We took advantage of another free day on Monday the 19th to explore more of the “fingers” along the Maine coast. With Taoist Biker’s Sunny Mix in the tray, we re-traced part of our steps up the coast on Route One to Wiscasset, and took a quick run down 144 to Georgetown Island just to see what was there (trees. houses. quaint little villages. natch.). We’d skipped breakfast and it was getting on towards noon, so we didn’t pause but headed back up to the main drag and picked up route 27 down to Boothbay Harbor. Along the way we saw a somewhat greater density in population – more houses, a bit more traffic, lots of B&B’s sporting “solar-powered dryers”. Bill blinked at the sign – I chortled and said, “Clothesline.”
We found parking at the area Grange, guarded by a truly ancient and altogether adorable veteran gentleman. I’d just popped out of the car to give him our $7.00, so I didn’t get a picture of him. I think he was rather too dignified to stand for it, though I’m sure he would have endured with aplomb. He called me “dear” (de-yah) and slowly, carefully, shakily unfolded a walking map of the town. He pointed and said, “You’re here (hee-yah). You go this way, you find shops and food. You go that way, you find shops and food. Pretty much walk any which way, you find shops and food.” I told him, “Well, that’s what we’re here for!” He patted my hand (aww!) and I walked back to the car, grinning from ear to ear.
We made a beeline for McSeagulls, finding it almost from memory. Not tough, really, since it’s on the waterfront and the ocean is pretty damned hard to miss. It’d been over three years since our last visit, but it didn’t seem like it was that long ago at all, once we settled down on the deck with our beers and menus.
I guess I’m getting a little bit out of the habit of taking pictures of my food – a fact I’m sure Bill is grateful for. I had fried clams, he had shrimp scampi. We sat and breathed and endured the fussy newborn behind us, and the rambunctious three-year-old at the neighboring table. The family bought him a stuffed seal. The general consensus was that the seal was to be named “Sammy”. The boy decided “Bob” was better. Way to fight against the obvious, kid!
After lunch we took a short stroll among the shops and along the shore. Our visit was at the height of the summer tourism season, so it was vastly more crowded than our last visit. Still, it wasn’t horrible, though I’m sure the locals have a different idea of the definition of crowded.
We reclaimed our car (“Good to see ya, dear!”) and navigated our way out of the congestion that had accumulated while we’d been exploring. We took a quick turn around Southport Island, but any views of the water were obscured by the trees once we got away from Boothbay any distance. If we wanted any vistas we’d have to traverse some of the private drives, which we weren’t prepared to do.
So, up to Route One once again, we hit Damariscotta (pronounced dam-rih-scot-ah). Oh how I LOVE that little town. Historic and the very definition of quaint. (As an aside, I’ll have to go back and count how many times I’ve used “quaint” during this summarization.) We cruised slowly through, and spotted a likely little pub that we kept in mind for our return path. We headed down 129, taking the right-hand fork toward South Bristol and Christmas Cove (and isn’t that the best name EVER for a town?). The road just… stopped. Altogether. No signs, no warning other than the narrowing path and encroaching buildings until all of a sudden, hi! There’s the ocean. We paused and gazed for a few minutes, but then I saw a point on the map that I really wanted to see.
Back the way we came, waving at folks tending their yards (which is why I didn’t take many pictures of the villages – the folks living there were out and about, tending and doing, and probably wouldn’t appreciate strangers taking photos of them), nodding at the seldom car coming in the other direction, back up to the fork and turned onto 130 in the direction of Bristol, then New Harbor. I would totally live in New Harbor. Quiet, lovely old homes, secluded, peaceful. Did I mention secluded? This would be THE spot on the planet to go if you wanted to get away from it all. They probably don’t even have cable. Actually, I’ll betcha they don’t. Sure as shootin’ we didn’t have any cell service while we were down around there.
Past New Harbor we came upon Pemaquid Point. We paid the park fee and parked in front of the Pemaquid Point lighthouse, where we spent the better part of two hours wandering, gazing, and taking a million pictures.
We tore ourselves away from the waves (watching the tide come in can be mesmerizing), hopped back in the car and headed back up to Damariscotta. Tucked in a teeny nook between buildings along the main street, we’d spotted King Eider’s Pub on our way down to the point. We found on-street parking fairly close by and, taking note of the one hour limit, walked down the sidewalk to the pub.
We scored a couple of beers and a whiskey (after pausing at the bar inside for a moment – we were fascinated that the barkeep stepped out the back door and picked fresh mint from the garden in order to make another patron’s mojito), then sat out on the minuscule deck and watched the bustling little down as dusk fell.
After finishing our drinks, we ducked into a nearby store really quick to see if we could find Bill some new shoes – his Columbia’s were starting to come apart at the seams. No luck, though, so he scored some superglue to perform emergency repairs. Then it was BACK in the car, BACK onto Route One, and headed back southwest to make our way back in the direction of the hotel (back back backety back).
We hit a bit of traffic and were both doing the pee-pee dance by the time we hit Woolwich and pulled into the always-necessary Taste of Maine Restaurant. It may be somewhat of a cliché to the folks who live in the area, but there was MANY a Mother’s Day that found me and my family escorting Grandma to a nice early dinner there. In fact, Bill and I took here there during the last visit home shortly before Grandma passed away (source of the infamous “I’m over here!” story). Their television commercial hasn’t changed ONE BIT in my entire lifetime. Still the lobsterman on the sign throwing his thumb over his shoulder and saying, “Taste of Maine Rest’runt. Route One Woolwich, just north of Bath.” Throw a fully loaded Maine accent in there and you’ve got the picture.
We requested a table out on the deck so we could watch the fading light over Harrison Bay. I wasn’t very hungry so I just ordered a bowl of clam chowder. Bill went to town on a surf and turf.
As we sipped our beverages we started to notice some very clear bird calls. Bill cast his gaze around, and spotted the osprey tower off to the side of the restaurant. Apparently about twenty years ago the owner of the restaurant built the tower, confident that the osprey would find it and build a nest. Five years later, that’s exactly what happened. For fifteen years the same mated pair have been coming back year after year to lay eggs and raise their young. A few years ago, they installed a webcam which streams a live feed into the lobby, and the BioDiversity Research Institute maintains a blog about the ospreys’ activities. Our visit was fortunately timed such that the male, female, and both chicks were still inhabiting the nest.
I fitted the camera with the 2x converter and the 70-200mm telephoto lens, and handed it to Bill. He spent an enthusiastic half-hour snapping shots from the deck and from the outer-wall staircase along the side of the building closest to the tower.
We spent a very pleasant hour enjoying the weather and the fading light, and fielding several phone calls from my niece Sable, who wanted to know when we would be back in Portland so she could stop by with her boyfriend for a visit. She’d actually been calling all day, but we were out of cell reception most of the time. I guess if we ever move back to Maine I’m going to have to get a satellite phone.
Back on the road, I got these shots from the car of the cranes at Bath Iron Works, while we were crossing the bridge over the Kennebec River. My uncle used to work there nights all throughout my childhood. I would LOVE to get a tour of that place sometime, and get up close to the AEGIS destroyers they build there. I keep wanting to get to the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, too, but somehow we never end up there.
We finally got back to Portland at about 8:00, and immediately got started on doing a couple of loads of laundry to see us through the duration of our trip. A very nice guy, who rents a room right across from the laundry, provided us with some soap and dryer sheets. Sable arrived at about 9:00 and hung out with us for an hour or so. We all sat around the room gabbing and surfing the internet on my laptop, looking at vacation pictures and listening to music of Sable’s choosing. Then she and her boyfriend headed back out, Bill and I wrapped up the laundry situation, and we hit the sack.
(I think I can wrap up this recap in two more entries – one about our stay in Bar Harbor, and one about our stay at Grandma’s house. That’s what I’m shooting for, anyway!)