Saturday, August 31, 2013

Maine: Off the Grid, and What I Did There

Hi everyone.Something really weird has happened, because it is all of a sudden the end of August and I have no idea how that is even possible.

Sorry for the unannounced, unofficial, semi-unintended break that I appear to have taken from the blog this summer.I've thought about doing blog posts constantly, surely that counts for something?Yeah, I didn't think so either.But, here I am again, still in one piece, still unbowed.And while I know that the entire internet world is just waiting with a two-month baited breath for me to finally pony the fuck up and talk about Egypt, I figured that to finally break my silence, I should at least explain what exactly it is that I have been doing instead.

You already know about Pensacola and that wonderful month I got to spend with my sister, brother in law, and their brand-new baby son Paxton.But then I flew home, and was here in Virginia for something like three days, before I got in the car and drove up to my parents' cabin on Lake Pemaquid in Bremen, Maine.

Unnamed as of yet.Ideas?

Inside our modestly adorable abode.

The idea was that I would have around a month up there on the lake in blissful serenity, writing my head off, cooking and eating good things, and taking daring road trips on uncharted paths to see bits of the last great eastern wilderness.

But for better or for worse, that's not what happened, pretty much.I did get in one hiking trip on Mount Battie, and that will be a post all its own.I did not get to Canada, which kind of breaks my heart a little, but for a variety of reasons it just wasn't in the grand plan this time around.I discovered a few things about myself, not the least of which being the fact that I was far more bothered by the lack of internet at the cabin than I ever thought I would be.I didn't get a blessed thing done -- not even blog post drafted.My resume remained un-updated.There was a fair bit of hanging out at the floating dock, a respectable amount of lobster consumed, a few card games won (and lost), and a manful quantity of gin n' tonics sipped in the sunshine alongside slices of cheese and pepperoni.Maybe it wasn't exactly the vacation I envisioned, but it was the one I had and, especially when I look back through my pictures to remind myself, it was pretty amazing.

I spent about three weeks up in Maine, which is less than I'd planned but ultimately decided to come home early in the hopes that I'd actually able to get a single fucking thing accomplished.I'm very excited and determined to go abroad again, and the time is long past due to be focusing on making that happen.

Because I can't (or really just plain don't want to) relate day-by-day happenings during all this time I was Off the Grid, here's a few sights and surprises that helped to make my time up there special.

This little harbor town is just adorable, and has always been one of my favorite Maine destinations from when I was a little girl.Of course, it's completely subsumed by tourism, but if you want to come back from Maine with a little stuffed loon that makes noise when you squeeze it, Boothbay is the place to come.There are also more than several good restaurants in various degrees of fanciness, ranging from Not At All to You Probably Shouldn't Wear Shorts and Flipflops Here, But We'll Still Cheerfully Serve You If You Do.

The always slightly-awkward selfie.Mom and me in pretty Boothbay.

There is also the , a lovely local hall that hosts a variety of evening entertainment.We saw a sort of "Classical Music Medley" there one night, and it was quite excellent.Bach to Copeland, with some Romanian folk thrown in for fun.Recommended.

, and

As I mentioned, my one Great Adventure this trip was hiking up Mount Battie (and getting pretty wet and lost on the way down).If hiking poorly marked trails isn't your thing, you can also drive up from the base at Camden Hills State Park.The view of the bay and Camden down below are not to be missed.

From Mount Battie, looking down at Camden Harbor

Note:The actual hike up to Mount Battie itself was stupid easy and I'm pretty sure anyone could do it with little difficulty.MY trouble came when I decided to hike from Mount Battie to Mount Megunticook, and lost my way in the middle of fog and a pouring rainstorm.So, as long as you don't let that happen to you, a hike up and down is a very pleasurable way to spend two hours.

Camden itself could pretty much be Boothbay -- it's crazy cute with plenty of Maine kitch, local art, and restaurants.The one downside is that Route 1 runs straight through town, which can make for bad traffic getting in and out.As it happened, I got to walk through Camden during my hike, but due to certain extenuating circumstances I decided not to stop anywhere.

Another place my family has been visiting since I was little, Pemaquid Point has some of the best rugged coastline I've ever seen.Kids will be entranced, mothers will be flipping out.The lighthouse is quite pretty and picturesque too, and you can go up to the top, which we did not due to crowds.

Nearby Pemaquid Point is Pemaquid Beach, one of the few stretches of sand in midcoast Maine's rocky coastline.Beware, this ocean water is about the coldest thing I have ever put my feet into, and you would not get me to actually swim here for a hundred dollars.I might be convinced to do it for five hundred.However, it is a beautiful spot, and quite excellent for relaxing on a sunny afternoon.Mom and I went in the early evening and the light was just perfect.We lay on the sand for probably half an hour, just sort of silently hanging out.

My family may have been going to Maine since before I was born, but it wasn't until this very spring when we finally graduated from "tourists" to "summer people."Which I guess some folks may say isn't much of an improvement, but it's sure felt like a hell of a one to us.Anyway, we've gone for decades to Shaw's Wharf for lobster, steamers, onion rings, and the prettiest view around.This year, our neighbors made sure to tell us that Shaw's is a tourist trap, and we'd be better off buying our lobster out of a cooler direct from the fishermen, like they do.But we can't stay away from Shaw's.To us, Shaw's and lobster are ONE.

Serious business.

Lobster feast vanquished!

Rachel Carson's Salt Pond Preserve

On the way to Shaw's, don't forget to stop at Rachel Carson's Salt Pond (if it happens to be low tide).More good rock hopping and photo ops, and probably a critter or two in the pond.

Rachel Carson's

Pemaquid Lobster Co-Op

On the recommendation of the neighbors, this trip we also checked out a new lobster spot, Pemaquid Lobster Co-Op.Decidedly less touristy than Shaw's this place had excellent lobster for pretty excellent prices.I got two softshells for $15!!I'd say Shaw's by far has the better view and atmosphere, but if what you're looking for is a hidden local dive where said locals come to tuck into some serious seafood, this is your place.Oh, and BYOB. :)

Iconic Maine view from our Pemaquid Co-Op picnic table

Right, so wine and wineries wasn't exactly the first thing I thought of when someone says "Maine", either.But on one cool drizzly day I convinced my Mom that we should take a picnic and check out a couple wineries that I'd seen signs for off of Route 1.

We ended up visiting three:, , and .Savage Oakes was nice but really small, and I thought that their wines were kind of on the sour side, especially the whites.Sweetgrass was pretty cool; it's a distillery as well as a winery, and we got to try cranberry gin, apple brandy, and vermouth in addition to a nice array of wines and ports.I bought a cranberry port that's pretty good.My favorite wine at Sweetgrass was their "Bluejolais".See what they did there?If you love blueberry wine or think you might love blueberry wine, come to Maine.They have more varieties than I ever even though possible.Our last winery, Breakwater, had the nicest indoor facilities and the sweetest tasting lady.I really liked their Pinot Noir, that was so light it was almost a Chambourcin.

We had our picnic at Sweetgrass, with this incredible view for company.

But seriously, out of all of this, my very very favorite thing to do on this trip was to hang out all afternoon on the swimming dock, reading, chatting, listening to music, taking a dip whenever it got too hot.Drink in hand, unhealthily delicious snacks on the table.It really doesn't get more perfect than this, folks.

The path down to the floating dock.

Dad fishing on our new rowboat, the intrepid Tiny Whitie

It is so incredible to think that my family owns a tiny piece of this paradise.It was amazing to be up there, and so hard to decide to leave it in favor of, well, what passes for my normal life, and getting that up and running again.I'm ready to be on the move, ready for my next adventure, next incomprehensible language, next plate full of weird food, next classroom full of sweet shrieking little monsters.

But for a little while, I got to do this.I am a very blessed person indeed.
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