Camden, Rockport, + Rockland

 

48hours

48 HOURS-May 2012
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Leanne Ouimet, Mali Welch, Sophie Nelson + Susan Grisanti

 

 

Leanne Ouimet, Director of Events + Sponsorships Friday

5:15 p.m.
I pick up my dad, Leon, at his office in Rockland. He will be joining me this weekend on my adventures through Camden, Rockport, and Rockland. He knows the area very well and will be the perfect tour guide.

5:30 p.m. @ Myrtle Street
Tavern  It’s immediately apparent that almost everyone here knows each other, which I find both comforting and a little unsettling since we don’t know anyone. Our anonymity doesn’t last long though, because I get a tap on the shoulder from Daniel Bennett, a local boat builder and carpenter, who introduces himself and welcomes us to “the working man’s spot to come have a drink and a game of pool.” He also introduces us to Pete, one of the most impressive singers I’ve had the pleasure of hearing live. Later in the evening, Pete tells us he was the lead singer of the Impalas, a doo-wop group responsible for the 1959 hit “Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home).” Judging from his incredible talent, I’m inclined to believe him, even if he was just having some fun with the bright-eyed, gullible girl from out of town.

7:20 p.m. @ Fresh Restaurant
Dad and I arrive a little early for our reservation at Fresh Restaurant in Camden. Happily, we find Bettina Doulton and Jasie Costigan from Cellardoor Winery at the bar, and they fill us in on the latest happenings at the vineyard. On Bettina’s suggestion, we order the Rocket Salad, a tasty mix of arugula greens, roasted shallots, Italian olive tapenade, sherry wine vinaigrette, and panko fried goat cheese. Dad and I have a wonderful meal and finally get to catch up.

Saturday

7:30 a.m. @ the Inn at Camden Place
I wake up to the soothing sounds of the Megunticook River, which runs right past my window. The Inn at Camden Place, owned by Ellis Cohn of Jaret and Cohn Real Estate, is ideally located in the heart of downtown Camden. Our room is spacious and well appointed with simple, clean furnishings. It has a great view of the Riverhouse Footbridge and a family of ducks splashing in the falls, which powered the building when it was a shirt factory many years ago.

8:30 a.m. @ Boynton-McKay Food Co.  
We walk into Boynton-McKay Food Co. on Main Street and immediately feel like we’ve traveled back in time. The building housed a pharmacy for more than a hundred years, and the black-and-white photographs, parlor-style booths, and a well-worn checkered floor exude a sense of history.

10:00 a.m. @ Rockport Blueprint
I’ve made two scrapbooks and intend to start a third, so I pick up a package of decorative paper and a large sheet of beautifully patterned screen-printed paper. I’m told the store is most frequented by people who like doing crafty things, but that its clientele also includes major artists such as Jamie Wyeth, Alan Magee, and Jonathan Frost.

10:50  a.m. @ Stonewall Kitchen + Thomas Michaels Designers
We head to Stonewall Kitchen, but, unfortunately, they’re closed for renovations. Thomas Michaels Designers—a third-generation jewelry-design company—is right next door. Husband-and-wife team and master jewelers Thomas Michaels and Nora Hattman Michaels have worked together for over 35 years, creating unique and innovative jewelry designs, almost all of which are made by hand right on site.

11:15 a.m. @ Leslie Curtis Designs
Leslie Curtis and her husband are so warm and welcoming that I feel like I could stay and talk with them for hours. Leslie walks me around the store, pointing out some of her favorite pieces, including locally made needle-felted stuffed animals, a Lazy Susan, and a comfy rocking chair. She tells me that she likes repurposing furniture and decorative items that her clients already own, purchasing a few new pieces if need be, and rearranging a space to make it new again. She also tells me that if I can’t find a suitable breakfast place tomorrow morning, I should give her a call. She’s making pancakes.
12:00 p.m. @ Rankin’s Hardware and Building Supplies 
Dad tells me he has been having a great time this morning meeting new people and going into stores he has never visited before. So in the spirit of trying new things, he takes me to Rankin’s, a fourth-generation hardware and building-supply store on Union Street in Camden. Unlike my dad, I don’t purchase anything. I do learn what a drum sander, screwdriver tip, flat file, and Dremel tool are used for! Thanks, Dad.

1:25 p.m. @ Wasses
I’m so hungry that I order two hot dogs with everything (except ketchup) and french fries at Wasses, a local landmark in Rockland that’s celebrating its fortieth year in business this month. These hot dogs are fried in peanut oil, which adds great flavor. Dad has the brilliant idea to drive across the street to Harbor Park and enjoy our hotdogs from the parking lot while taking in the great view of Rockland Harbor.

2:00 p.m. @ Owls Head Transportation Museum  
We learn that 90 percent of the planes, cars, and motorcycles we see in the museum are not only fully functional, but they are often driven or flown for the public at different events held throughout the year. I feel like a little kid again, excitedly yelling, “Dad!” every time I see something that fascinates me, which happens quite often as we walk around the sprawling museum.

3:30 p.m. @ Birch Point Beach State Park
This is one of the most quintessential-looking Maine beaches I’ve ever seen. Pine trees surround the pristine sandy beach and huge rocks jut out into the ocean. I dare to dip my toes in the water, and Dad and I search the rocky shoreline for heart-shaped rocks to bring home as souvenirs.

5:15 p.m. @ Oakland Park Bowling Lanes
Soon after my dad heads home for a birthday party, Sophie and Max call to invite me to Maine’s oldest candlepin-bowling operation for a game or two. Max keeps score by hand, the only way to keep score at Oakland Park.

8:00 p.m. @ Francine 
I grab a seat at the bar with a killer view of the open kitchen. Chip Dewey is tending bar and gives me a few great suggestions on what to order. The evening ends with a tequila shot—not for me, but for the kitchen staff. Apparently it’s a tradition carried out every Saturday night after the last entree goes out. Cheers!

10:35 p.m. @ Cuzzy’s 
I find Sophie and Max at the restaurant and bar on Bayview Street. We sit near the packed bar and enjoy a few karaoke performances before it’s time to head home for bed. Sunday

8:00 a.m. @ the Breakwater
I brave the wind to walk the rocky, mile-long footpath that stretches into Rockland Harbor. The sky is filled with wispy clouds, leaving plenty of room for the sun to shine through. I don’t make it to the lighthouse at the end of the path, deciding instead to turn around midway, trek back to my car, and get some hot coffee and breakfast in town.

8:45 a.m. @ Rockland Cafe 
The large neon “open” sign couldn’t be a more welcoming sight, since I am in desperate need of some coffee. I also order the French toast with maple syrup—a light and fluffy breakfast that fills me right up. I notice the cafe’s motto, “Come as a stranger, leave as a friend” at the bottom of the menu and smile. It perfectly captures my entire weekend.

10:00 a.m. @ Seaview Cemetery, Aldermere Farm + Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel 
Sophie and I head out on foot to explore the back roads of Camden and Rockport on the Camden Scenic Tour, a six-mile loop Sophie found online. We jog to Aldermere Farm, where we see a couple of horses but unfortunately no Belted Galloway cows, or “Oreo cookie” cows as they’re commonly known. After a couple of wrong turns, we finally find the Children’s Chapel, an open-air sanctuary positioned on a ledge with stunning views of Penobscot Bay. We take a few moments here to catch our breath and daydream before continuing down Beauchamp Road. Susan gives us a ride to Camden and then we head south to meet up with the rest of the crew at the Montsweag Roadhouse.

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Mali Welch, Production Manager Friday

3:00 p.m. @ Maine magazine and Maine Home+Design offices
My awesome fiancé, Derek, picks me up at work and we hit the road for the familiar trek to Rockland. My family has spent summers on Vinalhaven Island since 1911, and the ferry terminal in Rockland has always been a jumping-off point for summer. Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen Rockland’s downtown go from sparse to eclectic, and I’m excited to spend some quality time exploring.

5:00 p.m. @ Captain Lindsey House Inn
We are psyched to find out that our inn is smack in the middle of downtown Rockland. The room is elegant, just the way I imagine the captain’s quarters would be on a schooner—gilded, carved-wood furniture, patterned wallpaper, and a tapestry bedspread. We’re happy to see that the nautical details are combined with modern comforts like an iPod dock and flat-screen television.

6:00  p.m. @ Sunfire Mexican Grill 
We duck in for a quick margarita . As the bartender meticulously crafts the drinks, a ceramic sugar skull watches us from behind the bar.

7:00 p.m. @ Rock Harbor
We hear that a Baxter Brewing Co. promo is taking place at Rock Harbor, so we stop in on our way to dinner. The bartender, Dan, is also the owner. He tells us that 20 years ago his mother owned a clothing store in this same space, and when he was a baby he was rocked to sleep in a bassinet out back. He serves us Baxter’s Amber Road in beer-can-shaped pint glasses and introduces us to his wife, Amy. In minutes, we’re old friends.

8:00 p.m. @ In Good Company
We cross the street and enter this tranquil space filled with the cool sounds of Iron and Wine. We tell the bartender, Andrew, that we would like glasses of red wine that taste like dirt, and he makes two excellent recommendations. Our food is prepared in a galley kitchen by owner and chef Melody Wolfertz using just three satellite burners and a tiny convection oven. The perfectly cooked tenderloin arrives shaped like a muffin and topped with Maytag Blue Cheese butter. After dinner, Andrew takes us on a tour of their wine safe (literally an old safe filled with wine), and then joins us across the street for a beer.

10:30 p.m. @ Rock Harbor 
A band has started and the dining room has been cleared for dancing. We sit next to a couple at the bar and I tell them all about Dan, the owner/bartender and how his mom used to own the space when he was little. It turns out that I’m telling this story to his parents! We chat with them for the rest of the night. At one point, they get up to dance together. Before they leave, a family photo is taken and they ask Derek and me to be in it.

Saturday

9:30 a.m. @ Atlantic Baking Co.
I know that they serve Coffee By Design coffee, so I insist on stopping in for a dark roast on the way to breakfast. Strangely, I can’t resist the tomato basil soup either, so we share a bowl with a warm baguette. It hits the spot, even at this early hour.

10:00 a.m. @ Rock City Cafe
As we wait for our bagels, we run into Adam and Hiram, both of whom I used to sail with as a kid on Vinalhaven. We all sit together and catch up on the past 15 years. Adam is living in Camden and working at Salt Water Farm. Hiram has an auto-repair shop on Vinalhaven. It’s a serendipitous meeting that reminds me how small Maine can be.

11:00 a.m. @ Farnsworth Art Museum 
We are welcomed into the museum by David Troup, who takes us on a tour. He shows us where a painting by my great-great -grandfather, Joseph DeCamp, hangs. We do not rush our visit. We hang on David’s words and explore the paintings and library with careful eyes. When we leave, we are full of ideas and creative energy.

1:15 p.m. @ the Brown Bag
There is nothing like a classic, well-built sandwich, especially if it’s served on house-made bread. I get the BLT on anadama bread and Derek gets the good old-fashioned ham salad on white. We dine in, but I note that the Brown Bag is also the perfect place to pick up staples for our next picnic or ferry ride.

1:35 p.m. @ Wasses
Derek cannot be in the vicinity of Wasses without getting at least one wiener “with everything.” I’m full, but he tells me that he cut the crusts off his sandwich so he’d have room to throw in a dog. I love the rationale.

2:00 p.m. @ Jaret and Cohn Real Estate
When we visit a town, we like to imagine what it would be like to live there. We search jaretcohn.com for properties under $100,000 and find some gems. We do a couple of drive-bys, and the one we like best is a little white bungalow with a detached garage that could serve as a workshop and art studio.

2:30 p.m. @ Schooner Isaac H. Evans 
We see schooner masts, so we pull over to explore a dock lined with majestic ships along a wharf. Strewn around the grounds are retired anchors with grass growing up around them. I take a few pictures that I intend to use as design models for the anchor tattoos we have been saving up for.

3:00 p.m. @ Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars 
Fiore is a tasting room lined with silver vats of different vinegars and olive oils. The owners, Nancy and Pat, guide us around and teach us what makes each product unique. Sampling vinegars back-to-back will undoubtedly teach you something new. Pat also tells us stories about his time spent harvesting on the Modena, Italy, farm they import from and the wonderful Italian family they work with. When we leave, it is with new friends and a large bottle of Cobrancosa olive oil.

4:00 p.m. @ Archipelago, the Island Institute Store and Gallery
This shop is a go-to for Maine-made gifts and accessories. I admire Lisa Hall’s gorgeous sea-glass jewelry and some bracelets made out of colorful rope with large brass clasps. I purchase a keychain with a big black rock dangling from it that I plan to make into a necklace for myself.

4:15 p.m. @ Dowling Walsh Gallery
I sit on a bench in the gallery and reflect on the day, the people we met, and the laughs we shared. After a nice chat with Gus, the gallery manager, I have to convince myself not to sell my condo in Portland to purchase my favorite Bo Bartlett. Instead, I decide to buy a book of his paintings.

5:00 p.m. @ the Wine Seller  
We pop in for happy-hour provisions. The walls are covered floor to ceiling with wines organized by region. Boaters take note: the shop is within walking distance from the harbor.

6:00 p.m. @ Captain Lindsey House Inn
Back at the inn, we pour glasses of our Wine Seller finds and head to the parlor. We cozy up on the sofa for a serious game of Bones, our favorite dice game, played in a repurposed cigar box.

7:15 p.m. @ Rustica Cucina Italiana
We sit at the bar and are entertained by the bartender, David, who is warm, welcoming, and just plain cool. He feeds us suppli (fried risotto balls) and a pizza with red-pepper tapenade, roasted garlic cloves, spinach, and goat cheese. A lot of restaurants make good food but the service is often what makes them great. Derek and I agree that Rustica has some of the best waitstaff we’ve encountered.

10:00 p.m. @ Myrtle Street Tavern
The sounds of Led Zeppelin from down the street entice us, and as we get closer we realize that we are actually hearing a live band (The 220s) covering Zeppelin and nailing it. We meet the pub owners’ daughter and her husband, who tell me that they used the Maine magazine wedding issue to plan their wedding this year. He shows us his wedding gift to her, which is a big tattoo of her name, Bree, in a banner over an anchor on his forearm. That’s love.

Sunday

10:00 [email protected] Knight Marine Service
After checking out, we head down to the Vinalhaven/North Haven ferry terminal with our coffees. The wind whips across the cluttered yard where boats have been stored hull to hull in their cradles. The sounds of clanging halyards and luffing vinyl tell me the boats are eager for the action of the coming summer season. So am I.

______________

Sophie Nelson, Associate Editor Friday

3:00 p.m.
It’s sunny in Portland, and the ride north is clear and bright. The snow’s mostly gone and the ground and the woods are the color of paint water. But the setting over the marshes of Wiscasset and Woolwich makes me think of Rumpelstiltskin and his gold. Route 1 is striking in any season.

5:00 p.m. @ Camden Harbour Inn
Upon entering the gorgeous boutique inn, we are greeted by Patty. She hands Max and me a certificate for complimentary glasses of Prosecco by the fire. A kind young man named Top leads us up two flights of stairs to our room with views of the water and a bed that looks like it might swallow me up in all its fluffy bright-white goodness. Every detail has been attended to. There is a bottle of wine on ice and Top mentions turn-down service. After getting settled in the Batavia room, we head down to the lounge. Two walls of windows showcase a panoramic view of the harbor and blue-hued mountains speared with mastheads and steeples. We take a seat on the deep purple couches beside the fireplace, sip our wine, and take deep breaths.

7:30 p.m. @ Long Grain 
The dining room is small and bustling. We split pad ke mao noodles with tofu. The daily curry is a panang variety with beef, bamboo, and roasted peppers. The curry-soaked beef falls apart between our chopsticks and the homemade noodles are the best I’ve ever had.

Saturday

 

7:00 [email protected] Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn
We wake up to a tie-dye sky of orange, red, and purple over the water. I spend an hour or two dipping in and out of sleep before heading downstairs. Breakfast is served in the dining room of Natalie’s, the inn’s award-winning restaurant. To start, we each receive a small smoothie accompanied by fresh fruit. Max and I share eggs Benedict with lobster and Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and local honey.

8:30 a.m. @ Beauty Mark Spa
The incredibly talented massage therapist, Jessica Kent, untangles the various knots in my back and neck during a one-hour Swedish massage. Afterward, I chat with Jennifer Ross-Boshes, the owner. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll have to book a facial with her—I have heard from brides featured in our wedding issues that she’s a truly outstanding esthetician.

10:00 a.m. @ Camden Hills State Park 
The Maiden Cliff Trail is perfect—steep enough to quicken the heart and short enough to fit into a busy day. We reach the end of the hike and relish the expansive view of Megunticook Lake and the ocean beyond. We take a seat on a rock and point out places below that intrigue us.

11:30 a.m.  
We drive along the lake, and find our way down a finger of land we admired from the mountain. It’s spotted with old cabins, a dreamy white farmhouse, and a ramshackle one with black cats leaping around its junk-filled yard. We acknowledge the numerous “no trespassing” signs and retreat.

12:30  p.m. @ Boynton-McKay Food Co.
Walking into town from the hotel, where we’ve parked for the afternoon, we run into a mailman and ask him where he recommends we go for lunch. In the apothecary-turned-eatery on Main Street, we sit in a booth near the entrance and check out the dusty medicine bottles and pharmaceutical tools that line the shelves of the glass cases overhead.

1:00 p.m. @ Margo Moore Maine Home Interiors  
Margo Moore Interiors is a short distance from Main Street on Elm, and well worth the small detour if you’re on foot. The shop features a beautiful collection of furniture, linens, and other household items.

1:30 p.m. @ Maine Sport Outfitters 
Maine Sport offers a great selection of Patagonia, North Face, Keen, and other name-brand sportswear and footwear. We purchase a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee to use in the warmer months to come.

2:10 p.m. @ the Camden Merchant Co-operative
Gorgeous antique furniture, Peruvian wall hangings, and a room filled with cowboy boots of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I get a little lost in the leather.

3:30 p.m. @ Jo Ellen Designs
Rugs line the tall walls of the shop, and tables are covered with candles and other lovely trinkets. I take pictures of my favorite designs.

3:45 p.m. @ Chocolatier Blue
Maggi Blue helps Max and me pick out a variety of beautiful chocolates, including mimosa- and Grenache-flavored bites.

4:00 p.m. @ Stone Soup Books
A narrow staircase leads from Main Street up to the second-hand bookshop, which is packed floor to ceiling with great finds. We strike up a conversation with the owner, Paul Joy, and he talks poetically about life in Camden. Stone Soup Books just celebrated its twenty-seventh anniversary. We leave with a bag full of books and the Dylan song, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” stuck in our heads.

4:30 p.m. @ Bayview Gallery
The mostly realist artwork on display is exceptional but approachable thanks to its careful placement and gallery director Robert Colburn’s friendly manner. I’m particularly drawn to the work of Stefan Pastuhov, a Maine plein air painter.

5:30 p.m. @ Oakland Park Bowling Lanes 
We pick up Leanne and head down Route 1 to the vintage candlepin bowling alley recommended to us by a Facebook fan. We fill the jukebox with quarters and out come the classics as we bowl and drink beer. All told we spend about 15 bucks.

8:15 p.m. @ Suzuki’s Sushi Bar 
After resting at the hotel, Max and I make our way to Suzuki’s Sushi Bar in Rockland. The space relaxes me. Is it the mellow late-night crowd? The butter-colored walls? We order edamame and a “Keiko’s favorite” roll (a tuna variety with cucumber, tobico, scallions, and spicy sauce). Max and I are craving some soup. A bowl of udon noodles does the trick. To top off the night, we share a couple of scoops of toasted black-sesame ice cream, which is grainy like cookies and cream but not nearly so sweet. I love it all. And it’s so much fun to watch Keiko prepare omakase plates behind the bar.

10:30 p.m. @ Cuzzy’s
It’s karaoke night and the place is packed. Leanne joins Max and me and the three of us chat and people watch.

Sunday

10:30 a.m. @ Seaview Cemetery, Aldermere Farm + Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel
I join Leanne at the Inn at Camden Place. We’ve charted a jogging route to Rockport. We walk along the stone-walled edge of the cemetery and then head toward Aldermere Farm. The famous Belted Galloway cows are nowhere to be seen, but we enjoy the sight of rolling hills and mountain-crusted horizon. We miss the road to the Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel, but a kind fellow points us in the right direction. It turns out that he and his wife were married at the chapel, and I sense that he’s happy we’re making the effort to see it.

11:00 a.m @ Beauchamp Road 
We jog this stretch along the harbor, running into quite a few locals on one of this year’s first spring days, and take a break on flat rocks jutting out into the ocean.

11:30 a.m. @ Rokai
We catch up with Susan in Rockport and visit Deborah Chatfield’s new storefront. I absolutely love her aesthetic—simple, clean, timeless. Susan gives us a ride back to Leanne’s car and the group heads south to the Montsweag Roadhouse.

______________

Susan Grisanti, Editor-in-Chief Friday

7:30 a.m. @ Downtown Rockport to Beauchamp Point
The weekend starts early for me, when I travel up Thursday afternoon on business. I wake  up at the lovely rental that I will be calling home for the weekend, arranged for me by my friends at Camden Real Estate Company, and head out on foot through downtown Rockport. I pass Ralston Gallery, which exhibits both Peter Ralston’s fine-art photography as well as editioned Wyeth prints; Rockport Harbor, and the old lime kilns; Rockport Marine, one of the industry’s premier wooden boat yards; the Maine Media Gallery and Store, which houses Tim Whelan’s extraordinary collection of photography books; and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, where I always make a point to attend each new show.

I make my way to Beauchamp Point and walk along the path to the Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel, which stands on a rocky ledge overlooking Penobscot Bay. I am tempted to continue over to Aldermere Farm, but I’m running out of time. I make a mental note to return on May 12 for Calf Unveiling Day, when the farm is open to the public for tours and viewing of the new spring calves.

9:45 a.m. @ Maine Media Workshops and College
On my way into town, I wander through the campus and, as luck would have it, run straight into instructor, artist, and fine-art photographer Brenton Hamilton. He shows me his latest work—it’s absolutely fantastic.

10:30 a.m. @ the Goose River Exchange 
I meet with Ken Shure to get a sneak peek of an extraordinary new project that he and his wife, Liv Rockefeller of Two Ponds Press, just completed: a limited first edition of The Little River by Margaret Wise Brown. Ken then shows me the shop’s delightful collection of paper Americana and ephemera.

11:30 a.m. @ Zoot Coffee 
The bright and friendly atmosphere of Zoot makes it the perfect place for me to work between meetings.

2:00 p.m. @ Long Grain
I pack up my laptop and meet Annemarie Ahearn for a scrumptious lunch. As we catch up, I hear about the upcoming season of cooking classes and feasts at Salt Water Farm in Lincolnville, where I know guests will eat up Annemarie’s enchanting hospitality.

3:30 p.m. @ Cellardoor Winery at the Villa  
I head over to meet Bettina Doulton at the Villa, Cellardoor’s second “in-town” tasting room and gift shop. If you haven’t yet been to the Vineyard, a remarkable 68-acre farm, winery, and exquisitely restored 200-year-old post-and-beam barn in Lincolnville, I highly recommend a visit. But today, I’m at the Villa to hear about Cellardoor’s plans to demystify the sensory experience of wine. Inspired by the Perfume Bar at Henri Bendel and a course at the Culinary Institute of America, Bettina and her team have created a three-pronged “sniff, sip, and sample” approach that helps visitors recognize the aromas, tastes, and types of wines they enjoy, and then experiment with wine and food pairings. Add in the fabulous setting of the Villa, and you’re in for an indulgent experience.

4:30 p.m. @ the Farnsworth Art Museum 
I am running to fit in a visit to The Art of the Book show at the museum before I attend a Farnsworth Lecture Program talk. I take in the exhibition’s eclectic collection of rare, out-of-print, and first-edition books, including works by Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, C.D. Gibson, Rockwell Kent, and Dahlov Ipcar.

5:30 p.m. @ the Strand Theatre
The historic Strand Theatre is a beloved spot for film and live music. Tonight, I’m here for a fascinating, entertaining, and mind-expanding lecture by Mark Dimunation, which takes the audience inside the Rare Books Collection at the Library of Congress—the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

7:00 p.m. @ Shepherd’s Pie  
My friends have traveled up from Portland and are waiting for me at Shepherd’s Pie. I settle into the warmth of the dimly lit dining room and soak up the jovial vibe as I mentally shift gears from the stimulating lecture to a night of fun, food, and cocktails. It doesn’t take long.

11:00 p.m. @ Billy’s Tavern
We’re not quite ready to call it a night, but find that most of the town has shut down. I remember a place in Thomaston that’s worth an out-of-the-way ride. We find Christopher behind the bar, and he makes our time memorable with an expert tour of single-malt and Irish whiskey from the largest selection available in the state.

Saturday

 

9:00 a.m. @ Rayr 
My friend Zack and I wander down Pascal Avenue for a coffee. We find Rayr locked up and notice that they don’t open until 10:30 a.m. We don’t get two steps away when one of the owners unlocks the door and invites us in. He chats us up while he makes us one of the most delicious coffees either of us has ever had. I pick up a few bottles of wine after wandering through their appealing inventory.

10:00 a.m. @ Home Kitchen Cafe
To ready ourselves for a day of exploring, we fuel up on a hearty breakfast complimented by welcoming service.

11:00 a.m. @ Main Street, Rockland
We could easily spend an entire weekend exploring Main Street. Art galleries such as Dowling Walsh Gallery, Harbor Square Gallery, Archipelago the Island Institute Store, Asymmetrick Arts, and Carver Hill Gallery offer some of the best and most varied art we could hope to see. While shopping at fourTwelve, we are tempted by gorgeous clothing and home furnishings sure to satisfy even the most discriminating style hounds. The charm of Sweets and Meats Market and Trillium Soaps at the south end of Main is rivaled only by the beauty of Tim Van Campen’s rug designs and the exquisite experience of Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars at the north end.

2:30 p.m. @ Owls Head General Store
We’ve set our cravings on the famed Owls Head General Store 7-Napkin Burger for lunch. The beautiful drive puts us in the right frame of mind for the timeless charm of Owls Head. The delectable burger lives up to its celebrated reputation.

3:30 p.m. @ Bald Mountain Preserve
We hike up Bald Mountain where we enjoy getting our hearts pumping from both the climb and the breathtaking views of Penobscot Bay and the surrounding Camden Hills.

5:00 p.m. @ 40 Paper 
A group of friends is planning to meet for a drink, and we all rack our brains for the perfect spot. I remember hearing good things about 40 Paper. Our expectations are exceeded by the delicious experience. Part urban bar, part neighborhood bistro, the cocktails, atmosphere, and tastes served up by chef/owner Joshua Hixson and his wife Tara Barke are top notch. We make a plan to return for dinner very soon.

7:30 p.m. @ Natalie’s at the Camden Harbour Inn
To offset the whirlwind of activity from the day, we take the time to dress for dinner, which sets the stage for the extraordinary evening we’re about to experience. The flawless European style of Natalie’s mixes well with the menu—a modern take on classic French cuisine by chef Geoffroy Deconinck, who prepares delectable dishes such as pan-seared scallops with braised endives and black truffle sauce, and seared rib eye with bone marrow, parsnip puree and bread pudding with marsala and fontina cheese. Before the meal, we enjoy the luscious Conundrum #1 cocktail. We have trouble peeling ourselves away from the inn after this superb experience, so we retire to the comfy sofas in front of the fireplace before heading out for the rest of our night.

Sunday

9:15 a.m. @ Boynton-McKay Food Co. 
We meet Annemarie and her friend Josh for breakfast at this local favorite, where our crew goes nuts for “Wavos” Rancheros and the Skillet Breakfast: two eggs, home fries, jack cheese, grilled onions, and chorizo.

10:00 a.m. @ Maiden Cliff Trail 
Annemarie leads us up the trail to the Maiden Cliff Cross that sits atop an 800-foot cliff that drops straight down. We are rewarded with a magnificent panoramic view of Megunticook Lake, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding countryside.

11:30 a.m. @ Rokai  
I cross paths with Sophie and Leanne, and then with Deborah Chatfield, who invites us all into her fabulous new shop filled with unique home décor and furnishings—from a gorgeous wicker trunk to beautiful textiles and throws to exquisite copper kitchen antiques. We spend a good long while in her shop, each of us ogling our favorite items until we realize that we are late to meet Mali at our planned destination on the road home.

2:00 p.m. @ Montsweag Roadhouse
The Maine magazine crew gathers around a well-worn table with words carved into it by the many visitors who felt the urge to leave their marks. I can’t resist drawing an analogy in my mind with this magical midcoast weekend that has certainly left an indelible impression on each of us.

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