So I made it to Maine! Late summer in New England is really everything you romanticize about. Cool breezes greeting you on a warm afternoon with beautiful ocean views, families and friends gathering together at the beach for a last summer vacation or rendez-vous, that last little bit of feeling of freedom before autumn rolls in. And let’s not forget about the seafood, oh the seafood.
As I continued up the coastline I had the opportunity to stop in Kennebunkport, the iconic presidential vacation spot. This small beach community is out of a movie set. Boutique shops and quaint restaurants line the main road, as you drive closer to the shore you are greeted by rows of summer estates with manicured lawns. Cape Porpoise is just north on scenic Route 9 and is worth the extra little drive through Kennebunk. This costal village is more reminiscent of a quiet fishing town, and who doesn’t want to see another lighthouse, especially when it’s called Goat Island Light?! If for nothing else, head up to Cape Porpoise for a serene New England sunset and a phenomenal meal.
Pier 77 is a great restaurant on Cape Porpoise Harbor and with the view of the lobster fishing boats from your table I don’t think you can feel like you are getting a fresher dish unless you ate it with the boat captain himself! There are two parts to the restaurant offering hungry patrons a selection of dining options. Pier 77 itself is more of a fine dining establishment, while it’s lower level, The Ramp, is a more casual, bar and grill style space where you can still enjoy favorites from the Pier 77 menu. For me I had an easy choice, more lobster please!
The next day I packed up the car again and traveled further north to Portland, Maine. I headed straight for the water, to Commercial Street. This waterfront roadway has been named one of the ten best streets in the US, and for good reason. It’s a blend of marine and fishing related industry and local restaurants, shops and tourist stops, making it a great place to see how the fishing tradition, which has been a profession in the area since the 1800’s and local business can marry quite nicely. I wanted to get a better understanding of where all of my tasty meals have been coming from so I set out on a lobster boat for a tour of Casco Bay and an afternoon of lobster fishing with Lucky Catch. We set out on the forty foot boat to go pick up a couple of traps that had been thrown in a few days ago. In this particular area each lobsterman is allotted 800 tags for their traps so they pull them in a rotation. It was amazing to learn not only how much is involved in lobstering and also how many rules and laws are involved to ensure sustainable fishing practices. Thanks Captain Tom and the wonderful staff at Lucky Catch for a fun and informative afternoon!!
After pulling up a couple of traps and finding some keepers, we threw back a couple of females that have notches in their tails noting they are breeders. This helps ensure we can all continue to eat big, delicious lobsters for summers to come. All of this fishing worked up an appetite so I drove over the Casco bridge down to Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Head Light and grab some lunch.
To learn more about the rules and regs for lobstering go to Maine’s Dept. of Marine Resources.
This cape tour wouldn’t be complete without stopping at as many capes as humanly possible. Cape Elizabeth is located only a few miles from Portland so it’s a great vacation spot, you can be at the beach relaxing and then drive a few minutes into town for a busier atmosphere. Elizabeth is rich in history, mainly surrounding Maine’s oldest light house, the Portland Head Light. The first lighthouse stood in 1791 and the area had been guarded by soldiers to warn residents of a potential British invasion back in 1776. Fort Williams is the ninety-acre park that surrounds the lighthouse. Be sure to see the remains of the military buildings on the property including the Goddard Mansion, which is an eery skeleton of bricks that once was a magnificent house with what must have been an amazing sea view.
With lobster still on my mind I drove to The Lobster Shack, for more lobster…. I seriously can’t get enough. My theme on this trip apparently is lobster rolls and this one in particular is award winning. Drive down the tiny sea street until you literally reach the water, The Lobster Shack is right next to the rocks and there is no better spot to enjoy a fresh catch than on a picnic table with the sounds of the waves crashing right next to you, it’s heavenly!