News, events, and musings from Pilgrim’s Inn
Stress Free Local Holiday Shopping!
About the third week in November a vague sense of panic begins to settle into the back of my brain when I realize I've not yet done any holiday gift shopping.
I've always been impressed (mystified really) by people who plan months in advance and have their shopping done, their gifts wrapped and shipped before Thanksgiving. You know these people, they are the ones who have birthday cards filed neatly in a drawer months before they need them, and are standing next to you in line buying Christmas gifts in August, while you're hoping to find a birthday gift before the word "belated" gets too old.
Adding to my panic is the fact that I hate giving generic gifts from big box stores and battling the crowds at shopping malls, and most of the people I know are at the point in their lives when they are trying to get rid of the junk in their homes, not collect more of it.
But a few years ago, in an effort to put some thought into my gift giving before the anxiety settled in, I decided that the gifts I give should have at least three of the following four criteria:
- Be easy to purchase and to ship (preferably by someone else, so you
don't have to stand in long holiday lines balancing boxes on your hip at
the post office);
- Support a local business;
- Is something that gets used up or can be recycled at the end, such as food, candles, tickets to an event, gift certificate to dinner, etc; OR
- Is something unique and special, not plastic and disposable.
Thankfully living on Deer Isle makes satisfying my criteria pretty easy to do, and thanks to the internet, you can buy these gifts too! Here is my recommended list of sources for great holiday gifts that meet at least three of our four criteria, and all of them are from Deer Isle, Little Deer Isle or Isle au Haut.
Nervous Nellies Jams & Jellies
is always on the top of my "go-to" list and satisfies all four of my criteria. It's a local business, the jam gets eaten up, it's totally unique, and easy to send -- check, check, and double check. Ann and Peter Beerits not only produce their wonderful jams and jellies right here on Deer Isle, they also carry Joan's scone mix, Lucy's granola, maple syrup and other
unique gifts exclusively from Maine. Prices range from just $20 for a gift box with two jars of jam, up to collections like the "breakfast adventure gift box" for $48.35. The best part is you can set up an account on their website to store the addresses for your friends and family, so each year it's just a few clicks and your gift is on its way with a cute gingham ribbon, and a fragrant sprig of balsam.
Next on my holiday list are balsam wreaths from Harbor Farm
Little Deer Isle. They also have a website where you can store addresses for your friends and family, and with just a few clicks your shopping is done. We've been sending the Blueberry Christmas Wreath to our extended family for years. The wreath is uniquely Maine, decorated with realistic looking blueberries, fresh pine cones and reindeer moss, and comes with a nice velvet blue ribbon. Once again my criteria is satisfied - local business, it can be recycled at the end of the holiday season, unique and easy to send (since they do it for you). They also carry centerpieces, swags and even a big box of balsam to be used for holiday decorations.
Deer Isle is well known for its pink granite, which can be found in famous
buildings, bridges and monuments throughout the country; and the most popular
items sold at Pilgrim's Inn are vases made from this distinctive stone. We use these vases on our tables and fill them with a few small sprigs of flowers from our
garden or field -- they are beautiful and simple and make a perfect gift. Our friend Peter Perez of the Deer Isle Granite Company
makes these vases along with cheese boards, candle stick holders, clocks, card holders, furniture and other items made from Deer Isle granite. You can purchase these items directly through his website - local, beautiful, unique, and easy to ship!
We always know it's a 44 North Coffee roasting day when we smell that fragrant, rich, slightly burnt toast smell, wafting across the mill pond towards Pilgrim's Inn. If your friends and family are coffee lovers, then a gift from 44 North Coffee
should definitely be on your list. Megan and Melissa have been roasting their organic fair trade coffee and growing their small business just around the corner from Pilgrim's Inn for the last several years. They too have online ordering and gifts are just a click away. In addition to their many varieties of coffee, they also have coffee gear like coffee makers, a french press, mugs, t-shirts and more. And check out their "Island Gift Box" a uniquely Maine gift box with sea salt, evergreens and coffee beans for just $20! Once again a gift from a local business that gets used up, is unique and they do the shipping! Woo hoo!
Another great local business that offers online purchasing is Marlinespike Chandlery
in Stonington. Owner Tim Whitten makes beautiful and unique ropework pieces for people, boats, and dogs, as well as jewelry and accessories. For a very special gift, consider the beach stone necklace or check out the popular rope bracelet (kids especially love this). Some of the items are in stock, but others are made to order, so be sure to give Tim enough time to craft your special piece.
For the chocolate lovers on your list (and seriously- who isn't?), then the almost world famous Black Dinah Chocolatiers
is a definite. Kate and Steve produce beautiful hand made chocolates from the small island of Isle au Haut just off of Stonington.The salted caramels are to die for, and if you're
looking for something uniquely Maine, then your friends and family will love the Farm Market Collection of chocolate truffles. Each truffle has an ingredient from a farm in Hancock or Knox County. You can also buy Kate's cookbook "Desserted: Recipes and Tales from an Island Chocolatier" to accompany your chocolates. Or send a bag of their lovely sipping chocolate for your friends and family to enjoy on a cold winter day. Once again, just a few clicks away and you're done -- with all our criteria satisfied.
Did you know that Stonington on Deer Isle tops the list for the greatest amount of lobsters landed in the State of Maine each year? And what says "Maine" more than lobster!
Sending live lobsters from Deer Isle is especially appreciated for New
Year's Eve dinner. While there are many sources to buy lobster from on
the Island, our pick is Jones Lobster
. You can purchase directly from their website, in a number of different combinations for the weight and number of lobster, and they send them out next day air. There are also instructions for cooking lobster on their website if you need them.
Speaking of seafood, another great idea is some "finnan haddie" made by Richard Penfold of Stonington Seafood
. Richard is an expert when it comes to smoked fish and his products are revered by customers around the world. We use his smoked cod in our smoked cod and clam chowder at the Whale's Rib Tavern and are happy to email you the recipe if you want to prepare this tasty dish for the holidays. You'll also find frozen sea scallops from our local waters, kipper fillets and more.
Of course, there is nothing better and more local than making your own holiday gifts. If you have visited Pilgrim's Inn, then you know about our ever present cookie jar, filled with chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, or chocolate crinkle cookies; and our
seriously delicious homemade granola made in our kitchen at the Inn.
Recipes for some of our cookies and our granola are posted in the notes section of our Facebook Page
. Put the granola in an old fashioned mason jar with a ribbon and the cookies in a clear cellophane bag tied up with a bow.
But if you'd rather leave the cooking to us, then a gift certificate to Pilgrim's Inn and the Whale's Rib
is sure to please. You can set the gift amount and it can be used for lodging, dining or both. We are open from May - October and gift certificates don't expire until they are used.
So in a few clicks of your mouse your holiday shopping can be done, your sanity saved, the local economy strengthened, the environment benefited, and your friends and family made happy. I guess I better get started!
posted by Your Innkeepers @ 5:38 PM
Hiking the trails of Deer Isle
Acadia National Park was dubbed "America's favorite park" this year by USA Today, and "America's favorite place" by Good Morning America. And while a trip to this great national park is always a highly recommended day trip from Pilgrim's Inn, Deer Isle is blessed with a similar landscape and some beautiful hiking trails, but without the crowds. Coastal forests, quiet coves and panoramic views can be found right here on the island, offering visitors the chance to decompress and walk at a slower pace, without fighting traffic to get there.
Barred Island Preserve
Our most favorite hike on Deer Isle is the Barred Island Preserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy and managed by Island Heritage Trust
. The hike is two miles round trip and takes approximately a half hour to forty five minutes each way depending on your pace, with ample opportunities to stop and admire nature's handiwork. New signage and an educational brochure make it a great trip for families wanting to introduce children to hiking and nature exploration. The preserve also has a "letterbox" which is a treasure hunt style outdoor quest involving navigational skills and is fun for both kids and adults. Because of the environmental sensitivity of this preserve, dogs are not allowed so please respect the rules.
While the trail to Barred Island is easy, it has many exposed tree roots, so a sturdy pair of shoes is a good idea. You'll start from the parking lot and hike through a shady coastal forest where the scent of balsam fir and the quiet of the landscape is punctuated by the sounds of Mark Island fog horn off in the distance. Light filters through the trees creating a magical environment, and if you slow down and look closely you'll find a fascinating microbial world to discover. From mushrooms to fungi, lichen, and mosses, a virtual fairyland of miniature plants can be found throughout the forest.
As you hike towards the ocean the trees begin to thin and the smell of balsam gives way to salt air. You'll come to a sign for an overlook, so hike the short distance up to the spot and you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of East Penobscot Bay and Maine's spectacular coast with views to Isle au Haut and Mark Island light beyond.
Continue down the trail until you come to a sign for Barred Island or the Shore Loop trail and go to the right towards the island. At low tide you'll find a beach and a wide sand bar that takes you out to this uninhabited island. The island will be closed to the public if there are nesting eagles, so please respect any signage. If the tide is high and the sandbar not visible, don't dismay. Spread out a towel and relax on the smooth rocks made warm by the sun. Take in the scenery, the smells of the ocean and the quiet of this special place. If you do walk out to the island, take note of the tide before you go, as you do not want to get stuck on the island for the night!
Another hike to enjoy on Deer Isle is Settlement Quarry Preserve off of Oceanville Road in Stonington. Dogs on a leash are welcomed at this preserve.
Settlement Quarry helps preserve Deer Isle's history of granite quarrying, and its famous pink granite. The quarry was active from the turn of the last century until the 1920's and again in the 1960's and 1980's.
You'll find the parking lot on Oceanville Road, just past the sign for Old Quarry Ocean Adventures on the right. Walk through the entrance and take the "Erratic Trail" to the right through the woods. This section of hiking trail includes coastal forest similar to the start of the Barred Island trail. Educational signs along the way describe the glacial erratic and environmental activity that exposed the granite and eventually turned this area into an active quarry. As you emerge from this short 10 minute trail you'll come upon a large expanse of windswept stone surface. Hike to the highest point where you'll see beautiful views towards Isle au Haut.
The entire area feels like an open amphitheater and leaves you imagining how perfect the spot would be for outdoor performances of Shakespearean plays, musical events and performance art. The Stonington Opera House has used the preserve for just these kinds of special events
Walk throughout this open area where you'll find educational signs about the history of quarrying and the family who owned Settlement Quarry. Follow the arrows to Old Pole Head and other features to learn more.
There are several short hikes to take from the top which will take you to other sections of the preserve. The Grout Pile Trail leads down a hill through the woods towards a large pile of quarried rock with educational signs along the way. It will continue through a wooded area, which leads you throughout the rest of the preserve. These trails offer additional glimpses of the quarry industry and are worth exploring. They also will add additional time to your walk beyond the short hike to the quarry.
Mariner's Memorial Park
If you are not up for a hike, and just want to stroll through gentle terrain near the water, we highly recommend Mariner's Memorial Park, The park is located near the start of the Sunshine road around the corner from the Inn. Take your first right off the Sunshine Road onto Morey Farm Road, Drive down the road and take a left into Mariner's Park, which will lead you to the parking area.
This lovely expanse of open space is maintained by the Evergreen Garden Club on Deer Isle and offers walking paths, a picnic area and a kayak and boat launch that is open to the public. Dogs are welcomed on a leash. Take the path from the parking area, and be sure to stop and appreciate the pollinator's garden that attracts important insects like bumble bees that help pollinate and create the beautiful flowers on the island.
The path leads to the water where the boat launch is used by locals and visitors alike, Under a shady tree you'll also find a large granite stone memorial to all those from the Island who have lost their lives at seas.
Continue on the path up the hill where you'll find pretty views of the water. At the top of the hill are nesting boxes as part of an area-wide bluebird nesting trail, maintained by the Maine Audubon Society.
This park is a great place to also bring a picnic lunch to enjoy the view. Several picnic tables near the parking area are a great spot to sit before taking your kayak or other boat into the water.
Labels: Acadia National Park, deer isle, hiking trails
posted by Your Innkeepers @ 5:39 PM
Thinking outside the bun: Off Island Eateries
On our quest to find off the beaten path and unusual lunch spots away from Deer Isle (see our previous blog post for fun lunch ideas on Deer Isle), we knew we came to the right place when we saw Linda Greenlaw's boat tied up to the dock at Perry's Lobster Shack on Newbury Neck in Surry. Over the years we heard tales of someone cooking lobster on a dock not far from Blue Hill, but never really had enough information to find it, as they do little to no online marketing. But this year while cycling past Perry's by accident, we knew we had to return to this classic Maine lobster pound (something that is sadly lacking in Deer Isle/Stonington given its status as a major lobster port in the State). The owner, Bev Long told us that even people in Surry and surrounding towns are finding them for the first time, despite the fact that they've been serving up lobster on their dock for thirteen years. While traveling to Perry's is a bit of a commitment (it's a 40 minute
drive from Pilgrim's Inn ), the ride is scenic and the experience worth
it if the weather is nice. Perry's is open from 12:00pm - 8:00PM every day from mid-June to Columbus Day.
The menu features -- you guessed it, steamed lobster, plus lobster and crab rolls, steamers, mussels and blueberry pie with local Morton's Moo ice cream --- oh, and winkles and dried fish! The small building on the road just past a swimming beach houses the kitchen and lobster tanks, while lunch is served at picnic tables on the dock with large umbrellas to shield out the sun. Bev will reserve a picnic table for six or more people, cash and checks are accepted (no credit cards) and it's BYOB. After lunch, be sure
to take a drive down the rest of Newbury Neck for some of the best views of Acadia National Park we've ever seen from across the water. Perry's Lobster Shack, 1076 Newbury Neck Rd., Surry, ME 207-667-1955
On the way back to Deer Isle from Blue Hill on route 15, just past the top of Caterpillar Hill is the Millbrook Company
, a roadside spot with a "truckers welcome" sign on the side. Millbrook is a combination bakery, restaurant and ice cream stop. You can eat indoors, or out in the large gazebo overlooking the landscape from the hill. Formerly in the location of "Milton's Dream" Millbrook offers a small but creative lunch menu featuring a marinated tempeh reuben, a charbroiled burger on ciabatta roll, grilled chicken sandwich, veggie quesadilla and a cobb salad.
You'll also find fresh squeezed juices and smoothies, like "root juice" with carrot, ginger, beets and apples, a green smoothie with spinach, apples and blueberries. All of the baked goods and breads are made in-house by owner Jill Smith and her staff. Millbrook is open Thursday - Monday from 7:30am -8pm. 160 Snows Cove Rd., Sedgwick (route 15)
Just a mile or two down the road towards Deer Isle, a lunch option that has both food and fun is Tasha's
at the Pine Ridge Golf Center on Caterpillar Hill Road in Sedgwick about 15 minutes from Pilgrim's Inn. Surrounded by an 18 hole mini golf course, Tasha's is a great place to take the family for a few hours of fun, or to relax and eat lunch after hitting a bucket of golf balls on the 250 yard driving range. Even if golf is not your thing, take a trip to Tasha's for the food, you'll be glad you did.
Owner Tasha Allen can be found behind the grill most days, cooking up creative sandwiches like the Double Bogey, a bacon cheese burger with pulled pork and coleslaw, and the Wolfman sub, a decadent combination of chicken tenders and a cheese steak. The bacon wrapped hot dog looks delicious and you'll also find tasty Maine lobster rolls and lobster salads. Seating is outside in a gazebo or inside in a cozy dining room. Tasha's is open from Tues - Sunday from 11AM - 7PM.
232 Caterpillar Hill Rd., Sedgwick
Just over the Deer Isle - Sedgwick bridge, a few miles down the road from Tasha's and less than 15 minutes from the Inn is El El Frijoles
(a good-natured reference to Maine's famous LL Bean) in Sargentville, where husband and wife team Michelle Levesque and Michael Rossney serve up Mexican inspired cuisine using high quality local and mostly organic ingredients in their converted barn in Sargentville. Nine seats inside, outdoor seating on picnic tables and a screened-in porch make the experience casual, fun and funky.
The menu features classic Mexican items like burritos, tacos and quesadillas made with local ingredients and offered at various degrees of spiciness. The spicy lobster burrito is a uniquely Maine creation, and vegan options plus a PB& J quesadilla for kids makes the menu accessible for many. Numerous house-made salsa's add additional flavor and spiciness. El El Frijoles is located at 41 Caterpillar Hill Rd in Sargentville and is open from Wednesday - Sunday, from 11AM to 8PM.
Over in Brooklin (30 minutes from the Inn) Sandy's Provisions
offers sandwiches, soups and salads that you can eat inside or out on the porch at this specialty grocery store and cafe. You'll also find local and Maine made prepared foods, wines, cheese, coffee, chocolates and more. Or pick up fresh bread, a few slices of the excellent varieties of cheeses they carry, some olives,
sausages and other delights and make a picnic. Take your treasure to
the end of Naskeag Road where there is a picnic table and classic scenic Maine
views of the harbor. Sandy's also offers specialty coffee drinks made by a barista from Bucklyn Coffee in Brooklin, Sandy's is located in the heart of Brooklin at 5 Bay Rd. and is open from Monday - Saturday, 8am - 5pm.
Twenty minutes from the Inn in the opposite direction is Bucks Harbor Market
in Brooksville. Stop on in and get generous sized sandwiches, pasta or potato salads, house-smoke meats, olives and other deli items with prices that are easy on the pocket book. You can sit outside the market on the few tables on the porch, or take them with you and continue down 176 about 2.5 miles to the Town Landing Road on the left where there are picnic tables and great views of Castine. Bucks Harbor Market is in the heart of Bucks Harbor, at 6 Cornfield Hill Rd, in Brooksville, and is open seven days a week until 6pm.
Another "must do" lunch experience off the island is Bagaduce Lunch
, which has received lots of press over the years and even a James Beard American Classics award, but has never lost its down home charm since it first opened in 1946. This classic roadside clam shack has some of the best fried clams and scallops in the area, lobster rolls, fried fish sandwiches, and home-made pies served from their take out window. Picnic tables dot the landscape down to a tidal river, near the reversing falls in Penobscot. Bagaduce Lunch is located at 145 Franks Flat, Penobscot, and is open everyday from 11:00am to 7pm (except Wednesdays when it closes at 3pm).
posted by Your Innkeepers @ 7:24 PM
Thinking outside the bun: Lunch on Deer Isle
Where can I get lunch? That's a question we hear a lot and while there are several fine eateries on the island that serve lunch with table service, it's the smaller, counter-service, road side, and unusual lunch and snack spots both on and off the island that we'll be highlighting in this two-part series.
If you' re lucky enough to be looking for lunch on a Wednesday or a Friday, our first pick for something fresh, local and unique is a visit to the Deer Isle and Stonington Farmers Markets from late May/early June until late September/early October. The Deer Isle Market takes place on Wednesdays from 9:30 - 11:30, just around the corner from the Inn at the old elementary school, just past 44 North coffee on the left.
The Stonington market takes place on Fridays from 10-12 at the Island Community Center off of route 15A, about a 10-15 minute drive from Pilgrim's Inn. Head on over early to these markets to pick up lunch and eat it later while you're hiking, relaxing on the lawn at Pilgrim's Inn, or exploring the area. The Inn has plenty of backpacks for you to borrow to take your lunch on the trail.
At the farmer's markets you'll find several lunch options like Mia's sesame noodles and spring rolls, or pick up some seriously delicious smoked pork ribs from the Nostrano traveling BBQ pit.
One of our favorite things to do is to put together a picnic sourced from several different vendors, like bagels from Water's Edge Bagels & Breads, paired with goat cheese from Yellow Birch Farm, throw in some summer tomatoes from Blue Zee Farm, or smoked salmon from Nostrano and you've got yourself the freshest, most local and truly delicious lunch around. End the meal with fresh local fruit or a sweet treat from Bread Box or Apple Blossom Bakery. At the Stonington market you'll also find prepared Indian and Asian foods for something unique and tasty.
If a terrific sandwich, potato salad, a fruit pie and
fresh lemonade sparklers sounds good, then check out "Peas in a Pod" pop up lunch stand. You'll find this group of enterprising high school students at the parking lot at the Congregational Church in Deer Isle Village on Tuesdays from 11 -2 (or whenever food runs out), the Deer Isle Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 9:30 - 11:30, and the parking lot of "Lily's House" on route 15 in Stonington on Thursdays starting at 11:00 am. Peas in a Pod pop up lunch stand is a project of the "Ready for 21" program at the Deer Isle-Stonington High School. The program teaches Island youth valuable entrepreneurial skills and lunch sales benefit the program.
Of course, one can't come to Maine without eating a lobster roll, and our island community is world famous for its lobster. We love the lobster roll at Harbor Ice Cream in Deer Isle village, right across from the Inn. Very well priced, and served the traditional no frills way in a grilled and buttered hot dog bun with just the right amount of mayo, there's nothing better. Harbor Ice Cream serves up plenty of hot and cold sandwiches, and offers Maine made Giffords Ice Cream with uniquely Maine flavors like Moose Tracks and Maine Black Bear. You'll also find lobster rolls and ice cream down at the Stonington Ice Cream company shack next to the library in Stonington.
Got kids? Then you won't find a more kid friendly outdoor eatery than Madelyn's Drive In and
Takeout on route 15 going north about a mile from the Inn. Their well maintained roadside eatery features soft serve ice cream, plenty of sandwiches and lobster, plus tons of kid friendly food and play options. You can enjoy your meal at their numerous picnic tables while your kids climb the jungle gyms or play in the sandbox.
If a sweet treat is all you need.....
While not a lunch spot, you can't miss out on a cold or hot coffee beverage from 44 North Coffee. Megan and Melissa are serving up fair trade coffee from their perch on top of the historic Deer Isle school house around the corner from the Inn on Church St. They also serve up biscotti to pair with your coffee, along with occasional baked goods, and recently had a pop up pastries truck from "Sarahndipity Pies"in their parking lot. Also in Deer Isle on Main St. is Sophie's Cup and Fibula Jewelry, where you can stop in for baked goods and cappuccino while perusing the gorgeous jewelry. The Mountainville Cafe at Nervous Nellie's Jams & Jellies in Sunshine is another fun stop where the whimsical sculptures of Peter Beerits are paired with jams and jellies you can try with a scone.
Tune in next week for the second half of this blog: Off Island lunch spots featuring:
El El Frijoles
Bucks Harbor Market
Perry's Lobster Shack
Labels: deer isle, farmers markets, lobster roll, lunch spots, Maine
posted by Your Innkeepers @ 9:49 AM
"Wednesdays and a half"
Deer Isle Galleries and Studios kicked off its second season of "Wednesday and a Half" events with open studios, artist receptions, demonstrations, new exhibits, and beautiful artwork.
This regular gallery and studio walk takes place
on the second Wednesday of the month in July, August, September and October and highlights the work of twenty two member artists in the Deer Isle village area. The level of creativity within walking distance of our small village is remarkable. When you add in the rest of the island, and the Blue Hill peninsula, the number of artists in our coastal Maine region is astounding.
The Deer Isle Artists Association, across the
street from Pilgrim's Inn is a great place to start your tour. The Association is located in a beautiful building with Northwest Harbor in the background and regularly hosts artist receptions and events on behalf of its member artists. You'll find paintings, fiber art, sculpture, pottery and more.
Stroll down the street to Islands Gallery where Diane Kirk's beautiful water colors and gallery will inspire you as much as the spectacular views of Northwest Harbor. You'll also find unique metal and stone jewelry, as well as gift items like note cards, bookmarks, prints and journals. A few doors down you'll find Fibula Gallery where gorgeous jewelery beckons you to lose yourself in these one of kind gems and designs. Stay a while and have a cappuccino and pastry with owner Laura Givertz, who has a gallery both here and in Santa Barbara, CA.
Next head over to the new Gallery Mozelle, where owner Maureen Farr features the creative, whimsical, and eclectic work of artists from Deer Isle and beyond, including her own jewelry. Large format exhibits are interspersed with functional glassware, photography, and fiber.
Around the corner from Main St to the left are several outstanding galleries and studios within walking distance. Dow Studio, just a short walk down the Dow road features clay, metal and mixed media by artists Ellen Wieske and Carolann Ferr. Continue on Dow Rd for a short distance to the Pearson Legacy Gallery, where rotating themed exhibits showcase the work of island artists and beyond. Back out on Route 15 is the Hutton Gallery featuring metal jewelry from Susan Hutton, as well as works by other area artisans including paintings, photography,
fiber, pottery, glass. One of our favorites is the Turtle Gallery, where owner Elena Kubler showcases fine art and crafts in her classic Maine barn, carefully selected from artists throughout the US. Beautiful jewelry, fiber art, paintings, photographs, clay and more will be sure to result in a purchase. You'll also find outdoor sculptures in her lovely gardens.
If you take a right from Main street in the village you'll find the B.W. Bulger studio with handmade furniture and paintings. And don't forget to visit 44 North Coffee, where owners Megan and Melissa roast delicious organic, fairly traded coffee and serve up hot and cold coffee drinks for coffee connoisseurs. A short distance up the road on the left are the winter offices and gallery for the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, a world famous school for artisans with seasonal classes taught on their coastal campus in the woods out in "Sunshine". The gallery often features the work of its visiting teachers from around the world.
Many more artists are included in the Wednesday and a Half event, but just these few stops in the immediate vicinity of Pilgrim's Inn will leave you inspired and wishing you could live your life surrounded by the ideas and beauty that inspired these artists and artisans. To learn more about this event and the member artists visit Deer Isle Galleries and Studios.
Labels: artists and artisans, crafts, deer isle, gallery tour
posted by Your Innkeepers @ 6:49 PM
Exploring Isle au Haut
I'm ashamed to admit that I've lived on Deer Isle for nine years and up until a week ago, had never been to Isle au Haut. Something always managed to get in the way of taking the 45 minute boat trip from Stonington to the "High Island" and spending the day hiking the trails that are part of Acadia National Park. When guests at Pilgrim's Inn would ask me about taking a trip to the island, my descriptions were a bit sketchy when asked what it was like to bike or hike the terrain.
So when visiting family members proposed a trip to the island, I jumped at the chance. The weather was perfect, and not a breath of wind disturbed the water on our way over. Due to a late start to the season, few people were headed out on the only morning boat that Sunday in June.
Before getting our tickets, we stopped at the Harbor View store next to Fisherman's Friend and ordered up sandwiches and snacks to take on the trip, as we weren't sure what our options would be once we arrived. We rented mountain bikes from Isle au Haut Boat Services on the Stonington side and loaded them onto the top deck of the boat with help from the crew. The ride out offered fabulous views of Stonington from the water and views of the quarry operation on Crotch Island.
Once we arrived at the Town Landing we were met by a park ranger who gave us valuable information about biking and hiking on the island. The best tip she gave was to start with the hardest biking first by taking the road up from the boat to the right.
We started out cycling on pavement for a mile or so, which then turned to an unpaved road of hard packed dirt and light gravel, which was easy going. But as we were warned by the ranger and the boat crew, once we got into the Acadia Park land, this section of "unpaved road" was much rougher. While technically a road, the conditions seemed more "off-road like" from my "middle aged but in decent shape" perspective, with rocks, tree roots, and deep ruts, along with some inclines that started to challenge my 50 year old muscles.
After spending most of the hardest biking in a wooded section, we were greeted by cool ocean
breezes and a beautiful rock beach between the Deep Cove and Duck Harbor trails where we stopped to take in the view. We were excited to hear the cry of an eagle and to spot its nest high up in the trees beyond.
We soon found ourselves cycling past a water pump and toilet facilities in Duck Harbor, which were welcomed amenities at that point in the trip. After exploring the path on foot that leads to the dock where the boat comes into Duck Harbor, we took a right onto the Western Head Road, a "limited access road" according to the map, which was actually pretty similar to the "unpaved roads" we had just been on, but with grass and more puddles (and inclines of course). At the end of the road we ditched our bikes, remembering the amused looks from the boat crew when we had asked if we needed to lock them if left unattended.
At the end of the road we took a short climb to the Cliff Trail and found spectacular scenery and views of the rocky coastline, where we stopped for a much deserved picnic. After lunch we biked back down the Western Head Road and reconnected with the loop around the island. After a few more challenging inclines, we found "unpaved road" that was similar to the earliest part of our trip and easy to negotiate. A "dream" as described by the ranger, after spending the day on the rougher roads inside the park section. We realized at this point why it's so important to do the harder terrain first -- you may not make the boat if you think all the "unpaved roads" were as easy as this!
We later stopped at Boom Beach which was marked by a pink flamingo stamp on the paved road. The beach was filled with smooth large rocks, which make thunderous sounds during storms and high seas. Back on the road, which turns to pavement a few miles before reaching the Town landing, we saw a beautiful view of the harbor with a schooner in the background.
A visit to Black Dinah Chocolatiers was on our must do list, so we cycled the half mile pass the Town landing to their cafe, where we washed down salted caramels with delicious iced coffee drinks. We definitely made the right decision to save this treat for the end of our trip!
Biking the island was a great way to get a sense of the terrain, the landscape and the town, and I would recommend it for your first trip to the island. But if hiking is really your thing, I would suggest staying on the boat and going directly to Duck Harbor. Our trip with stops along the way took 3.5 hours and we covered roughly 17 miles of roads ranging from easy to sometimes difficult terrain.
A few tips before you go:
Isle au Haut Boat Services
Map of Isle au Haut
The Island Store
Black Dinah Chocolatiers
The Lobster Lady
Shore Shop Gifts
- Helmets are available from the boat service if you ask for them, and are recommended.
- The ranger station is about a quarter mile from the town landing and has
a toilet outside.
- If you get off the boat at the town landing in July and August there is a general store where you can get groceries, souvenirs and necessities. A food truck called "the lobster lady" has outstanding lobster rolls and other seafood (but not on Sundays). Shore Shop Gifts is open seven days a week with artwork from island residents and others, and Black Dinah is open Wednesdays through Sunday.
- If you go directly to Duck Harbor, there are
no services other than a water pump (the water has a strong iron taste
to it) and a toilet, so bring food, water, some rain gear, good footwear
and bug spray
Below are links to resources on the island.
Labels: Acadia National Park, Black Dinah Chocolatiers, deer isle, hiking, Isle au Haute, Maine coast
posted by Your Innkeepers @ 10:47 PM