Monday, March 2, 2015

Magical Monhegan

Marshall Point Lighthouse
Monhegan Island's 550 acres include rocky shoreline, dense forests, a charming village, and a lighthouse. Located 10 miles offshore and accessible only by ferry, the island's unhurried pace, relaxed atmosphere, and spectacular scenery has made it a longstanding favorite with generations of artists.

On our way to catch the ferry we happened upon Marshall Point Lighthouse, only a short drive from the ferry dock in Port Clyde. The light and keeper's house are beautiful and we spent time discovering the best angles for photos of each.

A View from Cathedral Walk
Heading back to our car, we struck up a conversation with a local resident who offered us tips about what to see on Monhegan. Without his advice, we might never have experienced our magical encounter with fairy houses on Cathedral Walk. 

This beautiful hike leads you through thickly wooded forest to a breathtaking panorama of cliffs and sea. Along the way, visitors have constructed fairy houses from materials found along the path. Many Monhegan residents prefer the island's pristine wilderness and are not in favor of the tiny forest dwellings. However, we found them charming.
Fairy Houses
We took our time exploring along the way and spent almost three hours hiking, taking pictures, and soaking in the beautiful views. With a same day return ferry in the afternoon, we did not explore the lighthouse or southern end of the island. That is on our list of things to do this year.

I took so many pictures the day we were there, I completely drained my camera's battery. I now know to pack an extra one next time. Monhegan Island awakened my sleeping inner artist. With a history of extraordinary artists visiting its shores, it's easy to understand why.

Copyright 2015. My Life with Style, LLC. All rights reserved. 

Monday, February 2, 2015


Maine and lobsters.  Need I say more? These large-clawed crustaceans are a mainstay of the state’s economy and a key ingredient in delightfully decadent entrees from coast to coast.  But only in Maine can you use lobsters in recipes with reckless abandon.

Rockland is the home of the Maine Lobster Festival and Lobsterpalooza  - two events dedicated to all things lobster.  During our first visit in 2013 we met the delightful and talented Louise MacLellan-Ruf, the property manager at the vacation rental where we stayed. Louise has a passion for food and cooking that equals, and in some cases, surpasses our own.
Louise had entered the Lobster Mac and Cheese contest at Lobsterpalooza which was to take place after we left. The night before we headed back to Denver she brought us a piping hot sample of her recipe.  I took one bite and said “You’re going to win!”  Much to our delight, she did.
Almost every restaurant in town offers delicious lobster based entrĂ©es.  If you like to cook, like we do, there are many sources of fresh lobster. 
Jess’s Market (located at 110 S. Main Street - just 3/10 of a mile from Elijah H. Hall House) is an excellent source of all types of fresh seafood. A knowledgeable lobster wrangler at the market took the time to tell us about the differences between hard shell and soft shell lobsters.  If you’re in Maine during soft shell lobster season be sure to try this slightly sweeter, easy to crack open, variety.
We also purchased lobsters right off the boat at the harbor in Rockport for just $3 a pound. Other easily accessible places to find fresh lobster include the dock at the Vinalhaven Ferry, the Owls Head Lobster Company and grocery stores. Our neighbor, Tim, is a working lobsterman and will fill orders for guests at Elijah H. Hall House.
Click here for Louise's prize winning Lobster Mac and Cheese recipe. If you're interested in a class with Louise to make this dazzling dish, let us know and we'll arrange it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

North of the Border

I am fond of saying, "You can't throw a rock in Maine without hitting something beautiful or historic." The quintessential New England-style building pictured above (which is certainly beautiful and may be historic) is the home of North of the Border, a wonderful combination garden center and gift shop in Wiscasset.

We drove past it on our way from the airport in Portland to Rockland (we had not yet discovered Cape Air) and it was the cause of the first of many U-turns on our inaugural  trip to the Mid Coast.

Their artful display of mums and pumpkins, a large assortment of statuary and other garden ornaments, and a huge large mound of old lobster traps kept us browsing there for quite a while. There is so much to look at!

This year we returned to purchase a lobster trap to use as a coffee table (shown below) in the den of  Elijah H. Hall House. We love the weathered wood and knowing that the trap was once a part of Maine's proud lobstering heritage.

It's a fair distance from Rockland to Wiscasset (34 miles), so consider combining a trip to North of the Border with a visit to Boothbay or Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. Be sure to bring your camera (in fact, never go anywhere in Maine without your camera) to capture images of things beautiful and historic that you'll hit with any rock you toss.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

In and Around Owls Head Light

English majors may be bothered by the lack of an apostrophe in the name of this beautiful hamlet, but they'll find little else to criticize. Chris and I first visited Owls Head on a rainy day in August of 2013. It's about  4 miles south of Rockland, ME where our vacation rental, Elijah H. Hall House, is located.

The Owls Head Post Office
We were enchanted by the design of the Owls Head Post office and the vacation rental property located above it. We did not stop in next door at the Owls Head General Store on that first trip.  Big mistake!
Only later did we learn about the "Seven Napkin Burger" served there. The Food Network voted it the best hamburger in Maine. The burger is delicious and is aptly named although I think five was
the maximum number of napkins we used while eating it.

In summer, the General Store is often crowded with burger aficionados. Our suggestion: phone ahead (207) 596-6038, pick up your order, and eat it in
the picnic area at Owls Head Light.

The lighthouse, constructed in 1826, is worth the undulating trek from the parking area to see it. There are quite a few stairs to climb to get to the top.  But as seen in the photo below, the view is spectacular. Also worth visiting is the gift shop located in the light keeper's home.
Spectacular Scenery Surrounds the Lighthouse

During our visit we watched a multitude of sailboats gracefully tacking across the cove at the mouth of Rockland Harbor. Lobster boats from the nearby Owls Head Lobster Company can be seen headed out to sea or bringing in their daily catch. 

The area is great for bird watching. We've watched loons bobbing on the water and heard their distinctive cries. Bald eagles and osprey also inhabit the area.

On the path to the lighthouse, signs lead way to a public beach popular with sea kayakers.  It's great for beach combing as well.

Mary Merriman's Grave

Just before the parking lot at the lighthouse is a small family cemetery. It's easy to miss, but provides a sobering reminder of how difficult life could be in the 1800's. Mary Merriman is buried there. She died in 1876 at just six years and 16 days of age.

Lichens and moss cover many of the tombstones. Some are cracked, others knocked over. But a family's history unfolds as you look at the names and the dates of the departed and see the familial relationships of those buried here.  

There are so many thing to love about Owls Head including beautiful scenery, history, and great food. It's a must see on your Mid Coast Maine Adventure!

Owls Head Lobster Company
Copyright 2015 by Mid Coast Maine Adventures.  All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Brass Compass

The food scene in Rockland is fast evolving and with each passing season the selection of delightful and delicious restaurants increases.

When my husband, Chris, and I first vacationed here in 2013 our "go to" place for breakfast was The Brass Compass. Located at the corner of Route 1 and Main Street, this mainstay is frequented by locals and "from aways" alike.

All of the restaurant's baked goods are made daily on-site. Don't miss the muffins that feature seasonal ingredients and sweet rolls that ooze cinnamon and brown sugar. 

Specials often included local seafood. One of our favorites is the seafood frittata with a generous serving of crab, scallops, and shrimp.  Not on the menu? Don't worry. Just ask your server and the chef will gladly make it for you.

Outside the restaurant, owner Lynn Archer proudly displays the banner announcing her victory over Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay in a Lobster Club Sandwich Throw Down. Inside, you'll find pictures from the event and copies of Flay's cookbook. (Note: the book has his recipe, but not Archer's.)

The Brass Compass is a perfect place to start your day downtown. Grab breakfast and then walk Main Street and explore the many shops and galleries. Most open at 10 a.m. in the summer.

If you want to experience locals talking about lobstering, fishing, and the latest gossip, get there when the place opens at 5 a.m. You'll find hard working men and woman grabbing a good meal before heading out to sea.

Our rating:  5 out of 5 lobsters