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August 2008

Maine

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

We landed in Portland, Maine. We saw quite a bit of water sitting around outside and the skies were somewhat overcast and it was humid out. We crossed our fingers that the weather would be nice. It took forever for our suitcases to come out on the conveyor belt. We went to pick up our car only to find out that the one we reserved wasn’t available and they wanted to give us a Town Car. With the price of gas hovering around $4 a gallon that was the last thing we wanted. Fortunately a Toyota RAV4 came in with GPS so we took that car, which turned out to be perfect for us.

Because most of the flights only give you meals now if you fly first class (there were no flights with a first class section going to Portland) or sell them your first-born, we needed to get lunch. We stopped at a brewpub – Gritty McDuff's (billed as Maine’s first brewpub since prohibition) . There are three locations and we went to the one in Freeport, Maine. There were long, wooden picnic-style tables in the bar – or there were tables outside. Since the weather looked a little threatening, we stayed inside. Lori was trying to not go too far off her diet, so she went for the Tiger Shrimp Cocktail and the Soft Pretzel Sticks served with mustard. There were too many pretzel sticks, so she got the rest boxed for later. Keith had the buffalo chicken quesadilla, which was actually done in the stone oven instead of in a fry pan, and which was very good with excellent guacamole. He sampled one of their beers. Then we took off for our first destination.

It took us about an hour to get to the place we would be staying our first three nights – Log Cabin Inn in Bailey Island, ME. You can read more details about our experience at the Log Cabin Inn on our review page. We were greeted by the innkeeper and took our things into the Harpswell Suite. It was humid, so we changed and went to soak in the pool, where we talked to Matt the innkeeper’s very friendly father – who gave us tips on what to do in the area. That night we had a nice relaxing dinner at the inn and then returned to our unit to soak in the hot tub. We were out there for a little while – the fog was thick and we couldn’t see any of the magnificent water view when lightning chased us inside. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Monday, August 4, 2008

We woke up to rain – rats! We had breakfast in the dining room of the inn and then decided to get in the car and explore the area. We drove down to the tip of the island (which wasn’t very far) and got out by the gift store and walked around the rocks. Then we got back in the car and searched for the Giant Stairs, a natural phenomenon. We found the parking lot in front of a small church, and then walked down the road. The rain had flooded out the path and there was a poison ivy warning so we didn’t get to see it but here is a picture. We then drove back up north through Bailey Island, across the cribstone bridge to Orr Island, then headed over to the next island to explore. Down at the tip of that island we drove past a man who looked just like the Gorton’s Seafood Fisherman, but it was the strangest thing – he was holding a lantern and was just standing there and frankly, it scared the crap out of us. We realized how Stephen King comes up with his characters – right out of his home state of Maine. We drove to the mainland (Brunswick) where we stocked up at the local Shaw’s supermarket, then drove back down through Orr Island, across the cribstone bridge, and back to our temporary home.

We spent the afternoon quietly reading and gazing out at the view. That night we had dinner at Cook’s Lobster House. The weather was improving enough so that after dinner we could actually go back to our suite and enjoy our hot tub, gazing out at the water.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We kept hearing that Tuesday was going to be the nicest day of the week. We didn’t want to believe that but we also knew if we wanted to do something outdoors, Tuesday was the day. Sure enough the day dawned with a blue sky and white, fluffy clouds – what we expected for August in Maine. We had breakfast at the inn and then spent some time lounging around our suite, sitting on the deck, catching some rays and reading. Shortly before noon we headed back to Cook’s Lobster House to catch the Casco Bay Ferry. It left at noon for a 2-hour tour. This is a passenger ferry but was fairly large. If you are on Bailey Island, this is a must. It is very inexpensive ($14 each for adults when we visited) and it is a narrated tour.

After the tour we went back to our suite and relaxed before dinner. Since it was a nice day we went back to Cook’s but this time had dinner outside on Moby’s Deck (cute, huh?). This was the nicest night and we had a pseudo-sunset view from the hot tub on our patio.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We heard the pouring rain as soon as we woke up Wednesday morning. We had breakfast in the dining room and then packed the car for our trip north. We decided to avoid the major highways and drive up along the coast – much more scenic. Of course it takes longer too but we calculated it would take us 3.5 hours to get to our destination on Mount Desert Island – add in a stop for lunch and the timing was perfect.

We wound our way northward. The rain kept coming but the scenery was great and the towns were quaint. Lori had read the Red’s Eats in Wiscasset was judged to have the best lobster rolls (Lori was all about lobster rolls on this trip). We drove past Red's but it was only around 10:30 and it wasn’t yet open for lunch. Oh well.

We kept going until our stomachs started to growl. We got to Lincolnville and found a place right on the water, The Lobster Pound Restaurant, on US Route 1. It was a chilly, rainy day, but they had a heated covered porch by the water open and that’s where we had lunch. Keith had a burger (poor Keith isn’t into lobster) while Lori had a lobster roll. This lobster roll was different than the one she had the night before at Cook’s Lobster House. That one had a bit of mayonnaise and lettuce while this one was simply sautéed – although it had the requisite buttered top-sliced hot dog bun. It was very good. They had an interesting gift shop and after poking around in there, we got back in our car and resumed our journey.

We got to our next destination – the Lindenwood Inn - right around check-in time at 3 p.m. You can read more about our experiences while staying at the Lindenwood Inn on our review page. We helped ourselves to some wine from the honor bar. The rain let up a little so we attempted to soak in our rooftop hot tub. We then researched local restaurants and chose Sips. The rain had subsided somewhat (although it remained dreary) so we donned hooded jackets and walked the half-mile or so to the restaurant, where we had a wonderful dinner. After dinner we went across the street to the Lazy Moose and played pool and then headed back to our inn.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

We woke up to gray skies and – you guessed it – rain. We had breakfast at the inn and then took off in the car. We stopped at the Acadia National Park entrance (which is actually on the right as you enter Mount Desert Island, since much of the island is part of the park) and dutifully paid our $20, which got us a weekly pass to hang on the rear-view mirror of our car as well as a park guide. The weather really wasn’t conducive to doing much outdoors so we climbed Cadillac Mountain via car. As we neared the summit, the fog thickened, and we couldn’t see much of anything, which was indeed a disappointment. We drove around a lot more of the park and then headed into Bar Harbor, where we had lunch at the Parkside Restaurant. The pounding rain let up for a bit so we walked up and down Main Street after lunch. There were hoards of people and we were glad we were staying on the quiet side of the island. That afternoon we drove back to our inn and spent some time in our rooftop hot tub. We had dinner at Bella Mare in Southwest Harbor, a wonderful little Italian restaurant. We returned to our inn for a little more soaking.

Friday, August 8, 2008

We would love to say we woke up to bright, sunshiny skies and the birds were singing but that’s not the case – it was raining yet again. The innkeeper Fred told us it had been that way for weeks and was really starting to get depressing. After breakfast, we took off again in the car to explore the side of the island where we were staying. We found the Bass Harbor Light House and got out and walked down to it. If you are a lighthouse fan, check this out. You can’t go inside because a Coast Guard family lives these, but you can walk right up to the lighthouse. We drove along the eastern coast of the island, which we understand is more what the island looked like before it became a resort. We then decided to check out Northeast Harbor and used our trusty GPS for that. It was a charming town and appeared to be more residential. We drove along Somes Sound, a fjord that nearly bisects Mount Desert Island. What we saw was beautiful but the weather didn’t make it easy.

We then headed back to Southwest Harbor, where we had lunch at Gilley’s Head of the Harbor Restaurant. After lunch we went back to our inn and walked to the dock to catch the local ferry that stops at the Cranberry Isles (at the suggestion of Fred, the innkeeper). It is a small boat that accommodates passengers on foot. We encountered several people who live on the islands and were returning with groceries in tow – we noted the use of coolers and canvas totes. We also met a very enthusiastic black lab puppy named Susie, as well as a college-age woman who had spent several weeks working on a schooner and was spending the remainder of her summer on Great Cranberry Isle. It cost $22 for each of us to make the 2-hour trip. It’s not narrated as this is public transit for the locals, but one of the two men working the boat came over and chatted with us. Unfortunately, after 90 minutes of no rain, it was time again for the skies to open up (but note that the boat had a covered area).

Afterwards, we made a valiant attempt to use our rooftop hot tub. The rain was really pouring down and we sat out there in hats. It was pathetic, but we were focused on making the most of our vacation. We had a wonderful dinner that night at XYZ restaurant. It was the perfect way to end our trip.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

When we woke up the following morning we expected to see and hear rain. Of course, since this was the day we were departing, the sun came out. Seriously. We couldn’t believe it. After breakfast we packed up the car and headed inland. We had some time to kill so we headed north of Bangor to Old Town, where we found a delightful restaurant and had wraps while we were overlooking the falls. We drove to the Bangor airport, turned in the car, and winged our way home.

We know there are lots of great things about Maine and we had a good time. The weather put a major crimp in our fun but we’re glad we went and hope to get the chance to go back sometime! And hopefully the sun will shine just a little more.