Boothbay Harbor is a lovely town that we fall deeper in love with on each visit. But, our recent visit was bittersweet. Sadly, it was on our last trip here (three years ago) that we had to put our dog “Otter” to sleep. We knew her terminal cancer would claim her, but where we would finally say goodbye was always a dreaded mystery. If it was any consolation, she died in one of the most beautiful towns we know.
|Me and Otter in Boothbay Harbor|
On this past visit we turned off the famed Route 1 that hugs the coastline and headed south on Route 27 to Boothbay Harbor expecting to stay for a few days. Maybe we could replace the sad memories of losing Otter with new, happy ones brought on by “Otter’s Spirit.” (You see, Betsy named Spirit in memory of Otter.) But upon arrival at our campground of choice (Shore Hills Campground) a blatant “Closed for the Season” sign looked to dampen our plan. More like it was going to just plain ruin it! Just when we thought it was o.k. to live on the edge and be spontaneous (which in RV terms means not making campground reservations) . . . beware! It appeared our desire to avoid summer crowds was the least of our worries when it was clear we were too early in the season and most campgrounds hadn’t even opened yet. Our luck had it that the campground owner (Jean Reny) saw our RV sitting on the side of the road in front of her campground. She must have noticed the two wayward and confused women sitting inside desperately flipping through Maine Campground Guides and making frantic phone calls. Jean came to our rescue. She made her way to the campground office and waved us in. The computers weren’t up and running and most sections of the campground weren’t open but one was. No cable, wifi, bathrooms, or laundry but she gave us a full-hookup site at a much reduced price. Just one more reason we love Maine - friendly people.
As for the town of Boothbay Harbor . . . it is simply lovely. There is something so luring about it that we come back every time we are in Maine. The deep harbor is lined with colorful lobster boats and graceful schooners, the outlying islands stand proud with lighthouses (five in all), the historic buildings are remolded to their grandeur, and the majestic eiders gracefully bob in the surf. Downtown is a bustle of tourists partaking in the many activities that celebrate all things great about the coast – whether it is shopping for nautical-themed home decor, venturing out to sea to watch sea lions and look at light houses, or diving into a lobster roll at a lobster pound overlooking the harbor. If it is culture you want, Boothbay Harbor is home to many gifted artists where galleries beautifully display their talents. Summer nights are filled with venues offering everything from Broadway Musicals to classical concerts and Grammy-Award winning artists.
The town’s history is rooted in fishing when in the early to mid-1600’s the English settled in the area. Over the years, industry grew to include boat building of naval vessels during the two World Wars and the Korean War. That tradition was not lost and today many luxury yachts, tug boats, and lobster boats herald from this area. Tourists began arriving in the 1860’s when regular steamer service brought visitors from as far away as Boston. This influx spurred hotels, cottages, restaurants and other entertainment for city people seeking outdoor adventure. It didn’t take long for industry to thrive in the Boothbay region and year-round resident’s to profit. Today, residents still find income in the tourism, fishing, and shipbuilding industries.
Boothbay is very dog-friendly and we found many places to walk Spirit. Downtown shopping was not her favorite activity (except when we were at Two Salty Dog Pet Outfitters where she liked trying out dog houses) so we made daily trips to some of the many nature preserves scattered around the area. The Boothbay Regional Land Trust maintains 22 preserves in their quest to promote education on wildlife, ecology, conservation and local history.
One of the newest additions to Boothbay is the Watershed Tavern and home to Boothbay Craft Brewery. Being ones who like to try new things, we decided this was a perfect place to settle into a flight of home brew after a day of hiking and sightseeing.
Our planned short stop in Boothbay Harbor turned into a longer visit. We were loving being back in the area and extended our visit a few more days, again thanks to Jean. I’m sure we will always return to Boothbay Harbor as we embrace past memories and make new ones.