48HRS, The Online-Only Edition – March 2014
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Jeffrey D’Amico, Advertising Account Manager
Jeffrey D’Amico, Advertising Account Manager
5:30 p.m. North on I-95
After a great week of work, I’m excited to take on this adventure—and psyched to see a part of the state I’ve never been to before. The only thing that makes me nervous is the weather—figures there would be a huge storm on the day of my trip. But I load up my car, type in the GPS coordinates, and get ready for the two-hour drive north.
8:00 p.m. @ Newport Executive Cottages
I’m staying just a few miles outside the town of Skowhegan, and as I roll into the driveway, I’m struck by the beauty of this place. With the weather taking its toll on the roads, I decide it’s best to stay in tonight. But before I settle in, I head to a local grocery store to pick up my favorite bottle of Cellardoor wine and some cheese. The ultimate relaxing evening gets an upgrade when I turn on the television and switch channels to the football game.
I want to see the scenery, so I cruise along the streets, passing by lakes and snow-covered woods. After a few minutes, I come across the Vic Firth Drumstick Factory. I’ve been a music lover for as long as I can remember—it’s a bit overwhelming to see where such an iconic piece of equipment is made. I know I’ll have to check it out later. Another funny thing I notice along the road? A “no swimming” sign posted next to a frozen solid lake.
10:00 a.m. @ Back Country Expeditions
I set up a snowmobiling trip with Rachael and Brian owners of the expedition company, but due to the ice, Brian decides it’s to dangerous to ride on the trails they have. We pull out the sleds and have some fun in the open area around the lodge where it is safe. Brain informs me about their ATV rentals, and talks about the equipment they keep in stock. I find out that Back Country Expeditions will even meet you at the lodge, making their adventures even more convenient.
1:30 p.m. @ The Old Mill Pub on the Kennebec River
After my snowmobile trip, I meet up with photographer Kevin Couture for lunch. Kevin gives me some history on Skowhegan and we enjoy a nice lunch and great atmosphere. The views are amazing. In warmer weather, you can dine on the deck overlooking the Kennebec Gorge.
3:00 p.m. @ Oak Pond Brewing Co.
At lunch, Kevin recommends a local brewery, which is conveniently close by, and I decide to go check it out. As I walk in, I am greeted by the Chandler family—I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more pleasant group of people. They give me a full tour, describing every aspect of how the beer is made, and ending with a tasting of their brews. I am so happy I was able to visit this wonderful family-run operation; their story is really inspiring.
4:30 p.m. @ Vic Firth Drumstick Factory
As I am driving back to my cottage I notice the lights are still on, and I can’t pass up an opportunity to stop in and take a tour. There are pictures of musicians all over the walls, and I snap a few of my own to add to my album. Someday, I’ll show them to my grandkids.
6:00 p.m. @ Newport Executive Cottages
I arrive back to my cottage and find a gift bag filled with fruit tarts from a company called Oats Any Time. These are Maine-made, crumbly, delicious, sophisticated artisanal treats. They also happen to be gluten free and vegan. I try to eat just one, but that’s not possible.
7:30 p.m. @ The Pickup
The Pickup was recommended by quite a few people for dinner. How could I not try it out for myself? With the weather getting even worse, there are rolling power outages in town. But the lights are on at The Pickup, a community supported agricultural program and cafe, designed to provide farm fresh food to the people of Skowhegan. The beautiful thing about the cafe is that 90 percent of the food is locally sourced. From the artwork on the walls to the candles on the table, my experience was great.
10:00 p.m. @ Bloomfields
Not knowing the nightlife scene. I get a text from Matt Qualey owner of Qualey Granite & Quartz telling me I must try Bloomfields. So I head in to check it out and get into talking to some locals, who tell me a little more about the bar. Bloomfields also offers live music and a great selection of beer on tap. With the roads icing over, it’s time to call it a night, and I decide to head in early to be safe.
10:00 a.m. @ Newport Executive Cottages
I thought I would sleep in a little bit today, but as I open the curtains I’m so excited that the weather has broken and the sun is shining. I could not get ready fast enough to go do some sightseeing.
11:30 a.m. @ Kens Family Restaurant
I just missed breakfast so I am going through the menu and listening to suggestions from my waitress Danica, and we decide on the grilled cheeseburger. This burger is layered with sugarloaf dill pickles and sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches. For sides, I opt for the onion ring option. Good job Danica on the recommendation!
1:00 p.m. @ Kennebec River
I decide to walk off the meal on the Kennebec River footbridge. Elevated about 100 feet above the river, the scenic views were breath taking. This is definitely a prime photo op spot.
1:30 p.m. @ Empire Grill
As I come to the other side of the footbridge, I see the iconic Empire Grill which was part of the HBO show “Empire Falls.” Sadly they closed their doors in 2010, and it is now a Thai restaurant.
2:15 p.m. @ Muebles Antiques
I notice right across the street a tremendous antique store. Antique shops intrigue me, because you never know what you are going to find. This shop is filled with multiple rooms of the most unique items from all different eras.
3:30 p.m. @ The Bankery
The most popular bakery in town unfortunately was closed when I went, but I was lucky enough to have a piece of there cheesecake the night before at The Pickup. The cheesecake was so good I had to mention it.
4:00 p.m. @ Al’s Pizza
I was getting a little hungry and one of our social media followers had suggested Al’s. I drive over and find out they are renovating and are closed for three days, but I did get to meet owner Chad and his family, who provided me with some of their whoopee pies. They’re awesome. These pies have twice won the prestigious People’s Choice Award at the Maine Whoopee Pie Festival. Trust this whoopee pie lover—do not leave Skowhegan with out one.
4:30 p.m. @ The Skowhegan Indian
This must-see attraction in Skowhegan is the worlds tallest Indian, and towers over everything in downtown This sculpture is dedicated to the Maine Indians, and there currently a restoration process in the making to keep it around for years to come.
5:00 p.m. on the road
As my trip is winding down, I take ride around to a few places I didn’t get to go to this time. Gifford’s Ice cream was closed for the season, but I snap a few pictures anyway. I check out the New Balance sneaker Factory, which is one of the few athletic shoe companies that make sneakers in the United States. The Eaton Mountain ski area was closed due to ice, but I’ve heard good things. I also wanted to see Yogi Bears Jellystone Park, which did not fail me. I got see Yogi and Boo Boo! I head home happy with my trip and excited to come back.