Maine-ly Mojitos July 15-23, 2013 July 15 – We departed Casa de Westie with Max-the-Schipperke at around 10AM in search of a cooler climate. The past several days have been in the 90's, both temperature and humidity, with more of the same forecast. Our first stop was at the VCA Cromwell Vet where everyone knows Max's name. He had his usual reservation for an air conditioned suite on Alligator Alley and the desk jockey actually used the information from the form Ann prepared so we made a quick get-away. Two interim stops in MA were made on our journey with the first being shortly after the border crossing where gas retails for 30 cents less than in CT. The second was in Marlborough where we sought out a non chain restaurant for lunch. Shortly after entering the town proper, we located Main Street Cafe where we each ordered a tuna melt, hold those fries. The tuna may have been albacore, but there was entirely too much mayo and too little cheese. ($14.43, 2.5 Forks out of a possible 5) On entering Maine, we stopped at the first welcome center for a few maps and brochures. I signed the guest book and dated my entry 7/15/2001. Where did that come from? Highway traffic was surprisingly light on this Tuesday so we made the 200 plus mile trip to Scarborough, ME in good time. I had requested a room on the 2nd floor at the time I made our reservation at the Fairfield Inn, but none were currently available so we took one on the 3rd floor. Rooms are on the small size and inexpensively furnished, but the price, $0 using Marriott points, and location are hard to beat. After resting for a few hours, we enjoyed glasses of vino before making the short drive to downtown Portland. Our choice for dinner was Pom's Thai Taste where we ordered steamed butterflies (chicken dumplings) - their signature appetizer made with ground chicken breast and herbs, roasted peanuts and turnips. This dish was excellent. Our first entree was chicken with basil leaves that included onions, mushrooms, green and red peppers in a garlic sauce. The second entree was listed as a house specialty – chicken Chiengmai (sliced chicken with string beans, red and green peppers, cashew nuts in a pik pow sauce). Both entrees were pretty good, but a little too similar due to the overlap of ingredients. We had a choice of brown or white rice choosing healthy. ($23, Groupon, 2.5 Forks) http://www.thaitastemaine.com/menu-poms-thai-restaurant-and-noodle-house.html After dinner we took a scenic drive around Cape Elizabeth during which we stopped for a visit to the Portland Head Light, the oldest and probably most photographed lighthouse in Maine. http://www.portlandheadlight.com/ The light is located in the town owned Fort Williams Park which overlooks Casco Bay. The park is well maintained and very popular with both locals and tourists. We enjoyed a short walk along a seaside path as dusk began to settle in. (4.5 Lights) On our return to the Fairfield Inn, we scored the last 2 chocolate chip cookies which we enjoyed back in the room before retiring for the night. July 16 – I woke up at 4:30AM, actually it was 1:30AM, 2:20AM and finally at 4:30AM I got up, put on my clothes and headed to the computer located in the lobby where I checked emails and otherwise killed time. Once the sun rose, I took the car to a nearby gas station where I filled it up at 3.719 per gallon and then made the boring drive to Saco and back. Our complimentary breakfast included OJ, scrambled eggs and sausage patties. Mediocre best describes this meal, but it filled the tummy. ($0, 2 Forks) We both could use new waterproof jackets so we decided to take a short detour to Freeport, a.k.a. The home of LL Bean. http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/1000001705?page=store-flagship It has been several years since our last visit and it appears the entire town has been taken over by factory outlets. Our first stop was LL Bean where everything seemed over priced, but it was an interesting visit. We then traveled up one side and down the other side of Main Street checking out a few other stores with Ann purchasing a pair of blouses at Jones New York. The drive to Bar Harbor along Route 1 is traffic congested and boring so next visit we will take the slightly longer, but faster route through Bangor. We did stop at Deb's Diner in Waldoboro for blueberry pie, but were told by the waitress that it was sold out. She asked if we would be returning (next Friday) and said she was sure her mom (presumably Deb) would make a pie for us. https://www.facebook.com/debsdiner We made one additional rest stop at the town green in Thomaston where we enjoyed some cherries and a bottle of Snapple while seated at a picnic table adorned by a pot of flowers. We also made our usual stop at the Maine State Prison shop to see if anything new had been added. We arrived at the Highbrook Motel in Bar Harbor mid-afternoon in spite of my directionally challenged navigator's directions. http://www.highbrookmotel.com/ This small, family-owned and managed motel, located within a mile of the town center, has received extremely high ratings by fellow tourists. The owner's son provided us with several brochures including Acadia Weekly and a dining guide that proved helpful. We were assigned unit 12, an end unit that included a queen sized bed, mini refrigerator and a flat screen TV. The room was bigger than the one at the Fairfield Inn and impeccably clean. After resting, we made the short drive to downtown where we parked approximately 10 blocks away from the Poor Man's Gourmet restaurant. http://www.poorboysgourmet.com/ On entering we headed to the bar, but were told we could also enjoy happy hour pricing in the dining room or the semi enclosed patio. We chose the latter and ordered mojitos that turned out to be un-muddled and largely forgettable. This restaurant offers an extensive early bird menu from which we both ordered the baked stuffed haddock with Maine crab meat & shrimp stuffing. We never detected any crab meat and the haddock was topped rather than stuffed, but it was a generous and tasty entree. Ann chose a baker while I opted for butterfly pasta topped with a delicious and chunky marinara sauce. ($41.29, 3 Forks) After making the long walk back to the car, we drove into the national park and made our way to Cadillac Mountain via the scenic auto road. The summit, the highest along the entire Atlantic coast provides an unparalleled view of Frenchman's Bay. July 17 I was up and out the door by 5AM. My destination this morning was the small communities of Otter Creek and Northeast Harbor. I spotted a kingfisher sitting on a wire and 2 of the restaurants on my To Do list before returning to the motel. Our motel offers a grab and go continental breakfast each morning so we grabbed OJ, mini bagels and one blueberry muffin. Everything was mediocre so we decided to seek nourishment elsewhere for our remaining 2 breakfasts. Later in the morning we toured Mt. Desert Island with stops at Somesville for the famous foot bridge followed by Southwest Harbor where we walked the 1.4 mile Wunderland Trail that goes from the parking lot on 102A along a woods road to the ocean. http://www.acadiamagic.com/wonderland-trail.html We also stopped at the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse where the keeper's house serves as the full-time residence of a Coast Guard family. http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net/bass-harbor-head.html In Bernard, we stopped for lunch at Thurston's Lobster Pound. http://thurstonslobster.com/ We each ordered a cup of the day's chowder, scallop, that included red potatoes, tender sea scallops and fresh herbs in a light, but spicy cream broth. ($13.89, 3 Spoons) On exiting we drove the length of Sargent Drive which hugs the eastern shore of Somes Sound, the only fjord on the Atlantic Coast. On our return trip we parked on the road and made a lengthy visit to the beautiful Asiticou Azalea Garden. ($0, 4.5 Flowers) http://www.gardenpreserve.org/asticou-azalea-garden/index.html After a brief nap, it was time for happy hour at the Side Street Cafe. http://www.sidestreetbarharbor.com/ Martinis were excluded so Ann opted for a glass 99 Vines chardonnay (2 Sips) while I sampled a pint of New Guy IPA (2 Sips) – hers proved to be flavor light while mine was heavy with a bitter aftertaste. For the second round, Ann ordered a Fancy Pants Martini (raspberry vodka, chambord and sparkling wine) (3 Sips) at retail while I topped my tank off with a pint of Allagash White (3 Sips). Our dining destination, Cafe This Way, was but a short stroll away. http://www.cafethisway.com/menus.html The restaurant proved to be much larger than it appeared from the outside with an outside patio, but we ended up being seated in a back room though we held a reservation. Ann ordered blackened medium rare tuna that included a jicama-orange salad and lime-avocado crème. The tuna was served cold so it was sent back to the kitchen. After a long wait, the waitress brought out a 2nd plate that had been sitting out too long followed by a 3rd plate at room temperature featuring well done tuna. I was more successful with my entree, Brazilian Flavors – shrimp, scallops and mussels in a tomato-coconut broth with veggies and rice. The seafood was generous, but the broth could have benefited from a heavier hand with the coconut milk. ($57.79, 2 Forks) After dinner we strolled around town with a stop in the Bark Harbor store where Ann purchased a I Love My Dog decal for her car. July 18 I was up at 5AM so I decided to drive the Park Road again with stops at Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Cadillac Mountain. It was still early so I drove downtown and walked around the harbor area until the Morning Glory Bakery opened for business. http://www.morningglorybakery.com/ The selection was limited so I had little difficulty choosing a pair of almond scones and a piece of blueberry cake. The scones were fresh baked, crumbly and delicious while the cake proved to be a bit too heavy. ($7, 3 Forks) We started the day off downtown where we walked the shore path that begins at the town pier and offers views of sail boats, mansions and offshore islands. Our return via Main Street afforded Ann an opportunity for some early morning window shopping. We then stopped by the Acadia National Park visitors center at Hulls Cove. Ann has a senior pass so entry to the park is free, but unknown to us a tag for the car is required. We then drove the park loop trail with a prolonged stop at the Precipice trail parking lot. The trail is currently closed because a pair of peregrine falcons are raising 3 chicks. Park rangers have set up scopes for viewing purposes though I was one of the few tourists unable to see Papa Falcon. Our next stop was the scenic Jordan Pond where we took a short walk along the shoreline to maximize our view of the bubbles, twin mountain peaks towering over the pond. This was the point in the trip where I managed to screw up my camera settings big time. On exiting the loop road, I drove to Hannaford supermarket and purchased a 6-pack of Atlantic Brewing Company's blueberry ale. This beer titillated my taste buds, but there was barely any discernible blueberry taste. ($12.28, 3.5 Sips) Happy Hour was held at McKay's Public House where we both ordered Blue Hill martinis (blueberry vodka, lemonade, fresh blueberries and a splash of soda). The drinks sounded far better than they tasted so we stopped at one and made a dinner reservation. ($12, 2.5 Sips) We walked around town for close to a half hour before returning. http://www.mckayspublichouse.com/ As requested, we were seated on the patio where we each ordered the shepherd's pie (slow cooked braised lamb in an herbed demi glace topped with roasted vegetables then layered with whipped potatoes). Unlike the drinks, this dish tasted better than it sounded. ($42.36, 3.5 Forks) We took a drive down route 3 as far as Otter Creek before retiring for the evening. July 19 I took a long drive around Mt. Desert Island on this overcast morning with the only notable stop being another visit to the now deserted Asticou Azalea Garden. This time I found a small sign directing me to the parking lot where I, drum roll please, parked. After checking out of our motel, we made the short drive to Two Cats where we were seated on the patio immediately outside the kitchen. http://www.2catsbarharbor.com/cafe.html Allegedly there are 2 resident cats, but neither made an appearance during our visit. Ann ordered blueberry pancakes with “real” maple syrup – 3 to the order proved to be one too many. I opted for eggs Benedict which were served on a homemade bun that was too thick and dry. The accompanying spicy home fries were pretty good though they would have benefited from being heated a bit more. ($30.59, 2.5 Forks) As I was paying the bill, Ann managed to purchase a 2 Cats T-shirt.($20.95, 4 Paws) On our way to Boothbay Harbor we made a second visit to Deb's Diner in Waldoboro. This time Ann talked to Deb who was unaware of our request, but told Ann “to call her directly if we are heading her way” again. Side Note: On our return home I picked blueberries at a local u-pick which Ann turned into a delicious pie. We drove over this bridge on our way. On checking in at Fisherman's Wharf Inn, I was surprised to learn that the breakfast buffet and free afternoon cruise have been discontinued. A $10 per person ticket is provided each day which can be applied to anything on the menu which proved to be sufficient. Parked outside our room (#218) Later in the afternoon we walked and window shopped with Ann doing half the walking and 90% of the shopping. Happy hour today was on our deck where we finished off the Atlantic Blueberry ale six pack. I had a Restaurant.com certificate and was told we could use it though the Fisherman's Wharf restaurant no longer participates. We each ordered the $18.99 twin lobster special that came with corn on the cob. The lobsters were soft shelled, but less so than expected and the corn was fresh. During our meal, entertainment was provided by the Gothard sisters, a trio of Celtic entertainers from the Pacific Northwest who play musical instruments, sing and dance. http://gothardsisters.weebly.com/ ($24.24, 3 Forks) After dinner we walked around town before calling it a night. Our hotel at twilight time. July 20 I was up and headed to the computer in the lobby by 4AM, but it was painfully slow. As soon as the sun rose, I took an extended walk around town stopping to enjoy a sculpture garden. For breakfast Ann ordered easy over eggs, bacon, OJ and home fries which included sweet potatoes. My meal included OJ, bacon, and Grand Marnier French toast. The French toast sounded a lot more interesting than it tasted. ($4, 2.5 Forks) We visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens this morning stopping at the visitor's center to pay the admission fee and pick-up a map of the property. http://www.mainegardens.org/ After touring the various gardens located nearest the entrance, we took a shuttle to the shoreline trail which runs parallel to the Back River. We continued along the trail until we reached the Vayo Meditation Garden and then followed another trail that led back to the visitors center past a picturesque pond. ($24, 3.5 Fronds) After exiting we stopped at the nearby Trevett Country store for a Pepsi, but I could not resist purchasing a large chocolate chip cookie which I graciously shared. ($3.23, 4 Chips) In the afternoon Ann did a little window shopping in town with a stop at Two Salty Dogs where she purchased some treats for may while while I read and (mostly) napped. Later in the afternoon, I decided to join her while looking for a fleece pull over for tomorrow's puffin trip, but ended up purchasing one with a full zipper at Shirts by The Bay for $15. We enjoyed a pre-happy hour glass of vino on the deck before setting off for happy hour in the bar at the Thistle Inn. http://www.thethistleinn.com/ Ann started off with a blueberry lemonade martini (blueberry vodka and fresh squeezed lemon juice). I ordered the chocolate mint mojito (muddled chocolate mint, rum, fresh lime juice and a splash of club soda). Ann decided to change horses in mid stream so we both ordered mojitos on our second round. We held dinner reservations for the restaurant, but after talking with the people at an adjoining table we decided to order off the pub menu. I chose fish and chips which were oil free and included a delicious tartar sauce and coleslaw. Ann went healthy by ordering an excellent Cobb salad. ($41.85. 3.5 Forks) On our way back, Ann dragged me into Abacus Gallery where we acquired a unique candlestick holder that we really needed – wink, wink. http://www.abacusgallery.com/boothbay_harbor After resting in the room for awhile, we made our way to the Ice Cream Factory where we got in line and ordered 2 scoops of Bailey's Island (Kahlua and Bailey's Irish Creme). ($6.10, 4 Scoops) July 21 Up at 5AM, internet followed by a walk around town on a picture perfect morning. Ann's breakfast was OJ and blueberry pancakes while I chose eggs Benedict that came with home fries. ($4, 2.5 Forks) Today we took a puffin tour run by Cap'n Fishes that visits Eastern Egg Rock, the southernmost nesting colony in North America. http://mainepuffin.com/ The Audubon guide was both interesting and informative. We ended up seeing 50 puffins (hurray!) plus a minke whale, seals, porpoises, an osprey and an eagle. ($56, 3.5 Feathers) I wasn't happy with the zipper on my fleece jacket, so I exchanged it for a wind breaker that I figure has an outside chance of lasting the fall season. The Thistle Inn was our happy hour destination again. The bartender, Sasha, is amazing how she multi tasks by preparing drinks for the entire restaurant, serves tables in the pub and answers the phone. Two rounds of ½ priced mojitos made us happy campers. ($22, 4 Sips) Dinner was at Andrew's Harborside restaurant. http://www.andrewsharborside.com/ We opted to sit on the enclosed deck which provided an excellent view of a parking lot and a less than stellar view of the harbor. Ann ordered baked scallops with a seafood stuffing, a baked potato and overcooked/watery zucchini. I chose twin crab cakes with an orange reduction sauce, crispy fries and the same crappy zucchini. My crab cakes were pretty blah tasting and the accompanying sauce added nothing. We also shared a blueberry cobbler with ice cream. The latter plus the crispy fries were the highlights of an otherwise very mediocre and overpriced meal. ($41.85, Groupon, 2 Forks) We decided to walk off a few calories by crossing the footbridge to the other side of town for close up views of the picturesque Our Lady Queen of Peace church and Fisherman's Memorial park. July 22 On our last full day in Maine, I was up at 5AM and in the lobby printing off directions for the quickest way home, checked emails and generally killed time. At around 6AM, I departed the lobby, crossed the footbridge and hooked a left on Union Avenue and made the round trip back to the motel. The morning was gorgeous so we sat outside on the restaurant's waterside deck for breakfast while enjoying the harbor traffic. We each chose OJ and spinach and cheese omelets which came with same home fries plus toast with us requesting just one order of the latter. ($4, 2.5 Forks) Later in the morning we made our way to Boothbay Region Land Trust's Gregory Hiking Trail. http://www.bbrlt.org/documents/GregoryHikingGuide.pdf The trail meanders through a heavily wooded property with extensive frontage on the Back River. Across the river is the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) that we visited on Saturday. We were both in need of immediate relief so after completing the hike we made the short drive to the CMBG to use the facilities. On our return trip we decided to tour East Boothbay including the picturesque Ocean Point Road. We also stopped at Brown's Wharf Inn for a photo opportunity and drove through the extensive grounds of the Spruce Point Inn before returning to our motel. It was now 3.5 hours to our next happy hour so I spent time on the lobby computer, napped and otherwise conserved my strength. When the count down meter approached 0.5 hours, we made the walk to the Thistle Inn arriving within minutes of its opening. Sasha was already filling orders as we sat down at the bar. Now considered semi regulars, she inquired if we wanted our usual mojitos. LOL We also were toasted by a table of regular regulars that we talked to on our first visit. Shortly after requesting a second round of mojitos, a couple from Virginia sat down beside us. I encouraged them to get their drink orders in ASAP while everything was ½ priced. We had planned on returning to Fisherman's Wharf for the twin lobster special, but decided to order off the pub menu. Though we were tempted to start off with an appetizer of mussels that the regular regulars were enjoying, we decided a pair of Cobb salads would suffice. These included juicy chunks of grilled chicken, crumbled blue cheese, avocado slices, crispy bacon, fresh salad greens, tomatoes, slices of hard boiled eggs and a creamy blue cheese dressing on the side. ($49.80, 4 Forks) On exiting we took the circuitous route I followed this morning in reverse and were stopped by two couples who asked for directions to Boothbay. These were locals who identified us as rubes thanks to the Boothay Harbor logo on my cheap wind breaker. After gabbing for awhile, we continued on our way via the footbridge and once again ran into them as we made one final trip around town. Ever have the feeling someone is watching you? Prior to calling it a night we stopped at Boothbay Fudge Factory for some saltwater taffy for our friend Tina and a couple of pieces of chocolate walnut fudge for us. The fudge were end cuts which were overdone and slightly dry. (2 Bites) July 23 – Up at 4:30AM and on the internet again followed by a walk around town on drizzly morning. We wanted to get an early start on our return trip in order to pick-up Max as early as possible so I woke Ann up a little after 6AM. After packing the car, we had our last breakfast of the trip. Ann ordered a pair of blueberry pancakes while I chose huevos rancheros. The tortillas were just awful, dry and tasteless. The toppings of black beans, easy over eggs, cheese and guacamole were just okay. I should have known better. ($4, 2.5 Forks) We pretty much drove straight through with only a stop for gas and a Pepsi. Max was picked-up at 12:30PM and a half hour later all 3 of us were tucked out, but happy to be home.