The state of Maine is immeasurably special to us. It’s where we met, and home to both of our parents. Maine’s rugged coastline, lush forests, rolling hills and pristine lakes are any travel blogger’s dream, and we’re lucky enough to have our home base here. No matter how far we travel, we get to return to our tiny nest in this expansive state. #Blessed doesn’t even begin to sum it up.
As 4th of July weekend rolled around, the road was calling us, specifically to a corner of Maine we hadn’t been before. You’d think that a combined 40 years of life in Maine would mean we’d had a chance to explore every mile, but you would be very wrong. Maine is gigantic. There are still countless parts of the state that we have yet to experience, and some we’ll likely never see. Those destinations would have to wait, because this trip was calling us East, to the little town of Lubec, the Easternmost point in the United States. We loaded up the car, stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for our iced coffee, bought plenty of our must-have travel snacks, and hit the road.
The journey began with a drive through the Midcoast, a scenic stretch of Maine that feels like being in a postcard. We stuck to the coastline, and as the temperature hit a comfortable 75, we rolled down all the windows, welcoming the familiar feeling of freedom that can only be found on the open road. Our first stop along the way was the quaint and hilly town of Belfast, where we headed to Marshall Wharf Brewery for a glass of beer for Paul, who was still in the inspiration-gathering phase for The Brew Cult blog. With thirst quenched and a few photos taken, we loaded back into the car and crossed the Passagassawakeag river, leaving the Midcoast region and continuing Eastbound.
Another hour of driving through densely forested Route 3 brought us higher in altitude, and within view of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, a sky-high modern bridge that crosses the Penobscot river, connecting the mainland to Verona Island. We had both crossed here a handful of times, but as we pulled off at the turnout to admire the scenery around us, we realized we would have a much better view from the observatory tower at the top of the bridge! We decided to take advantage of the opportunity and pay the $6 admission fee for an elevator ride up to a tiny glass room, just 446 feet above the comfort of the ground.
Neither of us are afraid of heights, but stepping out of the elevator at the top and suddenly being able to see miles of rivers, forests, and mountains in every direction felt a little dreamlike and dizzying. Once we adjusted and explored the horizon guide that stretched around the border of the room, it sunk in just how high up we were, and how far into the distance we could see. It was stunningly beautiful and totally worth 6 bucks.
There’s something we both find unapologetically appealing about “tourist traps”, especially when they live up their name by being so obscure that they pull you right off the road and into their parking lot. That was definitely the case at Wild Blueberry Land. The bright blue geodesic dome was visible from nearly a mile down the road, and the giant blue orb reading “PIES” suspended on a pole could be seen from even further. In the sparse and rural area of Colombia Falls, this blue oasis stuck out, to say the least. Boasting attractions like a mini golf course, decomposing mannequins, and countless blue metal balls dotting an otherwise empty field, Wild Blueberry land looked as if it may have had its heyday in the 1980’s, despite being built in 2001. We explored the compound, taking plenty of photos, and scouring the gift shop for something vegan. Sadly, their blueberry soda was sold out, and just about everything else had dairy, eggs, or honey. Thankfully, we were able to find a jar of vegan blueberry jam which was our one and only souvenir from this funky roadside attraction. Remarkably, it remained unopened for the entirety of the trip.
As our surroundings became increasingly remote, we switched our focus to looking for wildlife in lieu of places to stop. At about 3, when the sun was beginning its descent, we saw a young doe in a field with a lake in the far background. It was a quintessential Maine scene, and would have made a lovely photo if we weren’t so hell-bent on reaching our destination in time to enjoy the final few hours of daylight.
At around 5:30 we found ourselves on the waterfront main street of Lubec, looking just across the channel at Campobello Island, Canada. We pulled into the parking lot and opened our doors to find the temperature nearly 30 degrees cooler than when we began our journey. Thankfully, we had somewhere warm to go.
We checked into our home for the night, a tall grey saltbox style inn with patriotic detail called the Betsy Ross House B&B. We chose this place based on its stellar Trip Advisor reviews, and we weren’t disappointed. The sweet owner greeted us, offered us a free drink, and handed us our keys; not a swipe cards, but good old fashioned metal keys! Our rustic, pine-paneled room featured plenty of quilts, a shaky internet connection from the neighboring library, and a daybed for lounging if we got bored with our plush queen. After a long day of driving, it was a dream come true.
After we dropped off our stuff and threw on a few more layers, we headed straight to the Lubec Brewing Company for dinner. We had already read up on the place, but were surprised to find it absolutely packed with locals attending an open mic night. The menu featured a handful of vegan options, several house beers, and even kombucha. We split a bowl of soup with bread, then each had Buddha Bowls featuring falafel, slaws, salads, and pickled veggies. Neither of us left even a crumb on our plates. With full bellies and a taste of the local nightlife, we were re-energized and ready to explore the rest of the thriving metropolis (population 1,359).
We took a walk around town, venturing out on the breakwater to the original US/Canada treaty border, snapping candid photos and marveling at the strong current of the salt water channel. As the sun began to set, we headed up a hill along the bay, stopping frequently to admire the stunningly beautiful glow on the horizon as it lit the harbor with pink and gold. We walked around the circumference of Lubec’s residential area, passing a historic cemetery, a street called “Horror Hill”, a gazebo decorated for 4th of July, and a porcupine who was almost too fat to escape our adoring gazes.
With only Canadian channels and static on the tv in our room, we fell asleep quickly and slept soundly until our 5am alarm woke us. After some drowsy debate over whether we should stick to our plan and watch the sunrise at West Quoddy Head Light, or just stay in our warm bed, we made our choice. We both knew that watching the sunrise at an idyllic lighthouse before anyone else in the country was just too perfect an opportunity to miss. We piled into the car, cranked the heat, and made the quick drive to the lighthouse, arriving just as the sun crested the horizon. The dewy grass around the lighthouse was freezing, and the breeze off the ocean chilled us to the bone within minutes. We saw what we had come to see, but we needed to find some coffee.
On our way back to downtown Lubec, we passed a cove at low tide, where two extremely large birds sat on rocks. Upon further investigation we identified them as female bald eagles, likely waiting for a breakfast of green crabs. In solidarity, we made a beeline to the local market and picked up our own unconventional breakfast of hummus, chips, soymilk for coffee, and some bananas.
After a few more hours of sleep, we bid adieu to our cozy lodging, turned in our keys, and stopped just twice on our way out of the area; once to sign our names amongst the thousands of others on the Welcome to Lubec sign, and again at a yardsale to find a cooler. We ended up bartering for a bucket with a jack-o-lantern face, which we named “Pumpy”. Yes, we named our drink cooler. We’ve done weirder things.
In lieu of heading straight back to the Midcoast, we took a detour toward “the county” of Aroostook. The area is known for being Maine’s potato farming capital, and very little else. With the sun shining, we drove though seemingly endless expanses of green crops, flat land, distant hills, and even a 40-mile long scale model of the solar system. Finally, we arrived at the town of Presque Isle. We got a room at a Hampton Inn with a Walmart view, and asked what there was to do in the area, an inquiry for which we received the expected response of “um, not much”. We found a Chinese restaurant on Yelp, and despite a snafu with an owner who had trouble grasping the concept that “vegetarian” lo mein should not contain ANY meat whatsoever, we ended up having a decent meal of some sort of sweet and sour tofu.
The next morning we hit the road early to make sure we’d get back in time for 4th of July festivities with the rest of the family. Still, we opted for the most scenic route, and managed to add 3 moose to our wildlife sighting list. Just a few hours from home, we decided to stop in the town of Bangor for a visit to the house of author Stephen King; a Victorian mansion featuring a cast iron fence adorned with bats and spider webs.
There was no traffic on the highway, so we made it home before dark; just in time for a family picnic, bowls of So Delicious ice cream and lighting sparklers under the stars. Later on, we fell asleep to the sound of distant fireworks. It was the perfect 4th of July and a fairytale ending to our whirlwind adventure.
In just 3 days of traveling, we had covered more than 600 miles and experienced so much; reminding us just how big and beautiful the state of Maine is. When we’re in between the trips that take us further away for longer, we can (and will) always find somewhere new and fun to explore in our home state.