Different yet familiar: Peninsula Fall Festival, Blue Hill

Passing out samples of a hearty winter stew and potatoes is Mark Desantis, chef at nearby Brooklin Inn on Eggemoggin Reach.

Passing out samples of a hearty winter stew and potatoes is Mark Desantis, chef at nearby Brooklin Inn on Eggemoggin Reach.

On our resumes, we just may have to list “festivalgoer” on the space reserved for non-paying occupations.  After all, we’ve peeled crustaceans at the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival in Louisiana and sampled pimento cheese biscuits at Knoxville’s International Biscuit Festival with party stops in between.  And even it it’s trite to say: we truly have never met a festival we didn’t like.

Peninsula Harvest Festival in Blue Hill, Maine, just gave us another glimpse of life (and tastes) of Down East while mingling with Mainers and getting a feel for why folks take pride  in locally sourced foods. Blue Hill Heritage Trust sponsored this third-year event  held at Mainescape Nursery & Garden Shop in Blue Hill.

Site of Peninsula Fall Festival:  Mainescape Nursery & Garden Shop

Site of Peninsula Fall Festival: Mainescape Nursery & Garden Shop

Located near the entrance, hand dyed yarn by String Theory added a tactile interest to the festival.  Socks, shawls, and caps knitted with blends of merino wool and cashmere begged to be touched, but not bought:  display only.

It was the yarn itself — dyed by hand — that was for sale and made people dream of spending cold winters by the fire, needles and soft threads in hand.

Colorful bins of hand-dyed yarn waiting to be touched and bought!

Colorful bins of hand-dyed yarn waiting to be touched and bought!

Another crafty Mainer from Blue Hill Spoonworks knew what to do to get us to part with our money.  His invitation to touch and hold the few pieces he had left of birds-eye maple had us opening our wallets.  Now, we’ll be cooking, stirring, and tasting Maine long after vacation ends.

Great to hold, even better for cooking:  hand-made wooden spoons from Blue Hill Spoonworks.

Great to hold, even better for cooking: hand-made wooden spoons from Blue Hill Spoonworks.

Since food’s a big draw for us, we were in luck.  No shortages here.  But it wasn’t always something familiar.

New to Us:

Goat’s Milk Fudge

Goat's Milk Fudge at Peninsula Fall Festival

Goat’s Milk Fudge at Peninsula Fall Festival

Maine Maple Syrup (OK, we’ve heard of Vermont maple syrup, but this is the first from Maine we’ve seen.)

Maine Maple Syrup at Peninsula Fall Festival

Maine Maple Syrup at Peninsula Fall Festival

Mini Whoopie Cupcakes — a version of Whoopie Cakes, but smaller — and maybe cuter.

MaVa's Mini Whoopie Cupcakes

MaVa’s Mini Whoopie Cupcakes

Local oysters on the halfshell — You don’t see these passed out at festivals in Tennessee, but in Maine, you do!

Passing our free samples of local oysters on the half shell.  Oh, my.

Passing our free samples of local oysters on the half shell. Oh, my.

A Maine take on familiar goods:

Crepes

Apple crepes!

Apple crepes!

Colorful, imported rugs

Colorful rugs to keep your feet warm during Maine winters!

Colorful rugs to keep your feet warm during Maine winters!

And pumpkins by the cartload

Could it even dare to be a fall festival without a cart full of punkins?

Could it even dare to be a fall festival without a cart full of punkins?

But the prize for most unusual items on a table (for us, at least) had to be Pickled Quail Eggs and Rabbit Handpies from Sweet Life Flower Farm in Sedgwick.  Of course, as Southerners do, we struck up a conversation with the lady at the table who told us, “Yes, I boil the quail eggs, peel them, and pickle them all myself.”  She’s definitely dedicated.

Sign for quail eggs and whole meat rabbit.

Sign for quail eggs and whole meat rabbit.

Jar of picked quail eggs from Sweet Life Flower Farm

Jar of picked quail eggs from Sweet Life Flower Farm

The day ended as sweetly as it began with a mini-concert by a talented 16-year-old whose mother stood beside us, toe-tapping and beaming with pride.

Young entertainer at Peninsula Harvest Festival - drawing a crowd with his toe-tapping music.

Young entertainer at Peninsula Harvest Festival – drawing a crowd with his toe-tapping music.

And then there was this guy who might have been a plumber in a former life.

Pumpkin Man!

Pumpkin Man!

All good, if you ask us.  And just another reason to be a festivalgoer in Maine.

For more information:  Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

Posted in Autumn Down East, Farmers Market, Festivals, Maine | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

New Harbor: most photographed fishing village in Maine? Could be!

Facing the sun at day's end, a little red house at New Harbor, Maine.

Facing the sun at day’s end, a little red house at New Harbor, Maine.

There’s no such thing, at least in our book, as the prettiest fishing village in Maine.  Each one is prettier than the last, and all are unique.  But the most photographed one, according to Moon Travel Guide: Maine (July 2017),  is New Harbor in the Pemaquid Region.  And we happened upon it by accident.

New Harbor boats waiting for day's end.

New Harbor boats waiting for day’s end.

Our goal?  Drive from Newcastle to Pemaquid Point for a view of the lighthouse at sunset.  But, once we had taken pictures and walked around long enough to satisfy everyone in our party, there was enough light remaining in the day for a quick stopover in New Harbor.  We had no expectations.  No knowledge of what was there.  And no timeframe, except to avoid winding roads after dark.  But now, having seen New Harbor, we can safely say, “There’s just no reason to miss it.”

Whether it’s truthfully the most photographed fishing village of all is moot.  New Harbor at sunset offers views of quaint seaside homes, weathered buildings, and boats standing up to the sun, ready for photographers to snap.

Authentic.  Real.  And totally unpretentious.  Just the way we like Maine harbors to be. And add to the scenery a place to pick your own lobster and have it steamed on the spot (That would be Shaw’s Wharf), and you’ve got a Down East evening made for picture books.

Always work to be done at a seaside restaurant. This is Shaw's Wharf getting a little attention.

Always work to be done at a seaside restaurant. This is Shaw’s Wharf getting a little attention.

So maybe New Harbor IS the most photographed fishing village — but who’s giving prizes?  They’re all pretty lovely — especially at sundown.

Sunset view of New Harbor, Maine -- the most photographed fishing village? Could be!

Sunset view of New Harbor, Maine — the most photographed fishing village? Could be!

For more of our Travel Series on Maine in October, go to Travel Series: Autumn Down East.  

 

 

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A few glimpses of Wiscasset, Maine

Stunning bittersweet wreath on the door at Marston House, Wiscasset, Maine.

Stunning bittersweet wreath on the door at Marston House, Wiscasset, Maine.

There’s no rhyme nor reason for what I like to photograph.  Something indicative of the area, something different, something I just have a fondness for with no real explanation behind it.  But passing through Wiscasset, Maine for a couple of hours offered me a chance to grab hold of a few images to share.

Best lobster roll? Must be. Long line wraps all the way around Red's Eats, Wiscasset.

Best lobster roll? Must be.
Long line wraps all the way around Red’s Eats, Wiscasset.

Like this one of the iconic restaurant Red’s Eats.  Written up in just about every magazine that covers local eateries, Red’s Eats has a reputation that any foodie place would envy.  Every time we’ve been to Wiscasset, we see a line wrapped all the way across the front, down the side, and around the back.  And with good reason:  lobster rolls.  To die for.  Some of the best on Route 1.  Or at least that’s what the magazines tell us.

And here’s another cute place, Wiscasset Cottage Antiques. One of many antique shops selling everything from period furniture to folk art to vintage collectibles.  A haven for shoppers and lovers of all things old.

Charming home of Wiscasset Cottage Antiques

Charming home of Wiscasset Cottage Antiques

Inside:  miniature soldiers, draftman’s tools, woodenware.  But outside:  buoys.  Lots and lots of buoys.

Buoys along the fence at Wiscasset Cottage Antiques.

Buoys along the fence at Wiscasset Cottage Antiques.

Now who out there has ever heard of felted dryer balls?  Well, there you go.  Something different, handmade in Wiscasset. And something I just had to take a picture of!

If these work, I need them. If not, they're just cute sitting in a bowl!

If these work, I need them. If not, they’re just cute sitting in a bowl!

And pretty as a picture is this front porch scenario at Marston House where we bought an English skin horse over 20 years ago.  The store was closed the day we passed through on this trip, but I couldn’t help but capture their lovely fall decorations.  And, of course, we’ll have to go back on a day they’re open.  (Not on a Monday, for sure.)

At the end of the day, we took home some raspberry scones and a paper-wrapped bouquet of fresh flowers.  But, alas, I don’t remember the name of the store.  I was just struck by the “I need this” bug.

So, just get to Wiscasset.  You’ll find your own treasures. But come soon.  Some shops and restaurants close for the season by mid-October.  And you won’t want to miss a thing.

–Rusha Sams

 

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Can’t miss this one: Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light standing firmly on rocky Maine shore

Portland Head Light standing firmly on rocky Maine shore

Although we’d seen Portland Head Light once before, we looked forward to visiting what we think of as the granddaddy of lighthouses along the Maine coast.  Of course, that’s not accurate — just our impression.  After purchasing a book called The Islandport Guide to Lighthouses in Maine by Ted Panayotoff (sold in the Portland Museum of Art gift shop), we read accounts of 64 lighthouses and found that most aren’t visible from shore.  So, to us, Portland Head is not only stately, but, with its commanding presence and height, is also the grandest in Acadia.

View from the walkway: Portland Head Light, Portland, ME

View from the walkway: Portland Head Light, Portland, ME

Just so you’ll know:

  • Location:  in Fort Williams State Park on Shore Road just a couple of miles from Portland
  • Completed:  1790
  • First lighthouse keeper: Joseph Greenleaf, appointed by President George Washington
  • Tower:  about 80 feet tall
  • Automation:  1989 — the end of an era when the last of the third generation Strout lighthouse keepers who had served for 59 years left the lighthouse
  • Museum:  The town of Cape Elizabeth leased light station from Coast Guard and opened a museum in the keeper’s quarters in 1990.
  • Open — grounds and museum are open in season; lighthouse is accessible only for Maine Open Lighthouse Day in September

The simple, elegant tower is appealing to all . . .

Portland Head Light

Simply white: Portland Head Light

as are the green signature color and red roofs on the museum.

Shopkeeper's quarters turned museum at Portland Head Light

Shopkeeper’s quarters turned museum at Portland Head Light

And the view from the side is the best introduction you’ll get of the rocky Maine coast.

Classic view of the Maine coast from Portland Head Light

Classic view of the Maine coast from Portland Head Light

Definitely worth a visit:  Portland Head Light.

 

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

Travel theme: Calm at Portland Pier

 

Done for the day: Portland Pier, Portland, Maine

Done for the day: Portland Pier, Portland, Maine

Even the seagulls may have been surprised at the sunset calm on the waters.  Portland Pier buzzes with activity during the day, but when rays lengthen and urban waterside buildings glow with late-day light, a sense of calm falls over everyone.

Do boats parallel park? Maybe so: Portland Pier, Portland, Maine

Do boats parallel park? Maybe so: Portland Pier, Portland, Maine

Even boats stand ready  —  and calm — while diners at J’s Oyster peer out the windows and enjoy the view.

Sundown and late-day calm: Portland Pier.

Sundown and late-day calm: Portland Pier.

It’s Maine on hold — at least for a while — at Portland Pier.

For more calmness, check out Ailsa’s blog “Where’s My Backpack” for this week’s Travel theme: Calm.

Posted in Autumn Down East, Maine, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Headed to a Down East adventure!

We’re leaving soon for several days in Maine — a Down East autumn adventure that will take us up Route 1 along the coast and into the interior.  We’re ready for leaf peeping, a little hiking, and a lot of sightseeing from Mount Battie to the Fryeburg Fair.  Our goal?  Post pics of clapboard houses, boats in harbors, and trees decked out in glorious fall attire.  Here’s hoping you want to go along with us, too.  See you in Maine!

–Bert and Rusha Sams

 

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/rushasams

Twitter:  @rushasams

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered

Perhaps anywhere you travel out West will show you layers of beauty, but Utah is our latest state to visit where seeing overlapping beauty became the norm.  If you’ve ever crested a hill while driving a scenic highway, you know the ah-ha moment when you catch your breath and say, “Oh, my gosh!” or something else equally trite for such grandiose vistas.  But that’s what comes to mind when you see the layered look of scrub brush in front of plains in front of mountains . . . just as God meant it to be.

Layers of sandstone near Capitol Reef

Layers of sandstone near Capitol Reef

Rows of fall-colored shrubs snugged up to majestic mountains. Somewhere in Utah.

Rows of fall-colored shrubs snugged up to majestic mountains. Somewhere in Utah.

Reflections and layers: Potash Scenic Byway, Utah

Reflections and layers: Potash Scenic Byway, Utah

Layers in the distance at Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Layers in the distance at Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Just another gorgeous highway view: Utah

Just another gorgeous highway view: Utah

For more photos in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered, head to the WordPress Daily Post.

 

Posted in Photography, Travel, Utah, We Saw Utah!, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Travel theme: Stepping it up in Varenna, Italy

If you live in Varenna, you probably have to get accustomed to steep, but lovely, climbs.

If you live in Varenna, you probably have to get accustomed to steep, but lovely, climbs.

This week’s Travel Theme: Steps from Ailsa who writes the blog Where’s My Backback? reminded us of the many steps we took in Varenna, Italy.  Walking there can be a challenge, if all you’re accustomed to is your fitness routine on even pavement in your neighborhood.  Walks in Varenna are definitely a step up, but when you’re in a beautiful town on Lake Como, you probably don’t mind at all.  Here are some of the steps we took.

After heaving luggage up steep steps, we paused at the doorway of our rental apartment from VRBO to admire this sweet greenhouse nestled above the stone walkway.

Pretty as a picture:  a backyard greenhouse and stone steps in Varenna.

Pretty as a picture: a backyard greenhouse and stone steps in Varenna.

In town, we walked along water’s edge, following the signature red railing along Lake Como.

Following the red railing around Varenna

Stepping out in Varenna

The gardens of Villa Monastero offered even more steps with some leading directly to water’s edge . . .

Steps and statues:  the gardens of Villa Monastero.

Steps and statues: the gardens of Villa Monastero.

and others lined with artfully planted urns.

Concrete urns lining a walkway at Villa Monastero

Concrete urns lining a walkway at Villa Monastero

If you plan a trip to Lake Como, know that you’ll be walking up and down.  But you won’t mind.  You’ll think you’re on stairways to heaven.

More photos are just a step away:  Travel theme: Steps.

Posted in Italy, Travel Theme | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Travel theme: Big Orange Sugar

When this week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s blog Where’s My Backpack? appeared in my mailbox, I immediately thought of a fundraiser for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library called The Great Cake Bake, celebrating books and the host of the event: the University of Tennessee.  With that in mind, I searched my photo bank, and here are three creations made specifically for Big Orange Country.

First, how ’bout a little Big Orange pre-game competition? With a cake shaped like a corn hole board (complete with little white pillows of edible frosting), eating this cake might be more fun than playing the game.

This is one fun UT cake shaped like a corn hole game!

This is one fun UT cake shaped like a corn hole game!

Second,  there’s nothing more iconic in Big Orange Country than Neyland Stadium.  And, for a loyal fan, sitting in the upper deck on a crisp fall afternoon cheering on the Vols — su-weet!

Neyland Stadium cake -- perfect for Big Orange country!

Neyland Stadium cake — perfect for Big Orange country!

Finally, Ailsa’s challenge this week coincides with a much-anticipated game with one of the Vols’ biggest rivalries: the Florida gators.

What UT fan wouldn't want this football cake?!

What UT fan wouldn’t want this football cake?!

So, what would it be like for UT to win the game against Florida today (September 16)?  Pure sugar!

For more entries in Ailsa’s Travel theme: Sugar, click here.

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Take that road less travelled: Potash Road, Utah

Red sandstone cliffs along Potash, Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway, Utah

Red sandstone cliffs along Potash, Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway, Utah

Just put a road we don’t know in front of us, and we’re likely to drive it — side roads, byways, you name it.  But one thing we learned while driving in Utah is this:  If it says Utah Scenic Byway, don’t miss it.

To get there from Moab, drive about four miles along Hwy. 191 to Utah 279 — Potash Road.  It’s one long stretch — about 30 or so miles round trip — but any part of it will have you falling in love.  On your left going in will be breathtaking views of the Colorado River.  On your right — steep red rocks, petroglyphs, and mesmerizing scenery.

Rock climber on Wall Street -- area of Potash Road, Utah

Rock climber on Wall Street — area of Potash Road, Utah

First, look for rock climbers about four miles in.  The climbers we saw must have been taking a class, since instructors were at the ready, coaching them as they scaled red, jagged rocks along Potash Road. Locals call it Wall Street . . . with good reason.

Rock Climber clings to cliff along Potash Road

Rock Climber clings to cliff along Potash Road

Second, drive about thirteen miles down for a view of Jug Handle Arch.  And if you get out to take pictures, look for cliffs below Dead Horse Point State Park in the distance.

View of Jug Handle Arch as seen from Potash Road, Utah 279.

View of Jug Handle Arch as seen from Potash Road, Utah 279.

Third, drive all the way down to the Moab Salt Plant where a mineral used as fertilizer — potash — is extracted and processed.  On the day we were there — a Sunday — trains stood still.  But we could imagine the huge operation of loading boxcars for distribution throughout the U.S.

No trains filled with potash running on Sunday. Just lined up and waiting.

No trains filled with potash running on Sunday. Just lined up and waiting.

On your drive back from the potash plant, look left or right, and you’ll be amazed at the scenery. Still waters of the Colorado River reflect rock formations bordered by shrubs that turn golden yellow in the fall —  a postcard picture suitable for framing.

Postcard perfect: Scenic view of Colorado River along Potash Road.

Postcard perfect: Scenic view of Colorado River along Potash Road.

Hikers know the area.  As do campers, RV travelers, and just plain ol’ sightseers like us.

Lone hiker makes his way along Potash Road.

Lone hiker makes his way along Potash Road.

Finally, don’t miss the petroglyphs . . . as we almost did.  Even with a sign that says “Indian Writing,” we couldn’t locate the drawings.

Cars pulled over. People staring at the petroglyphs.

Cars pulled over. People staring at the petroglyphs.

But when someone familiar with the area pointed out the artwork to Bert, we immediately picked up on what to look for and where.

Sometimes you need someone to point out the location of petroglyphs high up on the cliffs.

Sometimes you need someone to point out the location of petroglyphs high up on the cliffs.

Some drawings resemble people with triangular-shaped bodies.  And several seem to be carrying orbs or round structures of some kind.

People with triangular-shaped bodies, found deep in the crevice along Potash Road.

People with triangular-shaped bodies, found deep in the crevice along Potash Road.

Others were harder to see because they were positioned higher or tucked into a tiny, dark crevice. But keep looking.  You won’t be alone.  Many visitors stand for a while looking, pointing, and sharing what they see with others.

So, when’s the best time to drive Potash Road?  We recommend an afternoon excursion timed for late-day shadows on red sandstone cliffs. But we imagine early morning has its benefits, too.  This is a photographer’s paradise, so pack your gear and get ready.  Be prepared to pull over often.

Late-day viewing rewards you with rich colors and vivid contrasts.

Late-day viewing rewards you with rich colors and vivid contrasts.

No matter what time of year or what time of day you go, make Potash Scenic Byway a destination rather than a mere happen-upon place. It really is that good.

For more information:

Moab’s Scenic Bywayshttp://www.discovermoab.com/byways.htm

For other posts on the natural beauty of Utah, check out We Saw Utah in our Travel Series.

And access all our photos of Potash Road on Flickr.

Posted in Photography, Travel, Utah, We Saw Utah! | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments