April melted into a memory quicker than it ever should. May is following along the same path. We haven’t suffered the dramatic weather that we’ve seen in other parts of the country but I think in 45 days, we’ve had 6 without rain. Cold, gloomy and punishing if you want to get outdoor chores accomplished. A perfect excuse to work in front of the computer and play in the studio if that’s your inclination. Yup, I’ve been more happy than I probably should be considering how much work needs to get done before we open.
Rather than list off our chores, here’s a bit of a photo essay of our days:
Well, opening the campground is like being a mouse looking up the leg of an elephant…if you look up long enough, you begin to believe there’s no end in sight.
I know, I hear you saying…stop whining, it’s been a dry Spring and Winter was a piece of cake. Yup…but that just adds to the ambition. You know how it is, your plans expand in direct proportion to how much time you think you have…so the bottom line was simple…without the help of friends we’d never have been able to open…yesterday!
Our clean up weekend is always Mother’s Day weekend in May. We’d love to host everybody who wants to come but found that it’s best to limit attendance to about 20 families…that way there’s room to relax, improvise and enjoy each others company. If you’d like to join us next year, let us know beginning in March 2013…we’d love to have you join us!
Tuesday we headed down to Brunswick to be part of a sold-out Pecha Kucha evening. Roughly, Pecha Kucha is Japanese for chit-chat and these evenings have been hosted around the world as a way to connect people and show us all the gold we have right in our own communities. The format is streamline. Each presenter shows twenty slides and talks for 6 minutes and twenty seconds…and then onto the next. It was an honor to be invited and I spoke about the campground and how our interest in traditional crafts led us to the now very popular Fiber College we host here every September. I’d encourage you to find out if your community hosts Pecha Kucha nights…it’s well worth the effort of attending.
Really, PK was the perfect excuse to have an overnight in a town we love and to spend our time meandering up and down the coast. We left around noon on Tuesday and seemed to be in the zone the entire time. First we stopped in Rockland at Rustica…they have the best lunch special in town $10 for a beer and a pizza of your choice. The price is good but the food is fantastic. The crust is chewy and crunchy and the toppings are creative. The friendly waitresses have been there for years too…an unusual situation for a lot of coastal restaurants.
We met Ron Huber there from Penobscot Bay Watch to catch up on all the issues brewing around our bay. Ron is a power house environmentalist and 30 minutes with him is like spending two hours pouring over the newspapers.
With our head’s swimming with thoughts of possibly creating a new Bay Keepers organization of one sort or another, we went down to Rock City Coffee roasters in hopes that caffeine would settle our minds…and we wanted to sample some of their new blends and pick up our custom mix. The roaster is on the South end of the main drag and the coffee house/book store is just across from Rustica’s…the book store is a mix of new and used books and is worth the visit. This popular place is busy any time of day that you happen to drop by (and the cookies are really good too). It’s not a tourist destination but then again none of the places I’m listing are typically found in the mass marketed guide books.
Just off the beaten path in Rockland is the Rockland Antique Marketplace. They don’t seem to have a website but don’t let that deter you. There is something there for everyone…for me there was a mid-century bureau and another long length of indigo dyed fabric to compliment the one I found in Ellsworth at the Chicken Barn last week.
From Rockland to Thomaston things are pretty nondescript but we took the River Rd (in Thomaston) down to Broad Cove and around Wiley Cove so that we could find an empty field for the hound to run while we took in the beautiful afternoon light on the water.
The Frontier Cafe is located in the Fort Andross Mill and is a great place for a light meal, a good beverage and real conversation. Huge windows overlook the dam and the bridge to Topsham.
Added icing on the cake is the attached Cabot Antiques Mall…plenty of gleaning there although be aware, the prices seem higher here than many of my other haunts. On the up side, you’ll see objects of terrific quality and there’s plenty to learn if you just want to absorb your surroundings. On the weekends there’s a terrific Farmer’s Market and Flea Market in the same building…if you like this sort of thing then this is the destination for you on an early Saturday morning.
We stayed the night in artist Blake Hendrickson’s home surrounded by amazing wood creations. I should have taken more pictures but I was too busy trying to persuade him and his partner Donna to come to the campground as an artist in residence this year so you all could see this astounding work.
Blake takes rejected wood turnings and glues them into studies of how the mind works. His current day job involves mapping complex computer systems for large companies and I think he got his training from a box of wooden shapes. Here’s one picture of a piece I particularly liked. You know the man is a genius because he made great coffee in a press pot.
When we left Blake and Donna we headed for breakfast on Maine Street with the suggestion of the Wild Oats Bakery. I had the most delicious orange roll while sitting on the deck in the sun feeling like a tourist. The building that hosts the bakery also has a terrific gallery of Maine artists (aptly named the Joyful Heart) and Steven seemed to spend hours in the music shop…all of this is housed in the Tontine Mall…parking was easy.
Over more coffee we made a plan to head across the river, first to the Maine Fiber Arts Gallery for a bit of time with director Christine Macchi and their current show: The Art of the Needle (for more on this, go to the Fiber College Blog.)
From there we decided to stretch our legs a bit at the Highland Green Preserve while the sun was high and warm. The decision to hike there was a mixed blessing. On the upside, we found the most amazing trove of mica that I’ve ever seen and piles of gorgeous quartz and marble and pretty stones everywhere…sadly they’ve made the trails “dog-free” so we couldn’t enjoy them with the hound. Who makes hiking trails dog free? Leashed~yes…prohibited~huh?
So we picked up some beautiful pieces of mica and headed on to Bowdoinham for a tour of the Long Branch School of Maine and the General Store. We had heard about this interesting place during the Pecha Kucha the night before and were intrigued enough to want a visit. Based on promoting sustainable living skills, the 4 proprietors teach crafts & trades and maintain a store to sell locally produced products. We came home with The Fat Friar’s Mead made in Newcastle Maine. It’s currently chilling in the fridge and we’ll let you know how it is…if it’s really good we’ll try to carry it in the store this year. Oh, and a loaf of Annabella’s Oatmeal Bread made in Richmond. We know this is good…dripping with butter and cinnamon sugar this morning…yum!
From Bowdoinham we found our way back to route 1 and North East to Damariscotta. This little town is just off route one and a side tour we rarely miss. The main street is just long enough to be interesting with unique shops and a Reny’s department store. We always spend time in the bookstore there and can vouch for the quality of the coffee. We usually wander in and out of a handful of shops and end up spending hours at the Skidompha library’s used book store.
In ordinary times this bookstore is a FANTASTIC find…yesterday it was pure joy because ALL of their deeply discounted books were half price. Can you say euphoria? We scooped up books on gardening, crafts, interesting people and a couple of others just because the covers were interesting. We got there at 3 and they told us three times because they were closing at 4…I’m glad that there are no videos of me getting nudged out the door ;).
Shopping makes us hungry and there’s a great Thai place right behind the Pinetree yarn store (beautifully hand dyed yarns by artist Elaine Eskersine)…fresh vegetable curry gave us enough energy to contemplate the last leg home…As I read through these last paragraphs I’m reminded of how long I’ve lived here because I forgot to tell you that Damariscotta is right on the cove and the parking area has million dollar views.
Knowing that the goats would be hungry we headed straight home from there…an easy 90 minute drive up route one with a little shortcut on Route 90.
I know this was a very long post…it breaks all the rules about blog posting but we had such a good time that I thought maybe you’d like some of the details. This way, if you feel like just exploring for the day, you could easily re-trace our steps. We didn’t leave the campground until noon and had several “must-do’s” along the way that you won’t have on your list. If you left Searsport Shores around 9, you could do all that we did and still be back in time for a campfire and cocktail under the stars. Also, we took the hound with us and can vouch for the dog friendliness of the route…plenty of places to get out for a walk.`
Yet again…too many tasks on the to-do list and too few hours to get them all done. None of them were onerous but all week I’ve felt like I’m trying to run on very slick ice with big ole’ Bean boots on…do you know the feeling?
Rather than bore you with the details…here’s another little picture slide show of my Tuesday excursion.
In the morning I drove to Orland (about 20 minutes North East of the Campground for a radio interview on WERU (it was a community talk forum about the ConocoPhillips project they want to install in Searsport…if you’re curious you can listen here). BTW…WERU is a fantastic community radio station…you can pick it up on line and you should definitely be listening anytime you’re in our area. But I digress…
The wind was howling that day but the sun was brilliant. I brought J the hound with me so that we could hike after the radio show at the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands The 4,300 acre trust is just 5 more minutes up the road and I think I was the only human hiking that day…it was gorgeous and on the sheltered walking path the wind was manageable…and the hound was giddy about the walk. When you come up for a visit…this is a great place to hike and mountain bike…AND just a little further up the road is the Chicken Barn Antique & Book Shop…OMG, I digress but I scored a long length of indigo dyed, hand woven, hand embroidered (with shisha mirrors) fabric for 20 dollars…I’m still happy about it and have it hanging in the art studio…but back to the hike:
We parked in the Route 1 lot just nine miles out of Bucksport and followed the short Esker Path (1.2 miles) through the bog and upland into a wooded vale with a few pretty views of Great Pond Mountain. An esker is a raised gravel deposit so all along the way you see huge boulders of granite that seem to have dropped from nowhere…if you’re in an artistic sort of mood, the combination of the shadows across the lichen that clings to the boulders and the stark contrast of the leafless trees reminds you of a sculptural garden. And did I mention that I was the only human for miles, with only the sound of the brooks, wind and birds. One of the pleasures of hiking before the leaves burst is seeing all of the birds’ nests in the trees. They were woven with lichen, twigs, moss, animal fuzz and other pretty finds…even a pink shoelace!
Truth be told I wish that I were focused like this during the entire walk…If you were inside my stream of consciousness for these two hours you’d hear my inner child lamenting the lack of snacks…a Snickers bar would have tasted so good by the stream. Note to self: plan better…age seems to make me hungrier.
Anyway, here’s another one of those nifty slide shows to give you an idea of the terrain if you’d like to check the landtrust out another time~ I’ll have the map available at the front desk.
As I proof read this posting, it sounds like my writing is on the ice too…all over the place…sorry about that…it’s like peeking into my brain…:)