Lest you think all we did was run back and forth to the Stonington area we want you to know that there is a great deal to do in the two communities closest to Camden Hills State Park, Camden and Rockland. Both of these are small coastal towns with a healthy tourist population however they offer year round activities and events.
Camden is the smaller of the two towns with most of the businesses located on Rt. 1 or a few side streets near the harbor. It is one of the prettiest harbors we’ve seen. Several restaurants overlook the harbor and offer dining al fresco on summer days. As you’d expect there are several stores offering typical tourist souvenirs but there are several shops with high end home decorator items and local crafts. I used to collect pottery when we lived in a “regular” house and I’d have been buying up a storm. Now I just enjoy window-shopping and save a lot of money!
Rockland is much larger than Camden and the place to head for everyday items such as groceries, pet supplies and auto care. The older section has been beautifully preserved and this is where you will find the Farnsworth Museum of Art. While we were there they had a special exhibit of paintings by N. C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. Many of these artworks were on loan from the Brandywine Museum in Delaware. The Wyeth family lived in Massachusetts but spent their summers in mid-coast Maine. While not formally educated in art appreciation we enjoyed the exhibit very much and learned a great deal. We even found a connection between the Wyeths and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s family. A sister and brother who lived in Maine were subjects that N. C. Wyeth painted often in his Christina series. Their family was descended from the Hathorne family of Salem, MA. We’ll tell you about the name change when we talk about Nathaniel Hawthorne in our “Catching Up” posts.
As we returned to the car we passed an old movie theatre. I think it was called the State Theatre but after a month I’m not sure. Rain was predicted for the next two days so a movie sounded good. This is an ‘art’ theatre where independent films and documentaries are shown. Looking at the billboard we saw a movie “No Place On Earth” was to play. This turned out to be a great choice. It is a film about five Ukranian Jewish families hiding in a cave for over 18 months to escape Nazi persecution. Even after these families immigrated to Canada and the USA they kept silent about the story. In the 1990s an American cave explorer found evidence of their life in the cave and began trying to find out who these people were. After ten years he thought he was at a dead end. Then miraculously one of the men who’d been a child when this occurred contacted him. The History Channel produced the film. It is being shown in very few theatres but will be aired on the History Channel soon so keep your eyes open for it. We felt it was one of the most amazing, heart-wrenching yet uplifting films we’ve seen. Before the film a local Camden man spoke. He too is a caver (no, they don’t call themselves spelunkers) and knew the man who located the families in the film. As an aside, he mentioned that he was also a professional potter and photographer. He would be doing a presentation of his photos taken in Guadalupe NP and Carlsbad Caverns. Our ears perked up.
The following evening we attended Peter Jones photography lecture at the Camden library. His photos are breathtaking! He is a very experienced caver who goes where very few of us will ever wander. Plus he brings with him more equipment than any of us own. He did say he was appreciative of his friends who are willing to be his ‘sherpas’ and help with the equipment. If you’d like to see either his pottery or his photos or both please visit www.pjcaver.com .
Another great find in Rockland was a store called Fiore. They sell artisan olive oils and vinegars as well as a few specialty items. We went into the store because we were going to have pasta for dinner and needed some dipping oil. Over an hour later we came out with Tuscan herbed oil, an African green chile oil and pomegranate infused vinegar. That was after tasting many other offerings. We signed up for their club. Over the next year we’ll get three bottles every quarter along with a recipe that uses at least two of the products and a 10% discount toward other purchases. We’ve already tried the chile oil and pomegranate vinegar on grilled veggies. It was terrific.
Here’s the recipe for 2: Grilled veggies of your choice. We used snow peas, water chestnuts, mixed young peppers, onion and pineapple. Saute over charcoal in a wok using spicy chile oil (about 2 tablespoons). Remove from heat. Drizzle 1 tablespoon pomegranate vinegar over veggies and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes. YUM!! If you are interested in their products please visit the website at www.FIOREoliveoils.com and they will ship to you. There is another store in Bar Harbor, Maine.
When the weather cleared we made a return trip up Mount Battie and spent 2-3 hours taking photos. Chari spent most of the time using her new 105mm macro lens while Steve used varied lenses. Somewhere along the way the pouch he used for his close-up rings opened and two of the three rings fell out. We tried to retrace his route but this was really a “needle in a haystack” attempt. If anyone out there in cyber space finds them, let us know!
There are several museums in the area such as the Transportation Museum, Indian Basket museum (part of a basket makers store) and the Merryspring Nature Center that we did not have time to visit. We did visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the Penobscot Maritime Museum near Searsport. Two lighthouses open to the public are in the Rockland area: Owls Head and Rockland Breakwater. We’ll be covering those in a separate post on lighthouses.
One day we took a drive looking for public access to some lakes we saw in the Maine Gazetteer. These are the greatest resource for anyone traveling by car. DeLorme makes one for each state. We have them all and have found many hidden gems by using them. We didn’t have luck finding boat ramps but did find a great rocky pasture for lunch. Opal had some much needed off leash time too. On our last full day in the Camden area we kayaked on Lake Megunticook. This is a 5+ mile long lake with a public access ramp. It is studded with small islands many of which have private summer cottages. The day was one of the warmest so far this summer and a swim sounded good. We found a shallow cove where the water was fairly warm and we took a dip and had lunch. It wasn’t a long paddle, just three miles or so but very relaxing.
This is a wonderful area to visit. We look forward to returning in a few years and hope you’ll experience these towns for yourself.