Monday, August 12, 2019

Portland, ME: The "Maine" Event!

Ahhhh, Portland Maine:  a whirlwind of savoring all the city had to offer (A LOT), thanks in large part to Phoenix-expat-and-now-Portland-resident-friend Sue, who took multiple days to welcome us and direct us to all the good stuff! What can you expect in Portland, Maine?


Iconic Lighthouses by the Dozen
Portland Head Light, Maine's oldest, is the most photographed in the world!
 (Side note, commissioned by George Washington himself)

More:  Bug Light, Spring Point Ledge, Two Lights


Commercial Street and Downtown Harbor
Working waterfront wharves, ocean excursions, converted warehouses and the rich sea air

More: craft brewery tours, history walking tours, whale watching excursions


Strolling Old Port
Quaint New England feel, ancient cobblestone streets, bricked XIX-century buildings, boutique shopping and tons of craft-brewery-and-distillery offerings

More: Shipyard Brewing Company, DiMillo's Old Port Marina, Rising Tide Brewing Co.


Craggy Cliffs and Beautiful Beaches
Sandy beaches, shale rock jetties, seagulls, salt water, and all the beauty of the Atlantic

More:  South Portland, Willard Beach, Two Lights Area


Seafood Pulled from the Ocean Just A Hot Minute Ago
Harbor Fish Company has all the goodness and it's just thatttt fresh,
thanks to constant drop-offs from area fishermen and trappers.

More: Portland Lobster Company, Two Lights Lobster Shack, Bayley's Lobster Pound 
(formerly Fishermen's Co-op), Eventide Oyster Co.


Ferry to Nearby Casco Bay Islands
There are hundreds of islands surrounding Portland, and six with regular ferry service.  Arrive at Peaks Island and grab a bike (pay with the honor system) to ride or stroll its 4-mile circumference.

More:  Great Diamond Island, Long Island


Retail Therapy 
Sea Bags are unique "statement" shopping bags made from old retired sales.
They can be purchased at multiple towns in Maine, but only at the original Portland location can you see them actually being made!

More: Uncommon Paws for handmade pet accessories (Sprinkles got a Lucky Charm collar!),
Abacus Gallery, many stores in Old Port


Foodie Fare
A serious foodie destination, with old standbys and bold newcomers offering something for every palate.  Gilbert's Chowder House had us swooning with their namesake soup and famous bright red hot dogs.

Otto Pizza, with unique ingredients such as a butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry pizza
Central Provisions, how about sea urchin crudo and crab and waffles
Duckfat, known for their Belgian fries made in duck fat (go figure)


Buzz-Worthy Baked Goods
Holy Donuts, with its cult-like following, hand-makes its donuts using potato flour.
The line is around the block at all hours of the day.

More:  Standard Baking Company or Scratch for breads and baked goods, Two Fat Cats for fresh berry pie, Beals for homemade ice cream


Outdoor Recreation Under Bright Sunny Skies
In nearby Scarborough, the state's largest saltwater marsh is teeming with wildlife and dreamy kayaking routes at high tide

 More: Biking or hiking the Eastern Trail Bike Path, a 65-mile section of the East Coast Greenway which will eventually connect Maine to Key West, FL!


History and Prominence
Portland has 200 years of history to explore, including South Portland's Memorial to the Liberty Ships, where during four short round-the-clock years in WWII, 266 emergency cargo vessels were built for Britain and the U.S.

More:  Victoria Mansion, Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Underground Railroad Place Markers


Public Art and Culture Galore
Concerts, art shows, farmers markets and more are sprinkled throughout parks all through the city.
Portland's parks were designed by the same fellas who designed New York's Central Park, so you know they're beautiful!

More:  Portland Museum of Art, Congress Street, Arts District


Eastern and Western Promenades
a.k.a. Real Estate You Can't Afford

You might not be able to afford to own here, but green spaces and public trails with breathtaking views on both ends of the city let you act like you do.


Location, Location, Location
Portland's peninsula is an easy distance to a wide variety of wonderful towns just a short drive away.

More: Freeport (iconic LL Bean flagship store)
Ogonquit (Marginal Way Coastal Walk,
with gorgeous mansions on one side and the crashing waves on the other)
Kennebunkport and Wells Beach
Portsmouth, NH

(Avoid: Old Orchard Beach, an almost exact copy of the Jersey Shore with a million people and a cheesy carnival atmosphere)


We thought Oregon was dog-friendly until we came to Maine.  Dogs are along for the ride anywhere and everywhere in Maine (even touristy things like trolley rides and boat tours)! It's a canine lovefest and Sprinkles' dream come true ... she gets to go EVERYWHERE!


Lobster, lobster, and more Maine lobster!  It's everywhere, it's cheap, it's fresh, it's addictive.  Lobster rolls eaten at an outdoor picnic table right on the ocean .... one of the "Maine" reasons to love Maine!


We were so blessed to have Sue guiding our travels, and just a small portion of her advice is here in this blog.  Visit Portland for at least 4 days to hit the high notes -- a week or more would be better!


Maine has been definitively added to our very-short-list of places we could spend an entire summer, so we'll no doubt return some day! Now, on to Mount Washington, New Hampshire, which continues to hold the world record wind gust ... can you guess the speed?  Tune in to the next installment of Charming Adventures to find out!


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Mid-Summer, Mid-Trip, Mid-Coast Maine!

Middle of summer, middle of this trip, middle of Maine! 

"Midcoast Maine" is consistently listed as a Top Ten Destination in travel guides and websites.
It's a conglomeration of rugged, rocky coasts, picturesque fishing harbors, and marinas stuffed with pleasure boats and sailing schooners. Here is a photo journey through some of our favorite towns!


Darling (and busy) downtown Camden.  

View of Camden from atop Mt. Battie ... harbor on the left, town on the right

360 views of the Maine countryside from atop the mountain

Hiking to the top of Mt. Megunticook  (our longest hike yet!) - Camden sailboats in the background

Sailing on the completely-restored 57' Schooner Olad
This region is known as the Boating Capital of New England.

Philip got to help raise the sails!

The colorwash on this pic looks like 1982, but I assure you this is 2019

Cellardoor Winery, in a restored 200-year-old barn


Historic lime kilns from the 1700's.  After the war of 1812, these kilns produced lime shipped to Washington DC to rebuilt the Capitol.

Home of the famous "Andre the Seal":  abandoned at birth, found, raised, and trained by a local fisherman before becoming a local celebrity about whom the Hollywood movie "Andre" was made (since passed away but lives on in our hearts)


A walk on the 0.8-mile long granite pier to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.

The huge boulders have been fit together like puzzle pieces!  However, cracks are still big enough that Sprinkles' little feet slipped down between them a few times!

The Maine Lobster Festival brings the town from 7,200 to 75,000.

Semi-trucks full of local lobsters are brought in to satisfy long lines of hungry festival goers.

Brother from another mother?  Philip with King Triton.  There is also a parade and a Queen is crowned.  Relay races take place where they tie lobster crates together in the ocean and contestants try to run across the wobbly crates in record time (we didn't participate -- water 55 degrees).

The Lucky Charm got some new swag!


On a hiking trail, an unexpected surprise to find a series of multiple tiny fairy houses at the base of trees.

The Boothbay Footbridge leads to the most darling 1902 cottage over the water that has been a home, bridgehouse, art studio, gift shop and more.
Local legend says this house was used for smuggling rum during Prohibition, and there is a still a hidden trapdoor in the kitchen floor to this day.

A stonecarving competition was taking place.  Now that's a hobby that takes patience.  Some of the competitiors came from as far away as Japan.

Midcoast Maine is one of the fastest growing brewery/distillery/wine scenes in the country.
(Disclaimer: those beer steins look enormous in the photo but they were actually just small tasters.)

Wrapping up our Mid-Coast experience, local fave band "The Boneheads" just happened to be performing in a converted-garage-turned-rec-center at our campground.

Happy RV'ers streamed from their campers with drinks in hand and danced the night away!

By far our strongest impression of Maine is that everyone is FRIENDLY and everyone is HAPPY.

Even the mailboxes give a warm greeting!

We've one last stop in Maine, the "big city" of Portland, where we'll be for a full 8 days 
... practically permanent residents, as far as RV'ing goes!