Lincolnville, Islesboro + Belfast
48 HOURS-September 2013
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Katy Kelleher + Kate Gable
Kate Gable Art Director
Joe and I depart Portland too late for the Front Street Shipyard tour we had planned with president J.B. Turner. I’ve been hearing about what a positive influence the shipyard has had on the community, keeping good company to already-established Stephens Waring Yacht Design and French and Webb Custom Boat Builders. The tour will have to wait./p>
7:30 p.m. @ The Alden House Inn
The drive to Belfast is beautiful. As always, I am excited as we come down the familiar hill of Main Street. As we pull into the driveway of the grand Victorian I can tell we are in for a treat. Co-owner Larry greets us and helps with our bags as we walk along the perennial-lined crushed stone walkway and up the front steps. We’ve never met but I feel like I am arriving at an old friend’s house for a relaxing stay. This beautiful Victorian is a real prize, and co-owners Larry and Rose are the perfect pair to run the place. Rose has a background in hospitality and Larry is an amazing chef and host. Our room is cozy, and I especially love the marble vanity top, designer linens, and view of the gardens. Outside our door we hear acoustic guitar. We think it’s Larry, but when we get to the parlor we see that it’s a friendly artist who is staying here while attending a watercolor workshop.
8:15 p.m. in downtown Belfast
Our walk to Three Tides is perfectly timed. The sky is enflamed with red and gold as locals take their places on the benches in the park to watch the show. We admire the top-floor apartments with the great views. A traveler in a Casita Travel Trailer offers us a peace sign.
8:30 p.m. @ Three Tides
We order Marshall Wharf brews in the biergarten while waiting for our table. If you’ve never been here, picture outdoor waterside lounging with craft beer, a huge chimenea, bocce ball, and colored lights hanging from wharf rafters. The dining deck is illuminated by tea lights in mason jars. We order the specialty cocktail made with cucumber, basil, and vodka. It’s the perfect companion to a dozen oysters. Joe gets a text from his friend Sue. While on vacation from their gig as stewardess and captain of a 100-foot yacht, she and her partner Louis are passing through Belfast. We sneak up on her and her friend Heather and spend the rest of the evening catching up.
9:00 a.m. @ The Alden House Inn
I am excited to have my coffee in a rocking chair on the wraparound porch right outside our window, but first we have to try Larry’s breakfast. We start with chilled melon, followed by mango soup garnished with strawberry and mint, then a variation on an old classic: shirred eggs. Sautéed wild mushrooms and shallots, fresh garden herbs, Swiss Hoch Ybrig, from Eat More Cheese, and ham from Rosemont Market in Portland.
10:00 a.m. @ Main Street
On our walk down to the park we stop into Northern Lights Gallery and peek in the windows at Left Bank Books. Joe dips into Out of the Woods to check out their local wood creations while I venture into Coyote Moon. Filled with excited female shoppers, this store has clothes, hats, jewelry, and a huge array of candles and decorative items for the home. We can’t help but take a walk outside of Front Street Shipyard to see what they are working on. As always, what we see prompts conversation of what our next boat will be.
10:30 a.m. @ Arts in the Park
Dozens of white tents filled with art and crafts line the water. I’m impressed by Ron Cowan’s sculptures of faces carved in wood, perfect for an enthusiastic gardener. The Belfast Bay Fiddlers finish up before the Bad Daddys take the stage. Paul Waring from Stephens Waring Yacht Design is the lead singer and guitarist. These guys successfully get a midday crowd feeling the rhythm and blues. As we listen, we notice paddleboarders near Belfast Paddle Sports attempting simultaneous yoga. I definitely want to try that!
12:00 p.m. @ Laan-Xang Cafe
All of this walking around is making us hungry. I grab a shady seat beneath a bright orange awning. We enjoy iced tea, coffee, and some fresh spring rolls.
1:00 p.m. @ Marshall Wharf Tasting Room
Time to try more of this local craft beer. We walk into the tasting room and wait our turn as a group finishes. The Maximillian Imperial Red Ale is packed with flavor. My favorite is the Deep Purple Rauchbier, full of smoky flavors. I could sip these creative concoctions all day.
1:45 p.m. @ The Good Table
We make our way up Main Street and pop into the Good Table. We are in the market for a new coffeemaker and this kitchen store has a wide range of options. My favorite design is made of stainless steel and wood; I stare at it as if I am choosing my next car. Indecisive, we decide to sleep on it.
2:10 p.m. on Main Street
The perennial gardens inherited with our new home have inspired a passion for gardening. Brambles not only satisfies my green thumb but also gets me dreaming about filling my (someday) renovated bathroom with French soaps and bath products. A compost bin entices us into the Green Store seen from the sidewalk. We also walk into Northern Lights Gallery and find the perfect wedding present for our friends Mali and Derek. Next, it’s Eat More Cheese. This adorable store carries the finest selection and I love the golden-colored walls.
3:30 p.m. @ City Park
The onsite snack hut, the Co-op Grill at City Park, is provisioned by the Belfast Co-op. Having just visited the co-op downtown, I can only imagine what a following this food hut must have. This park also has a public pool and beach, too. We park-hop to Moose Point next. Along the way we notice kids jumping off a stone wall at a local swimming hole.
4:30 p.m. @ Young’s Lobster Pound
Even though we have reservations in a few hours at Belfast’s new restaurant, the Gothic, we have heard we can’t miss Young’s. This lobster pound with picnic tables beside the deep blue water definitely lives up to my expectations. We order lobster rolls and wait for our number to be called. I’m wishing we had brought a chilled bottle of white like others I notice. They have it down to a science; some have even brought their own tablecloths and salads. This is a Belfast staple.
6:30 p.m. @ The Alden House Inn
We head back to the Alden House to shower. While we are there we enjoy some sun tea, lavender short bread, and a quick nap.
7:45 p.m. @ The Gothic
We are surprised and happy to run into Jon Poto, who was the general manager at Havana when we went to Mount Desert Island on our first 48 Hours trip. He recognizes us and offers us amazing old-fashioned cocktails. This place offers a truly awesome experience. Opened by chef Matthew Kenney, recognized for his unique take on vegan and raw food, the menu is prix fixe. You simply choose from one of three categories—SOIL, SEA or LAND—and the chef prepares three courses incorporating local ingredients which beautifully complement one another. We are very impressed by the waitstaff and their knowledge of the food and the restaurant’s philosophy. Sue tells us how taken she is with the market in Chase’s Daily and how genuine the eat-local movement feels in Belfast. In between gestural sailing stories, new courses continue to arrive. By the time the dessert comes we are in culinary shock. These creative desserts are taking our taste buds to new, exciting places. The smoked chocolate with almond and biscotti is decadent and Joe’s berry lollipop plate looks like contemporary art. We meet and compliment the Viennese pastry chef, Lisa Mueller. After taking a photo with the crew, Joe and I say farewell to Sue and Louis and head back to the Alden House.
8:45 a.m. @ The Alden House Inn
Larry has done it again. This morning it’s ployes, peaches, and white cherries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, followed by hearty blueberry pancakes and bacon with an orange garnish that visually jumps off the dark stoneware.
10:00 a.m. in downtown Belfast
No trip would be complete without Joe putting his long boarding stamp on the town. He gets the perfect “no traffic” window and weaves his way by the brightly colored buildings of Main Street.
11:00 a.m. @ Rollie’s Bar and Grill
We don’t want to leave Belfast without hitting Rollie’s. We stop in for a light lunch bite before hitting the road.
12:00 p.m. @ Treasures and Trash
Larry and Rose recommend a visit to Treasures and Trash in Searsport to aid us in our search for old barn windows. This place is salvage heaven. It’s so much fun to sift through, from old windows to vintage glass bottles.
1:00 p.m. @ Liberty Tool Co. + Rhubarb
While Joe goes into Liberty Tool Co., which is filled with great finds, I head across the street into Rhubarb—“A little tart, a little sweet. Fine furniture and Antiques.” This colorful store in Liberty has a perfect selection of curated antiques and nostalgic accents for the home. I enjoy meeting Darcie, the owner, a fellow ginger.
There is something to be said for traveling alone. Although you don’t have the comfort of another breathing being in the seat next to you, you also don’t have to ask anyone if it’s okay that we stop here, or if they mind your peculiar music choices. Alone, driving up to Lincolnville, I felt like I was floating. Despite the oppressive summer heat, I was light as a feather, following my every whim. I stopped there for iced coffee; dipped my feet in that river. I had an entire day stretched out in front of me, as hot and empty as the seemingly endless stretch of asphalt. It is a sweet kind of selfishness, one that tastes like the milky patina of the sea on skin.
2:30 p.m. on Route 1
My restless excitement leads me down side roads and into stores stocked entirely with fireworks. In Warren, I stop at the Stemwinder Sculpture Works and Gardens to check out artist Jay Sawyer’s metallic playground. It takes me over six hours to get from Portland to Lincolnville, which has to be some sort of record for slow, lazy travel.
3:00 p.m. @ Inn at Sunrise Point
Pulling into this beautiful property, I am greeted by a lush garden of bright summer flowers that line the pathway to the main building. The inn is composed of several separate cabins and buildings, each one more picturesque than the last. The entire affair sits atop a rolling green lawn, dotted with Adirondack chairs, and terminates in a rocky climb down to the ocean. That’s where I’ll be going.
3:30 p.m. @ Lincolnville Beach
After wading into the cool water at the inn and soaking in the beautiful view of the rocky coastline, I decide to seek sandier shores at the Lincolnville Beach. Restaurants and shops have popped up around this stretch of sand. Beach-appropriate provisions can be found at the Beach Store, and I run down the row of restaurants which aim to feed relentless summertime seafood cravings. The Lobster Pound offers good beach food in a casual setting, while Whale’s Tooth Pub and Restaurant is cozier, a colonial-style outpost serving fresh pub food and Lincolnville-made brews and wines.
4:30 p.m. @ Rockport Marine Park
Although there is no activity I enjoy more than swimming (except perhaps eating), I had to get out of the water at some point. I let the air dry my tangled mess of hair as I drive south again, backtracking to the Rockport harbor, where ships bob and sway in the late afternoon light. I wander around the property, snapping pictures of boats and lobster traps and other bits of nautical detritus.
5:30 p.m. @ Shepherd’s Pie
Compared to driving, eating alone is a more challenging solo activity. You either close off conversation, pouring excessive attention into your meal, or you sit back and open your face to the room. I choose the second option, and soon find myself chattering away with a group from Kittery. My order of fried green tomatoes appears, and the group makes quiet humming noises of culinary appreciation. With shredded radishes, a crunchy cornmeal crust, sweet crabmeat, and a lashing of green goddess dressing, this appetizer tastes every bit as good as it looks.
6:30 p.m. @ Cellardoor Winery at the Villa
After polishing off my mini-meal, I head down the road to the Villa. My coworkers at Art Collector Maine are celebrating the opening reception of their latest show, and I want to see what’s inside. Immediately, I’m approached by the artist himself, William B. Hoyt. “We’re friends on Facebook!” he says, by way of introduction. I recognize him, too. After a few minutes of wondering at his beautifully realistic style and talent for depicting sassy chickens, I spot Maine magazine photographer, Sean Thomas. He’s hard at work, but we make a plan to go swimming after the reception. My self-induced solitude has to end sometime.
8:00 p.m. @ Megunticook Lake
We wade into the water slowly, moving incrementally closer to the floating dock. Finally, with a burst of bravery, I strike forward and swim in the cool, clean water of the lake. We reach the dock, which is empty at this time of day, and marvel at our surroundings. At least, I do. This is familiar territory for Sean. Our lazy summer reverie is broken with a jolt as lightning strikes the lake and tingles up my arms. A decision is reached quickly, and we take off toward shore at a pace that could give Michael Phelps a run for his money. We emerge from the water scared, but safe. Sean collapses on the grass, and I start laughing breathlessly as my fear turns into something else. We survived the elements! I am indestructible and life is good.
8:30 a.m. @ Inn at Sunrise Point I’m joined this morning by my boyfriend Garrett, who arrived late last night. We head to the dining room to feast on fruit cups and French toast while we plan our day.
10:00 a.m. in Lincolnville Center
Our summer intern, Drew, told me about the annual Strawberry Festival, which takes place this weekend. Even though we just had breakfast, I decide I must have some strawberry pie. This fun little fair is rich with berries, lawn games, and even a brass band that plays its tunes from seats inside an 18-wheeler.
11:30 a.m. @ Saturday Cove Gallery
I need to do a little gift shopping, so I convince Garrett to stop in at this bright and colorful shop. Stocked with antiques, artwork, and locally made gifts, it’s a treasure trove of options.
11:45 a.m. @ Conklin’s Maine Mercantile + City Drawers
My search for the perfect present takes me to Belfast, more specifically to Conklin’s, where every item is American-made and rustically beautiful. I’m particularly taken by the kitchenware—polished wooden bowls gleam along the grain, and printed linen napkins (adorned with lupines) practically call my name. I don’t have time to stop in at City Drawers, but I’ve visited this great boutique before, and absolutely adore their comfy sleepwear.
12:30 p.m. @ Dot’s Market
The weather is so nice, and the view from the Inn at Sunrise Point so lovely, that we opt to have a picnic on the grass. On the way home from Belfast, we grab provisions at Dot’s. A fennel and mushroom salad, curried cold chicken, and a crusty warm baguette pair perfectly with the summer air—and with the bottle of chilled rosé we pour into paper cups.
3:30 p.m. @ Cellardoor Winery
Bettina Doulton, owner of Cellardoor, has been kind enough to arrange a tour of the vineyards for us. Our guide is knowledgeable and funny, and she drives us around in a massive golf cart named Dumbo as we try to sip wine without spilling. I come away from the experience with a renewed appreciation for vino.
6:00 p.m. @ Mount Battie
I feel sluggish and slow, so Garrett and I decide to go on a quick hike before dinner. Mount Battie is the perfect antidote to all the imbibing; the view from the top is beautiful, and working up a sweat feels cleansing.
9:00 p.m. @ Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House
We drive back to Belfast for a filling meal of veal and ravioli. Garrett and I split the entrées, but I prefer his veal marsala to my stuffed pasta. We finish our meal with a slice of cheesecake with raspberries. It’s fluffy and light, with a slight tang that plays deliciously with the tart fruit.
9:00 a.m. on the Islesboro Ferry
After a quick breakfast and seamless checkout at the inn, we set off for Islesboro. The ferry takes just 20 minutes to deliver us to the island, and we spend the next two hours driving around from beach to beach. Unlike many Maine islands, which are small and rather isolated, Islesboro is long and large. I daydream about moving here, buying an old house with a wraparound porch, and spending my summers seeking sea creatures in tidal pools. At one rocky ocean stop, Garrett hands me a sea urchin, its delicate pale shell empty and light, as fragile as an egg.
11:15 a.m. @ Artisan Books and Bindery
A bookstore on an island is perhaps the most romantic thing my literature-loving mind could dream up, and Artisan Books and Bindery does not disappoint. Shelves overflow with old classics and leather-bound tomes. It’s as quiet as a library and twice as charming.
12:00 p.m. @ The Dark Harbor Shop
We stop in at this general store to grab chips and sandwiches, which we inhale as we sit on the grass beside the store. All this exploring has made me hungry, but sadly it’s time to board the ferry and head south.
3:30 p.m. on Route 1
Since we took separate cars here, I drive back alone. I don’t mind—unlike Garrett I have nowhere to be and no work to complete, except this: wandering through Maine, stopping where I can, swimming whenever possible.