A Travellerspoint blog

On my birthday, it’s all about ME

(Maine, that is)

Peace, Love, & Lobsters


Our first trip to Maine was in August 2007 after we ran across an advertisement for the 60th annual lobster festival in Rockland, ME.

What could be better than a tent filled with all the lobster you could eat?

What we didn’t know is how Maine would instantly charm us. We were immediately under its spell. Bright blue skies, blueberries, fresh seafood, salty air, and wildflowers literally bursting from every crevasse…..what was not to love?

We returned in July 2009 for the 62nd annual lobster festival….and again in September 2011. We didn’t make it back until September 2020, during my blog hiatus (sorry, you haven’t seen that one!). Our last trip to Maine was in April 2021 (nope…you haven’t seen that one either…)

The one thing I seem to do on every trip is get a ridiculous photo with my food, so here’s to 16 years of playing with my food!


When I saw that Erick Baker, my favorite local singer/songwriter from home was doing a show in midcoast Maine ON MY BIRTHDAY….how could I not go?


A bad day travelling is better than a good day in the office


Absolute rubbish.

I woke up early on travel day. I always do. We had to be at the airport around noon, so I wanted to have plenty of time to get ready, do some last minute packing, prepare the house, and drop off the dogs.

Instead, I saw a midnight message from Delta that our flight from TN to NY had been delayed until 3:00 p.m., getting us to LGA after our connecting flight to Bangor had already departed.

I spent the next hour wrangling with websites and apps and airline agents, still in my pajamas, with my dogs on the floor staring at me wondering about breakfast.

$700 extra dollars later, I managed to get us on an American Airlines flight to LGA. The layover would be tight, and we’d have to change terminals, but it was the best we could do to even attempt to make our flight to Maine that afternoon.

I ran into the bedroom where Matt was still in bed. Why? Because he does nothing to prepare for a trip rather than put on his clothes and show up.

“Get up! We have to leave right now!”

We blew out of the house faster than if it had been on fire, feeling completely disheveled and unprepared.

Our flight now required an extra layover and two airlines. We’d fly American from TYS to CLT with a one hour layover, and then we’d fly CLT to LGA. Once we got to LGA, we would have one hour to get from the American terminal and gate to the Delta terminal and gate. Having never been to LGA, I had no idea if this was even possible.

“All we can do is try,” I said as we boarded our flight to Charlotte on time.

We’d have been fine if the plane had actually LEFT on time.

We sat. And sat. And sat some more.

By the time we left, we were 30 minutes late.

We arrived in CLT and guess what? We sat.

We were still sitting on the plane in the second to last row waiting for the doors to open when a notice from American popped up on my phone.

“We board in 15 minutes,” I told Matt.

I felt sick. I felt dizzy. I needed to pee, but there would be no time for that.

When we got off the plane, we had to get from the far end of terminal E to the far end of terminal B in less than 10 minutes. With luggage.

Y’all, I’m no runner.

But as Forrest Gump would say, “I was runnnnning.”

I was sweating and literally sucking wind with a side cramp when we got to the gate as the very last passengers were boarding. Menopausal women should not run in unforgiving jeans and inappropriate footwear. I felt like I was self combusting.

“That sucked,” I told Matt. “I never want to do that again.”

I had no idea we’d be doing it again just two hours later, with the added bonus of a crowded airport, a freaking shuttle ride….through traffic lights, and a terminal change which meant GOING THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN.

“We’re not going to make it,” I said to Matt as we sat through the 3rd red light on the LGA shuttle, knowing we still had to get through security and run God-knows-how-far. Our flight to Maine was boarding in 10 minutes.

“We’re not going to make it,” I said again, all of my beautiful travel plans running though my head.

All of you who have ever had a flight cancellation delay know exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s like in the movies where someone is about to die and their life runs through their head, only this is with rental cars and non-refundable hotel rooms. And those of us who are neurotic planners have the added agony of thinking of the meal we already knew we were going to order from the menu we had memorized that we’d never get to eat.

Somehow….we made it….by the skin of our teeth.

We ran to the gate just as the doors were shutting.

Securely in our seats, I think we breathed our first breath in over 7 minutes.

When the flight attendant came by and asked what we’d like to drink….

“A double bloody Mary, please,” I said.

Matt leaned over, “Make it two.”



Having survived travel day and used up all our cuss words for the month, we landed in Bangor, Maine, where it was raining like there would be no tomorrow.


Shoot me, please.

This travel day just continued to decline.

“Ayah, be careful, it’s a wicked pissah out theyah,” the airport attendant said as he pointed us toward the rental cars.

No matter. We were HERE.

We climbed into the Mini and headed toward Blue Hill.


By the time we reached the Barncastle Inn, the rain had stopped. We had planned to eat dinner there that night, so all we had to do was go to our room, change our clothes, and walk downstairs to their adorable restaurant.


Barncastle was absolutely lovely. The 1884 Victorian Inn had only 5 suites and was all turrets and archways and eyebrow windows. As we walked into the grand foyer, I was instantly smitten.


The only thing more charming was the official greeter, Leroy, the owners’ Bernese Mountain Dog.


Our suite, Room 5, had a clawfoot bathtub that was the first bathtub in all of Blue Hill. The tub, made of solid cast iron, took 10 men to carry to the second floor. That was the best bath soak of all time.


Once we had washed the stink (both literally and figuratively) of travel day off, we headed downstairs.

The Barncastle had a wonderfully cozy and warm bar and adjoining restaurant.


We were shown to our table, where of course I didn’t need to look at the menu because I did, in fact, have it memorized.

We ordered some cocktails to take the edge off.


Neither of us had breakfast or lunch, thanks to spending the entire day mad-dashing from one location to another, so all we had subsisted on at this point was vodka and airplane pretzels. We dove into a plate of warm, salty pretzel rolls slathered with Bavarian mustard butter like we had just spent 40 years in the desert.


When it was time to order, Matt decided to go with the mussels swimming in downeast cider, whole grain mustard, crème fraiche and herbs.


I never met a pizza I didn’t like, so when I saw “Flammkuchen (it’s like a pizza!)” on the menu, I knew I had to have it.

“I’ll have the Flammakoochin….” I said, “No, wait, Flam-Coochn?” I looked at the waitress for help.

“Flahm-kookn,” she said.

Seriously, can’t we just call it pizza?

Not quite pizza, the flammkuchen was a crispy flatbread topped with savory gruyere, caramelized onions and smoked shrimp. However you pronounce it, it was delicious.


We finished up with the rhubarb pistachio cake with a pineapple hibiscus puree and lemony whipped cream.


There was nothing left to do but fall blissfully asleep and be thankful that this day was over.

Forecast: 100% chance of lobster


Lobster is the primary reason I come to Maine. Sure, I love the charming shaker shingle cape cods, the colorful buoys hanging from shopfronts, the riotous wildflowers….but the lobster is my one true love.

So, it was a guarantee that there would be lobster EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But first, breakfast.


We enjoyed breakfast in the lovely library at the Barncastle Inn, but you know who loved it more?



It was clear that Leroy was both malnourished and unloved, it had probably been at least 5 minutes since he’d last eaten or had a hug, so Matt proceeded to get both himself and poor Leroy in trouble with the innkeeper for feeding him cake under the table.


We wouldn’t be spending a second night at Barncastle, so we gave Leroy some final noggin pats, loaded up the Mini, and headed north, toward Acadia National Park.


Yes, Acadia in July is more “peopley” than I like, but I can’t come to this part of Maine without seeing those amazing views. They take my breath. Also, despite the crowds, you can always find some quiet spaces.


It was unseasonably hot in Maine that day.

Do you know why most people go Maine in the summer? Because when it’s hotter than hell and half of Georgia in the rest of the country, it’s downright pleasant in Maine. “Not too hot” is how summer is typically described. Perfect. Sunny. 75.

We brilliantly chose to go to Maine at the tail end of what was the record for the longest consecutive run of high temperatures in Maine SINCE THEY STARTED RECORDING THE TEMPERATURE. The headline the week before we traveled to Maine, “Hottest week of the summer coming in Maine.” The forecast stated, “…temps well into the 90s statewide by Thursday and Friday.

Did I mention that it was Friday?

Because it was getting hotter by the minute and the park was so crowded you’d have thought they were giving away free puppies to each car that entered the gate, we decided not to do any hiking that day.


We did get out and walk back to Jordan Pond, though. It wasn’t too crowded, probably thanks to the small parking lot and the fact that most of the inhabitants of the cars in that small lot were too busy shoveling down popovers and lemonade at the Jordan Pond House.

This is my single favorite spot in Acadia National Park and I couldn’t imagine a visit without seeing it.


At this point, it was so hot the a/c in our car whimpered and whispered… “no more.” It was blowing, but it wasn’t blowing cold air. Matt and I were hotter than the Devil’s armpit and probably smelled just as bad.

We exited Acadia and made the short drive to Northeast Harbor where we popped out and took in the beautiful views.


At this point, my inner old lady was reaching her maximum temperature and air conditioning did not become a want, it became a need. Along with the second most important thing to a woman over 50, a bathroom.

We pulled into Abel’s Lobster for blessed a/c, cool cocktails, lobster, and a glorious bathroom.


We stood at the hostess stand. As sweat beaded on my brow and squished around in my bra…heck…even my butt was sweating…. the fresh-faced young woman in front of us didn’t seem to notice that it was 457 degrees outside.

“Outside seating?” she asked.

I looked around the patio, filled with other people who clearly did not know that we were in the 3rd circle of hell.

I looked back at her and my face must have given me away.

“Or inside?” she asked.

“INSIDE,” Matt and I shouted in unison.

Aaaahhh…..who needs nature and waterfront views when you can have cold, artificial air?????

The only other couple inside was an 80-something man and woman.

I guess it was official.

We were old folks now.

I slithered into my chair with a gleeful sigh and ordered a mai tai.


God bless air conditioning.

After crab dip, lobster, and blueberry pie, all was again right with the world.


Until I remembered I had to get back in the hot box, aka, the Mini with no air.

It was a rather toasty drive to Searsport, where we had rented a small oceanfront cottage for the remainder of the trip.

The Depot was the most perfect, adorable, and wonderfully air-conditioned little Maine cottage I had ever seen. There were flowers everywhere and the most stunning view.


As if on cue, two bald eagles swooped down into the back yard, flying together back and forth over the water as soon as we arrived.

There could be no better place to spend my birthday.


We cooled off, cleaned up, and headed outside to enjoy the breeze that had kicked up (ushering in a cold front…woooo!) with a nice bottle of wine before heading to dinner.


Let me preface dinner by stating that Matt and I don’t typically dine at really high end places. We love food, but we are not foodies. I will choose nachos over fine dining 100% of the time if it’s truly up to me. I like my pasta with red sauce and powdered parmesan cheese. My favorite food is pizza. I love canned peas. I shop at Price Less, not Whole Foods.

We don’t eat at restaurants that have their own truffle dogs or forage for their own mushrooms in the woods. If I saw “tapioca pearls and royal kaluga caviar drizzled with champagne granite and coconut chiffon,” I would ask if it came with ketchup.

Small food, no matter how pretty, makes us sad.

We are not extravagant restaurant people.

So I wasn’t sure what had possessed me to secure a dinner reservation at a historic restaurant nearby that was described as “destination dining” and only offered a nightly chef’s tasting menu. I had no idea how much said tasting menu was or what would be on it. I had an idea when I was required to use my credit card to secure a reservation.

If I am completely honest, I was shamelessly drawn in by the promise of a $40 old fashioned. I needed to know.

I mean, it WAS my birthday weekend.

The Hichborn was “just down the road a piece,” in nearby Stockton Springs. When we arrived, I saw a lovely historic house surrounded by flowers. So far, so good.


There were several small dining rooms inside, my best guess was that the entire restaurant seated about 30 people. We were seated at a beautiful little table that sat tucked inside a bay window, almost like our own private space.

The pre-fixe menu was on the table, along with a cocktail menu.

The menu didn’t have prices.


So…at this point…why not go for the old fashioned that cost more than I would typically spend on my entire meal?

I mean, I WAS my birthday weekend.

What the hell. Matt got a really expensive cocktail too. Why not?


Deciding to just go all in, we added the wine pairing (which was an amazing idea at the time and a terrible idea the next morning) and the optional oyster course. At this point, the meal was clearly going to cost more than my first car, so we might as well go all the way.

And then, we dined. Of course I am going to describe all 8 courses to ensure I get my money’s worth.

The first thing they did was bring us teeny tiny little spoons.


Matt got scared.

“I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like anything I can eat with this spoon,” he said.

It was small, but mighty. First up was an amouse bouche, a chilled cucumber soup with fava, arugula, spinach, and mint, topped with cucumber granita. I would typically snort-laugh if I ordered something with “granita,” but here I was, being all fancy.


Next up was a baby gem lettuce salad with cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, and bread crumbs paired with a Viognier from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.


Then the oysters came out and they were….to be quite honest….life changing. Paired with a 2016 Cava Gran Reserva Brut from Spain, these Norumbega oysters were exquisite, topped with a ramp vinaigrette.


At this point, even Matt was won over. He talked about those oysters for DAYS.

If I am honest, when I saw the next dish on the menu, my first thought was, “Oh hell no.”

I remember my mom had an old 1960’s Better Homes and Gardens cookbook when I was a kid. You know the one? With the red and white picnic plaid cover?

Anyway, I loved to look at it and I would flip through it like it was the world’s best picture book.

And there it was.

Right between the jellied bullion ring with frankenfurters and the ham & lima bean sadness casserole…...a raw hamburger with a raw egg on it….

“Impress your guests with this elegant beef tartare,” it promised.

For a kid, it was the thing nightmares of made of.

I have never gotten that image out of my head. I ripped the page to shreds and hid it beneath my Legos just to be on the safe side.

When I saw that our next course was a beef tenderloin tartare with a rainbow farm egg…..I mouthed a silent “over my dead body.” No matter the 2022 French Beaujolais that came with.

Just as the oysters won Matt over….it was the tartare that won me over. This was my single favorite course of the entire meal. I kid you not. Freaking amazing what they did with raw meat, eggs, and radishes.


Don’t get me wrong, just because we had admitted that we were actually enjoying this somewhat high-brow dining experience, I was still me. You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

I spent the next 10 minutes imitating the waiter’s slightly exaggerated description telling us that we were drinking the “bougelais made from the gamay grapes,” which I found endlessly entertaining.

“We’re drinking the booooooghuuuuulaaaaay from the gaaaaamaaaaayyyy,” I reminded Matt, repeatedly, in my best Kardashian voice.

It was like that time we got upgraded to fist class and we spent the first 15 minutes pushing all the buttons. We enjoyed it, but it was clear we didn’t belong.

No matter! On to the next course, which was a pork filet with heirloom potatoes and fermented napa cabbage with sage paired with a 2021 Red Rhone Blend from CA.


At this point, the wine was really hitting.

“Bougelais….from the gamay…”

Before the dessert course, there was a lovely palate cleanser, which allowed Matt a second shot at the tiny little spoon.


For our final course (so we thought), there was a lovely olive oil cake with lemon curd, Maine blueberries, and whipped mascarpone with a glass of Spanish Moscatel Dorado Sherry.


And just like the old Ginzu knife commercials from our childhood…But wait! There’s more!

To keep you from crying over your bill, they deliver it with snickerdoodle cookies.


When I asked Matt how much it was, his exact words were, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Matt cried while I ate the cookies.

We are never going to be those people that eat like this regularly, or even annually, but once in a blue moon, it’s fun to just say, “What the hell” and order a $40 cocktail.

I mean…it WAS my birthday weekend.

Party like a Lob-star

It was my birthday, and it was official.

I used to be “hot stuff,” now…..


I was moving slow that morning. The bougelais from the gamay was thundering through my head like a racehorse.

We settled in with coffee and did nothing more than watch the fishing boats go by. The good news was that the cold front had moved in and it was considerably cooler.


Once I had hydrated and Adviled, I was right as rain so we headed to Belfast to grab some breakfast at Traci’s diner.

Lobster for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do.


If I have said it once on this blog, I have said it a hundred times…God love Matt for putting up with me and my crazy ideas.

When he asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, probably the one answer he was NOT expecting was, “Walk alpacas.”

Meet Gaius and Indie.


Indie was a sweetheart. Gaius was a jackass.

Obviously, I got Gaius.

But I had a bag of alpaca snacks and that made him tolerable.


I had decided to spend the day driving through the countryside, from Searsport to Camden, parallel to the coast. It was a chance to see a different side of midcoast maine.

Our next stop was at Glendarragh Lavender Farm. My absolute favorite scent in the world is lavender. I knew I would love it. What surprised me was how much Matt loved it!


After we toured the farm and bought some lovely items to take home, we continued our drive deep into the countryside to Sweetgrass Farm Distillery. We had visited this on one of our prior trips and loved the beautiful grounds, their award winning gin, and the quiet, laid back atmosphere.

We did a quick tasting and then purchased some cocktails to enjoy outside in the sunshine.


Then it was on to Cellardoor Winery, another place we had visited previously and loved. On the way, there as a birthday surprise….my first oreo cow!!


Yes, Oreo cows are a thing.

Cellardoor is a sprawling property and is beautiful inside and out.

We had reserved an outdoor seating area, but it was so cool and lovely inside we asked if we could be moved inside. Not only did they move us inside, they gave us their best seating area. It was another lovely birthday surprise!


Settled into comfy chairs, with plenty of snacks and wine, we had a lovely wine lunch.

We headed home for the afternoon because we had a special evening planned…it was the Erick Baker show in Castine!

We rested up and had cake. Cake before dinner? Um…yeah. It’s my birthday.


Because I wanted to be sure we’d make the show on time, I had made dinner reservations at the Homeport Inn and Tavern, so close to our cottage that we could have walked.

It was a lovely place, all gleaming wood and dim lighting, with a live jazz duo in the adjoining room. Cocktails, mussels, fish and chips…it might not have been as fancy as the Hichborn but my dinner was fried and came with ketchup and that’s tops in my book.


The first time Matt and I saw Erick Baker perform https://www.erickbaker.com/ he was at a tiny little place in downtown Knoxville in 2008. We loved him instantly.

Over the years, we have watched Erick get married, have a daughter, host a TV show, and become slightly famous. His music is amazing and to watch him perform it live is magical.

We have been lucky enough to host him several times for shows at our home and over the years, we have come to call him friend. We don’t only love his music and watching him perform, he holds a special place in our hearts.

When I saw that he was doing a show on my actual birthday in midcoast Maine, I knew what I wanted to do for my birthday.

Matt LOVES Maine and Erick, so talking him into it was easy.

So here we were, pulling up to a beautiful old mansion in Castine to watch a very small, intimate show.


The Elms was gorgeous. We grabbed some drinks at the bar and had a chance to talk to Erick for a while before grabbing our seats at our table.

To say Erick Baker does a great live show is such a gross understatement. It’s like saying that $40 old fashioned at The Hichborn was “ok.”

It was an amazing night. He had asked for my favorites before the show and made sure to play every one, even leading the room in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”


I never wanted the show to end, but it was late, it was raining, and we had an hour drive back to Searsport in the dark, so we hugged Erick goodbye, grabbed the world’s worst selfie, and called it a night.

Oh, what a night!

All the aaaaaaahhhhhhhs…..


Lobstah, chowdah, oystah…..

Today, we were going coastal.

We planned to drive south along the coast from Searsport to Rockland, sampling the views and seafood along the way.

First up was Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast. Lobster at 10:00 am? Why not?


This has always been my favorite of the lobster pounds because I love sitting outside in the brilliant Maine sunshine, watching the boats in Belfast Harbor.

With belly’s full of lobster, we stopped in quaint, downtown Belfast to do a little shopping. Obviously we HAD to go into the Blue Alpaca store and buy some socks and hats. I mean, we were practically FAMILY now.


Like Hobbits, it was time for second breakfast.

Shopping made us hungry again, so we made another stop in Lincolnville. Lincolnville is literally a speck of a town on one street with a sweeping harbor, book ended by 2 lobster pounds. We stopped at McLaughlin’s because I love their outdoor setting.


Buttery lobster rolls and creamy fish chowder made a great snack.

What I had been looking forward to the most, however, was oyster Sunday at Primo. We had discovered oyster Sunday on our 2020 trip and it was amazing. The restaurant opened the doors to its lovely barn, set among the vegetable and herb gardens where they grow much of their own food, with tables scattered about the lawn and wildflowers and sunshine creating a perfect summer haze as we sipped chilled champagne and sucked down raw oysters. I loved everything about it.

I was so happy to see that oyster Sunday at Primo still lives. From 1 – 4, they dish out lovely small plates and $2 oysters with live music and chilled wine.

We didn’t want to miss it. Knowing it would be popular, we arrived promptly at 1:00 only to see that there was a line of about 40 people waiting at the entrance. Apparently, everyone else loved everything about it too.

Thinking this was a line waiting to be seated, we assumed the worst and left in defeat.

Matt could tell I was grossly disappointed.

“Maybe it was just an initial line for people who showed up early and, once they are seated, it won’t be that bad?” I ventured.

We agreed to head down to the Rockland Harbor and walk for about 30 minutes and then return to see if anything had changed.

The harbor was lovely! They have a long path that winds around the waterfront from one end of town to the other.


Not feeling very optimistic, we returned to Primo to find that the line was short. I hopped out while Matt found a parking space. What I realized quickly was that the line was because it was essentially counter service.

You wait in line, you order, you find a seat, and they bring your food to you. The long line initially was because so many showed up right at 1:00. Whew!


It was easy to find a shady spot to sit on their huge, sprawling property. Live house music played, rose flowed, and chilled platters of icy oysters came out in an endless parade.

We were seated with a great view of everyone waiting in line and it was the best people watching ever.


Satisfied, we headed to Camden for some more shopping. I love Maine Sea Bags and grabbed a wallet to go with the bag I bought on a previous trip. I also love Swans Island blankets. I drool over them every time we go to Maine. I finally bit the bullet and bought one. Yes, it was overpriced, but dang, I love that blanket.


We couldn’t be in Camden without stopping at River Ducks ice cream.


We spent the next hour wandering the harbor admiring the old boats. I love old boats, and I cannot lie.


I had booked us on a sunset sail and we had about an hour to kill, so we headed to the rooftop bar at the beautiful 16 Bay View hotel. Sitting above the historic hotel, The View is just that…..THE VIEW.



We enjoyed drinks and snacks with the best view in town.

We arrived at Sloop Angacaa right on time, wine and snacks in hand. Anjacaa is a 54 foot sloop built in 1973. Unlike most sunset sails in Camden, which carry 20 – 50 passengers, Anjacaa only carries 6, so it’s a significantly more intimate and private experience.

As we sat snuggled in our two seats on the bow, with blankets, wine, cheese and fruit, I watched as the other boats cruised out with so many people on them most were standing shoulder to shoulder.

No thank you.

What a magical night it was! The water was like glass, the sky clear, and not only did we see the sun set, we saw the moon rise. Just beautiful.


It was an absolutely perfect way to end a wonderful trip.

Back home now, I curl up on the sofa with my baby soft Swans Island blanket with visions of puffy, white hydrangeas next to faded shaker shingles; endless glassy seas dotted with wooden boats; the salty smell of the ocean; and crisp rose with ice cold oysters.

I wonder if Maine misses me too.


Posted by vicki_h 00:09 Archived in USA Tagged coast lobster seafood camden maine belfast acadia northeast rockland rockport midcoast_maine searsport

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Vicki, I'm so happy for your return! I've often checked from time to time to see a new entry and wondered what happened.

Wow, that is a lot of LIFE! I'm sorry to hear of Matt's mother. I remember pictures of her from other entries and she looked like a sweet lady.

Love the brunette hair and happy belated birthday!

I'm glad you're back to tell your travel tales. Your pictures are always beautiful but even without pictures I could see your adventures through your vivid writing.


by Tiffany_R

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