Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Moving over to

June 9, 2010

I’ve been working on this new site for a few months, and—deep breath—I’m finally ready to flip the switch and make the move to I do hope you’ll all follow.

Please, let me know your thoughts. Is it easier to navigate? Any glitches? It’s still a bit of a work in progress, so bear with me, please, as I move forward.


Ten signs of autumn

September 25, 2009

1. Frost in the forecast.

2. Maine’s foliage report

3. Common Ground Fair kicks off today

4. Wild turkeys seem to be everywhere

5. Any RVs on the road are headed south

6. It’s actually possible to get they-ah from he-ah on Route 1, even if that means passing through Wiscasset or Camden.

7. Fleece is again part of the daily wardrobe

8. All the seasonal shops have huge SALE signs in the windows

9. The tomato rush is on: Will they ripen before the frost? (see #1)

10. The quest for the perfect apple has begun

Cheap Sleeps in the Kennebunks

September 18, 2008

You don’t have to be religious to book a room at the Franciscan Guest House. An easy walk to Lower Village and Dock Square (avoid parking hassles), the guest house, located on the grounds of the riverfront Franciscan Monastery, provides simple accommodations, with a few frills.

The guest house is located in a renovated former Catholic high school and outbuildings. While some stay here for religious reasons, guests of any faith are welcome.

I paid $69 for a room with a single queen bed, and that rate includes a full buffet breakfast, with dozens of breads and pastries, two hot entrees, cereals, fresh fruit, meats and cheeses. The room: vintage 1970s decor, with blond fake paneling, brown carpeting, synthetic patterned bed spreads, not-so-great art, TV, pine desk and bureau, full bathroom. All spotless, with a tinge of antiseptic aroma. Also available are a rec room, an outdoor pool, free wifi, and two computers available to guests. But hey, who needs fancy with this location.

The monastery was founded by Lithuanisan Franciscans, who fled war-torn Europe in 1947 and purchased the Tudor Great House and estate, originally landscaped by the Frederick Law Olmstead firm. Monks still reside in the mansion, which isn’t open to the public except for a seasonal gift shop and a modern chapel, attached.

A sneak peek toward Kennebunkport's Dock Square from the Franciscan Monastery grounds.

A sneak peek toward Kennebunkport

The monastery’s 66 mostly wooded, riverfront acres are open to the public (no pets), providing a wonderful escape from the nearby hubbub. Paved, wheelchair- and stroller-accessible trails lace the grounds, which are peppered with shrines and an outdoor chapel. Don’t miss the eye-catching, recently restored, modern sculpture, created by Vytautas Jonynas for the Vatican Pavilion during the 1964-1965 Worlds Fair. A guide to the shrines is available in the gift shop or the Guest House for 50 cents B&W or $1.50 color.

This is an inexpensive place to stay, a great value with a wonderful place to walk or meditate. Another plus for guests, it’s an easy and pleasant walk (past the oh-so-haute White Barn Inn) to Gooch’s Beach.

Frost on the pumpkin

September 18, 2008

Tonight! A hard frost is predicted. It is shaping up to be an absolutely gorgeous fall weekend, sun and temps in the 60s during the day, chilly at night. The frost should jumpstart the foliage a bit; so far, at least along the coast, there’s only a first blush. Truly, a perfect weekend for the Common Ground Fair (see my earlier posting). If you can, go tomorrow, it’ll be less crowded.

Lose the crowds

September 12, 2008

We visited Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park yesterday, meeting friends at the Jordan Pond House for lunch (the salad with apples and cranberries is fabulous, and my foodie friend E gives high marks to the lobster stew) on the lawn (with tea and popovers, of course). It was a spectacular September day, and Bar Harbor was jamming. Two huge cruise ships and the usual bus tours dumped what seemed like gazillions of folks onto the island.

Now I often hear folks complain about how crowded Bar Harbor and Acadia are—and if you only hang out downtown or in the park’s icon sites, that’s true. But after lunch we walked out onto the carriage trails. Within five minutes of easy strolling from Jordan Pond House, we were alone in the park. We passed a few hikers early on, but we walked in solitude for 20 minutes or so, accompanied only by birdsong and the music of a rushing stream. Heaven.

And I know from previous visits, that a short walk from downtown Bar Harbor, and one can be in equally quiet sections of the park. Compass Harbor, site of George Dorr’s home (just a foundation, now) is an easy mile jaunt via sidewalk edging Main St./Route 3 from downtown. Or follow the Jesup Path and the Great Meadow Loop. Really, it’s quite easy to escape the crowds, if you’re willing to take a few steps off the pavement.

One last note about Jordan Pond House: If you’re traveling with dogs, you’re welcome to sit on the lawn. The staff even brings a bowl of water for your pooch. While we lunched, there were at least a dozen dogs at the tables surrounding ours (in addition to our two). And as long as your pet is leashed, it’s welcome on the trails (just bring a plastic bag for clean up, if necessary).

Foliage Faves: Blair Hill Inn

September 8, 2008

Vermont gets all the press—but it also gets gazillions of leaf peepers. Here’s a place where you can enjoy the colors without the crowds. (The first in my leaf-peeper foliage faves postings)

Native Mainah

No it’s not easy to get to, but that’s what makes it so worth the effort. Greenville edges Moosehead Lake, that giant blue Rorschach blot in the wilds of northern Maine. It’s the frontier town before tar gives way to dirt, civilization to wilderness. Shops sell all manor of moosey merchandise, fishing and hunting are big biz. Set high on a hillside, just outside of town is a genteel country inn, the splurge-worthy Blair Hill Inn, an oasis of comfort, with excellent service and fabulous breakfasts.

And the views? Stupendous, especially during peak foliage, when the color-dappled mountains surrounding the 40-mile-long lake are reflected in its waters. This is God’s Country, and if you don’t believe me, mosey up to Kokadjo (population, not many) where a giant sign proclaims just that.

The region is laced with hiking trails and with opportunities for boating and paddling and moose spotting. Treat yourself to a cruise on the Katahdin, a retrofitted, early 20th-century boat that was previously used in in the lumbering industry. Or take a foliage flight with Currier’s Flying Service, a great way to view the cliffs of Kineo. Or book a moose safari or other adventure with Northwoods Outfitters.

Maynard's in Maine lodge

Now, if the Blair Hill Inn is out of range budget wise, not to worry, Greenville has plenty of wallet-friendly spots, too. Chalet Moosehead is a motel that’s right on the lakefront; the Pleasant Street Inn is a B&B that’s walkable to everything intown, including the lake; in nearby Rockwood is Maynard’s in Maine, an old-time classic—very rustic (in the Maine sense of the word, not the New York sense) lodge and cabins, with a restaurant (see photo) It’s not for everybody, but I love this place, and it’s pet friendly.

Morning in Maine

September 8, 2008

While I’m on the windjammer theme, let me tell you about my recent sail aboard A Morning in Maine, a 55-foot ketch based in Rockland.

Capt. Bob Pratt aboard Morning in Maine

Capt. Bob Pratt is a marine biologist and Master Maine Guide, which means not only can he sail the waters of Penobscot Bay, he also can explain everything there is to know about the marine life and coastal landscape. A former teacher at both the University of Maine and Maine Maritime Academy, he also possesses the ability to explain things gently.

Sightings of seals are common, porpoises are frequent, whales are rare. We cruised by Rockland’s Breakwater Light. We saw lobster boats hauling traps, Owl’s Head Light winking at us in the fog, and the Nathaniel Bowditch raise its sails and the Victory Chimes sail by under full sail. We watched the fog roll in and Vinalhaven and North Haven islands disappear into the fog; and we saw the state ferries plying the waters to those elusive islands.

Bob is accompanied on board by a first mate and his yellow lab, Poco. And dogs who meet Poco on the dock and are well behaved, are allowed on board for the sail—nice to know, especially if you’re traveling with a pooch. A two-hour sail is a wonderful way to explore Rockland Harbor, where it spills into Penobscot Bay, and it’s a nice intro to sailing aboard a windjammer. If you like it, consider a multi-day sail on one of the Maine Windjammer Association vessels.

And now, September into early October, is the ideal time to sail the Maine Coast. The breezes are more reliable than in summer, the color is beginning to fringe the trees, the bugs are gone, and even on a foggy day (despite my Hurricane Hannah-induced experience, these are rare in September), there are few activities that rival it. As I sit here on a spectacular September morning, I’m dreaming of that sail and mentally planning another.

My Maine air show

September 6, 2008

No, not THAT air show. Yesterday, I flew up, up and away in a 1933, Waco UBF2 biplane from the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, in Owl’s Head, Maine. Wowser! In my travel adventures, this even outranked riding an ostrich(which I did in Curacao, and which I wouldn’t recommend). I won my 10-minute ride in a raffle—the museum doesn’t sell rides, but it does offer then in auctions and raffles.

Wearing goggles and ear protectors that reduced the noise (all that we lacked were red scarves), and strapped into the open-air cockpit with my seatmate Victor, we bumped down the grassy runway, and then wheeeee! up we went, soaring above the St. George Peninsula, with views back to the Camden Hills and out over island-studded Penobscot Bay. I spotted the three-masted Victory Chimes, the largest in Maine’s windjammer fleet (it’s depicted on the Maine quarter, with Pemaquid light in the backdrop), under full sail, and I even spied a friend’s home in Spruce Head (Hi Kathy, I waved, honest).

While not everyone can take to the skies from the museum, it is possible to ride around the grounds on a Model T and take in all the exhibits; it’s a fabulous collection. Currently on view are some of the 60 rare autos from the Seal Cove Auto Museum, on Mount Desert Island, that will be auctioned, without reserve, on Sept. 26 & 27 to endow that museum. And if you happen to go to MDI, you can ride in a bi-plane from the airport in Trenton with Acadia Air Tours.

Back on the ground, I checked out the planes, automobiles, motorcycles, engines and whatnot on view at the museum, but even now, I’m still grinning and thinking: Curse, you Red Baron!

(thanks to Lorie Juliano for the photo of me in the plane).

Shameless promotion

September 5, 2008

This blog began as an effort to keep readers of my three books—Maine, Coastal Maine, and Acadia National Park—updated as well as provide a quick look-see at places I’ve visited. Recently, Coastal Living’s Travel Editor linked to it, and yesterday so did Budget Travel, from a Maine Q&A.

Eeek! I’ve been outed. For the faithful who’ve been reading all along, not to worry, it won’t go to my head. For you new readers, welcome

And drop a line. Let me know whether you agree or disagree, share your favorites in Maine, and dish on your food finds.

As previously noted, I’m on the road in Rockland today, and either later today or sometime tomorrow, I’ll give you updates on all that as well as notes from my visits yesterday to the Cellardoor Vineyard (Lincolnville and Rockport) and The Youngtown Inn, in Lincolnville. I’ll also update comments then.

Thanks, and happy travels armchair or otherwise!

Sweet, sweet Samoset

September 4, 2008

I live so close to the Samoset, that I rarely visit, but here I am in Rockland, for a conference and now I understand why people love this place.

The view out my window is green golf course (Pebble Beach East?), blue ocean, white windjammer sails, and distant islands.

A short walk (unfortunately for now, through a construction site for what will be the new vanishing edge pool), and I’m at the Rockland Breakwater. At the end of this granite pier is the Rockland Lighthouse. It’s a fine vantage point for watching the windjammers sailing in Penobscot Bay.

And if the weather should change (Hannah, stay away), there’s a full indoor health club with pool. Nice. And as of next spring, there will be a full-service spa, too. And the restaurants will be updated and changed. I had dinner at Marcel’s last night, a fine meal, if a bit rich. It will benefit from a lightening of the menu, and the planned switch to a more contemporary decor and addition of a patio.

Of course, there’s all the region offers, too. Tomorrow, I’m off to the Maine Lighthouse Museum, the Farnsworth Museum of American Art, and the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum in the morning, then I’ll be on board Morning in Maine, one of those windjammers in the afternoon. Ahhh, sweet September in Maine.