In over two decades, Debbie and I each have over 100,000 miles logged on our family of Harleys. We have traveled over a lot of North America: from Newport R.I. to Key West Florida and back; twice to Sturgis Bike Week in South Dakota; all over the old west in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado; several trips through Yellowstone and Glacier National Park; western Canada, including the Canadian Rockies and Banff; Kingston, Ontario; and the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
This June we hit every state in New England while tracking what I have explained to you is a continued weak economic setting. Folk are concerned and nervous for good reason. The employment situation stinks. Even here in blue-state New England, business owners know that they have been bamboozled by the Obama administration and want him and his crowd out.
But on to some lighter news. You just cannot do better than the coast of Maine for a summer or early fall getaway. We now start our coast of Maine trip in Portland and work our way north to Camden, Lincolnville, Trenton Bridge, and Bar Harbour. We’re on the bikes, but otherwise, I suggest you fly into Portland, just minutes from the Portland Harbor Inn. Your place for oysters, lobster and red fish is the Old Port Sea Grill. We go often for lunch or dinner and always come away happy. Over a decade ago, Debbie and I started shipping caviar and scallops from Browne Trading, just down the hill from The Portland Harbor Inn. More recently we have been ordering the best swordfish in the world right off Linda Greenlaw’s boat. Places like Browne Trading and Harbor Fish Market offer tremendous displays of fish, including the increasingly rare East Coast Halibut.
But the real secret of Browne Trading is its French Burgundy/Rhone Valley wine section. I’ve not encountered a better French wine selection in New England. My only other comparison is the great new wine shop next to Blue Provence restaurant in Naples, Florida. I am told that Browne Trading is working hard to get up a website and the permits required to mail their fine wines. If you live in a Burgundy wine wasteland, like most Americans do, you may soon be able to deal easily with a class A Burgundy wine source. Browne will need a copy of your driver’s license and your email to get you started. I would simply email Browne Trading and inquire how to set yourself up. (Read The Terrien Terroir, about the 2007 Terrien Chardonnay showcased at Browne Trading Co.’s May tasting.)
After Portland, we usually head to Camden, where, this trip, we stayed three nights as the weather inland was beastly hot, making refuge on the coast of Maine a serious winner. Lucky you if you can make it to Camden, among the most beautiful small towns in America. There is no shortage of great lodging. Two excellent inns, both with a super location right on the harbor in Camden, are the Camden Harbor Inn and Grand Harbor Inn. CHI has a great restaurant called Natalie’s, with a comfortable bar and porch dining with views of Mt. Battie that will make you happy you booked there. The Grand Harbor is just a couple of blocks down the hill directly on the harbor. The inn, a locally owned 12-room boutique inn, is a stone’s throw from the Schooner Appledore II, which resides in Key West in winter months. It was a great escape from this summer’s brutal heat to sail on this 86-foot wooden windjammer around Penobscot Bay and appreciate Camden’s magnificent coastline from the water.
Atlantica, another of our favored Camden restaurants, is directly across from the Grand Harbor. A short walk from both inns is a funky looking little place with a creative French-influenced menu. Francine Bistro served up for me the best two food selections (see my photos below) of our entire trip. Be forwarned, however, at times the volume of the music can be overwhelming.
In installment three of my Harley/travel series, I’ll fill you in on lobster/steamers heaven as we swing north on U.S. 1 out of Portland. As a point of interest, Debbie and I have been on the Harley’s to both the most northern point of the contiguous U.S. 1 (above Caribou) and the most southern point (just beyond the Green Parrot) in Key West. Click back next week as our Maine coast trip heads north.