Tuesday Travels: Coastal Maine

by Lydia Saldaña on September 8, 2015 in Travel,
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Many Texans look north for travel adventures, especially in the heat of the summer, and if you are planning a continental U.S. trip, you can’t get further north than Maine. There are many travel draws here: beautiful rugged coastline, quaint fishing towns, more than 65 lighthouses, beautiful fall colors and more ways to eat lobster than you can count!

There is a lot of Maine to explore, and it’s a good idea to narrow the focus of your trip to make the most of your time there. We chose a coastal route that would take us from the Canadian border at Calais, and end at Monhegan Island before heading back to Portland for the flight home.

We picked up a road map at a visitor center on 295 that contained specific advice on what to do if you hit a moose. Tip #4 was DUCK DOWN. Noted!

The road to Calais goes for miles and miles through the heart of rural Maine. Not one moose was spotted, unless you count the ones on these signs:

Moosehorn

northern forest

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is a welcome stop to stretch your legs and enjoy the view.

Field

Fortified with a lobster roll for dinner and a good night’s sleep we headed south on Route 1 for a coastal Maine adventure. Unlike California’s Highway 1, you don’t see much coastline here because of the vagary of the geography. Maine’s coast is a series of craggy inlets and islands created eons ago as glaciers came bearing down from the north. Interesting factoid: At 3,478 miles, Maine’s coast is actually longer than California’s by more than 50 miles.

The tiny town of Eastport epitomizes the laid back lifestyle Mainers love. It’s promoted to tourists as the easternmost city in the United States. (Nearby Lubec claims the title of the easternmost town.) The entire downtown area is pretty as postcard and looks like a movie set. In fact, it was the location for a Fox television series a decade ago and the locals got to fill in as extras.

Fisherman

This huge statue of a fisherman on the dock is a remnant of that 15 minutes of fame and is now a popular spot for a selfie. Shoppers will be impressed by the handcrafted items from local artisans in the many shops lining both sides of the street on the city’s main thoroughfare.

For lunch we stopped at the WaCo Diner (pronounced Wah-co), a local favorite. The food was good, and the flavorful mustard caught our attention. The waitress told us it was a local product, so our next stop was Raye’s Mustard, a quirky little place with a dizzying assortment of mustards.
We grabbed a few containers to go and hit the road again, this time in search of an iconic lighthouse.

quoddy

The West Quoddy Head Lighthouse at Quoddy Head State Park is as far East as you can get in the United States. The first lighthouse was built here in 1808, and the current candy-cane striped one has been lighting the way since 1857. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers staff the small museum.

Then we headed to Bar Harbor for a couple of days to take in Acadia National Park. Million mile views and awesome hiking trails draw tens of thousands of tourists here each season.

Lydia

taking photo

 

For the last two nights of our trip, we headed to Monhegan Island. We’d heard many wonderful things about it, and after a couple of days of the Tourism Industrial Complex that is Bar Harbor, a ferry ride to an island with no paved roads or automobiles seemed the perfect way to end our trip. We stayed at Island Inn and enjoyed two glorious relaxing days.

Island Inn

boats

There are many things that draw people to this beautiful state:
LIGHTHOUSES…..

white lighthouse

LOBSTER (for breakfast, lunch AND dinner)…..

holding food

lobster and corn

BLUEBERRIES……

Pie

And memories of Maine to be savored long after the trip is ended.

Empty bowl

Summer is high season for tourism in Maine, but Fall color here is another popular time to visit.

A reason for a return visit, to be sure.

By Lydia Saldaña

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