Maine Lobster Fest

By David L. Gjestson

Maine should be on every Epicureans travel list because of one delicious sea foodlobster! While coastal weather and crowds during peak season (September-October) may be a deterrent for some, the benefits far out weigh the negatives. Folks flying out of Madison can take advantage of economical air fare of about $300 per person to Portland, Maine. Hotels and B&Bs are in that $200-250 per day category with car rentals adding another $300 or so for a 5-6 day stay. Laura and I chose off-peak June travel and a quiet Bed and Breakfast named Coveside away from popular touristy areas, but within an hour and a half of Portland to avoid tiresome driving. Our lodging was in the Georgetown vicinity and fit the bill for a base close to other activities. We were surprised by what Coastal Maine looks like, expecting it to be similar to the next-to-the-ocean views along Highway 1 in California. The Maine coast drive on their Highway 1 is tree clad on both sides of the road with occasional views of long coves running east to east to the out of sight ocean. While Maine visitors may identify its fantastic fall colors as the main drawing card (no pun intended), its many state parks, museums, historical sites, and unique coastal towns offer many attractions to occupy your time between meals. Because Freeport was only 30 minutes north of Portland and is the home base for L. L. Bean, we stopped in for a little shopping and indulged in our first lobster meal located on the main drag across the street from the huge retail outlet. The drive north on I-295 passes through tall conifers before fading into a mix with deciduous trees. Once off the Interstate, the narrow country roads were without defined shoulders and posted 45-50 mph speed limits. These very winding roads were also tree-lined with occasional breaks for houses scattered widely along the way but no farms or the big agricultural fields Wisconsinites would expect. Bridge crossings are frequent here because we were actually driving from island to island to get to our destination. Our Coveside B&B provided an ocean view and was near many places offering opportunities to engorge ourselves on lobster. We found their accommodations perfect for all our needs: A small number of other guests (8), a large bedroom with an ocean cove view, pin-drop quiet, and very friendly host and hostess. B&B formats are pretty standard in that guests assemble for breakfast at a certain time (usually sitting with other guests), eat whatever is served, and then leave for your days activities.

We did some exploring in the area and stopped in at a nearby state park advertising a mile of ocean beach, a rare opportunity in this part of Maine. Fog had moved in with cloudy skies but we were happy with cool 60-degree temperatures, a relief from the triple digit temperatures we now have in southeast Arizona. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll on a mostly deserted beach, and soaked up the ambiance of ocean waves breaking on the shore and the periodic chatter of passing sea birds. It was easy to find lobster serving facilities and our first stop was just 10 minutes from our lodging. We chose whole lobsters for our meal but we both winced a bit when the clerk dropped two live lobsters into a small crate on the scale because they were both staring at us! Three pounds six ounces of that scrumptious meat was soon cooking on the stove while we waited nearby. About 25 minutes later, here comes Laura with lunch! The balance of our trip was spent touring the area between meals. Maritime museums, aquariums, huge gardens, aesthetic coves, and shopping easily occupy the tourists time between eating the freshest sea food available anywhere. While we focused on lobster, the menu offered fresh oysters, clams, crab, and numerous fish dishes that would make even the most deaden palate take notice!
This huge botanical garden displayed several hundred flowers, shrubs and trees we had never seen before.
Looking for an interesting arch for your garden?
A hot lobster bisque (lunch) and halibut chowder (evenings) on a cold, rainy day hit the spot!
A harbor full of boats congers up thoughts of adventure eh?
We never tired of the aesthetics offered cove after cove!
Inclement weather sends the visitor indoors to various shops, aquariums, pottery stores, an unlimited number of gift shops, and numerous maritime museums. A General Store 10 minutes away offered to-die-for halibut chowder for our evening meal as well as a good taste of local characters. It was nice that Maine sunset the last night added a beautiful scene to close out our stay and maybe encourage yours?