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Trip Report A short jaunt through mostly Maine

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It's been a hot and stressful summer, and with not much time planning this trip, we (or really me) decided a week in Maine would be just the thing to relax a bit. Hubby and I had traveled to Maine twice before - but both times, no more recently than 15 years ago.
So with only a week, and a long drive from NYC, I decided that mid-coast Maine would fit the bill. We stopped in Portsmouth, NH; East Boothbay, Maine; Monhegan Island; and Glen Cove, Maine; returning via Concord, Mass.

We are a couple in our 50s and early 60s, budget/frugal travelers, with a youthful spirit. Interacting with people, getting a flavor of the local area, and eating well but not high end are our priorities. We left on Saturday August 21 and returned a week later.

We spent the first night in Portsmouth, NH, primarily for a stopover point, with time to shop in Kittery, Maine. I brought along the Fodors guide to coastal Maine, which I found helpful. We stayed in America's Best Inns (Portsmouth), which was reasonably-priced, convenient, and not bad and absolutely not memorable.

We checked out the Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery Point, Maine, one of Travel & Leisure's 10 best Lobster shacks, but on Saturday night - before 6pm, even! - the traffic up and down the road was unbelievable, and we gave up. We ended up going to Warren's Lobster Restaurant, Kittery Point, described as a "destination restaurant". We had steamers, and I had a lobster dinner - both of which were great, if slightly pricey. Hubby had a completely unmemorable dinner (teriyaki something or other). The lesson: have the basic stuff, and it's excellent - but don't get all fancy wth your food.

Sunday morning we explored Portsmouth, NH. What a treat that was! A lovely port, a wonderful walk along the water, great old & historic buildings, friendly folk - well worth a stop here for a few hours.

Our next stop is East Boothbay, Maine, where we'll be staying in Ocean Point Inn. But before we take off, the business of shopping is at hand.

Off to the Kittery outlets! Shopping, though, was a complete waste of time. 15 years ago, we found good bargains, especially in shoes. Now the mall experience is ubiquitous - and I do better in discount shopping in NYC. Another lesson learned. We left after I explored Liz Claiborne (awfully dowdy stuff, I have to say) and a few other stores - athough hubby did find a good jacket at Columbia Sportswear - the experience was definitely not worth the time spent.

My original intent was to stop & shop at LL Bean on the way back, but hubby thought it best that I got my shopping jones exhausted early in the trip, so after the abortive stop at Kittery, we decided to check Freeport out on our way north.

Another shopping nightmare! Freeport is wall to wall mall stores, and LL Bean is the anchor for them all. Once upon a time, there were bargains to be had - but now in the advent of internet shopping, there's nothing that can't be found and ordered on line more easily, it seems. A look around and we were done there.

Then the long drive to East Boothbay, Maine, where we stayed in Ocean Point Inn for 2 nights. Yes, that drive along Route 1 can feel interminable, although on Sunday, I felt relieved we were going north - the traffic south as we approached Red's Eats in Wiscasset was almost at a stand-still.

Ocean Point Inn was delightful! We had a small room in one of the many cottages with a deck and a view of the ocean. The Inn is beautifully sited with views of the ocean from the lodge and most of its cottages. And that rocky Maine coast right out the door. We took some great long walks along the water, clambering on the rocks.

The location is superb for views and vistas - the only downside is that you need to drive a ways to get to the town. We didn't feel like a long drive to town for dinner, so both nights, we ate at the Inn. Dinner in the restaurant was excellent - Michael had lobster, and I had delicious scallops. The next night, we ate in the bar - and that, too, was surprisingly good (RICH and delicious chowder - my arteries were crying after the rich creamy dish! Con tinental breakfast was included, and for $6/person, they served a very filling hot breakfast.

The weather was changeable the one full day we were there. We saw sun, rain, clouds, and managed to have a full and terrific day. We started in Boothbay Harbor - crowded, yes, though with a pretty town and harbor, although not where we wanted to spend more than an hour or so. Had good coffee at the excellent Moosehead Coffee & Ice Cream café.

Off to Porter Preserve, on Barters Island, which is part of the Boothbay Regional Land Trust, a conservation organization. We wandered along a mile-long wooded trail, which also had lovely views along the water:

The day was not yet done, and the rain was still mild, we stopped at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Another great stop, with an extensive range of amazing gardens. We were both impressed by the size of the Gardens. You can spend several hours exploring them, walking different trails. Well worth the visit.

On the way back, we stopped at the Boothbay Lobster Wharf for a lobster roll and fried clam roll. Michael's fried clam roll was the winner here - very generous sandwich, lightly fried and tender clams. I'm wishing I could have one right now. Delicious.

On Tuesday afternoon, we took the ferry to Monhegan Island from Port Clyde. I had originally planned to take the ferry from Boothbay Harbor, but Port Clyde had more sailings a day between the islands, which gave more options for going and returning.

The weather this week was definitely changeable - sunny one minute, grey and windy, rainy the next. The first half of the hour-long ride was smooth, but then it got very, very choppy. I was glad for the Bonine that I took - even with the travel pills, I felt pretty wiped out. But we finally arrived, and made it in one piece.

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