Friday, December 6, 2013
George and Linda Smith
Sometimes our travel column visits take a lot of advance work. And sometimes they just come together beautifully, like this trip to Boothbay Harbor.
I’m sitting here in my home office listing to Log Trucks & Snowmobile Trails by the Holy Mackerels. This CD is great! From “Jericho Road” to “Gone (Gone Away),” a song that I’ve been whistling until its driven Linda to distraction, the Mackerels get your foot tapping.
Mark Stover and Arthur Webster, of Boothbay, Paul D’Alessio, of Palermo, and Steve Jones, of Hallowell, are talented musicians and singers who perform throughout the state. Check out their Facebook page. Buy this CD. And get to one of their concerts!
It all started in July, with Linda's family members and a cruise around Boothbay Harbor with Mark Stover. Mark encouraged us to come back someday and let him take us to Damariscove Island for a picnic, hike and birdwatching. Sounded great and we scheduled it for September 14.
When we did, Mark suggested we stick around for an evening concert at the Boothbay Opera House. That sounded good, and a quick call to Opera House manager Cathy Sherrill set that up.
Then we really needed dinner and a place to stay. Remembering the spectacular visit we'd had last year at Spruce Point Inn, I emailed Angelo DiGiulian, the co-owner and manager, and he welcomed us back. So, let's see if this sounds like about the best 24-hour getaway anyone could dream of.
We arrived at the inn on a breezy cool Saturday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the "Captain's Room." This second-floor corner room has stunning ocean views in two directions, a very comfortable seating area with couch and rocking chairs and a charming corner desk, at which I wrote most of this column.
After checking in, we enjoyed hot drinks and cookies in the warm sun on the deck, watching boats sail by. I, of course, kept my eye on a couple fishing off the dock. The inn provides an astonishing amount of outdoor and indoor activities for its guests, including kayaks, bikes, tennis, two pools, a large spa and exercise building, an indoor building full of games and a fire pit for evening s'mores. You could stay here for a week and never leave the grounds!
We enjoyed dinner in the inn's elegant main dining room and restaurant, 88. That will be the subject of a future column, but I will report now that the creative cuisine, the service and the sunset view from our table made this a very memorable dining experience.
Then it was off to the Boothbay Opera House, a beautifully restored building that attracts world-class entertainers. David Wilcox played and sang his own songs for an hour and a half. At just $16, ticket prices here are a bargain. We continue to be amazed by these opportunities throughout the state to enjoy professional musicians and actors in historic and beautiful venues, at prices far below what you'd pay in Boston.
Manager Cathy Sherill, who joined us for our Damariscove adventure the next day, says she gets very few patrons from north of Damariscotta. I urge you to get down there to enjoy an outstanding evening of entertainment -- and tell Cathy we sent you!
Our Sunday morning breakfast at the Spruce Point Inn's comfortable Bogie's restaurant was delicious. Once again we had an ocean view from our table. And of course, I chose the buffet, dived into the muffins, ate a lot of fruit at Lin's urging, then had an omelet made to order. That tided me over until Lin unveiled her fabulous picnic on Damariscove Island.
Mark Stover is a fascinating guy, a great musician and singer with the group Holy Mackerels, a recreational fishing guide and a charter boat captain. His Redhook Charters offers full-day, half-day and hourly adventures.
Having spent his entire life in Boothbay Harbor, he knows everyone and everything about this wonderful place. And we really lucked out, with a gorgeous sunny Sunday and a very interesting group of other guests. Damariscove Island's 2-mile-long barren landscape was first settled in the early 1600s and actively farmed well into the 20th century. Mark gave me a book, "Coming of Age on Damariscove Island, Maine," that's a captivating account of life on the island in the early 1900s.
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