OHWOW.BIZ: Rockland Towards Ellsworth

Let Captain D help you discover Downeast Maine, Acadia National Par

NOT LONG AGO,  Yahoo picked  Rockland as being among the ten coolest small cities in the country. Historically, it has been a working man’s town, Maine’s second major fishing port. City fathers still host the Maine Seafood Festival, a major summertime happening. In recent years, the city has become a Mecca for artists and intellectuals as well. The Farnsworth Museum, which has long had an intimate relationship with the Wyeth family, is a major draw. On Main Street, the Farnsworth Museum Shop carries prints of many paintings found in the museum’s extensive collection. A few blocks away, the Shore Village Museum offers an intriguing collection of lighthouse-related items and nautical gear.

Just outside of Rockland on Rte 73 is the OWLS HEAD TRANSPORTATION
MUSEUM. Housed in a series of multicolored hangers at the regional airport, the cavernous 65,000-square-foot exhibit space is filled with an array of vintage automobiles, planes, bicycles, and motorcycles. Most weekends see special events in which special pieces are brought out for a drive or a flight. For the mechanically inclined, there is a room called the Engineerium displaying an impressive collection of internal combustion engines.

For the best burger ever, check out the Seven Napkin Burger at the OWL'S HEAD GENERAL STORE. It derives its name from the number of napkins required to handle its notable size and juiciness. Food Network Magazine called it Maine's best.

Acording to Yahoo, in Rockland "You'll find just enough sophistication to balance the saltiness of mid-coast Maine... where regional mainstays are reinvented every day."

After honing her skills working for Perry Ellis in New York City, Beth Bowley was lured back to Maine four years ago. "Rockland is filled with folks who've seen what the world has to offer and want to be here," says Bowley, who opened the boutique FourTwelve, which she stocks with clothing and accessories like Sea Bags, made from recycled sails.

Down the street at SUZUKI'S SUSHI BAR, Japanese-born chef Keiko Suzuki Steinberger infuses freshly caught lobster, shrimp, and crab with modern Japanese flavors.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rockland as one of its 2010 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. The working waterfront, rich history, world famous festivals and first-class dining - especially the seafood - were all cited as reasons for the honor. For the past ten years, the trust has been naming communities across America that differ from typical vacation destinations. The sites offer unique Main Streets, compelling architecture, a commitment to historical preservation, sustainability, revitalization and other characteristics.

The mission of the MAINE LIGHTHOUSE MUSEUM is to educate the public regarding the longstanding traditions, heroism and progress of America's Lighthouse and Lifesaving services and the United States Coast Guard. Here you will find the nation's most significant collection of lighthouse and lifesaving artifacts.

According to the editors of "The Insiders' Guide to Maine's Mid-Coast" suggest that JESSICA'S EUROPEAN BISTRO  at 2 S. Main Street is "pretty fancy" for Maine. One mainstay dish, for example, is lobster ravioli in a sherry, garlic, coriander and terragon sauce. Still, they continue, prices are reasonable considering the high quality, and there is considerable variety, some dishes quite inexpensive.

Consider eating breakfast at HOME KITCHEN CAFE, 650 Main St.. You'll be treated to wonderful sticky buns, cinny buns, smoked salmon omelets, poached eggs on homemade hash, huevos rancheros on handmade corn tortillas with housemade salsa. And that's just a sample. Breakfast is served all day, which is fortunate since it might take some of us that long to get our fill!.

You won't soon forget PRIMO,  a unique combination of  vegetable farming,  animal husbandry, and the creation of an  unforgettable dining experience. The mix includes two greenhouses, acres of produce, and each day harvests: honey, fruits, veggies, eggs, edible flowers, micro-greens, fresh chicken and house cured and smoked meats. What is not grown at the restaurant comes from other local, sustainable farms. Yankee Magazine calls it "Maine's best farm-to-table dining."

How many business owners do you know who show up for work  at 3 am? Lynn Archer, owner of THE BRASS COMPASS CAFE, does. Every single day. This is when she makes her massive loaves of fresh white bread, slices of which accompany the hearty breakfasts of local fishermen. This bread also is the foundation for her award-winning Lobstah Club." The menu here is varied, the portions hearty, the baked goods fresh. If you leave here hungry, you have only yourself to blame.

The editors of "The Insiders' Guide to Maine's Mid-Coast" suggest you try the Lobster Fral-Diavio, the lasagna or any of the paellas or cioppinos at CONTE'S FISH MARKET RESTAURANT at the Public Landing. This rustic, memorable and venerable eatery migrated to Rockland from New York City, where it had operated since 1894.

WASSES HOT DOGS, which has held sway at 2 N. Main Street. for more than
30 years, was the start of what might be called a hot dog empire. Other Wasses Hot Dog stands are on Park Street in Rockland and in Camden, Belfast, and Thomaston. All of the pre-cooked hot dogs have natural casings and are fried in peanut oil on the same grill as the onions. Toppings cost extra, and include your choice of cheese sauce, chili, bacon and sauerkraut.

Cheryl Gibson, owner of the BLACK PARROT at 328 Main St., Rockland, is an artist known for using fleece and fabric in unique color combinations. The editors of "The Insiders' Guide to Mid-Coast Maine" said her functional but fashionable clothing is "so cheerful it makes you smile."

Down East magazine says the popular FOG BAR & CAFE  lies at "the intersection between upscale dining and neighborhood-joint vibe." it's a tricky balancing act that the people here carry off beautifully.

CARVER HILL GALLERY  on Main Street has become known for its diverse collection of fine art including paintings, sculpture, photography, glass, 22 k. gold jewelry, and selected fine furniture pieces. Many of its artists and artisans are local, but  work from as far away as England and Prague is also represented.

Yankee Magazine holds that FIORE ARTISAN OLIVE OILS & VINEGARS is New England's best "Around-the-World Tasting Room."  Visitors are encouraged to sample extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oils from around the world (including flavored and specialy oils), plus balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, aged 35 years, and specialty foods, including sea salts and pestos.

The FARNSWORTH MUSEUM SHOP at 356 Main Street stocks many prints of paintings in the museum's collection, especially those by the Wyeths.

CAFE MIRANDA at 15 Oak Street is "incredibly cheap and incredibly good," according to  "The Insider's Guide to Maine's Mid-Coast." This eatery, the editors go on, is also "incredibly popular."

At STUDEBAKER MINIATURES on Maverick Street, Bill Studebaker is an Artisan in furniture with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans  (IGMA).  Barbara Studebaker is known for her use of vintage materials in miniature quilts, curtains, and other soft accessories.  They can work with you to design and craft your dream house, room, or accessory.  Attention is given to each detail of the wood and needlework. While they work primarily in 1:12 scale, they accept work in other scales. Looking for something unusual? Go ahead and ask! They  enjoy customizing, and would be delighted to discuss individual commission

SAMOSET is perhaps Maine's finest golf course; it has been called Pebble Beach East. There are ocean views from 14 holes. Golf Digest placed it among the top ten most beautiful courses in the Country. Marcel's, the fancy restaurant here, has several specialties, including Salmon roasted on a cedar plank, steak Diane, and rack of lamb.

There is no shortage of ways to get out on the water around here, but one of the most spectacular is the 4,346-foot walk along the BREAKWATER jutting into Rockland Harbor. The narrow granite structure took 18 years to build in the late 19th century, and leads nearly a mile out into the harbor. In morning light the red brick lighthouse and accompanying wood-frame keeper’s house set at the breakwater’s end form a dramatic sight as they seem to float in the middle of the harbor.

Since 1983, the STATE OF MAINE CHEESE COMPANY  has been hand-crafting fine cheeses using cow's milk from local farms.  Selections
include a mild and sharp Cheddar, plain and flavored Jack (Monterey), Caerphilly, Colby, Derby, Mozzarella, Gouda, Tomme and Fresh Cheddar Cheese Curd.

At PRISM RESTAURANT & GALLERY, Chef Lisa Sojka has created a wonderful  blend of casual elegance and intimate hospitality. Surrounded by peaceful gardens and an airy patio, guests can leisurely browse the hundreds of colorful blown glass pieces by over 80 artists, then enjoy world-class cuisine in a surprisingly familiar atmosphere.

The MAINE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKSHOP STORE serves students and faculty as well as the general public. Here you'll find rare photo and film books along with more routine postcards and t-shirts.

is one of the few galleries in the state you can depend on to present cutting-edge, innovative work.

The goals at RAYR are simple: to provide exceptional customer service and to find and sell very high quality wines, grown in harmony with the Earth, from small, family owned wineries. RAYR actively seeks wines that are either made in a sustainable manner, or organic. With over 65,000 wineries worldwide, many of them small, family owned farms, RAYR has had tremendous success in finding sustainably grown and made, as well as organic, wines.

On Central Street in Rockport,  a wood-walled former general store has been remade into an artisanal pub called SHEPHERD'S PIE. Here local crops are put to use in fruit cocktails infused with herbs, and in snacks like fried clam tacos and pickled baby carrots.

The SAIL LOFT  snuggles close to Rockport Harbor. The editors of "The Insiders' Guide to Maine's Mid-Coast" say the food walks "a delicate balance Between highbrow and down-home". The lobster is fresh off the dock, and the clam chowder recipe hasn't been changed in decades. But you'll also find wonderful duckling and sophisticated pasta dishes.

On Rte 1, L.E. LEONARD is an intriguing import store full of furniture, decorative accents and jewelry from China, India, and the Spice Islands.

The HELM on Route One is a pleasant French-American restaurant and full bar. The editors of "The Insiders' Guide to Maine's Mid-Coast" recommend the French stew, buillabaisse or Cajun chicken sandwich.

Back on Rte 1, look for Hoboken Gardens, the Sweet Sensations Pastry Shop and 3 Dog Cafe.

A summer home for many wealthy people, Camden has many upscale shops. Downtown you'll find Maine Gathering/Finest Kind Candles stocking fine Maine crafts, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indian baskets, and dipped chocolates. The Foreside Company sells imported gifts and household accessories, while Starbird specializes in American and country decorative accessories. In 1957, most of the movie Peyton Place was shot in Camden. The movie, taken from Grace Metalious' racey, ground-breaking novel, is supposed to depict the seamy underbelly of a picturesque New England town. The town's association with the movie seems to be a matter of some local pride, and the original signed script and scrapbooks of news clippings along with original photos of the filming are in the Peyton Place Collection at the Camden Public Library.

CAPPY'S CHOWDER HOUSE on Main Street is heavily decorated with nautical paraphernalia outside and in.

The ATLANTICA GALLERY & GRILLE  at 3 Sharp's Wharf is a small, intimate restaurant that offers an innovative menu. Try the seafood puff pastry.Oil lamps, fresh flowers, and views of Camden Harbor make this place pleasant in the evening. On nice days, check out the deck.

The FROGWATER CAFE  at 27 Elm Street has staked out a position midway between fine dining and good ol' burgers.

Margo Moore of MARGO MOORE INTERIORS specializes in fabrics and wallpapers in playful colors and prints, cozy furniture, and fresh-looking accessories. Downeast Magazine says she's Maine's best interior Designer.

FRENCH AND BRAWN is Camden's only full service grocery store. Featured are custom-cut meats, a complete deli counter and bakery, fresh produce, beer and fine wines, daily lunch specials, prepared entree specials, live and cooked lobsters, off-site catering and daily delivery. Open seven days a week.

O'NEIL'S WOOD FIRED RESTAURANT  at 21 Bayview Street boasts a real wood-fired brick oven and turns out an incredible lobster stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat.

at 16 Bayview Street, named for an old colonial tavern, is one of Camden's most popular restaurants.

The hillside CAMDEN HARBOUR INN on Bay view Street, a once dilapidated Victorian dating to 1874, was purchased by a pair of Dutchmen who reopened it in 2007 as a design-conscious boutique hotel. The 20-room property features modish interiors with art deco accents and sweeping bay views.

NATALIE'S RESTAURANT at the Camden Harbour Inn  was named one of the 100 best restaurants in America by the Open Table Diner's Choice. Natalie's "Maine Pinetini," was called Maine's Best Cocktail by the editors of Down East Magazine.

At THE WATERFRONT on Bayview St., the emphasis is on seafood with a Mediterranean slant. The editors of "The Insider's Guide to Maine's Mid-Coast" recommend the mussels with white sauce, shallots and butter, or crab cakes with remoulade sauce.

BAYVIEW LOBSTER is a wonderful meeting spot right on the wharf in Camden Harbor for dining, relaxing, having fun and enjoying a fantastic view of one of the finest harbors and bays in the world. Open  seven days a week, Bayview Lobster serves three  meals a day year round. There is a full bar. There is no better experience in waterfront dining than Bayview Lobster. 

MARINER'S on Main Street takes great pride in its lack of pretension. "Down Home, Down East, No Ferns, No Quiche" boasts a sign. Mill workers and millionaires find themselves on an equal footing here. Try the baked stuffed haddock or grilled fish.

at 20 Washington Street serves traditional New York-style, thick-crust pizza with Mediterranean and Greek toppings., including artichokes, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.

Down East Magazine's readers chose the OWL AND TURTLE  as Maine's best bookstore. Now in two locations, the Owl and Turtle has been serving Maine  bibliophiles for almost 50 years.

Out on Route One, you'll come to Norumbega and Camden Hills State Park.

NORUMBEGA, now an inn, is a real castle. This historic architectural landmark sits atop a rise overlooking Penobscot Bay. Norumbega's unique Victorian characteristics have attained it as the most photographed structure on the coast of Maine. Built in 1886, a castle of stone and wood nestled into a four-acre slope of Mt. Battie; Norumbega offers 10 deluxe rooms and 2 incredible suites.

provides 26 miles of hiking trails through some 5,650 acres. An hour-long hike or a five-minute drive gets you to the summit of Mount Battie, whose gorgeous panoramic views over Penobscot Bay inspired poet Edna St. Vincent Millay to pen the poem Renascence. Yankee magazine called this New England's Best Seaside State Park.

SALT WATER FARM KITCHEN teaches cooking classes in an old barn in a farmer’s field overlooking Penobscot Bay. Highlights include a wood-burning brick oven, an open hearth, and an outdoor kitchen including a meat and fish smoker. There is a vegetable garden providing stock for the kitchen. In hands-on classes, guests are guided through working with local, fresh ingredients, creating full menus from what is available seasonally.

on Rte 1 is a favorite with both locals and tourists looking for standard American restaurant fare: roast beef, ham, steaks, and, especially, lobster.

The atmosphere at CHEZ MICHEL pleasantly casual, light and airy, upscale enough so you can dress up if you feel like it, but downhome enough to let you feel unobligated.

The real specialty at the WHALE'S TOOTH PUB on Rte 1 in Lincolnville Beach is British-style fish and chips served in newspapers with malt vinegar.


Since the late 1800s, spiritualists from around the world have sought healing and learning at TEMPLE HEIGHTS  in Northport.  Spiritualists  believe that spirits of the dead reside in the spirit world and can be contacted by mediums. During the summer, weekly sessions feature different itinerant pastors, many of whom also offer psychic readings, table tippings, and séances.

The food at the HIDEAWAY DINER on is homey, inexpensive, and everything is made from scratch. including the outstanding bread and biscuits.

The proprietor of BAYSIDE STORE takes great pride in producing what he insists are the best sub sandwiches on the coast of Maine. They're made strictly to order, and there is a huge number of choices. He treated me to a complimentary example, and I've gotta say I concur with his evaluation.

DUCKTRAP RIVER SMOKED FISH is featured in "Food Finds," a book by Allison and Margaret Engel featuring "America's best local foods and the people who produce them." Using the best modern European smoking technology, combined with traditional, time-consuming curing and smoking methods, the folks here 
produce perhaps the finest smoked seafood available anywhere. Their fish products contain no artificial coloring or flavoring. Instead, they use the flavor of brine, herbs, evaporated natural cane juice, and spices in combination with the savory smoke of northern fruitwoods and hardwoods. To ensure long shelf life, they rely on the freshness of the fish, not on chemical preservatives.

The BELFAST CO-OP STORE  is an all-purpose health food and deli/cafe that's been providing local, organic, and natural foods since 1976. Maine's oldest food cooperative, this place offers everything from produce to hand-spun housemade sausages. On hand are over 5000 health and beauty aides. Included are supplements and homeopathics as well as locally-made milk, artisan cheeses, breads, coffee, pastries, groceries, fair trade gifts, bulk foods, beer and wine, lunch, weekend brunch and much more.

Go to OUT ON A WHIMSEY  for great gifts and collectibles.

Not too many years ago, BELFAST was known for processing vast quantities of chicken. So devotedly did it pursue this enterprise that it touted itself as the broiler capital of the world and celebrated this status with an annual festival. The chicken industry died—heating big barns became too expensive—but, contrary to the prediction of many, Belfast didn't. A lovely waterfront park with picnic tables now occupies the slope near the City Landing where the processing plants once stood, and Belfast is enjoying increasing popularity with sailors and tourists.

This old port town was saved by the counter-culturalists who during the early 70’s had emigrated to Waldo County’s relatively inexpensive boondocks. Many of them ended up coming to town—driven, some say, by hoards of blackflies÷and now this city may well be the cultural capital of Maine.

Maine Times
readers declared that Belfast was Maine's "best little-known town to walk around in for an hour" thanks to its "good scenery, history, and many artsy nooks." Belfast is like Bar Harbor was 25 years ago. Things haven't gotten cutthroat here yet; rents are still low enough to attract young entrepreneurs with original ideas and wide-eyed enthusiasm for their enterprises. USA Today put Belfast on its list of five "culturally cool small towns." Lately, Belfast has been billing itself as a "City Full of Surprises." On Thursday nights during summer, there's music and performing arts on the streets downtown.

Belfast originally was known as Passagassawakeg—Indian for Place of Many Ghosts. In 1873, fire claimed more than 20 acres of the city, including 90 percent of the waterfront district. Fear of fire led to most of the downtown being rebuilt in brick. In those days, Belfast was a major shipbuilding center. The techniques that went into building great sailing ships helped create many of Belfast's wonderful Federal and Greek Revival houses. Two blocks of downtown buildings are listed in the National Historical Register. On Market Street, just around the corner from City Hall, is the local historical museum. Belfast's streets are spaced so as to allow as many views of the bay as possible.

The REPUBLICAN JOURNAL, founded in 1829, is Maine's oldest newspaper.

Instead of seeing how many books she can stock, Nanette Gionffriddo of BEYOND THE SEA tries to see that each book she stocks is in some way very special. She invests an incredible amount of personal time to reading books, perusing reviews, and preparing evaluation sheets for each of her books. We have never seen a more caring book shop. We doubt there is any.

The LOST KITCHEN Restaurant occupies the ground floor of a 19th-century house on Main Street. In a homey but elegant dining room accented with slate walls, milled wood light fixtures and intricate arrangements of local flowers, Erin French turns out a menu utilizing midcoast ingredients in dishes like pork belly confit with plum jam and pea tendrils, and caught-that-morning North Haven oysters in a cilantro-lime mignonette. Most dishes are finished with edible flowers like chive blossoms or kale flowers.

and In The Dog House Wood Products can print your message on live roses and elevate your dog's dish with a custom-made wooden stand.

How can the military organizations of the world be so culturally vulgar while sartorially cool? We don’t pretend to know the answer, but we do know that if you’re into military garb, you’ll like the stuff at the BELFAST ARMY NAVY STORE. Owner Ronald Mullen says that at least 60 percent of his stock is military surplus--compared to less than 10 percent in many other so-called Army surplus stores. The emphasis is on authentic international military surplus, both new and used, at very reasonable prices.

Also in the main business district, in the DOWNTOWN JEWELRY & ENGRAVING  you will find fine jewelry as well as several brands of watches and repair service. Also estate jewelry, giftware, Zippo lighters, Italian bracelets, Hot Diamonds, engravables and engraving service. A family-owned and operated hometown store since 1959. Call 207-338-2663 or 1-877-338-0700.

Look for paper artworks by Belfast’s Robinsunne Postcard at COYOTE MOON  downtown. Shop here for funky, natural-fiber clothing for women.

The GOOD TABLE, whose mission it is to outfit the gourmet chefs among us, has a wonderful assortment of cookbooks along with everything you need for preparing a delicious feast. Pans, roasters, basters, recipes, you want it, they have it. When your meal is prepared they have tablecloths, placemats, glassware and all the ingredients to set a beautiful table. On hand also are hostess gifts to take if you are visiting someone for the holidays.

On weekends, TRACI'S DINER  is open 24 hours, the  only restaurant in the area to provide full menu meals around the clock. The folks here handcut their own fries, and they are good!

Lots of people doing relatively minor things to make the world a more livable place could finally make a big difference. This is the philosophy behind the GREEN STORE, which sells environmentally safe, energy-efficient products at affordable prices. Casting itself as a general store for the 21st century, the Green Store stocks a wide variety of environmentally benign products, including recycled papers, energy efficient lighting, organic clothing, chem-free lawn-care products, environmental test kits, and energy sipping appliances.

On Main Street, check out COLBURN'S, which is said to be the nation’s oldest, continuously-run shoe store. Folks have been outfitting their feet here since 1832. Besides being a historical curiosity, Colburn’s sells quality shoes at outlet prices.

Since time immemorial man has struggled with life's great questions: why am I here? What is my purpose? Chocolate or Vanilla? Although we at THE COOL SPOT can't help with the first two, the third is right up our alley. Come in and try our local Stone Fox Farm Creamery ice cream with over 14 flavors, as well as special concoctions from the classic banana split to our cappuccino sundae.

The New York Times says THREE TIDES provides  the closest thing midcoast Maine has to a hipster bar scene. The nautical-themed bar (a pile of shucked oyster shells serves as décor) includes a bocce court and a bay-view bonfire pit. Two dozen house-brewed beers range from the hyper-hoppy Big Twitch IPA to playful Snow Cone Pale Ale.

Down East Magazine called MARSHALL WHARF BREWING COMPANY'S Beer Tasting Room the best in Maine. The popular magazine expressed a preference for Ale-len, a light kolsch-wheat beer brewed with organic blue agave nectar.

DARBY'S, 105 High Street, has been the site of a restaurant/pub since 1865. These days you'll find an extensive wine list with at least 25 choices.

In the words of Rebecca Baer of Artful Living: Oh what a find! EAT MORE CHEESE is a delightful haven for cheese lovers.  With a wide array of choices, ranging from creamy and delicious triple-creme Delice de Bourgogne to aged hard cheeses, this quaint shop is a delight for any cheese enthusiast.   At their new, larger store they now offer Proscuitto Pio Tosini, Speck, Pancetta and other sliced-to-order meats.

The vegetarian restaurant CHASE'S DAILY  not only sources most of the menu from a family farm in Freedom, 20 miles inland, it also uses the back of the place as an art gallery/farmers’ market. Order a wood-fired pizza topped with four local cheeses and fresh marjoram, then grab some beet greens or Maine products like Swan’s raw, unfiltered wildflower honey to take home.

At the OLD PROFESSOR'S BOOKSHOP, George Siscoe has a nice selection of scholarly books, new, used, and rare.

at 96 Main Street has cool stuff for you and your home. It's a unique Retro Style gift and home décor store that is as diverse as it is colorful. Look for the bright Yellow Awning with the Yo Mamma’s sign.

On Church Street, look for NAUTICAL SCRIBE BOOKS. Here Joe Moser stocks new, used, and rare nautical books and maritime art & collectibles. On hand also are museum-quality ship models.

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?


is the world's only miniature golf facility with an all-Maine motif.

brings new meaning to the term
"little bit of everything."  The imaginative lady proprietor has an on-going sale, and every day she brings out new inventory. She has a Men's Section and a Big and Beautiful Rack. Look around and you'll find  jewelry, art, CDs, and much vintage, fun and funky, fine-quality clothing. She has been in business at various locations since 1997, and has attracted an amazingly diverse inventory.

The BOOK LOVER'S ATTIC has several specialties, including children’s books, maritime, military, music, and modern first editions.

THE TREASURED LEAF TEA COMPANY  specializes in unique teas and useful accessories. We sampled a chocolate/strawberry tea which proved to be utterly unforgettable.

There are roadside attractions and ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS!!! PERRY'S NUT HOUSE on Route One in Belfast is definitely the latter. Since 1927, Perry's has been entertaining visitors with its fascinating museum-quality displays of stuffed animals, unique selection of fresh roasted nuts, silly practical jokes and comic t-shirts. Perry's is also famous for its fabulous fudge of many flavors. There is fun for all at Perry's Nut House.

BENNETT’S GEMS & JEWELRY offers an interesting and varied assortment of gemstones, minerals, and fossils. Open year round, Bennett’s is the place to find affordable gemstone jewelry from Maine and the world. Here you’ll find Maine’s largest assortment of polished stones. There is always a good selection of Maine tourmaline appealingly priced. You can spot the place by the pink dinosaur out front. Owner Kim Dunn is both knowledgeable and friendly.

Finding ourselves with four tread-thin tires on a car needing an inspection sticker, we began searching around for a deal. It took several tries, but we finally found one—at the TIRE WAREHOUSE on Route One in Belfast. The price was right, the service speedy. (They promise to beat anybody else's price, no matter how low.) We couldn't have been more pleased.

You can see the work of more than 20 Maine potters at MAINELY POTTERY. Included is stoneware, porcelain, earthernware and raku. Some of the work is quite expensive; much of it is priced quite modestly. Out front, there is a table of seconds at reduced prices. At the adjacent studio, you can see the work of master potters in progress.

PENOBSCOT BOOKS has a really fine selection of
books pertaining to architecture and the fine arts as well as a good general assortment. There are both new and used books, all in excellent condition. Howard LaRue, a retired minister, collected books for many years before going into the business. For Howard, it's a labor of love. Now there are seven rooms with some 40,000 books, over 5,000 monogrpahs, and 750 architecture and 600 photography books. Prices are reasonable. For a wonderful visual experience, visit the new Asian Room.

There is no camping at MOOSE POINT STATE PARK, but it’s a good place for picnicking or hiking along Penobscot Bay. The views from here are spectacular.

Searsport's greatest days lie behind her. Between 1770 and 1920, Searsport was an important shipping town, launching more than 3,000 vessels. In the 19th century, she was home to 286 ship captains, evidence of which can be found at the PENOBSCOT MARINE MUSEUM.

The SEARSPORT PINES GOLF COURSE  is the decade-old dream of Bert Whitten. It took root in his mind in the late eighties when he was a professor at Michigan Technological University. Heir to a 300-acre family homestead, he was aware of stats indicating that Waldo County golfers had fewer places to play than golfers anywhere else in Maine. What he has created is a pretty 9-hole, par 35 course cut out of a century-old pine forest. The layout has watered fairways, and most of the tees and greens are elevated. Water comes into play on five holes. In one of the ponds is a foot-long goldfish. Daily greens fees are just $15 for nine holes and $20 for eighteen.

The HIDDEN GARDENS are, well, hidden and a little hard to find, but if you’re into lovingly pampered flora, they’re worth the trek. You head north out of Searsport for six or seven miles, following the occasional signs. Just when you think you’re hopelessly lost, you’re there. You’re welcome to browse to your heart’s content through the huge variety of both perennials and biennials.

CAPTAIN TINKHAM'S EMPORIUM is the place to shop for beautiful, old tools and other items of interest. Also you'll want to visit the Penobscot Marine Museum Store.

We can't think of a better place to browse for an hour or so than WORKS. On hand is an eclectic selection of hardly-used books, art by Maine artists, and maine-source yarn and fiber for spinners. Housed in a historic (circa 1891) bank building, the people are friendly and the WIFI is free.

The couple at COASTAL CAFE & BAKERY promise "Simple Food Done Elegantly." This includes made-from-scratch pastries. They specialize in pinwheel puff pastries (and even make their own puff!) They bake baguettes fresh daily and serve full breakfasts all day long. Their lunches, mainly Mediterranean, incude many vegetarian dishes, and their soups are homemade. They endeavor to support  local companies and generally serve produce grown near-by.

THE BRICK HOUSE RESTAURANT is acquiring a reputation for great fried clams. There is usually live entertainment on weekends along with homecooked specials. Located in an historic Searsport brick block, the restaurant is reminiscent of a comfortable neighborhood bar. Call 207/548-6550 for hours and daily specials.

The PENOBSCOT MUSEUM STORE  features reproductions of maritime, China trade, and Victorian items.

The newest GRASSHOPPER SHOP, located on Searsport’s Main Street, stocks women’s clothes, housewares, gifts, cards and all the rest of the neat stuff that’s made the other Grasshopper Shops so popular.

At the PENOBSCOT MARINE MUSEUM, you can see one of the country’s finest collections of marine paintings and artifacts. Located on Rte 1 in Searsport, collections and special exhibitions are housed in eight historic structures, including the newly renovated Capt. Jeremiah Merithew House (1816). Here you’ll find a new permanent exhibition, "Working the Bay: Ports and People of Penobscot Bay". The Merithew House also contains the museum’s collection of 25 marine paintings by James and Thomas Buttersworth. Open Memorial Day through Oct. 15. During your visit, you’ll want to check out the Stephen Phillips Memorial Library and Museum Store. Call 207-548-2529 for more information.

Searsport is antiquing heaven. In a five-mile stretch, there are no fewer than 15 dealers. There are also three regular summertime flea markets.

HAMILTON MARINE is the largest discount ship’s chandler north of Boston. It’s a good source for much traditional, hard-to-find hardware and gear. Other branches are in Portland, Rockland, Southwest Harbor, and Jonesport.

The truth underlying the expression "one man's trash is another man's treasure" is nowhere more apparent that at the TREASURES AND TRASH BARN. This place is loaded to the gills with both treasures and trash. There must be more than a million individual items here, every one of which could strike somebody as well worth treasuring. "Hard to know where to begin, isn't it?" I said to a lady who appeared frozen by indecision. "Boy, I'll say it is," she replied, shaking her head as she started tentatively down an isle. It would be very easy to spend an entertaining afternoon separating wheat from chaff here.

Searsport is a Mecca for serious modelers of historic ships. It is the home of BLUEJACKET SHIPCRAFTERS, manufacturers of the world's finest ship model kits. In terms of accuracy, attention to detail, and quality of materials and instructions, no other ship model kits are comparable. The company is the oldest modeling company in the US, founded in 1905 as the official ship modeler to the US Navy. BlueJacket's models are found in museums worldwide, with over 70 in the Smithsonian alone. In their showroom at Lighthouse Place on Rte. 1, you'll find the largest selection of ship models anywhere, with over 100 models on display and available for sale.

Downeast Magazine called SEARS ISLAND "a well-kept secret." Known as Wassumkeag or shining beach by the indigenous Wabanaki tribes of northern New England, this state-owned island is readily accessible, but surprisingly few people visit it.  Barely visible from Route One, no signs identify it and the state doesn't promote it. Although there
have been several schemes to develop it, these have all be thwarted, and Sears remainds  the largest undeveloped, uninhabited, causeway-accessible island on the eastern coast of the United States. While motorized vehicles aren't permitted, visitors are free to park at the end of the causeway and explore its 940 acres on foot. They will find cobblestone beaches, forests, open fields, and 30-foot-high  cliffs affording spectacular views of Penobscot Bay, Cape Rosier/Castine, and Isleboro. Numerous walking-trails zig-zag their way throughout the island, and there are several beautiful beaches all along its  perimeter. Chances are good you'll have the place all to yourself. It is stunning to experience true wilderness so close to industrial and urban development. Incidentally, Sears is a bird-watcher's paradise.

In business for over a quarter-century, SILKWEEDS has expanded to become a major gift emporium—three two-story buildings providing 7,000 square feet of floor space. Things you’ll find include wreaths, jams & jellies, braided rugs, Maine-made Castine Candles, silk flowers, country/ primitive home decor and much more. Try Silkweed's famous homemade fudge. This is mid-coast Maine’s largest gift emporium where "it's always worth the trip." Call 1-800-711-1136.

The SAFE HARBOR CHURCH  on Route One is home ot nine stained glass windows by the noted glass designer Louise Comfort Tiffany. This is one of only ten buildings in the country with all-Tiffany windows, which depict both religious and pastoral tableaux.

Sarah Nickerson uses hooked rugs as the medium for her folk art. Creating the rugs from wool scraps and burlap bags, she treats them as canvasses to describe many incidents in her life, such things as former residences and stages of her children’s growth. She shows them at her shop, THE RUG RAT, on Rte 1 in Searsport. The setting is humble, but her work has been attracting some major collectors. Her prices — $70 per square foot — are well below most comparable creations.

There are three old cemeteries along this stretch and a scenic overlook providing a view of the Penobscot River.

There is an eclectic mix of cool stuff at TOWN HALL MERCANTILE PUB. Shop here for organic meats, milk, eggs, yogurt, and whoopie pies! There is a nice selection of art by Maine artists and books by Maine authors. Also on hand are pottery, cards, woodworking, jewelry, and vintage dishes. They make good pizzas here and excellent sandwiches. .

At Cape Jellison, Fort Pownall (1759) once defended upper Penobs
cot Bay. Now you can see the pyramid-shaped bell tower of FORT POINT LIGHT. For recreationists, SEARS ISLAND is something of a well-kept secret. It’s a great spot for hikers, swimmers, and picnickers. Parts of the island are a state wildlife sanctuary. There is an access road near the Searsport-Stockton Springs line.

How do you please the locals, summer people, and tourists all at the same time? The folks at THE GOOD KETTLE have found a way. They combine simple, good, home-style cooking with high-quality ingredients to provide nutritious, wholesome, delicious food. Home-grown produce is combined with wines, Maine brews, and cheeses from all over the world. On hand are Maine-made ice cream, baked goods, entrees, soups, and cheesecake. The folks here pack picnics for daytrippers (call ahead, 207/567-2035). All of this is pretty much guaranteed to please the pickiest palates of any and all.

PERRY'S STORE generally has the least expensive gas in the territory. There are those who say they also have the best crab rolls.

Watch for the sign to FERN HILL FINE ART. A short drive up Meadow Road brings you to William H. Landmesser’s studio. Highly original, his oils and watercolors are for those who have grown weary of mainstream art aimed at tourists. "I don’t do lighthouses," he points out.

There is a real boardwalk leading down to SANDY POINT BEACH. Asha Fenn of asha fenn Pottery, Art & Writing Studio and  Showroom insists that Sandy Point Beach is a highly magical place. Asha is a multi-talented young lady, excelling at prose, poetry, sculptures, and ceramics.

PERRY'S is known far and wide for its crabmeat sandwiches, a full half-pound of meat for under $10. (This place is said to have the lowest gas prices in the territory.)

Legend has it that there is pirate treasure buried at  Cod Lead, a gravel mound near Prospect's north town line, directly east of Mosquito Mountain. There's been plenty of digging hereabouts, but so far no success.

At 420 feet, the PENOBSCOT NARROWS BRIDGE OBSERVATORY  is the world's tallest. For five bucks (three for kids) you can shoot to the top in Maine's speediest elevator. (It travels at 500 feet per minute. Do the math. It'll get you there in less than a minute.) Once there, you'll be treated to one of the world's grandest views. This is one of the best deals you'll find Downeast. Your five dollars gets you free parking and a tour of Fort Knox in addition to your trip up the tower.

Construction on FORT KNOX began in 1844 and continued for 20 years. The project never was completed. As has always been the case with military projects, cost over-runs ran rampant. It was manned, but never attacked, during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Today, it is a great place for kids to play; there are underground stairways, brick archways, and other ramparts of master stone masons. In an inspired marriage of art and architecture in the 1950s, Macbeth was staged here for two summers. Twice yearly, the 20th Maine Company B Civil War Re-enactment Regiment stages authentic Civil War-era exercises; visitors can see how infantrymen of the period lived. Daily tours of the facility are conducted at 1 p.m. Admission: adults, $2; children, 50 cents; children under 5 free. It's a good idea to bring a flashlight.

Once you cross the Waldo-Hancock suspension bridge, you’re on VERONA ISLAND. It was here that in 1905 Adm. Robert E. Peary had built the Roosevelt, the vessel he used as a base for his successful dog-sled dash to the North Pole.

The UNIQUE ROCK SHOP stocks all sorts of rocks, minerals, semi-precious stones, fossils,and what-nots. This is among the most interesting shops on the Maine Coast. Specializing in Maine tourmaline, jewelry, and specimens..

The BUCKSPORT DEPOT MUSEUM, housed in an old railroad depot, has artifacts dating back to the days when Bucksport was a seafaring settlement. Admission is free, although donations are accepted. Near here, Bucksport has developed its waterfront with benches providing nice views of Fort Knox and the bridge. Much work has been completed on Bucksport’s waterfront, including a new marina.

Also downtown, there’s a theater that just won’t quit. Built in 1916, the ALAMO  was a popular movie house for 40 years before entering in a period of considerable TV-induced degradation. It was, at times, an A&P, a health clinic, a bar, and a video store. By 1992, things had become grim; the structure faced foreclosure. This was when NORTHEST HISTORIC FILM —a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving films of the Northeast—came riding onto the scene. Acquiring the place for a headquarters, this group began a struggle to replace the original 600-seat auditorium with a more intimate 120-seater. A major part of the project includes climate-controlled storage vaults for three-million-plus feet of irreplaceable historic film. NHF intends to be the country’s premier regional moving image archives. Open at present is the Theatre Store, which stocks Hollywood films relating to Northern New England and unusual movie-related gifts and toys.

GOOD DEALS ANTIQUES MALL & COLLECTIBLES on Main St. in Bucksport offers an incredible assortment of interesting items. A Dealer's Shop, new venders are always welcome.  Consignment on furniture and household items. Inventory changes daily; you'll always find a good deal. Call 207/469-2000.

T-BONES SMOKIN' BBQ on Main Street in Bucksport uses an original recipe and locally produced products to produce barbecue of the highest possible quality. Choose betweeen take-out and eating at an adjacent picnic table. T-Bones recognizes the importance of slow-smoking pork butts for succulent pulled pork. Tthese butts are cooked for a full half-day. This allows the tougher connective tissue to be gently broken down and creats texture that is moist and tender. Sparing no expense, T-Bone's  pulled pork is always cooked in this manner, and after it comes off the smoker and rests briefly, it falls apart from the slightest touch. Open seasonally 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday thru Sunday. Call 207/385-6786.

The LOCAL VARIETY & BAKE SHOP provides a very interesting assortment of home-baked goodies, locally made jewelry and crafts, locally-grown, organic produce, and top-quality meats. A sort of year-round Farmers' Market.

SILVER LAKE PARK, 67 acres, features a self-narrated tour of a species forest in which walkers can learn about every tree native to Maine in its natural environment. There are six hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty. A boat landing allows visitors to arrive by water and spend hours watching deer and partridge, marvel at the 100-foot-tall pines swaying in a breeze, or photograph bright flowers beside picturesque lake. They might also meet a ghost. In the summer of 2006, a young lady scuba diving in the lake came upon a woman with long hair struggling near the bottom. The diver, Amanda was her name, reached out to help the women before realizing she had encountered a ghost. Others have encountered this ghostly woman. Cheryl Leach and her seventeen-year-old daughter discovered they were both dreaming of a long-haired woman struggling under water. They launched an investigation with author Carol Schulte and concluded that they were conjuring the spirit of a murder victim named Sarah Ware.

has the outline of a foot and leg said to be the result of a curse put upon Col. Buck by a woman he had executed for witchcraft. Just before departing this world, she promised to dance on his grave. Don’t try convincing locals she hasn't made good.

Susan Renee Lammers of LAMMERS GALLERY uses copper panels for her oil paintings.  She says she was inspired by paintings on copper she saw in Europe. Although some of these were several centuries old, the colors remained vibrant and there was no cracking. Her gallery is open by apointment only. Call 207479-9513.

RAMONA'S, a new name for an old place to tip a few, is forging a more upscale image. Long known for its weekend rowdiness, it's cleaning up its act. No more brawls, no more unseemly behavior, no more loudly contested arguments. No more fried food, either. Instead you can imbibe with such treats as steak and sweet potratos, chicken Parmesan, and fettuccine Alfredo. It'll still be the place to catch top local bands.

Ranked as one of Maine's best, the BUCKSPORT GOLF COURSE  is a beautiful, well-maintained facility offering nine scenic holes, with a wide-open layout characterized by spectacular views of surrounding hills and valleys. With three par fives (par 37), it is Maine's longest 9-hole course.There is full-featured pro shop, a driving range, and two chipping greens. This course is a bit of a well-kept secret.

The ORLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY operates a small museum with military uniforms, a mineral collection, and local memorabilia on Main Street (Route 175). Open daily 2 to 4 p.m. July and August. The Orland River was once call the Narranassic—Indian for "Hard to Find."

THE PENOBSCOT BAY YACHT EXCHANGE provides a full range of Marine Services including sales, service, boat rentals, repairs, towing, salvage, and shrink wrapping. We represent TowBoatUS in Maine. We have towboats ready to respond in Portland, Boothbay, Rockland, Castine and Southwest Harbor. Each boat serves a 50 mile radius from it's home port. This ensures maximized coverage along the coast of Maine.

On Rte One in Orland is H.O.M.E. (Homemakers Organized for More Employment), an organization that assists local people in many ways. If you’re just visiting this area, you might want to check out H.O.M.E.’s marketstand with fresh produce, auto shop, lumber yard, shingles mill, thrift shop, and gift shop featuring work of Maine artisans. There are facilities for pottery, woodworking, weaving, leather, and a greenhouse. During the summer there is a non-stop flea market. In August, H.O.M.E. holds a country and crafts fair. At one recent book sale, you could buy a whole bag of books for a buck. Here there actually is free lunch—every day from 12 til 12:30. Donations are welcome, but defiitely not required. The good people here also run homeless shelters for men and women, a day care center, and a summer day camp for kids 8 to 12. There is a wide variety of classes for adults. Oh, and come Christmas they make wreaths and center pieces. Talk about busy—call 207-469-7961.

At ACADIA HIGHWAY DOLLHOUSE TREASURES, Mary Soper stocks a wide variety of dollhouses, miniatures, and tiny furnitures.


The good people at BALSAM COVE CAMPGROUND say they take pride in being big enough to offer the amenities people want, yet small enough to provide a quiet, serene camping experience. Facilities include a general store, modern restrooms, free hot showers, laundry, and free WIFI. Fun features include Friday night movies and twice-weekly hay rides.

Just a bit off the beaten path on Route 15 is the WILD BLUEBERRY PATCH GIFT SHOP. Combined here are edible blueberries and gifts with a blueberry motif. It is operated by the Allen family, which has been in the blueberry biz for five generations. Check out their giant wind turbine, the ecologically friendly way they freeze blueberries.

CRAIG BROOK NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY in East Orland was established in 1871 and is the nation’s oldest salmon hatchery. It is situated on the shore of Alamoosook Lake on a road that isn’t marked very well, but it is well worth visiting. There is a Visitors’ Center with aquaria, a picnic area, and boat-launching ramp, all free of charge. Each year, Craig Brook produces upwards of half a million young Atlantic salmon for Maine’s restoration programs. We visited the hatchery on a lovely July day and had the place all to ourselves. At the hatchery housed in an old ice house is Maine’s first-ever Atlantic salmon museum. On display are intricately-tied flies of master artisans, century-old flyrods , assorted reels, gaffs, tailers, and other artifacts and memorabilia.

MOUNTAIN VIEW VARIETY & REDEMPTION is a Variety Store that lives up to its name. Get gas, on/off road diesel, live bait, groceries, and grab & go items. There is a full kitchen and a bottle redemption center. Buy a Breakfast Sandwich, Breakfast Pizza, or Breakfast Special and get any size Green Mountain Coffee for 99 cents!

If you feel like you're ODing on Limbaugh, switch over to WERU at FM 89.9. Amy Goodman and Jim Hightower are good juxtapositions to the far right chatter that makes up most of talk radio. WERU is a community, listener-sponsored, ad-free station providing a nice balance of good music and public service (and most always politically correct) broadcasting, now makes its home on Route 1.

is among the largest acquisitions ever achieved by a Maine land trust. Purchased in 2005 by the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, its protection fulfilled the dream of  Stewart Gross, a local man who in 1993  founded the trust. There are hikes for people of all capabilities. A truly astonishing view can be experienced by following the East Ridge Path past Hemlock Brook. Descending  Flag Hill, there is a long, rocky ridge and views that get better with each step. One can see Katahdin and the White Mountains in the north and west, across Branch Lake to Schoodic Mountain in the east, and Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge to the south.

This trek continues in Chapter Ellsworth Area.

Questions or comments? Send them along to Captain D.