This is only my third trip to Maine despite having always lived in the northeast. The first time was a two-week family vacation at Belgrade Lakes when I was about 14. I have fond memories of putt-putt boats, row boats, watching my brothers catch fish, the clear fresh air and of course of blueberry picking.
Twenty years ago, I attended my step-daughter's graduation from Colby up in Waterville. On that occasion, I enjoyed celebrating a mile-stone event on a beautiful campus and eating lots of lobster. It wasn’t until June 14, 2021 when we headed north to go Down East.
If you have read my earlier blogs, then you know that I love to travel to places where I can photo-capture beautiful landscapes, city-scapes, people and wildlife. Not feeling the allure of domestic plane travel after Kentucky, I thought a road trip would be in order and Maine checks all the boxes.
My husband is always telling me to travel light and so I generally just carry a pilot's bag, a camera backpack, and a personal bag. With a road trip, we could bring so much more to the delight of half the people in the car and the consternation of the other half. We have a FIAT 500, which I love because of its handling and gas economy, but it doesn’t have unlimited space. So, instead of packing the car to the gills, the compromise included adding only a small cooler, some yoga props and a pillow.
Because the weather is still variable in early June I recommend including clothing that can be layered as well as rain gear that is suitable for hiking.
A few summer outfits
Lightweight sweater or sweatshirt
Lightweight waterproof-windbreaker jacket
A thin down vest
Hiking pants - if you have the convertible type where you can zip off the legs that’s perfect
Short sleeve tops
Anything you can layer
Waterproof sturdy hiking shoes
Lightweight walking shoes
A backpack or day pack
First aid kit
Ok maybe too much…
While en route to Boothbay we stopped at the Broadway Delicatessen in Brunswick for lunch. I had the Veggie Reuben With steamed broccoli and spinach and it was amazing. My husband had the Broadway omelette and enjoyed that as well. Glad we stopped there. A favorite spot of the locals with a super nice staff
In July, 2016 I took an early retirement to travel and to pursue my photography. Shortly thereafter, I became interested in bird-watching and bird photography. Finding and snapping photos of these camera-shy creatures is a challenge and being able to identify the ones I have photographed is even more so. If you’re not learning, you’re not really living, so I accepted the challenge. Did that sound too “ex-teachery”? Meh, whatever. The Atlantic Puffin is a bird that I have longed to see after reading a post on Facebook years ago. I had hoped to catch sight of one during my trip to Iceland in April of 2019 but they were still out at sea. Having recently learned puffins breed off the coast of Maine, we booked a bed and breakfast in Walpole on the Pemaquid Point Peninsula and a spot on Hardy Boat Cruises in New Harbor.
Thousands of years ago, what is now Boothbay Harbor, was covered with glaciers. The topsoil eventually disappeared leaving the rugged shoreline that typifies Maine. We took a self guided tour which enabled us to learn a little about the history of the area including its checkered past. The fisherman, William Foster built his home atop the bridge that spans the harbor. As it turns out he also built a trap door in the floor and loaded boats that passed with his special brew. Needless to say, he was not alone in the effort to quench America’s thirst during the Prohibition Era.
On the library grounds we saw a whimsical sculpture of a boy reading books while riding on a magic carpet. What better way to demonstrate that reading will take you places.
The Boothbay area offers lots of hiking opportunities for those who want to get in touch with nature, get some exercise, see beautiful landscapes, and do a little bird watching.
Some of the places that we hiked while in Boothbay included:
Laverna Preserve Hiking trail. A little hard to find, between two residences, great path, probably my favorite in the Boothbay area 6/15
Lobster Cove Meadow Preserve 6/16
Linekin and Burley Preserves 6/16
And so, on our second day in Maine we were busy with hikes, walks, sightseeing, a visit to a small museum, art gallery, and a puffin cruise. After a 6:30 am zoom sunrise yoga class and breakfast we headed to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. The rainy day weather gave a luster to the rocks and intensified the red on some of the buildings.
While in Pemaquid we visited the Fisherman's Museum in the Keeper's House, and the Pemaquid Art Gallery followed by the Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve in New Harbor.
One stop recommended to us was a little hard to find. The Laverna Preserve, which boasts 3,600 feet of breathtaking rocky ocean shoreline and a 2.5 mile loop hiking trail, overlooks Cobble Beach and Leighton Head on the Muscongus Bay. The landmark to find it is a wind chime store on Route 32. Set back from the street, it is accessible by a right-of-way trail over private property.
Next stop Damariscotta
It is not uncommon to find others attracted to the same buildings but perhaps not for the same reason. As I tried to photograph this building there was a man also clicking away. My interest was the neon sign which spoke of bygone days. The man who has been vacationing in Maine for 55 years, told me that this is the only store that he remembers still being here from his childhood holidays.
Back to our accommodations to recharge my batteries (both figuratively and literally) and change into clothing appropriate for a boat ride. It would be quite warm if the sun came out and quite cool if it did not. Lightweight layers, layers, layers.
Our first attempt to see Puffins was canceled due to a tropical depression and rough seas. We were concerned that our second attempt would also be cancelled as it rained all day and was very foggy. Thankfully it was not. We arrived at Hardy’s about 2 hours or so before our scheduled departure which allowed us enough time to get a bite to eat and to board the boat before the crowds. This trip featured an Audubon Tour Guide who was studying to be an ornithologist. She not only had a wealth of knowledge to impart but was entertainingly enthusiastic as well. We learned that the Atlantic Puffin lives to about 30 years of age which she pointed out was shockingly older than she was. My husband noted in a stage whisper, 'been there, done that - twice.’
The fog was not a bad thing as the puffins stay close to the island to fish in that weather. So, the chance of seeing them actually was greater. Sure enough, we spotted puffin and black guillemot. Those two were “lifers” for me.
While the photos were ok, I would love to see the puffin again on perhaps a less foggy day. The lighting, and rocking of the boat necessitated an iso of 1000 or more so that I could set my camera speed fast enough not to get motion blur. That coupled with the drizzle gave most of the photos a somewhat grainy appearance. Out of several hundred shots I was able to salvage a handful.
If you go in the late afternoon like I did, make sure you make your iso adjustments before you get on the boat, Even though the birds don’t swim fast you should still set to a minimum iso 640 (if sunny) or 800 ( if sun mixed with clouds)in order to be able to set shutter speed high to compensate for boat shake If you try to change iso while boat is moving you could change image quality, mode, or color inadvertently. If you have a camera lens with an aperture of 4 or less, you might get away with an iso of 500.
Lots of photos to edit and select from for my website and some upcoming photo exhibits
The next morning we went to Boothbay Lobster Cove Meadow Preserve. It comprises 46.8 acres of wetlands, fields, and forested uplands. There have been sightings of over 140 migratory and nesting bird species here.
We went to Linekin and Burley Preserves for a moderate to challenging hike. I took my camera out of my backpack to capture this image of the sea.
For dinner in the Boothbay area we really enjoyed the Seafood Risotto and Fettuccine and Spinach topped with Grilled shrimp at the Boathouse bistro.
After dinner we saw several finches back at the bed and breakfast.
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Stay tuned for the 3rd and final chapter of our New England trip:
Bar Harbor Area.
If you missed the first part of our New England Blog: Connecticut and our second post-Covid 19 vaccine trip