I’ve spent the last 8 hours browsing, deleting, editing and smiling from ear to ear as I’ve finally sat down and went through our photos from our amazing two weeks in Maine. The coastline is so picturesque, so different from any that I’ve seen before, and so rugged. It was a totally new experience for the both of us and one that ignited a fire to try and do some more traveling.
Where Florida is sand and mud and flat as far as you can see, Maine is SOLID Rock and plenty hilly. The Atlantic is crystal clear and very intimidating compared to the calm and murky Gulf waters. To look East out into the Atlantic Ocean, there is nothing to swim to, rescue you if your boat is to fail or act as a beacon of Navigation till you hit England…and that friggin’ Scares me.
This coastline was so much fun to explore. We simply flew into Boston, rented a car, a very small, crappy compact car, and pedaled our way from fishing village to fishing village eating lobster and guzzling small batched beers the entire way. Maine is all about Lobster. I think it’s their national fish, their States symbol and is what EVERY restaurant claims to have the best or cheapest price of. I know we did our fair share of shrinking the population and I know why I don’t eat them anywhere other than Maine. I don’t care where you are in the world, Maine Lobster DO NOT taste the way they do when you eat them in Maine. Especially when you have the Lobster Boat Fisherman handing you them off the boat as they’re coming into the port…Thank You Craig!!
I know this is just a generalization of a post, but I felt there was too much to talk about, and too many places to mention. Our blog is different now that we’re not traveling every day full time where we can get in-depth with each days experience. If I was to try and recap our full 12 days of Maine, you’d be reading for hours. Believe me I could, I have pages of notes, but I’ll try and be brief. Here are some tips to keep in mind if traveling in Maine.
If traveling during the summer months, or early fall months like we did, be sure and bring clothes to match the weather. When Cindy and I had just visited the Dominican Republic, we simply brought a few pair of shorts and a few shirts. The rest was camera gear. Coming to Maine in the Fall, we had to bring both shorts, pants, sweatshirts, jackets and everything in-between. Our first few days here the temps were in the upper 70’s. I still had a sweatshirt on top, but I was wearing shorts for the first few days. 70 degrees in Maine with zero humidity is nothing like 70 degrees in Florida with 90% humidity.
By the time we left, I was literally wearing my Fleece Jacket, a Hoodie underneath, pants and a knit hat covering my folically challenged bald head.
GPS: Another thing to be sure to bring with you is a good GPS. Preferably one of the newer ones where you can punch in your routes before hand. Say Cindy and I knew we were going to visit specific sites, I could have had them punched in and stored them in the GPS before we ever rented the car or were sitting on the side of the road trying to look them up on our phones to find addresses with a sketchy signal. We have an old crappy GPS, so we found ourselves most nights looking up addresses to where we were going to go the next day.
Speaking of signals. For the most part, we had an OK signal for our phones 90% of the time. Many of the little villages out along the coastline would be dead zones for cell phones, so it might be wise to have your destinations looked up either before the trip starts, or while you’re in a strong signal zone, do some pre-planning to make sure you’re not sitting somewhere stranded without a signal.
Bring LOTS of singles to keep handy for the toll roads. Almost every section of I-95 between villages has numerous tolls. Most are only a $1 or so, but it’ll speed up the process if you have a lot of singles at hand and none of them accept credit cards. Many of the little restaurants or shops did not accept credit cards, so it might be wise to carry some cash on hand while traveling this area.
If you’re doing a vacation like this based around Photography like we were, I wouldn’t suggest making definite plans. Now during the busy, summer season, you might have to, but I wouldn’t recommend visiting during the busy, summer season. The few weeks after Labor Day were really slow for most places, and we never had an issue with finding a room for the night, even while walking in the door late on a Saturday night. Every Front Desk clerk told us if we had been there a week or so earlier, they’d have had to turn us away. So visiting after Labor Day weekend is highly recommended, and most of the prices were less than they would have been a few weeks earlier.
Another option to consider is making sure you bring your Passport with you. Remember that Maine is right along the Canadian border, so if you make it up to the Northern, or any of the Eastern sections of State, you might be crossing the border just to say you did it. Having your Passport with you will make it an easy task.
Most of the places we stayed at were kitchenette units. So one of the first things we did was stop at a grocery store and buy some essentials. Most of the hotels offered coffee, but the extent of their coffee equaled about 2 cups. Between Cindy and I, we drink about 3 cups each, every morning. So one of the items we bought right away was a big can of our preferred coffee along with a pack of coffee filters just in case (We ended up using the coffee and filters at every place we stayed). We also bought powdered creamer so we wouldn’t have to worry about keeping it cold while leaving it in the car all day. Each day we’d try and find a grocery store to get breakfast or dinner to eat in the room, so every single meal wasn’t spent in a restaurant. Plus, many of the places we stayed were scenic enough, that you didn’t want to leave to have to go find a restaurant.
Chargers and a Good Inverter: A quality 12V DC cigarette lighter to 120V AC inverter will come in very handy. Most of the small towns have substantial drive time between them. We’d have our phones, cameras and anything else electronic plugged into our inverter so everything would stay charged, and do so off of the cars power without wasting electricity. This kept us shooting all day and night without having to worry about our batteries dying on us when we’d be waiting for the sun to set or the stars to rise.
Memory: The type that your pictures are saved to! Bring lots of it. This is beyond a scenic area of our country….You’ll be taking LOTS of photos. Memory as come down so much in price, that’s its silly to hear people say “Oh Damn, my memory card is full, I cant take anymore photos.” How does this happen in this day in age? We carry multiple 32 GB Compact Flash Cards and have multiple backups that we carry in the ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket We also brought our Lap Tops so each night we could download our images to a backup hard drive and have fresh memory cards for the next days adventure while looking up new places to visit or check on hotels or restaurants.
Before we left, we had a few friends who put together various tips and suggestions for us to visit. We barely got to scratch the surface with how slow we travel. Hopefully one day, we’ll be able to come back up for months at a time and really immerse ourselves in this culture. The people are very nice, the scenery is beyond beautiful and Cindy has already let me know that her new goal is to spend a summer in Camden. It was one of the small villages we visited that just struck a cord with both of us.
We’ve gotten numerous emails asking about where we were told to visit, so I felt I’d just copy and paste it here for any fellow travelers to copy and paste for their own travel plans. And this way if we come back in an RV, we’ll have a reference to look at. I added any notes I made in Red. If you have suggestions to make about something not mentioned below, please add it in the comments section
- As I am sure you’ve seen on the map, Maine’s coastline is essentially a succession of peninsulas- some are VERY long and there are more than a dozen MAJOR sized ones.
- This coastal list goes from Southern Maine (basically Portland…North, I didn’t refer to much South of Portland as Karen and Scott can direct you in those areas if you plan to visit Maine’s southern most coastline “below” Goat Island and Kennebunkport.
BEST COASTAL HOTSPOTS: listed south (but north of Portland) to “north” – a.k.a.: “DOWNEAST!
- FIVE ISLANDS
- BAILEY ISLAND – Unique Cobwork Bridge that is a Must See, also has a good rock-staircase, but really that’s all they offer
- BOOTHBAY HARBOR & SOUTHPORT ISLAND – Botanical Garden. Boothbay is somewhat touristy, but offers lots to see with plenty of places to stay
- PEMAQUID POINT
- PORT CLYDE – This was such a funky, unique little town. We had planned on taking the ferry to Monhegan, but it was so windy they weren’t suggesting it
- CAMDEN – One of the most picturesque towns with lots to offer and many beautiful places to stay. We stayed two days here. Drive or climb to the top of Mt. Battie for a beautiful view of Camden Harbor. Be sure and eat at Cappy’s Chowder House!! Take the backroad from Camden down to Rockport for it’s scenery and the photo opts
- VINALHAVEN (ISLAND) – Largest fleet of lobster boats in the state, 11 miles offshore
- MONHEGAN (ISLAND)
- STONINGTON (Low Tide is a MUST in order to see extraordinary stone formations in the harbor)
- MOUNT DESERT ISLAND (ACADIA) – Outskirts of Bar Harbor are the best: Bass Harbor & Jordan Pond.
- WINTER HARBOR ( It’s also part of Acadia, but separate from Mount Desert Island, not touristy!)
- Depending upon how far along Route 1 you want to travel, you MAY want to make MACIAS area the last stop – visit ROQUE BLUFFS, there is a state park, unusual pebble beach which consists of all Jasper. Otherwise continue on to Eastport, easternmost point in the USA
- BEST BEACHES: These are located basically between Cape Porpoise (Karen & Scott) and Portland, there are a few nice beaches and should be all but void of tourists in September. Other beaches just north of the Portland area that are notable are Popham Beach and Reid State Park.
- BEST NIGHT LIFE: Hands down – OLD PORT section of Portland (Most restaurants and Pubs per capita than any other city in the country!) Also notable : The Pier at Old Orchard Beach!
- LIGHTHOUSES NOT TO MISS: MANY – but a few of the prettier ones with great photo Ops: Ft. Williams in Portland, Rockland Breakwater in Rockport, Pemaquid Point Light, Owl’s Head Light, and of course Goat Island Light as you can go tour both Owl’s Head and Goat Island
- BEST WHALE WATCHING CRUISES: Out of Bar Harbor
- BEST SPOT TO TAKE A WINDJAMMER CRUISE: Out of Camden Harbor. Many available, some as short as an hour all the way up to as long as 3 days (The 3 hour Cruises are nice) – There are some beautiful sailboat cruises we saw in Camden, but never took any out as it was pretty chilly and really windy
- MONHEGAN ISLAND INFO: Ferry’s leave from : New Harbor, Boothbay Harbor & Port Clyde daily
- VINALHAVEN ISLAND INFO: Ferry leaves from Rockland.
- ZIP LINING ADVENTURE (Mountains): Sugarloaf USA in Carrabassett Valley (weekends only after labor day I believe)
- BEST MOOSE SAFARIS: By Jeep but preferably by Boat; Moosehead Lake in Rockwood @ The Birches. (lodging and restaurant onsite as well) Daily Boat Safaris with enough people.
- BEST SEA PLANE RIDES: Moosehead Lake; Currier’s in Greenville.
- BEST PLACES TO SEE MOOSE FROM THE ROAD: Greenville, Salt Shed area Route 15 Greenville to Kokadjo, Greenville to Rockwood, Rockwood to Jackman, Rangeley, Rangeley Lakes region. (ALL early mornings and early evenings, not usually out or active during the day)
- BEST MOUNTAIN VIEWS (WITHOUT HIKING): Baxter State Park, Moosehead Lake area, Rangeley Lake area to Oquossic. “Height of Land”. * Of course coastal : Cadillac Mountain In Acadia, as well as Mount Battie in Camden!
Here are some photos to wet your whistle and let you know what to expect if and when you do visit. They’re in no particular order, and just a random sampling I chose that I thought showed a good amount of what we saw