Belfast, Lincolnville, + Islesboro
48 HOURS-September 2012
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Steve Kelly, Sophie Nelson, + Jessica Goodwin
Steve Kelly, Associate Publisher
Interstate 295 heading north. My wife, son, and I are excited to be on our way. We get beyond the heavy traffic, and stop at the Bath Information Center for water. The Maine Eastern Railroad lumbers by as we walk through the parking lot. After enduring the summer traffic on our way out of Portland, the thought of a train ride is quite appealing. The attendant reminds us that the North Atlantic Blues Festival is in Rockland this weekend. Maybe next year.
6:45 p.m. @ Dolce Vita Farm
Our friend Jula Sampson tells us this farm is a must-visit, and she’s spot on. In addition to their gorgeous breads, Dolce Vita Farm recently started serving wood-fired brick-oven pizza topped with their own organic vegetables. The farm also has a couple of greenhouses, chickens, and big plans—they are currently adding a commercial kitchen to their home. You can order pizza via phone on select days for pick-up at their house and find them at the Lincolnville Farmers’ Market on Saturdays.
7:00 p.m. @ Norton Pond We drive a few miles up Route 173 and, just after it connects with Route 52, we arrive at Norton Pond. After the drive, delicious pizza on the water’s edge is the ideal antidote. There are only a few people here on this quiet night. After we eat all we can, we change into our swimsuits and jump into the clear, temperate water. Our son, Oskar, is the first to get in. He confirms that the temperature is perfect.
7:30 @ The Inn At Ocean’s Edge Tranquility takes hold as we meander down the narrow, gently winding road to the inn. It’s dusk and this classic shingle-clad inn glows in the warm light of summer. The artfully designed room has plenty of space and the decor by Brett Johnson and M.L. Norton continues the theme of tranquility we experienced on the drive in. Oskar and Jocelyn relax in the room while I head down to the pool for a quick dip. Afterwards, I’m ready for a good night’s sleep.
8:00 a.m. @ The Inn at Ocean’s Edge We wake to the vibrant smells of sea air and cooking bacon, and we head downstairs for breakfast. The inn offers the choice of a light buffet or full plates made to order. We grab fruit, coffee, and tea, and have delicious plates of eggs, bacon, and potatoes.
9:15 a.m. @ Dot’s + Green Tree Coffee and Tea Dot’s is a go-to gourmet stop for practically any meal. Every day, they create a diverse assortment of sandwiches, quiche, and baked goods that can be enjoyed in-house or picked up to go. I’m tempted to take one of everything. They also have a nicely curated collection of beer and wine, as well as a variety of unique soft drinks. We grab trail snacks and a few beverages before crossing the street to Green Tree Coffee and Tea. For the past three years, John Ostrand has been roasting coffee in Maine, following a move he made from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. John’s coffee and tea selections are robust. He pours a cup of Guatemalan coffee for Jocelyn and steeps an earthy, organic rooibos tea for me. We pick up a pound of beans and head north on Route 1.
9:30 a.m. @ The Beach Store We stop in to pick up some things we left behind: toothbrushes and ibuprofen. They have what we need, as well as pizza, drinks, sandwiches, and sundries.
9:45 a.m. @ Bald Rock Trail We decide to start our day with a short hike and find this gentle 1.25-mile trek to the summit ideal. The cicadas provide the soundtrack and the wildflowers please the olfactory senses—we truly cannot stop enjoying the lovely smells as we climb. At the top, we find a stunning view of Penobscot Bay. Even through the heavy, humid summer air, the view of the islands and passing ships is sublime.
11:00 a.m. @ Cellardoor
Winery We travel a little over a mile west on Youngtown Road from the trail head and arrive at the winery. Bettina Doulton has transformed this scenic winery into a destination. The tasting room’s horseshoe-shaped bar is full of people sipping wine, snacking on light bites, and gazing out at the beautiful hillside and vineyard. We grab chocolates, chips, and drinks, and plunk down on the plush stools and look out on the breathtaking vineyard and mountainside vistas. Oskar and I explore the property while Jocelyn sips some wine in the tasting room.
1:00 p.m. @ Lobster Pound
Restaurant At Bettina’s suggestion, we head to the Lobster Pound for lunch. Oskar has been asking for seafood all week long, and we are happy to oblige. You can either sit inside or on the attached porch. We choose the porch. For this family, the order is easy: fried haddock all around. Golden haddock and fries, and wide-open views of the Atlantic, keep the conversation at a minimum while we indulge.
1:40 p.m. @ Thorfinn
Expeditions We had hoped to catch a ride on their unique Presto 30 boat, aptly named Thorfinn, but it is now based out of Bar Harbor. It can sail into incredibly shallow waters (1.5 feet) and cruises at startling speeds (it’s hit 14.8 knots!). Owner and paddling instructor Chris Laughlin rents stand-up paddleboards (SUP) for use on Lake Megunticook or the ocean, if you’re certified. It will have to be next time for us since we have plans to head inland.
2:30 p.m. @ Sewall Organic Orchard On the south side of Levenseller Mountain is the oldest certified organic apple orchard in Maine. Five hundred and fifty trees, extensive blueberry fields, and sweeping vistas can be found at this orchard, which is open from late September to early November. Although closed at this time of year, we wanted to see the orchard and nurture the latent agrarian in me. If you get the chance, snag a jug of their raw cider (not preserved or pasteurized). You’ll be amazed by the flavor.
3:30 p.m. @ Fernald’s Neck Preserve It’s been a hot and sticky day with a lot of running around. We need to get in the water, and the area has plenty of ponds and lakes to swim in. We head out to Fernald’s Neck Preserve. Protected since 1969 and now managed by the Coastal Mountain Land Trust, the preserve boasts more than 300 acres. We soak up stunning views of the Maiden’s Cliff from where we swim before hiking up the short Balance Rock Trail. While the swim was much needed and refreshing, the huge boulder in the woods is an amazing sight all its own.
4:45 p.m. @ The Inn at Ocean’s Edge We make a quick trip to the inn for a change of clothes then we’re off to Belfast for dinner and a movie.
6:00 p.m. @ Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House We need to eat quickly to make it to the movie. We stumble upon Delvino’s. The restaurant offers well-prepared, classic Italian with selections of pasta and seafood as well as pizza and lots of grilled selections. We leave well fed and ready for the movie.
6:45 p.m. @ Colonial Theatre The chance to see a movie in a hundred-year-old theater is rare. The Colonial opened on the very day the Titanic set sail in 1912. With its stucco art-deco façade and rooftop mascot—an elephant named Hawthorne—the Colonial is a one-of-a-kind experience. I chat briefly with owner Michael Hurley and he beams with pride when the conversation shifts to Belfast. After the movie, we run into Mike Roy of Phi Home Designs and his daughters Avery and Eliza. They had been jumping off a pier and swimming at Bayside, a seaside community of eighteenth-century Victorian cottages—something we’ll have to fit in next time.
9:15 p.m. @ The Inn at Ocean’s Edge We end the night swimming under the stars.
9:30 a.m. @ The Inn at Ocean’s Edge We are wiped out from the long day in the sun, so today starts out slow. We grab a cup of coffee and a snack for the road, and bid the inn a fond farewell.
10:30 a.m. @ Chase’s Daily We head north on Route 1 to Belfast for what will be an epic breakfast. While there is a lengthy wait for a table, we are committed to experiencing this Belfast mainstay. The huevos divorciados are sublime, and we have another meal in near silence as we savor each bite from this James Beard-nominated family.
11:45 a.m. @ Belfast We spend some time wandering around town. I take my son into the Artisan Books and Bindery (the flagship store is on Islesboro) and browse their exquisite collection of books. Before leaving, I pick up a copy of the first Salt Magazine anthology—the original program was founded at my alma mater, Kennebunk High School, in 1973. Belfast is filled with art—in galleries and on the sidewalk. We spend some time peering in the windows, but it’s time for us to begin our trek home. We check in with my colleagues Jessica and Sophie and their friend Brittany at Lincolnville Beach before continuing south. When we reach Camden, Oskar reminds us that we haven’t had any ice cream all weekend, so we head to Camden Cone for the final weekend treat.
Sophie Nelson, Associate Editor
Max picks me up at the office and our weekend explorations begin. By the time we hit Wiscasset, our stomachs are growling. The line at Red’s Eats is shorter than usual, so we stop at the famous shack for a roll stuffed with sweet lobster (butter on the side instead of mayo mixed in, thank you) and a fried haddock sandwich.
8:15 p.m. @ Inn at Sunrise Point Not even five miles past Camden, which is all height-of-summer hustle and bustle, we find the inn—and ocean just beyond—down a tree-lined dirt road. The inn’s owner, Daina Hill, greets us in the main house, where the smells of baked goods and sounds of classical music fill the air. She shows us around the dining area, sun-filled conservatory, and library. Our room is perfect, with a private porch looking out over the water, a large bathroom with a deep tub, and—to top it off—a bowl full of cherries on the dresser.
9:00 p.m. @ Chez Michel We take a seat at the bar and order a gin and tonic for me and an Andrew’s Brewing Company porter for Max. Andrew’s, based right in Lincolnville, was the fifth draft-brew operation to open in Maine, which is saying something in a state widely known for its tasty microbrews. The porter’s smoky flavor goes well with a bowl of fish stew overflowing with fresh catch. We divide our attention between the Red Sox game and the conversation our neighbors at the bar are having about what to do with tomalley and the fishermen strike in Rockland Harbor.
6:30 a.m. @ Inn at Sunrise Point I enjoy a cup of coffee and a book of photographs by local artist Neal Parent on the porch before heading down to breakfast. Every detail is attended to—pomegranate juice arrives in a chilled glass and our plates of fresh fruit and Eggs Benedict are works of art. Hill and her thoughtful team even arrange for the ocean to take on the color and glitter of my mom’s eyes.
9:00 a.m. @ Windsor
Chairmakers + Swans Island There’s world-class shopping to do on the way from Lincolnville to Belfast. Windsor Chairmakers’ beautiful—and comfortable—chairs, with deep carved seats and handsome spindles, and Swans Island’s hand-dyed natural wool blankets are beloved for good reason. I’m also intrigued by Sleepy Hollow Rag Rugs and vow to check it out next time I’m in the area. Yard sales abound, and at one of them we purchase a small wooden horse to serve as a mascot for the apartment we’re moving into on Tuesday.
10:00 a.m. @ Belfast Belfast is a well-loved town. With a vibrant Main Street and a community of artistically minded folks, it’s the kind of place you want to belong to. Max and I wander happily through the downtown streets, dropping in on various retail shops, galleries, and artist studios, including the second-floor studio/galleries of Daniel Anselmi and Marc Leavitt displaying some of their beautiful abstract works. We find Neal Parent at his gallery, the Parent Gallery, and chat with him about Belfast. He came to Maine to camp 37 years ago and never left. I’ve heard many different versions of the same story, but I never tire of hearing it again. Next we head down High Street toward my favorite fabric store, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, where I find some green linen to turn into pillowcases. I purchase a collection of succulents at Brambles, a shop teeming with plants and other household goodies, and a three-dollar antique frame from the back of a truck. Kristen, who sells me the frame, recommends the nearby food truck Good ‘n’ You, but we’re too early for lunch. I’ve heard great things about Bay Wrap, too, so I add that to the list of places I’ll be returning to.
12:15 p.m. @ Dot’s + The Islesboro Ferry Terminal We pick up delicious sandwiches—roasted vegetable with mozzarella on rosemary focaccia for me, and a roasted turkey for Max—and head toward the nearby Islesboro ferry terminal. We pull the car up to the line designated for preregistered vehicles, roll the windows down, turn the music up, and enjoy our Dot’s creations with sparkling water while we wait for the one o’clock ferry.
1:45 p.m. @ Dark Harbor We’ve arrived on the grand island of Islesboro and, at the Facebook recommendation of Isla Schmidt and others, head toward the Dark Harbor Shop for ice cream. I’m told the Dark Harbor Cooler—mocha frappe with ice coffee—is a local favorite, so that’s what I choose. Delicious. The ice cream accompanies us on a brief shopping tour. We visit the Summer Shop, Artisan Books and Bindery, and the newly opened Island Cottage shop. The owner of the latter, fourth-generation islander Christie Ray Robb, encourages us to pick up another treat from Rosalie Joy’s Bakery, but a handwritten signs tells us she’s fresh out of goods. Next time. She also recommends that we hike around Turtle Head, so north we go.
2:30 p.m. @ Turtle Head The drive from Dark Harbor to the northern end of the island is beautiful. We rush past thick forests and rocky inlets, modest homes and stately mansions, a vendor cart, fishermen, and sunbathers on wide flat rocks. Finally, we arrive at the entrance to the path, park the car, and walk the loop taking in the beautiful views of the bay.
3:30 p.m. @ Ferry Road
We park the car by the ferry dock and lighthouse and meet up with local artist Brita Holmquist and her friends Dave and Mary. The five of us hop aboard her boat and cruise around the bay. When she learns of my love of seals, Brita heads toward a rocky stub of an island where seals are known to hang out. Sure enough, I see some sleek heads bobbing in waves and big speckled bodies lounging onshore. I could stay out on the water for hours, but we’ve got a 4:30 p.m. ferry to catch.
5:15 p.m. @ Inn at Sunrise Point This is the perfect place to recuperate. While Max takes care of some work in the sunny conservatory, I head down a staircase to the rocky shore and meander along the water.
7:30 p.m. @ The Youngtown Inn and Restaurant We head back toward Camden and take a short drive along Megunticook Lake on the way to our dinner destination. Around a bend, the bright white inn appears like a beacon of quaintness. In the cozy dining room, miniature kerosene lamps and vases filled with wildflowers add to the farmhouse feel. Our hostess, Irene, brings us butter and hot bread from a basket, and so the meal begins. We order a series of plates that are all comforting and delicious. The lamb chops and chocolate cake are standouts.
10:00 p.m. @ Three Tides Max and I head to Belfast to meet up with my colleague Jessica and her friend Brittany for a drink. Our local Marshall Wharf beers, enjoyed in the magical waterside beer garden, are crisp and flavorful.
8:45 a.m. @ Inn at Sunrise Point, Bayside + Levenseller Pond After another beautiful breakfast at the inn, we head to Bayside—a community of pastel-colored, gingerbread-trimmed houses in Northport—and walk along Shore Road. Then we take a dreamy drive to Levenseller Pond and dip our toes in the water while watching some high school kids try their hands at fishing. Around lunchtime, Max drops me off at Lincolnville Beach to connect with my fellow 48ers, and heads home.
1:00 p.m. @ McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack + Lincolnville Beach It’s time for a crab roll, conversation, and calibration.
2:30 p.m. @ Eat More Cheese Jessica, Brittany, and I wander around downtown Belfast, stopping into various shops and taking in some waterfront sun. Delicious samples from Eat More Cheese tide us over until dinnertime.
5:30 p.m. @ Salt Water Farm On Atlantic Highway, we just about miss the turn off to the oasis that is Salt Water Farm. The Sunday Supper starts off with a cherry cocktail beneath the cherry tree responsible for the cherries, and it continues in equal splendor, with dish after gorgeous dish of local food, much of it grown on the farm. We meet people from near and far. Jessica and I squeeze each other’s shoulders in a kinder version of that reality-confirming pinch. Yes, this is really happening. And yes, life is this good.
Jessica Goodwin, Events and Editorial Assistant
Friday 2:00 p.m.
I collect Brittany, my accomplice since the third grade, and we hit the road on a quintessential New England summer day. The two-hour drive flies by—a rush of soulful music, open windows, and glimpses of the lush, sparkling coast. And an excess of Swedish Fish.
5:15 p.m. @ Cellardoor Winery
We clink glasses as we take seats on the deck overlooking the green, rolling hills of the vineyard. We are here for the Lobster Lover’s Cooking Class led by Lani Stiles and Ryan Pierce of Megunticook Market. Brittany volunteers to help chef Ryan show the crowd how to pick a lobster like a Mainer. Then we enjoy a three-course meal consisting of lobster prepared in different ways and paired with wine carefully selected by Cellardoor Winery’s Bettina Doulton. My favorite dish is Lani’s red-curry lobster with jasmine rice and lots of coconut milk.
9:30 a.m. @ Belfast Bay Inn
I wake up to sunshine pouring in through a giant window, wishing my sheets at home were this soft. The location of the inn is prime—I sip a coffee from our suite’s balcony and watch people pass by at a lazy morning pace on quaint downtown streets. It’s clear that innkeepers Judy and Eddie poured a lot of heart and soul into the renovation of the two mid-1800s row houses that make up this beautiful boutique hotel. A breakfast of homemade coffee cake, yogurt with fresh fruit, and a spinach and feta frittata served by Judy herself is perfect.
10:30 a.m. @ Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railway We hop on board this cute little train for an hour-long coastal ride to Waldo. It runs mainly through the forest, which I imagine would be glorious during the fall foliage season. I feel like a tourist, but the postcard views along the Passagassawakea River are totally worth it. I buy a map of the New England railways and kindly thank our conductor.
12:30 p.m. @ Moose Point State Park We walk the short loop through the woods on Moose Trail and talk about our big plans to one day hike the Appalachian Trail. Lots of families are barbecuing. We walk down to the rocky beach, realizing how cool it is to be in a park where the forest meets the ocean.
1:30 p.m. @ Bellabooks This adorable shop is full of good reads and antique treasures. A small, old-fashioned blowtorch intrigues me but I opt for The Little Fisherman—the classic children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown—for my nephew and another Maine map for myself.
1:45 p.m. @ Yo Mamma’s Home
I admire a mirror with decorative tin edges that’s lined with vintage Mexican pin-up girls and try on some fun bangles. The store sells a good mix of new and old, including a bright Pyrex dishware collection that catches my eye. The ornate area rugs by Company C and other cute lines get me excited for apartment hunting.
2:00 p.m. @ Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. Tasting Room
Situated right on the waterfront in an old, rustic building that was once a grain silo, and then a lobster pound, this place is where it’s at. We are greeted by John, the friendly bartender who is running the tasting room solo. He gives us complimentary samples, from light to dark, of the eight beers on tap. The Illegal Ale-Ien is just right, so I buy a growler and he fills me up with a half gallon. The room is soon crowded with folks from here and away, some speaking with accents, all eager to try the famous brew. By 4 p.m., the growlers sell out and a few of the taps kick.
3:30 p.m. @ Belfast Co-op Store After an hour in the tasting room, we need some food. We head to the co-op located just behind our inn, where we buy some Asiago cheese from their specialty deli, artichoke and sundried-tomato hummus, and white wine from their generous selection. The co-op has been member-owned since 1976, and sells local produce, meats, bulk food, gluten-free products, and cosmetics. We are stoked to spend the weekend so close to this little gem and we return frequently for the essentials—wine, cheese, and chocolate.
4:45 p.m. @ Front Street
Shipyard We are lucky to catch wind of Miss Nina, a sailing company run by a husband-and-wife duo that offers trips out of Belfast, including a three-hour gourmet dinner cruise. Captain Dan and his wife Amy greet us on the dock beside their 61-foot wooden pilothouse ketch named after their eight-year-old daughter. We learn about their exciting life on the water as we indulge in Amy’s locally sourced meal of zucchini cakes, baked haddock, and roasted vegetables. We move to the bow to catch more of the warm breeze, and Dan brings us blueberry pie from a bakery called Let Them Eat Cake. Dan gives us binoculars and points out cormorants nesting on an old lighthouse and a mussel farm that supplies to local restaurants. As we head back, the calm bay reflects a cotton-candy sunset and we’re temped to take a dip.
9:00 p.m. @ Three Tides A fire pit is roaring at this waterfront watering hole by the time we arrive and the party is in full swing. Three Tides is owned by David and Sarah Carlson of Marshall Wharf, which explains why there are 17 delicious beers on draft. We grab two Big Twitch IPAs from the outdoor bar and take a seat at a picnic table next to the Bocce court. From the mountain of oyster shells nine-years high and counting, to the thrifty lampshades strung from above, we feel like we’re in a close friend’s backyard full of heirlooms and good memories. My co-worker Sophie and her boyfriend Max join us, and we chat with young locals who give us the scoop on the best swimming holes and after-parties.
10:00 a.m. @ Belfast Bay Inn Despite my ambitious intention to get an early start and run to the footbridge across the Passagassawakeag River, I do not. My accomplice, however, makes it out for a run and I awake to her loud, guilt-inducing heckling about wasting the day. We eat breakfast with Judy again because it is too good to miss. Today, the frittata has Gruyere. Yum.
11:00 a.m. @ Aarhus Gallery We can’t not stop to look at an installation titled Library by Abbie Read that lines an entire wall and front-window display of the gallery. It is a striking, colorful collage of individually crafted pieces, mostly old books, created over the course of two years.
1:00 p.m. @ McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack Brittany and I share fried scallops and onion rings, and we reconvene with this month’s 48 Hours crew: Sophie, Steve, Jocelyn, and Oskar. We picnic on the grass by Lincolnville Beach and do our ritual recap of the weekend. Max has to take off, so Sophie tags along with Brittany and me.
2:30 p.m. @ Eat More Cheese This gourmet shop has super-yummy rare cheeses from all around the world. We sample all the offerings and my favorite is the sheep’s milk P’tit Basque Pur Brebis from the Basque Mountains in France.
2:45 p.m. @ Good ‘n’ You We’re sad to see the famous food truck Good ‘n’ You closed, but it gives us even more incentive to return to Belfast. We’ve heard amazing things about Seth and Sarah’s rotating menu of healthy, local foods. We mosey along the waterfront and pop in and out of the open shops before dinner.
5:30 p.m. @ Salt Water Farm We are in town for a rare Sunday Supper cooked by an incredible woman—chef and farm owner Annemarie Ahearn. We bite into grilled mackerel salad over French lentils, grilled corgettes, and fava beans, while Annemarie tells us about how the fish were caught by her father from his kayak just hours earlier. She sources everything from either her farm or local markets, and she enticingly describes each course with the help of her coworkers. We chat with two gents from Cairo and two women from San Francisco. Sophie and I have no words to convey how delicious, fresh, and perfectly prepared the bounty is, or how much friendliness and warmth there is around a table of 30-some strangers. So we just catch each other’s eyes and laugh, confirming that there couldn’t possibly be a better way to spend this warm, blissful evening than on a farm in Maine.