Off Season in Maine

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We took a trip to Maine this past November for our 5 year anniversary. We shared a wonderful cottage on a cove in Phippsburg, Maine with 3 other couples, our dear friends, who also were celebrating their 5th. While November is definitely not thought of as a prime time to visit the craggy seashore of rural Maine, and we had one day that was very cold, and another that was rainy and windy, it still was a beautiful trip.fullsizeoutput_2965

fullsizeoutput_28a5The fun started before we even made it to the cottage. We drove a little north of Phippsburg to Boothbay Harbor, a place I have fond memories of going to as a child. We stopped off for lunch at the Tugboat Inn, which did indeed have a tug boat as part of the restaurant. It was a perfect Maine meal: fresh lobster rolls while looking out over the shining water dotted with pine trees perched atop rocky little islands.

fullsizeoutput_289cfullsizeoutput_2892We made sure to do a bit of antiquing and poked into the shops of Wiscassett, a quaint and historic little Main street community that was a joy to wander around in (even though the wind was whipping and cold!) We’re glad we took the back way down to Phippsburg, because we stumbled upon an old mansion perched on top of a hill. The sun setting behind it made for quite a sight. For those wanting to see it, it’s actually called Castle Tucker, it’s found on Lee Street in Wiscassett, and it is sometimes open for tours.

fullsizeoutput_2898fullsizeoutput_289eA highlight for me was waking up early on both mornings to take solitary walks. It’s always so easy for me to roll over and keep sleeping, but I’ve never regretted taking an early morning walk: it is so centering, calming, and makes the day feel accomplished before it even starts.

 

On Saturday morning I was graced with the sun streaming onto the white curtains, lovely and golden. I slipped outside and took a walk down to the point. The weather was sunny and brisk. Down on the docks there were fishermen getting their boats and lobster traps ready for a day on the water.

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fullsizeoutput_28f3Sunday morning’s weather was opposite: the sun was replaced by heavy rain and winds lashing against the house. All the same, I donned my rain coat and wellies and took my early morning walk. What a joy it was even in that weather! Exhilarating really. The waves were coming in fast and strong, but it was on the warmer side so I wasn’t uncomfortable with my face in the rain-filled wind. I stumbled upon some deer tracks, very fresh, leading right down to the water’s edge in the cove. I looked all around for the deer but must have just missed it.

 

fullsizeoutput_296bAfter the walks, I settled in to the cozy cottage and waited for my friends still sleeping peacefully to wake, one by one. A little trick that made the morning extra easy and enjoyable was pre-cooking oatcakes at home the day before we left for the trip.  That way, when I got back from walking, I could just heat up the oatcake on the skillet really quickly, top it off with berries and fresh maple syrup, and call it done! I will definitely do that again when taking a weekend trip. It’s so much easier cooking in your own kitchen at home and not having to deal with making batter and a mess was awesome. And people could heat up their own pancakes as they woke up. Just a little tip 🙂fullsizeoutput_28f5fullsizeoutput_28fffullsizeoutput_28fdThere are many activities to enjoy around the Phippsburg area. One that my husband remembered fondly from childhood was Popham beach and the fort at one end of it.  I loved beach combing there, I found little driftwood nuggets as we took to calling them. I took a few pocketfuls back home.fullsizeoutput_2902fullsizeoutput_28f2fullsizeoutput_2913We also took a little hike in the woods to an overlook and drove down a side road to discover little coves tucked away. Both of these were off of West Point Road in Phippsburg. There was a sign marking it with a parking area, but it’s best to drive all the way down because there is another parking area right by the cove. Unless you want to take a stroll of course. I’m sorry I forget what the cove was called, but it is on West Point in Phippsburg.fullsizeoutput_2912IMG_2893We made a couple of stops on the journey home. Freeport Maine is home to the L.L. Bean Factory store, which is really like a sprawling campus of stores and lucky for us they had reindeers in the outside barn area. Real reindeers! That was neat, and very unexpected. Our last stop was the Portsmouth Brewery, always a classic place to eat in that quaint Port town.fullsizeoutput_296dfullsizeoutput_2916So, in other words, a nice trip to Maine doesn’t need to be taken during peak season and you don’t have to pay a premium. If you split the cost of a rental with friends, bring food from home, and entertain yourself with free of charge hikes and beach walks, it really is a quite reasonable excursion. And there is little else more inspiring and beautiful than the craggy shore of Maine.fullsizeoutput_2944

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Common Ground

I made it to the Common Ground Country Fair this year, a haven for agricultural producers and creative makers, animal lovers and foodies, and just plain regular people like me. I’ve always wanted to check out this fair since reading about it on soulemama, yet something inevitably came up during the notoriously busy month of September, and I was never able to make it. This year though it happened! Here are some highlights from the wonderful event.img_0656

We entered through the Rose Gate, which brought us right into the farmer’s market section. I didn’t realize how gorgeous a farmer’s market could be. Instantly, I was in love with this fair! Every booth was thoughtfully and artfully set up, and there were dried flowers hanging everywhere and beautiful produce of all shapes and sizes. It was magical. We even managed to stumble upon a greenhouse just full of snapdragons in bright shades. There were fruit trees planted in grassy fields, with winding paths throughout. Children ran around happily and slid down a hill on cardboard boxes (summer sledding! that brought me back to my own childhood!). Within the first 15 minutes, I was smitten.img_0693

img_0671We wandered along to the fiber section, and I was blown away by Mindful Folk Farm‘s booth- they matched their flower bouquets to their hand dyed yarn and it was just gorgeous!! We then watched a sheepdog demonstration, which is always amazing to watch. What obedient dogs! (and sheep!) My friend and I had planned to line up our day with all sorts of fun and practical workshops, but instead we just wandered. I wasn’t disappointed at all in that approach, I was happy to get the lay of the land this year, and the next time I return, I will be ready to dive in to some workshops.img_0702-1img_0663img_0706-1

In summary, here is  what I loved and didn’t love about the fair.

What I loved:

  • healthy food vendors! (I had fresh fish tacos on a homemade gluten free tortilla with homemade sauce and cabbage – yum!)
  • no litter! (it just didn’t have that “trashy fair vibe” you sometimes find at fairs)
  • beautiful gardens and displays.
  • agricultural and environmental focus. (people who care about this planet!!)

What I didn’t love:

  • the traffic (we waited in stopped traffic for nearly an hour to park)
  • the crowds (they expected over 65,000 visitors in one weekend, I guess that shows how awesome it is!)
  • the price of the food (but isn’t that all fairs??)
  • the heat- record breaking for that time of year in Maine- but that’s not the fair’s fault!

Getting there: The fair’s physical address is 294 Crosby Brook Road in Unity, Maine. There is parking all around, and it’s well marked (just follow the traffic!) We ended up parking over a mile away to avoid sitting in more traffic, and opted to walk in on a lovely dirt road with beautiful country views. We took a golf cart shuttle to get back to our car at the end of the day however, as we had done enough walking for one day 🙂

For 2018’s fair date, check out the Maine Organic Farmer’s Association, and mark your calendars for next year! I sure would like to return to the Common Ground Country Fair.

 

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