Day 5: Acadia National Park
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I started my day with coffee by the ocean and capturing the sunrise. I'm shocked that I had the beach to myself but took full advantage of the alone time by meditating and taking lots of photos. Later that morning, Scott and I had coconut french toast on the patio and enjoyed the bright, warm sun to get us energized for our road trip and hiking adventure.
We drove north on US Hwy 1 and stopped after 40 minutes so we could take a look at The Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory. We didn't go inside the observatory because we wanted to spend as much time as possible in Acadia.
We arrived at Acadia National Park and after paying for our pass, we headed to Jordan Pond House. Lisa Telander Lukis suggested the restaurant for our lunch and the view of The Bubbles. As soon as we were sat at our table, the wind picked up and so it wasn't as relaxing as I had imagined but it definitely was beautiful.
After hiking up the North Ridge Trail to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, we hiked down the South Ridge Trail. The hike took most of the afternoon and we barely made it to Thunder Hole before the sun started setting.
We went to the town of Bar Harbor so we could have dinner before driving back to Lincolnville. It was dark and we were tired and hungry so we just picked the first place that didn't have a wait - Bar Harbor Beerworks. I think I was too tired to really care about anything at that point on the trip. I rallied for ice cream at Mt. Desert Ice Cream though!
Day 6: Local brews
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The early bird gets the worm and boy do mornings like this one make me appreciate my ability to get up early (or inability to sleep). The sunrise was spectacular and once again I had the entire beach to myself.
Despite all of my advanced planning for the trip, I still managed to not pack enough underthings. So, we decided to do laundry in Camden and in between loads we checked out the Camden Public Library and Zoot Coffee. The Camden Public Library is incredible. It recently had a major renovation and it is stunning inside and out. If I lived anywhere near Camden, I'd go to the library just for the view of the harbor.
We drove about 45 minutes south Newcastle, ME so we could check out Oxbow Brewing Company. It was a beautiful drive and a charming part of Maine. I wish we would have spent more time driving around the area. Oxbow had great beers and an even better ambiance. There tagline of "loud beer from a quiet place" rings true.
We continued on to Boothbay and had lunch at Mine Oyster Restaurant and Raw Bar. We walked around Boothbay a little bit and then headed to Boothbay Craft Brewery. It turns out we could have had lunch there and I kind of wished we had judging by the smells wafting out of the kitchen.
When we arrived back in Camden, we decided to go to the top of Mount Battie at the Camden Hills State Park. Normally we would have wanted to walk the trails but we had limited time before the park closed.
Before heading back to the Inn at Ocean's Edge, we had dinner at Cappy's Chowder House which kind of seems like a requirement when you're in the area. We had lobster artichoke pizza and lobster tacos. No chowder.
Day 7: Portland light house, beer and art
Friday, September 5, 2014
We returned to Portland on Friday morning and went to the Portland Head Light, the one and only lighthouse we visited in the land of light houses.
After lunch at Elevation Burger, we went on a self-guided brewery/distillery tour. We started at Allagash Brewing Company on the edge of Portland in an industrial park. We split a flight so we could pace ourselves for the afternoon.
Across the street from Allagash are three more breweries, two of which were open for tastings. We went to Foundation Brewing Company followed by Bissell Brothers.
We took a short break from beer so we could try some distilled spirits at Maine Craft Distilling. The bartender poured small samples while giving us the low down about Blueshine, Ration, Fifty Stone, and Chesuncook.
Next door to Maine Craft Distilling is Rising Tide Brewing Company, co-owned by husband and wife team Nathan and Heather Sanborn.
We lucked out and it was First Friday Art Walk in downtown Portland. We walked along Congress Street and went into Maine College of Art (MECA). We watched several street performances - break dancing, Maine Marimba Ensemble, and a kilted juggler to name a few.
We wanted to check out Portland food trucks so we went to Flea Bites at the Portland Flea-for-All. After browsing through three levels of the Flea-For-All, we were spent and it was time to call it a night. By this point I was done traveling and ready for the comforts of home.
Day 8: Homeward bound
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Our flight wasn't until 1:30 PM but we had already filled up our rental car and we were both just ready to be home so we didn't do any sightseeing before heading to the airport. Before we left, we had breakfast in our room thanks to a stop at the Whole Foods the night before. I picked up some local blueberries and boy were they delicious.
We had a long layover in New York (LaGuardia) and their air conditioning was broken during heatwave so it was not pleasant. I was so ready to be home. During our flight from New York to Minneapolis, we saw a beautiful sunset.
We arrived home to find Stewie and he was so excited to see us. He was well cared for by our neighbors which helped us relax while we were away. It was a fantastic vacation and I'm thrilled we had the opportunity to spend a week in beautiful Maine. That said, it was great to be home and my heart still belongs to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Day 3: Portland and traveling up the coast
Monday, September 1, 2014 (Labor Day)
I woke up early and decided to take a photo walk by myself around the West End neighborhood. One of the magazines I read the previous day, Old Port had an article, "West End: What to do in a day" which inspired me to explore the neighborhood as much as possible before leaving the city for the coast. Deb, one of the innkeepers at West End Inn also provided me with a self-guided walking tour article, "Guide to the Western Promenade" from Portland Landmarks which provides a map with descriptions of the historic homes in the area.
Around 7 AM, I returned to the B&B for coffee and breakfast with Scott. I could get used to starting my days with a walk and quality time with him. We both started with the vegetable juice (I couldn't get over the beautiful color from the beets!) and Scott had the blueberry pancakes with bacon and I had the omelet ingredients made into a one-egg scramble with toast and bacon.
After breakfast, we continued walking around West End neighborhood and made sure to stop by the oldest home in the city, 387 Danforth Street built in 1799 for homeowner, William Vaughn.
To enjoy the beautiful day on foot before getting in the car to drive up the coast, we went on a coffee walk to Tandem Coffee Shop. We chose a walking route that would allow us to walk through historic Deering Oaks Park, designed in 1879. We didn't spend much time in the park but it was beautiful and it seems like it'd be a great place for walking and watching the ducks who have their own home on the pond.
I now know why their website says "If you find yourself in the neighborhood" - it is definitely out of not in an area where you'd be for anything else unless you're a local artist working in a studio (several stopped in for their coffee while we were at the counter). The shop is extremely cute and we had bonus blueberry pie because again, when in Maine!
We continued our walk to Congress Street and stopped at Longfellow Books. I ended up buying "Lucky Us" by Amy Bloom, one of my favorite authors. I also purchased "The Long Walk" by Stephen King because it just seemed like the right thing to do since he was born in Portland, ME and many of his books are set in Maine. I was tempted to buy a few Robert McCloskey books but I knew I'd regret it when it came time to pack (I never leave enough room in our suitcase for souvenirs!)
After our walk, we started our journey north with a planned lunch stop in South Freeport for a fish sandwich at Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, thanks to the suggestion made by Lisa Telander Lukis (not to be confused with her sister-in-law, Lisa "from the Bus" Lukis, my weekly walking partner and friend of 10+ years).
We thought about having lobster or crab but in the end went with Lisa's suggestion of a fresh fish sandwich and she wasn't lying when she said it is the best (craving right now).
Our next adventure is one of the few things that both Scott and I wish we had skipped. Neither one of us likes shopping or crowds so I'm not sure why we thought going to the L.L. Bean flagship store on Labor Day would be a good idea. At least Scott bought a wallet while we were there and we took a photo of the giant boot.
After our lightning fast stop at L.L. Bean, we continued our journey north on U.S. 1to the Inn at Ocean's Edge in Lincolnville, ME. I knew I wanted to stay here before I booked the airline tickets. I originally learned about the Inn from my friend, Peter's Facebook posts in 2013.
The Inn at Ocean's Edge is stunning and exudes calm and relaxation. After our tour of the Inn, we opted to sit on the plush recliners near the vanishing pool and drink a local beer, Peak Organic Summer Session Ale.
Camden is a charming and quaint coastal village 5 miles south of the Inn at Ocean's Edge. We arrived during the "Golden Hour"; the sun casting a beautiful spotlight on the harbor's many sailboats.
We ate dinner at Fresh which is tucked away in an area called Bay View Landing. We sat on the patio and enjoyed the crisp cool evening. I had the Moroccan spiced lentil burger with cured olives, tomato, tzatziki, and pea shoots,on a grilled pita. Scott had the flat iron steak with sweet potatoes.
Day 4: Foggy day on the coast
We returned to the Inn for a nap - the dreariness was getting to us. We decided to go north for dinner and drove 20 minutes to Belfast, Maine which is located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River estuary on Penobscot Bay. We walked along the river before deciding on dinner at Three Tides.
Scott and I both agree that we're glad we experienced a foggy day in Maine. It is a type of weather we never experience in Minnesota (not counting occasional foggy mornings or evenings). I found it especially beautiful in Belfast. I don't remember reading much about Belfast when I was researching coastal road trips from Lincolnville but it ended up being one of our favorite places on our vacation. We both loved Three Tides and independent of each other determined it to be our favorite restaurant on the vacation. The photos don't capture the ambiance created by the deck on the harbor, the lamp shades strung above the tables, and the fire glowing below. We had lobster mac and cheese and crab quesadillas with cheesecake for dessert.
After seeing photos of a friend's trip to Maine last year, it shot to the top of my vacation destination wish list. Scott and I hadn't been to any of the Northeastern states together and neither of us had ever been to Maine so we figured it would be a fun adventure.
We booked our tickets in April so I had more than four months to indulge in internet research and social media crowdsourcing! I started by contacting everyone I knew who had spent time in the state for their suggestions - thanks Kate, Pete, and Lisa(s)! I also followed a blog, Maine Today and Twitter accounts so that I could electronically "clip" anything of interest. I created a Pinterest board and a Foursquare list (which thanks to an app revamp was rendered useless on my smartphone). Thanks to all of this research, I made a detailed itinerary so we'd have a starting place every day (I hate sitting around asking each other "What should we do?"). I knew we could deviate from the plan and just do what we felt like doing in the moment which we did with regularity.
Day 1: Travel day
Our flight from Atlanta to Portland was delayed by 1.5 hours so we arrived later than expected. Thankfully the airport is tiny and picking up our rental car was speedy. It was also a breeze getting to West End Inn, our home away from home for the weekend. The innkeepers, Deb and Scott are extremely organized and helpful. They won my heart by having a refrigerator full of seltzer water, a bowl of York peppermint patties and a giant stack of local magazines at the door. They also prepared a map with restaurants circled including information about late night dining options since they knew we'd be arriving later.
We chose Pai Men Miyake because it is a sister restaurant to one of the restaurants my friend, Kate Fukawa-Connelly recommended and it was just a short walk away from the B&B. Upon arriving at Pai Men Miyake, I was already in love with Portland. We sat at a long picnic table across from a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and were able to tune in and out of conversations of the locals. The food was fantastic - brussel sprouts and edamame for appetizers and cooked salmon "sushi" (Scott made it a point to tell me that since the salmon was cooked it wasn't really sushi) and beef kimchi ramen.
Day 2: Portland
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Booking Room 2 at the West End Inn ended up being one of the best choices I made for our vacation. The bed and bedding were among the most comfortable I've ever experienced and the Inn had all of the comforts of home and Deb and Scott think of every detail to make it so.
We started the day with an amazing breakfast. With your stay, you get a light continental breakfast at 7:30 AM which consists of homemade organic granola, fresh baked muffins, juices and organic yogurt with hot beverage options of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
Between 8 and 9:30 AM Deb provides a menu of the day's breakfast options and Scott makes your breakfast to order. I chose the fruit cup and blueberry pancakes (when in Maine!) with chicken sausage. Scott had the vegetable juice and Belgian waffle with bacon. What a beautiful and delicious start to our day!
We started our day with a coffee walk to Bard Coffee so I could try their nitrogen-infused cold brew. I failed to request no ice and it was served in a plastic cup so I don't think I was able to fully experience the possible benefits of having cold press served from a tap.
We continued our walk to the Eastern Promenade stopping by Eastern Cemetery on the way. Eastern Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in the city of Portland.
We walked along the Eastern Promenade until we reached the Back Cove Trail (well it wasn't that seamless since we struggled to follow the Google map directions from one trail to the other). I wanted to walk the Back Cove trail because it would allow us to check out Sundays on the Boulevard in which Baxter Boulevard is closed to car traffic every Sunday May through October and people can enjoy the open street. I thought that it was going to be an event similar to Minneapolis's Open Streets but it was much more laid back and free of programming/vendors. Most people opted to use the established bike/pedestrian trails along the boulevard so I'm not sure the concept is catching on (or at least it wasn't the day we were there). It was hot and there weren't many shaded areas along the trail so to avoid getting overheated, we exited the trail and hung out in Hannaford, a local grocery chain to cool off, rehydrate and eat trail mix. I also checked out the seafood department which is definitely different from our Midwestern seafood department (live lobsters and clams and mussels!).
After Novare Res, we walked around Commercial Street and made our way to Casco Bay Ferry Lines and decided to ferry over to Peaks Island. The only research I'd done is that it was listed as one of the trails on the Portland Trails website so I thought we'd show up and that a hiking trail would be immediately obvious. Nope. Oh well, we just walked along the streets and moved out of the way for the occasional automobile or golf cart.
In hindsight, I wish I had known more about what to do on the island. In the end, we walked around a bit of the southern coast of the island and explored some of the rocky beaches and looked at the cottages - both the quaint, cute little ones and the large mansions.
After walking around for about an hour, it started raining and we realized that if we didn't make a beeline for the ferry we'd have a two hour wait. Since it seemed like there was only one restaurant on the island (and it was packed!), we went back to Portland. I recognized a lot of people from our ferry to the island so I guess we weren't the only ones who made a quick trip.
We returned to the B&B to refresh before dinner. It was still raining so we chose a nearby restaurant, Bonobo Wood Fire Pizza. It was an excellent choice. The combination of it being a stormy night and the many twinkle lights on the exterior and interior of the restaurant made it feel magical. I remember just taking deep breaths and enjoying the here and now focusing on my dining companion, the warmth of the wood fired oven, the smell of the pizza, and the sparkly lights.
We split a house salad (romaine, arugula, spinach, endive with pickled cucumbers and lemony vinaigrette). Choosing a pizza was tough so we did 1/2 Caspian (roasted chicken, smoked tomatoes, garlic & basil) and 1/2 Morocco (spiced lamb sausage, feta and goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and scallions).
It was an excellent first day of vacation. A recap of days 3 & 4 will be posted soon!
The Nivens Family