Last summer, S and I took a last-minute honeymoon. I say “last-minute” because the plan had been to go in the fall, after we’d recuperated from the crush—and the expense—of wedding planning. A decadent three night mini-moon right after the wedding, at the Emerson Inn in Mt. Tremper, New York, would bridge the gap. But as it turns out, in June I was hired for a months-long freelance gig to start in late July, and since we didn’t know what work we’d have by the time it was over (such is the freelancer’s life: if work comes your way, you take it), we decided to just go. No plans, no itinerary, no real sense of where we were headed. We had three weeks, a luxurious length of time, and between Roadfood and Road Trip USA we knew we’d find more than enough to keep us busy.
We spent the first few days poking our way up towards Maine, staying off any road depicted in our atlas with a blue highway shield. The sun was shining, the motels were clean and friendly, and the food was gooood. S had his first-ever lobster roll at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, and his second, earth-shattering one at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. The look on his face when he tasted a rich and creamy lobster pie at the Maine Diner in Wells… I don’t eat shell fish—a bow to my kosher upbringing—so I stuck to fish & chips, or baked fish if it was on the menu, and I was just as happy as my new husband. But in Portland, we got a little stuck. The weather turned on us, cold and rainy, and our budget was already hurting a little: the Maine coast in the summer, even early in the season, is not a bargain-hunter’s paradise. With one sustained rain storm, our blissful, aimless road trip threatened to stall. After exhausting our cultural and foodie options, we ducked into a Friendly’s with a local paper, hoping to find a movie. As is my habit, I turned to the real estate pages, both to gasp at the disparity between our New York lives and the rest of the world’s, and to distract myself from the listless grilled-chicken sandwich before me. That’s when I spotted it: a small ad for a summer cottage in Port Clyde.
Excited, we pulled out the atlas. Where the hell was Port Clyde? Ahh, there it was, at the very tip of the St. George Peninsula, several inches northeast on the map. Before we’d even thought it through, I was dialing the number. Yes, it was available right away. Yes, it was suitable for two. Yes, it had a small, equipped kitchen. I scribbled down directions, and we headed out to the car. The best part: a quick cross-reference with Roadfood confirmed that the trip would take us right past Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, a place I’d heard about even before consulting the book. (The food there turned out to be disappointing in general—one of the few times we disagreed with the Sterns—but the three-berry pie, still warm from the oven…mmmmmm.)
S and I spent the week in our little cottage—really just one room with a sleeping loft we never used, preferring to unfold the ground floor’s convertible futon rather than risk falling down the ladder. (Can you tell we’re not particularly rustic types?) Port Clyde itself was tiny, tranquil, and unbearably beautiful—and home to the ferry to Monhegan Island, a glorious day trip. We ate our way through the area, saving money by having breakfast on our little porch, gazing out at the harbor, and cooking dinner once or twice. The week featured daily ice cream from the dairy bar across from the multiplex in Thomaston—my motto: It’s not a vacation if there’s no ice cream—and three separate trips to Wasses Hot Dogs in nearby Rockland. Fresh molasses donuts at the little ice cream shop in Port Clyde. A perfect grilled fish salad at the casual restaurant right on the pier, brazen seagulls landing on our table as we ate. Travel Scrabble accompanied us everywhere.
At the end of our week we were ready to move on, but sad to leave. We tucked away the owner’s phone number, hoping that we’d be able to return. Yesterday, S booked a week for us this summer. It’s cold and rainy as I type this, much like it was that day in Portland, and much like that day, my spirits are lifted just thinking about our little cottage in Maine.