Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Welcome to Maine!

When the state of Maine opened camping to non-residents, we were there and back in a place we love - the Portland area.  Just south of Portland is Bayley’s Camping Resort (in Scarborough) and a place we have hung our hats many times.  Usually when we are in the area, we hit the Portland Food scene.  Portland was named Bon Appetites Best Food City 2018 and garnered many other foodie accolades.  The recognition is well-deserved with the tremendous pool of chefs and restaurants that bring dining to life.  From the succulent tender meat at the casual Noble BBQ to pretty food at the long-tenured Fore Street Restaurant to the freshest seafood on the downtown Commercial Street wharf, Portland has a wonderful gastronomic pool.  But, here it comes again, the ever-present 2020 spoiler … COVID–19.  Maine clamped down quickly when the pandemic hit and, as a result, they have some of the lowest positive case numbers in the country.  Still, we just didn’t feel comfortable going to the city and eating outside.  Besides, dishes like BBQ are not really eat-in the car kind of meals and who wants IPA steamed mussels with chorizo for carry-out?  So we avoided tight spaces, crowds, and opted to abstain from visiting our favorite food city. 


A mere few miles down the road (or a walk down the beach if you take the scenic route) from the campground is the throwback beachy town of Old Orchard Beach (OOB).  The town boardwalk was named as one of the 19 most "awesome" boardwalks in the United States by Fox News.  It has the rides, the arcade, the pier, the food, and the promise of sand and water that lures people back year after year.  In fact, Betsy used
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to come to OOB as a kid and it always brings up good memories of summer fun for her.  This year, the arcade and rides were closed but the town still seemed to draw people once the hotels and motor inns opened.  Yep, it's that kind of town that still has the one-story motor inns with two kitschy chairs outside your door and a pool in the middle of the parking lot.  The summer fun beach town vibe is enforced by the food.  This year, we fell prey to the temptation of the “famous pier fries.”  These babies are the kind that are fried up crisp and served hot in a paper cup, or for you really hungry visitors, a box!  The pier fries compete hard with the other local favorite – fried dough.  Yes, that’s right a blob of dough gets dropped in a deep fryer and served up hot on a paper plate with powdered sugar.  Other places in the country jazz up the name and call their fried creations "beignets" or "funnel cakes," but at OOB, it's just "fried dough."  None of these foods help your beach body, but who cares, we'll just blame it on Covid-19. 

Another beach town even closer to our campground is Pine Point.  Pine Point is a little spit of land that juts into the Nonesuch River and abuts the Atlantic Ocean.  Pine Point Beach is open to dogs so it was our place for a morning walk and swim for Spirit.  Pine Point also has a favorite lobster pound of ours - Bayley’s Lobster Pound which is our go-to for fresh lobster and crab meat and it is home to the Bait Shed Restaurant.  The restaurant has always had outdoor dining on picnic tables so the only difference caused by the pandemic is that the tables are spaced farther apart and the servers were wearing masks.  The restaurant has a great view of the river and Scarborough Marsh (the largest saltwater marsh in Maine).  A couple of evenings we drove down to the pier for sunset pictures with a sundowner (that's another name for a cocktail, in case you didn't know) in our hands and watched the amazing sky light up behind the lobster boats dotting the harbor. 



The beautiful early summer weather beckoned us outdoors (and for other reasons than eating French fries).  One of our favorite things to do is hike, and fortunately, there were plenty of hiking opportunities in the area.  Ferry Beach State Park has some nice trails and abuts the ocean with a large stretch of beach.  There is an admission fee so we opted to purchase an annual senior state park pass for $45 knowing that we would be repeat visitors and were planning on visiting other Maine State Parks. 

Other hiking options included the trails provided by the Scarborough Land Trust.  A handful of beautiful preserves were set aside by generous land owners for public enjoyment.  The trails are usually short (less than 2 miles) and offered pleasant hikes through meadows, woods, and along gentle brooks.  Completely free and open to all for outdoor enjoyment!


What’s a visit to Maine without seeing a lighthouse?  One of Maine’s most famous is the Portland Head Light standing proudly on a rocky point in Portland Harbor.  The head light attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually because of its majestic appearance and location.  This year was eerily weird in that there were very few visitors due to the pandemic.  The lighthouse and museum were closed but the surrounding park and trails were open but way less crowded than previous years.  We actually really liked it without the crowds.  

Cape Elizabeth is an upscale bedroom community of Portland with beautiful stately oceanfront homes and scenic views.  “Cape E” is also home to a beautiful lighthouse of its own and another great lobster pound.  Win, win!  With the backdrop of the towering white cylindrical light, we enjoyed our lobster rolls outside feeling the cool ocean breezes, listening to the waves crash on the rocks, and watching the eiders bob up and down.  


Portland and the surrounding towns have always been a draw and we were looking forward to spending more time there than in previous years.  Our original reservations were supposed to start late April but Covid-19 cut that short and we only had three weeks so we made the most of it and know that we will always come back.
  

4 comments:

  1. So good to read a blog from you guys! And to see a photo of the Spirit dog! Never been to Maine, one of these days! Hope you both are doing well!

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    1. H, so glad to hear from you. I just checked out your new blog and it looks like you guys are enjoying the summer and are well. Spirit loves the coolness of Maine waters and the ample hiking opportunities. One of these years, we will venture west again. Best to you both!

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  2. Just pulled the cork on our last bottle of Savage Oakes. Reminiscing about one of our favorite places and fond memories meeting you both two summers ago. Hope you are both well and enjoying your adventures. Brian & Susan Donohue

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    1. Hi there! We are back in Maine but doing more traveling and less working. Hope you all are well and may our paths cross again.

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