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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Down East, Day 3: The Coast

I can't leave the wonderful town of Lubec without showing this sign. It is not a comment on the age of the town's inhabitants, or the latest anti-aging panacea. Maine folks often scramble to make money, and now that fishing is so hard, some are gathering "wrinkles" (periwinkles, or snails to you and me) for sale to Asian markets. But even this humble activity is threatened; seaweed farmers tend to rip up the rockweed indiscriminately, without regard to the wrinkles hiding underneath.

One of the problems in travelling near the Maine coast is the temptation to drive down every peninsula, explore every cove. We budgeted only a day to drive from Lubec to Prospect Harbor, maybe 60 miles by Route 1, maybe a lifetime of exploring. So we had to skip the bold coast and all the conservation land from South Trescott to Cutler, cliffs and rivers and trails, oh my! We drove through Cutler to see the huge radar installation - very weird to see war on the coast of Maine. Continuing the war theme we also stopped in Machias so I could see Burnham Tavern, the oldest building east of Bangor, built in 1770 and the place where the first naval victory over the British was plotted in 1775.

We walked around Machias a bit - clearly a cool town.

Much of the day was spent hiking first in the Nature Conservancy's preserve on Great Wass Island off Jonesport, and then in the Petit Manaan National Wildlife Refuge. So we got down two peninsulas - only a thousand to go.

But for drama and stark beauty, you can't beat the blueberry barrens of Washington County (and we didn't even drive away from the coast to see the really huge ones). To me blueberries are the perfect plant: delicious (we're talking about wild blueberries here, not those obese things from New Jersey or Chile), healthful (the most anti-oxidants of any food), very low maintenance (just burn off the fields every other year), and colorful (including the gorgeous red of the fall). It should be world berry, not just state berry.

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