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OHWOW.BIZ: Bangor towards Ellsworth
ADOPTED Paul Bunyan as its symbol. Standing in front of the Bangor
relates to a by-gone era of seemingly unlimited resources. He is
celebrated for prevailing over nature with brute force, clearing timber
from Maine to Minnesota, laying waste to millions of trees. Never mentioned is the
indescribably ugly scar his unabashed clear-cutting would have left
upon the land.
Bangor could have adopted a more relevant symbol, HENRY DAVID THOREAU. The famed naturalist/philosopher visited Bangor in the 1860s on his way to Mt. Katahdin. Thoreau's love for the natural world and belief in frugality makes him an appropriate figure to revere.
Bangor can also lay claim to a modern-day icon of the literary world, STEPHEN KING. Although the chamber of commerce guide is silent on the subject, Bangor's leading tourist attraction is the King residence on West Broadway. Here visitors can see King's famous wrought iron spider gate and perhaps catch a glimpse of the great man himself. King has sold more books than any other author in history, and while his critics often are less than adoring, King's popularity shows few signs of abating.
Bangor, which over a century ago was the world's busiest LUMBER SHIPPING PORT, has many beautiful, historic structures, both commercial and residential. Bangor's whereabouts was determined by the depth of the Penobscot River. For the pioneers, his was as far into the Maine woods as you could bring a large sailing vessel. The city's location is still of commercial importance. It is on the Great Circle route, making Bangor International Airport 500 miles closer to Europe than any other U.S. terminal.
DYSARTS is an old-fashioned truck stop that's become legendary. It's open 24 hours, and you'll get trucker-size portions whether you order the Yankee pot roast or Daisy's renowned bread pudding. There's no glitz here, but plenty of honest-to-gosh good value. This is a family business that is fun to visit because everybody obviously genuinely likes everybody else. In his guide to Maine, Charles Calhoun called Dysart's "a beacon in the darkness on I-95..." Not long ago, Dysarts introduced the "Logger Burger," a hamburger capable fo feeding a family of four. Dysart's second cookbook is out, with all proceeds again going to cancer charities.
Like many American cities, Bangor has had to struggle to keep a VIABLE DOWNTOWN following the arrival of an outlying mall. So far, Bangor has been reasonably successful. Shopping downtown here can be fun. Shops, most of which are owner-operated, are highly individualistic. Many times lower prices compensate for exposure to the elements and somewhat less convenient parking.
Harness racing in Bangor goes back to pre-Civil War times. BASS PARK, which has had a track for trotters for over a century, has been the site of several racing world records. No fewer than fifteen immortals of harness racing's Hall of Fame have competed here. During July, racing programs are held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. Call 207-947-6744.
HOLLYWOOD SLOTS, a 750,000-square-foot, $132-million, riverfront facility, includes a casino with 1,000 slot machines, video poker, an inexpensive restaurant featuring a rather good buffet, and a seven-story, 152-room hotel. It has added poker and roulette. This is Maine's only casino. If you can resist the temptation to throw money away gambling, it's a fine place to eat.
Concert organizers at DARLING'S WATERFRONT PAVILION have succeeded in bringing to town a wonderfully diverse and attention-getting group of entertainers. Headers have included Keisha, Phish, Miranda Lambert, Lil Wayne, and Rob Zombie. The pavilion truly has provided fun for all.
The BANGOR HISTORICAL SOCIETY (situated in the Thomas A. Hill House, 159 Union St., 942-5766) provides maps for self-guided walking tours thru eight remaining historic districts.
Across the street from the historical society is the beautiful ISAAC FARRAR MANSION (947-2008), which is open to the public (admission $1). This fine old house (circa 1845) purportedly is haunted by the ghost of a distraught governess. It retains many of its original features, such as carved mahogany paneling, curved and slo at their retail store in the Bomarc Industrial Park. Bean's is Maine's oldest independent meat packer. Founded in 1860, Bean's has been run by the same family for five generations. The company is known for its spiral-cut, honey-glazed hams, sold across the country by mail order. Each ham is slowly sugar-cured and smoked the old-fashioned way. At their retail store, they also prepare special meat packages at considerable savings. They will pack meats for shipping. Tours of the plant can be arranged. Call 1-800-649-1958;. tted bookcase doors, marble fireplaces, and stained glass windows.
At the BANGOR NAZARENE CHURCH, there is an old-fashion soda fountain where everything is free.
Edwin Martin of the LUMIERE PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO has been making photographs since 1980. He has a graduate degree in photography from Indiana University, has worked as a photojournalist and a collections curator. He has taught photography at three universities. Since coming to Bangor in 2001, he has been primarily concerned with making a collective portrait of the face of Maine. Working with the Bangor Museum of History, he has photographed in factories and public and private buildings as well as photographing people in a variety of leisure and ceremonial activities.
In a "Best of Maine" issue, Down East magazine said that BELLA LUNA gave the Queen City just what it always needed: a hip little women's boutique...as exciting as the affordable prices and great customer servi
According to its Mission Statement, the MAINE DISCOVERY MUSEUM aims "to educate children and families, encourage creativity, nurture a sense of wonder, and to challenge all to learn in new and innovative ways. Exhibits and programs are designed to be be fun, interactive and thought provoking, and encourage participation by children and families of all abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds." The folks here seem to be living up to this ambitious agenda; the place is definitely worth a visit.
The CHARLES INN, downtown Bangor's only hotel, is an older stylish and elegant establishment with all the amenities travelers are looking for. It's convenient to restaurants, pubs, parks, and waterfront strolls. Enjoy a daily deluxe continental breakfast. In the lobby there is a nice art gallery and free Internet. Located at 20 Broad St. Call 207-992-2820.
Yankee Magazine says FRIAR'S BAKEHOUSE is New England's "best slice of heaven." According to Yankee, Brohers Kenneth Leo and Donald Paul bake dIvine breads along with sinful whoopie pies and other treats."
The Sohns Family, which runs THE ROCK AND ART SHOP on the Bangor Road in Ellsworth, have opened a companion shop in downtown Bangor. Here the emphasis is on art and gifts. As Tony Sohns puts it, "If the first store is a rock shop with gifts, the new one is a gift shop with rocks." An important part of the new shop is the SOHNS GALLERY, featuring showings by Maine artists changing every three months.
Keep the kids happy by picking up some books at THE BRIAR PATCH on Central Street. Included here is a large selection by Maine authors and illustrators.
BAGEL CENTRAL on Central Street is a kosher-like bakery offering terrific bagels, pastries, vegetarian specials and specialty gourmet recipes.
Paul Zebiak at MARITIME INTERNATIONAL is always buying and selling gold, silver, platinum, and also diamonds. Established in 1979 as Maritime Coins, his company over the years has developed markets in antique watches, estate jewelry and historical memorabilia, with a particular interest in militaria, specifically worldwide medals, orders and decorations..
On Harlow Street, look for BY DESIGN ART GALLERY. All they show is original art by regional artists. No prints allowed and no artists from far away.
11 CENTRAL STREET is a beautiful place to eat, all exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. You can get pretty much anything you want —everything is made fresh and to order. They're open from 4 p.m. til midnight, six days a week. Closed Tuesday.
PEACE & JUSTICE CENTER OF EASTERN MAINE is engaged in a number of social causes--everything from the Maine state budget crisis and the desecration of the Maine woods to religious conflict in India and the future of Haiti. There is usually something special happening at the center. If you lean toward progressiveness, you might want to stop in and meet the good folks here.
FRATI JEWELRY, a high-quality second-hand store, specializes in cameras and consumer electronics. There's also plenty of jewelry on hand, all discounted 50 percent. Stephen King has said he gets most of his ideas here. (King's house on Outer Broadway, with its famous spider gate, attracts plenty of gawkers.)
Centuries ago, shoes were invented, and soon there was a need for cobblers to repair them. Then, in modern times, shoes became commodities, items casually discarded when they got old, unfashionable, or damaged. Bucking this trend is Jonathan Lambert of YANKEE COBBLER, who for over a decade has been using century-old techniques to repair shoes in his State Street shop. We had all but given up on our favorite sandals when the straps of one came loose from the sole. On a hunch we brought them into Jonathan, and for a few bucks he made them good as new. Located at 25 State St., this is the only cobbler in Maine north of Waterville. Open year round, the shop is handicapped accessible and acepts credit cards and personal checks. You can get orthopedic alterations here.
Knowledgable locals overwhelmingly prefer the STATE STREET WINE CELLAR at 195 State St. They know they'll find over 50 types of cheese, 225 different beers, and 850 different wines. They know they can depend upon the staff to be friendly, informed, and totally accommodating. Finally, they look forward to the store's monthly wine tastings and wine dinners at local restaurants.
Check out the floral displays at LOUGEE & FREDERICK'S on State Street in Bangor. These guys have won numerous awards. Over onm Center Street, BANGOR FLORAL is situated in a beautiful converted church.
In the heart of Bangor's downtown, THE FIDDLEHEAD RESTAURANT takes a fresh look at "fine dining". Using only the finest ingredients, the folks here bring a little extra finesse to comfort-style dishes, interpreted from cuisine ranging from the Far East to Down East. Changing seasonally, each menu finds something for every taste and mood. Much of the produce and meats are acquired locally and, when possible, from New England-based farmers' markets. The full bar offers of house-made cocktails, created with fresh-squeezed juices and natural purees; each made-to-order with particular requests a specialty. Provided also is an ample selection of non-alcoholic beverages, from bellinis to the house signature cucumber-mint lemonade.
Bangor city fathers haven't chosen to name property after STEPHEN KING. There is no Stephen King boulevard or King Memorial Park. Local entrepreneurs don't seem inclined to cash in on King's notoriety, either. There is no Overlook Hotel or Needful Things curio shop. Maybe business people shy away from associating themselves with horror. What's more likely, however, is that they are just acting like Mainers, people very much inclined to tend to their own business, not that of others. King likes living in Bangor in part because people don't treat him like he's anything special. He can grab breakfast at the local coffee shop without there being any more fuss than somebody saying "Mornin', Steve."
Evidently, King has asked the Chamber of Commerce not to direct visitors to his house. It is, after all, a private residence, and King can hardly be expected to extend a personal welcome to every curious person who comes along. Still, King hasn't asked us to keep his whereabouts a secret. We couldn't anyway. Just about everybody in town knows that King lives on West Broadway in an early lumber baron's old house. We are sure that the readers of our book are highly literate types who want nothing more than to photograph King's house and gate.
Still, King has attracted more than his share of whackos. One guy who shows up in town from time has covered his van with documentation that King murdered John Lennon. Another guy appeared in King's kitchen and told Tabitha he was taking her hostage. "The hell you are," she replied before retreating to a neighbor's house from which she called the police. Another time, a mysterious package apeared outside King's gate. The police, suspecting it was a bomb, blew it to bits. It turned out to be a copy of "It" that a fan had left in hopes of having it autographed. Stephen King is Downeast Maine's only REALLY FAMOUS PERSON. Oh, sure, we have Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln's first vice president, who had ties with Hampden, and Dorothea Dix, who did everything she could to help the mentally ill. And, of course, some famous rich people like the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers spent time on Mount Desert Island, but they weren't really from there. King, on the other hand, is ours. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono and was living in a trailer in Hermon and working at a Bangor laundry when the vivid shower scene in Carrie caught the attention of the folks at Viking.
According to Yankee Magazine, the Best Tour of Stephen King.dom is the "Tommyknockers and More" which provides "the skinny on everyone's favorite horror maven." According to Yankee, "this motorcoach tour highlighting sites that have either played a role in his books or were featured in his movies. The lineup includes fan favorite Mount Hope Cemetery, where King himself presided over the funeral of Missy Dandridge in Pet Sematary. Tickets are $20 per person. Call 800-916-6673.
Bangor has other outstanding used book shops. PRO LIBRIS, with more than 20,000 current and out-of-print books in stock, is strong in issue-oriented materials. Lippincott Books has besides many ordinary used books a large stock of rare and valuable volumes. Book Marc's on Harlow St. has both new and pre-read books, and has recently added a cafe where you can borrow a book while you sip your coffee and eat your bagel.
If you think that health food stores are too pricey, you'll be pleasantly surprised at many of the prices at the NATURAL LIVING CENTER. There is, for example, a huge selection of herbs and spices at prices up to 80 percent lower than those of supermarkets. "We try to buy smart and pass the savings on to our customers," says co-owner Barbara Geiger. She says that people come from as far away as Portland to shop for health foods. Also on hand are a fine Oriental food selection, a terrific book section, and,a huge variety of imported beers and home-brew equipment. NLC stocks at least a dozen varieties of rice. Nationwide mail order 1-800-933-4229. At their Natural Way Cafe, they have good soup, sandwiches, and cookies along with a whole lot more.
F. PERRY CITY FOREST,
accessible via Kittredge Road and Tripp 0It features more
than 4 miles of access roads and more than 9 miles of trails for
running, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
The ORONO BOG BOARDWALK, open seasonally, is popular with folks
wishing to experience the beauty and fascinating plants and animals of
a Maine bog. The one-mile boardwalk loop trail begins at the
forested wetland edge in the Bangor City Forest, and after 800 feet
crosses the town line into the University of Maine owned part of the
bog in Orono. Along the way, it passes through changing
vegetation and environments on its way to the open, peat moss carpeted
center of the Orono Bog.
The COLE LAND TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM is notable for its great variety. On display are over 150 vehicles ranging from an antique baby carriage to a locomotive and railroad station, horse-drawn logging sleds and logging trucks, wagons and sleighs, vintage cars and trucks, snowplows and fire trucks. (You find the place by taking Exit 45B off I-95, turning left at the first light, then left on Perry Road.)
ST. JOHNS CATHOLIC CHURCH has marvelous, recently-restored European stained-glass windows.
Bangor boasts the nation's oldest SYMPHONY ODRCHESTRA and the state's only year round REPERTORY THEATER GROUP.
Winterport, situated 12 miles south of Bangor on Rte 1A, was important a century ago as the last anchorage on the Penobscot River that always remained ice-free. WINTERPORT HISTORIC DISTRICT, a cohesive, homogeneous grouping of late 18th, 19th and early 20th century buildings is in the National Register of Historic Places.
Large portions are what make the EAGLES NEST RESTAURANT in Eddington noteworthy. The burger we had there reminded us of a small meatloaf. The restaurant, situated on Route 9, also keeps prices modest.SAWMILL WOODS GOLF COURSE, a new family-owned and operated facility 15 miles east of Brewer, is a nine-hole, par 36 course with secluded fairways cut through the Maine forest, following the natural contours of the land. The large, undulating greens and tight fairways are enhanced by landscaping throughout, presenting golfers of every level both challenges and beauty.
The shop CELTIC MOON RISING carries an interesting assortment of goods, including imports from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. This is Maine's only dedicated Celtic shop.
The HIGH TIDE RESTAURANT & BAR, which serves Satuday and Sunday brunch, features a Raw Oyster bar and also a Bloody Mary bar. Open year round, there is summertime outdoor dining beside the scenic Penobscot River.
VACATIONLAND VILLAGE INN & SUITES has had a major facelift. Nor long ago, a local area couple bought the place and completely refurbished it. It has been transformed, brought up from having a decidedly shady reputation to being kid-friendly and downright wholesome. The place has been given a Maine theme—here a moose, there a bear, over there a loon. The bar is gone, replaced by the Lighthouse Christian Cafe, a coffeehouse with live Christian music.
PLAYLAND ADVENTURES bills itself as the largest, can’t-miss attraction for family fun in Maine. It's home to Maine’s original Bounce Zone, including a 95-foot Obstacle Course and Maine’s largest Indoor Slide! It's a wonderful place to let kids loose to have a ball!
The MCDONALD'S on your right features intriguing retro fifties decor, the only such place in New England
GOODWILL acquired my goodwill the day I needed a keyboard for my Mac. Found a good-as-new Apple keyboard there. Price? Two bucks. Later I got a fine digital camera for four and after that a top-of-the-line, hundred-dollar Sony radio for seven. For ten bucks, you can get a discount card that gives you a ten percent discount on every purchase for a year. Oh, every day a certain color labels provides a 50 percent discount. When you pay, the cashier thanks you for supporting their program. Is this a great world or what?
TRADITIONS GOLF CLUB
carts, mini golf, driving
range, snack bar and interesting 9-hole golf course. During the off-season, it offers indoor golf.