It was difficult to leave Cape Cod, the National Seashore, and Nantucket, but we had other stops to make on this journey, so it was time to Ease Along. The roads were leading to Maine. Helen (adorable wife) and I had been to the Bar Harbor area and Acadia National Park about twenty years ago, where we had a wonderful time, and were eager to return.
By this time we were in the fourth week of our trip up the east coast and, up until now, we had stayed as close to the shoreline as possible. When we reached Maine our plan was to turn inland and head for the deep (and I mean deep) woods. Before we reached our destination however, we took a couple of diversions that were noteworthy.
A large part of Easin’ Along is food. We have worked hard to find fun and interesting places to eat, then share the experience with others (I know, tough job, but…), and Bob’s Clam Hut, Kittery, ME was one of those great experiences. This was a discovery we made while watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network during the time we were planning the trip, and made it a must-do. I have linked to our time and our great meal there in depth in the food section of Easin’ Along and I hope you will take the time to share this fun time with us.
After we stuffed ourselves on clams and chowder at Bob’s, we left Kittery and drove north. A short distance from Kittery, we left US 1 and turned east to visit Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. We didn’t know what we would find, but obviously had heard about the area during the Bush Presidential years and had seen pictures of the area during that time.
Arriving in Kennebunk Beach first, we followed the signs to a parking area at a public beach. It had been a cloudy throughout the morning and during lunch at Bob’s, but when we pulled up to the beach area, the sky cleared and we suddenly found ourselves in perfect weather. We took a beach walk to shake off the clam lunch and snapped a few pictures of the beach and of some of the grand coastal homes sitting above the shoreline. Kennebunk Beach had the feel of an affluent area with many permanent residents. There were a few condominiums in the area, which were tastefully done and well landscaped. We wished we could stay longer, but we still had to get to our destination before dark, so we got back in the car and followed the signs to Kennebunkport and to US 1.
Kennebunkport was busy. It had more of a tourist feel to it and there were lots of shops and restaurants along our route with lots of people going in and out of them. Each of the establishments we saw had a neat appearance, with small, tasteful, signage and plenty of flowers and flower boxes. Nothing gaudy about this place and the shops had a number of benches along the street with plenty of people to fill them in no apparent hurry. Again, this town deserved a longer look, but, regretfully, we made our good-byes to the ocean for this trip and headed northwest. See the picture Gallery of this visit here.
Our next destination was Aurora, ME and the Great Pond Adventure Center, an installation run by the Navy, and dedicated to all things outdoors. It is open year-round, very popular, and we were fortunate to obtain a reservation. Booking after Labor Day helped.
We had planned to stop at The Eagles Nest in Brewer, ME to pick up Lobster Rolls for dinner (I know–another food stop), but the wait was 45 minutes, so we pressed on. After we passed Brewer the landscape changed significantly. The scenery changed from commercial buildings to farmhouses, and the sand and the seashore turned into rolling hills, grassy meadows, and tall timber. Maine is truly beautiful.
When we left highway 27 we still had nine miles to get to Great Pond. We had called ahead to get suggestions for dinner in the area, but the staff member we talked to sort of laughed and said we had better do something about that long before we leave a populated area. We stopped at what was probably the last convenience store around and picked up a frozen pizza. This was a big comedown from the Lobster Rolls we had planned to enjoy, but we can be flexible…
The Center at Great Pond has 14 cabins, a wilderness campsite, a pond-side campsite, and 5 yurts (don’t ask). We were assigned one of the rustic log cabins named “Old Speck”. This cabin had two bedrooms on the main floor, a loft with twin beds, kitchen, living room with fireplace, one bath, and a screen porch. Oh yes, it had a tin roof. We were about 30 yards off the pond, but couldn’t really see it for the trees along the shore. Nevertheless, there was a trail down to the pond and our dock. There were two things it didn’t have–TV and Wi-Fi. I have to admit, this gave us pause. Primarily because our beloved Tennessee Vols had a big game on ESPN the next night, and we weren’t sure we could live being “unplugged”. The cabin did have a radio, so after our pizza dinner, I found a good country music station from Bar Harbor, and we decided to read for the evening.
Helen read her book while I read the comments from the cabin guest book. I’m glad I did. The comments went back several years and many families shared their wonderful experiences in this cabin and on Great Pond. Some had spent holidays there and had gone ice fishing. Many, like us, had reservations about being without their cell phones, but ALL said that, in the end, living without these distractions for a few days had truly been a blessing. At 9:30 I settled into a cozy bed to the sound of buzzing nighttime insects and had the best night’s sleep of the trip.
The next morning we drove about 12 miles to a general store with a small diner. We had a lively conversation with a local couple who were there for coffee. The gentleman we spoke with had spent thirty years in the Navy before retiring to Maine and we shared stories about our military experiences. The lady working behind the counter also provided good conversation while she prepared enormous sandwiches for us to take back for lunch. After picking up some postcards for the grandchildren, we drove back to Great Pond, stopping to take some pictures of the area.
Back at Great Pond, we had time to do some laundry at the Lodge in the large commercial washer and dryer that is there for the guests. We then took our sandwiches out to the dock at “Old Speck”. The weather was perfect, and the pond was very still. We both looked forward to the afternoon because we had scheduled a ride on the pond in a pontoon boat.
At 1:00 we boarded a pontoon boat with about six other couples and Lance, our guide, for a one hour trip around Great Pond, a beautiful natural pond which covers approximately 300 acres. The couples were all from a military background and most were retired. We sat next to a couple from Maine who were celebrating a birthday by spending the weekend in a Yurt. They were a lot of fun. Lance, a young staffer from North Carolina, was very knowledgeable about the pond and gave us a great tour and seemed very eager to answer our questions. Lance’s fondness for Great Pond was very apparent. Except for one small fishing boat and a young bald eagle, we pretty much had Great Pond to ourselves. When we arrived back at the Lodge, I don’t think I could have been more relaxed…Wow!
That evening we returned to the Lodge where there was satellite television so we could watch a portion of the football game until 7:00 pm when the Lodge closed. At 7:00 we retreated to the front porch and picked up the game on our MacBook via WatchESPN and the Wi-Fi from inside the Lodge. The front porch looked out over the pond and the setting sun. The view was spectacular. Tennessee lost the game, but it really didn’t matter…this picturesque setting was enough.
We’ve had some awesome experiences on our trip, but this stop was my favorite.
The next morning we took a quick walk then loaded up for our drive across New Hampshire and Vermont, going along the road less traveled, hoping for a peek at the turning leaves. The trip was lovely, but the leaves weren’t quite ready for us. More about that in another post.