The rain pattered gently on the roof as I rocked in rhythm on the screened-in porch of my cozy cabin in the woods. The moist air was saturated with the scent of the pine trees. I was enjoying a brief press trip respite, waiting for my ride. A horn honked and I was off my rocker, out the door and on to more Maine adventures.
Home base for this trip was the Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center southwest of Northport – between Belfast and Camden. Originally built as a corporate retreat, the resort still relies heavily on conferences and meetings, so facilities lean toward team activities – basketball, softball, indoor volleyball, etc. But there are plenty of fun things for families to enjoy, too, with tennis courts, a bowling alley, fitness center and almost six miles of hiking trails. Things are spread out, so you’ll get plenty of exercise on the grounds or walking down to the beach.
Arts and Crafts
Any visit to this part of the state should include a pilgrimage to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. The focus of the museum is art with a Maine connection. Among the stars of the collections are works by Winslow Homer, George Bellows and members of the Wyeth holy trinity: N.C., Andrew and Jamie.
The museum also owns the Olson House, outside nearby Thomaston. There are few people who don’t know Andrew Wyeth’s painting, “Christina’s World.” The Farnsworth doesn’t have that picture; it’s in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. But Christina lived in the Olson house – and it’s the house in that painting. The house and its former occupants were frequent subjects of Andrew Wyeth.
Artists and craftspeople of all types make Maine their home, and numerous galleries invite visitors to view works by both local artisans and nationally-known artists. The Prism Restaurant and Gallery in Rockport features over 85 of the nation’s finest glass artists’ creative output and diners enjoy beautiful views of the gardens.
For exquisite custom-made furniture, Windsor Chairmakers is the place to go. Pieces are displayed throughout a circa-1800 farmhouse. A visit to the workshop is a trip to another era. Oh, sure, they use modern equipment and electric power, but the craftsmanship is pure vintage. All dyes are hand-mixed and the paints are the traditional milk-based paints used on antique colonial and Shaker furniture. Pieces are made to customer specifications, one at a time. Owner Nance Brown took us through the showrooms and out to the workshop where her husband, Jim, explained the finer points of custom furniture.
King of the Sea
For many people – and I’m one of those – the number one reason to go to Maine is lobster. When I visit, I make it a point to have the luscious crustacean for at least one meal a day – and, occasionally, all three!
At Anglers Restaurant in Searsport, owner Buddy Hall is a walking library of all things lobster. He gave us an up-close-and-personal lesson in lobster sexing – do not try this at home, Buddy is a professional!
He also shared such tidbits as: “Young lobsters’ claws are about the same size. As they get older, they differentiate into a larger crusher claw and smaller pincher claw.” He continued, “When choosing a live lobster, look at the antennae. The longer the antennae, the fresher the lobster.” Seems that they get bored in those tanks and start nibbling on one another. Beware the stumpy antennae!
There are so many ways to enjoy lobster – lobster eggs benedict, lobster stew, lobster pie, lobster steamed, boiled, even fried, lobster salad and the ubiquitous lobster roll. As they say in Maine, “It’s wicked good!”
Farm Fresh and Fabulous
The Maine growing season may not be long, but the locals make the most of it. A trip to the Belfast Co-op Store revealed a wonderland of colorful vegetables. Year-round, the counters and cases feature seafood so fresh it’s practically dripping sea water, local and organic meats and hand-made sausages, butter, yogurt, free-range eggs and lovely cheeses.
We followed our lunch from the farm to the plate with a visit to Well Fed Farm where we met owner Christina Sidoti. She showed us through the extensive garden where she grows vegetables, spices and even the edible flowers with which she garnishes the plates at her restaurant, Paolina’s Way, in Camden.
We began our meal with just-picked lettuce with wild Maine blueberries and nasturtiums drizzled with her signature blueberry dressing. That was just a teaser for the varieties of pizzas she brought out for us – including a lobster pizza with gooseneck greens and truffle oil.
Down to the Sea in Ships
For another view of Maine’s coastal beauty, you can’t beat a boat trip. We sailed on the Olad, a 57-foot, restored 1927 yacht. With two masts and 1,500 square feet of canvas, we skimmed silently over the waters of Penobscot Bay, sailing out of Camden harbor, past picturesque Curtis Island lighthouse. About halfway through our two-hour cruise, the weather, which had been lovely when we set sail, changed. The wind picked up and the skies darkened. We raced back to the safety of the harbor as the first drops fell. Half an hour later, the sun was shining; the boats bobbed gently on the sparkling blue waters of the bay; the air was fresh and sweet and all was well with our world again.
Tips for Travelers
The summer months are Maine’s best, though the changing leaves make fall a good choice, too. Mainers laughingly describe their seasons as summer, fall, winter and mud. Many businesses and attractions are seasonal, so always check before you go. Helpful websites include visitpointlookout.com, farnsworthmuseum.org, windsorchair.com and maineschooners.com.