Retracing Maine Travel Memories

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Have your boomer travels taken you to Maine? Alan and I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting The Pine Tree State yet. But after reading today’s Maine boomer travel tips from Brette Sember, author of The Parchment Paper Cookbook: 180 Healthy, Fast, Delicious Dishes!, we’re packing our bags. Don’t miss the recipe at the end of this post!

coast-maine-rocky
Maine’s rocky coast

They say you can’t go home again. But I think you can return to your childhood vacation spot. There is something about childhood trips that stick with you your whole life. I spent two weeks each summer at a cottage in Smith Cove, Maine, on Penobscot Bay, near Cape Rosier and Blue Hill. It was magical. My parents and I dug clams, picked mussels at low tide and chased scallops in a row boat. I collected rocks, picked up moss and spent hours with the sounds of the tide and the wind in the evergreens.

There was a patio halfway down to the beach, with a big stone fireplace. This was where we had our clambakes. My parents were newly influenced by naturalist Euell Gibbons, and we cooked and ate not only the clams and mussels we harvested, but lobster and corn, as well as the seaweed that Euell extolled.

I have returned to Maine twice as an adult. On our last trip, we rented a house on the water in York Harbor, much farther south than the Maine I cut my teeth on. We had lobster at the Neddick Lobster Pound and got a kick out of the Ghostly Tours of York Harbor, but it wasn’t the Maine of my childhood. For one thing, there was a sand beach in town (nonexistent on the Penobscot Bay) and the beach in front of our house was cliffs — no wandering for me.

lobster-pound-maine-dinner
Lobster dinner in Maine

Day trips and a side trip reintroduced me to the Maine I loved most. Boothbay Harbor was much as I remembered it, with a long pedestrian bridge cutting across the harbor and lots of lovely little shops. We even spotted one of the cottages we stayed in on our honeymoon. Camden, the town our daughter got her middle name from, was still picturesque with a rustic harbor filled with working boats, tourist shops, and a small-town vibe.

But it was in Bar Harbor that I heard the siren song of Maine again. The evergreens combined with deep blue ocean and rocky beaches is how Maine lives in my head, and in Bar Harbor too. The Harborside Hotel places you right at the edge of the shopping district, which was perfect for me, since shopping is key! It is also right next to the famous sand bar that the town is named for. At low tide a sand bar emerges and you can walk across it to an island, picking up shells and marveling at this wonder. Bar Harbor is replete with seafood and we ate our fill at the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound.

The hotel is also convenient to the jewel of the area, Acadia National Park. Be sure to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain for the astounding views. If you’re in a hurry, the 20 minute Park Loop drive is enough to let you see the best views. Don’t skip Thunder Hole where water is forced up through a small hole in the rocks, for a dazzling display. If you have more time, take a hike one of the original carriage roads, or take one of the ranger-narrated boat cruises that allow you to see the island from the sea. Stop for lunch (and their famous popovers) at the Jordan Pond House.

My childhood clambakes and my return to Maine as an adult inspired this easy and tasty clambake dinner you can make at home with no mess and no clean up.

maine-clam-bake
Clam Bake

Clam Bake in a Packet

  • Serves 1, make 1 packet per person
  • 6 baby red potatoes
  • 1 ¼ pound cod fillet
  • 6 littleneck clams in the shell
  • ½ ear of fresh corn, or 1 small ear
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prick the potatoes all over and microwave on High for about 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Halve the potatoes. Place the cod on the parchment. Add the potatoes. Scrub the clams, discarding any that are open. In a small bowl, place the butter, garlic, dill and lemon juice. Microwave until the butter is melted and stir to combine. Pour the butter mixture over the contents of the packet. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the parchment (follow the instructions here). Bake for 25 minutes, then allow it to rest for about 3 minutes. Open the packet and discard any clams that did not open. Enjoy your shore meal, making sure to dip everything in the sauce at the bottom.

Thanks Brette for the excellent Maine travel tips.

Disclosure: Adams Media provided a copy of The Parchment Paper Cookbook to My Itchy Travel Feet. I have also included an Amazon link for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet does receive a small percentage for purchases made at Amazon.com.

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