Passing our usual summer destination of Oqunquit. We kept along the Maine coast until we found ourselves on the mid-coast of Maine in a town called Lincolnville. Towering white pine trees stood like guardians over the winter forest while all the other trees had given in to the Maine weather months ago. A downhill incline takes us out of the shadows of the pine tree covered hills. We enter the part of town called The Beach. For this beach lover, it was like a vision from my dreams. Our eyes are treated to a jaw-dropping scene as the bluest ocean is spread out before us. It is an unexpected scene as we are instantly transported to a beach village that is asleep under the spell of winter. Driving into town, snow-capped lobster signs sat frozen as a reminder of the summer season that will return bringing the tourists on their quest for the classic lobster dinner. Off in the distance, the car ferry bleats the horn for the last call for the twenty minute ride to Islesboro. But for now, the year-round residents enjoy the quiet peace to themselves.
We were brought to this area to visit with family and celebrate my nephew's birthday party. Otherwise, we may have never had the guts to venture to the middle of Maine during one of the coldest winters I can remember! We were so glad we met this town even in the middle of all her winter glory. The numerous lakes, stream, and ponds were mostly frozen over and snow-covered. Some of the ponds were only identifiable by the tiny ice-fishing huts called "ice shacks" plopped down on the ice. The huts come in all shapes and sizes. Some with little smoke stacks to help ward off that Maine winter chill. Others simply sat in camping chairs with a warm drink while waiting for the big catch. We saw four-wheelers and snow-sleds racing across the frozen lakes which made us all hold our breath. It looked exhilarating but we will save that adventure for another time.
As we headed away from ocean and towards the center of town, we passed Drake Corner Store. It is the pit-stop for gas, pizza and whatever else they might have for sale on a given day! A small box on the floor with a hand-written sign says "Return Bottles Here." The gas station pumps are 1980's vintage. So pumping gas means watching the little tabs of numbers flip, flip, flip!
This tiny coastal town in the hills has the luxuries of a post office, a library, a church, the boatclub and then there is the mecca, The Lincolnville Center General Store, owned and operator by the towns most famous residents Briar Fishman and Jon Fishman, lead drummer of the band Phish.
Like all old buildings, the Lincolnville Center General Store has a storied past Originally built in the 19th century, it sat vacant for a decade until it was purchased not once but twice by the Fishman family. The first time they bought it they felt as though it was too big of a project at the time so they sold it to the contractor. A few years later, they bought it back again! The Lincolnville Center General Store beats like the heart of Lincolnville. The moment you see the building you know that it is something special. It draws you in the way people are drawn into the heat from a fire. When I arrived in the evening, the building glowed in the dark like a beacon. The warmth and sparkle of the porch lights lured us in from the cold. Through the double doors, you enter a welcoming space. The neighborhood bulletin features local events. Several tables were occupied by couples both young and old chatting happily. The food is the highlight here. They feature a wood-fire pizza oven that churns out savory combinations such as summer sausage, kale and thinly sliced winter squash. For lighter fare, there are baked goods, sandwiches and a very intriguing Russian Vegetable Pie which we will try on our next visit!
A complete selection of organic groceries, self-care and locally made gift items line the shelves. There is integrity and purpose to each product they chose to offer. You could come here to get the perfect picnic food, dinner for your family or the necessities for a hike at nearby Camden Hills State Park. They have a hand-chosen wine section that was obviously very carefully selected. I even noted a bottle of Vinho Verde one of my newer interests in wine. The entire store feels like it is pulsating with love. From the walls, to the beautiful wood floors to the people that come searching for community, coffee or food. It is the kind of place that you don't really want to leave. Nonetheless, our pizza had just come out of the oven and we had eager mouths waiting at home to feed. It was a long drive back home as the smell in the car filled with the doughy-aroma of the pizza!
Further afield, you will find other charming towns such as Camden where you can peruse the variety of shops lining Main Street. We visited Surroundings which features over twenty different vendors selling vintage housewares, pottery and furnishings. We spotted a near mint condition mid-century modern set of nightstands. You could easily spend a few hours at this indoor shopping experience. Many of these building have a unique feature in that the back of the buildings hover over water and are all built on stilts. But you would never know if from the front of the buildings.
In Camden, you will also find Swan's Island Company store which hand weaves exquisite blankets and accessories. Nearby, in Northport, in a 18th century post-and-beam farmhouse, on a 17-acre farm you can view their process and see the weavers working. Drawing inspiration from their local state, they weave blankets that have found themselves in the homes of Michelle Obama and Martha Stewart. Using vintage looms, maintaining traditional craftsman methods they weave with yarns dyed with natural plants such as indigo, cochineal, and madder root.
In Rockport, Maine Sport Outfitters has been around since 1976. It's a destination hotspot to buy gear for any sport. After shopping their store, stop by their ice rink where you can ice skate the morning away. They offer $5 skate sharpening inside. We watched several boys testing out some equipment and playing a game of hockey. It is a fun and free way to spend the morning before heading into Camden for lunch or a cup of coffee.
Maine Sport Outfitters also host the Banff Mountain Film Festival which will take place this year on February 9th and 10th, 2018. Shows begin at 7pm and feature a mix of different films each night. Another great way to beat the cold!
This area boasts so much exciting destinations, within an hour to the north you can be in Acadia National Park and a couple hours south you will land in Portland. We will be sure to head back to this area regardless of the season!
I have more stories about our trip to Maine especially about the food! We even heard about a place called the Little Lost Kitchen! Have you heard about it?
The Beach Store-Atlantic Hwy, Lincolnville, ME Phone 207.789.5199
The Lincolnville Center General Store- 269 Main Street, Lincolnville, ME web: www.lincolnvillegeneral.com
Surroundings -39 Main Street, Camden, ME Phone: 207.236.8536
Swan's Island Company -2 Bay View Street, Camden, ME phone: 207.706.7926 Current hours: Friday & Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm
Maine Sport Outfitters 115 Commercial Street, Rockport, ME phone: 207.236.7120 web: www.mainesport.com