It’s July! When everyone in the world I know suddenly decides it’s time to visit me in Maine. I am often sure the “Maine” part looms large over the “me” part. But it’s time to arm yourself with a great list of things for them to do, things for them to treat you to, and things that are off the beaten-Maine-path. And that’s a deep rut considering about 37 million tourists will beat down well-trodden paths, mostly in the summer.
I grew up in East Boothbay, Maine and waitressed my way through high school, college, and graduate school, answering millions of questions like this: “What is there to do here?”
Of course I never had a good answer for young, restless men asking about “night life,” except to tell them to wait for phosphorescence late at night and stick their hands in the ocean so their fingers glow with millions of tiny, tiny, sea creatures. That shut them up. But for the rest I had a treasure trove of local secrets that I dispensed only to those I thought deserved them.
Decades later my husband and I are working part time summer jobs that are not very part time it seems. He hasn’t cut the lawn and I am way behind my schedule to launch my second mystery, “Deadly Turn.” My first mystery, “Deadly Trespass,” (a finalist in this year’s Maine Literary Awards), had some warnings about what happens when we lose a place to over-use or over-commercialization. I am writing about Maine’s north woods, where the pressures to cover up the natural world with bathrooms and wine bars seem far off, but the warnings are all over Boothbay.
Don’t get me wrong, Boothbay is an amazing and stunning place, but if it weren’t for locals willing to share secrets, visionary folks at local land trusts working hard to conserve bits of the peninsula, and Maine’s Public Lands, there’d be no place to explore beyond down town.
Husband Bob works as a captain for the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens ocean tours and I am helping award-winning Maine Foodie Tours (already very successful in Portland and Bar Harbor) open up tasting tours in Boothbay Harbor. There is absolutely nothing wrong with starting the day with prosecco and blueberry delights overlooking the ocean and then eating our way across town through oysters, lobster rolls, haddock tacos, and Maine-made cheeses. https://www.mainefoodietours.com/
People love the tours, but they are still asking where they can find a bit of “real” Boothbay. A bit of “real” Maine.
Because I write about and love the “real” Maine, here are some insider tips I reserve for the deserving.
Clearly, those who read the Maine Crime Writers blog are very deserving. Enjoy!
Ocean Point: can be mobbed, but it has the big surf (when it’s up). Drive to Grimes Cove but park on the left in public parking before you get there. At the small pocket beach (loved by kids) walk left on the rocks until you get a bit around the corner. Do NOT walk on folks’ lawns, but the rocks are perfectly OK and legal. Just nestle into a rocky nook and see nothing but islands and ocean until there’s Spain.
Picnic Spots: Boat launches. (All over Maine, look for the public boat launches and there will always be access to water and very often, picnic tables. I travel with fold-in-the-bag chairs so enjoying these spots is easy.) And if you have kids, at low tide there’s much to explore. Knickercane Park on the Barter’s Island Road has protected ocean, a lovely trail overlooking a lobster pound, and even toilet facilities. Past the park is Trevett Store. Don’t miss it. East Boothbay is my favorite. Park at Shipbuilders Park (end of School Street). Walk up to the East Boothbay Store. Get amazing takeout sandwiches (will be busy). Walk down Murray Hill Rd. to the boat launch where all of Linekin Bay will be spread out before you. Walk a bit further to the public dock and great swimming as the ocean water is warmer coming up over extensive clam flats.
Dog Walking: Always done best early, very early in the AM. My dogs love the Oven’s Mouth Preserve’s extensive trails http://www.bbrlt.org/ as well as Dodge Point trails that lead to salt marsh beaches on the Damariscotta River. http://www.damariscottariver.org/trail/dodge-point-public-reserved-land/ Go early before folks are really up; clean up dog poop please, and wear long pants and tuck them into good shoes and spray pants with anything Deet. (Ticks.) Your doggies will thank you. (Oven’s Mouth at dawn or dusk is spectacular even if you don’t have a best friend.)
What Else? Take tours at an Oyster Farm. http://www.gliddenpoint.com/ Take a boat to a lighthouse tour where volunteers in lighthouse keeper and family costumes greet you. https://www.maine.gov/dmr/education/burnt-island/tours.html Take a guided kayak tour on protected, waters. Seals, ocean birds, lobster boats pulling traps. Lovely. (Avoid the congested harbor.) http://www.kayakboothbay.com/
That’s it! I’m off to walk Raven somewhere truly secret. Then back to work on a few more chapters. If Maine did not exist, we would have to invent it. Aren’t we lucky! (And yes, we will have to work hard to conserve “real” bits to savor and share.)
Note: To find more treasures: http://www.mltn.org/index.php and https://www1.maine.gov/dacf/parks/about/index.shtml Aislinn’s amazing BDN column: http://actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com/ And her new book, “Maine Hikes off the Beaten Path”
Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine” was a 2018 finalist for the Maine Literary Awards. It’s won a Mystery Writers of America national award and was also named a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest. It’s at all Shermans Books and on Amazon. Find more info on the video trailer and Sandy’s website. “Deadly Turn” will be published in 2019.