Tag Archive | "Maine"

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Apres-Ski Dining Favorites in New England

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Apres ski dining in New England

Apres ski dining at Solstice Restaurant in Stowe, Vermont

For my latest Liftopia blog, I was asked to divulge my favorite après-ski dining choices in New England. After a day of hitting the slopes, I’m not content with a beer and a hot tub. No, my body craves a good meal. I’ve made it a habit to find the finest places in town to dine. They run the gamut from casual pizza joints to innovative continental cuisine.

At the base of Stowe, Stowe Mountain Lodge went overboard to use as much indigenous wares as possible, so there’s real Vermont birch twisting around the columns and the marble on stairs leading to the bar comes from Lake Champlain. The resort also prides itself on using local produce. At Solstice Restaurant, expect Vermont-based artisanal cheeses, microbrewed ales, and locally farmed vegetables and meats.
For skiers heading to Okemo, a favorite in Ludlow is DJ’s. You have to love a place that still features a salad bar in this day and age, included in the price of an entrée. Grab a booth and get ready to dig into the chicken marsala, salmon, and ravioli dishes. Best yet, they have my favorite Vermont ale on tap, Switchback.
For a town with a year-round population hovering around 1300, there are a surprising number of good dinner options at Loon. Start at the mother and son run Gypsy Café on Main Street. The eclectic menu features Indian-style chicken samosas, Middle Eastern lamb loin dipped in the best hummus this side of Tel Aviv, Mexican fajitas, and a spicy Thai red curry duck. Wash it down with one of their strong margaritas and you’ll understand why the place feels so festive.
Started in 1998, the Flatbread Company now owns ten pizzerias from Maui to Whistler. Yet, it’s their locale in North Conway, near Cranmore Ski Area, that has the Granite State all abuzz. Maybe it’s the Zen-like ambiance with all those Tibetan designs and the massive wood-fired clay oven plopped down in the center of the room. But I happen to think it’s the Coevolution, topped with roasted red peppers, red onions, olives, goat cheese, garlic, and mozzarella. Much of the produce is from local organic farms and you can taste the difference.
In Bethel, Maine, you can usually find me at Sud’s Pub after a day of skiing Sunday River, downing one of the 29 beers on tap. Located inside the Sudbury Inn, start with the hot Sudbury wings or a cup of tasty clam chowder. Then choose between the burgers, pizzas, or entrees like grilled sirloin tips or blackened salmon. Happy dining!
steve  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Maine Hut-to-Hut Skiing

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Skiers at Flagstaff Lake, Maine

Skiers at Flagstaff Lake, Maine

Even as New England ski areas make it more and more enticing to venture their way, adding an array of exciting activities like tubing and ziplining, many of us want to avoid the crowds. We savor the opportunity to get lost in the wilderness, breathing in the scent of pines in relative quietude. Add a sport that will wipe away the worries of the world and you’ll quickly remember why we treasure New England.

Maine Huts & Trails is a nonprofit organization determined to build 12 backcountry huts over 180 miles of trails in the remote western mountains of the state. A year ago, they unveiled their fourth property, Stratton Brook, overlooking the 4,000-foot peaks of Carrabassett Valley. When the 180-mile route is complete, it will be the longest groomed ski trail in the country. But there’s no need to wait. This winter, you can choose to stay at one of their four comfortable lodgings and go out on daily excursions, or opt for self-guided or guided cross-country ski trips that lead from one hut to the next. Each of the four huts is spaced about 11 miles apart, so people can reach it within one day of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The ultimate adventure is a four-night, five-day package that includes 50 miles of skiing and spending each night at a different property. All meals, shuttle for gear, and lodging are included in the price ($414 for members, $474 for nonmembers). Nightly rates at the huts start at $79 for members, $94 for nonmembers, including lodging and meals.
steve1   Steve Jermanok  As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Maine to New Brunswick on Snowmobile

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A snowmobile ride from Maine to New Brunswick

A snowmobile ride from Maine to New Brunswick

Last January, I flew to Presque Isle, Maine, the northern tip of the state to pen stories for The Boston Globe and Men’s Journal on snowmobiling from Maine into New Brunswick. Aroostook County, Maine, is the largest county east of the Mississippi River, known by avid snowmobilers as one of the top locales in the country to sample the sport. Potato farms connect with long dormant railroad corridors, seemingly endless logging roads through dense forest, and iced-over lakes and rivers to create a mind-boggling 2300 miles of snowmobile trails. But that’s not all. Simply bring a passport and you can cross into the province of New Brunswick to add another 4,000 miles of trail, half of which flows through state forests and parks. That was too good a story angle to pass up.

In the morning, I met Kevin Freeman at his sled shop in Presque Isle. Freeman, a former professional snowmobile race, has logged more than 250,000 miles on snowmobiles in the region so he knows the routes like the back of his hand. He hooked me up with a 110 horsepower Ski-Doo, insulated snowmobile pants, jacket, helmet, and panniers so I could bring a change of clothing for an overnight in Canada. On a 250-mile weekend jaunt, we headed west to Portage Lake to have lunch at Dean’s, a favorite snowmobile stop known for their fish and lobster stews. Then we hit ITS 105, leading northeast from Washburn to Stockholm, a narrow and level railroad corridor where you can easily reach speeds of 75 miles per hour.
At Hamplin, I went through Customs on snowmobile. The Canadians didn’t blink. But when I returned the next day into America, the guy was asking me questions for 20 minutes, like I was some sort of snowmobiling smuggler. “How come your passport is filled with stamps to Israel, Kenya, Ecuador?” “I’m a travel writer.” “Step aside from the snowmobile, please.”
On the New Brunswick side, I snowmobiled with Ross Antworth, general manager of The New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. He led me across a long suspension bridge that glides above the St. John River. Then we made our way to the New Brunswick interior on logging roads past mills and on railroad beds where snowed-over balsams stood like spectators at a marathon. We spotted deer and the rare white ermine that call this forest home.
To top it off, when I returned to Presque Isle, I went out that night with an incredibly talented photographer, Paul Cyr, who’s made a name for himself shooting the northern lights and wildlife. In typical Maine fashion, he humbly insists he’s an amateur photographer. Yeah, and Hendrix is an amateur guitarist. Check out his magnificent work online and then read my story.
steve  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Dogsled Umbagog Lake on the Maine-New Hampshire Border

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dog and kid

Polly Mahoney and Kevin Slater, owners of Mahoosuc Guide Service have chosen a good base for their dogsledding operations. They live on the outskirts of Grafton Notch State Park in the heart of the Maine woods. Almost every weekend in winter, the couple, with 15 of their dogs, drive some 30 miles to the remote shores of Umbagog Lake. Here, guests learn the basics of the sport: standing on the back of the sled and shouting the magic words “Let’s go!” to see the dogs romp through the snow or yelling “Whoa!” to slow them down. You’ll take turns dogsledding and cross-country skiing on iced-over lakes, fringed by mountains of pines. At night, you’ll sleep in heated tents on a floor of cushiony fir needles, only to awaken to the sounds of the dogs howling in the predawn hours.

Mahoney breeds her own type of dog, which she calls a Yukon husky. A native Mainer, she spent a decade learning her trade in the Yukon bush. She returned home and met Slater at a nearby Outward Bound center when he was in dire need of a skilled dogsledder. Two and three-day outings start at $575 and include food, tents, sleeping bags, even cozy parkas, mukluks, and leg gaiters. If winter camping sounds too ambitious, ask about their cabin-to-cabin option in late January, where you stay at three classic Maine sporting camps now run by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
steve1    Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

48 Hours in Sugarloaf, Maine

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48 Hours in Sugarloaf, Maine

48 Hours in Sugarloaf, Maine. Photo copyright Maine magazine.

By Melissa Coleman

Sugarloaf may claim more lift-serviced vertical than Colorado’s Copper Mountain and Utah’s Alta, but I doubt I’m hurting anyone’s feelings when I say it’s not a mascara ski resort. Yes, Glenn Close has a slopeside condo, but the truly famous people here are the ones who can say they’ve been a “Sugarloafer since 1950,” when the first trail, Winter’s Way, was cut by Amos Winter. The 1971 FIS Alpine World Cup put Sugarloaf on the map, and in 1976 Lloyd Cuttler, now the owner of Gepetto’s, a slopeside restaurant, moved the base village buildings eight miles up from town to the bottom of the lifts. The rest is history. Today, the mountain’s iconic triangle sticker shows up in unlikely places the world over. And while Carrabassett Valley has only 500 year-round residents, many “locals” are weekenders, most of whom ski or ride in some fashion. Herein, a guide to joining the fun…

There are few traditions more sacred to a Loafer than the weekend routine. It generally begins on Friday afternoon: packing up the car, picking up groceries, and hitting the road. Continue reading in Maine magazine …

 

ColemanMelissa  Melissa Coleman is the author of This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak, a New York Times bestseller and Indie Next Pick for May 2011. It was a People’s Pick in People Magazine, excerpted in O, The Oprah Magazine, and a nonfiction finalist for the New England Book Award and Maine Literary Award. Melissa is a columnist for Maine Home + Design magazine and organizes the Super Famous Writers Series at The Telling Room, a Portland writing center for children and young adults. She lives in Maine with her husband and twin daughters and can be found at www.melissacoleman.com.

GLP Films Celebrates 5 Years

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Maasai people on a Thomson Safari. Photo by Rob Holmes of GLP Films

Maasai people on a Thomson Safari. Photo by Rob Holmes of GLP Films

 

My friend Rob Holmes of GLP Films has been making remarkable films with a sustainable theme for the past five years. These films educate and inspire, but they also entertain. Every year, he takes to the road to showcase his recent work. That includes films like the Okapi Conservation Project: On the Front Line of Conservation in DR Congo and Thomson Safaris – Supporting Tanzanian Communities. 

 

Okapi Conservation Project: On the Front Line of Conservation in DR Congo from GLP Films on Vimeo.

 

This week, he’s bringing his roadshow to Brunswick, Maine

Date — Thursday, Nov 21 @ 6pm and 8pm (2 showings)
Location — Frontier Cafe, 14 Maine St, Brunswick, ME

and the following week to Boston

Date — Monday, Nov 25 @ 8pm
Location — Amazing Things Arts Center, 160 Hollis St, Framingham, MA

If you’re not in these parts, you can catch Rob and GLP Films at:

LA Times Travel Show (Los Angeles) – January 17, 2014
FoodWorx (Portland, OR) – February 4, 2014
Minnesota Zoo (Minneapolis, MN) – February 10, 2014

Here’s a look at another GLP Film, this one on Angelic Organics Learning Center

Angelic Organics Learning Center: Building Better Food Systems from GLP Films on Vimeo.

Closing up the Maine Camp

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Columbus Day, Maine. Photo by Gayle Potter.

Columbus Day, Maine. Photo by Gayle Potter.

By Everett Potter

I’m standing on the shore of a lake in Maine, watching my daughter and her best friend canoe a hundred yards to visit the little island they’ve visited dozens of times before.  It’s their world, two little girls sitting on a rocky island on a lake in Maine in the autumn stillness. They must have been out there for an hour before I heard a dull engine noise overhead and then a seaplane materialize out of the sky. The plane circled, came down over the pine tree tops and genuflected on the lake surface before nosing up again. It was one of those practice runs that pilots sometimes make on these waters.

By the time the plane reached the girls, it was heading back up, fifty feet in the air, and they were already waving at it, like toddlers at a Fourth of July parade. They wave because that’s what little girls do when they see a seaplane land and take off out of the blue, a performance that must clearly be for their benefit.

It was the most dramatic interlude of the day, on this Columbus Day weekend. There are few full time residents on the lake and the seasonal cabins, known as “camps” in Maine-speak, are mostly closed up. Docks have been raised. To the northwest, the White Mountains are clouded over. The loons are few and far between, already turning into their gray winter plumage. They make not the wail or the tremolo of summer but the short bark that one hears in the fall staging grounds. One year in December, a neighbor painstakingly counted 236 gathered in the water I’m looking at now.  When I finish nailing up the shutters and putting on the chimney cap, among two dozen other chores that face me, our camp will be closed up for good as well.

This fall closing is always bittersweet, a rite of the season. The weather can be achingly beautiful, with the bluest skies of the year streaked by cirrus clouds and the last of the red and gold leaves falling onto the water. The sun comes and goes, but when it does come out, everything seems to sparkle. This evening there will be the potluck with brothers and cousins and kids and wives down the lake, the freezers coughing up the last of the hamburgers, the odd Klondike Bar, sauces unthawed and pasta boxes emptied, summer’s bounty come to leftovers.

The morning starts with my wife pointing out a beaver the size of small dog swimming in front of the camp, busy after taking down some saplings along a neighbor’s beach and leaving them to float along the shore. The sun rises in the southeast, far to the right of where we normally see it rise. Midsummer it rises directly in front of us, a private experience. A massive boulder not 50 feet from our cabin is called Sunrise Rock, and postcards that go back a century can be found of it. It attracts, even dares people to climb it, some to yell, and others to sit and reflect.

Closing up the camp means more than work. It always gives me reason to think about the passage of time, which in my case is best measured by my daughter. It seems like only yesterday she was inside in a high chair throwing peas on the floor on a day like this. The intelligible word of the day was “duck.” Now it’s a giggle fest where American Girl Dolls, Minecraft and C.S. Lewis are strange bedfellows. This morning, I had to make a thorough and convincing check of the canoe for spiders, the bane of my daughter’s Maine existence. The girls travel with two paddles, two life vests, a rock in the bow for ballast and snacks, which no 21st century child can leave home without.

But phones stay ashore. No electronics, no Facebook, no Instagram, no texting. Just two kids who’ve beached their canoe, fashioned an anchor with a rock and piece of rope, and are looking for turtles and opened mussel shells. If they want something, they can yell. How 19th century can you get?

While my wife puts away bedding and packs up food that would otherwise be fodder for critters, I put on a pair of vintage Tevas and a bathing suit and get into the cold lake water to pull out the pipe that provides water for our cabin.

I carry on with my work, crawling into the muddy crawl space under the house to drain the plumbing. One year, I was greeted by a tiny pair of eyes in the dirt, a snake. This year, it’s been too chilly; the snakes have tucked themselves away for the year. I emerge to put away chairs, clean the ashes from the fireplace, and unplug everything. I climb to the roof with a heavy steel cap and cover the chimney for the days when a three foot Nor’easter bears down on the little cabin. The pieces of the dock are already stacked on the beach, awaiting next summer’s screams and splashes.

Every so often, I cast an eye across at them, hear their giggles and whoops across the water. My daughter’s is distinct, but also fleeting. This year, two of her cousins flew away to college. Next year, another one heads off. In no time at all, those two will be fledglings.

But it’s the image of the plane and the waving girls that stays with me. They wave, the plane goes by, the pines remain dark green and stately even as the water is littered with leaves looking like pieces of stained glass — red and yellow and green — floating on an empty lake. I am busy with chores and she is busy with her best friend on that island, waving at a seaplane and for a brief moment in the scheme of things, being a kid.

Maine’s Mount Desert Island: A Treasure Even with Acadia Closed

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Map of Bar Harbor, Maine. Courtesy of Maine magazine

Map of Bar Harbor, Maine. Courtesy of Maine magazine

By Melissa Coleman

(Adapted from “48 Hours in Bar Harbor” in Maine magazine) 

Mount Desert Island (MDI) is no stranger to politicians and national parks. In 2010, President Obama and the first family made the trek to the island to commemorate the centennial anniversary of a similar trip made in 1910 by President Taft, who then referred to the Maine air as “champagne in a prohibition state.” In Taft’s day, wealthy Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, Fords, Astors, Carnegies, and Morgans had already discovered the area, built grand houses, and bought up much of the land—which many later donated to create, in 1919, what is now the 47,000-acre Acadia National Park.

While the park is the island’s crown jewel, there’s no need to cancel your trip because of the government shutdown. Park roads are closed to cars, but the natural beauty of the area remains unrivaled, and most businesses are open through Columbus Day weekend for a last hurrah before the end of the season. Herein, some options.

 

HIKE

My first stop on a trip to MDI is Cadillac Mountain Sports (207-288-4532), Bar Harbor’s source for outdoor apparel and equipment since 1980, where the friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you plan for any adventure or destination.

They tell me now by phone that people are still hiking and biking in the park, but it’s very much at your own risk, not to mention prohibited, and overworked rangers will tell you to leave if they see you. 

A safer option might be a walk on the Shore Path along Bar Harbor’s coastline to Bar Island, Bar Harbor’s namesake, where a tidal land bridge can be accessed from Bridge Street. 

Come evening, this is also a good place for some of the best star gazing in the country, thanks to the famed darkness of Mount Desert Island’s night skies, which can make the Milky Way bright enough to reflect off the ocean.

View of Somes Sound from Sergeant Drive. Courtesy of Maine magazine.

View of Somes Sound from Sargeant Drive. Courtesy of Maine magazine.


BIKE 

Something about being on an island makes me want to leave the car behind. I was glad to rent a bike at Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop (207-288-3886) on the corner of Cottage Street and head out to explore the island under my own power. 

In an effort to escape the automobiles that began taking over the island after 1913, John D. Rockefeller Jr. oversaw the creation of 45 miles of carriage trails that traverse rolling terrain and feature 17 elegantly constructed native stone bridges spanning the gorges and rushing creeks.

Since the bicycle-friendly carriage trails are all within park boundaries, you might peddle instead on a 23-mile loop out of town on Route 3 to Northeast Harbor and Route 198, then back to Bar Harbor on Route 233. A scenic option could include a detour onto Sargeant Drive for views of Somes Sound, but exercise caution as the road can be narrow and curvy.

 

BOAT

Early explorers to MDI arrived by boat, including Frenchman Samuel Champlain, who dubbed the rocky land mass Isles des Monts Deserts (Island of Barren Mountains) in 1604. Afloat is still one of the best ways to explore the island today. Look for the red-sailed Margaret Todd, a 151-foot, four-masted schooner, and the Ada C. Lore, a Chesapeake Bay oyster schooner measuring 118 feet (207-288-4585). 

Or hop on a mail boat in Northeast Harbor for the Cranberry Isles (207-244-3575 ) to see the anonymous rock art randomly stacked around the isles. When in Southwest Harbor you can visit the birthplace of the Hinckley Picnic Boat made by renowned yacht builder, The Hinckley Company.

 

GARDENS

Exploration of a botanical nature abounds in the island’s lovely estate gardens, most of which were built in early 1900s, and include Charles Savage’s Asticou Azalea Garden (207-276-3727), the English- and Japanese-style Thuya Garden (207-276-5130) next to Asticou Terraces in Northeast Harbor, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden (207-276-3330), located on a nearby bluff in Seal Harbor and designed by landscape-design maven and former resident Beatrix Farrand.

 

TENNIS & GOLF 

Many visitors opt for tennis whites for the public courts in Northeast Harbor or, if staying at the Harborside Hotel (207-288-5033), the clay courts at the member-only Bar Harbor Club, where the Obamas once played. 

They might also tee off as President Taft did at the par-seventy Kebo Valley Golf Club (207-288-3000), the eighth-oldest in the nation, or try the waterfront greens at the nine-hole Causeway Club (207-244-7220) in Southwest Harbor.

 

ART 

The saying goes that Mount Desert Island sits on its view. This was the view that caught the eye of landscape artists Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, of the renowned Hudson River School, whose paintings of the area inspired the first vacationers, as well as many of today’s galleries. 

On the way into town, I like to stop to see the latest show at the Ethel H. Blum Gallery (207-288-5015), named for the accomplished watercolorist and MDI summer resident, at the College of the Atlantic, and the cozy and eclectic studio gallery at Rocky Mann’s Pottery Studio (207-288-5478) in Hulls Cove is a fun stop on the way out. As well, the stained-glass windows crafted over the last century by Louis Comfort Tiffany and other artists at St. Savior’s Episcopal Church are worth a look.

Everyone wants to own a wooden animal sculpture made by local artist Dan Falt at Rockend Art Barn (207-276-3928), the home of a popular summer art camp for children.

 

MUSEUMS 

The Abbe Museum (207-288-3519) is the place to learn about the native Wabankis, among the first peoples to explore the area more than 5,000 years ago, and who named the glacier-carved landscape Pemetic, or “mountains seen at a distance.” 

As well, lessons in local animal life and ecology can be found at the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History (207-288-5395), located on the College of the Atlantic campus.

 

Bocce at Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor, Maine. Courtesy of Maine magazine.

Bocce at Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor, Maine. Courtesy of Maine magazine.

EAT & DRINK 

My parents will use any excuse for dinner at the Burning Tree (207-288-9331) in Otter Creek to enjoy Elmer Beal’s delightful fish and vegetable dishes sourced directly from the restaurant gardens and local fishing waters. (Closing Saturday, Oct 12 for the season.) 

Other favorite hangouts in town include Cafe This Way (207-288-4483), which has a great Asia-Maine fusion lobster-and-crab spring roll, or the Lompoc Cafe (207.288.9392) with Mediterranean-style pub food and bocce or live music on the outdoor patio. 

For a mojito and dinner that’s hard to beat (and enjoyed by Obama), there’s the Latin-inspired Havana (207-288-CUBA). If it’s location you’re after, the outdoor Terrace Grille (207-288-3351) at the Bar Harbor Inn overlooks Frenchman Bay. Reel Pizza Cinerama (207-288-3828) offers both wood-fired pies and a movie—be sure to arrive early to claim one of the coveted couches.

In Southwest Harbor, stock up on wine, cheese, and Manset Little Farm Chocolate Chip Cookies (207-244-7013) at Sawyer’s Market (207-244-3315) and make the trip over to Bernard, one of the prettiest working harbors in Maine, for a classic Maine lobster feast at Thurston’s Lobster Pound (207-244-7600). 

Passing back through Northeast Harbor, you never know who you might run into at Pine Tree Market (207-276-3335)—maybe even Martha Stewart, who owns Skylands, the nearby Seal Harbor house originally built for Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, in the 1920s. 

I’ll opt to end the evening by sampling a new flavor at one of the multiple MDI Ice Cream (207-801-4006) locations (Obama opted for coconut), or those with adventurous stomachs might try instead the lobster ice cream at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (207-288-3281). 

Breakfast brings some tough decisions. Go back to Cafe This Way for a McThisWay breakfast sandwich, get raspberry pancakes at 2 Cats Restaurant & Inn (207-288-2808), or grab coffee and pastries at Morning Glory Bakery (207-288-3041). If your breakfast generally involves a laptop, the Opera House Internet Cafe (207-288-3509) has one of the better WiFi connections in town (which can come in handy, as cellular coverage tends to be a tad unreliable).

 

View of Frenchman Bay from the Terrace Grille at Bar Harbor Inn, Maine. Courtesy of Maine magazine.

View of Frenchman Bay from the Terrace Grille at Bar Harbor Inn, Maine. Courtesy of Maine magazine.

LODGING

When you like to put up your feet in style, the big resorts include Bar Harbor’s Harborside Hotel (207-288-5033) and the Bar Harbor Inn (207-288-3351), both with spas open to anyone seeking relaxation and pampering.

Historical classics include the rambling turn-of-the-century Asticou Inn (800-258-3373) in Northeast Harbor and the iconic yellow Claremont Hotel (207-244-5036) in Southwest Harbor. The Wonder View Inn & Suites (888-439-8439) was once the estate of mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Balance Rock Inn (800-753-0494) is a former turn-of-the-century mansion on the Shore Path.

For a non-historical option, try the Bar Harbor Regency Holiday Inn (207-288-9723), which features 278 rooms, heated pool overlooking the ocean, tennis courts, and restaurant.

The Acacia House Inn (207-288-8122) offers an intimate bed-and-breakfast experience, and was founded by the original owners of Morning Glory Bakery—so yes, great breakfasts.

Which brings us to another day to bike, walk, eat, and browse our way around MDI. Here’s hoping Acadia National Park re-opens soon. In the meantime, enjoy the options.

ColemanMelissa     Melissa Coleman is the author of This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak, a New York Times bestseller and Indie Next Pick for May 2011. It was a People’s Pick in People Magazine, excerpted in O, The Oprah Magazine, and a nonfiction finalist for the New England Book Award and Maine Literary Award. Melissa is a columnist for Maine Home + Design magazine and organizes the Super Famous Writers Series at The Telling Room, a Portland writing center for children and young adults. She lives in Maine with her husband and twin daughters and can be found at www.melissacoleman.com.

 

 

In Pursuit of Wild Trout at Maine’s Little Lyford Pond

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Lani LeCasce and Frank Schaeffer on the shores of Mountain Brook Pond at AMC's Little Lyford Lodge & Camps

Lani LeCasce and Frank Schaeffer on the shores of Mountain Brook Pond at AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins

Story & photos by Everett Potter

It was dusk as I watched my old friend and fishing companion Frank Schaeffer cast a fly  for brook trout on the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC’s) Little Lyford Pond in Northern Maine. Now watching Frank expertly cast a fly rod on Little Lyford Pond was not unlike having the good fortune of stepping inside a Winslow Homer painting. Dappled with lily pads, fringed by thick woods, and with forested mountains rearing up nearby, Little Lyford is not only scenic but was providing an evening meal of weeds to a cow moose and her calf, who stood about 100 yards from where we were fishing. There are no houses on the pond, which lies amidst nearly 100 square miles of Maine wilderness. So it’s not all that hard to imagine yourself here in the 19th century, when “sports” from New York, Philadelphia and Boston made the then arduous multi-day trek to the Maine woods in pursuit of the legendary brook trout.

Fish were rising everywhere, and we cast fruitlessly, and competitively, as we’ve been doing since we met at age 10 and fished ponds in Massachusetts. Just as it was getting too dark to fish, and the trash talk was fading away, I tossed an orange Wood Special fly and hooked a silver torpedo of a brook trout. It fought hard and then flashed to the surface, thrashing violently. I glimpsed the iridescent colors that had fascinated Homer and that he so expertly captured on canvas, and then promptly released the wild creature back to the waters.

 

"Boy Fishing" by Winslow Homer

“Boy Fishing” by Winslow Homer

AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative 

Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins is a special place in a state with no shortage of special places. It is the name not just of a pond (actually two ponds, Little Lyford one and two) but of an old logging camp turned sporting camp that’s now part of the (AMC) Maine Woods Initiative. That started 10 years ago, when the AMC set about buying up large tracts of wild Maine land to preserve them forever. It now has nearly 70,000 acres in northern Maine, east of Moosehead Lake, and its holdings overlaps the famous and notoriously difficult 100 Mile Wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail.

Little Lyford was built as a logging camp in 1873, when the Maine woods were seen as an endless timber resource waiting to be harvested. In later years, it became a sporting camp catering to fishermen. It continued that way until 2003, when it was purchased by the AMC as part of its Maine Woods Initiative. A similar camp, Gorman Chairback, has been restored and a third, Medawisla, is scheduled to be finished in 2015.

“AMC has preserved this experience, which allows pristine ponds and wilderness to stay pristine,” explained Gary Dethlefsen, the operations manager for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative, as we dined at the lodge one night. “There was a great deal of time and money spent on restoring Little Lyford and we continue to gradually renovate the cabins.”

AMC's Little Lyford Lodge & Camps, Maine

AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge & Camps, Maine

Facebook is Not an Option

You get to Little Lyford by driving to Greenville, Maine, at the foot of 40 mile long Moosehead Lake. Sleepy Greenville, which derives any buzz it might have from acting as home base for seaplanes flying out to remote waters, still has a touch of the frontier town about it. This is where you provision yourself with whatever you might need for a few days or a week off the grid (Frank and I decided that beer and wine were good choices, given that Little Lyford offers no alcohol). We then headed due east and found ourselves on a gravel logging road, watching out for logging trucks – they have the speed, single-mindedness and ferocity of something out of a northwoods Jurassic Park – and also watched our cellphone bars melt away until the “No Service” message appeared. Then we drove even further. At the Hedgehog Gatehouse, we checked in – you pay a fee to drive these private roads — and then drove another few miles. A little less than an hour after leaving Greenville, we arrived at Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins.

The first thing you might notice, apart from a scattering of log cabins and a large vegetable garden (the source of many an evening’s salad), is the absence of noise. You might hear a phoebe’s call or the wind shaking the tall white pines, but since there’s no phone service, internet, televisions, radios or other man made intrusions, you are seriously off the grid. There are no ATV’s, motorhomes, or trophy homes either, in case you were wondering. At night it’s the hoot of bard owls, and by day, the cry of the loon on the many ponds. It’s called nature, for those who have forgotten. You can take walks along the Pleasant River, fish on a dozen remote ponds, or undertake challenging hikes to Indian Mountain, Gulf Hagas, or the Appalachian Trail. Facebook is not an option.

Red Quill cabin at Little Lyford Lodge & Camps, home for a week

Red Quill cabin at Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins, home for a week

Camp Life

At Little Lyford, there are nine private log cabins that can sleep up to six people. Dinner, breakfast and a trail lunch is included in room packages. Red Quill, the cabin that Frank and I shared, had two log frame beds, a wood stove, a sink with potable cold water, and five windows, including a clerestory window that could be opened by means of a rope and pulley. Pillows and blankets are provided but you need to bring your own sheets or sleeping bag, and a towel. There is no housekeeping. There are outhouses and a bath house with hot showers and composting toilets year-round. Dog lovers note that Little Lyford recently became dog-friendly. Cross country skiers note that this is some of the best terrain in Maine for a lodge-based adventure.

The cabin was immaculate, and simplicity itself. You won’t find a bible in the rooms but you will find a copy of “Hunting, Fishing and Camping,“ by Leon Leonwood Bean. On the front porch were two rockers, perfect for gazing at the Perseid meteor showers and the blinking lights of planes five miles above us heading from Boston to Europe, a bit like watching the 21st century from the fastness of the 19th century.

 

A morning fishing expedition by canoe on AMC's Little Lyford Pond in Maine

A morning fishing expedition by canoe on AMC’s Little Lyford Pond in Maine

Remote Ponds 

A typical day? Most of the guests were here for hiking, and there are magnificent hikes that start right from the Camp itself, like Gulf Hagas, the so-called Grand Canyon of Maine. But we were here for the fishing. Each pond has an array of canoes or kayaks that you can use.

We arose that second day by six, walked for five minutes down a wooded path, and  pushed off in a canoe at dawn onto the still waters of Little Lyford Pond. About 50 yards away, the moose and her calf were busy yet again working the weeds along the edge of the pond, not bothered by me or Frank. I had brought along an L.L. Bean Pocket Water, a 7 foot six inch lightweight two piece rod and reel combo designed for seeking brook trout these remote ponds. It light, short and supple, a magic wand ideal for pond fishing like this. In Lyford, the brook trout we were angling after are wild, not having been stocked for nearly 70 years. In other ponds that we fished, they were native – purebreds, in other words, unsullied by stocked fish.

We hiked to the second second Little Lyford pond in a light rain and we each took five brookies no more than 9 inches long on White Wullfs. Between casts, I watched a beaver busily working the pond, spotted an eagle and then an osprey. The only other human was Frank, and we alternately chided and congratulated each other on our catches.

“That looks a lot like a fish,” I shouted across the pond as he held up a five inch specimen” only smaller.”

 

Lani LeCasce, naturalist and Registered Maine Guide at AMC's Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins

Lani LeCasce, naturalist and Registered Maine Guide at AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins

Our best day was heading out with Lani LeCasce, a 31 year old Greenville native who grew up on her father’s sporting camp on Moosehead Lake and is the resident naturalist at Little Lyford. She runs Little Lyford’s family camps and adult adventure camps and she’s also a Registered Maine Guide. Spunky, smart and funny, she drove us about 15 minutes down a road, and then led us through the woods to a landing on Mountain Brook Pond. We fished here for a while, for native brook trout – fish essentially unchanged since the Ice Age – on a lake fringed with pines, while cedar waxwings noisily flew overhead and an osprey dove for fish.

“This part of the AMC land is a 20,000 acre ecological preserve,” Lani explained. “That means no motors, just foot and paddle power only.”

Baker Pond, at AMC's Little Lyford Lodge & Camps, Maine

Baker Pond, at AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins, Maine

 

We crossed the pond, left our canoes, and walked about a mile and quarter, through the “raspberry forest,” eating raspberries as we went, on a rough path lined with lumps of white pearly everlasting flowers and evening primrose, to Baker Pond. It was small, deep blue, and even more remote, in the shadow of 3,500 foot Baker Mountain. Wind bedeviled us, as did a brief squall, but Frank and I each managed five fish that day. The trash talk died down to a murmur by dinner.

 

Dinner Bells & Trophy Fish

The Lodge has a porch that’s perfect for a drink before dinner (BYOB) and catching up with others on the adventures of their day, all while watching hummingbirds at the feed. Some guests played a recorder duet that wafted through the woods, the only music I heard all week. Inside the lodge is a great room with long tables for communal dining, with lots of windows, a stone fireplace, and a mezzanine with sofas and chairs to curl up and choose from well-thumbed books on butterflies, birds and fish.

A dinner bell on the wide porch around the lodge announced mealtimes. Breakfast, served at 8AM, was family style, and might be apple crumble, vegetarian sausage patties, fresh blackberries and coffee. Or pancakes and breakfast sausages and cereals. Lunch was a sack lunch with a sandwich or wrap, apple and dessert, gorp and cookies, ordered the night before, and ready for you to take on your day of hiking or fishing.

Dinner, served family style at 6PM, was announced by one child or another shaking the dinner bell for all that it was worth, creating a noise might have been heard in Greenville.

One night, it was roast pork, sautéed summer vegetables, and white rice, with a dessert of chocolate cake. Another night was spaghetti with sausage and parmesan cheese, while yet another was meat loaf – one of locally raised beef, the other vegetarian. There were generous salads fresh from the garden tended by Lani.

Dining at Maine's Little Lyford Lodge & Camps. photo courtesy of AMC

Dining at Maine’s Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins. photo courtesy of AMC

But beyond the food, it was the sociability factor that made a stay at Little Lyford Pond so special. The staff is friendly, open and enthusiastic, as well as tireless. If you have a request, they’ll make it happen, from vegan this to gluten free that, with fishing tips and fly selections tossed in for good measure. They’ll drop what they’re doing and pore over a hiking map with you. Hotel staffs should be half this good.

Then there’s the relaxed sociability of dining at long, communal tables – “Pass the butter, please, and what’s your name, and you’re from where?” – that adds to the adventure. I met a Parisian couple, now residents of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, with two toddlers in tow. A middle aged couple from Ohio who have been members since 1964 and have been to every AMC lodge. A friendly couple from Concord, Massachusetts with three kids, their oldest boy a gifted fishermen. A German family from Stuttgart and middle aged folks from Winthrop, Maine, as well as a couple from the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts who loved to hike. Everyone ranged from the reasonably fit to the very fit. Some fit the stereotype of crunchy types – the yoga-pants-clad recorder players, for example, while others simply dressed in the Patagonia-EMS-REI uniform of adventure. They ran the occupational gamut, from teachers and doctors to those holding down corporate jobs who seemed to be blossoming by the minute in this stress-free environment. Essentially, every guest was here for the same reason: to be outdoors all day long. Anyone who isn’t stimulated by a blue Maine sky, a soaring osprey, the sight of a moose, or a view of the vast Maine northwoods will wonder why they came.

Horseshoe Pond, at AMC's Little Lyford Lodge & Camps

Horseshoe Pond, at AMC’s Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins

That last day, we explored a windy Horseshoe Pond and ditched it to fish Little Lyford again. I snagged two more brookies that afternoon, and in the evening, three more, including a 13 inch keeper for breakfast the next day. Catch and release is how I usually fish, but you’re allowed to keep two fish a day here, and these were special fish indeed. My catch was generously acknowledged by Frank, but when we went out the next morning, Frank redeemed his manhood and nailed his own keeper, virtually identical. I was happy for him. Really, I was.

Back at the lodge, mustachioed chef and avid fisherman Steve Marsh trotted out a scale for the weigh off.

“Ten ounces,” he proclaimed of my catch, a sizeable fish by these ponds’ standards. Then he took Frank’s fish and lay it in the scale. Frank promptly snuck his thumb on the edge until it pushed up to five pounds.

“Hah, maybe not,” I said. “What’s the verdict, Steve?”

“Nine ounces,” he said.

We gutted them, and Steve cooked them in cornmeal and bacon fat and passed them around to the multitudes at breakfast to sample. They tasted as good as anything that I’ve ever caught in Maine. Though I swore I heard Frank say that his tasted better.

Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins
P.O. Box 310
Greenville, ME 04441

AMC Reservations 603-466-2727

Rates in summer are approximately $135 per person per night for non AMC members, $91 for AMC members. They include daily breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

 

 

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Paddling the Allagash & Penobscot Rivers in Maine

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Maine's Allagash River

Maine’s Allagash River

 

Mid-September is my favorite time of year to paddle the legendary Allagash or Penobscot Rivers in Maine’s North Woods. Mosquitoes and congestion on the rivers are gone, replaced by early foliage colors and moose standing in the shallow waters. The first week of the Maine moose hunt takes place in late September, 2013. So it’s best to get here before that time, unless you like to see your moose dead, on the back of a trailer bed. Go with a reputable registered Maine guide like Mahoosuc Guide Service, who know these waterways like the back of their hand. My story on canoeing the West Branch of the Penobscot River with Mashoosuc co-owner, Kevin Slater, can be seen in the pages of Sierra Magazine.

 

steve   Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

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