This is the third year in a row I’ve visited Maine, great to be out of the heat for a bit. This time rather than take the time to drive up there I flew into Boston and got a car. Just so happens I was on my way to the DeCordova sculpture garden when the skies opened up and a flooding rain occurred, this happened on my trip to Michigan too! I stopped in North Andover and they made the news for the flooding. People were driving through, or trying to drive through feet of water. I saw a dump truck stuck in the middle of the road and people trying to go around it. Turn around don’t drown! Which is what I did, in fact I turned around several times before I could get out of town. On one street a log crossed the road in front of me and I got out of there thinking a mud slide was on its way, I didn’t stick around to find out.
Shortly after I got home from this trip my friend sent me this photo saying I needed this plate on my car. It’s true!
It reminded me of a book I got a while back – The Wander Society. It you see this symbol, often near book stores, it’s from a member of The Wander Society. There is a book CALLED The Wander Society by Keri Smith. A lot of what she said in the intro really explains what I get out of wandering. I know people, Michael for one, that drive from point A to point B disregarding everything inbetween. The saying, its the journey not the destination, is how I feel about traveling. A thought from the book sums up what I get out of wandering – it fuels and influences my work. It expands my knowledge of the world, makes me look at things in a different way, and gets me out of my comfort zone, expanding my horizons.
So I survived the flood and continued on to Portsmouth New Hampshire, a town I’ve driven by several times but never stopped to check out, what a mistake it was to have never stopped I LOVE old town Portsmouth!! I spent the afternoon and the next morning checking it out, (and stopped again on my way south) here are some of the things I saw.
Strawbery Banke and Prescott Park
I had never heard of the Strawbery Banke Museum, It is on the waterfront and is very well done. One of parts I liked the most of the exhibits was the one about climate change and how it will affect Portsmouth and specifically Strawbery Banke. Strawbery Banke is a unique, outdoor history museum presenting a complete neighborhood’s evolution over 300+ years, with most of the historic houses on their original foundations. New Berns waterfront around the convention center up to the railroad tracks is an area that was boat docks and it was all filled in, well that is what happened in what is now the center field at Strawbery Banke. Otherwise the area is intact to what it was in the late 1600’s. The area is called, Puddle Dock, it surrounded the tidal inlet. It grew from an outpost in the 1600s to become a neighborhod where newcomers landed. All the buildings were slated for demolition during the time of “urban renewal in the 1950s.
A goup of citizens were determined to save it and created Strawbery Banke, Inc. in 1958 and the museum acquired the 10-acre site and about 30 buildings. It took decades to save and stabilize the houses and preservation efforts continue today. When you visit you travel over four centuries through historic houses which are still on their original foundations. they have costumed roleplayers, craftsmen, there are orchards and gardens.
In the 1930s the area that is now Prescott Park (right across the street from Strawbery Banke) was pretty bad, it was a run down seedy neighborhood. The 10 acre area was purchased in the 1930s by two sisters, Josie and Mary Prescott. They were school teachers, and they used an inheritance to purchase and clear this area along the Piscataqua River, with the sole intent to create a public waterfront park. It was willed to the city in 1954. There is a theatre, lovely gardens, walkways, fountains, etc. They have an arts festival there every year.
And the street that runs right beside it goes out to a park call Peirce Island I must have gone out to at least 4 times in my short Portsmouth Visit.
I ended up spending the night in Hampton, which is not that great, I’m glad I did because otherwise I probably would not have driven down 1A along the coast, beautiful. I guess I did not take many pictures of the drive! In my next life I want to live on Hwy 111 in N Hampton.
I’m finding I talk to strangers a lot more than I used. When I had the gallery I talked to people all day long so when I traveled I kept to myself. And my friend Irene says I should not talk to strangers when I travel by myself, well I don’t follow instructions very well.
My first stranger on this trip was Amyen from London. He was riding a bike with a pack on the back. I passed him several times then finally we were both stopped at the same place and I spoke to him. He started in London and is riding his bike around the world! In the US he started in Miami 3 months ago and has made it as far as Maine! In fact he even rode through New Bern. He will cross Canada then go down the west coast to South America. I’m keeping up with him on Instagram.
One thing I love taking photos of in Europe are their signs, I was pleased to find several neat ones on this trip.
I was pleased to also find some other quirky things along the way.
I discovered Snug Harbor Farms a couple trips ago so now stop on my way north AND again on my way south. This year the grounds were not as photogenitic but the inside just as beautiful.
Kennebunkport is too crowded for me but I did stop and have a crepe at Paris in the Morning (since my next trip IS to Paris!). I got the strawberrry shortcake crepe, wow worth the trouble to try to find a parking spot. Just so you know you order a crepe in one building but have to pick it up in another! Stranger # 2, Barb. The reason we started talking was we were both waiting for our crepes. I got up to find out where it was and they said it’s in the other building – go figure! So Barb and her husband came in and said “when we saw you ask then leave we decided we should ask too”. They need an instruction manual on receiving your food but it was worth the trouble. Turns out Barb has a daughter in Asheville, who is an artist herself.
I do like Maine Art Hill Gallery in Kennebunkport, where I bought my Lyman Whitaker Wind Sculpture several years ago but did not stop this time through but may on the south. In the traffic jam trying to get through Kennebunkport I saw Aymen again.
St Anthony’s Shrine and Monestary
When we lived in Aspen we lived right near the St. Benedict’s Monastery, they are Cistercian (Trappist) monks. BJ (before Jan), Michael was in the monestary near Albany, NY, Mill Hill, he finally decided it wasn’t for him but continued to be intrigued by the lifestyle. Michael made friends with many of the monks so I decided to check out the monestary in Kennebunkport, an active Monestary, St. Anthonys Shrine. It’s a nice place for a stroll and you can even stay there.
Next stop East Boothbay Harbor. Last year I spent several days at the Five Gables Inn and loved it so stopped again this year. The view is wonderful looking out over Linekin Bay, it’s away from the crowds, and the breakfast is five star gourmet! They have tea, port and cookies in the early evening, what more could you want?
It is also just up the road from Ocean Point, a beautiful drive along the rocky coastline.
What draws me to Boothbay Harbor is a couple galleries on the way into town. Stranger #3. Ken Rayle has owned an American Craft Gallery there for 49 years, the Mung Bean and is planing to retire next year and sell the gallery and building, he had lots of questions for me about how I did it. If you are interested, it even has an apartment above and is in the ideal location, just a block up the street from the crazy part of the town, and you can usually park in front!
I stopped in Rockland to visit the galleries and shops there I like. I was thrilled to run across a show of recent work by Jamie Wyeth. I love his fathers work but Jamie’s appeals to me even more, I love his quirky subject matter. The one in this show that really captivated me was Jigging for Squid – Eighth in Screen Door Sequence. Oil and acrylic on canvas on honeycomb aluminum support with found object construction of wood, metal, and hardware 105-3/4″ x 52″. I was not even tempted to take it home since it was $750,000, good for him that he can command those kind of prices!
Then I headed north to my ultimate destination. Castine. Last year I stayed in Blue Hill at the Blue Hill Inn, this year I stayed in Castine at the Pentagoet Inn & Wine Bar which I liked A LOT better. My room was bigger, furnished nicer with furniture of the period, there is a really good restaurant and bar in the Inn, and the public rooms are cozy and there were lots of things I took photos of for a photography thing I’m doing online. I ate dinner on the porch while someone played the piano inside.
Right across the street is Studio B which represents several artists I follow.
Castine is a small town that I pretty much covered in last years blog, click this link to read about Castine and the Blue HIll Peninsula, where Castine is located, It is very quiet compared to the peninsulas above and below it.
Blue Hill Peninsula
I went to Stoneington again and visited a couple places I liked from last year then went back up to Blue Hill. There are 3 shops there I really like are Handworks Gallery – one thing outstanding there are these folding watercolor paintings by Marcia Stremlau.
Right across the street is another I can’t seem to find the name of, they have a lot of beautiful french and italian imported things, $$$$. Then down the street is another neat shop which I can’t remember the name of either but its where I talked to stranger #4. I picked up a card that said something like “you too can be lucky too if you work your ass off.” I have a friend thats always telling me how lucky I am, I mentioned it to the lady and it immediately set her off. She said “A customer the other day told me what a nice hobby I have in this shop” that I run 7 days a week and it’s never out of my mind. A lot of people don’t realize how much work retail is. It’s fun but it’s A LOT of work.
I totally bypassed the Bar Harbor Peninsula this year, I’m not nuts about the town of Bar Harbor but there are some other things I like on the Peninsula that I talked about in last years blog post. This time I headed to the Schoodic Peninsula which is the next Peninsula north with the other part of Acadia Park. A big difference between this part of the park and the part that is on the Bar Harbor Peninsula, no people. There is a nice drive along the ocean in the park and you come out near Prospect Harbor. But before I got there I stopped in Winter Harbor and drove down to the ocean to Grindstone Point. If you regularly read my blog last month I was in Michigan and visited Grindstone City in the Thumb and wondered if they made grindstones in Winter Harbor as well. The guy I talked to, who was owner at Littlefield Gallery, said he heard it was named that because there was a shipwreck that dumped a bunch of grindstones out there. I wonder if they came from Michigan?
He and his wife have a beautiful gallery and they live in part of it. I asked how they kept it so neat every day. He said he is constantly picking up after his wife! That would be me and Michael, he was the neat one. Anyway we talked about a lot of things, Stranger #5, We talked about the fact that most of the big houses were built by people from Philadelphia and they are still the majority of the people that have houses there. While a place like Southwest Harbor the people were mostly from New York and Boston.
One of the artists they represent I fell in love with was Don Best who is a wood carver. I love his whimsical work.
Just up the road I stopped to see Richard Fisher. I carried US Bells at Carolina Creations and they still do. Richard gave me a tour of his foundry and explained the process of casting bells in bronze. I always thought they were well priced but after seeing all the steps that go into making them I realize they are pretty cheap for all the work, the quality and the sound. They are the best bells made in the USA in my opinion.
Richard suggested I visit Corea, a fishing village just down the road. Sweet, glad I did, it’s tiny but neat.
I was so close (well 71 miles I guess isn’t too close but when am I going to be there again), to the Canadian border I had to go, I was up there on my way to Nova Scotia 50 years ago but haaven’t been since.
There is not much to see on the road between the two and no way to drive along the water but when I got to Lubec I met stranger #6. We both stopped to take a picture at the same place and he spoke to me as soon as I got out of the car. We had a five minute conversation that covered about 15 topics! Someone asked if I got his number, no but I should have! I didn’t go but he talked about how much he enjoyed the park shared by Canada and the US, Just across a short bridge, Roosevelts Campobello summer compound is there.
I just enjoyed the view, talking to Joel, and visiting the lighthouse, Quoddy, which is the most eastern part of the US on the Bay of Fundy.
Then just like that it was time to start heading back south.
I stopped in Belfast again, a neat town on Penobscot Bay and visited with an artist I met last year, Kerstin Engman, and did some shopping. They have some really neat shops there. Between Belfast and Camden is the little town of Bayside. I did not know this cute town existed until a friend wrote about it on Facebook. “The Bayside Historic District encompasses the historic core of a former religious summer camp meeting community in Northport. It includes the original grounds of the Northport Wesleyan Grove Camp Meeting, established in 1848, with most of surviving architecture built between about 1870 and 1920. It is the largest surviving such area in the state, and was listed on the National Register in 1996. It is now the heart of the Bayside village, a secular seaside summer resort community.”
I ate lobster pot pie at the Pentagoet Inn which was yummy but the lobster I had at both Corea and in a waterfront restaurant in Castine were not, in fact they were both bad, one was rubbery and the other didn’t have any taste and seemed to have filler even though it was supposed to be chunks of lobster. SO I HAD to go back to McLoons even though it was out of my way and right near my friends house. I did not call them and will get in trouble for it if they read this – there just wasn’t time! But I had to have some good fresh lobster during this visit. McLoons, I couldn’t get it out of my mind from last year. It’s just south of Rockland.
It’s also a picturesque place to sit and eat.
That night I stayed in Bath at a Residence Inn which was beautiful, it looks brand new but the lady said it was 8 years old. You would never know it.
Continuing south I stopped for a second time at Snug Harbor Farms and Portsmouth. I didn’t stay in Portsmouth instead opted for Durham and the Three Chimneys Inn. My room was in the carriage house, nice!
Newburyport was next to visit my friend Valerie at Valerie’s Gallery where we talked shop for a while then I drove around the Gloucester Peninsula. Gloucester was very crowded and I could not find a place to park so continued on to Rockport and enjoyed the galleries there. A little further down the road is a town Annisquam other strangers told me about, tiny but I think it would be fun to spend some time there. A friend grew up in Boston and would summer right near there.
I have never been to Marblehead before, what a neat town! However I would not want to live in the historic district especially in the winter, but it’s a neat place to visit.
So I finally made it to the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. the Museum is currently closed for major renovation on the HVAC system but don’t let it stop you from visiting. Just the Sculpture is worth the price of admission. “The largest of its kind in New England, this sculpture park encompasses 35 acres, 20 miles northwest of Boston. The park features a constantly changing landscape of large-scale, outdoor, modern and contemporary sculpture and site-specific installations, and hosts more than 60 works, the majority of which are on loan. Year round activities include snowshoe tours, yoga in the park, birding tours, curator and artist conversations, and many special talks, screenings, and events.”
It was going to be my last stop for the day, I was heading for the airport to spend the night and fly out early the next morning. But no, I had to stop in Concord, neat shops, but what made me stop was some really big orange ceramic pots in the window of a gallery. Well I was blown away when I walked in and they had about 40 pieces of Warren McKenzie’s pottery on display. He was a very well known potter and teacher from Minnesota who taught many potters who went on to become famous in their own right. Lucy Locoste owns the gallery. She said she’d been carrying his work for years (he died in 2018 at 94) and just got as much as she could from him whenever she could and stockpiled it. She was stranger #7 I think, our conversation included running a gallery, selling a gallery, the fact her husband just died the month before, and other things you usually don’t talk to a stranger about! Lucy LaCoste Gallery.
I decided to drive through town to the airport and stay off the freeway, on the way I passed through Medford, where my friend grew up and her husband attended Tufts. It was interesting driving that way, I saw parts of Boston I had never seen before. My last night was spent at the Embassy Suites at Logan. It was fabulous and just a block from the car rental so dropped off the car and walked back to hotel. Everyone at ES was wonderful from the guy who checked me in to the bellman to the waiter in the restaurant and the maintenance men who greeted me when I got off the elevator. . The room was very nice and super clean, no grunge in the bathroom which is my big pet peeve!
It was a great 10 day trip!! Where to next? Paris coming up shortly!!