Saturday, December 7, 2013
George and Linda Smith
Egg Rock was covered in colorful puffins and our cruise, followed by dinner and overnight stay at the Craignair Inn, made for a great -- and affordable -- summer getaway.
IF YOU GO
The Craignair Inn and Restaurant
Clark Island Road, Spruce Head
Monhegan Boat Line: Port Clyde
Trips to Monhegan, puffin tours, lighthouse cruises
Last summer we visited Egg Rock, an island with nesting puffins just a few miles off the coast. But we went so late in the season that we only saw a couple of these colorful birds. Well, things worked out much better this year.
It was a beautiful summer day -- blue sky, warm and no fog. The Laura B (Monhegan's mailboat stationed on the St. George Peninsula, just south of Rockland) was transformed by putting lots of picnic tables on the open deck. Families, adults and an entire day care center were aboard the soldout cruise to see the puffins. We had barely left the dock when we heard a 4- or 5-year-old exclaim, "I see a puffin!" I knew she was going to be easy to please.
We learned about the history of the islands we passed and other birds we were apt to see from Phil, our guide for the trip. As soon as Egg Rock came into view, I strained to see a puffin on the rocks through my binoculars. Then I heard Phil say, "Up ahead on the right of the boat you'll see some puffins in the water." And there they were, adorable "soda-can-sized birds" bobbing in the water. Before we turned around to head back we were able to see dozens of puffins. Monhegan Boat Line has many puffin excursions throughout the summer weeks. It's clear that this is a popular Maine adventure.
After disembarking from the boat, we enjoyed a visit to the Marshall Point Lighthouse -- a stunningly beautiful spot -- followed by very tasty ice cream at Port Clyde's Village Ice Cream and Bakery.
And then it was on to the Craignair Inn -- a longtime favorite and place I love. We hadn't visited since Joanne and Michael O'Shea purchased the inn a few years ago, and it was good to see that it was just as I remembered.
The Craignair is situated at the end of the road in a lovely cove where the view changes hourly with the light and the tide. The sunlight hitting the water at 5 a.m. is breathtaking. The fresh, cool salt air makes for a restful night's sleep in a very comfy bed. And even though I saw the sun at 5 a.m., that doesn't mean I actually got up at that hour.
Some adventurous folks were swimming in the cove and enjoying the small sand beach not far from the inn when we arrived. And the next morning, we enjoyed a nice walk to a nearby island loaded with birds.
The restaurant at the inn is another great reason to visit. Every table has a get a view of the ocean. It is a big, open room with beautiful artwork by local artists.
You'll begin your dinner with a basket of delectable focaccia that comes with Fiore olive oil for dipping. Our server Cassie, who lives just up the road, mentioned that the focaccia is indeed made right here. Be forewarned -- you will want to eat the whole basket.
The menu features a lot of creative starters like steak kabobs, coconut fried shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops and more. I overheard guests at the next table ordering starters as their meals for dinner. Great idea.
I tried the coconut fried shrimp with mango curry sauce as a starter. The coconut coating was great and the mango curry sauce was mild. It was a very light dish.
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