It seems like we were barely back from Vermont and it was time to plan our trip to Maine. We’re having a blast slowly ticking these little trips off our wish list! So far, we’ve been completely unfamiliar with the places we’ve been, so planning takes some time as we read up on local sights, favorite attractions, etc. One thing was clear about Maine: just pick a spot on the coast and enjoy driving from lighthouse to lighthouse as you enjoy some of the best food around. Sounds like a plan!
We left early on Tuesday morning to make our way to Camden, ME, on the midcoast. As we crossed from New Hampshire into Maine, Charlie officially went on “moose watch,” and we kept an eye out for any sign of big fuzzy antlers. Then, we came around a bend and there in a clearing was a huge animal! We can’t say for sure it was a moose since we were driving pretty fast/freaking out, but it was definitely much too large to be a deer and the antlers looked very different. What else could you call it? So, within five minutes of being in Maine, we’re claiming our first moose sighting!
We stopped in Portland for lunch down by the wharf at a restaurant called The Porthole. Being out in the salty air on our way into lunch definitely made me miss my home in Ocean Springs! The Porthole is famous for their lobster roll, which they serve on homemade brioche bread. Charlie’s not much of a lobster fan, so he got the fish and chips made with fresh haddock. It was a great way to start our coastal adventure!
After the best chocolate croissant of our lives, we headed to a local ocean-front park and were greeted with what would become a familiar sight: endless views of the bluest water we’d ever seen. On the map, you can see that Maine has a lot of little islands just off its coast. What I never realized was how close these all are to the main shoreline. It makes for a really pretty view as you not only enjoy the sights of the water, but also how it’s broken up by dozens of little land masses filled with evergreens. It really is “where the mountains meet the sea.”
While Portland is certainly a cool city, we were eager to get out into the smaller coastal towns. We bypassed all the little shops and headed for Pemaquid Point. Maine has several long peninsulas which stem off the main coastal highway, Route 1. This makes it great to travel, as you can go and see the beautiful points and then backtrack your way to the main road. After enjoying Main Street in the town of Damariscotta, we arrived at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse just as the afternoon and evening were beginning to melt together.
While we noticed that none of the lighthouses themselves are particularly dramatic, they have all the drama they need with their locations. The Pemaquid light is set atop a rocky cliff, and you can see where the rocky landscape below has been shaped smooth by thousands of years of the water lapping against the shore. It was low tide, and we enjoyed walking all over the exposed landscape and skipping rocks while the sun dropped low, casting a pink glow over everything. It was magical, and we really had to tear ourselves away. Just like Menemsha in Martha’s Vineyard, I think I’ll always have a soft spot for the little quiet point on the Maine coastline.
After dinner at Moody’s Diner (highly recommended by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and home of the most delicious pies!), we arrived at The Captain Swift Inn in Camden. This B&B was once the home to a shipping captain and his family in the 1800s and it’s been beautifully restored. We stayed in the master bedroom of the original home, and it was great to fall into bed with a good fire going in the hearth.
After a delicious breakfast the next morning, we headed to the top of Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park. Mt. Battie offers ample views of Camden Harbor and the surrounding coastline. It was a nice little introduction to the mid-coast of Maine, and it was also fun to see snow still on the ground in the park.
So after picking our jaws up off the ground, we got back in the car and headed for St. George Peninsula. Our innkeeper mentioned this little section of the coast was a “must” and also home to the lighthouse featured in Forrest Gump, Marshall Point Lighthouse. On the way, we stopped through Rockland to see the Rockland Breakwater Light. The actual light is at the end of a breakwater that it a mile long and protects the Rockland Harbor. While you can walk the length of the breakwater, we opted to just enjoy the view.
Driving out to Marshall Point took us through a couple of small fishing villages, and we couldn’t stop talking about how this was a place we could settle down and build a life. After a lot of thought, Charlie even determined how we could sell the Sonata and get our “Maine” cars (an international Scout for him and a Trooper for me, plus a jeep that would have the snowplow attached.) Everything was so quiet, and it made us think that Maine is kind of like Martha’s Vineyard and Vermont smashed together: the gray-shingled fishing villages of MV combined with the rural simplicity of Vermont. In a word, perfect.
The rest of the day had us enjoying the views from Marshall Point, and then winding our way back to the Owls Head Lighthouse. On the way, we had to stop at Owls Head General Store. While not much to look at from the outside, it boasts the “Best Burger in Maine” according to the Food Network. Needless to say, it did not disappoint and neither did the views from Owls Head!
We ended the day walking around the Camden Harbor in the late afternoon. Charlie even got the best haircut of his life from a traditional barber shop owned by the sweetest older men!
On Thursday morning, we enjoyed creme brulee french toast (just take a minute to imagine that!) and got back on Route 1 to slowly make our way back to Connecticut. We drove down to Boothbay Harbor, which turned out to be mostly closed up for the season. After enjoying the quiet harbor, we then made our way to Wiscassett and Bath. These two towns boast really cute historic downtowns and beautiful views of the water. Maine is a lot like Vermont in the sense that the views you encounter while driving is half of the fun. This is especially true if you leave time to stop at the little general stores along the way, or grab an ice cream cone on Main Street as you pass through.
After a late lunch in Portland, we reluctantly headed home down I-95. One thing we learned is that while we may not move to Vermont or Maine in a few years, we definitely want to move somewhere a little more rural. We feel most at home on the quiet backroads connecting small farms, or having a grilled cheese sandwich at a tiny diner on the highway. We still have visits to Boston and NYC coming up, but I’m realizing I’m not anticipating those visits as much as I would have thought. I can’t imagine all the traffic, noise and glitz being half as appealing as the quiet, country trips we’ve enjoyed so far.