Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maine 2012 - Spring Road Trip Wednesday

Day Three, Spring 2012 Road Trip

Well let me just say, when you’re tired and you’re trying to type the day’s blog in too much of a hurry, it’s very easy to hit some mysterious key located at the bottom of the keyboard which deletes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING you’ve just written.  And of course, when you’re in a fast typing groove and the words are rapidly appearing on the page as if by magic, you often forget to occasionally stop and save the work you’ve already created.  How many times has this happened to me and why haven’t I yet learned my lesson???

But then again, it does go with the theme of the day.  Lily and I overslept this morning.  I know.  Hard to believe.  But we did.  Neither one of us woke up until near 8:30 am.  We were very tired when we went to bed the night before.  And then when we did wake up this morning, we futzed around doing stuff and didn’t get our tushes down to breakfast until 11:05 am . . . 5, five, FIVE minutes too late for breakfast.  And the staff had already cleared the food from the buffet line with the exception of a bowl of fresh fruit.  I took a banana; Lily took a Granny Smith apple.  The fruit was okay, healthy, but it’s not a substantial, hearty Maine breakfast to get us through the day.  So we hit the road looking for a place to eat a real breakfast.
The Egg and I.  I and the Egg.  Eggs, eggs, eggs.  Right down the street from our hotel.  Seems we weren’t the only ones partaking of a late breakfast.  There were maybe a dozen people who were also having breakfast at the same time.  The food was very good.  Nothing overly spectacular with the exception of the breakfast hash.  I opted for hash to go with my over easy eggs.  I love hash, and this is The Egg and I’s own homemade hash consisting of shredded corn beef.  I asked for it crisp and I got it with a nice crisp outer skin on it.  Add a dab of ketchup here and there and it was wonderful.  So if you’re a fan of hash for breakfast, this is the Maine breakfast restaurant where you should order it.  Check out the entire menu at and see what else they have to offer.  The restaurant got lots of great reviews on the web.  One site said it was the best breakfast place in all of Maine.

Fortified, our next stop was the Simon Pearce store in York.  Simon Pearce makes the most extraordinary handblown glass and handmade pottery.  The flagship store is located at The Mill in Quechee, Vermont; but, the store in Ogunquit has a beautiful display of their pieces.  There are no glass-blowing demonstrations in Ogunquit, but if you’re curious about who and what this Simon Pearce is, you can check it out at where there is all kind of information about the history of glassblowing along with videos showing how it’s done.

Next it was on to the Wiggly Bridge.  Located in York, the Wiggly Bridge is the world’s shortest suspension bridge and is located over the inlet/outlet of Barrel Mill Pond, a tidal pond created in 1726 (primarily used back then to cut ice).  The bridge itself was built in the 1930s and it really does wiggle.  Lily went first.  She gave it what I would consider a very tentative wiggle.  And it did, maybe, jiggle a little.  I went second and I jumped up and down which gave it quite a good wiggle.  And then I rocked side to side by switching my weight from my left to my right foot and back and forth again several times.  The Wiggly Bridge wiggles side to side too!

After we got through playing with the bridge, we continued on into the Steedman Wood Preserve and hiked around the perimeter of the preserve.  We came across a variety of wildflowers and also one quite nice surprise that we took more than a few photos of.  I’m sure Lily will include at least one photo of our “surprise” wildflower.  You can find information about the Wiggly Bridge and the Steedman Woods Preserve on several different sites on the web – the best site being where there’s information about the creation of the tidal pool, the construction of the Wiggly Bridge, the Steedman Woods Preserve, as well as some photographs of the area and the bridge.

After we came out of the woods, Lily wanted to check out Sayward-Wheeler House located on the opposite side of the main road from the Wiggly Bridge.  She thought the house might have photo potential.  So we started off down Fisherman’s Walk, a short walking path that meanders along the edge of York River and passes right by the Sayward-Wheeler House, an early eighteenth-century building overlooking a once-bustling waterfront.  The home belonged to prosperous merchant, judge, and leading citizen Jonathan Sayward.  You can visit to learn more about the house (more history for you to research) which is open from June 1 – October 15th, the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.  

Okay, enough of this history stuff.  Now it’s time to hit the road and travel all the back roads up the coast from York north to Wells.  We had studied our map really well and knew where we wanted to depart from the main roads down the side streets to the dirt roads that hardly anyone ever travels as a tourist.  And so we meandered up the coast, stopped at all the beaches we found along the way, stopped to checkout and savor all the little coves and inlets, and decided that the southern coast of Maine has very dark, almost grey/black sand.  And in most places where the public can access a beach, the wrack line of high tide almost always reaches the very upper reaches of the beach where the sand ends at a stone wall or a rock outcropping.  We don’t know where the poor people visiting this area go to sit on the sand when it’s high tide.  Perhaps they float around in inflatable chairs!

An unexpected but ever so grand surprise was finding Hartley Mason Park.  It was one of the most beautiful small parks I think I’ve ever visited.  The park is located where in the past three different large summer homes blocked a view of the sea.  Mr. Mason had an early vision for a park for the area, and he purchased the land and homes as a site for his park.  The park is beautifully landscaped, has several benches for contemplative viewing of the ocean, and also a monument for sailors lost at sea.  A recent addition to the park, which is located on York Harbor across the street from the York Harbor Inn, is the most intriguing sculpture by Sumner Weinbaum titled “people enjoying the park”.  I will let Lily’s photos speak for themselves.

As morning turned into afternoon, and afternoon turned into very late afternoon, breakfast was wearing off and it was getting to be time to think about dinner.  We made a stop at a small gift shop we had visited earlier in the week, and the kind ladies at the counter, when queried about a good local Italian restaurant, highly recommended Varano’s down on Mile Road.  So here’s my last dinner foodie part of the blog.

I had no trouble picking out my entrée.  I ordered Braciole Al Saltimbocca.  Translated that is a double-cut all natural bone-in pork loin, stuffed with fresh sage, Italian prosciutto and mozzarella cheese.  Topped with sweet onion brandy glaze served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.  I opted to substitute linguine for the mashed potatoes.  Excellent!  Lily’s choice was Gamberi ‘Stile Scampi’.  Translation:  Jumbo shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic and white wine over linguine with vine ripe tomatoes and baby spinach.  Lily was very, very happy with her entrée choice.  Of course, I must admit, we both left with garlic breath strong enough to easily knock over The Hulk should he have walked up to us to introduce himself. We’ve both already brushed and brushed and brushed our teeth and tongues and mouths and will assuredly brush again before we go to bed.  Lily had ideas of ice cream for dessert, so we left the restaurant and headed out to look for an ice cream place.

And boy did we ever find THE ice cream place.  Within a stone’s throw of Varano’s, we found the most delicious, delectable, divine ice cream parlor called “Scoop Deck”.  Lily’s photo are more than description enough.  You must click on her photo to enlarge it and read the lengthy selection of ice cream flavors.  Dream your little heart out!

Now we’re back at our hotel finishing up yesterday’s and today’s blog.  Tomorrow morning we pack up to leave for home.  But since we do not need to be home until supper time (we have tickets for an 8 pm Dar Williams concert at The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River), we are going to take time in the morning to walk The Marginal Way, a cliff walk that starts in Perkins Cove and runs along the shore.  TripAdvisor says it’s the #1 attraction in Ogunquit and we figure we would like to see what all the attraction is about.

Perhaps one more blog about tomorrow which we will post when we have returned home and it will likely not be up until at least Friday.  Maybe Saturday.  But it will be up.  We promise.

Maine 2012 - Spring Road Trip Tuesday

Day Two, Tuesday, Spring 2012 Road Trip

            Ah, quiet has returned to the region.  Yesterday late afternoon/early evening, when we were out and about and Memorial Day was nearly over and the long holiday weekend was fast coming to an end, and people who needed to go to work the next day would, you think, be returning home, people were still walking around everywhere, filling up the restaurants, and all the parking lots were filled to capacity.   We thought the Oquinquit/Wells area had been inundated with people who were up here vacationing for the entire week.  After all, at 7 pm on Memorial Day night, when people are still milling around, you figure they’re most likely going to stay overnight.

But no – that was, thankfully, not the case.  It seems quite a few did stay overnight last night.  But they must have gotten up early this morning, loaded up their vehicles, and took off for home.  I say that because today everywhere we went was near deserted.  Hardly any cars parked on Oguinquit Main Street, the parking lots down at Perkins Cove were nearly empty (even the parking lot attendants weren’t in attendance and because there was no one to collect parking fees, parking was free).  The shops were near empty.  The beach parking lots were empty.  The restaurants had way more empty tables than customers. There were very few cars driving down the side roads closest to the water.  It was wonderful.

We decided we would spend the morning driving from our hotel north up to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport.  Then in the afternoon, we wanted to drive back down to Oguinquit and visit the Oguinquit Museum of American Art.  So we started out driving the little beach roads that run along the ocean between our hotel and Kennebunk.

We saw a few good photo ops.  One turned out to be a déjà vu experience of something that happened on our Bar Harbor trip.  I was driving and whenever we spotted something we thought had possibilities, Lily would either photograph it from the car with the window open (we have this technique down pat now) or she would hop out of the car and take a few quick photos.  It was so misty and foggy that every time she got back into the car, she had to use lens cleaner cloth to dry her lens off.

We happened to pass on my side of the road a beautiful little beach house backed up to a salt marsh.  I said to Lily, “Look at that row of colorful miniature bird feeders lined up on the trim at the top of the front door!   We should take photos of that.”  Lily thought not.  I said we did need to take that photo.  It could make a good greeting card.  So she somewhat reluctantly said she’d do it.  I stopped the car, she hopped out, and pretty soon I see her walking around to the side yard so she can photograph something down the hill at the back of house.

She hops back into the car and shows me the photographs she’s just taken.  Turns out the miniature birdhouses look awesome.  Even Lily admits they do.  We talk about what a great card they’ll make.  Then she shows me what she was photographing behind the house. Turns out there was a row of those metal lawn chairs that you can sit in and gently rock because of the way the legs twist under the chair, and the home owners had painted each chair a different bright color to coordinate with the colors of the little birdhouses up at the front of the house.  And on a grey day with fog rolling in off the ocean, heavy mist in the air, and the back of the lawn bordered by tall marsh grass, those colorful chairs just popped in the photo.  Those two photos are going to be a lot of fun to edit and work on!   Ah, Lily.  Almost exactly like what happened up in Bar Harbor when I spotted the row of colorful wooden Adirondack chairs at the bottom of the inn lawn and you weren’t sure we should bother stopping to photograph them.

Now up along the ocean to Kennebunkport.  Lily had never seen the summer home of George H.W. Bush.   #41 has summered at his home on Walker Point for many, many years and it’s a very easy house to find.  From the street overlooking Walker Point, you can park along the side (a few parking spaces are even provided by the town for that very purpose) and gaze across a small cove area over at the house.

There is of course a gate house out at the end of the street and unless you’re someone in the know, you can’t drive up his driveway.  We wondered if he and Barbara might be home because there were three or four cars, including a light-colored large SUV, parked in the driveway.  But the only person walking around outside was a young man dressed in casual clothes (shorts) who ended up riding a bike from the house down to the gate house.

So, after having made our celebrity house “find” for this spring’s road trip (check previous blogs for our other celebrity house finds), we decided to head back down to Ogunquit to visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.  The museum, which is only open in the summer, collects, preserves and exhibits 19th century art.  The grounds are spectacular.  There are quite a few outdoor sculptures exhibited on the lawns and amongst the beautiful gardens.  Lily took photos of most all the sculptures and the gardens and I will leave it up to her to pick her favorites.  
The museum is located on Shore Drive in the Perkins Cove area and “visitors are invited to enjoy the Museum grounds, three acres of landscaped gardens, lawn and oceanfront ledge.  The grounds include numerous large sculptures, a reflecting pool, and secluded benches for quiet contemplation.”  We went to the museum specifically to see the current exhibit “Light, Motion, Sound 2012:  A Collaborative Exhibition with the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts”.  We quite enjoyed that exhibit as well as the other pieces on display from the museum's permanent collection.  If you’re interested in the museum, you can read about it at  where you’ll find information about the museum, the grounds, the permanent collection and the new exhibits.

After all that intellectual stimulation, we needed food.  So it was off to supper.  Several locals had highly recommended a restaurant called “Barnacle Billy’s” located on Perkins Cove.  It’s one of  #41’s favorite restaurants to eat at when he’s up at Walker Point.  And we figured if it was good enough for Bushie, it was good enough for us.

The restaurant had good food.  I wouldn’t say spectacular.  But then again, we both ordered a barbequed chicken dinner and Barnacle Billy’s is known for it’s wonderful seafood.  Almost everyone else in the restaurant was eating boiled lobsters or steamed clams.  I think we might have been the only two eating cluck that night.

What we did get out of our visit to the restaurant were answers to the many questions we had about when Bushie visits the restaurant.  And a very nice busboy was able to satisfy our curiosity.  Bushie drives his cigarette speed boat from his home at Walker Point over to the restaurant and the restaurant owners let him tie up his boat at their dock.  He does the driving, not the Secret Service guys.  Bushie is in a wheelchair now, and the Secret Service gets very nervous about him docking his own boat because in the past, he has run into the dock.  Barbara doesn’t like to ride in the boat.  She usually drives over and back by car.  This past Memorial Day weekend, the entire Bush clan, #41, Barbara, their daughter Dorothy, her children, and her children’s children, all came for lunch.  Four generations.  It seems the Bushes are very gracious whenever they go to Barnacle Billy’s.  This past weekend, #41 posed with tourists for photographs, signed autographs, and shook hands with everyone at the restaurant.  

They have their own special table in the corner out on the deck and the table is located right under the flagpole flying the American flag.  How appropriate.  I had to ask about tourists letting the Bushes eat their meal in peace.  It seems the Secret Service sits at the tables around the Bushes and keeps the common folk at a distance.  Also, in case you’re curious, the Secret Service also get to eat at the restaurant along with the Bushes.
Now if all this information isn’t a good enough scoop on Maine celebrities, I don’t know what else would be.  Oh yes, I know what else you might find interesting.  A list of the celebrity guests that the Bushes have brought with them to Barnacle Billy’s: Bill Clinton, The Oak Ridge Boys, Bruce Springsteen,  andTom Brady.

And then, after a little stroll around Perkins Cove to see if things looked any different than yesterday, or if anything exciting was going on, we were off back to our hotel to write yesterday’s blog and then to bed for a good night’s rest.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Maine 2012 - Spring Road Trip

Spring 2012 Photography Road Trip – York, Ogunquit, Wells & Kennebunk, Maine

On the road again, 
Just can’t wait to get on the road again,
Goin’ places we’ve never been,
Seein’ places we’ve never seen,
We just can’t wait to get on the road again.

So here we are back in one of our favorite states.  Traveling around the south coastal region of Maine, exploring the towns of York, Ogunquit, Wells and Kennebunk. This is a region of Maine we’re not that familiar with and have mostly passed by as we were whizzing up the highway on our way to the mid-coast area and the towns of Brunswick and Harpswell – our favorite area of Maine where we’ve spent many of our summer vacations.   
We arrived in good time considering it was Memorial Day, and when we left home we weren’t sure what kind of traffic we might run into as the big beginning weekend of the summer was just winding down.  We are intrepid travelers and decided instead of driving around the city of Boston on Rt. 128, we would drive straight through downtown Boston.  We sailed through the city with the ultimate of ease.  We were traveling north and most everyone else was heading home south, so traffic going in our direction was very light and it seemed like we just sailed from home to Maine (a little nautical lingo for your enjoyment). 

Once we got past Kittery, Maine, we got off I-95 the major interstate highway and hopped over onto Route 1.  Better to see all the sights from the stagecoach road where the cars travel slower and you can read all the store and scenic road signs as you pass by on the road.  And that’s when we drove past the birdhouse place in the town of York.  Had to pull a quick U-turn.  Didn’t drive very far up the street before we pulled into a furniture store parking lot, reversed direction, and headed back to see what was up with the birdhouses.  Just a little gender note here:  The guys would have driven miles down the road until they found a public road where there was room enough to turn around.  Both Bobs are firm believers in not turning around in anyone’s private residential driveway, a place of business, or worship, or on someone’s grass.  So when they drive, we keep on going, going, going until we find a respectful place to reverse direction.
Brenda’s Bloomers.  Cape Neddick, Maine (not York, Maine like Lily (or aka Bev, long story) told me when I started writing this blog).  And that Brenda had every shape, size, color and decoration theme of birdhouses ever to be.  We each bought a little house for our yards back home.  Mine is cuter than Lily’s because the perch just below the entry hole is an old rusty square-headed nail.  I also saw a beautiful white porcelain bird dish with a cherub head and wings hanging on the wall inside the store door and decided I would also buy that.  But Brenda had other ideas.  She uses it to hold her business cards (in my defense, it was empty when I took it off the wall), and Brenda gave it to her mom some four years ago just before her mom died.  It wasn’t for sale.  No way.  No how.  So it’s back hanging on the wall inside Bloomer’s. 

Then we headed up to the Oguinquit/Wells line to the Hampton Inn where we had reservations and registered for our room and unloaded our stuff from the car.  First off, no one laughed at the front desk when we registered.  No one snickered.  So I’m pretty sure our reputation from last spring’s stay at the Hampton Inn in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania had not spread north to Maine (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out our blog from that trip and what happened when we registered there).  And we managed to register this year in good style – no semi-drunken behavior, no crazy luggage buggy driving, no one peed her pants.  It all was good.

It was an absolutely beautiful day up here on Memorial Day.  Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, temps in the mid-70s, dry, no humidity, and the nicest of breezes.  We decided we would head to Perkins Cove in Oguinquit and take Finestkind’s 4 pm ocean cruise out to Nubble Lighthous (Finestkind’s cruises are rated #1 by Tripadvisor).  But first some lunch.  One should never go to sea on an empty stomach, and neither Lily nor I had had time to eat breakfast before we left home in the morning.

We decided to chance it, and Jackie’s Too, located on the small circle on the road in Perkins Cove, looked promising.  It had a beautiful awning-covered deck overlooking the ocean and there was no waiting line at the front door.  So this is where I fill my foodie friends in on where and what we ate.  We started off with a glass of Jackie’s homemade sangria.  It was good.  But it was nowhere near as good as Lily’s and my homemade sangria (and I’m being modest here – we make AWESOME homemade sangria).  Then we shared an appetizer – an order of Maine crabcakes “pan-seared with sided cilantro lime remoulade”.  The crabcakes were nearly all crab with a minimum of filler (crackers, breadcrumbs, etc.).  We both ordered the Crispy Goat Cheese and Ricotta Cake salad with mixed baby greens, toasted nuts, caramelized shallots, dried fruit, and sweet lemon mustard vinaigrette.  We were starved and lunch was excellent.  You can check the restaurant at  if you’re interested.
Then it was time for the boat trip.  There were only two people in line ahead of us to board the boat.  But then there were only three people behind us in line.  Lily and I had the whole back of the boat to ourselves.  There were a total of 7 people (passengers) on the cruise.  So we took the very back seat in stern of the boat and stretched out on the cushioned seats and really took in the sun, the sea spray, the breeze, and the sights.

A young woman, a crew member on the boat, narrated the tour, and we learned a lot as we traveled out and around Nuble Light and back to Perkins Cove.  We saw lots of gorgeous waterfront homes.  We saw some seals playing and feeding in the water on a mostly submerged group of rocks just north of the lighthouse.  We got views and took photos of the lighthouse from all different sides.  And the biggest, most exciting thing of all was that I got to pilot the boat part of the way back to Perkins Cove.  The young woman who was the narrator came back to ask Lily and me if we wanted to join the captain up in the pilothouse;  she said we could even steer the ship.  Lily immediately said no, no thank you.  But I then superceded her and said yes, we would indeed enjoy that.  So we climbed the stairs up into the pilothouse and Captain Kevin introduced himself.

Lily didn’t do any driving, but I did.  I actually drove quite some distance.  I don’t remember the correct nautical lingo, but fairly good-size waves and swells were driving us from the right rear of the boat.  Since the boat kept trying to go to the port side (left for you land lubbers), I had to keep correcting to get it back to starboard (the right side).  But when I did that, the boat would go too far back to the starboard side and then I’d have make another steering correction to get us back on a central course.  So back and forth we went, zigzagging from port to starboard from starboard to port and back to starboard.  (Capt. Kevin told us the steering wheel - I don't know the nautical term for a steering wheel, can actually make six full revolutions which allows the boat to make a very quick turn.)

It was a good thing there were only 5 other paying passengers. When we reached Perkins Cove, we asked one of the woman passengers if my driving, the constant zigzagging back and forth, drove her crazy. She said she actually started to get a little seasick.  Complaints!  Complaints!  She should have taken Dramamine or Bonine like Lily and I before we left the dock.  Lily will add some photographs of the sites we saw on our trip.  And also perhaps a photo of Captain Judith!  We want to extend our thanks to Kevin who was so generous in letting me steer (like a crazy woman) quite some distance and for the wonderful conversation we had about his life at sea.  That was a great adventure and a lot of fun.

Once our feet were back on dry land, we walked around Perkins Cove and stopped in a few of the shops and made several purchases.  I bought my hubby a new dress sweatshirt (dress sweatshirts are nice, new sweatshirts that he hasn’t ruined mowing the lawn or working down cellar, or painting, and they’re still presentable enough to wear out in public) and three new magnetic notepads for the frig door.  He likes the long skinny ones to write his grocery list on.  He actually writes his list by organizing areas on the page by category per how he travels the aisles in our local Stop & Shop.  Eat your hearts out girls!  He’s all mine.

And then it was back to our hotel.  We hadn’t done much in the way of physical activity over the course of the day, so we decided to go swimming in the hotel’s pool.  Lily swam her laps.  I walked my laps.  I did the arm part of the breaststroke and walked with my feet.  I’m still not sure what happened;  my legs seemed to sink to the bottom and my frog kick didn’t seem to propel me very far or fast forward.  Heavens to murgatroid!  All through junior high and high school and on through college I worked summers as a Red Cross swimming instructor and a lifeguard.  How could I no longer do the breaststroke!  Lily laughed and laughed.  I’m hoping the problem was that the pool was too shallow for my long legs.  The deepest part of the pool was only 5’ deep. 

And then back upstairs to our room and to bed.  We were exhausted and need our beauty rest for the next day.