Heading north from The Cod or more precisely “Down East” we prepare to encounter the land of “Mainiacs” (people from the state of Maine). To understand the DNA of the area it is important to study the local language. In order not to be too confused we consult several authoritative manuals on the linguistics of the region. Down East refers to the direction the early settlers sailed from Boston; wind at their backs, sailing downwind and to the east, back to Maine. The term stuck and being the eastern most state, up or down the coast we ignore the GPS and surrender to going down. Since we are considered “flatlanders” (from outta state ah) and “city pukes” (tourists) we try to blend in and avoid an encounter with a “statey” (state trooper). Since Blackie is no “junka” (a car with more rust than yours) we take the “long way round Robin Hoods barn” (not the shortest route) to get “out in th’willie-wacks” (waaaay out). We swing through Kennebunkport, a cute coastal town more famous for housing the President Bush Summer Compound than its past shipbuilding heritage and fishing community. Unfortunately, it is overflowing with the summer city pukes so we continue down to our destination “Bah Hahba” (Bar Harbor). Settled in the 1700’s on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor has always attracted those wishing to get away from urban life to be inspired by the natural beauty of this area. In the 1800’s some artists from the Hudson Valley School came here to paint the wild coastline and towering coastal mountains. Returning home they sold their paintings and inspired others to travel to Maine to see for themselves. These early “rusticators” camped out or stayed with local families.
They enjoyed sailing when conditions were all “breezed-up” (windy). They hiked near-by Cadillac Mountain, soon to be protected in Acadia National Park
. They took their “newts” (children) to the beach and watched the fishermen go “buggin” (lobstering) and then ate the fresh catch. “Ay-yuh” (that’s right, yes) times were good. A devastating fire destroyed most of the structures on the island in 1947 but this did not deter the summer city pukes. The area continues to attract artists, scientists, tourists, and their newts. Where to eat? Sit down at the Quarterdeck overlooking beautiful Frenchman Bay where you can find lobster everywhere, good clams, and fresh fish. Poke around in the numerous shops, take a cruise on a tall ship but don’t forget to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain in wonderful Acadia National Park to get the 360-degree view of the island.
Down we go to the downest and eastest part of the state passing the dense forests that provide most of the toothpicks to the U.S., past the marshy fields of blueberries that fill 90 percent of our bowls and muffins. The Eastern Most Town is Lubec located on Passamaquoddy Bay across from the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Once known for its scores of herring smokehouses and canneries, its fishing industry now includes salmon farming, buggin, scallops and clams. 20-foot tides pour through the Lubec Narrows and inspired one of the first power generators to use the sea to power their plaster and gristmills. In the fall “tipping” becomes the seasonal industry where families “tip” the evergreen firs to make Christmas wreaths and export them around the country. Across the harbor, a few hundred yards is the island of Campobello, New Brunswick. The people of both towns have always enjoyed a close relationship. Rum running and smuggling cheap British merchandise occupied these border towns in the early years with rum running making a comeback in the 1920’s. The economy slipped and promoting the area as a summer retreat became profitable with President Franklin D Roosevelt and his family as one of the “summah visitahs”. The Roosevelt Campobello Memorial Bridge now spans the gap to connect the two towns. Near by is a must see and hike if you are in the area. West Quoddy Head Lighthouse and West Quoddy State Park cling to the jagged cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The trail along the glacier carved cliffs is “wicked” (very, extremely) spectacular, passing waterfalls and lush pine forests. The fog in Maine is “full of the ole cat” (mischievous) and can appear at any time or disappear just as fast. We lucked out with a clearing on our hike but could see the fog bank looming just offshore. It could get “dahkah than the inside o’a pocket” real fast. No problem, that’s what lighthouses are for!