Sunday, April 07, 2013

A Week of Lobsters: The Final Chapter


It's Thursday, our second to last full day of our Maine vacation (stop here and here for part one and two of our trip from last September) and the only goals I have for this day are to go nowhere and do nothing that requires taking a shower or leaving the property. An actual entirely laid back vacation day.


This was my goal, but not Joe's. He got up around 6:15am and took off for South Bristol and Pemaquid Point to catch the sunrise. He's a morning person and a photographer, and thrilled to have as many hours as he wants to set up the perfect shot, without me around to ask "How much longer?"And the photos were so beautiful it was absolutely worth his effort.






Joe also drove by and took some shots at the house that his paternal grandmother's family owns in South Bristol. It's large and beautiful and has a long private dock out to the cove. Joe's not close to that side of the family since his grandmother passed away in the late 1980's, but he remembers staying there when he was a little boy and his parents' actually honeymooned here. It's beautiful, at least on the outside, which is all we saw.




I got up shortly after he left, because it’s hard to sleep in when there’s a light fog covering the cove and the sound of lobster boats turning on their engines rumbles through the open window, and you know you only have two more mornings here to take it all in. It’s too special to sleep through. So I made some breakfast, lucky double yolk in my scrambled eggs, and drank my coffee out on the deck. Did some writing, walked up to the rental office to mooch a little wifi and download a new book from the library. I took some photos, I frittered the morning away before Joe came back in the early afternoon.



He came back weighed down with about 500 pictures of rocks and lighthouses in the sunrise, and even better, 6 lobsters and 2 pounds of steamers for lunch and dinner. He got to work cooking the lobsters, for lobster roll lunch, steaming them in a big pot filled with sea water and seaweed. 




We feasted, sat in the sun drinking some potent ginger ale and wiping the mayo off our chins. More deck time, staring off into the cove, collected some shells and sea glass, then naps, reading, and just laying in bed with the breeze off the water blowing the curtains around upstairs. Bliss.





Later, we watched the owner of our cottage and the surrounding property, as he arrived back home after a week long sail around the area on his sailboat, watching the sunset and watching the beautiful boat dock. 


Around 6:00pm, I got dinner started. I made Nicatous Lobster pie from a recipe Joe found online. The very small kitchen had the basic supplies that I needed, but nothing fancy, not even a very sharp knife, so I went slow. No rush, just taking my time modifying the recipe a little bit, adding some shallots and garlic to add a little flavor to the whole thing. But how can you go wrong with a white wine cream sauce baked with lobster and topped with buttery bread crumbs? We had steamers, corn on the cob, and a green salad with heirloom tomatoes and fresh bread. 


The pie was rich and buttery and so good. I was rather proud about how well it turned out. And also slightly tipsy from finishing off the extra wine for the sauce. This is what happens when you have a light lunch and then start drinking the wine while making dinner and not waiting to drink it along with dinner. Oops. Who cares, it’s vacation. 


And other than burning my hand on the pie pan, no harm done. Dishes finished, Avett Brothers playing in the background, Thursday was lovely. I never even left the property. Success. Good night.


It's Friday morning and our last full day in Maine. It's sad, but I'm looking forward to home and sleeping in my own bed. We leisurely got up and continued our morning ritual of donning jackets and shoes to drink our coffee out on the deck. This morning was particularly foggy. Joe took the rowboat to shoot some photos on the water for about an hour in the midst of low gray fog.




I loved seeing his photos, sitting low on the water gave such a different perspective to the boats and wharf we've been staring out at for days. It all looms larger, grayer and more mysterious from Joe's angle.


By 11 am we were in the car and headed out to Rockland and Camden, two very hip and thriving towns that are north of us. Instead of lunch in Rockland like we’d planned, Joe saw a sign for the Slipway Restaurant along our drive, located up the road in Thomaston. This lovely restaurant was situated right on a dock over the water. 


Big picnic tables, a bath tub filled with lobsters, and a great menu. Joe had the best clams he’s ever had, along with a Dark and Stormy. I had a beautiful green salad and a bowl of lobster bisque. Both were excellent, the bisque tasting of a divine blend of cream and sherry and shellfish. After our leisurely lunch, we hopped back in the car and finished our drive to Rockland to visit the Farnsworth Museum.




Opened in the late 1940’s, The Farnsworth Museum focuses on Maine’s contributions to American Art. With over 10,000 pieces in their collection, the Farnsworth art on display is constantly changing. We had the chance to visit the two main buildings, the main gallery space, built inside of a renovated historic house, with three stories and many gallery areas featuring art by prominent Maine artists from the 1900’s and then the Wyeth building, in a renovated church, showing art from Andrew, N.C. and Jamie Wyeth. 


One of the exhibits on the display in the main building was work by the masterful Impressionist oil painter, Frank Benson. These large, rich and prolific paintings capture Maine summers from 1911 to the 1940’s, filled with warmth, nature, children, and cozy home scenes, Benson was a gifted painter who captured a time and place so well. Sun dappled, wet and crashing waves, his family and children frolicking among boats and cliffs and golden grass covered hills. 




Then we walked across to the old church that houses the Wyeth works. The current exhibition featured Jamie Wyeth and Rockwell Kent works depicting the coast of Maine and Monhegan Island. It was a rambling afternoon tour of the buildings, the art and the property surrounding.





Afterward we walked around Rockland and visited a few shops, bought some gifts and a couple of little pieces at an art co-op down the road. And then it was back in the car to drive over for our schooner trip out of Camden Harbor. We checked in for our sunset cruise on the Schooner Olad, and had about an hour to kill before we set sail at 5:15, so we wandered around quaint and urbane downtown Camden.


Lots of small personal restaurants, beautiful shops, we grabbed some drinks and snacks for the boat and then fifteen of us boarded the well-crafted and impeccably maintained ship. It’s a gorgeous relic of classic ship building, lovingly cared for and sailed by owner Captain Aaron Lincoln and his first mate, Christina. The ship is stunning. 



Hand hewn mast hoops laced in leather casings to keep them supple and slick when pulling the sails up and down the mast, oiled with Vaseline to keep them lubricated from the onslaught of salt, wind, and water. It takes Captain Aaron and his crew almost a month to disassemble all of the pieces and working parts of the Olad to store it for the winter after their last sail of the season in early November, and then a similar amount of time to make the Olad seaworthy in April.



Captain Aaron was a gracious host and knowledgeable captain. He was warm and funny, sharing stories and filling us tourists in on things to do in the area after our trip. Christina was also fascinating. She explained how all of the components worked together on the boat and also told us that she’d sailed on the Olad for five years, spent seven years sailing in Key West and then works other jobs in the winter in and around New Orleans. The crew was confident and relaxed, and the trip itself was marvelous.



With stunning views of Camden Harbor and the surrounding islands, nothing makes me feel more alive than a chilly sea wind whipping my hair around. I felt damp, and both alert and serene on the water. We chatted with the couple sitting next to us who were in their 60’s and lived in Birmingham, AL. But mostly we just smiled and gazed off into gray clouding horizon or took photos. We finished our two hour sunset sail, and even though sunset was totally obscured by some looming clouds and fog that suddenly rolled in, it was one of the highlights of our trip. I say that a lot, don’t I? But I mean it. See...









We disembarked, thanked the crew, and once we got our land legs back, we walked around Camden a bit looking for a place to have dinner. Nothing grabbed our attention. 7:30, everything was full on this Friday night of course. We didn't want to wait for Long Grain, which was modern Asian because it was so crowded, Cappy’s Chowder House was too touristy and loud. So we browsed on Yelp, and somehow ended up back in Damariscotta at King Eider's Pub.


Warm cozy wooden booths, home cooked comfort food and filled with locals just out for a pint and some dinner. It was great. I ordered the steak and ale pie, as a nice change from all the seafood.  A flaky pastry crust baked over a rich beef gravy filled with tender steak pieces, pearl onions and a malty ale flavor to it all had me licking my lips. Paired with a Pumpkinhead Ale, I was in vacation heaven. Joe had the sautéed fish and chips and a Pemaquid Ale, because there's no such thing as too much seafood. Our last night in Maine came to a cozy, amiable, and sleepy end. We went home, packed up, tidied the cottage and collapsed. All that sea air, I think.



It’s our last day in Maine. Up early and out of the house early. I label every activity in my head as the "last time I'll...", since I've fallen in love with this place and I’m going to miss it. Last shower in the tiny colonial themed bathroom, last descent of our wooden ladder stairs from the bedroom loft, last lingering view off of our private deck oasis in Clark’s Cove. 


I laid in bed for ten minutes this morning and stared out at the water, watching a heron catch fish off the rocks. We finished cleaning the cottage, stripped the sheets, ate the last of our breakfast supplies, hauled our bags up the steep gravel covered stairs and left our little cottage, almost like we’d never been there. Minus the addition of Joe’s collection of shells and sea glass, some flour, panko bread crumbs and leftover coffee. You know, our small contribution for the next guests. We said goodbye to Clark’s Cove and headed back into Portland.


With three hours to spend in Portland before our early afternoon flight, we started with a quick drive through the empty early morning downtown to orient ourselves. We parked near LeRoux Kitchen for kitchen gadget heaven, which didn’t open for another hour, so we walked around and window shopped, counted hipsters, and had a strong and artful cappuccino at Bard Coffee.




Then we walked a bit more, counted all the twenty somethings wearing wool caps, jorts and mutton chops, and walked among the shops, cupcakes and jewelry and clothing and pet boutiques. We meandered back to LeRoux and perused, Joe insisted we buy a famous big blue Vic Firth pepper mill, made right in Maine with a lifetime guarantee, which means we shall always have pepper. 


We bought strange chocolates, some gifts, we smooched a bit in the bank vault turned cookbook section, and then wrapped up our mercantile endeavors and took a drive over to the Portland Head Lighthouse.




The lighthouse and area surrounding it was filled with tourists, reminding me again that we are in the city, not our isolated little cove, and we are about to leave, board a plane and head home. 


I’m bittersweet about this. Happy to be heading home, but sad that my long distance relationship with Maine will have to be put on hold for at least a year, if not longer.


We have our last lobster roll in Maine, sitting on a picnic table, looking right at the lighthouse and ragged coast, wispy clouds hazing over the bright blue sky, drink a Moxie, and then drive off to the airport.  



I sit on a nearly empty plane, whole row to myself, writing down the details of this lovely week so I can relive it all later, flying over the east coast, almost home,right at the end. My wrist is encircled in sea glass, my hair smelling like the ocean, and fingering the small blister on my thumb left from the hot lobster pie pan. We’ll miss you, Maine, with your captivating, blustery, and inimitably rugged beauty. Until next year.  We’ll be back.