John Grindrod: The autumnal pleasures of Maine


By John Grindrod - Guest Columnist



Jane can be seen pausing for a picnic at Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Jane can be seen pausing for a picnic at Boothbay Harbor, Maine.


The lighthouse is the Portland Headlight has adorned countless calendars.


Following Lady Jane and my departure from Cooperstown and dealing with those annoying tolls for the rest of New York and on through Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we crossed over into Maine to see its mid-October fall finest. Happily, we were able to get to all our places without being asked to pay to drive over roads that tax-paying Americans should be able to use without financial encumbrance.

Our first stop was in Portland for parts of two days’ worth of exploration and sampling of some cuisine we’d enjoyed on an earlier visit to Maine. Although our overnight accommodations were a bit underwhelming, according to Jane, I always fall back on the rationalization that all rooms look alike once the lights go out.

We headed downtown to see the port district and the varied and abundant tourist crowd on Commercial Street before dining at a place we went on our last trip, Three Dollar Deweys, just across from the harbor. For you language purists out there, I know the lack of an implied-ownership apostrophe in Deweys is as bothersome to you as it is to me, but we’ll just have to look the other way on this one just as we do when we see references to St. Marys, Ohio; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; and Toms River, New Jersey.

As for the unusual name, there’s a rather naughty etymological explanation attributed to the late proprietor Alan Eames. He used to say that the gastro-pub’s site in the Gold Rush days used to house a brothel, and the prices could be remembered by a certain mnemonic phrase: “One dollar looky, two dollar touchy, three dollar…” I think you can fill in the last blank.

We were seated immediately and enjoyed both the beer from Maine’s Baxter Brewing in Lewiston and the fish we both ordered. And, of course, like all tourists, we made ourselves believe the fish had been caught that morning!

Another site surely worthy of visiting is Fort Williams Park in the Portland suburb of Cape Elizabeth. There, we again saw the Portland Headlight, arguably the most photographed lighthouse in the world and one that has appeared in countless calendars.

The iconic landmark has provided a beacon to aid sailors seeking safety since 1791. More than 80 feet tall, the white conical tower is attached to a red-roofed house that now serves as a maritime museum providing history of both the lighthouse as well as the shipwrecks off Cape Elizabeth. The surrounding coastline is absolutely classic textbook Maine cragginess, liberally dotted with abundant wildflowers poking up from the rocks, all so perfect for snapshots.

Following our Portland adventures, we were bound for Bucksport, a small town of around 5,000 not far from the river that’s seemingly everywhere throughout Maine, the Penobscot. For any true road trip, there must be true day tripping, those stops for an hour or two in small towns that catch your eye.

One such place was Boothbay Harbor. The harbor area has picnic tables, so it was the perfect spot to roll our cooler down the street that naturally feeds down to the water for a mid-day picnic overlooking the moored leisure and working lobster boats.

Then it was on to another classically Maine town, Camden, which achieved fame in the late 1950s when the blockbuster movie Peyton Place was filmed there. After enjoying the quaintness of the town, it was time to quell Jane’s babble about Battie, which requires a bit of an explanation. Like my dear friend Jim O’Neill, who turns the planning of his sojourns over to his combo bride-travel agent, Chris, I defer to Jane on pretty much all our itineraries.

And, believe me, there was plenty of talk about taking the auto road in Camden Hills State Park up Mount Battie to its summit and gazing down upon Camden and the expansive waters of Penobscot Bay, a stretch of the Atlantic that provides views of several islands all the way to Bar Harbor. Really, it was the best four dollars to access the road I’ve spent in quite some time.

While you can also park at the bottom and make the hike up to the summit, it was rather late in the day, so we drove. And what a treat that view was. I’ve been blessed in my travels to have had some memorable high-atop views, from the Cliffs of Moher in County Claire, Ireland, to the view of Edinbugh in Scotland from the top of Calton Hill to the look of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim and on to the overlooks in California from the Pacific Coast Highway. And, what I saw from the top of Mount Battie I’ll now add to that memory-bank list.

For an even better view, Jane and I climbed to the top of the Mount Battie War Memorial. At 26 feet, the tower erected in 1921 as a tribute to the men and women of World War I can easily be climbed.

Next week, I’ll put a bow on this whole Maine thing on autumn’s final Wednesday and give you some details of our lodging in Bucksport, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor and Millinocket and nearby Baxter State Park.

https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/12/web1_Grindrod-John-CMYK.jpg
Jane can be seen pausing for a picnic at Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/12/web1_IMG_0397.jpgJane can be seen pausing for a picnic at Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
The lighthouse is the Portland Headlight has adorned countless calendars.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/12/web1_IMG_0381.jpgThe lighthouse is the Portland Headlight has adorned countless calendars.

By John Grindrod

Guest Columnist

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at grinder@wcoil.com.

John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at grinder@wcoil.com.

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