alone worth the trip to this off-the-beaten-path shack, but McLoon’s also dishes out might fine lobster, lobster rolls, lobster stew, and house-made desserts. And yes, there are choices for any landlubbers traveling with you. This adorable, red, wharf-side shack has picnic tables both outside and under a tent. Trust me, it’s worth the extra effort to find this gem.

Fish House Fish, Monhegan Island

It doesn’t get much more in the rough than Fish House Fish: a fish shack on a beach on an island. Perfection! You can get boiled lobsters as well as lobster rolls, crab rolls, seafood stews and chowders, and even appetizers in the form of local smoked fish. Take it all to a picnic table on the beach, overlooking Monhegan’s lobsterboat-filled harbor, with Manana Island as a backdrop.

Young’s Lobster Pound, Belfast

IMG_9645Sure there’s seating upstairs, which comes in handy on an inclement day, but the best seats at Young’s Lobster Pound (2 Fairview St., Belfast, 207-338-1160) are on the picnic tables on the deck hanging over Belfast’s harbor. This barn of lobster shack is the real deal: Order at the counter, find a table, set up your spread (tablecloth, flowers, hors d’oeuvres, wine, whatever), and wait for your number to be called. Watch boats to-ing and fro-ing in the harbor while you wait — I watched a small cruise ship back into the harbor. Oh, and don’t miss the lobster roll–you can get it with mayo or plain, but either way, generous chunks of lobster overflow from the hamburger-style bun.

Perry’s Lobster Shack, Surry

Way, way off the radar screen (and the highway) is Perry’s Lobster Shack (1076 Newbury Neck Road, Surry, 207-667-1955), created by the late Perry Long and now run by his grandson Seth Cote. Snag one of the  handful of picnic tables on a pier, and wait for service; yup, this place actually has wait staff. The menu is limited; it serves lobsters, mussels, corn-on-the-cob, lobster rolls (1/4 pound premium lobster meat on a fresh, chewy bun), crab rolls, and—for the kiddos—corn dogs. And the views? Over the waters of East Blue Hill Bay to Mount Desert Island.

Thurston’s, Bernard (Mt. Desert Island)

Everyone knows Thurston’s Lobster Pound (Steamboat Wharf Road, Bernard, 207-244-7600) is an idyllic lobster spot on Mount Desert Island. The two-story, screened-in dining area is built on a wharf above lobster boat-clogged Bass Harbor in a classic fishing village. Because it caters not only to tourists but also to the island’s well-heeled summer residents, it’s quite a bit snazzier (perhaps pricier, too) than most lobster spots. Still, it’s an order-at-the-counter place – just be sure to read the rules before doing so. In 2014, Thurston’s added a full bar, with a fireplace, screened roll-up walls, and a deck. Great spot!

Beal’s Lobster Pier, Southwest Harbor

Since coming under new ownership a few years ago, Beal’s Lobster Pier  (182 Clark Point Rd., 207-244-3202) has steadily improved, and shows no sign of stopping. Lobstermen unload their catch at the back dock, guests dine on the wharf-top restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating. There’s even a full bar. Especially at sunset, the views over Southwest Harbor are dreamy.

Lunt’s Dockside Deli, Frenchboro Island

For the real deal, take the Bass Harbor Cruises lunch cruise to tiny Frenchboro, on Long Island, eight miles off Mount Desert Island, in Blue Hill Bay, for lunch at Lunt’s Dockside Deli (207-334-2902). Lunt’s tops a working wharf over a harbor that’s filled with working boats, not yachts. En route, Captain Kim or Eli Strauss not only share lobster lore, but also  haul  a trap or two and explain the whole process. And that knowledge makes you appreciate the critters even more.

Wharf Gallery & Grill, Corea

Corea Whaf Gallery, Corea, Maine. Hilary Nangle photo.IMG_4253A relative newcomer in the world of lobster shacks, Wharf Gallery & Grill (13 Gibbs Ln., 207/963-2633) began in a wharf-top fishing shack, where Joe Young displayed historical photographs of Corea, taken in the 1940s-60s by Louise Z. Young, born in Corea in 1919. Louise was a friend of painter Marsden Hartley, and snapped many candids of him around the area. A few years ago, Joe, a sixth-generation lobsterman and descendant of Corea’s original settlers, began serving lobsters, lobster rolls, and lobster-grilled-cheese sandwiches (delicious!). Every year, the menu expands a bit (now there are crab claws, baked beans, haddock chowder, and landlubber fare (hot dogs, sausage, steak’n’cheese) and the wharf-top seating gets a wee bit nicer. The views, however, never change. Corea is a very protected working harbor, edged with trap-lined wharves and filled with working boats. Perfect!

Quoddy Bay Lobster, Eastport

You can't beat the view or the food at Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport, Maine. Hilary Nangle photoWhen the weather’s clear, there’s nothing finer than lobster at Quoddy Bay Lobster (7 Sea St., 207/853-6640), in way, way downeast Eastport. There’s inside seating, but outside, you can watch boats unload their catch, the tide change, and simply soak in the views over Passamaquoddy Bay. I especially love the lobster rolls here: Every one is topped with the meat of a full claw. Heaven!

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The Maine Coast Chocolate Trail: A chocoholic’s guide https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/the-maine-coast-chocolate-trail-a-guide-for-chocoholics/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/the-maine-coast-chocolate-trail-a-guide-for-chocoholics/#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 14:12:11 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=4510 Maine has an official art museum trail, a maritime heritage trail, an architecture trail, even a garden and landscape trail. It doesn’t have a chocolate trail, but it should. So I’ve created one based on the must-stop chocolate shops salting the coast from Kittery to Calais. Yes, there are more mainstream chocolate shops–Len Libby’s, in […]

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Maine has an official art museum trail, a maritime heritage trail, an architecture trail, even a garden and landscape trail. It doesn’t have a chocolate trail, but it should. So I’ve created one based on the must-stop chocolate shops salting the coast from Kittery to Calais.

Yes, there are more mainstream chocolate shops–Len Libby’s, in Scarborough; Haven’s in Portland; Wilbur’s in Freeport come to mind–but my Maine Coast Chocolate Trail comprises artisan shops selling hand-crafted truffles, bark, and bonbons. These aren’t kid-in-a-candy-store chocolates; they’re more like adult soft porn: luscious, decadent, sinful and capable of producing audible moans when tasted. Now here’s the best part, thanks to mail order, even armchair travelers can indulge. One piece of advice: Call before making a special trip.

Byrne & Carlson, Kittery

Byrne & Carlson's chocolate bars are both gorgeous to view and delicious to eat. Courtesy photoEllen Byrne and Christopher Carlson don’t make just chocolate bars, they create works of art that are almost too pretty to eat. Some have flowers, leaves, or fruit embedded in them. And the flavors match the creativity. The pansy bar, made with Belgian dark chocolate looks as if the crystallized pansy and mint leaves are actually growing in the chocolate. And then there are the flavors, such as chipotle sea salt, which adds zing to a classic.

Divine Chocolates, Cape Neddick

Expect new twists on familiar tastes at Divine Chocolates in cape Neddick. courtesy photoSandra and Kevin Freeman’s heavenly scented shop sells the usuals, such as peanut butter cups, truffles and turtles, but Sandra, the chocolatier, likes to play with flavors. That results in new twists on familiar items, such as barks made with blueberry, peppermint, and a cranberry pistachio, made with freshly shucked nuts. And everything is made with Belgian chocolate. Yum.

Harbor Candy Shop, Ogunquit

Skip the mainstream offerings and head to the specialty truffles and other goodies made fresh on site. courtesy photoThe enticing aromas emanating from Harbor Candy Shop will lure any passing chocoholic inside.  Skip the mainstream offerings and head to the specialty truffles and other goodies made fresh on site. The sandwich pralines are exquisite, or how about caramallows, which combine fresh, made-on-the-premises caramel with marshmallow and dark chocolate? Even vegans can rejoice, with raspberry crème baskets, made using soy milk and available in dark chocolate, rice milk chocolate and dark chocolate raspberry, and plentiful other no-guilt vegan choices, including truffles, peanut butter cups, bark, and chocolate-covered fruits. Oh my!

Dean’s Sweets, Portland

Portland is well regarded as a foodie town, and it does have a couple of chocolate shops, but for true chocoholics, nothing but truffles from Dean’sSweets will do. Dean Bingham, an architect, creates his hand-dipped dark chocolate works of art in small batches. Daily selection is ruled by serendipity and whim; tequila-lime, single-malt scotch, cayenne are just a few possibilities. Or try his Maine-accented assortment of four flavors all associated with Maine: maple, blueberry, raspberry, and his take on the classic needham, made not with mashed potatoes, but with Cold River Vodka. All are nut free; a real plus for those with allergies. Don’t miss the salt caramel, and do try his latest flavor, bacon-butter crunch (okay, maybe not).

The Island Candy Company, Orr’s Island

Melinda Richter’s dark chocolate-enrobed peanut brittle is reason enough to wind down Route 24 from Cooks Corner in Brunswick to The Island Candy Company. The Atlantic shimmers behind the shop, colorful perennials fill a garden in front of it. Inside, chocolates fill multiple cases, and many are made with her caramel. The turtles rival the peanut brittle, and her toffees and barks, especially the pistachio, are heavenly.

Safe Harbor Confections, Damariscotta

Look for bars and truffles from Safe Harbor Confections in specialty shops from Kittery to Milbridge and inland to Fryeburg. These chocolates not only taste delicious, but also help animals in need by donating profits and products to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Safe Harbor’s retail shop is Gifts at 136, in downtown Damariscotta. Not only can you purchase Safe Harbor’s chocolates, but also  a well-curated selection of Maine-made art and fine and folk craft, with choices in all price ranges. Don’t miss it.

Black Dinah Chocolatiers, Blue Hill

Kate and Steve Shaffer use fresh local cream and, when possible, locally harvested organic herbs and fruits to flavor their hand-crafted truffles available at their Black Dinah Cafe. “It’s not about milk or dark, it’s about flavor,” Steve says, when asked about the intriguing blends. Try the chocolate gingerbread, which really does evoke the fragrant dessert, or the sexy Mexi, a milk chocolate truffle flavored with whole ancho chiles, vanilla, canela (Mexican cinnamon), and cardamom. “The lavender changed my life,” one happy customer told Steve. Black Dinah, which originated on Isle au Haut and now produces its chocolates in Westbrook,  shares space with Fairwinds Florist in downtown Blue Hill.

Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, Bar Harbor

Yes, yes, Ben & Bill’s, in downtown Bar Harbor, on Mount Desert Island, is a sibling of Massachusetts-based shops, but that doesn’t make it any less a delicious stop. I’m a huge fan of the dark chocolate-covered pretzels, and my husband thinks the peanut butter cups here are superb, but what distinguishes this shop is that it not only makes chocolates and candies, but also ice creams; better yet, many of the homemade ice creams are flavored with the homemade candies.

Monica’s Chocolates, Lubec

Monica Elliott draws on her Peruvian background to create amazing chocolates—rich, decadent, delicious. Hilary Nangle photoOh my! Monica Elliott draws on her Peruvian background to create amazing chocolates—rich, decadent, delicious. If she’s around, she’ll guide you through the flavors and a tasting. Don’t be surprised if you depart spending far more than you planned–these are just too hard to resist. Now the bonbons flavored with the Peruvian filling are beyond memorable, and available in almond, apricot, plum, coconut, walnut, and pecan, all wrapped in bittersweet chocolate; but don’t stop there. Try the sea cucumbers, made with chocolate, caramel and peanut butter; the pistachio creams; bourbon-with-pecan truffles; and the beyond decadent sea urchins, made with bittersweet chocolate, caramel, toffee, Peruvian filling, and pecans. And, well you get the point.

 

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Dome car returns to Amtrak Downeaster in Aug.-Sept. 2017 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/amtrak-downeaster-adds-vintage-dome-car/ Mon, 22 May 2017 13:54:26 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=10714 Views, views, views! Amtrak’s vintage dome car is back Aug. 17-Sept. 24, 2017. There is no extra fee for riding on the upper level of the glass-domed car on select Amtrak Downeaster trains, but seats are on a first-come, first served basis, with riders encouraged to rotate in and out to allow everyone to experience […]

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Views, views, views! Amtrak’s vintage dome car is back Aug. 17-Sept. 24, 2017. There is no extra fee for riding on the upper level of the glass-domed car on select Amtrak Downeaster trains, but seats are on a first-come, first served basis, with riders encouraged to rotate in and out to allow everyone to experience it. I rode in this car when it made its Downeaster debut in 2016, and it’s a must-do experience for train buffs and anyone who wants to see the scenery from an elevated position.

This year, the 1955 Great Dome rail car will operate Aug. 17-Sept. 25, Monday-Friday on trains 682, 683, 688, and 689 on weekdays; Saturday on trains 692, 693, 696, and 697; and Sunday on trains 690, 692, 698, and 699.

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Savor a tasting dinner with 2017 Beard Best Chefs Northeast https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/savor-a-tasting-dinner-with-2017-beard-best-chefs-northeast/ Fri, 12 May 2017 15:56:12 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/dev/?p=11683 Taste why Mike Wiley & Andrew Taylor, the masterminds behind Portland’s Hugo’s, Honey Paw, and Eventide Oyster Co., won the 2017 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef(s) Northeast. Reserve now to snag a table for one of the talented duo’s five-course Chef’s Dinner Series at Hugo’s. The $150pp price includes everything: tax, service, wine […]

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Taste why Mike Wiley & Andrew Taylor, the masterminds behind Portland’s Hugo’s, Honey Paw, and Eventide Oyster Co., won the 2017 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef(s) Northeast. Reserve now to snag a table for one of the talented duo’s five-course Chef’s Dinner Series at Hugo’s. The $150pp price includes everything: tax, service, wine (paired by sommelier Bryan Flewelling), and, of course, the tasting menu.

• May 24: Spain, featuring regional dishes paired with Spanish wines.

• June 28: Southern France, featuring regional dishes paired with Rhone Valley wines.

• Sept. 27: Magnum Wine, featuring globally sourced large-format wines paired with regional dishes.

• Nov. 8: Allagash: featuring Allagash beer paired with Maine-focused food.

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Light up your life: Seven special ways to enjoy Maine’s lighthouses https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/light-up-your-life-six-special-ways-to-enjoy-maines-lighthouses/ Fri, 12 May 2017 15:38:04 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=9605 The romanticism of lighthouse life has motivated many a traveler to seek out Maine’s 64 beacons. Some of Maine’s lighthouses can be viewed from land, others only by boat. Some Maine lighthouses are regularly open (Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater, for instance), and lighthouse-themed excursion boats depart from many coastal communities. Other beacons are only […]

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Visit Owls Head Light and the ALF Interpretive Center. Tom Nangle photoThe romanticism of lighthouse life has motivated many a traveler to seek out Maine’s 64 beacons. Some of Maine’s lighthouses can be viewed from land, others only by boat. Some Maine lighthouses are regularly open (Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater, for instance), and lighthouse-themed excursion boats depart from many coastal communities. Other beacons are only accessible by special tour or during events and some are only open to overnight guests. A few Maine lighthouses are open for overnight lodging. Here are six special ways to experience Maine’s lightkeeping heritage.

Become enlightened at a museum

The Maine Lighthouse Museum, in Rockland, is home to the nation’s largest collection of Fresnel lenses, along with a boatload of other artifacts related to lighthouses, the Coast Guard, lifesaving stations, and the sea. It’s a must for any lighthouse lover.

While that’s the biggie for lighthouse museums, other troves of lighthouse lore can be seen in museums at Owls Head Light, Portland Headlight, Cape Elizabeth, and Marshall Point Lighthouse tipping the Port Clyde Peninsula.

Take the Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge

Visit lighthouses along Maine's coast on Maine Open Lighthouse Day. Hilary Nangle photo.Visit and climb the towers of seven Mid-coast lighthouses during the annual Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge in late June. Register at any of the participating lighthouses; there’s no cost to participate, but some beacons have admission or parking fees. Participating lights are Dyce Head, Castine; Fort Point, Stockton Springs; Grindle Point, Islesboro; Rockland Breakwater, Rockland; Owls Head, Owls Head; Marshall Point, Port Clyde; and Pemaquid Point, Bristol. Usually there are special programs that coincide with the challenge, such as a lighthouse sunset cruise or evening entertainment.

Tour beacons on Maine Open Lighthouse Day

On Maine Open Lighthouse Day, held in mid September each year, tour more than two dozen lighthouses salting the Maine Coast from Biddeford to Lubec. Most participating sites are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for guided or self-guided tours of the keeper’s houses and/or the light towers. Some are only accessible by boat, and usually excursion boats operate special tours for the event.

Follow the Deer Isle Lighthouse Trail

Stay at the Keeper's House at Isle au Haut Light. Hilary Nangle photoFollow the Deer Isle Lighthouse Trail to see eight lighthouses guarding the local waters: Pumpkin Island, Eagle Island, Mark Island, Isle au Haut, Goose Rocks, Brown’s Head, Saddleback Ledge, and Heron Neck. Purchase a Lighthouse Passport and get it stamped at each. Three area beacons are viewable from shore, but the rest require a boat. Excursion boat outfitters offering lighthouse-themed tours include Guided Island Tours, Isle au Haut Ferry Service, and Old Quarry Ocean Adventures.

Join the party at a special lighthouse open house

While some Maine lighthouses are regularly open to the public, these beacons are accessible only during special events.

Visit lighthouses along Maine's coast on Maine Open Lighthouse Day. Hilary Nangle photo.The West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Association hosts an annual Lighthouse Celebration at the Lubec beacon in early July. In addition to live music, food vendors, raffles, and special activities, the U.S. Coast Guard usually offers tours of the tower during the day.

The Friends of Cutler’s Little River Lighthouse usually schedules a couple of open houses each summer. Transportation is provided from Cutler Town Wharf to the island in small open boats; children must supply their own life jackets. Refreshments usually are available on the island. Event is weather dependent.

Visit Wood Island Light

Volunteers from the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse, located off the coast of Biddeford, offer 1.5-hour guided tours of the light, which dates from 1806. Those age 12 and older may climb the 60 stairs to the tower’s lantern room and even crawl through the two-foot-square hatch that accesses the walkway ringing the top. Tours, offered in July and August, depart from Vine’s Landing in Biddeford Pool. Reservations are required and can be made online. A suggested donation of $15 per adult or $8 per child younger than 13, is appreciated.

Overnight in a lighthouse

Visit lighthouses along Maine's coast on Maine Open Lighthouse Day. Hilary Nangle photo.Few lighthouses are as dramatically sited at Pemaquid Point; fewer still have been featured on the Maine state quarter. Inside the Keepers House at Pemaquid Point Light, a second-floor, one-bedroom apartment that sleeps four is available for one-week rental through Newcastle Vacation Rentals.

The Keeper’s House Inn on Isle au Haut makes it possible to slumber, without camping, on the island that’s home to a remote section of Acadia National Park. Inside the keeper’s house are three rooms that share a bath and a third-floor suite with a private bath. Also available is the Oil House, which offers primitive accommodations on the shoreline. All meals are provided. Guests in the Woodshed Cottage, with private bath and full kitchen, need to prepare their own meals.

Friends of the Little River Light House have made it possible to overnight at the light guarding Cutler’s harbor. Guests stay in three bedrooms. All share two bathrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. Guests must bring their own linens or sleeping bags, towels, food, beverages, and bottled water.  Minimum age for an overnight stay is 12. Boat transportation is provided, with tide determining times.

Beacon Preservation, which is working to restore and preserve Goose Rocks Light, uses overnights as a fund raiser for restoration projects. The light, located off North Haven Island, is completely surrounded by water; there is no accessible land. Up to six adults (min. age is 18) can sleep in two bedrooms and one bunkroom. Lighthouse volunteers provide transportation from the North Haven island ferry terminal.

Whitehead Light Station, located on Whitehead Island at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, offers rentals as well as three- to five-day adult enrichment courses, such as a knitters retreat, craft beer appreciation, and writing and history programs. The 11.1-acre island is home to a seven-bedroom keeper’s house (rental includes full use of the island, transportation, mainland parking, local boating excursions, services of a skipper, and linens).

Join the Friends of Seguin Island Light Station (207-443-4808, from $30 individua/$75 family) and be eligible (with a $250 donation) to spend a night at Seguin, located at the mouth of the Kennebec River. The rustic accommodations include two bedrooms, minimal kitchen facilities, a private bathroom (composting toilet) with running water, and an outhouse. Linens and drinking water are provided and light breakfast is delivered in the morning. Guests must arrange their own transportation, and getting to the dock can be tricky.

Newest addition to Maine’s lighthouse lodging is the Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse, a two-suite luxury inn capping a small rocky island off Southport Island. Rates include a full breakfast; lunch and dinner are available at extra fees. Parking and transport are provided (fee for guided tours or extra trips to and fro). Flexibility is required, as seas may prevent transport. Minimum age is 18.

 

 

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Let’s talk Maine lobster: All you need to know about Maine’s lobster shacks, lobster festivals, lobsterboat races, and lobsterboat tours https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/maine-lobster-lovers-guide/ https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/maine-lobster-lovers-guide/#comments Fri, 12 May 2017 14:00:06 +0000 https://www.mainetravelmaven.com/?p=5664 Maine is world renowned for its lobster, and you can enjoy it a gazillion ways. Eating it, of course, is the biggie (with so many options —baked, broiled, boiled, stuffed, and even fried—for starters), but don’t stop there. Attend a festival celebrating the bugs (as nicknamed by lobstermen), or watch races between lobsterboats (fierce competition), […]

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Take a lobster cruise with Capt. Tom Martin aboard the Lucky Catch, out of Portland, and you'll learn everything there is to know about lobsters and see a few lighthouses, too. Hilary Nangle photo.
Lobster and lighthouses: Portland Headlight as viewed from aboard the Lucky Catch. ©Hilary Nangle

Maine is world renowned for its lobster, and you can enjoy it a gazillion ways.

Eating it, of course, is the biggie (with so many options —baked, broiled, boiled, stuffed, and even fried—for starters), but don’t stop there.

Attend a festival celebrating the bugs (as nicknamed by lobstermen), or watch races between lobsterboats (fierce competition), or cruise aboard one and learn about and perhaps take part in how the tasty crustaceans are caught. Better yet, do it all.

• Maine lobster shacks
McLoon's Lobster is worth finding in Spruce Head. ©Hilary Nangle
Nothing finer than dining on the wharf at a traditional Maine lobster shack such as McLoon’s, in Spruce Head. ©Hilary Nangle

Now I think the best way to enjoy it is in the rough at a lobster shack. You can get down and dirty and dig in with abandon, savoring the succulent meat and enjoying the experience of eating outdoors on a wharf or seaside deck, while watching lobstermen unload their catches or bait and fuel their boats, and listening to seagulls beg. Even better, at many, you can bring all the necessary go-withs, from tablecloths and flowers to wine and cheese. Here are my favorite Maine coast lobster shacks.

• Maine lobster festivals
Rockland, Maine, is home to the annual Maine Lobster Festival. ©Hilary Nangle
The Maine Lobster Festival takes every August in Rockland, Maine. ©Hilary Nangle

Maine has three lobster festivals that are worth planning a visit around.

• The big kahoona is the Maine Lobster Festival, in Rockland. This is isn’t just a chow-down but a full-blown festival, with crownings and parades, fun races and games, exhibits, arts and crafts, music, and, of course, lobster (last year, 17,000 pounds served). Plan well ahead; it’ll take a miracle to arrive in town and find an empty hotel/motel room or even a campsite. Always the first weekend in August.

• Far smaller is the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival, in Winter Harbor, on the Schoodic Peninsula and near the Schoodic section of Acadia National Park. An event highlight is the annual lobsterboat race, with 13 classes rated by size and power. Other activities include a road race, large craft fair , parade, and, of course, a chow-down lobstah dinnah with all the trimmings. Festival is free; there’s a charge for dinner. Always the second Saturday in August.

• Tiniest, but perhaps biggest in local pride, is the annual Frenchboro Lobster Festival, a one-day fund-raising shindig that requires a special ferry boat run from Bass Harbor, on Mount Desert Island. Frenchoboro, by the way, is great to visit anytime. Always the second Saturday in August.

• Maine lobsterboat races

Every year, lobstermen race their boats in fishing harbors along the Maine Coast. Tom Nangle photoNASCAR, schmasscar, in Maine real men and women race lobsterboats, replacing the chug-a-lug engines with souped up vroooommmers! Competitors take these races very seriously, and there are classes rated by size and power.

Here’s the 2017 schedule:
June 17: Boothbay Harbor
June 18: Rockland
June 25: Bass Harbor
July 1: Moosabec Reach
July 9: Stonington
July 23: Friendship
Aug. 12: Winter Harbor
Aug. 13: Pemaquid
Aug. 19: Long Island
Aug. 20: Portland
Maine Lobster boat tours
Aboard the Lulu with Capt. John Nicolai. ©Hilary Nangle
Capt. John Nicolai shares his deep knowledge about lobster fishing and the waters of Frenchman Bay from aboard the Lulu, out of Bar Harbor. ©Hilary Nangle
Take a lobster boat tour along the Maine coast to learn everything there is to know about the tasty crustaceans and perhaps catch your dinner, too. ©Hilary Nangle
Join Capt. Tom Martin aboard the Lucky Catch out of Portland, Maine, and you might even go home with a lobster dinner. ©Hilary Nangle

You’ve eaten lobster, celebrated lobster, watched the boats in the harbor, now it’s time to hop aboard one and take part in the catch. In the process, you’ll learn all sorts of lobster trivia, fact, and lore. When you’re ready for Lobster 101, consider cruising on one of these excursion boats.

Join Capt. Tom Martin aboard the Lucky Catch, operating from Portland’s waterfront and  you might even catch your own dinner. You can purchase any lobsters caught during the cruise at boat price and have them cooked at a nearby restaurant. Even if you don’t catch any, you’ll fill-up on lobster trivia and have a blast.

How to measure a lobster to see if it's legal
Capt. John Nickolai demonstrates measuring a lobster aboard the Lulu, out of Bar Harbor, Maine. ©Hilary Nangle

Similarly, Capt. Steve Hale demonstrates the art of catching lobsters and shares stories on the Captain Jack, operating from Rockland Harbor. In addition to regular cruises, he also offers a lunch cruise complete with an ultra fresh lobster roll. Afterwards, buy lobsters at boat price from Capt. Hale.

Capt. John Nicolai’s Lulu operates from Bar Harbor. Like the others, he’ll tell you The Truth about lobsters, every little detail (including lobster boxing) you may (or may not) wish to know. He hauls a few lobster pots and demonstrates how to use a carapace to measure a lobster to determine whether it’s legal—a keepah! Kids love this trip, but adults are equally enthralled.

 

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