Daily Maine: Acadia Carriage Roads

One of my closest friends from graduate school is completing her internship in Vermont, less than five hours-drive away. Knowing that our ability to visit would likely go down as our year progressed and we became busier, we vowed to squeeze in trips to see each other early on. When Melanie came to town we headed to Mt. Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park, to bike the carriage roads inside the park. According to my guide books, I knew two things prior to this little outing: #1 The 50-some miles of roads were built by the Roosevelt family when they used to summer in the area. #2 As cars are not allowed on these interior roads, they were described as “a delightful place to bike inside the park, with the occasional slight hill and gorgeous views.” Upon pick-up of our rental bikes in Bar Harbor, the staff at the bike shop reiterated what a lovely ride it was and assured us that it was not too difficult. They gave us a map and suggested a 10-mile figure-eight around Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond, with a stop for the famous popovers at Jordan Pond House at about the half-way point.

You may see where this was going.

When they suggested a mere 10-mile loop, I should have known then what I know now.

Suffice to say, it was one of the most difficult bike rides of my life, with much steeper grades than anticipated. As I am not in the best physical shape of my life, one could explain my difficulty with this information, but I assure you, there were many a fit-looking-person who struggled up those hills and, at times, even had to walk his or her bike until the path leveled off. Fortunately, what goes up, often must come down and when we did finally reach a peak of some height, we were rewarded with the wind in our faces (to dry the sweat) and absolutely stunning views that made us gasp. (I tried to remind myself that those views were worth the physical discomfort…)

Upon our return of the bikes to the rental shop, I asked what level of difficulty they considered that ride to be. With much hemming and hawing, they finally said that they typically refrain from saying anything about that, so as to not discourage folks from trying. “After all,” they replied, “anyone *can* do it, even if they have to walk the entire way.”

Atop one peak, below, was our view to the right:

Below, our view to the left:

When we saw people in jeans walking near the water (below), we knew that we’d reached Jordan Pond. Should you wish to forgo the bike ride and simply eat popovers, the outer roads accessible to cars will get you there.

Without meaning to, we lingered at Jordan Pond for nearly two-hours, which meant we had to push the last 5 miles in order to make it back by our 5pm rendezvous time with the bike shuttle. Stops to enjoy the views were limited, but this was too peaceful to not take in for a minute or two.

September 12, 2012 - 7:58 pm Molly Winn - Lovely photos. BOO to long/hard bike rides!

October 10, 2012 - 4:23 pm Kathi - Beautiful pictures; what an adventure. Can't wait to see more of your Maine explorations!

October 12, 2012 - 1:16 pm Michelle - What amazing photos . . . this looks like a wonderful area to take the girls someday soon to explore and spend time away from it all. I hope all is well for you in Maine. This is the time of year when I normally call/email to say . . . come document my family! I'm really missing your talent here locally in Chicago!

Daily Maine: Corinth

It has become my little habit to go for the ol’ ‘Sunday Drive’ after church. Where once I scoffed at the slow drivers who seemed to have nowhere to be and no awareness of the other drivers behind them who were in a hurry, I am now that driver who meanders slowly so as to better take in the new landscape to my left and my right. One recent dreary Sunday, I found myself headed west on 15, a country road, one lane in each direction. A conversation with the clerk at a local gas station reminded me that there was the historic Robyville covered bridge somewhere in the vicinity, well off the beaten-path. Armed with my Maine Atlas & Gazeteer and spotty reception with my Google Maps app, I eventually found my way there after a stop in someone’s field to admire their hay rolls and a stroll around a beautiful old cemetery.

August 23, 2012 - 9:09 pm Granny Babs - Okay - I am going to figure out some way to get to Maine while you are still there!! Love the photos!

August 23, 2012 - 9:24 pm Denise - I don't know what I'm enjoying more: Reading about your experiences or seeing your beautiful photography more frequently again. :)

August 24, 2012 - 9:11 am Molly Winn - Ditto to what Denise said!! I'm thinking that bridge would be a cool backdrop for a family photo session....say, my family? :) Ha!

August 26, 2012 - 1:01 am Karen D - Nice photos. I can just imagine what the drive was like. I love the states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Beautiful! That photo of the two similar headstones, of the two young children that died is sad. Made me wonder what happened to them...

A cat and her mouse

Now, Esme is not a cat who could ever be accused of being hyperactive. She’s more the lay around, nap, and stare-you-down sort. I might even call her a little bit lazy. (Like mother, like daughter?) She may bat once or twice at the feather-on-a-stick that I use to try and tempt her to move around; and the laser pointer has been known to intrigue her for approximately 67 seconds before I observe her glance from my hand to the red dot and back again to my hand. She’s too smart to fall for that for too long, apparently. Always on the look-out for toys that might interest her, I recently picked up a homemade, catnip-stuffed wool mouse at a local festival. When I opened the paper bag containing the mouse later that evening, she immediately perked up (apparently her sense of smell is quite active!) and within seconds of tossing the mouse on the ground, Esme pounced.

Grrr…Got you, mouse!

I love you, mouse.

Oh, you.

 

August 23, 2012 - 12:51 am Miranda - hahahahaa I LOVE this. So much. She's adorable!

August 23, 2012 - 1:18 am Lauren - Cute Esme kitty. Isn't it fun when you know your fur kid is having fun? I love that, myself.

August 24, 2012 - 9:13 am Molly Winn - Oh sweet Esme. I personally appreciate her laid back personality quite a bit. :)

Daily Maine: Bangor State Fair

Maine is this curious blend of total country and…something I can’t quite put my finger on. Whatever it is, I’ve enjoyed getting out and making the most of the what the state has to offer in the summer. A couple of weeks ago the Bangor State Fair came to town, complete with 4H animal competitions (apparently sheep judging is the same as a dog show), carnival food (deep-fried Twinkie!) and the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show.

(I went mostly for the latter as I have it on good authority that by moving to Maine, I’m going to secure myself a lumberjack for a husband. In case you were wondering, so far, no dice.)

 

 

August 16, 2012 - 8:39 pm Miranda - Kelly! These pictures are stunning! I've been meaning to catch up on your Maine life on the blog. :) And I'm so excited that you will have a lumberjack husband!!!! ;) *insert me picturing you with a Paul Bunyan type right here, right now*

August 16, 2012 - 8:54 pm Linda - Beautiful pictures! You really make the most of every adventure. (And did you try fried Oreos?? Yum!) Can't wait to see your lumberjack!

August 17, 2012 - 12:02 pm Phoebe - A lumber jack? Hmmmm. I'm going to have to think about this one!

August 21, 2012 - 1:05 pm Molly Winn - awe.some. Your photos make me swoon. GORG.

August 23, 2012 - 9:29 pm Denise - Felix was especially pleased with this post. As I scrolled down the line of photos he demonstrated each of their sounds.

Thoughts on life in Maine

In just about a week, it will be two months since I moved to Maine.

I’m letting that sink in a little bit.

Time flies when you’re having fun, especially that first month, with having visitors and sitting on plastic lawn chairs and sleeping on an air mattress while waiting for your things to be delivered. Visitors helped soothe some of the frustration  I felt as the delivery date of my belongings was moved back a day, and then two more, and then another week, and then…Eventually I did receive my things, so we’ll just let that frustration go (knowing that I very likely will not use a professional moving company again due to my experience, and that of several of my grad-school colleagues, most of whom had similar experiences with several different companies).

The last month has been about settling in and creating a cozy little nest for myself in my charming bungalow in Maine. And with the start of my internship tomorrow, my life here will be even more established. I’ve also managed to meet a handful of others and have enjoyed getting to know them, always happy to have the reassurance that I am not alone. As much as I consider myself to be an independent person capable of building a life just about anywhere, and also more introverted as I get older and in need of alone time, that desire for community is still there – to know and be known in my daily life (and not just by friends and family who live far away). I’m optimistic that can be built here, even if it looks differently than I imagined or expected.

Maine is beautiful. Perhaps just as beautiful as you imagine it to be. I’ve read and heard a lot about how Maine is a place that many dream about visiting. The license plates proclaim it to be “Vacationland” and there are plenty of vacationers from across the globe in the summer, that’s for sure! The ridiculously charming coastal villages, the vast and wild forested interior. They say that there’s something about Maine that just draws you in, and it’s true. Maine is all of that and I am charmed. I can’t yet claim to be 100% certain this is where I want to settle, but there is something about Maine and New England in general. I’ve found the pace of life to, for the most part, suit me very well. I just wish I could transport all of my favorite people to live nearby and we could go for Sunday drives to the coast (or even better, live there!) and have lobster boils (even though I don’t eat lobster) and go apple picking in the fall (my favorite season!) while we wear cozy sweaters and finish off the day on comfortable couches curled up with an afghan and a mug of hot chocolate. While I do appreciate what a large city has to offer, my soul needs something different.

On a recent visit to see a friend in Vermont, I just about quit my internship (ok, not really) and packed everything up again (again, not really) to move to Woodstock, VT. Oh, how charming it was! The little shops, the green spaces and covered bridges, the small, independent diner that served the best omelet and blueberry pancakes I have ever had. It was interesting to experience the difference between the two states and find that both had things to recommend them. You see, for as long as I can remember, the East Coast called my name. Raised on the West Coast, it just never felt right, not my ideal spot to land and settle in. I had what felt like a religious experience on a visit to Boston several years ago, where I heard the voice of God say, “You will live here someday.” Although every opportunity sought to make this calling happen has failed, resoundingly so, I am resting in the knowledge that at least now I am now geographically closer (just four hours by car!) should the good Lord ever wish to make that happen.

Until then, however, I’m making my home in Maine. It may just be for the next year as I complete my internship. Or who knows, my grandchildren may someday be called ‘Mainers’!

(Random Factoid: Even if I live the rest of my days here, I will still be “from away” as the locals call it. Even my children born in the state would not officially be Mainers. I’ve been told that only the second generation born here may hold the title, which, it would seem, is something to be quite proud of.)

August 16, 2012 - 2:55 am Amber - I am so glad you are blogging again. I have missed hearing your voice.

August 16, 2012 - 8:42 pm Miranda - Wow... Maine sounds charming and beautiful! Praying for you during this big transition and as you start internship! (and yes, I'm commenting on a few blog posts today....)

August 21, 2012 - 1:10 pm Molly Winn - I hear you, friend. Oh how I wish I could come for another visit and do ALL of those things you listed. Praying for community for you. xoxo

Brown Butter Cookies

This evening I posted a picture of my dinner on Instagram: cookies. Specifically, brown butter cookies, a recipe passed on to me by my dear friend Abby (from her Aunt Helen) many years ago. The first time I tasted these bites of deliciousness, she had delivered them to me as a thank you, served on a charming blue and white antique plate. I still have that plate, “A gift too,” she said when she presented the cookies to me.

So for those who asked for the recipe, go make yourself dinner!

 

Brown Butter Cookies

(Copied & pasted directly from an email from Abby, who was kind enough to share)

  • Cream 1 cup of butter, gradually add 3/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar and cream well.
  • Blend in 1 unbeaten egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 2 1/4 cup of sifted flour.  Stir until mixture forms a dough.  Chill for easy handling.
  • Shape into marble size balls.  Place on an ungreased baking sheed.  Flatten to 1/4″ with hands and mark with a fork.  Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes.
  • Burn slightly 2 tablespoons of butten in sauce pan.  Remove from heat and blend in 1 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.  Gradually add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 4-5 teaspoons of cream until spreading consistency.

August 15, 2012 - 11:05 am Molly Winn - I have treasured Aunt Helen's recipe since Abs gave it to me years ago! They are DELISH!!!

Daily Maine: Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village

Before I’d even moved to Maine, I had come across something online about the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, ME, established in 1783. The only active Shaker community left in the US, they offer non-Shakers the opportunity to visit and learn from their members and others affiliated with the community, about herbs, canning, furniture-making, quilting and more. A couple Saturdays ago I drove down to learn the art of making a wreath with fresh herbs. This community is known for their herb gardens and the dried herbs they produce, sold locally and across the pond. It was a particular privilege then, to be granted the rights to pick from their gardens, the herbs we would later use including thyme, oregano, yaro. lavender and sage.

(While photos were not allowed inside out of respect for the community’s members, I wandered the peaceful grounds before and after my class. Full disclosure, though: I took one photo inside of a staircase before I learned of this rule – oops!)

PS. I forgot to take a ‘real’ picture of the wreath I made that day but you can seen one taken with my phone HERE.

 

August 13, 2012 - 12:23 pm Linda - Beautiful! I am so glad you're sharing your Maine adventure with us. But where's your wreath?

August 13, 2012 - 8:20 pm Molly Winn - You're so cool. What a lovely day/idea (and photos...duh)!

August 14, 2012 - 12:37 am VernieJean - You are amazing! I'm so proud of everything you have accomplished. What a beautiful website. I'm going to enjoy watching your journey and trying your recipes. :o)

Daily Maine: Road to Belfast

Last Sunday after church (the fourth I’ve tried since moving), I decided to drive to Belfast, a coastal village I’d heard about, just 40 minutes away. Should you drive the two-lane road that gets you there on a Sunday in summer (apparently many places are closed from October to May), be prepared to stop constantly as the antique shops and flea-markets alongside the road beckon you to take a peek, just in case. (Also, when you see a sign for farm fresh eggs, only $2.75/dozen, stop then too because there won’t be others and it is unlikely you’ll be able to find that sign on your way back.) Be also prepared to wade through quite a bit of junk to find the treasures. But if skeleton keys, old glass bottles, used lobster traps, and stained glass windows are your thing, you’ll be in heaven.

 

August 13, 2012 - 8:19 pm Molly Winn - I FREAKING LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS POST!!! Man, I wish I was with you on this day!!! (well, and most days) :)

August 16, 2012 - 8:44 pm Miranda - My curiosity is thoroughly peaked about this little place called Maine... all of the pictures are gorgeous and you make it sound so wonderful! I may have to visit! :)

Daily Maine: Forest

Just 10 minutes away is the Bangor City Forest and the Orono Bog Walk, both beautifully easy ways to get out and explore nature without having to travel too far. A new friend (and colleague this next year), Kathi, and I went out for an easy walk the other afternoon. Looking at this capture of the forest reduces my blood pressure by at least 15 points.

August 8, 2012 - 10:25 pm Molly Winn - sweeeet!

Daily Maine: Maritime Academy

The little coastal village of Castine on the Blue Hill Peninsula is host to Maine’s Maritime Academy. On the day Molly and I visited, the teaching ship, usually out to sea for 3 months at a time, had just pulled into port the day before.

July 17, 2012 - 12:16 pm Molly Winn - Cool photo!