A visit to coastal Maine brings to thoughts Lake Superior’s North Shore

Overheard whereas boarding the flight house from Portland to Minneapolis:

Flight attendant: “How was Maine?”

Passenger: “Nice! It jogged my memory of the North Shore … , in Minnesota.”

Flight attendant: “The place’s Minnesota? Oh, is that the place we’re going?”

Sigh.

However the cluelessness of the New York-based crew, that passenger had some extent. My spontaneous first-time outing to Maine did have the restorative really feel of a jaunt to Lake Superior, with the huge Gulf of Maine sitting in for the biggest lake on this planet.

It is the “north shore” of the Japanese Seaboard, if you’ll. However Maine brings its personal belongings to the desk: quaint New England village allure, a bustling nationwide park, a maritime crusing tradition, a wealth of mysterious islands. And lobster. Loads of lobster.

I had an expiring Delta Air Strains companion move, and my pregnant associate and I yearned for one final journey earlier than fall (and the third trimester), so we deliberate a long-weekend getaway simply two weeks upfront. Even post-Labor Day, out there lodging was scarce, and I’ve by no means needed to spend extra per day on a rental automotive. Past that, the items of a stimulating journey all got here collectively, largely by winging it.

Pulling out of Portland Worldwide Jetport, we received one requisite vacationer cease out of the best way instantly: a go to to the enduring Portland Head Gentle, the putting 1791 beacon that’s most likely Maine’s most well-known picture. Subsequent we strolled the cobblestone streets of the town’s Previous Port, touchdown within the trellised out of doors seating of Through Vecchia for Italian small plates.

At darkish, we pulled into Glen Cove Inn close to the beautiful city of Camden — the bottom for many of our journey. The up to date motor court docket is tucked within the woods by the ocean. For breakfast, we sat on our primary room’s again patio to soak up the strong late-summer foliage and salty air. Between outings, there was simply sufficient time to soak within the heated saltwater pool.

On Saturday, we explored close by villages, every seemingly with its personal small harbor bursting with sailboats. We drove to the 800-foot summit of Mount Battie, the place a 1921 stone tower permits a panoramic view of the coast. We ordered our first Maine lobster rolls at Graffam Bros. market, carrying them out for a harborside picnic.

For sundown, we boarded a touristy however satisfying cruise out of Camden on the schooner Lazy Jack II. We sat close to the bow because the tall ship sailed into Penobscot Bay for a golden-hour view of personal islands. Colourful buoys for lobster cages had been strewn throughout the bay.

Fashionable park

Sunday morning, we made the scenic drive up Route 1 towards Acadia Nationwide Park. In Ellsworth, a man with an “America: Love It or Depart It” sticker on his truck waved to an older hippie flying a “Defund the Pentagon” banner on a bridge. I spotted the date was Sept. 11.

I approached Acadia with trepidation, realizing it was the sixth hottest U.S. nationwide park in 2021, with greater than 4 million guests. However the glacial mountain-and-maritime paradise on Mount Desert Island manages its 77 sq. miles effectively. We got down to drive the introductory 27-mile Park Loop Street. At Sieur de Monts, we strolled a boardwalk by way of wetlands, encountering a big painted turtle. At Thunder Gap, a crowd gathered on seaside cliffs to see (and listen to) waves surge right into a slim channel, creating loud thunderclaps.

It was on the unassumingly named Sand Seaside the place my thoughts was blown. The broad strip, framed on each side by granite cliffs, was not one thing I anticipated to seek out in Maine. I waded into the bracing waves and robust undertow whereas an enormous catamaran did a 360 in entrance of me to offer its passengers a panoramic view. It was the primary, however not the final, time in Maine that I considered “Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson’s 2012 film by which preteen lovebirds run away to a tidal inlet on a New England isle.

We took within the traditional view of the Bubbles, the glacially rounded mountaintops seen from unspoiled Jordan Pond, and dropped into the idyllic Jordan Pond Home, famed for its buttery popovers. At nightfall, we retired to the parkside village of Bar Harbor, with its festive fundamental drag largely centered on promoting T-shirts, albeit properly designed ones. We received ice cream on the old-timey CJ’s Large Dipper and introduced it to the village inexperienced, which appeared proper out of my seventh-grade historical past ebook.

Secret islands

Acadia was ceaselessly spectacular, however sharing it with 1000’s of others did take the sting off. At Acadia, you are at all times conscious that everybody else is seeing this, too.

So we endeavored to do one thing particular — and random — for our closing night time in Maine. And I knew it needed to contain an island.

After learning a large number of complicated ferry schedules for varied islands, I landed on Vinalhaven. The island is a 15-mile crossing from Rockland, close to Camden, and its automotive ferry is run like clockwork by the state. I booked the ferry and a lodge, and received our SUV onto the boat, as effectively. The 75-minute ferry trip threaded its manner between the craggy isles of the Fox archipelago, of which Vinalhaven is by far the biggest.

Vinalhaven is a residential island for employees within the lobster trade and never a brilliant standard vacationer vacation spot, with a single village on its 167 sq. miles. Many properties are festooned with the colourful lobster buoys that look to me like large fishing bobbers. We checked into our clapboard lodge, the Tidewater, too late to say a spot of their Monday night time lobster boil.

However the massive guesthouse is a marvel, constructed on the positioning of a former mill. When the tide is excessive, an enormous quantity of seawater rushes right into a broad inland “pond” by way of channels beneath the lodge. After a quiet interval of equilibrium, the waters surge again into the harbor at low tide. The cycle reverses each six hours or so, and from our romantic attic loft we felt like we had been sleeping above a raging rapids.

We drove to a distant lighthouse and to Tip Toe Mountain — named, I suppose, for the newborn steps you might want to tackle its root-covered, mossy trails. We had been rewarded on the 118-foot peak with a sprawling, contemplative view of maybe all the pieces we had seen in mid-coast Maine — the islands and bay, the Camden Hills and perhaps even Acadia to the east. We returned to city, picked up our final lobster rolls at Homeport restaurant, and dined on our excessive balcony on the Tidewater because the waters rushed in at nightfall.

I left Maine realizing there was way more I would love to do subsequent time: bike the gravel carriage roads of Acadia, take a multiday “windjammer” crusing journey, or disappear to offbeat islands for per week or two. However Vinalhaven was a reminder that typically the most effective journey experiences are within the unplanned discoveries you make.

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