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Jewels of the North
Breezy Blackpool
Witches and Hot Pot
A Lightning Tour

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The Island of Crete

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Ancient Rome
Renaissance Rome

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Some tips on
Living Simply

Classic Maine

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By Pat Mestern

The State of Maine is more than mountains, forest and sea. It is homemade preserves, quaint shore side inns, ancient shell heaps, acres of blueberries, three masted schooners, naive folk art, delightful architectural styles and friendly folk. Most Canadians arrive "Down East" by a northern route through the states of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. The savvy traveler knows that shoulder-season is the best time to visit Maine in order to avoid crowds and high prices.

Most visitors head to Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. All use Route #1 as their north/south artery and to access the various peninsulas down the coast. Bar Harbor is the "jumping off" point for whale, seal, puffin and eagle watches, nature walks and bicycling tours. Cruise liners anchor off-shore, their passengers enjoy a day on terra firma. Shopping is great, with Maine crafts and fine art studios rubbing shoulder with the reasonably priced restaurants.

Maine means lobster! Browse local papers for specials. Route #66, a themed restaurant on Cottage street, has a fascinating and eclectic collection of automobile memorabilia. Taking an automotive buff to supper here can be an all night affair! Acadia National Park deserves a full day's attention. Stop at the Visitor Centre for a pass and detailed map. The mighty Atlantic ocean pounding rugged cliffs in the park is unforgettable. Experience sunrise and sunset from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Locals say that if you see both from the summit on the same day, you will return "Down East." A third day should be spent enjoying blue seas, gorgeous vistas and quaint villages that share Mount Desert Island - Northeast Harbor, Southeast Harbor, Bass Harbor, Manset, Bernard and the Bass Head Light.

I'll let you in on a little secret, although I'm reluctant to mention special retreats for fear they become too popular. Spend your time on Deer Isle, forty minutes south of Mount Desert. Cut off from the mainland for years by lack of a bridge, the Island is "untouched" classic Maine. Accommodation on Deer Isle is excellent but scarce. Meals are cheap. Views are spectacular. People are resourceful. Nervous Nellies Jams & Jellies on Sunshine Road, Deer Isle is a prime example of island ingenuity. Whimsical sculpture, hot scones, delicious jam and friend folk greet you at this home-based food industry. Try their ginger syrup.

From our room at Inn on the Harbor, overlooking Stonington's working harbor, we watched fishing and lobster boats leave on the 5:00 a.m. tide, while seals cavorted in the outer bay and puffins lined shore rocks. We then slipped across the road to a mom & pop run eatery for their "eye opener" breakfast. "Opens 5:00 a.m. - Closes 2:00 p.m." the sign in the window states. Full of pancakes, sausages and eggs, we are on the road by 7:00 a.m., spending a day on the Island's back roads, exploring abandoned homes, blueberry flats, small fishing ports, pretty villages and unusual craft shops.

Tearing oneself away from Deer Isle is difficult but the Lobster Pound Restaurant at Lincolnville Beach, one hour south on Route #1, awaits as does Camden village. You will sense Camden long before you see it as there is an increase in traffic and heightened activity. Signs beckon with "Camden, Home of the Tall Ships." Indeed, the harbor is home to the largest fleet of wooden sailing ships on the east coast. Camden is bound its gorgeous harbor to the east, and beautiful Mount Battee on its west flank. Its friendly residents match Camden's beauty. Parking can be a hassle, but worth the effort once you are seated on a bench at harbor side admiring the sailing ships in the bay. You can sign up for a two hour sail but if you have time try a three or seven day cruise. Nothing can compare to a tall ship under full sail, salt water and a lobster bake on a secluded bay island. The Elms Bed & Breakfast in Camden is a great place to spend the night. Jo and Ted Panayotoff are your hosts. Ted, the resident lighthouse expert, can give you the scoop on those along the rugged eastern U.S. coast. The Elms carries its lighthouse theme even to their breakfast scones.

The working harbor of Rockport, home of the legendary Andrew The Seal, is five miles south of Camden off Route #1. Next stop should be Newcastle, where you can explore ancient shell heaps left by Native Americans hundred of years ago during their summer camps. Newcastle's main street is an architectural gem. We stayed in luxurious accommodation at The Newcastle Inn on the Damariscotta River while exploring this area. Peninsula roads branching off Route #1 lead to beautiful vistas and villages with their own special charms and attractions. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse on its magnificent rocky promontory is worth a side trip, down highway #130 through Damariscotta, Bristol, New Harbor and Pemaquid Village. The location of Pemaquid Lighthouse is spectacular, but while on the rocks never turn your back to the sea. Rogue waves account for several deaths a year. Lunch in New Harbor, at Shaw's Fish & Lobster Wharf, site of filming for the movie "Message In a Bottle' is a must for lobster lovers. A large display of Mexican pottery pieces caught our eye at G. Moses Gallery and North of The Border south of Newcastle. But it was Brian Foster who really gained our attention and admiration. His naive folk art displayed at G. Moses Gallery is superb, as is his collection of used books for sale. Detour down Highway #27 to Boothbay Harbor with its quaint shops, fabulous lobster co-operatives and Ocean Point Drive. This area is quanti-essential Maine. While at the tip of the peninsula, take a side trip to Newagen, an artist's delight, a camera buff's heaven. The Taste of Maine, a good seafood restaurant with a great view over coastal marshlands, is just north of Bath on Route #l, and of course we can never drive through Freeport without stopping at L.L. Bean's famous outdoor store. Freeport is an outlet shopping mecca, so if "shop til you drop" is your motto, this is the place to send some time. Detour off #1, again down #24 to Orr and Bailey Islands. This area affords great picture taking opportunities for bays, coves, salt marshes, lobster huts and boats. Lunch at Cooks Lobster House near the bridge on Bailey Island is a tradition among "Down Easters".

Maine experienced once, is Maine one must experience again - and again. It is a place for the soul; a place to slow down and to contemplate what is truly important. Maine is a special retreat to share with those you love.


  • For information on the State of Maine, write
    • Maine Publicity Bureau
      P.O. box 2300
      Hallowell, Maine 04247-2300

  • For information on various regional mentioned contact
    • The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce
      93 Cottage Street
      Bar Harbor, Maine 04609

  • Acadia National Park
    • P.O. Box 179
      Bar Harbor, Maine 04609-0177

  • Deer Isle-Stonington Chamber of Commerce

  • Rockport-Camden-Lincolnville Chamber of commerce
    • P.O. Box 912
      Camden, Maine 04843

  • Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce
    • P.O. Box 356
      Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04538

  • Accommodation mentioned includes
    • Inn On The Harbor
      P.O. box 69
      Stonington, MC 04681

      Newcastle Inn
      60 River Road
      Newcastle, Maine 04553

  • Brian Foster can be found at
    • G. Moses Art Gallery
      605 Bath Road, Route #1
      Wiscasset, Maine 04578

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