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Monday, March 02, 2015

This is the Spring to Raft the Penobscot River in Maine

The whole eastern half of the US is getting walloped this winter with snow. Come spring, the melt-off will produce some of the best whitewater we’ve had in years. This week, I’m going to delve into my 5 favorite whitewater rafting locales in the East. You’d be wise to book one of these trips in May and June, when water levels will be highest, making these rivers especially fast. First up is the Penobscot River in Maine. The 14-mile stretch of the West Branch of the Penobscot River from Ripogenus Gorge to Baxter State Park is a turbulent waterway that drops over 70 feet per mile through a narrow, granite-walled canyon. Within moments of leaving the put-in, you'll cruise over your first set of rapids, the Exterminator, with Baxter Mountain looming in the background. Next up is Troublemaker and then Cribworks, the most ferocious rapid of them all. Your day will swiftly become an exhilarating blur of running over these steep falls, screaming with your friends and family, as the raft bends, twists, and turns backwards with every succeeding drop. Go with a reputable outfitter like Northern Outdoors, who have been cruising down the Maine rivers since 1976. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/02/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 06, 2015

Raft the Dead River in Maine

It’s a long drive on logging roads to reach the Spencer Rips put-in on the Dead River, but once there, be prepared for a glorious run on the longest stretch of continuous whitewater in New England. The river churns along 16 miles of almost nonstop Class III and IV rapids, enhanced by 8 dam releases from May through October. There are no bridges, roads, or other signs of civilization until the end—just a rip-roaring ride through big water on rapids with names like Minefield, Humpty Dumpty, and Big Poplar Falls. Sign up for one of the 8 thrilling days of rafting with reputable Maine outfitter, Northern Outdoors

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/06/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Art From Maine’s Top Museums On Display at Portland Museum of Art

The rugged and raw beauty of Maine has been a lure to many of America’s foremost landscape artists. Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School, first visited Mount Desert Island in 1844. When he returned home to New York with a bounty of canvases, Cole’s affluent patrons were astounded by the mix of mountains and sea. Man versus the chaotic forces of nature, particularly fishermen struggling against powerful nor’easters, kept Winslow Homer busy on the boulder-strewn shores of Prouts Neck for more than two decades. In the 1920s, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and other early American abstractionists from Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery joined John Marin to work at his summer cottage in Deer Isle. 

This summer, the Portland Museum of Art is taking full advantage of this bevy of work to present Directors’ Cut: Selections from the Maine Art Museum Trail that includes signature pieces from Maine’s most-renowned art museums. On view from May 21 through September 20, the show will bring the best art Maine has to offer together for the first time. All of these museums are part of the Maine Art Museum Trail. To celebrate the exhibition and the route, Summer Feet Cycling, who I biked with on my 50th birthday, will present a weeklong ride along the coast that visits all 8 museums on the Maine Art Trail. This includes stops at Homer’s former art studio in Prouts Neck, a visit to Andrew Wyeth’s Olson House in Port Clyde, and a requisite day on Monhegan Island, where Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, George Bellows, and Rockwell Kent all painted the island’s cliffs, meadows, and quaint fishing communities. The dates are June 21-27 and September 6-12. Cost is $2595 per person, including lodging, bike rental, guides, van support, museum admission, and most meals.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/16/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day One, Hiking to Stratton Brook Hut

I’ve been pining to get to the Maine Huts & Trails for some time now, ever since I first heard about this new nonprofit group and their lofty ambition to build 12 eco-lodges in the glorious western Maine wilderness. It seems my patience has paid off. Seven years after the Poplar Springs Hut was first built in 2008, there are already four huts in the network across a 45-mile span. Spearheaded by the passionate Charlie Woodworth these past 3 years, who made the wise decision to move their office from Portland to Kingfield to be closer to the huts, a consortium of big-name players like L.L. Bean, New Balance, and the Sugarloaf Ski Area are now squarely behind the project. Yet, perhaps the most important group involved, especially for those of us who want to sample the huts in the warm weather is the Carrabassett Valley New England Mountain Biking Association or NEMBA , who are using the latest round of funding to create some of the finest singletrack trails in the East. Runs that surprisingly connect the huts and give you the rare chance to go mountain biking lodge to lodge.

Today, however, my wife Lisa and I would be hiking from the Stratton Brook Trailhead to the newest hut, Stratton Brook just in time for a pig roast and bluegrass band that would help launch the summer season. As soon as we left the car behind (happily for 5 days), you could smell the sweet balsam and follow the butterflies as they flew from goldenrod to goldenrod. We climbed gradually under the tall pines on the Newton’s Revenge Trail and some 90 minutes later arrived at the hut. What a beauty it is, all light wood with an interior that rewards with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the 4,000-plus foot mountains of the Bigelow Range. This is no century old AMC Hut from the White Mountains, where you often share crowded rooms with many other bunkmates. We had a private room, the opportunity to shower, and my personal favorite, a chance to down a Maine microbrew or glass of wine to toast your achievement. 

Lisa and I grabbed a Baxter Stowaway IPA and glass of South African pinotage and strolled up to the Vista, where a lonely bench looked out on a wide swath of uninterrupted wilderness including that stupendous view of the Bigelow Range and its mighty backbone that forms a ridge walk on the Appalachian Trail. A blanket of green formed a carpet on the flanks of the peaks, leading to ribbons of blue, where rivers carved through the valley. Not surprisingly, we would head back here the following morning before breakfast with our first cup of coffee. In the meantime, it was time to listen to the foot-stomping sounds of the mandolin, violin, bass, banjo, and guitar while downing my pulled pork sandwich. Not a bad start to the week. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/20/15 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day Three, Mountain Biking to the Flagstaff Hut

Charlie Woodworth didn’t take the helm of Maine Huts & Trails to sit behind a desk. He knows these trails in western Maine like the back of his hand, as he showed Lisa and me on Day Three while riding the 11 miles over to the Flagstaff Hut. We would soon learn that he also happens to be a helluva biker, taking the roots, rocks, and turns easily and offering pedaling pointers for us along the way. Much of the land we would be traversing today is part of the Penobscot Indian Reservation, including our first leg, the Sticky Trail, a technical singletrack through a forest of hemlocks.

As we rode, Charlie gave me an update on the progress of this non-profit organization. They currently have 1450 members and their dues go straight to trail maintenance. 4 of the eco-lodges have been built and they plan to continue with construction southwest of the first hut we visited, Stratton Brook Hut, towards Rangeley. Their ultimate goal is to have 12 backcountry huts over 180 miles of trails all the way north to Baxter State Park. Judging from Charlie’s passion and perseverance, along with all the enthusiastic MH&T staffers I met along the way, I have no doubt they’ll achieve that goal. 

We said goodbye to Charlie at the Flagstaff Hut, snagged one of Megan Costello’s heavenly chocolate chip cookies, and exchanged mountain bikes for an Old Town canoe. We were surprised to find that we’d be paddling with a frog that was camping out in the canoe. Canoeing along the shores of Flagstaff Lake, the 4th largest lake in Maine, the mighty ridge of the 4,000-foot Bigelow Mountains soon came into view. Adding to the allure was a bald eagle that flew overhead. The waters were even more magical that evening when we watched a perfect orb of a reddish-orange sun set in the notch between Blanchard Mountain and Pickled Chicken Hill. Living the dream. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/22/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: Day Four, Paddling to Grand Falls Hut

Every night after dinner at all four Maine Huts, you’re encouraged to take part in the energy tour. Sustainability is an important part of the Maine Huts credo and on the tour you’ll learn that the huts are completely off the grid. Solar is the primary source of energy, providing electricity and the heating of water. Propane gas is also used as a back-up to heat the water if not enough solar energy is produced. 80 cords of wood are used each winter at the huts to supply heating for all rooms, even the floors. The composting toilets are created by Clivus and use only 3 ounces of water per flush. All of this I learned from Nate at the Grand Falls Hut on our last night of the trip. 

We started the day with an easy walk back to the Flagstaff Hut trailhead, where we met our paddling guide Matt Rolfson. A University of Maine at Farmington student, Matt grew up in these parts and knows this neck of the woods intimately. We drove to the put-in and soon started our 6-mile paddle down the Dead River. The Dead River is best known for its whitewater rafting, but that’s after the Long Falls Dam release. This section of the river is a serene paddle on quietwater, where there were far more loons than other canoers. 

2 ½ hours later, we pulled the canoe out and hiked the remaining 2 miles to the Grand Falls Hut. This stretch of trail leads to one of the highlights of the MH&T’ network, the magnificent Grand Falls, where a wide ribbon of water rushes down the rocks. On the shores below, a fly-fisherman was trying his luck hooking rainbow trout. While overhead, a bald eagle was circling the falls. The scene was so majestic I could have started waving the American flag. We walked down granite steps and were soon at our last of four huts. To commemorate the achievement, I downed a maple frosted carrot cupcake. Tasty!  

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/23/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Maine Huts & Trails Week: The Many Surprises Along the Route

On my multisport adventure this week visiting all four of the Maine Huts, I kept a running commentary in my notebook on the many surprises I found along the way. 

Huts Are Much More Comfortable Than You Imagine—From the cherry wood tables to the floor to ceiling windows to screened-in porches, these are the latest version of the hut-to-hut wilderness experience. Lisa and I had our own private room at each hut, the chance to shower every day, and my personal favorite, an opportunity to toast our accomplishment with an excellent list of Maine microbrews like Allagash White or Baxter Stowaway IPA. 
Huts Are Located Next to Stunning Viewpoints—It’s only a 2-minute walk from Stratton Brook Hut to a glorious vista overlooking the 4,000-foot peaks of the Bigelow Range. At Poplar Stream, you stroll down a hill 10 minutes to reach a waterfall nestled in the deep forest. I won’t soon forget the sunset over Flagstaff Lake, a 5-minute walk from the hut. Finally, everyone should see the mighty Grand Falls once in his or her lifetime, a mere 10-minute walk from the Grand Falls Hut.
Meals are Far Better Than Expected—As the 5th grade teacher from Florida said to me after finishing her dinner at the Grand Falls Hut, “I’d come here just for the food!” Dinners included chicken with a boysenberry sauce, braised beef stew, a pasta primavera made with quinoa, all served with fresh local greens. Desserts were also tasty, like blueberry cobbler or lemon squares. For breakfast, we had strawberry pancakes with real Maine maple syrup, eggs with corned beef hash, freshly made biscuits with local jam, yogurt, and granola. They also supply tuna salad, chicken salad, or homemade hummus to pack sandwiches for lunch. So there’s no need to bring food on the trip.
They Transport Packs to the Next Hut—I have no problem backpacking or throwing my pack into a canoe, but mountain biking with a full pack is not fun. That’s why I loved their daily transport, which shipped my sleeping bag, clothes, and bathroom stuff. 
The Maine Wilderness is Closer Than You Think—Only a 4 ½-hour drive from my house in suburban Boston and I was at my first trailhead outside of Kingfield, Maine. For the next 5 days I rarely saw another person while hiking, mountain biking, or paddling. In its place was a vast wilderness with few signs of civilization. Follow the cue of the bald eagles and loons and get here. 
I’d like to thank Cayce Frigon at Maine Huts & Trails for helping to create a memorable 5-day itinerary, one that I hopefully passed along to readers from this week’s blogs. Enjoy the weekend and, as always, thanks for tuning in. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/24/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Hike Maiden Cliff, Camden, Maine

Maine's midcoast mountains reward hikers with views of the Atlantic, picturesque harbors, and three-masted schooners sailing on open waters—all for an hour or two of effort. The Maiden Cliff Trail strolls through hemlocks until it comes to a junction at the half-mile mark. Turn right onto Ridge Trail, and the ledges open up onto Megunticook Lake. The view only gets better when you turn left at the Scenic Trail and continue to the summit. Follow the white blazes, and you'll find a huge, white cross. This marks the spot where 11-year-old Elenora French plunged to her death on May 7, 1864. She was running to catch her hat. It might be the fastest way down, but not recommended. To get to the trailhead from Camden, take Route 52 West 3 miles from the intersection of Route 1. There will be a small parking area on the right-hand side of the road just before Route 52 borders the lake.


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/01/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Sea Kayak Sheepscot Bay, Georgetown, Maine

North of Freeport, Maine, fingers of land dangle down from coastal Route 1 to create miles of sheltered bays to paddle. One of my favorite spots is Georgetown, where I rented a room at Coveside B&B and had Seaspray Kayaking deliver an oceanworthy kayak to their docks. Careful not to start or end near low tide (or I’ll be digging for clams in the muck), I paddled south past the lobster boats to the Five Islands Lobster Company wharf. On the way, I spotted ospreys sitting atop their oversized nests, seals popping their heads out of the water like periscopes, and the distinctive orange beak of the American Oystercatcher. Then I turned around and headed north on Little Sheepscot River, sheltered from the surf by MacMahan Island. The boulder-strewn shoreline was draped in seaweed and topped with velvety moss, creating a soothing, shady retreat in the late afternoon hours. An image I hope to remember vividly come winter. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/03/15 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, September 07, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Hiking Acadia Mountain

Acadia National Park turns 100 in 2016. So if you need a good excuse to get here, their centennial should do the trick. But why wait? September and October, when the crowds are gone along with the black flies and mosquitoes is an ideal time to experience this breathtaking mix of mountains and sea. I always tell my friends in the Boston area to wake up early and try to leave by 7:30 am so you can arrive just in time for lunch. Grab your National Park vehicle pass at the Thompson Island Visitors Center and continue south on Route 102 bypassing the far better known Bar Harbor for now and heading straight for the quintessential Maine coastal village of Southwest Harbor. Turn left on Clark Point Road and drive to the end to reach one of my favorite lobster-in-the-rough joints in the state, Beal’s Lobster Pier

The food was just as good as I remember yesterday when my buddy Jeff and I entered the joint. My lobster roll was chockful of fresh meat from a lobster that was probably sitting in a trap that morning. Jeff ordered the blackened haddock and the fish was just as moist. Both dishes were accompanied by tasty cole slaw and chips, both made in house. We sat outdoors on picnic tables overlooking the water and enjoyed our meal. 
Energized from our food, it was time to play in arguably my favorite outdoor playground in the northeast. One of the best introductions to the astounding beauty of this park is a short climb up Acadia Mountain. This area of the park is also known as the Quiet Side, since it’s on the island's far less popular western side. The trail weaves slowly through a forest of birches and pines before crossing a fire road and continuing straight up a rocky path. Here, the quick ascent to the peak begins. A series of flat ledges overlook Echo Lake—each plateau offering a slightly better view than the last.  
When we reach the top, the vista becomes a glorious panorama, a wonderful reward for a climb that’s not more than 45 minutes. Fishing boats and yachts were anchored in Southwest Harbor, the Cranberry Islands looked more like green peas in the distance. We followed the blue dashes and continued down the rock stairs to the easternmost point of Acadia's peak for another mind-blowing view. Norumbega Mountain practically plunges into Somes Sound creating the only true fjord on the Eastern seaboard. Resting on a bare summit overlooking this majestic sight, I started to realize why so many people are drawn to Acadia. Everything is on a human scale. Mountains and forest, oceans and fjords are all within grasp on this compact island. Everything seems manageable, even climbing a mountain after a hearty lunch. The intense bond between nature and nature lover grows even stronger when you find yourself sitting on a bare summit on a cloudless September day all by your lonesome.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/07/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Biking Schoodic Peninsula

If they call the western half of Mount Desert Island the Quiet Side, they should call Schoodic Peninsula the Secret Side. Still part of Acadia National Park, Schoodic is a good hour drive from Bar Harbor, so few people outside of Mainers in the know head here. Do yourself a favor and follow their cue. You’ll thank me. On a day when two large cruise ships dropped off over 4,000 people into Bar Harbor, we took a ferry smaller than a tugboat, The Quoddy Bay, and took off to Winter Harbor, the gateway to the Schoodic Peninsula. There’s no longer any need to drive to Schoodic, especially if you want to bike the 10 to 12-mile loop. You can get here on a scenic hour-long boat ride ($39 round-trip, including bicycle), mesmerized by the views of pine-studded islands, the mountainous shoreline, and the granite cliffs. 

Acadia National Park has made it easy for bikers to access the Schoodic Peninsula. The paved road Park Loop is one way with two lanes, so cars can easily pass you. Secondly, this summer they just created 8 miles of carriage path trails, hard-packed gravel routes only available to bikers and hikers. After taking the Park Loop, we would return via the carriage path trails, crossing the entirety of the peninsula past the new national park campground that opened last Wednesday. Most importantly, there’s very little traffic here. This is a very serene part of the national park that few venture to. 
We biked along the rocky shoreline, stopping to walk atop a breakwater and watch the tide rush out to sea. All around you is the Atlantic with another memorable seascape to savor, be it a lone sailboat gliding through the open water, an unchartered island just offshore, or pink granite ledges that form one of the highlights, Schoodic Point. People pull over anywhere along the loop to picnic, swim, or take short walks like the East Trail, which climbs a half-mile to 440-foot high Schoodic Head. 
Near Schoodic Point is another worthwhile stopover, the Schoodic Education and Research Center, housed in a stone and brick building John D. Rockefeller, Jr., created for the US Navy in 1935. Recently renovated, the building is now home to the nonprofit Schoodic Institute, an educational and research group dedicated to conservation and ecology. Head inside to see exhibitions on the local wildlife and the Navy’s history of monitoring encrypted messages inside this building. There are many surprises on Schoodic Peninsula, so don’t hesitate to make the extra effort to get here. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/08/15 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, September 11, 2015

Acadia National Park Week: Enjoyed Our Stay at Bar Harbor’s West Street Hotel

After hiking on Mount Desert Island’s Quiet Side, biking Acadia National Park’s secret Schoodic Peninsula, and hitting the Atlantic via a historic Friendship Sloop and a sea kayak, our last day was spent driving the popular Park Loop. The ideal way to end a trip to Acadia is to bike the historic carriage path trails around Eagle Lake and toast your outdoor accomplishments with an iced tea accompanied by hot-out-of-the-oven popovers at Jordan Pond Gatehouse. The view of the small rounded mountains they call the Bubbles on the other end of Jordan Pond is second to none. 
After each day’s outing we would return to the relatively new West Street Hotel and its inviting nautical décor to shower and then swim on their rooftop pool. Overlooking Bar Island and Sheep Porcupine Island and all the boats docked in between, the view from the rooftop pool and our fourth floor balcony was breathtaking. I had the privilege of writing most of these blogs while taking in that mesmerizing seascape. The front desk will also tell you that you can swim at the Bar Harbor Club across the street. By all means, go! Their Olympic-sized pool, perfect for families or doing laps, is situated right on the edge of the ocean overlooking the expanse of sea and mountains. 
West Street Hotel was within easy walking distance to all the restaurants in town. Some of our favorite dishes included the zesty grilled fish tacos at Side Street Café, the blueberry pancakes at 2 Cats, the sublime lobster roll at Beal’s (in Southwest Harbor), the seafood stew at Paddy’s, the kale salad at A&B Naturals, the heavenly black raspberry ice cream at Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium, and a pint of Bar Harbor Real Ale at the Atlantic Brewery (off Route 3). 
I want to thank Charlene Williams and the folks at Maine Tourism for arranging a memorable week of activity. I’m looking forward to returning next year and participating in the all the festivities surrounding Acadia’s big 100th birthday. Enjoy the weekend. I’ll be back on Wednesday after a much needed break.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/11/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Play Outdoors with the AMC This Winter

It might be getting a bit nippy this time of year in Maine, but that shouldn’t stop you from being immersed in the spectacular mountain beauty of the 100-Mile Wilderness Trail. The Appalachian Mountain Club is fortunate to house three of their backcountry lodges in this section of the state, all classic sporting camps that have been revamped and are rearing up for a busy winter season of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Choose to do a self-guided ski trip between the lodges or sign up for one of their guided excursions, like the lodge-to-lodge cross-country ski jaunt from Little Lyford to Gorman Chairback the weekend of January 22-24. There’s also a guided snowshoe lodge-to-lodge the following weekend and a winter sampler over MLK Weekend. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/01/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, December 03, 2015

Overnight Dogsled Trips with Mahoosuc Guide Service

Still don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve? Consider a 2 or 3-night getaway with Mahoosuc Guide Service to Umbagog Lake and the Mahoosuc Mountain region of Maine. You’ll have the rare chance to get lost in the wilderness without the masses during winter, breathing in the scent of pines in relative quietude, listening only to the pitter-patter of dogs’ legs running through the snow. Better yet, you get to cuddle with a team of soft-furred huskies. Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry, Maine, made its debut 27 years ago and I’ve had the pleasure over the years to go on a dogsledding trip with them in winter and a paddling jaunt in the fall. So I can highly recommend them! Maine Registered Guides Polly Mahoney and her husband Kevin Slater lead overnight trips to Umbagog Lake on the New Hampshire border. Cost for the overnight tours start at $625 per person, including food, camping, winterized tents, and requisite doggies.  


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/03/15 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ogunquit’s Cliff House Receives a Total Makeover

With a 3-mile stretch of beach, a Cliff Walk that introduces you to the rugged Maine coastline, James Beard-award winning chefs, and one of the finest summer theaters in New England, it’s not surprising that I named Ogunquit as my top Beach Town in this Yankee Magazine story. The one missing link, however, is that they never had a top-end resort. At the iconic Cliff House resort, originally opened in 1872, rooms felt old and service was lacking. Thankfully, that’s all about to change. Destination Hotels, the brand behind such properties as Stowe Mountain Lodge, L’Auberge Del Mar, and the Vail Cascade Resort, has taken over the Cliff House and poured millions into renovations. Rooms and pool area have been entirely redone. When it reopens this May, Ogunquit will finally have the world-class resort it deserves. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/19/16 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Boothbay Harbor’s Linekin Bay Under New Ownership

For the first time in its 106-year history, Linekin Bay Resort will have new owners. I first visited the resort in 2012 with my family, penning a story for The Boston Globe after a memorable weekend. Located on one of the many inlets that form the landscape of midcoast Maine, Linekin Bay has one of the finest locales in New England to sail and sea kayak. Spend your day with the family boating, hiking with a naturalist, and swimming. Then dine communal style on Maine specialties like a lobster clambake and blueberry pie in the main lodge. The new owners, both local Mainers, have already begun to rehab the aging buildings, creating 14 new rooms in the new Linwood Lodge. They still aim to retain the rustic charm of this classic retreat, the only all-inclusive sailing resort in the Northeast. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/20/16 at 05:59 AM
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Friday, February 05, 2016

Get Cozy at a Maine Inn this Winter

A number of Maine inns offer a warm winter welcome for those in need of a weekend getaway. Start with The Danforth Inn in Portland’s Arts District. This boutique property offers stylish and comfortable bedrooms, roaring fireplaces and the Southeast Asian cuisine of the Tempo Dulu restaurant. At Among the Lakes Bed and Breakfast in the Belgrade Lakes region, not far from Colby College, a winter’s day is best spent with a good book in the Parlor Library or heading out on the x-c ski and snowshoe trails that lead from the house’s back door. Pampering is the rule at the legendary White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, where the treatments at the Spa and dinner at the restaurant can elevate a stay from a mere getaway to an ultra-sybaritic weekend. Lastly, avoid the summer crowds at Acadia National Park by heading there in winter. If you make the wise choice to stay at The Maples Inn in Bar Harbor, you’ll wake up to stuffed blueberry French toast before hitting the spectacular trails. For more suggestions, check out the list of inns at Visit Maine.
I’ll be back next week with some of my favorite local outfitters around the globe. Have a great weekend and stay active! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/05/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, March 31, 2016

This is the Year to Finally Paddle the Allagash

Mention the Allagash River to a canoeist and his eyes suddenly become moist and dreamy as he inevitably responds, “Yeah, I'd like to go there someday.” The river has somehow attained legendary stature. Perhaps it's the way the blue streak of water slips off the map of America’s northern fringes, remote and isolated, hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis. Or maybe it's the legacy of writer, philosopher, and inveterate traveler Henry David Thoreau, who ventured down the waterway a mere 152 years ago, waxing lyrically about the last great frontier in the East in his book, The Maine Woods. Whatever the reason, the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway continues to lure 10,000-plus paddlers to its shores every summer, turning farfetched dreams into reality.
2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway by the people of Maine. So there’s no better time to experience this serene paddle. Chip Cochrane, third-generation guide, will be making his 150th descent down the river this summer with Allagash Canoe Trips. Or join another legend of the river, Gil Gilpatrick, who will be leading a Mahoosuc Guide Service trip down the river September 6-11. Expect to spot many moose slurping the shallow waters at sunrise and sunset. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/31/16 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, April 04, 2016

The Return of the High-Speed CAT Between Portland and Nova Scotia

Last June, I was fortunate to spend six days in Nova Scotia with my sister, Fawn. We took the Nova Star Ferry from Portland, Maine for the 11-hour crossing. The Nova Star ended its service last October and it was just announced last week that the much faster twin-hulled CAT would return, cutting time in half. The service will begin on June 15 and will depart Portland daily at 2:30 pm, arriving in Yarmouth at 9 pm. The ferry will depart from Yarmouth the next morning at 8 am, arriving back in Portland at 1:30 pm. The CAT will be able to carry some 700 passengers and 280 cars. I’ve been to Nova Scotia 3 times in the past 5 years, traveling from Yarmouth in the south all the way to Cape Breton in the north. It’s one of my favorite places to be in Canada, combining stunning scenery with incredibly fresh seafood and live foot-stomping music. I’m happy to design an itinerary of my favorite lodgings, restaurants, and activities for anyone who wants to take advantage of the current rate of exchange, US$1 to CAN$1.30. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/04/16 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

AMC’s Best Sea Kayaking in New England: 50 Coastal Paddling Adventures from Maine to Connecticut

Registered Maine Guide Michael Daugherty has just come out with a beauty of a book describing his favorite sea kayaking paddles along the New England coast. They include many of my favorites, including the Porcupine Islands near Acadia National Park, Georgetown Island off mid-coast Maine, Castle Neck in Ipswich, Monomoy Island off of Chatham on the Cape, Newport, and Connecticut’s Thimble Islands. Many of these jaunts can be done in a memorable day trip or turned into an overnight, ideal for the novice to more experienced paddler. Daugherty notes the distance of each trip, but far more important discusses the tidal changes and necessary cautions against strong currents and boat traffic. Only an avid paddler with a mind for detail could write such a book and I’ll happily carry it in my dry bag for many joyous days along the coast. 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/21/16 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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