Almost four months ago I traipsed up the New England coast with my dear friend Katy, (remember her?). Why I’m just now writing about it, I’m not sure. It was such a major trip and there is so much to say.
Should I start with the breathtaking views that Maine never fails to provide? Or should I start with the literal and figurative breath of fresh air it was to get out of the city and into a place where people wave when you let them into traffic? Or should I talk about the fact that we stayed in a laughably sketchy motel, but almost missed dinner one night because we didn’t want to leave our cracked plastic “patio furniture,” our red wine in red solo cups, and the endless laughs?
You see that I have a lot to tell you.
Our weekend long trip started with driving up the coast of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and finally Maine. There’s a special thrill I feel every time I see the sign “Maine! The Way Life Should Be.” We stopped immediately after crossing into Maine and got lunch at Robert’s Maine Grill, in Kittery. Drinking in the views on the water and that intoxicating sea air, we did what you do in Maine. That is, we ordered seafood.
After a delicious and filling meal, we both agreed that we needed a nap, but that also they probably wouldn’t let us sleep at the restaurant, so we drove on. Our motel was located on Route 1, which holds some of the most beautiful seaside views and, in October, some seriously breathtaking foliage.
Our first night and the next day was spent in the little towns along Route 1. We stayed in Wells, explored Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, ate dinner in Ogunquit which gave me insight into the world of pumpkin mac and cheese, and spent hours, many of them, sitting still and taking in the calm and peacefulness that one feels when one is near the sea.
Katy and I both agreed that there wasn’t anything we’d rather do than just lounge around in Maine. We talked and talked, then talked some more, all while walking beaches, taking scenic drives, and sharing great food and just a couple of glasses of wine. It was relaxing, like a retreat, which I guess it was.
Our next destination was Portland; after a night of relaxing in the sweet beach towns it was a nice change of pace to visit a city. And when I say change of pace, I mean we went from walking at a leisurely stroll to walking at a leisurely stroll surrounded by more people and more lights.
We got there mid afternoon and as we had a big dinner planned that night, looked for a small bite to eat near the water. We stopped at the first place we heard live music, obviously, and each got a hot bowl of creamy clam chowder and a pumpkin beer.
We continued our exploration of the Old Port after our bite to eat and found each corner to be more charming than the last. We found old trains, sail boats docked, and adorable coffee shops.
After our brief but lovely introduction to Portland, we returned to our hotel to get ready for dinner. This dinner was the reason I insisted that we spend at least one night in Portland. I had visited Portland once before with my mom and discovered what might be my all time favorite restaurant in the United States.
That restaurant is Fore Street and it’s worth a trip just to eat there. I do not exaggerate.
Fore Street books up months in advance, but to make sure that people, even poor planners like me, get to eat there, they have a walk-in policy. They save 1/3 of their seats on a first-come first-serve basis for walk-ins, so if you show up at opening time and wait in line, you’ll be seated. But be early! They open at 5pm and we got there at 4:45 thinking we would be awkward and early, but we were at least 14 people back.
We were seated earlier than we probably would have planned had we called months in advance, but we decided to make an evening of it. We enjoyed a slow dinner, ordering when we were ready, and soaking in the ambiance and atmosphere of the restaurant. We had their famous wood-oven roasted mussels and a cold crab seasonal appetizer to start. The mussels are why I will continue to go back; they’re mind blowing. I had a steak and Katy had lobster, then we split some sort of chocolate bomb to end the evening. However, the star of the night, for me at least, was the mussels.
Our evening went on from there, where we walked more and explored Portland. When we finally arrived back at our hotel, we were tired, full, and more than a little happy.
The next morning we started our reluctant drive back to Boston. We stopped along the way to see some more sites, and of course, the quintessential Maine symbol, a lighthouse.
This picturesque lighthouse is located in York and is stationed on a small island surrounded by beautiful ocean views and quite a few seagulls who had quite a lot to say.
We got back to Boston and I drove Katy to the airport. That’s always the worst part of the trip–the over part. While I was sad to see her go, as a weekend is never enough and a weekend in Maine is really never enough, we both agreed that we felt refreshed, rejuvenated, and revived.
Maine will do that to you. It’s the way life should be.