Monday, October 22, 2012

Days 11-12: Owls Head to Saco to E-ville

Day 11:  Owls Head to Saco

Quote of the day:
Every time I think about
back home
It's cool and breezy
I wish that I could be there
right now
Just passing time.

Weather:    Fog, rain (hard at times), clearing late in the afternoon, then warm

Pics:     Owls Head fresh leaf fall, Salty Dog Tavern and Grill, wedding in Portland, the last pic of a pretty tree

Up way too early, coffee and toast, then a walk and meet-up with R (he’s running, then walking). THB leaves first and is almost immediately caught in a hard downpour. Figure R will be smart enough not to start, so don’t bother returning to let him know. 20 minutes later, here comes R, also drenched. Agree it makes us the craziest motha-fuckahs in all of Owls Head (at least on this Saturday). JC shows better grasp of the local conditions and opts not to join in. For C, S and DB: it was never on, they keep their wits about them given the amount of rain and fog on hand.

Lots of slow motion hanging around in the morning (gosh, wonder if the food and drink at Primo’s had much to do with that). Part ways a little before noon and THB and DB head south. Our first stop is at the Salty Dog for fried fish and chips (though DB tried to order hers blackened) and a shared extremely local brew (made on premises), $26.

From lunch, we do a drop-in at the LL Bean Catalog store in Freeport where THB swears he started to break out with a strong allergic reaction as soon as he got within a few miles of downtown Freeport. DB takes note and thus we do a fast walk-thru and a short stroll before continuing south to Portland where we stroll what might be generously called the downtown art district and most would call skid row.

Another short jaunt and we’ve arrived at the Hampton Inn in Saco (about 1 hour 45 minutes from Logan airport) for the night. Unfortunately, THB did not notice the fine print and somehow along with ending up in a huge king / suite, we are in the smoking wing of the hotel.

So much for booking through some generic “list all the hotels” site; when we check in the front desk tells as that a) they are full for the night; b) they get 4-5 people a day complaining about ending up a smoking room (the site reserves the right to put you in a room not quite with the requested requirements); and c) on January 1st they will convert to all non-smoking.

So: a) we’re screwed, THB has pre-paid and THB’s eyesight is fading, he can no long ready fine print; b) THB wonders how a hotel in Saco on a Saturday night can be full (even the hotel staff is surprised at 100% occupancy; and c) we’re only 70 days or so too early.

Dinner in Biddleford (near Saco) at Thai ME: fish in ginger sauce, pad thai with tofu, wine, local beer (Portland), $50. It is in the low 60s and clear, another amazing turn of the weather.

Day 12:  Saco to E-ville

Quote of the day:
Everybody seems to wonder
What it's like down here
I gotta get away
from this day-to-day
running around,
Everybody knows
this is nowhere.

Weather:   Clear and cool, perfect for flying except there is a headwind going west

Book Review, audio category:    Waging Heavy Peace, Neal Young (read by Keith Carradine). Hey, hey, my, my, rock and roll can never die, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. THB thinks Neal thought that he was getting paid by the word, rather than the image created, of his life story. And, no need to tell it in a straight line, better to keep looping and looping and retelling some parts over and over. And, somehow, Neal’s personality comes through and you hang with him through the 10 hours. Not all that much juicy gossip, and it does seem that if you are rocker that survived this long, you are gonna get a biography out there. :

Book Review: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain (novel). An American infantry squad is being honored with a glory tour of America after a battle in Iraq made them heroes (and a few of them died). Today’s big event: appearing at halftime of the Thanksgiving football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears, in Dallas. Told through the soldier (Billy Lynn) who has won medals for the battle and is struggling with the juxtaposition of new found fame and what for him is now all pretty complex for a 19 year old to take in and make sense of: loyalty to family, to his squad, to his commitment to the army, making out with a Dallas cheerleader, and wisdom passed on by his sergeant and dead comrade. Recommended.

The flight home from Boston takes 6.5 hours; must be one of the all-time longest continental flights ever. At least this time United has the sense to leave THB and DB in the economy plus seats as originally booked. Phew!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Days 9-10 Owls Head

Day 9:  Owls Head

Quote of the day: Just as the Red Sox proved the critics wrong, Maine can compete and can win.         

Weather:    Another perfect day: 60s, clear, hazy sun

Pics:     Sunrise, kayaking on the bay from in front of the cottage, Suzuki’s

Coffee and toast, grape nuts with apple, another early morning walk, and a very easy and picturesque kayak paddle on Penobscot Bay and up Cripple Creek (real name!) with R.  S&JC have joined in and 6 of us have lunch at Archers:  crab rolls for THB and DB, $45.

After lunch, the 6 of us go for a walk along the breakwater in Rockland (see pics of a pic of the breakwater), built a long time ago using big chunks from the local quarries, extends almost a mile from shore (and the last few yards were underwater as it was high tide) to a small lighthouse (so we didn’t make it that far).

Split from the group and DB and THB take in the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, specializing in three generations of Wyeth; THB is not drawn to any of the three though years ago saw Andrew’s big show in SF and thought it very good. Maybe his compelling work is not on display here.

Full complement of 7 has dinner at Suzuki’s in Rockland: share a huge portion of sushi, sashimi, rolls, drinks, wine, and a local brew (THB of course), ginger and pumpkin ice creams and a very unusual blueberry sorbet, around $43/person and both very good and a bargain. The owner has been written up in NYT as one of the very few female sushi chefs around (of course, a round of jokes follow about how slim the binder was for this category). 

Day 10:  Owls Head

Quote of the day: See above

Weather:   Warm, overcast, cloudy, a tinge of rain

Pics:     Sunrise, Watershed (including ephemeral work by Shay Church), elephant by Shay Church from NCECA 2012, Damariscotta River Grill

Toast and coffee, Owls Head walk, Grape Nuts and apple. C, S, DB and THB take a drive south to tour Watershed, a small ceramics artist residency program. The residencies are over now, so the place is mostly empty except for one last firing in a wood burning kiln for locals, where we get to see a bit of kiln loading in action.

There are four pieces of wolves in various stages of deteriorations by Shay Church; the work is not meant to last and these pieces are definitely fading away. We saw Shay’s work at NCECA in Seattle early this year (see pic of an elephant starting to deteriorate in a gallery).

JC and R meet us in Damariscotta for a nice lunch at the River Grill: Thai seafood soup and black bean and andouille sausage soup for DB and THB, along with a basket of bread, drinks, $35.

Off Highway 1 a bit for a stop at Beths for apples, jam, etc., and other items for the cottage. The ride to Beths is spectacular as Fall is glowing bright yellow in this area.

Back to the cottage in Owls Head to rest up for dinner at Primo’s.  There are 6 of us, D stays back at cottage to rest his ankle.  Dinner: we all share a pizza of local mastutake mushrooms , onions and arugula as an appetizer; entrees of wild mushrooms with hand rolled cavatelli, scallops drizzled with pomegranate molasses (2); chicken from the wood fired oven (like the pizza) with semolina gnocchi (2);  desserts of apple tatin and chocolate budino; two bottles of wine, 5 mixed drinks, and two coffees. All good…and, oh doubtful follower, you ask how could THB vouch for all that? Because, aside from the drinks, THB has managed to finish everyone’s meal. Total: $550, and THB, DB, S, and JC treat as it is R’s birthday, and he is really old now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Days 7-8 Bar Harbor to Owls Head

Day 7:  Bar Harbor to Owls Head

Quote of the day:  I looked along the San Juan Islands and the coast of California, but I couldn't find the palette of green, granite, and dark blue that you can only find in Maine.

Weather:    Fog, rain, rain hard at times, clearing in the afternoon, pretty sunset

Pics:     Morning Glory Bakery, BH Inn in the fog, CafĂ© This Way sign, Rockland utility box, Camden tree, Owls Head General Store, Shepherd’s Pie

Walk in BH in the midst of fog, then breakfast at Morning Glory Bakery of chocolate and cream cheese scone, jam pocket, coffee and baguette and cinnamon bread for later, $15. Checkout of the BH Inn: $240/night including breakfast. The plan for the morning is to take a small boat to one of the islands partly in ANP, with a ranger on board, the last 10am departure of the season. Fog…okay, it will clear up and off we go. Fog lifts and it starts raining. And then raining more firmly. Off we go, to stay with friends in Owls Head.

Along the way, we do a bit of gallery shopping, then meet up with C, R and D, where we are staying for the next four nights.  Lunch at Owls Head General Store: crab rolls, crab melt, tuna melts, a few drinks, around $70 for 5.

Run errands with C&R, rest up for dinner, then the five of us head to Shepherd’s Pie in Rockport, around 20 minutes from Owls Head. Lots of shared plates (oysters, wood roasted oysters, blue squash, roast mussels, fried crab tacos, fried Brussels sprouts, spicy beef salad),  one drink, a bottle of sauvignon blanc, $220.

Back to find out that there was an earthquake two hours from here….we sure didn’t feel it. And, a presidential debate (no earthquake). And, the Yankees losing again to the Tigers (making most of New England very happy).

Day 8:  Owls Head

Quote of the day: See above

Weather:    Clear and very cool in the morning, perfect the rest of the day

Pics:    Sunrise in Owls Head, lots of shots in and around Owls Head, Camden, from the water of Penobscot Bay, Captain Aaron, Cappy’s Bakery, Mt Battie, and lobsters fresh off the boat

Book Review:     George F Kennan, An American Life, by John Gaddis. And what a long life and book it was. The 20th century of post-revolutionary Russia-USSR geopolitical efforts as seen through the prism of the American most famous for predicting the course of action best suited for the integration of Russia with the democratic world: containment.  Kennan was a quirky guy: much more comfortable being a consultant who wanted his viewpoint always sought and advice taken and yet incapable of taking a leadership role. And, he practically outlived his biographer, making it past 100, after they started the project in Kennan’s 70s (or was it his 80s?). Recommended if are interested in mid 20th century politics.

Up for a pretty sunrise, a walk with R (DB goes for walk with C, as always), light breakfast (toast, coffee, apple), and then a chance to take that cruise missed in Acadia NP. DB picks up a sandwich at the local Camden Deli (THB brings toasted baguette and hardboiled eggs from BH leftovers) , with drinks $13; THB picks up great cookies at Cappy’s,  $4.50, and off we go on the Olad to take a sailing cruise in Penobscot Bay ($74 for 2), leaving from Camden. Gorgeous, smooth, slow, gentle, and replete with stories from Captain Aaron who has been everywhere, has met all the big local names (Cronkite, et al).

Make a few stops on the way back from Camden: take in the view of ANP from Mount Battie, pick up bread at Sweets and Meats, and C&R give us a tour of local hoods where R spent many a year when younger as well as pick up dinner for tonight (soft-shelled lobsters right off the boat, $40).  Local blueberry pie for dessert, and lots of wine.