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Archive for maine

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea

By Linda Tancs

Camden is an idyllic village on Penobscot Bay in Maine’s MidCoast region. A self-described jewel of the coast, it’s often referred to as a place “where the mountains meet the sea.” That is indeed the case, with Bald Mountain (the fifth highest peak on the eastern seaboard) offering excellent views of Western Penobscot Bay, and Mount Battie featuring views of Camden Harbor and its summertime plethora of ships, yachts and windjammers. Labor Day weekend brings the annual Camden Windjammer Festival, the largest gathering of schooners in the Northeast. Celebrating the town’s maritime heritage, as many as 18 windjammers and schooners parade into the harbor on opening day, greeted by a welcome ceremony and followed by a schooner crew talent show and fireworks over the harbor. The two-day event offers family entertainment, day sailings, exhibitors and vendors.

The French in Maine

By Linda Tancs

In 1603, Pierre Dugua was commissioned by the King of France to initiate an expedition to the New World and to establish a French presence. By the summer of 1604, an expedition team sailed into Passamaquoddy Bay, an inlet between Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and settled on a small island they named Saint Croix (French for “cross”) because the confluence of the surrounding water systems looked akin to the shape of a cross. To commemorate the history of this settlement, Saint Croix Island International Historic Site was established. The area abounds with seals and birds and, approximately twice per day, the water and islands of the St. Croix River reveal the extreme tides of the Maine coast. When the tides drop below sea level, you’ll find shellfish, sea urchins and sediments normally under water. The site is located 8 miles south of Calais, Maine. A visitor center is inside the ranger station. Take the self-guided interpretative trail, featuring bronze figures of the French and members of the Passamaquoddy tribe as well as displays that discuss historical events and interactions between the two cultures.

Maine’s Tallest Mountain

By Linda Tancs

Maine’s highest point (at 5,270 feet), Mount Katahdin is also the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Named by the Penobscot Nation, the mountain’s moniker means “the greatest mountain.” You’ll find little quarrel with that amongst hikers, who regard it as one of the most difficult treks in the northeast. That’s especially true along Knife Edge Trail, a ridge with passageways as narrow as three feet in some places and steep drop-offs on both sides. Your diligence will be rewarded with awe-inspiring views across the Katahdin massif and down into the South Basin. Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Maine’s Pumpkin Trail

By Linda Tancs

There’s plenty to see along Maine’s Pumpkin Trail beyond the signature feature: pumpkins! Along the 40-mile route you’ll find the Maine Maritime Museum, the small-town charm of Freeport, the antique rails at Boothbay Railway Village and, this weekend, the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta. The trail awaits you through Halloween.

Moon River

By Linda Tancs

It’s as if the moon dropped into a river. That’s what the giant ice disk in the middle of the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine, looks like. Garnering worldwide attention, the rotating phenomenon is 300 feet in size, arguably the biggest ice disk on record. Take that, crop circles.

The Calendar Islands

By Linda Tancs

On the southern coast of Maine lies Casco Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Maine. Blessed with a multitude of islands, the region is referred to as The Calendar Islands, suggesting you’ll need a calendar’s worth of time to see them all. Well, maybe not quite, but the slower pace of life will encourage you to take all the time you want. There’s something for everyone on the larger islands served by the year-round ferry. Cyclists will love the dirt roads on Cliff Island. Golfers will appreciate the ability to perfect their long drive on breezy Chebeague Island. Naturalists will enjoy hiking the trails along Long Island’s large conservation area. Historians can stroll around the former parade grounds of Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island. Culture buffs will love the thriving artist community on Peaks Island. Need more inspiration? The Maine Island Trail Association offers a handy guide on places to explore.

Pre-Civil War Grandeur

By Linda Tancs

It’s hard to imagine that a landmark example of pre-Civil War opulence like the Morse-Libby House was once scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a gas station.  Located in Portland, Maine, the mansion has all the signature elements of a classic Italian villa:  rich detail punctuated with low-pitched roofs and a soaring, square tower.  Its interior is no less impressive, boasting gas lighting fixtures, stained glass, a painted trompe l’oeil  wall and ceiling decorations, gilded surfaces, intricate plasterwork and lavish fabrics, carpets and furniture.  The mansion was built between 1858 and 1860 as a summer home for Ruggles Sylvester Morse, a Maine native who made his fortune in New Orleans as a hotel magnate.  The house was later occupied by the family of J.R. Libby, a dry goods merchant, who made few changes to the property.  It’s a good thing; the interior is the only intact surviving example of the work of famed designer Gustave Herter.

A Gem of a Town

By Linda Tancs

Scenic Norway, Maine, is a gem of a town–literally.  The little village in the heart of the Oxford Hills region boasts a gemstone quarry where you can mine for tourmaline, quartz, rose quartz or crystal.  No surprise that it’s called a gemstone capital of the state.  Another hidden gem (pun intended) is the town’s illustrious history as the center of snowshoe production.  Its once thriving industry earned it the moniker, “Snowshoe Capital of the World,” its goods even reaching the North Pole thanks to the Peary expedition of 1909.  Ready for a treasure hunt?  Then head for the hills.

Mink in Maine

By Linda Tancs

Mink is an elusive animal in Isle au Haut, an island off the coast of Maine so remote that you need to take a mailboat from Stonington to get there.  French explorer Samuel Champlain noted the island in 1604 and named it Isle au Haut (High Island) because it is the tallest island in Penobscot Bay.  Not surprisingly, the year-round population is rather small (less than 100) but nonetheless dedicated to preserving their island way of life.  This is the place to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of daily life–troll for seafood or native berries, or get lost in the park.  About half the island, or 2,700 acres, is part of Acadia National Park.  Techies needn’t worry.  The Town Hall is equipped with free, high speed wireless internet access.

Maine’s Leading Lady

By Linda Tancs

First lit on January 10, 1791, the Lighthouse at Portland Head is Maine’s leading lady according to visitors to the Pine Tree State.  Situated in Cape Elizabeth, this postcard-worthy icon adorns the shores of Fort Williams Park, a 90-acre retreat offering magnificent views of Ram Island Ledge Light and the islands of Casco Bay.  The park is open all year; the lighthouse museum opens daily during the summer season until mid-October.

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