Kate Flora here, following on Sarah’s footsteps. Sometimes it seems all Maine crime writers are starting to think alike. The snow has finally melted. The gardens are slowly coming to life. Very slowly this year, it seems. And now we are bracing for the summer onslaught.
Of course I don’t really mean that you shouldn’t come to Bailey Island. Bailey Island is gorgeous.
Scenic. Truly Maine. I want you come and enjoy it. And when you do, making the long drive down from Cook’s Corner on Route 24, or coming down 123 and across on The Mountain Road (where there is no mountain), you will twist and wiggle your way down the end of Orr’s Island and come creeping across the Cribstone Bridge. Take your time driving down. Unlike so many places along the coast, on Route 24 you get one great vista after another, so slow down and savor them–the rocky fir-lined coast, the stunning blue or mysterious deep green of the water, the chugging lobster boats.
Before you even cross the bridge, you might want to make a stop. Spend half a day at H2Outfitters http://www.h2outfitters.com, renting a kayak and paddling around the island. Stop for chowder or pie or a lobster roll. Then cross the bridge.
If you only have an afternoon, you may want to head for Land’s End, where there is a wonderful statue honoring Maine’s lobstermen and a beach for skipping stones, and a crazy gift shop full of scented candles and lobster shaped hats and everything you can imagine with blueberries on it. On the way, stop at the head of Mackerel Cove and look out to sea, past the thicket of lobster boats. There’s a beach there if you’re in the mood for sunbathing, and a parking lot and picnic area and sometimes you can find good beach glass there.
On your way back, stop at Tiffin’s Ice Cream http://baileyislandtiffins.com.
Then, on your way back up the island, turn right onto Washington Avenue. Park at the tiny church (unless it’s a Sunday), and take the path along the rocks to the Giant’s Stairs. Be sure to watch out for poison ivy as you walk, but once again, take your time. Watch the waves splash on the rocks, peer into tide pools, watch the ducks swimming, and count how many boats you can see. You might find blueberries or blackberries. Or smell the sweetness of beach roses. Bring you camera, bring your book, or just sit on the rocks, listen to the surf, the chug of boat engines and the wheeling gulls overhead, and watch the clouds blow by.
If you have more time, you’ll want to have a cocktail at Morse’s Cribstone Grill, which has wonderful views over the rocks and up the coast. Grilled swordfish appetizers? A salad with tons of lobster? How about lobster quesadillas or a fish sandwich as you watch the slanting rays of the setting sun change the landscape.
More time still? Spend the night at one of the local motels and then treat yourself to blueberry pancakes at the Giant Stairs Seafood Grille. Or go later for a lobster roll, sweet potato fries and an irresistible slice of homemade pie. My favorite is raspberry.
Maybe what you really want to do is go out on the water? Yes? Then take the Casco Bay Ferry for the bay cruise that leaves from Cook’s Lobster House.
Then, back across the bridge on Orr’s, stop at The Nest and browse their interesting selection of antiques and odd bits, then a trip to the candy store before you slowly wind your way back up the chain of islands, vowing next time, you’ll leave yourself more time. Eat more lobster. Have that slice of pie. Go on some of the new hiking trails. Screw up your courage and go for a swim in the sea.