Did it take moving away from Maine to appreciate this beautiful state? Or is it the company I keep these days? Hmmm, I think perhaps both play a part in my enjoyment of vacationing in Maine. I love the coast of Maine and had no idea how much there was to explore! There is so much more beyond Old Orchard Beach and that scene! And now that I’m older, I realize it’s not all about baking on the beach.
Boothbay Harbor region… my boyfriend… his daughter… and this life I’m living now is where it’s at!
We were so happy to pull together this trip with Sarah before their family trip next month and the start of school. For those of you that know us, you know we are busy, busy, busy and already our summer is full. This past weekend was the ONLY weekend we had open. A quick search on Living Social and Groupon created a loose plan for our excursion up the coast of Maine.
Our first stop was at Delorme’s Map Store. If you remember, Bill and I stopped there the last time we visited the coast of Maine back in April and we said Sarah would get a kick out of it. We were right. It’s a great little stop for all ages with free admittance. The three story globe is educational and fun to locate different places in the world. Of course, Ireland was the number one spot to be found in our family. I still haven’t seen the world at night here but perhaps one of these days…
I wish there was more to see at the map store. There are a couple maps of Freeport, a gift shop, and a tiny collection of coins but that’s about it. I wish they had more to offer so they would flourish, not lie dormant. Technology… I love you and hate you at the same time.
The Muddy Rudder is about a 1/4 of a mile up the road from Delorme’s so we stopped there for lunch. I had purchased an awesome Living Social Deal for lunch. It was $25 for $50 worth of food and drink and with a promo code (from the ad on the right side of this blog), I was able to receive an additional % off that! I love a good deal!
The food was decent. Sarah made fun of Bill and I as we had burger and salad in a seafood restaurant while traveling the coast… but it was a good choice. Tip: if you want your burger well done, order it medium… 🙂 The appetizer was the prettiest thing about the place and a favorite, spinach & artichoke dip.
We wandered the grounds out back and took a few photos. You can view them on our Wayward Wanderers Facebook album. Of all the things at this stop, Sarah playing The Flintstones theme song on our way out was the highlight. The people in the waiting area applauded her as she took a bow. Fun. It’s all fun.
We made sure to finish our waters at The Muddy Rudder because our next stop was The Desert of Maine. Yes, Maine has a desert. A 40 acre desert. When Bill and I tried to go in April, it wasn’t open yet, but this time it was. I recommend this stop to everyone! For years I thought it was made up, but it’s real…
I know you are curious so I will give you a little rough history, but you really need to see it for yourself one day… Over 200 years ago a man bought this acreage and turned it in to farm land. He was very successful but one day passed it on to his sons who decided to grow strictly potatoes. Gardening lesson: potatoes are very rough on soil and if you plant them in the same spot year after year, it ruins the soil. Sheep farming lesson: sheep pull grass out of the ground when they eat. They do not eat it like a cow might, grazing the top. These two lessons should have been taught to the Tuttle sons as it was the demise of the grass on this property. In less than one year, all the grass and ground cover blew away. In 1919, when the Tuttle’s finally gave up and left, it was baron.
The next owner purchased it for only $300 and tried to manufacture many things from the silt like glass and brick. The silt was so fine that none of it worked. The museum and tours did however, and in 1925 they opened to the public.
I was impressed with the temperature change. While it was normal temperatures when we were there, the tour guide said often there is a 30 degree or more difference from the gift shop to the desert right next door.
Another attraction at this location is the butterfly house. You can never go wrong with butterflies! The first time Sarah and I met, we went to a butterfly conservatory so it’s kinda “our thing”.
Next stop, big boot at L.L. Bean and to exchange Sarah’s backpack. That is the number one perk to shopping L.L. Bean. Sarah now has a brand new backpack to start 7th grade and it was FREE. Their lifetime guarantee is like none other!
Freeport, Maine has grown up and changed quite a bit since I last spent time there. We didn’t stay long this time either. Long enough to exchange her backpack, check out the deep discounted L.L. Bean store and grab some ice-cream from Ben & Jerry’s. Yum! The coast was calling our name…
So we jumped back in the car and headed further up Route 1 North. The plans we had were for Sunday so when we got to Boothbay and Sarah was sleeping, we decided to carry on to Rockland, Maine since we didn’t make it there the last time we went to the Maine Coast. We were using Priceline to secure a hotel and the Boothbay area was sold out for the most part anyway, at least at a discounted price so we thought we might have better luck further north. I used my travel apps for an hour straight, the entire way to Rockland, and could not locate a hotel that was affordably priced. It’s the first time, in all of our travels, this had happened and I think both Bill and I felt a little uncomfortable because of it. It would have been different if it were only us, but we had Sarah with us and wanted to keep things fun for her.
I don’t know why we lose sight of the fact that ALL THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON and EVERYTHING WORKS OUT but we do from time to time. This is what happened: We made it to Rockland, glimpsed the town so we know we want to go back, found a hotel BACK IN BOOTHBAY, booked it through Priceline, and headed back. On our way back, my phone rang and it was Fisherman’s Wharf, the hotel we booked, telling me they overbooked… what? YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!?! That’s exactly what I thought… for a split second until they said we would be staying at one of their sister locations… get this- the Tugboat Inn! For those of you that read our blog post from Maine is for Lovers: Portland and other Maine Coastal Towns, you will remember this is the restaurant we happened upon in April when nothing was open in Boothbay yet. This is where the idea of a second trip with Sarah was formed!
It all worked out even better than we expected it to. It cost more than we wanted to spend but the Tugboat Inn would have been more money if we booked it directly, we had great parking, a great location, and a free buffet for breakfast the next morning. You can read my review for Tugboat Inn on Trip Advisor.
Once we checked in, we tried to chase the sunset but instead wound up at a dead end. We didn’t mind though. It was nice to be out of the car! Beautiful and quaint homes lined the streets and everywhere we looked, there were pictures to take. Check them all out on Facebook in our Boothbay Harbor, Maine: Trains in Maine & Automobiles photo album.
We walked around, enjoying the Super Moon as it lit up the walking bridge that joins both sides of the harbor. The bridge is the longest wooden foot bridge in the US and was built in 1902! The Bridge House sits in the middle over the water.
One of the best and biggest pizzas I’ve ever had is what we decided on for dinner. We carried it back to the room, devoured the tasty green pepper and onion slices, changed and hit the hot tub. One of the best parts of the trip was Sarah’s discovery of the “secret hot tub” right on the dock that we enjoyed after hours, right outside our door. It was magical and the perfect way to put us to bed. And did it ever! We all zonked out rather quickly.
Sunday we woke early and Bill and I spent some time on the upstairs deck while Sarah got ready. I love little moments like that! We walked to breakfast, filled up on the appetizing spread at Fisherman’s Wharf and then wandered around Boothbay for a bit. There is so much to see that we only caught a glimpse but it leaves something for next time…
We had 2 Living Social Deals left for our trip, both located in Boothbay. The first stop was the Maine State Aquarium. Even the ride to the aquarium was fun as we wound our way around the coastal road. Gorgeous scenery!!
The aquarium was small but well done. We all enjoyed the experience. The little sharks we got to pat were funny as they bobbed their little bodies out of the water. It was like they were confused and thought they were seals.
We also really liked the section where we could handle various sea life. We held baby lobsters, crabs and starfish.
They had a great collection of lobsters and we all learned something new. Rarer than the blue lobster are albino lobster. And rarer still are bicolored lobsters. I had no idea! Above is a picture that captured all 3 kinds.
The best picture of sea life, however, is the one of Bill. He blended right in with the rest of the fish and is pictured to the right in case you couldn’t spot him…
The next stop was the Boothbay Railway Village. We rode the train around the small village twice before they dropped us off for a self guided walking tour. No, the train was not as small as the one Bill is sitting on… The walking part was most enjoyable for me. While the conductor told us about the displays, it wasn’t really explained that well and I noticed some of the people didn’t even look at some of the sites. We, on the other hand, checked it all out. We explored the antique automobiles dated back as far as 1902. It was a great display and all the vehicles were in mint condition. Even Sarah picked her favorite auto out! We took tons of photos so if you are a car enthusiast like Bill, make sure to check out Wayward Wanderer’s Facebook page!
The miniature railroad is awesome! They have been working on this since 2006 and it shows! The detail of the buildings, streets, people and trains is spot on and we spent quite a while there, photographing different scenes.
You’ll notice in this picture the detail of the people heading to church for a wedding. And behind this church a train is whizzing by the intersection. Incredible and well worth the stop!
We took in the rest of the place fairly quick. The railroad museum was interesting as we hopped on the old handcar and pretended we were back in the old days. We tried to pat the goats but they weren’t interested in us, us without any grain. The town hall was fun to see Sarah play the piano again and perform on the stage there… or at least pretend to perform. I was a willing audience.
The one disappointment of the entire trip was we didn’t try Moxie. I love it, as many Mainers do, but Sarah had never tried it. And still has not. 🙁 Even HER café didn’t sell it when we stopped in Wiscasset for a late lunch. Oh well, next time. We enjoyed other beverages and filled up on a great lunch before walking across the bridge. This made Bill and I happy since we talked about doing it last time and because the mile walk was much needed before our jaunt back home.
By the time we got home, we were exhausted! We sure know how to make the most of our weekend trips!
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