Sunday, August 28, 2005

Weekend In Camden

A year ago Jennifer and I spent a weekend up in Camden, ME at the Nathaniel Hosmer Inn. We had such a great time we decided to go back again this year and once again we had a fantastic time. I took off from work a little early and I stopped in Amesbury to meet Jennifer, because she was going to leave her car at my mom's house. After that we were on our way north to my most favoritest state of Maine. The weather was gorgeous and we had the radio cranking in the old Jetta. Instead of taking the normal way (Route 1) we decided on a more scenic route through the heart of Maine. It truly paid off because not only did we make it to Camden in record time, but we saw some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. At one point we came up over this hill by a farm and you could see for at least fifty miles. The perfect combination of a farm on top of a hill let us see the outlines of the western mountains, it was breathtaking. We continued over narrow bridges, around sharp corners through more farm lands and across dirt roads before regaining the main road about a half hour west of Camden. It's amazing how much we miss by travling the interstates.

Once in Camden we set up residence in the same room as last year and before long were wandering down Main street. All of the memories from last year came rushing back as we peered into the familiar store fronts. Our first stop was a coffee shop where we picked up some baked goods to settle our hungry stomachs. We ate them in Harbor park overlooking the harbor and the Megunticook River waterfall. The sky was cloudless and the streets were filled with tourists going in and out of the little shops. We explored for about an hour before returning to the Mary Wheeler room. We were both quite exhausted from a long busy week and it wasn't long before we were both fast asleep.

The next morning we woke up to the smell of bacon frying. I had slept through the night and didn't wake up once, it had been weeks since the last time that happened. The queen sized bed, quiet street and cool weather made for prime sleeping conditions. At 8:30 we walked into the dining room for breakfast. Only five places were set, which was quite different from the full house we experienced last year. The other guests were a woman from Stratham, who was planning on a day of cycling over in Isleboro, and a couple from Somerville. We chatted with them and the two inn keepers over a "divine" peach cobbler, followed up by a bowl of local fruit. The main course of this little three course breakfast was a crepe, cheese, and bacon creation. I was a bit weary at first, because it looked a lot like egg, and the texture was very similar, but once I made it through the top part the rest was great.

After breakfast we strapped on our hiking boots and drove over to an isolated parking lot I had scouted out the night before. There is an intricate network of hiking trails in the area and I had chosen the least congested routes in advance. Once again we passed up Mt. Battie, the tourist trap mountain with an auto road, and ended up at the top of Zeke's lookout and then Bald Rock mountain. Both spots provided gorgeous views without the crowding of the more popular Battie. The trails weren't well marked, but we did manage to find our way rather easily. One trail in particular seemed to have had few visitors at all because it was very grown in and the spiders had taken over. There webs were strewn across the trail at five and six foot intervals. At one point I ended up with a spider dangling near my head, but instead of backing away in fear I showed it a thing or two and took a dozen photos of him swinging around. Of course only one actually came out clearly, but as with most of my pictures it takes about a dozen bad shots for the one memorable shot you frame and put on your living room wall.

Five hours later we returned to the car with two empty Nalgene bottles, sore legs and an interest in wine. We had heard over breakfast of a small winery over near the trails we would be hiking and decided it was the perfect way to end the hike. We pulled up to the three hundred year old barn and weren't exactly sure what we were in for. Another couple was just about to start a tasting so we joined in and grabbed a couple clean glasses. We tried about eight different wines in all and they were wonderful. The oddest wine they had was a blueberry wine, which was made entirely of blueberries, it had an aroma much like blueberries, however the taste was much like a red wine. It wasn't the best wine ever, but certainly better than one would anticipate upon hearing of such a thing. We purchased two bottles from the winery and drove back to the inn for much needed showers.

With clean clothes on our backs we ventured back downtown in search of some lunch. It was nearly four and we planned on going out for dinner, so we made it a light lunch. We walked into the same sandwich shop from our first day and ordered a bit of food. The woman behind the counter asked for a name on the order and I quickly suggested Janet, and smiled towards Jennifer. Ever since our arrival the inn keeper had been introducing Jennifer as Janet and despite a couple tries to correct the situation, we weren't able to correct her. Finally, the name Janet was called and I paid for lunch, that's what happens when you try to be funny. Again we dined in Harbor Park, but this time the view was slightly different because the sun was brightly shining down upon the harbor. Looking out to sea you could see a fog starting to push its way across Penobscot Bay towards the harbor, I was thankful I wasn't aboard a boat trying to find my way back home.

Since we had time to kill before dinner, we walked around all the shops in the downtown area. As always, I didn't buy one thing. Of course I saw several things I would have liked to take home, but for some reason on vacation I don't tend to buy souvenirs. In the grand scheme of things this could be a good thing, because I don't need a bunch of useless junk lying around the house for years. We strolled down by the water and saw a couple schooners returning to port. They were out for an evening cruise, but the fog had stopped them dead in their tracks. I overheard one of the captain saying, "The fog rolled right over us. It was as thick as pea soup and to top it all of the sun was shining so much it lit the fog right up and you couldn't see a darn thing." It turns out most of the charters for the evening had been cancelled due to fog, much to the disappointment of many tourists. The long hike and afternoon of shopping had worn me out, so we returned to the inn to rest before dinner. Apparently my head was on the pillow for thirty seconds before I fell fast asleep. I awoke an hour later to the sound of a cork coming out of a bottle of wine. We had stopped at a store to buy a cheap bottle of wine to drink before dinner. I was still pretty thirsty and don't think I was able to truly enjoy the Riesling, but given different circumstances I am sure it would have been wonderful.

We walked in to Zaddik's Mexican-Italian restaurant and were surprised to find it so empty. We sat right down and quickly order nachos, which we had planned on ordering ever since we sat atop the acme of Bald Head Mountain. As soon as they were placed on the table we immediately devoured them and only after I was nearly full did I decide it was completely necessary that we finish them. We moved on to the main course which was individual sized pizzas. I was quite full at this time, but somehow managed to finish my mushroom and ham pizza. It wasn't the best pizza I've had, but it filled me up and given the relapse of exhaustion I was feeling I didn't really care. We walked outside and noticed the fog had finally reached town and was making its way up Route 1. It rolled up the street oblivious to the busy scene it was penetrating. Our full stomachs encouraged us to roam around the foggy scene and we obeyed there wishes. First we went on a walk through the airy stone and grass amphitheater at the library. Continuing down towards the water I noticed how the rope hand rails were covered in moisture from the fog. The stores began to close and we new it was time to go back to our room and begin another night of restful sleep.

Ten of the fifteen gongs sounded from the church bells before I woke up only to wonder why it was so light at five o clock in the morning. After glancing at the clock I realized the church was in fact announcing the beginning of mass because it was actually eight in the morning. I began packing my things and showered before we walked over for another full breakfast. Two new people had arrived at the inn overnight and now there was seating for seven. The food was just as delicious as the prior day and probably even better given my trepidation towards the crepe the prior morning. Upon completing our meal, Glen, the inn keeper told us all about the history of the house and the person was named after. He was quite the storyteller and would always try to sneak in impossible tidbits here and there. Following all of the stories I packed the car while Jennifer got a tour of the rest of the house. Once the car was loaded we went back inside and bid farewell to the inn keepers, telling them we would definitely be back next summer and possibly sooner.

We sat in the car looked back at the inn one more time, turned onto Route 1 South and began our long journey home. It was the end of another vacation, but the start of a fun and relaxing tradition. The perfect way to end a summer and begin the wonderful season of autumn.

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