Lobsterbakes on the Beach

What’s the best way to celebrate the summer on the Maine coast? With butter dripping down your chin and wood smoke drifting through the air as the seafood steams in its bed of freshly harvested seaweed. Add a layer of scent coming from the homemade bread hot out of the oven and brought directly to your table. Oh, and don’t forget the boiled Maine corn on the cob and roasted onions that are so sweet you could save them for dessert…but you won’t because I’ll be making you a fresh, seasonal dessert…maybe strawberry shortcake when the strawberries are still warm from the gardens (the ones by the goat house) with freshly whipped heavy cream or maybe a chocolate lava cake…always with Gifford’s Ice Cream made close by in Skowhegan.

The "Maine Event"
The “Maine Event”

Saturday nights in July and August,  Steven and JT start the fires early in the afternoon and start cooking after Dad gets the seafood from the local fishermen. We limit the number of dinners we serve to 50 people and we guarantee that you’ll leave completely satisfied…but reserve your tickets ahead of time because the dinners are often sold out the week before it’s time to sit down.

Dinners are $65/person and when you order you can specify that you’d prefer lobster or a hand cut steak. There’s a $20 option for those who want to participate but because of size of appetite or taste preferences, would prefer to have all beef hot-dogs instead of lobster and enjoy all the other trimmings.

Because of the way we serve dinner, everyone coming down to the festivities must have a ticket and we don’t have a way for you to share dinners. If you have children who only eat PB & J, bring a picnic blanket to tuck near the kayaks and they can have a picnic under your watchful eye while you enjoy dinner.

We’ll take care of everything…you only need to think about bringing a bottle of wine or beverage of your choice if you’d like something other than our strawberry lemonade.

The menu:
Fresh from Penobscot Bay
1 1/2 pound Maine Lobster or a man size hand cut steak
Garden Treats
Locally harvested  Blue Mussels
Steamer Clams
Maine Grown Roasted Corn and yellow potatoes
Melt in your mouth New England style sweet onions
Homemade Rolls or Breads
Lots of real butter
Homemade Seasonal Dessert and Maine made ice cream
Strawberry Lemonade and Hot Coffee…you bring the drinks of your choice.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill

Things We Did This Week

April is a rough month for us because we’re rested and feeling cabin fever deep in our bones…we want to be outside taking care of projects but because it’s still pretty cold out AND we have plenty of indoor work still left to do, we start behaving like caged cats.

In my world, self discipline starts with list making…so this is what we accomplished this week:

  1. Fiber College Registration has launched…if you haven’t seen it already, visit the website now and then plan on camping here in September for the best week ever (for those who like to work with their hands that is)
  2. We had a wicked storm…lost electricity…lost trees…so this morning we had a big bonfire on the beach with some of the branches that came down over the gardens.
  3. Norma and Steve got the plant nursery going…countless flats of vegetables, dye plants, flowers and curiosities are all being cared for under Norma’s watchful eye.
  4. Did you notice the blog got a facelift?  What do you think?  By May 1st, we should be launching a new website too.  It’s a full time job to keep up with our social media.  If you haven’t already found us, we’re also posting to Instagram with more regularity I’m (Astrig) @campingwithart and Steve is @campingman
  5. Wayne and Mike got 25 new picnic tables made for the Lobsterbake area.  We’re trying a new model with unattached benches…we think it will make it easier for those with less flexible knees.
  6. It wasn’t a “to do” but we had a fantastic lunch with our friends Dan and Selika at Laan Xang in Belfast.  Dan’s going to plant a special mix of grass seeds this year to provide hay for our little spinner’s flock of goats and sheep…and he and Steve were making plans for growing Thai basil and heirloom tomatoes for the restaurant…can’t wait!

Now I feel a sense of accomplishment 🙂 I think I’ll go up to the studio and weave a bit after a cup of coffee.  In case you were wondering, the title of this post is from a favorite Robert Frost poem, Two Tramps in the Mud…this is the entire poem:

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
– Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, 1926

January is for Planning

December always seems to be a blur because of holiday decorations, parties and the inevitable bumpy shifting of gears from closing the campground to being closed. By the second week of January we’re rested, filled with happy memories and fueled to begin planning for the summer season to come…impatiently caught between enjoying our icy imprisonment (the road into the campground thawed from its slick icy state just last night) and projecting our thoughts towards the camping, gardening and arts that will fill the summer months.

Icy Days...when the water is coldest, the mussels are sweetest
Icy Days…when the water is coldest, the mussels are sweetest

In our “Ice Prison” as friend Anna calls it, I’ve been spinning, weaving, sewing and simmering in the pleasure of making things to eat, wear and cosset the house in our ever changing vision of what is “perfect”…(yes my friends, Pintrest and I spend a lot of time together 😉  Steven has been playing with his mandolin more and has tackled woodworking projects we’ve been thinking about for years (and resulted in a gorgeous dining table that expands to seat 18 + a floor to ceiling bookshelf that finally contains all of my books and project boxes).  We try to get outside everyday for a ski, snow shoe or slog through the mud as the conditions permit…and then there are the series to catch up on: Downton Abbey- check, Parks and Rec.- check, Better Off Ted-check.

Looking towards summer we’ve mapped out a plan on a large white board that functions as a mind dump for all of the plans we’re making.  The brilliance of a white board is that it acts like a reality check: exactly how many kayak trips, special events, group projects and adventures have we listed?  Right now I’m working on our 2014 Artist in Residence schedule (we have 3 weeks still open if you’re thinking of applying), launching Fiber College and submitting our calendar of events to the myriad of websites and booklets that target tourists during the summer.  Steve’s re-vamping the website with more recent photos, getting us sorted out with YouTube, preparing this summer’s camp wood and ordering seeds for the garden.

While all of this is going on we’re answering e-mails and phone calls, taking reservations and posting the deposits.  Last year was a great year for us (definition: busily filled with people we really like, who really liked being here AND paid our bills);  This year is looking more promising.  Weather is always the wild card but because the majority of our guests seem to be of the “bring it on” mentality, Maine’s temperamental climate doesn’t concern us as much as it does some of our fellow campgrounds.  There’s so much to do within an hour’s drive of the park + the beauty of the beach during “inclement times” multiplied by the comfort of the rec hall (didn’t that new heated porch make a difference last year !?!) and the art studio, we seem to have found the answer to vacationing in Maine…come with the intention of enjoying whatever it brings…because it’s all beautiful!

Speaking of beautiful, a family from Kentucky visited last July and stayed on the second row.  I got these photos in my e-mail yesterday and wanted to share Sarah’s vision of the campground with you while we watch the eve’s drip from the window here in Searsport.  While we always think of the ocean as being the biggest draw to the park, it’s interesting to see that Sarah appreciated the gardens and the goats more.  Thank you Sarah for sharing!

IMG_4710 IMG_4711 IMG_4712 IMG_4714 IMG_4715 IMG_4716 IMG_4717 IMG_4719 IMG_4734 IMG_4750 IMG_4752 IMG_4761 IMG_4769 IMG_4775 IMG_4782 IMG_4805

P.S.  With these photos, the note read…”I
want you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed myself on our vacation at your
campground and in Maine.  After we left your campground we headed down to
Old Orchard Beach.   There were so many tourists and the beach was
crowded and in my opinion, not that clean.  The only thing I found
pleasant was some of the good food we discovered in Portland.  If we ever
make it back up that way (and I certainly hope we do) our destination will be
definitely be farther north where you are located.  The scenery and the
people were something that I will never forget and we will long to visit
again.  Thank you for opening up your property to us and making us feel at
home…”

 

 

 

Life in Searsport

Today feels more like a photo day than an essay…here’s what’s been going on in Searsport since last Thursday. We’re getting the Spring itch around here but the only green evidence we’re finding comes from the branches of Forsythia we’re forcing in the kitchen and a few timid sprouts from Steve’s early starts for the garden…

What better way to draw a crowd than offer to jump into the ocean while the rest of us are wrapped in scarves and coats…
PolarDivePatricia1
One onlooker was so inspired that he stripped down and dove from the Wharf
lobsters
On Monday the Regional Group organized a protest on the Passy Bridge…we don’t want to sell our Bay to Conoco Phillips and we’re having trouble getting our politicians to understand our message…doesn’t seem complicated…
2013-03-21_19-02-14_248
There is nothing in the world that matches the taste of scallops fresh from the ocean. We get ours from Eric who dives everyday during season in Frenchman’s Bay…the season is now over, our freezer shelf is full and we gorged on scallops and Kung Fu Girl…it doesn’t get better than that!
2013-03-21_17-44-58_193
I’m doing a talk on Natural Dyes from the Garden at the Penobscot Marine Museum on Saturday April 6th…so I’m simmering dyes of rosemary, onion skins, sea weed and apple bark as fast as I can spin the yarn.
2013-03-26_10-47-49_553
Just playing around with the dyes…wouldn’t it be nice to make an entire rug like this!
2013-03-22_14-38-35_189
Steven and a local high school student are continuing the quest for a fantastic trebuchet that will launch lobster buoys into the Bay at great distances…stay tuned, this is just the model…
2013-03-26_17-24-36_161
What post would be complete without a picture of Maggie? Taken this afternoon of course.

Pictures of campsites and a desperate plea for a photo filing system!

I’ve been looking for a postcard image since I made coffee two hours ago and still no luck…but as I slog through the pictures, I spend most of my time smiling because of the memories they bring back. Because it’s reservation season and we seem to have more “new” guests than we’ve ever had, I thought you might like to see some pictures that show specific campsites.

These are photos that we’ve accumulated in no particular order. Nothing has been staged and most are snapshots taken for a different reason than showing the site. I say this because you’d think that because I live in paradise, it would be easy to show you breath-taking pictures. Well, the truth is, most of the activity that I’m involved in during the camping season generally happen in other areas of the campground (like the rec hall, lobster shack, art studio and gardens), not on people’s campsites. AND it feels a bit close to stalking when you barge in on someone’s campsite and ask to take a picture…do you know what I mean?

With the aforementioned caveats in place, have a marvelous, good-surpise-filled day and I hope that these pictures are helpful if you’ve never been here before and that they trigger a smile if they remind you a time you’ve spent here in the past.

extreme camping site 13
Looking at site #42 from Site 50
site #6
ocean tent site #6
site #15
standing at low, low tide looking up towards the premium RV sites
standing at mid-tide rising looking towards the ocean tenting side of the campground
Ocean tent #14
site #50
platinum site #2
Shirley on site #12
picnicking in early June on site #51
sites #43 & 44
site #9
Hanging on site #6 or 7
Ocean tent #4

So here are two requests: 1. If you have nice pictures of your campsite, could I please have copies and 2. If you have a fool-proof photo filing system, I really need to hear about it.

Ken Goes to the Penobscot Marine Museum

Ken came back this summer and found his way to the Searsport Museum…Here’s his letter to you…P7010156

It almost seems like New England created the idea of the maritime museum.  The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport is among the best with its diverse collection of exhibits, educational offerings and hands-on activities for both adults and children.  The museum is a campus of thirteen historic buildings all in their original location on Church Street.  The large collection includes not only paintings but all sorts of ship models, dioramas, furniture, photographs, manuscripts, scrimshaw, tools, small boats, and many artifacts from around the world. And with all this they are not sitting still, in fact they are adding more.

Fowler-True-Freakin House
Fowler-True-Ross House

The Fowler-True-Ross House and Barn is a 19th Century sea captain’s family home with furnishings.  Fowler was a Searsport farmer who later became a sea captain in search of better economic prospects for his family.  His decision must have been a good one as he and his wife had five sons who also became ship’s captains.  As his fortunes improved, he built a Federal style house on to the original the two-room farmhouse that overlooked bustling Main Street. Among the artifacts displayed in the house is a panoramic photo of 1905 Hong Kong and Captain Pendleton’s portrait as Japanese samurai.  The house was continually occupied by descendants until 1967 and then given to the Museum for the enjoyment of future generations.

Oil Painting by Thomas Buttersworth
Oil Painting by Thomas Buttersworth

The Captain Jeremiah Merithew House contains a number of exhibits including a gallery of more than 300 portraits of Searsport sea captains.  Searsport produced both boats and sea captains.  Among the works in the gallery upstairs are maritime paintings by renowned father and son painters, Thomas and James Buttersworth.  A painting thought to be by James Buttersworth created excitement when it recently turned up on a recent episode of PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.

First Congregational Church of Searsport
First Congregational Church of Searsport

The First Congregational Church of Searsport is not part of the Museum but adjacent to the Merithew House and is open to visitors at selected times  During the day without a service, the light flowing through the stained glass windows creates a quiet atmosphere where one can easily spend time in contemplation; I pause for more than a moment here.  It’s still an active church – be sure not to miss it.

Across the street are two barns housing recreational and working small boats of all sorts. The Peapods, Dinghies, Rowboats,  Sailboats, Lobster boats, Skiffs, and Canoes have been beautifully restored and the nice feature is you can really get up close to check out all the details (however without the benefit of an old Maine salt casting a suspicious eye or tongue).  The quote by curator Ben Fuller here tells it all,  “Unlike art and objects like cars, boats are like people and as they age they are no better or worse, they just look different.”

I did not spend much time in the “yard in the yard” but this grassy area features a model of a square riggers mast and working lines and sails.  Kids of all ages will enjoy playing here.

Where's the Peapod?
Where's the Peapod?

Among the activities coming in July are a Day Camp, Lobster boat races in Searsport Harbor on the 11th and the 24th will feature a Museum Celebration featuring canoe building and a new fisheries exhibit called “Gone Fishing”.

In Searsport center Coastal Coffee provides a nice ice coffee break or consider Mariner’s Tavern for lunch or dinner.  There is a grassy quiet picnic area behind the Congregational church that is an ideal space for any break.

The museum is a quick eight-minute bike ride from Searsport Shores Campground by way of the wide-shouldered Route 1. For visiting hours and more information please visit www. penobscotmarinemuseum.org.

The sun came out for the July 4th Parade!

Thanks Brian for these great photos!

Face Painting before the Parade
Face Painting before the Parade, the sail in the background was painted by children from Searsport Shores
Laughter and smiles...what more do you need on a parade float?
Laughter and smiles...what more do you need on a parade float?

IMG00090

It's the memories that count most!
It's the memories that count most!
Fireman's Muster
Fireman's Muster
Accuracy testing...firefighters in training!
Accuracy testing...firefighters in training!