Taking a Travel Break: Headed to Morocco

Well, we’re itching to travel again — this time to Morocco.  And the idea originated with a friend’s suggestion to take a course in Moroccan cooking from San Francisco chef Joanne Weir.  Chef Weir travels to international destinations conducting week-long adventures in sightseeing, shopping, and cooking the cuisine of the area.  Her new TV show, Plates and Places, can be seen on the Create Channel, or you can access videos of her shows through Vimeo. I’ll be with three former educators from Knoxville learning the art of cooking Moroccan dishes in Marrakech for one week.

After cooking school ends, Bert will join me for a travel adventure arranged by Lauren Gunnels, owner of Ortelius Travel.  Lauren has arranged for us to visit the medina, souks, and mosques of Marrakech; tour Ouarzazate and the World Heritage site Ait Ben Haddou; ride to Erg Chebbi, the largest dunes in the Sahara; shop the artisan workshops of Fes; photograph Chefchaouen, a blue lime-washed town; and walk through the medina in Tangier.

The blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen

The blue-washed walls of Chefchaouen

As always, one of our sources of information has been bloggers who have traveled this pathway before.  One site has been especially inspiring:  Image Earth Travel, a photography and travel blog by Nilla Palmer.  Nilla’s photos have inspired us to look at the people and places that contribute to the fascinating culture of Morocco, and we hope to capture some of the same colorful richness of the area that she shares on her blog.

Although we may not be able to respond to your comments for a while due to limited internet access, Oh, the Places We See will return in June ready to share the sights and sounds of a country with much to see.  In the meantime, keep us in your thoughts that our travels will be safe as well as richly rewarding.

We will be posting pictures on Instagram when we have WiFi service:  https://www.instagram.com/rushasams/

Thanks for following!

Rusha Sams

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A Place in the World: Pawleys Beach at Dawn

Pre-dawn view of Pawleys Pier from the Sea View Inn.

Pre-dawn view of Pawleys Pier from the Sea View Inn.

It’s just been in recent years that I’ve chosen to get up before dawn.  Oh, I did it before retirement, of course — to soothe a waking baby, to catch an early flight, or to set up a conference room for a morning meeting.  But now, I can choose to see dawn unfolding. And nowhere do I love it better than on the beach at Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

Quiet time before sun-up

Quiet time before sun-up

Recently, we stayed a few days at the Sea View Inn, one of the few remaining Old South bed and breakfasts that serve three low-country meals each day.  So getting up meant having time for myself in my place in the world without even having to make coffee. It was there, each and every morning, hot and ready for the taking, even before dawn.

Bathed in early morning light, the Sea View Inn on Pawleys Island.

Bathed in early morning light, the Sea View Inn on Pawleys Island.

Before the guests awake:  Sea View Inn

Before the guests awake: Sea View Inn

I left the porch and moved slowly down the beach, passing houses whose windows were lit with morning glow.

Greeting the sun at Pawleys Island.

Greeting the sun at Pawleys Island.

With salmon tones in the background from the almost-up sun, Pawleys Pier jutted out to greet the seas and make ready for sunny days.

Pink light before dawn at Pawleys Pier

Pink light before dawn at Pawleys Pier

Colors changed from smoky pink to peach and orange with a hint of yellow, but just a hint . . .

Orange skies replace pink as the sun's stonger colors come into play.

Orange skies replace pink as the sun’s stonger colors come into play.

until the sun peeked over the horizon, bathing all in early-morning glow.

At Pawleys, I never take dawn for granted.  Never ask for clear skies or cloudy ones with interesting configurations.  Come what may, it’s my place — albeit a temporary one —  just as it is.

To see places loved by other writers, check out WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Place in the World.

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Welcoming in so many ways: The doors of Castine, Maine

We’re not the first nor the only ones to declare Castine a tucked-away gem along the scenic coast of Maine.  Joining us in affirming the charm of this historic Down East hamlet  is Yankee magazine who named Castine one of the 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in Maine. So it was with great pleasure that we took to walking the streets — not just to immerse ourselves in the ambiance of this tiny but impressive town, but also to look longingly (and enviously) at the architecture and doors of the village.

A Pinterest favorite is this home surrounded by trees of autumn splendor standing in the square of Castine.

A Pinterest favorite is this home surrounded by trees of autumn splendor standing in the square of Castine.

Our typical morning in Castine found us up before dawn, standing at Acadia Dock to greet the sun, and then hiking uphill to the open door (at 7 a.m. no less) of MarKel’s Bakehouse where the smell of hot-from-the-oven blueberry muffins and rich quiches greeted “the regulars” and visitors like us who quickly made friends.

Open for business: MarKel's Bakehouse near the Castine harbor

Open for business: MarKel’s Bakehouse near the Castine harbor

It would be easy to typify this town of predominately white clapboard homes as just another seaside village. But with the British, French, and Dutch all vying for dominance of Castine’s location at the mouth of the Penobscot Bay and settling troops and families in the village, the architecture took on a decidedly European look with embellishments not seen in other coastal Maine towns.  Some white homes in Castine boast painted doors.

But it’s not all white houses in Castine.  Colorful homes as well dot the landscape. Under renovation, this deep red home faces Water Street but opens its back to the beauty of the bay. Here are a few we loved.

Looking a bit like a fixer upper, this deep red beauty gets new doors and updated interior.

Looking a bit like a fixer upper, this deep red beauty gets new doors and updated interior.

Swaths of gray mark the age of this shingled beauty that blends in with the landscape.

At water's edge, a grey-shingled home greets the morning fog.

At water’s edge, a grey-shingled home greets the morning fog.

Dating back to 1796, this home is considered one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, in Castine. Its doorway remains one of its prettiest features, yet one of its darkest.

European styling with stone, plaster, and timber combined in the exterior.

European styling with stone, plaster, and timber combined in the exterior.

An inset door flanked by shutters and benches on the oldest cottage in Castine.

An inset door flanked by shutters and benches on the oldest cottage in Castine.

A few buildings are used for teaching and demonstrating crafts of yesteryear — like this place for blacksmithing with a distinctive red door.

Open only during summer months, this building houses equipment for blacksmithing.

Open only during summer months, this building houses equipment for blacksmithing.

Some cottages are quaint . . .

Gray cottage with black door

Gray cottage with black door

Yellow two-story with framed doorway

Yellow two-story with framed doorway

while others are quite elegant surrounded by walkways, hedges and formal gardens.

Elegant home and former antique shop -- one of the prettiest in Castine

Elegant home and former antique shop — one of the prettiest in Castine

But even among the finest, the largest, the cutest, and so forth, we found a favorite:  a simple, white Cape Cod with red door and stone wall facing the water.  Oh, to have a cup of coffee while sitting in the front window watching the boats sail past.

House with red door and rock fence facing Penobscot Bay

House with red door and rock fence facing Penobscot Bay

You know it’s Castine when even the typical becomes the extraordinary.

Every week, you can find more doors at Norm’s Thursday Doors.

 

 

 

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines in Cinque Terre

As we stood with our tour group in Cinque Terre to listen to our guide, we couldn’t help but notice other lines in the landscape.  From clotheslines holding towels on colorful balconies . . .

Towels drying on the line: Cinque Terre

Towels drying on the line: Cinque Terre

to boats lined up and waiting at the base of the famous postcard-pretty hillside where small apartments and houses vie for space on the mountainside.

Boats lined up in Manarola

Boats lined up in Manarola

Half-opened shutters exposed their lines to the morning sun.

Green shutters:  Cinque Terre

Green shutters: Cinque Terre

And wavy lines of umbrellas shaded bathers on a crowded coast

Umbrellas on the beach:  Cinque Terre

Umbrellas on the beach: Cinque Terre

while two churches stood out among other buildings with their  distinguished lined facades.

A lined facade in Cinque Terre

A lined facade in Cinque Terre

Distinctive entrance:  church in Cinque Terre

Distinctive entrance: church in Cinque Terre

Find more lines — straight and curvy —  at Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines.

 

Posted in Destination, Italy, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Prolific in Prague

If you want to see lots of anything, just head for Prague where tourists and locals file past prolific bubble blowers waving giant wands of bubbles on busy street corners.

Bubble blowers on the sidewalks of Prague.

Bubble blowers on the sidewalks of Prague.

Keep moving and you’ll see street vendors who make the most of their small display space by hanging their wares above you, dangling in the air.

Suspended marionettes in Prague

Suspended marionettes in Prague

And roofers must have been quite busy as early as the 9th century topping buildings with red clay tiles that you can best see from Prague Castle.

Prague's red clay roofs

Prague’s red clay roofs

Be sure to check out all the interpretations of this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Prolific.  

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunrise at Acadia Dock

Early morning sun brightens the waters of Castine harbor where the sailing vessel Bowdoin resides.

Early morning sun brightens the waters of Castine harbor where the sailing vessel Bowdoin resides.

Coastal Maine offers glorious sunrises if you’re willing to wake up early, bundle yourself in layers, and stand on a dock for the morning show.

And you’re never alone.  From birds gliding overhead to lobstermen checking traps before dawn, docks like Acadia in Castine put on a spectacle like no other.

Leaving Acadia Dock before dawn is the Maine Maritime Academy tug awash in early-morning sunlight.

Leaving Acadia Dock before dawn is the Maine Maritime Academy tug awash in early-morning sunlight.

Sunlight filters through lobster traps at Acadia Dock, Castine, Maine

Sunlight filters through lobster traps at Acadia Dock, Castine, Maine

Dawn comes in layers.  First a subtle orange or salmon or pinkish sky.

Aglow in morning light, a lone tethered boat stands ready.

Aglow in morning light, a lone tethered boat stands ready.

Then a peep of light that quickly washes over anything in front of it.

Sunrise: Castine Harbor.

Sunrise: Castine Harbor.

To a full-blown wake-up of morning activities.

Morning light: Castine, Maine.

Morning light: Castine, Maine.

Just another sunrise?  No such thing.

For more sunrises and sunsets, visit the WordPress DailyPost Weekly Photo Challenge:  Rise/Set.

For more posts on the beautiful state of Maine, check our Travel Series:  Autumn Down East.

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Photography, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Elms of Castine, Maine

One of Castine's elms stands at the base of Main Street at the entrance to the harbor.

One of Castine’s elms stands at the base of Main Street at the entrance to the harbor.

Considered almost sacred in Castine, Maine, are the stately elms hovering over private residences, shops, and the charming streets of this tucked-away town.  Even the free walking tour map entitled “Under The Elms and By The Sea” focuses on two aspects of Castine that residents (permanent and sometime) and visitors look for year after year.

Leaves turn golden on one of the largest elm trees in Castine.

Leaves turn golden on one of the largest elm trees in Castine.

In the 1930s, Dutch elm disease wiped out many of America’s elms (all told over 77 million of them), but not so much in Castine where a vaccine created in the 70s by Dr. Richard Campana of the University of Maine began systematically identifying, studying, and treating elms.

An ancient elm stands almost as tall as the steeple on Trinitarian Congregational Parish of Castine.

An ancient elm stands almost as tall as the steeple on Trinitarian Congregational Parish of Castine.

With the help of the Castine Garden Club who took on the task of measuring the 100 or so remaining elms, the town fathers developed the Elm Tree Ordinance to monitor and protect these glorious trees. For more oversight, a five-member Tree Committee with a Tree Warden and a Consulting Arborist visit each numbered elm and add data to the statistics on each of the trees that “belong to the city,” according to a resident we talked to. The ordinance states: “The Town shall be responsible for the treatment or removal and disposal of any diseased or damaged elm tree within the public area.”

Trees showing signs of ailment are treated, and, in a worse-case scenario, taken down.  But not without weeping and wailing from the residents.  Mention the Post Office elm, and you’re sure to see sad faces.  Damage, not disease, prompted the removal of the beloved tree after a devastating storm hit Castine in April 2011.

A resident leaves yard raking to explain the care the town of Castine bestows on its treasured elms.

A resident leaves yard raking to explain the care the town of Castine bestows on its treasured elms.

A wealth of elm trees in this yard!

A wealth of elm trees in this yard!

Elms in Castine tower over whatever stands beside them — historic white homes, stately steepled churches, even the cadets of Maine Maritime Academy as they walk down to the harbor for training on board their sailing vessel Bowdoin.

So come to Castine to see the elms.  Be ready to look up.  Be ready to be impressed.  Because elms are honored as an integral part of the history and traditions of Castine.

Treasured by all -- the elegant Castine elms.

Treasured by all — the elegant Castine elms.

For more stories on Castine and other towns in Maine, check out our Travel Series:  Autumn Down East. 

For more information and posts on Castine, check these out.

“Castine elm trees focus of tour,” Castine Patriot, June 23, 2011

Aimee Tucker, “Castine Maine/A Historic Midcoast Maine Tour,” New England Today.

Castine Elm Tree Ordinance, April 2009

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

WPC: Favorite Place — On board the Bowdoin on Penobscot Bay

Bowdoin setting sail from Acadia Dock in Castine, Maine

Bowdoin setting sail from Acadia Dock in Castine, Maine

Many people have asked us what our favorite place in Maine might be since our trip in the Fall of 2017.  Of course, there are many, but for Tennessee landlubbers like us, sailing the Bowdoin on Penobscot Bay has to be a memory for a lifetime.

Bowdoin, training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy

Bowdoin, training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy

It was the dream of Donald B. McMillan to sail to the Arctic Circle, and that dream in 1921 led to the hiring of a Naval architect, William B. Hand, to design the schooner Bowdoin (named after McMillan’s alma mater Bowdoin College) that would eventually make 30 trips to the Arctic, 25 under the command of McMillan. After serving several owners, Bowdoin finally came under the ownership of the Maine Maritime Academy (located in Castine) for use as a sail training vessel.

Cadets learning to sail aboard Bowdoin

Cadets learning to sail aboard Bowdoin

When not in use for training cadets, Maine Maritime Academy allows community residents and visitors to set sail if crews are available.  And that’s how we were allowed to sail the smooth waters of Penobscot Bay one golden October afternoon.

Sailing at sunset on the Penobscot Bay

Sailing at sunset on the Penobscot Bay

Hoisting the sails, experiencing the quiet of a sail boat on placid waters, and seeing Dice Head Light from the deck of Bowdoin remain some of our fondest memories of Maine.  Most assuredly, we were in a favorite place.

 

See other favorite places in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Favorite Place.

 

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Getting to Monhegan

Daybreak: Lighthouse hill, Monhegan

Daybreak: Lighthouse hill, Monhegan

Once you’ve fallen in love with the idea of seeing Monhegan Island for yourself, you have to figure out how to get there.  And, as you might expect, it’s easier to get there during tourist season (May to Columbus Day in October) than it is off-season.  Since we were coming from Castine “up north,” we asked people who had been there for their best advice.  Then we went online to see what they had advised was even available in mid-October.  With only one ferry per day, leaving at 10:30, we knew we had to spend the night before near Port Clyde, and then boat over the next morning.  So here’s what we did.

Head to Rockland, down Route 1

No arm twisting needed to get us drive south on Route 1 for true Maine scenery on a fairly uncrowded (at that time of year) major highway.  We timed the trip to land during early evening hours at Cafe Miranda, a place known for its award-winning (Down East Magazine‘s 2015 Chef of the Year) Chef Kerry Altiero and his dedication to serving locally sourced foods.   AND the best wood-fired pizza anywhere.

Welcoming sign at Cafe Miranda, Rockland, Maine

Welcoming sign at Cafe Miranda, Rockland, Maine

If you get the option of a table or stools overlooking the kitchen, choose the latter.  Watching two cooks hustle in a tiny space while sprinkling quality ingredients on homemade pizza dough and plating up fresh kale salads will make you practically lean over the counter for a better view.  Two cooks.  High energy.  All the way.

Watching the cook fire up a hand-made pizza at Cafe Miranda.

Watching the cook fire up a hand-made pizza at Cafe Miranda.

This pizza is thin enough to be crispy yet thick enough to hold up under a pile of bacon, mozzarella, romano, peppers and tomatoes.  They call it The Rock.  We call it Fabulous!

Fresh ingredients, crispy crust: The Rock at Cafe Miranda

Fresh ingredients, crispy crust: The Rock at Cafe Miranda

Stay at Craignair Inn, Spruce Head

Just a short 7-mile distance away is Spruce Head, Maine, home of Craignair Inn. But on the way to sweet sleep at this larger-than-life restaurant/bedandbreakfast, you get to enjoy the scenery.

Peaceful, out-of-the-way residences made us wonder if we had taken a wrong turn.  But the Craignair loomed large in the background and offered a restful night in the country.

Craignair Inn & Restaurant: Spruce Head, Maine

Craignair Inn & Restaurant: Spruce Head, Maine

The next morning, we almost couldn’t see through the fog.  But in front of Craignair lay a small road, some private residences and a view of boulders along mud flats that most likely fill up and empty out with the tides.

At home on the boulders

At home on the boulders

A quick walk around the neighborhood revealed more New England charm.

A glimpse through the fog in Spruce Head, Maine

A glimpse through the fog in Spruce Head, Maine

And then we were off to catch the ferry at Port Clyde.

Board the ferry at Port Clyde

If you booked ahead (and by all means do that!), you pick up ferry tickets at the office of Monhegan Boat Line.  Going after Columbus Day means that you have one and only one option:  the 10:30 ferry.  So call ahead or order online, pick up your tickets at the station, park you car, and head to Port Clyde General Store for the last hot cup of coffee of the day.  (Remember:  No restaurants are open on Monhegan.  In fact, you may even want to add a Linda Bean’s lobster roll or a blueberry muffin to your order and “pack it in,” as we were told to do.)

A little respite before boarding the ferry: Port Clyde, Maine

A little respite before boarding the ferry: Port Clyde, Maine

The General Store has what you’d expect — Maine souvenirs and food for traveling.  But just sitting at the counter sipping coffee puts you on a level playing field with people from all over the country along with a few Mainers.  Listening to conversations is entertainment in and of itself!

Goods for sale: Port Clyde General Store

Goods for sale: Port Clyde General Store

Then you board the Laura B that runs the morning route to Monhegan. Built in 1943, this heavy-duty boat spent WWII in the Pacific carrying troops and supplies.  But after arriving in Maine in 1946, she hauled lobsters from Vinalhaven to Boston and NYC.  We felt privileged to ride in the Laura B — and safe.  (But not immune to the queasy feeling you get when waters are rough.  That’s a first-hand experience talking to you!)

Boarding the Laura B bound for Monhegan

Boarding the Laura B bound for Monhegan

Setting sail on the Laura B

Setting sail on the Laura B

Arrive at Monhegan Island

And that’s how we got there:  from Castine to Rockland to Spruce Head to Port Clyde to Monhegan.  It’s beautiful country by land and even better scenery by boat.

Early morning view of Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, ME

Early morning view of Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, ME

Our sweet bedroom in Monhegan at Shining Sails. So glad to be here!

Our sweet bedroom in Monhegan at Shining Sails. So glad to be here!

Here’s hoping you get there, too!

For more information:

Cafe Miranda, 15 Oak Street, Rockland, ME; 207-594-2034d

Craignair Inn & Restaurant, 5 Third Street, Spruce Head, ME; 207-594-7644

Monhegan Boat Line, Route 131 to Port Clyde, ME; 207-372-8848

Port Clyde General Store, 4 Cold Storage Road, Port Clyde, ME; 207-372-6543

Shining Sails, 346 Main Street, Monhegan, ME; 207-596-0041

For more on our travel adventures to Maine, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Autumn Down East, Hotels, Maine, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Five places to see: Monhegan Island, Maine

Main road in Monhegan - pleasantly untouched.

Main road in Monhegan – pleasantly untouched.

It’s no wonder artists and writers hole up in Monhegan.  The entire island could fittingly be called “land that time forgot.”  Weathered gray shingled houses, grass growing through piles of lobster traps, dirt paths proud to be left alone — it all adds up to the lure of a scene you can’t make up nor one that you can quickly forget.  Not that you’d want to.

From lighthouse hill: a view of the town of Monhegan. Dominating the landscape: The Island Inn. But also noticeable -- the red house among the grays.

From lighthouse hill: a view of the town of Monhegan. Dominating the landscape: The Island Inn. But also noticeable — the red house among the grays.

A day spent on Monhegan, even a week, may not be long enough.  But if you visit in October — after Columbus Day — you don’t have to fight crowds or residents or anyone, for that matter.  You almost have the island to yourself.

Enjoying the quiet.

Enjoying the quiet.

The owner of Shining Sails graciously rented a room to us after tourist season, adding sage advice:  “Bring everything you need.  Nothing is open.  No restaurants, no coffee shops, not even the lighthouse museum or the library.  Everyone’s shut for the season. Pack it in.  Pack it out.  No public trash cans on the island.” And we believed her, packing the basics for dinner in our room.

Sage advice for our trip came from Shining Sails, the only inn we found to be open.

Sage advice for our trip came from Shining Sails, the only inn we found to be open.

But even with the promise of an almost-deserted island, we found five great places to see on Monhegan in 24 hours.

1.  The Dock at Monhegan

Silently monitoring the comings and goings of the island, the dock at Monhegan has seen its share of activity.  What with the Laura B bringing somewhat sea-weary travelers to shore and then taking them back to Port Clyde, the dock would seem busy enough with three trips daily during high tourist season. (Only one trip in October.)

Bringing cargo and people to Monhegan: The Laura B

Bringing cargo and people to Monhegan: The Laura B

But tourists aren’t the only thing landing here.  Think food, furniture, fishing gear — well, you get the picture.  Everything that comes in or goes out moves across this hard-working dock, the unequivocal hub for loading/unloading and checking up on what — and who — is new.

Monhegan Dock can be a welcome center, but it also doubles as a place for teary send-offs like this one when year-round residents put the summer museum curator on the boat to winter-over at home.  She promised to return when the lighthouse re-opens.

Permanent residents waving good-bye to the summer curator of the lighthouse museum.

Permanent residents waving good-bye to the summer curator of the lighthouse museum.

2.  Monhegan Architecture

Ten miles out of Monhegan, we leaned over the rail of the Laura B to get our first glimpse of homes on Monhegan.  They were different, of course.  And nothing like what we expected.  Stiff-legged houses balanced on stilts lined the shore. And up the hill, firmly planted, gray-shingled homes blended in with the landscape.

Sitting right on water's edge, a gray shingled house balances on sturdy legs.

Sitting right on water’s edge, a gray shingled house balances on sturdy legs.

Some homes were unadorned.  Plain, in fact.  Others looked abandoned with their cast-aside-til-another-day traps and chains and unpretentious boats piled up in yards that rarely get mowed. But some had the New England charm you might see on Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard.

Blending in yet standing out, The Island Inn caught our attention right as we landed. The 32-room hotel revamped in 1910 was hard to miss.

Looming from behind the seaside houses: The Island Inn of Monhegan.

Looming from behind the seaside houses: The Island Inn of Monhegan.

3. Lobster Cove

Normally fairly crowded, this well-worn path to Lobster Cove becomes a place of quiet after Columbus Day.

Normally fairly crowded, this well-worn path to Lobster Cove becomes a place of quiet after Columbus Day.

Visiting Monhegan without hiking to Lobster Cove would be like touring Maine without seeing a lighthouse.  Two-thirds of the 700-acre island is conservation land with 12 miles of walking trails.  The trek to Lobster Cove is only half a mile with one relatively steep climb up Wharf Hill Road (not marked, by the way). Located at the south end of the island, Lobster Cove is home to a shipwreck, a site well-marked with a wooden cross adorned with a ring of coiled rope. According to “1-Minute Hike: Lobster Cove on Monhegan Island,” the 110-foot tug D.T. Sheridan was declared a loss by Coast Guard authorities after grounding at Lobster Point on November 8, 1948.

Temporary residents of Lobster Cove

Temporary residents of Lobster Cove

Photographers and birders love Lobster Cove for its completely natural state, but tourists are warned not to swim since undertow and high waters can be quite hazardous.

In the distance: remains of the D. T. Sheridan on Lobster Cove

In the distance: remains of the D. T. Sheridan on Lobster Cove

Aside from staring at the untouched landscape and listening to the dash of the waves against rocks, we were struck by the beauty of this house standing alone facing the sea.  Although there was not a single other human at the cove the day we were there, we later asked a resident hiking in town, “Who lives in that house?”

The house at Lobster Cove

The house at Lobster Cove

His answer:  artist Jamie Wyeth. But he quickly added:  “He’s hardly ever here anymore.”

4.  Downtown Monhegan

As we strolled the dirt paths and gazed at remnants of lobster buoys and traps leaning against unoccupied homes, we wondered if there even was a Downtown Monhegan.  But collectively the little buildings form a downtown like no other.  At one end of the “main street,” a solitary white schoolhouse stood calmly on a hill, proud to house its five students, soon to be four.

Walking the hill to Monhegan School

Walking the hill to Monhegan School

Nearby was the library whose inside belies the feeling that this is a mere small structure. It’s not.  Tomes both new and old line the walls from floor to ceiling.

Then there was the general store.  (Thank goodness!) We can be “packers” on an island, but oh, how we missed morning coffee! The owner of L. Brackett & Son Provisions greeted us, handed over a mug of steamy goodness and welcomed us to Monhegan.  Never has a breakfast tasted better: fried egg on English muffin eaten while perched on stools at a two-seater counter.

Other downtown establishments were closed for the season except for the U. S. Post Office.  Now, if only we could have found a postcard to buy . . .

5.  Monhegan Island Light

At the pinnacle (literally and figuratively) of the island stands the last creation of architect Alexander Parris, the 1850 structure known as Monhegan Island Light.  And we, standing among the buildings that comprise this hilltop assemblage, felt that we had been incorporated into an Edward Hopper painting:  stark white boxy shapes topped with reddish roofs casting long shadows at both sunrise and sunset.

Monhegan Island Light at sunrise

Monhegan Island Light at sunrise

Beside the buildings, an empty boat sits idle, reminiscent of busier times.

Boat at Monhegan Island Light

Boat at Monhegan Island Light

And the buildings themselves, now operated as a museum, form a complex made up of the the lighthouse keeper’s house, a storage building, and oil house.

Greeting the sun: buildings at Monhegan Island Light

Greeting the sun: buildings at Monhegan Island Light

The 47-foot circular tower built of granite blocks stands tall against the sun while light streams through the lantern house. At sundown — at least during October — you can catch a stark silhouette of the tower against an orange sky.

Catching the last rays of sun at Monhegan Island Light

Catching the last rays of sun at Monhegan Island Light

For us, being alone atop lighthouse hill at sunrise watching daybreak over Monhegan remains one of our fondest travel memories.  And seeing the tiny village below bathed in waves of sunlight and shadows was an experience we will never forget.

Sunrise on The Island Inn from Monhegan Island Light

Sunrise on The Island Inn from Monhegan Island Light

Of course, there are more good times to be had in Monhegan, ones that can only occur during busy times when people fill the inns and pack the trails and capture unspoiled scenery at every turn. But we were content with our solitary, yet brief, sojourn when we relished the quiet life on this heavenly isle.

For us, Monhegan was magical — a land perhaps that time has forgotten.

But we never will.

Rusha and Bert Sams

For more photos and posts on our month in Maine, check out Autumn Down East in the Travel Series bar at the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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