I’ll warn you now…..this is going to be a packed post. I’m going to try to tell you all about our trip to Maine in one sitting – a big undertaking, but one that will give you all the highlights about where we stayed, what we did and – most importantly – where/what we ate!
My last post was about the beginning of the trip – the first part of Day 1. But it didn’t give you any insight into the end of Day 1; so I will start there and continue through the end of the trip!
Day 1 (halfway through):
- after we picked up Jeff in Nanuet we hit the road and made our way to Darien, CT and dinner at Estia’s Back Porch Cafe. The decor at Estia’s is funky and comfortable and the food is DELISH. Nate ordered French Onion Soup and a side of French Fries – he was obviously in a French mood! Jeff, wanting to recreate the superb meal we had at Estia’s Little Kitchen in Long Island last summer, ordered fish tacos. And I ordered the MTK Tuna “Burger” that came with a side of spicy Asian slaw. I didn’t taste anyone else’s food; but I was incredibly happy with my choice. My sandwich was served on a toasted English muffin and included an enormous tuna steak, crusted with sesame seeds and cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was so big that Jeff had to finish it for me, which I’m sure didn’t disappoint him. The spicy Asian slaw was the perfect accompaniment to my sandwich.
- After dinner we drove to and checked into the Hyatt House in Shelton, CT. Because we were full and it was on the early side, we needed a walk. So after a few minutes of settling into our room (which included a bathroom, bedroom and a living room/kitchenette combo with a pull out sofa), we got back into the car for a short drive to the campus of Yale. We walked around campus and New Haven for about 2 hours – happy to stretch our legs and digest a bit.
- My dad has often joked that Jeff needs to eat approximately every 15 minutes, so it wasn’t surprising to me when he wanted to pick up a pizza at Frank Pepe’s on the way back to the hotel. His reasoning – “I only had fish tacos at Estia’s.” Clearly he had forgotten about eating half of my sandwich! But I love his enthusiasm and couldn’t turn him down. So he went into Frank Pepe’s while Nate and I stayed with the car. I tasted the pizza, which was lukewarm by the time we got back to the room. I’d definitely be interested in trying the wood-fired pizza at Frank Pepe’s when it’s right out of the oven – based upon the coolish taste I had, I’ll bet it would be amazing! After our quick “snack” we dropped into bed with a plan to be on the road between 8:00 and 9:00 am.
- Although I am usually hassled for sleeping late, I was up and ready to go by 7:30. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and got on the road.
- We drove through Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire (for about 5 minutes) and finally arrived in Maine around noon. Our first stop, Bissell Brothers Brewery. Don’t worry, we weren’t corrupting a minor – Jeff just wanted to get some beer to bring back to PA to share with his BFF, Craig.
- After a short stop at BBB, we made our way to hotel (The Hyatt Place – downtown Portland) and, although our room wasn’t quite ready, we dropped off our bags and made our way to Commercial Street to wander through Portland. We strolled through some shops, made a stop at Harbor Fish Market to order some fish to pick up on Tuesday before leaving Maine, and a stop at Nine Stones Spa for me to pick up my birthday gift from my mom and dad. Thanks for the Kai perfume, Mimi and Pop-Pop!!!!
- Next we walked to the Portland Fire Department to see if Nate, a volunteer fire fighter, could get a shirt for his collection. He struck out on the shirt, but was able to talk with the chief and see the FD.
- In need of a reprieve from the heat, we made a stop at The Thirsty Pig for a beverage and a nosh. Our bellies were getting hungry, but we didn’t want to ruin our appetites for dinner at Fore Street.
- After a quick snack, we checked into the hotel, showered, changed, relaxed and walked to Fore Street on Fore Street for dinner. We were a few minutes early for our reservation so we started with a drink in the bar…..Nate had a fizzy blueberry juice, Jeff a Manhatten and me a glass of Albarino. After being shown to our table and taking a quick look at the menu, we ordered appetizers. Nate had a salad of mixed greens with a yummy vinaigrette and over the top croutons made from homemade bread crisped to perfection. Jeff had Wood-Fired Pork Belly with Allium Hush Puppies, Horseradish Mayo and Sunflower Shoots. I had the dish of the night – Jet Star Tomato Tart with Herbed Goat Cheese & Butter Pastry. We shared our appetizers with one another, ooh’ing and aah’ing as we ate. Although I could happily have stopped after my appetizer, I just had to listen to all the recommendations I received from students to try the Wood-Fired Mussels with Garlic Almond Butter – so I ordered those for my entrée. Nate ordered the Marinated Natural Half Chicken with Duck Fat Fried Sourdough and Wilted Greens, which we all agreed was incredible and still talked about days later. And Jeff ordered Garlic Scape, Sweet Corn and Ricotta Salata Ravioli with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Smoked Squash, which he billed as very good but not excellent. He has since told me, “I was jealous of Nate’s chicken to be quite honest with you.” Because our meals had been so good, we had to try dessert. Jeff ordered the Mini Ice Cream Sandwich with Hazelnut Coffee Ice Cream and Nate and I shared the Chocolate Custard Tart with Raspberry Coulis and Basil Ginger Ice Cream. The tart was incredibly rich – just what you’d want when you have a chocolate craving – and the ice cream was a wonderfully interesting combination of basil-y freshness and gingery warmth. It was a darn-near-perfect meal – the food was inventive and delicious and our waitress was friendly and attentive. The only thing that bothered me was that our waiter in the bar used phrases like “what are WE having to drink” and “OUR table’s not ready yet.” That’s just too touchy-feely and a bit condescending for my taste. But, as Frasier and Niles would say, the only thing better than a perfect meal is a perfect meal with one tiny flaw you can pick at all night!!!!!
- After dinner we set out for a walk to aid digestion, but decided to cut it short when it began to rain. We hit the hay in preparation for another early morning – the start of our kayak/camping trip.
- After a quick breakfast at the hotel and a quick checkout, we loaded the car, stopped for Jeff’s beloved ice block, made a quick stop for fizzy juice at Bow Street Market and made our way – with much enthusiasm – to LL Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School for the start of our kayak/camping trip.
- We met our guides – Ros and Pete – and our fellow islanders for the weekend, including (I apologize if I spell any names incorrectly):
- 4 members of a family having a boys weekend – Terry, Bryan, Kiegan and Brendan
- a couple from the Allentown area (near where I grew up) – Andrew and Angie
- a couple from New Brunswick – Andre & Johanna
- three brave women flying solo – Lorri, Ennie & Laurel
- Including Jeff, Nate and I we made a group of 16 who would partner up and paddle tandem for the weekend
- We had our orientation, packing session, lunch-making, lessons, stretching and finally headed to the dock to embark on our adventure.
- After leaving Flying Point we paddled around Sister Island, Upper Goose, and Lower Goose and finally made our way to camp on The Goslings.
- We chose our campsites, set up tents and “the restroom” and began exploring the island while we waited for dinner. We had wine/beer/fizzy juices and got to know our travelling companions. Then we sat down to a yummy lobster and steak dinner – Nate’s first lobster experience. Except for someone touching his food – he seemed to enjoy it!
- After dinner, the dishes were done and we trickled, one-by-one, to the beach for sunset and dessert – Pete’s specialty – Pineapple Upside Down ?Pudding? It was supposed to be a cake baked in a cast iron Dutch oven; however the mix was gluten-free, which if you’re not used to it, can mess up your camp cooking skills!!!! However it tasted great and less-than-firm-texture didn’t stop anyone from eating it! Of course, having it served at sunset on your own private island didn’t hurt either!
- Then one-by-one we trickled off to bed – tired from the sun, the wind, the paddling and the early start.
- Jeff and Nate (and perhaps others) got up early to watch the sunrise. Except for the pics Jeff shared with me I missed it, but was glad for a little disco nap. As those who know me might expect, sleeping without air conditioning isn’t my thing. Combine that with Jeff’s snoring and it’s a recipe for not much sleep.
- The blueberry pancakes Ros and Pete made fueled us for a long day of paddling. After breakfast we did the dishes, played some cards, had a little island time, packed our lunches and got ourselves prepared to hit the water.
- It was a hot, but gorgeous day for paddling. We left the Goslings, paddled around Little Whaleboat and then made our way across the channel to Whaleboat, where we stopped for lunch. After lunch we polled the group and decided to paddle all the way around Whaleboat, which is a long, beautiful paddle! For our hard work, we were treated to an eagle sighting and Nate got some great pics of it!!! After conquering Whaleboat, we took it easy paddling back to the Goslings.
- Somewhere along the line, some of the group members started playing cards – Golf – while others hiked the island, hung out on the beach, got to know one another, swam or napped. Dinner – chicken fajitas – was served, dishes were done, sunset was watched on the beach, brownies were eaten “in the kitchen” and one-by-one we trickled to bed – exhausted from a hot day in the sun paddling our little hearts out!
- It was a dark and stormy morning…..well it was! So dark and stormy that we were instructed to batten down the hatches and stay in our tents until the storm blew over. After the wind and rain subsided briefly, we broke down our tents, packed our equipment and personal belongings and headed to “the kitchen.” Pete and Ros served coffee (hallelujah) and began making breakfast. Some of us played cards while we waited. Others enjoyed the beach and a swim for the last time on this trip and others sipped their coffee. Somewhere along the line it started to pour again so we all tried our best to fit under the tarp and stay dry.
- After breakfast, still riding the storm out, the dishes got done, cards got played (and soaked), camp was packed up and we all readied ourselves for our paddle. We wanted to be ready to jump into our boats and paddle like crazy once the rain stopped so that we could make it back to Flying Point before the rain began again.
- Once the rain ceased, the last step before leaving the island was to dismantle “the restroom.” That done we all headed for the beach, quickly packing our boats and getting into the water. By the time everyone was settled and on the bay, the sun was shining brightly so Pete and Ros decided we didn’t have to rush back to Flying Point. We would keep our eye on the sky and paddle as much as we were able. We left the Goslings and headed between Upper and Lower Goose Island, then toward William’s Island, detouring around Sow & Pigs to Pettingill for a brief stop, and back around William’s Island to see the eagle’s nest. Finally, we headed back toward Flying Point – the weather still cooperating. As everyone else was making their way into the dock, Jeff and I stayed further out with Ros and, in the quiet, were able to see a seal pop up very near to us. He was so close we could see his whiskers.
- Just as we were pulling up to the dock at Flying Point, Jeff and I got a terrific surprise! Kevin, one of our guides from last year’s trip, was paddling near the dock. We had hoped to meet up with him at the Bath Fire & Rescue, where he works; but weren’t able to make the timing work. So being able to talk with him for even a few moments was a gift.
- The folks on the dock who helped us out of the water waited patiently as we caught up with Kevin for a few minutes. Then we unloaded our kayak, made our way up the dock and back to the Outdoor Discovery School, turned in our borrowed equipment, had our team debrief and ate a quick lunch for the few folks who weren’t rushing to get on the road to home.
- Finally, happily exhausted and ready for a shower, Jeff, Nate and I began our short trek to The Embassy Suites in South Portland – our home for the next two nights.
While I thought I could get through the whole trip in one post, I am tired from reliving the first part of our grand adventure. If I got any of the paddling routes wrong, I hope Ros or Pete will correct me in the comments below. When you’re doing the paddle you think you’ll remember; however we were able to cover so much “ground” (and frankly, I just turned 48 so the memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be) that I may have gotten some of it wrong.
I will catch up on the end of Day 5 and finish our adventure through Day 8 in my next post! Thanks for reading!!!!!