At the northeastern corner of the United States, sharing more of it’s border with Canada and the Atlantic ocean than any other neighbor, lies a state known for it’s beautiful summers and frigid winters. It’s lobsters and pine trees. It’s blueberries and ocean vistas.
Maine has been eating seafood and harboring vicious mosquitoes since sometime after the last ice age receded about 11 thousand years ago. The Algonquin speaking peoples of various tribes settled into dense evergreen forests and endless rivers, tidal flats and estuaries and were pretty happy to hang about, farm, fight, and frolic by themselves until the Nordic explorers arrived about 1000CE, then again 200 years later.
After the Europeans at large swarmed the New World, Maine ultimately entered the Union in 1820, splitting off from what was then Massachusetts as the 23rd US state.
Maine has more coastline than the entire rest of the US Eastern Seaboard combined, is the only US state name with only one syllable, and exports nearly 90% of the nation’s Atlantic Lobster, 90% of the nation’s toothpicks… and 100% of nation’s current supply of narrators named Greg Tremblay.
I was born riiiiiight… THERE.
How I wound up in NY? Eh, long story. Suffice to say I spent my youth bumming around midcoast Maine, which is like that whole red crinkly area from Portland to where that big-ass island is just off the coast. (That’s Matinicus Island and it’s siblings)
Last year, I learned that Audiofile Magazine hosts an annual Lobster Clambake for narrators and industry folk in East Boothbay at the cottage belonging to the Audiofile founder Robin Whitten. In a bizarre turn of events, it’s 4 miles from the house I lived in from age 4 to 10… life is weird sometimes.
I went last year, had a darling time, and this year I was going back come hell or high water. I nudged and cajoled my buddy Megan Tusing into coming too. By “cajoled” I mean I said “hey, space in the car, wanna come?” and then jumped out of the way as she barreled full tilt into the passenger seat.
Leaving Ithaca area, I slogged north to the NY Capital district and picked Megan up on the Amtrak out of Penn Station. Super easy pickup, even tho the train was late. We loaded up into my trusty 1999 Toyota Tacoma, and headed downeast. (that’s Down-Wind, Easterly for you landlubbers)
Lunch just outside Amherst MA at the Steam Tender restaurant… solid food, and cute as hell.
Sadly, post lunch? This whole red section of the trip was like… 30mph. Thank GOD I had company. I think Megan got tired of “Henry the Eighth” tho… I mean, I only sung it like… for 2 of the 4 hours. Still. Threatening me with a pen? Not cool chica. Not cool.
We DID finally arrive at my Mum’s place in South Portland for dinner… a LATE dinner. Love you mum, thanks for having us!
In the morning, we were up earlyish and forged on for the coast! Maine includes the northern end of US Route 1, which you can take from Eastport Maine, all the way to Key West Florida. It’s bucolic, it’s delightful, it’s full of food from bistro to burgers, and it’s sometimes a parking lot. Thankfully, we did well.
We started by hanging a bit in Boothbay Harbor, where I worked on tour boats as a High School and College student. Good times man, good times. *happy sigh*
We had a beer and split some fried clams, wandered the docks, grabbed salt water taffy, and poked around the insanely crammed new age tchotchke shop before moseying to East Boothbay for the hanging out time.
Robin’s cottage is like what you would get if you sent down to central casting for “Bucolic New England ocean side cottage.” Rock gardens pretending they were “oh just nothing” that look flawless, weathered cedar shingles, and rolling grass to rocky ledges overlooking Linekin Bay. (Lin-ih-ken)
We gather under a large tent for the day, as breezes blow north off the water (the view here looks almost due south out to sea, not east) and good friends share beers and stories. A local company works on the classic NewEngland clambake: Lobsters, clams, onion, potato and sweet potato. Blueberry pie will come later, and there are fresh salsas that Robin whips up.
… crap, I don’t have an artsy photo of the salsa. Dude, they were freakin epic ok?
After we all perched and stuffed our faces… it was time for a lovely surprise for Robin.
More on that next time in PART 2.