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Archive for maine

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.

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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.

The Maine Event

By Linda Tancs

Maine.  Lobster.  Perfect together.  So of course the Maine event (okay, I couldn’t resist the pun) in Vacationland is the annual Lobster Festival  today through 7 August at Rockland’s Harbor Park, less than two hours from Portland.  Today is Hometown Day, and admission is free to kickoff the festivities.  Not that you’ll mind the eight dollars for adults and two dollars for children (ages 6 to 12) thereafter for your crack at nearly 20,000 pounds of Maine’s proudest export.  So nip along smartly before it’s all gone.

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Lakes Aplenty

By Linda Tancs

To call Rangely, Maine a “lake district” is surely an understatement.  This western part of the state is embraced by 112 interconnected lakes and ponds scattered throughout the region, the centerpiece of which is Rangeley Lake.  A quiet village, Rangely can boast of two unusual things:  no traffic light and a sign in town that places it midway between the Equator and the North Pole.  Clearly a boater’s paradise in summer, year-round recreational activities include fishing, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, wildlife watching, and leaf peeping.  Add to that:  watching the sunset over Mooselookmeguntic Lake.  Awesome.

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