The best thing about Maine, besides the decadent lobster and the gorgeous coastal views, is that much of the state remains untouched by the commercial monotony that characterizes the modern American landscape. I used to entertain myself on long trips by scoping out the various stores and restaurants located along the way. At one time, even common store chains were still pretty much relegated to a particular area of the country. It was fun to visit new places and discover what was unique to each region.
Nowadays, you can visit any American suburb and you will be greeted by the same ol’ stores everywhere — Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy… Every shopping center is the same. The same restaurants dot the highway. The same stores occupy the strip malls. It is so very dull and predictable.
But much of Maine hasn’t yet succumbed to this unfortunate state of homogeneity. In fact, when you get out of the major cities, you’re hard pressed to find a familiar chain restaurant or retail store. How utterly refreshing.
Yesterday we spent the day poking around the peninsula inhabited by Blue Hill and Castine. I love this area because the landscape has been carefully preserved, and it’s just enough off the beaten path that you don’t have crowds of tourists to contend with.
First we parked and hiked Blue Hill Mountain — a two-mile hike that makes for a nice family excursion. We’ve hiked it before, but never with the girls. This time both girls and my mom accompanied us (and my son too, of course.) The views are extraordinary, even from the very beginning. It starts out as an easy walk through the meadow, which was teaming with wild flowers and ripe blueberry bushes.
It gets steeper and more challenging during the second half of the trail, but the kids love clamoring up the rocks.
My mom and I enjoyed the wildflowers while the kids nibbled on the wild blueberries that grow along the trail. I took the opportunity to practice my photography.
As you can see, the view from the top was worth the trek.
Yes, I hiked in my “ape shoes” as my husband not-so-fondly refers to them.
They are so great. I’d wear them all day long if they weren’t so dang ugly. I carried my KEENs in my backpack in case I felt I needed more protection between myself and the rough terrain, but I did just fine. And best of all, my knees never complained even once.
Can I just tell you, I am so totally addicted to Picnik. I’ve been taking advantage of being on vacation to play around till my heart’s content. Take a look.
That’s the same photo as above but with the Lomo-ish effect applied to it.
This is the same photo with a whole slew of effects – I started with Vibrance. Then I applied the Cross Process and a faint Vignette. And finally I played around with the Focal Zoom. And I always put the Drop Shadow behind my photos and of course the watermark.
I love the soft, hazy retro feel of the 1960s and the Cross Process effects. I used the Cross Process on this and also a touch of the Vibrance. Then I rounded the corners in the Frames options.
Isn’t that FUN?
After we got our fill of the view and the trail mix we had the good sense to bring along this time, we all filed back down the mountain and climbed in our car and proceeded to get lost in the tangle of roads that criss-cross the peninsula. I hesitate to even use the term “lost” because we were so content to putter along and gawk at the scenery that it was more like wandering aimlessly than being lost. Finally we made our way back into town.
The town of Blue Hill is a charming blend of old shipbuilding village and modern hippie artist colony. I had almost convinced my husband to put out his resume and buy me an old clapboard house on the outskirts of town until we made our way over to Castine, Blue Hill’s next door neighbor. Then we decided that while we were day dreaming, we might as well do it up right. We contemplated what it might be like to live in one of the impressive homes lining Castine’s magnificent rocky coastline — or even one of the not-so-impressive ones would suffice. We noticed a disturbingly large number of homes for sale; I say disturbing because this is surely a sign of our ailing economy. I’d certainly love to be able to snap one up.
Castine is and has been for a long time our favorite town to visit while in Maine. It is slightly more elegant than Blue Hill and has a richer history. Castine is home to the Maine Maritime Academy and the summer residences of some of the most wealthy families on the East Coast. In years past we have stayed at the Castine Inn, toured the Wilson Museum and the John Perkins House, visited the Castine Historical Society (the hand-quilted mural inside this building depicting Castine’s turbulent history (it has been claimed by four different countries since it was founded in the early part of the 17th century) is well worth taking the time to stop), and walked down to the picturesque Dyce’s Head Light.
This time, we bypassed the sightseeing and headed straight for lunch at our favorite spot – Dennett’s Wharf, a casual restaurant and oyster bar located right on the water. We tried to sit outside on the deck as we have before, but the wind immediately started wreaking havoc on our menus and table napkins so we opted for a calmer location under the large mustard-yellow awning. We feasted on fried Maine popcorn shrimp and fries and lobster rolls and ice cream while enjoying the view of the harbor.
While we waited for dessert to be delivered, I snapped this shot of my husband and my daughter hanging over the railing watching the sailboats. Please pardon the blurry but I must not have been holding the camera still. Or it could have been the 50 mile an hour winds on the deck. I’ll go with the latter.
You can surely see why we prefer to dine on the deck.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a leisurely drive back home through the narrow wooded roads that characterize the mid-Coast region of Maine in carb-induced stupors, chatting a little here and there. Later in the evening, Paul and the kids started a campfire beside the lake and we roasted marshmallows and gorged on s’mores while ominous clouds rolled in and the wind grew stronger, making the lake grey and choppy.
It looks like we’re in for a few gloomy days here so we’re all set to hunker down with our books and puzzles and knitting and coffee until the sunshine returns. That should give me ample time to write up reviews on the books I’ve read since I’ve been here. (I thought it might be fun to do a short Vacation Reading series of posts.) Stay tuned!