“Maine – the Way Life Should Be” is what many residents feel about island life off the coast of Maine. They feel there is just nothing like a Maine island community.  And, this is true but with many interpretations!

While working on this blog post, I discovered a wonderful book called “Hauling by Hand – The Life and Times of a Maine Island” by Dean Lunt.  The book is not easily found but there are some used copies available on Amazon.com from third party providers.  A great read for anyone with an interest in Maine and its coast.haulingbyhandweb

Most of the islands along the coast of Maine have residents whose familoies have been there for generations.  Other residents were there for a summer job or a vacation and fell in love with island life.

Before writing this blog, I talked with a young man who grew up on an island off the coast of Maine to get his perspective.  He lived on the island for 18 years.

There are definitely pros and cons to island life!  The pros are great community life, island and lack of fresh produce. beauty, peace and quiet, helpful people, use of the barter system and a safe environment.  The cons include the cost of living, lack of activities, weather, emergency services, and lack of fresh produce.

The outer islands are gorgeous with great beaches and beautiful scenery.  Holidays are a big part of life and the island communities organize activities during the celebrations.

Taking a ferry to the mainland with your car is expensive.  It requires organization to make all the purchases for the next few weeks and get back to the return ferry on time.  Most island residents have freezers to keep food ahead but fresh produce is a challenge.  The island general stores have basics but they charge double the price.

Income on the islands is limited.  For the most part they are fishermen, carpenters or own a small business such as lawn care.  Many arrive for the summer only and buy up and buy up the oceanfront and ocean view land for building.

The schools are generally grades K through 8 and students have to go off the island for high school.   Home schooling is on the increase.  With ferry rides each way commuting to the mainland for high school makes for a very long day, especially if you do after school sports or activities.  There is not much for children to do unless the island has a recreation center or a school gym. Swimming and bike riding are the summer activities.  Many children growing up on the island feel trapped and it is like “being in jail.”  Yet others thrive with the experience and become successful.vinalhaven ferry

For years the Sunbeam, a missionary ship out of Bar Harbor, was the only medical service available to the outer islands. Lately clinics have been built on islands and a doctor comes out for the day.  It is necessary to go to the mainland for dental care.  Ferries do make emergency runs during the night.  Today Life Line Helicopters can be called and they land on cement helipads at the island.

Many of the islands are “dry” islands and alcohol must be purchased on the mainland.

Lobstermen have very strict rules on where fishing grounds are located.  vinalhaven2They refer to the “invisible line” between an island and the mainland.  Only a few fish year round.  Lobstering is more difficult for the island fishermen because of the boundaries.

Have you ever thought you might like to live on an island off the coat of Maine year round?  I suggest you rent for a year before buying and be prepared for some challenges along with the pluses!

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For thousands of years people have piled rocks to mark trails so they would be able to find their way and not get lost.  These stacks of rocks are called cairns and are found worldwide, including Ocean Point!  A cairn is defined as a human-made stack of rocks.cairns

If you want to build a cairn, find an open area away from plant growth.  Pile your stones as high as possible for the best visibility.  Your cairn needs to be stable so fill in with small stones as needed.

Be sure to build your cairn only in an appropriate area that will not damage the ecosystem.  At Ocean Point you will see them built on the granite ledges along the shore.  They are often made stable and balanced with sand granules from the shore.  All of the pictures on this post are of cairns at Ocean Point.cairn3

In addition to trail markers,  cairns are built for burial monuments, ceremonial purposes, hunting, etc.  They range in size from small stone markers to artificial hills.  An ancient cairn style found from Alaska to Greenland is the inuksuk used by the people of the Arctic Region.  This tundra area had few natural landmarks.

Coastal cairns, also known as “sea marks,” are found in Scandinavia and the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada.  These coastal cairns even appear on navigational charts.  Sometimes they are lighted or painted white for better visibility from ships.

Some people are offended by cairns.  David Williams, the author of Cairns, was a ranger in Arches National Park.  Visitors built many cairns here, but none of these were legal and some led to environmental damage and lost hikers.  A fellow ranger in Acadia National Park describes taking down cairns all over the park.  Hikers no longer see the natural landscape because of the cairns.cairn4

The cairn craze has exploded into wilderness areas.  Moving rocks increases erosion.  Every time a rock is moved a potential home for insects and mammals is lost.

Here at Ocean Point when the cairns are built the winter storms usually wash them off and Mother Nature creates a new landscape.  To build cairns or not is something to think about?

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The Boothbay Charities Golf Classic golf5is held annually in Boothbay Harbor.  This year will be the 26th annual tournament.  Many former professional sports’  greats from the NFL, NAL and MLB, golf6as well as local sports figures and professionals from New England teams, will be present.

The event takesgolf12 place over a three day period starting on Thursday evening with a “Meet and Greet.”  On Friday at the Boothbay Railway Museum there is a Down East Lobster Bake and silent/live auction golf2which includes sports memorabilia, vacations, gift packages, art, etc.This event is open to the public and is an opportunity to get to know a sport’s celebrity face to face!

The golf golf21scramble itself is on Saturday at the Boothbay Harbor Country Club.  Each team of four players includes one celebrity.  Last year the Boothbay Charities Classic raised $40,000 for Special Olympics.

Celebritiesgolf13 attending this year include Bob Allietta of the California Angels and Cleveland Indians, Bob Capadona of the Patriots and the Buffalo Bills, Ken Hodge from the Bruins, Oakland Raider’s Otis Sistrunk and Ted Hendricks, Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman”Lee and many more.

About 3800 athletes in Mainegolf4 participate in this program.  Visit www.boothbaycharitiesclassic.com for more information.  Celebrities staying at the Ocean Point Inn include Otis Sistrunk, Ted Hendricks, Roger Wherli, Dave Gergely and Jack Billingham.

Join in the festivities and help raise money for a very worthy cause – Special Olympics.

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Most people visiting Ocean Point Inn Maine have one thing in common:  they want to eat lobster while they are here.

Some like to cook their own, some order lobsters in a restaurant, some enjoy the casual setting at a lobster dock and some get the ultimate treat of a traditional Maine Lobster/Clam Bake.clam1

If you are buying your own to cook, you may have some questions.  Hard shell or soft shell?  You buy lobsters by weight so since the soft shells weigh less, the amount of meat for money just about evens out.  How long will they stay alive in the refrigerator?  They will live 12-24 hours covered with a damp cloth.  How much water should be added to the pot?  One to two inches of water in the bottom of the pot will steam the lobsters.  Bring the water to clam3a boil, add the lobsters and steam for 18-20 minutes.  What about the elastic bands?  Leave the bands on while they are steaming.  You risk being pinched if you take them off.  Should you get pinched, do not hold the lobster and do not break off the claw.  This does not release your finger!  Let the lobster rest on the counter and your finger will be released.

Ordering lobster at Ocean Point Inn you can enjoy a “Lazy Lobster” where the lobster meat has been removed from the shell.  This saves you the work and mess!

Visit a local lobster dock where you can eat the lobster and all the fixin’s outside on a picnic table.  Having your lobster juice squirt a neighbor is okay in this setting!

The ultimate way to have lobster is at a traditional Lobster/Clambake where lobsters, clams, corn, potatoes, onions, etc. are steamed in seaweed along the shore.  My family is now in the third generation of Lobster/Clam Bake masters.  Each generation has had their favorite bake container.  We started with a cast iron sink for decades and then moved to a stainless steel sink.  This past weekend my son did one with a gas grill lid found at the dump!!  Nothing like good old Yankee ingenuity.

clam5On bake day you need to time everything around the tide!  Collect a barrel of seaweed at low tide and plan to have high tide put out the fire at the end of the feast.

With the rocky coast here you can find a place to balance your container evenly and have room for a fire underneath. Pour water in the bottom of the container.   Wrap the potatoes in foil and put the onions, clams and eggs in net bags.  Leave some of  the husk on the corn. cabbage2 These items go in first followed by the lobsters with the clams on top.  Cover with more seaweed and a wet canvas.  Light the fire and cook 45-50 minutes.  Enjoy!

In the Boothbay Region you can experience a wonderful Lcabbage1obster/Clam Bake on Cabbage Island.  Their boat, the “Bennie Alice,” picks you up in Boothbay Harbor and gives you a great scenic ride with commentary as you go to the island.  The owners and staff are very friendly and helpful.  Once you are on the island you can hike about, watch your meal cooking by the water and just enjoy the views of the sea.  The staff serves a delicious fish chowder and drinks.  You walk down to where the food is cabbage3cooking and pick up your meal of two lobsters, clams, a potato, onion, corn and an egg.  The fabulous feast is topped off with a four inch high homemade blueberry cake and coffee.  If you can move after all this food, there is time for more exploring before you board the “Bennie Alice” to sail back to Boothbay Harbor.

Remember your camera as your trip will be full of Kodak moments!

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Have you ever eaten a red hot dog?  If so, it was probably in Maine!hotdog4

Different states have their own favorites.  In California it is the “Downtown Dog” or the “Danger Dog,” in Massachusetts there is the “Fenway Frank,” in Michigan they serve the “Coney Dog,” in Ohio you find the “Polish Boy” and the “Hungarian Dog,” Rhode Island has the “Hot Weiner” and in Maine the most popular variety is in a natural red colored casing.  This red variety is sometimes called “Red Snappers.”hot dogs3

W.A. Bean is the only company in Maine that makes red hot dogs.  This company was started in Bangor over a hundred fifty years ago by Albert Bean.  He started a one man butcher shop on Ohio Street, but the business took off.  Five generations and over four million hot dogs later it is a very large meat business.

On Saturday, August 13th, Dexter, Maine, hosts the annual Maine Red Hot Dog Festival.  There will be a full day of fun activities including the Bun Run, Hot Dog Eating Contest, Cook-Off Contest, Music, Crafts, food and much more.  Come celebrate Maine’s Red Hot Dog!red dog

Hot Dogs in Maine and most of New England are served in a top-loading style roll with toasted buttery sides,  a soft inside and a flat bottom.  There is plenty of room for condiments and it will sit upright.  In Maine these rolls are also used for Lobster Rolls and Fried Clam Rolls.

It was actually fried clams and not hot dogs that led to this top loaded roll.  In the 1940’s Howard Johnson needed a bun that would hold their clam strips and not fall over.  The bun created by J.J. Nissen filled the bill.  The hinged hot dig roll did not come out until the 1050’s.  lobster roll

If you are outside of New England and would like to have a red hot dog in a top loading bun, you can order them online.

Remember the Red Hot Dog Festival in Dexter, Maine, in August !

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The state of Maine Coastal Island Registry has a database with 3166 coastal islands.  The largest is Mount Desert Island and the smallest are ledge exposed above the mean high tide.  Fifteen island communities are inhabited year round.  Many island names are repeated.  For example, there are 30 “Ram Islands,” 30 “Little Islands” and 20 “Bar” Islands.

With this many islands there are a number of ferries from Ocean Point Inn that provide transportation to and from the islands, especially in the summer.  Visiting one of these islands by ferry is a great day trip.  Each island is unique in its own way and that can be an education in itself.mail boat

Monhegan Island is about 12 nautical miles off the mainland.  In the summer the Balmy Days out monheganof Boothbay Harbor makes the trip daily.  There is also a daily ferry from New Harbor in season and the Monhegan Mail boat leaves from Port Clyde.  All three options will give you a great boat trip.

The Casco Bay Lines provide ferry service from Portland to six islands in Casco Bay every day of the year!  The islands include Peaks Island, Little Diamond   Island, Great Diamond, Island, Cliff Island, Chebeague Island and Long Island.  Have lunch at the Diamonds Edge Restaurant on Great Diamond Island, Peak’s Café on Peak’s Island or Calder’s Clam Shack on Chebeague Island.  Bring your bicycles and bike around the islands.

Matinicus Island is 23 miles out to sea making it the most remote inhabited on the Atlantic Seaboard.  Life here is not for the weak or faint of heart!  There is no year round store, no bars or restaurants, no doctors or police, no paved roads and only one industry.  Life on Matinicus is a challenge.  The M/V Everett Libby crosses from Rockland to Matinicus based on high tides.  The ferry does not run daily so be sure to check dates online.  It is sure to be an amazing adventure!

Vinalhaven is located 12 miles off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay.  It is the states largest offshore community vinalhavenbackand has one of the world’s largest lobster fishing fleets.  The Maine State Ferry leaves from Rockland.  the ferry will take cars as well as bikes but be sure to make round trip reservations well in advance.  Vinalhaven is a rich and varied island community providing many amenities for the 1200 year round residents.

Other islands with ferry service that make fun day trips from Ocean Point Inn include North Haven, Islesboro, Swan’s Island, Isle of Haut, Grand Manana and Deer Isle.  Reserve your ferry ahead of time and have a real out island adventure.

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On your next stay the Ocean Point Inn, try visiting some museums that are close by but not as well known as some.  They have a lot to offer and will give you more insight on the history of Maine.

Fawcett’s Antique Toy Museum, Famous Art & Antique Shop

The Toy Museummuseum is in Waldoboro on Route 1 between Damariscotta and Thomaston, three miles north of Moody’s Diner.  It is open daily 10-4 from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

Both adults and children will be fascinated by the collection.  Enjoy Mickey Mouse and all his friends from the 1930s, Lone Ranger Art, original animation and so much more.  New items arrive regularly.

Merryspring Nature Center

merryspringLocated in Rockport and Camden, the trails and gardens are open to the public daily and there is no admission fee.  This is a beautiful 66 acre nature park and educational center.

Owls Head Transportation Museum

The museum has over 150 antique exhibits including over 200 aircraft, motorcycles,owls head bicycles and automobiles.  Amazingly, all of the vehicles still operate!  It is located in the small town of Owls Head which is a few miles south of Rockland.

The museum is very child friendly with interactive activities and exhibits plus a small gym for children.

1811 Old Jail in Wiscasset

OJJailerHouseSmallerWhen you are in Wiscasset, stop to visit one of the oldest remaining jails in New England.  A jailor’s house that was built in 1839 is attached.  There is a dining room and a kitchen where the jailor’s wife could feed as many as 50 prisoners.  the Old Jail was home to prisoners who ranged from sailors in foreign navies to debtors, drunks and vagrants.  Prisoner graffiti remains on the walls.

Hendrick’s Hill Museum

Hendrick's hillLocated in Southport, this museum is open 11-3 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in July and August.  The 1810 house includes a kitchen, parlor, map room, marine room, pantry and three bedrooms.  The property also has a boat house.  Many marine antiques are on display.  A visit gives you a view of life on the Maine coast during this time frame.

Montpellier:  A Mansion like none other in Maine

Henry Know who was the Secretary of State in Washington’s cabinet built the mansion on land inherited by his wife Lucy.  He wanted to become a gentleman farmer.  It was named Montpellier in honor of France’s support during the Revolutionary War.  Montpelier-1-_rev2-770x370

Henry and Lucy sailed up the St. George River in 1790 and first saw their new home.  Today’s building is a re-creation of the original Montpellier which was demolished by a railroad company in 1871.

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Fishermen from Europe inhabited Damariscove Island before the Pilgrim’s Mayflower arrived.  They dried the cod fish they caught and shipped them to Europe, near the shores of Ocean Point Inn today.

In 1622 when the Pilgrims were near starvation in the Plymouth Colony, fish from Damariscove Island prevented a total disaster.  The sign as you enter the Town of Boothbay, Maine, has the motto Pelegrinis Cibum Dedimus, Latin for We fed the Pilgrims.

BoothbayDamariscove Island has an interesting history and is well worth a visit if you have the opportunity.  In the 17th century it was part of Damarill’s Isles and Humphrey Damarell owned the islands.  Historians think because of the long cove at the southern end of the island, it may have been called Damarell’s Cove before it became Damariscove.

The year of 1675 brought many Indian raids and people wanted to escape to Monhegan.  Because of winds not cooperating, many ended up on Damariscove.  These people watched the smoke rise from their burning villages and homes.  Damariscove-Island-Aaron-Henderson-2014-04

There was a fierce battle between the British Frigate Boxer and the American vessel Enterprise off the island in 1812.  Both captains were killed and the Americans took over the British ship.

The island consists of 209 acres and has been home to trading posts, dairy farms, an ice business and a Coast Guard Station.  It is part of the Town of Boothbay which includes Ocean Point.Damariscove-Island-Aaron-Henderson-2014-01

The Damariscove Lifesaving Station, established in 1878, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1966 most of the island was donated to the Nature Conservancy.  The Nature Conservancy transferred ownership to the Boothbay Region Land Trust with the life station and surrounding remaining under private ownership.

See more fun things to do while staying at Ocean Point Inn

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Strawberry season will be here soon and there will be opportunities to pick your own berries.  There is nothing better than savoring a juicy red berry warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine.  Pick plenty so you will be able to enjoy Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Jam, strawberries on cereal and enough left over to freeze for a winter treat. strawberries-196798__180

There are other berries, fruits and vegetables available during the summer and fall to pick yourself.  It makes a great family outing and provides healthy fresh food to take home.

Below I am listing farms that permit picking during certain seasons.  They are all an easy drive from the Ocean Point Inn.

cranberry

 

Popp Farm – Route 128, Dresden, Maine    207-737-4351

strawberry-629180__180 Strawberries – the end of June

Peas and Beets – July

Cranberries – October

Windsong Herbs and Greens – 26 Windsong Way, Walpole, ME 207-677-3770

Pick your own organic herbs and flowers.

Rainbow Gardens – 170 Heater Road, Damariscotta, ME   207-631-0248

By Appointment – pick your own flowers and vegetables

Bailey’s Orchard – North Hunts Meadow Road, Whitefield, ME   207-549-7680

Pick your own apples – 50 varieties!!!

Beau Chemin Farm – 1749 Finntown Road, Waldoboro, ME   207-832-5789

Pick your own flowers.

Biscay Orchards – 650 Biscay Road, Damariscotta, ME   207-563-3026

brigitta_northern_highbush_blueberry-imagePPick your own apples – September and October

County Fair Farm – Route 32, Jefferson, ME

Pick your own apples, pumpkins pumpkinand flowers.

Crummet Mountain Farm – 305 Crummett Mountain Road, Somerville, ME

Mid July – Labor Day – Pick your own wild blueberries.

See more fun things to do while staying at Ocean Point Inn

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The Kennebec River flows through the center of Maine starting at Moosehead Lake and running 100 miles south to Augusta.  From Augusta, the river is tidal south to Popham where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  From Moosehead Lake to Solon the river is a fisherman’s delight with trout, bass, salmon and shad. river The river is a popular whitewater rafting area from Indian Lake to Wyman Lake.  The flow here is controlled by the Harris Dam.  Below the Wyman Dam the river is known for the landlocked salmon and trout.  Striped bass swim all the way up the river to Waterville from the sea.

In addition to excellent fishing, whitewater rafting and canoeing, the Kennebec River is a delight to history buffs.

Fort Western is a 1754 National Historic Landmark fort, store and house on the river in Augusta. fort_river_r1_c4 It is New England’s oldest surviving wooden fort.  Benedict Arnold used the fort as a staging area for his attack in Quebec in the American Revolution.  The fort, store and house (an hour from the Ocean Point Inn) are full of interesting information  and worth a visit.

Fort PophamPopham entrance is a Civil War fortification at the mouth of the Kennebec River and is on the National Register of Historic Places (an hour from the Ocean Point Inn).  Construction of Fort Popham popham interiorbegan in 1861 with granite blocks quarried at nearby islands.  The design was crescent shape with a 30 foot wall facing the river.

The fort was to have 42 heavy guns and a mix of Rodman guns.  However, construction stopped in 1869 and only two tiers were completed.  The canon is still there.  Fort Popham is only two miles from the lovely Popham Beach State Park.  Visiting both makes a great day trip from the Ocean Point Inn.

A fascinating book with more suggestions of places along the Kennebec is Forgotten on the Kennebec:  Abandoned Places and Quirky People by David Fiske.  It is available on Amazon.kenebecbook  The book  includes offbeat places such as Fort Baldwin in Phippsburg, Swan Island in Richmond and the former Federal Arsenal in Augusta.

Other activities along the river include a walk on the rail trail in Farmingdale, the Capitol and the Maine State Museum.  North of Skowhegan on Route 201 is the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway with great sight seeing and many Scenic Lookouts.  If you continue the road will take you to the Canadian border in Sandy Bay.   Route 201 follows the old river trading paths of the Abenaki Tribe.

The route is lovely duringkennebec river all seasons but I especially like the fall foliage season.  During your next stay at the Ocean Point Inn take some day trips along the Kennebec River and experience the past!

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