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Trip Report Coastal Maine for 2 Weeks in mid-September

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I'm not one to journal my trips, but want to jot just a few scattered and random notes here as a thank you to all those who responded to my many questions here prior to my trip. Such a great help!

LODGINGS: (I needed motels in the range of $100-120). First of all, I spent my first 5 nights at the Bar Harbor Motel, and I simply can't say enough about what a great place this is! Clean as a whistle--looked like it was freshly painted inside with not a mark anywhere; carpet so fresh looking that you might walk barefoot on it; spacious room with windows you can open, comfy bed; 4 rooms per unit so it just feels less like a motel and more like a cottage....never heard a sound from other rooms at night; staff are all friendly & helpful . Non-smoking really means non-smoking, and not a trace of the usual icky air freshener to cover stale room smell. Only limitation is that while there is a fridge, there is no microwave or coffeemaker in the room, and no continental breakfast--just coffee in the lobby. I personally did not find this to be an issue. Three minute drive from town, and walkable. I would definitely stay here again. It was lovely. This is not a waterfront motel, as I spend little if any time in my motels during daylight hours--but I did enjoy a glass of wine while sitting on the patio in front of my room a couple of times, and it was quite pleasant.
I picked well again for my budget range, staying 4 nights at the Ledges by the Bay in Rockport. Followed recommendations here again, and was very pleased. Clean, quiet, comfy, spacious, fresh & nicely appointed room with fridge and a balcony overlooking the harbor and sunrise--continental breakfast with great scones. Good location for visits to Camden, Rockport & Rockland. Would definitely stay here again.
As I mentioned in another post, my last pick was not one that I found through this forum. Lesson learned. Cap'n Fish's Waterfront Motel in Boothbay Harbor It was pretty well recommended on TripAdvisor, I believe. OMG. Since the room rate was only about $10-15 cheaper than the other 2 places I stayed, I was stunned by the differences. Dark, dingy, tired, cramped, tiny bathroom, no table, zero flat surface-space to put anything on other than the second bed (!), and towels so thin I could almost see through them, and that icky stale smell layered with air "freshener." Continental breakfast consisted of 2 cereal choices, 2 juices, coffee. Nuf said. Had a quick overnight in Bangor before flying home, at the Super 8 by the airport--what a bargain at AAA rate of $52 plus tax! Clean, spacious, 8 minutes from the airport. I do recommend it if you just need a clean, quiet, comfortable place to sleep.

FOOD: Jordans was my usual breakfast place in Bar Harbor, and there was never a wait to be seated, Friday-Tuesday. Fairly reasonable prices; nice "diner-like" atmosphere; big standard menu. I ate lobster in one form or another every day--usually on the wharfs / lobster pounds. Did not find limited hours or closings except Cod End in Tenants Harbor which was closed for the season; Whole lobster was great everywhere, and prices varied very little from one to another. The Bar Harbor Lobster Pound (about 10 minutes outside of BH toward Ellsworth) was not much less expensive than elsewhere, and I paid $7 for a fairly tasteless cup of Lobster Bisque which did not have a shred of lobster in it. By far, my favorite lobster roll on the entire trip was at Thurston's on MDI. That round roll grilled on the outside just really added something special to the usual! Red's Eats in Wiscasset was IMO not worth the one-hour stand in line, but no question that they put nearly twice as much lobster on the roll than any other place anywhere! Shaws in New Harbor was great, as was Watermans in S. Thomaston on MDI, Linda Bean's in Camden (a one-glass bottle of wine included for $1) carryout in a cute little picnic box which I took to the park overlooking the harbor. Waterfront Restaurant in Camden was a hassle with weird and irritating seating requirements (you have to sit at one end of the dock if eating dinner, and more or less inside (they zipped up the plastic awning until I complained)--but the crab & artichoke fondu was wonderful. The Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor was a bit less expensive than the Lobster Wharf next door, but both were good. Haraskeet pound (south of Freeport) was my last quick jaunt for a lobster pound before heading for the airport in Bangor, and I was not impressed, due to the staff person being incredibly unhelpful and the prices being higher than any I'd previously visited. I wished I had just gone to Linda Bean's at LL Bean's campus. Another negative experience (and there were few!) was at Testa's in Bar Harbor. Big mistake. The only place where I "splurged" to try the "lazyman's lobster" at a very high price for my standards, and the lobster actually had a taste of being old or previously frozen, the salad was wilted and unappetizing, and the waiter never came back after serving. I stopped, but bypassed both the Dolphin Marina and Estes on the Harpswell peninsula, as I did not find their menus and indoor restaurant to be as appealing as the lobster pounds and wharf experience.

I won't try to review all the stuff I did since others have done such a great job of this here, and it would make this excessively long. But just want to mention that I really enjoyed both the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, and the Marine Maritime Museum in Bath where I also did the 3.5 hour lighthouse cruise. These two museums have grown remarkably since 20 years ago, and I spent hours at each one! Lucked out by chance at Acadia, noticing that the annual Night Sky Festival was being held the week I was there, and after watching the sunset on Cadillac Summit, got to participate in the free, park-sponsored 3-hour "Star Party" on an exceptionally clear night, where volunteer astronomers had their telescopes set up for all to view all kinds of amazing things. It was the only crowded part of my trip, and despite probably more than a thousand visitors up there, it was quiet, well-run, and wonderful. I did a couple of other enjoyable boat trips--decided against the whale watch this time; and heard negative things about the Margaret Todd schooner trip out of Bar Harbor being short and un-interesting for the cost. Mid-September was IMO an ideal time to visit--no traffic issues, no crowds except at Red's (!)--and the weather was perfect. I am delighted that I spent 6 days on MDI and 5 days in the Rockland/Camden area. Although Boothbay Harbor was not crowded as I expected, I would probably spend my entire next trip to Maine, entirely north of Bath. This was a wonderful trip, and I am seriously going to experience withdrawal for no more fresh lobster here at home!

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