Adventures in Maine: The way life should be

Maine, the way life should be. I’ve been heading north to the land of pine and salty air since I was a baby. My great granddaddy Lawrence purchased 30 acres on Lower Goose Island, 15 miles east of the coast of Freeport Maine in Casco Bay, in 1921. And it’s held a special place in my heart since I can remember and since we’ve moved to Colorado, we’ve realized how even though it’s harder to get to, it’s something we must do every year, as my soul craves it!

This year, we headed to the Island later then years past, Labor Day, so it would just be Mike and I for half of the time, with my Aunt & Uncle joining for the Labor Day weekend. Our journey began at 4:45am the Tuesday before Labor Day, where our Uber scooted us to DIA, where we took an easy flight brought us to Boston. We rented a car, seeing Matt Murray of The Penguins in line (Mike shouted Go Flyers, so kept it classy!) and we jetted off to the Maine Beer co, one of the most delicious places on earth. The drive took a bit over two hours, not bad at all! We had only munched on nuts & plane snacks, so ordered a delicious mushroom pizza to go with our IPAs. They didn’t have any Dinner, so we ordered a Water & Wood and Mo. And oh my lord they were good! After two beers (and lots of carry out bombers!) we headed out to grocery shop for the week. You really have to meal plan when you’re heading to an island, even when you do have a beautiful boat to zip around on, it’s just not as convenient to shoot out of you forgot something. On the list: lots of veggies, black bean burgers, boat beers. Yup, that pretty much covered it!

When my poppa passed away, his kids bought a boat in his honor, keeping it docked in South Freeport Brewers’ Marina. We’ve kept a boat here for the past 30 plus years, and the convenience of carting your things right down the gang plank is equivalent to a ski in ski out condo. Nothing beats it! With the boat being new, I had to ask the dock boy which slip was ours, even though it raised his eyebrows a bit. “Hey, excuse me, I think this is our boat, so if we find the keys, we’re just gonna take it. Cool?”

Thank goodness it was the right boat and the name was a ringer: Goosecraft. That sea air, after a year away, almost made me tear up as it rushed toward me. Flaps open, boat beers in hand, we had arrived. Lower Goose is about 15 miles north east of Brewers and in the new boat, takes about 20 minutes from slip to dock. Arriving at high tide makes the carting of groceries and luggage a breeze, so a few quick trips and we were officially maniacs.

There are three sleeping cabins on the island (technically four if you count the main cabin that does have a futon and single bed in the corner): Sunrise, Sunset and the Merriman. Mike and I had never slept in the Sunrise together, although Mike had slept there about twenty two years ago when he first came up with my family for he first time. Wild!! A new bathing porch had been put on. Few years ago when a tree had fallen on it and it was the best shower I’d ever had! We picked the Sunrise to set up shop in.

We unpacked and headed down to our dock to moor the boat, just in case the seas got rough, the new boat wouldn’t slam against the dock all night. I rowed out to the mooring in the dingy and Mike scooted out in the boat. It was going to be an amazing sunset, so we moored the dingy and took the boat for a quick sunset lap. And it did not disappoint! I was so looking forward to the days that stretched ahead, full of the beauty and calmness that Lower Goose Island brings.

Sunset on Casco Bay

Day 2 on Lower Goose Island

Our first morning in Maine and Mike was up with the sun. I myself slept in until 7:30, which was so delightful seeing as I’m normally up by 6. Having set up the percolator the night before, coffee brewed within 10 minutes and can I say there’s not a better cup of coffee I’ve found in the world then one brewed on Lower Goose Island. The views from the main porch are spectacular and there’s no better way to start the day. Some fresh Maine blueberries, a broiled bagel in the new stove and we were ready to go! 

Our plan that day was to kayak to Bustins Island, one of the busiest and most populated island in Casco Bay. Having read most of my Great Granddaddy Lawrence’s diaries, I learned he had rowed to Bustin’s every morning during the summers he lived on the island to pick up milks, eggs and his mail. The bay was beautiful and the current remedy to assist our paddling, although Mike kept telling me to keep my oats down lower as the wind would blow the drip back on him. It was just shy of 2 miles and took about 45 minutes from our dock to Bustins main dock, not too bad! 

We tied the kayak around the back of the main dock, so as not to block any other boats from docking. Due to the amount of houses on Bustins, the ferry would come once a day from the main land to carry over people and the mail. Last year, we did t make it over to Bustins,  even with the close proximity to Lower Goose Island. It was nice to explore the bay.

Off to the right of the gang plank was a small outbuilding that served as protection from bad weather for those waiting for the ferry. It’s funny I had never noticed it in years past, but Maine weather can be finicky, especially on the water, so makes sense to build some protection. Around the bend was the main building on the island, which used to house a store, restaurant and post office. The post office is still up and running and our family still has a post office box. Flyers about island bike rentals, monarch butterfly preservation clubs and local painters on the mainland. A true community lived here!

We headed out counter clockwise, around the island, getting great views of the cottages on the island, which were as old as 1896! A new build full of wood got us curious, so we peaked through the windows and ended up talking to the builder. He was constructing it for someone and had worked on several others on the island. Mike let him know we’d be heading up to live on Lower Goose the summer of 1921, so if he, MAC, needed any help he’d love to work with him. He gave us a card, Cody Cottages, so we could be in touch.

The trail around Bustins passed the coolest cabins with the best views. Many had veggie gardens, which planted a seed that we’ll need a large garden for when we live on the island! It was a beautiful day, so lots of the Bustin-ers were out and about – it was the most people I had ever seen on the island ever! Our island walk took us past a new house on the island, so we peaked through the windows  and heard someone calling out. Turns out the man was the owner of a custom cottage building company. The home was gorgeous, wood every where you looked, and he had apparently done multiple cabins on Bustin’s as well as around Casco Bay…Mike got his card!

We completed the mile plus walk and got back in our kayaks to jet over to our Lower Goose. The rest of the afternoon was spent in true Maine fashion…relaxing by the dock, cooking by lantern light, and eating on the porch. A beautiful first day!  

Day 3 on Lower Goose Island
There’s something about sleeping in a cabin in Maine, in the crisp quiet air, that makes you want to never leave. Our second morning in Maine, Thursday, was just as beautiful as the first, and we both slept well and were fully rested to explore Casco Bay.

Our plan was to head to Eagle Island that morning to check out Admiral Peary’s summer home. Peary was the first to Treck to the North Pole without any aide of mechanics or technology, just a ship he had made for the icy waters and the help of the Inuits and a dog sled. His gorgeous cottage had beautiful views to the north east, water on all sides, no obstruction out any of the Windows. A really spectacular piece of property. I had been out to the island many times over the years, and not much changes. You could almost see Peary’s family sitting around the huge dinning table with the taxidermy lobster hanging in the dinning room. The original portion of the house didn’t include a kitchen and we learned that when he first built the main house and cottage, he planned to have all meals cooked and eaten in the cottage, which he learned after a few years wasn’t very practical, so built a kitchen onto the main house.
In the great room, there was a giant triad of a fireplace, with three hearths and three different types of rocks, all gathered on the island. Peary was a taxidermist, so there were all types of water birds and birds of prey, a polar bear in the replica study. The narwhal tooth hung above the window adjacent to the piano that he apparently took with him on his expedition. Upstairs rooms were cozy and quaint, almost identical to how I remember them when I was a young girl.
After getting our fill inside, we headed around the nature trails outside that weaved through beautiful gardens Mrs. Peary had planted. One trail took you along the sea coast, dipping down onto a rocky beach. It was a gorgeous Maine afternoon and we were so glad we made the trip over.

Our afternoon was wide open, so once we got dropped off by the intern park ranger, who had actually spent the previous summer in Rocky Mountain national park, we headed out towards Halfway Rock, where a lighthouse and small carriage house were the only two buildings. It was the furthest I’ve ever gone out into the wide open ocean, due to our previous boats’ capacity. Well, this boat could handle the trip and we whizzed by, rolling waves and blue skies. Nothing beats sea wind in your face!

Pauls Marina was next on the docket, for lunch and lobster. The rain was expected later that afternoon, so we thought picking out and purchasing our dinner early was the move.

My cousin Michael texted on the way back about popping over after work, so we told him to grab a lobster and head on over! The icy waters were calling our names and we put bathing suits and and swam in the icy waters in front of camp lawrence, a tradition you have to do! Thank goodness it was a warm day, the sea felt awesome and made our porch shower that much more delicious!

As we were finishing showers, we saw Michael zip up in his boat, just in time for happy hour on the porch. The evening was awesome, full of catching up, hypnotizing lobster and a beautiful sunset to close out the day. We went to bed with sunsets on our eyelids and lobsters in our bellies.

Day 4 on Lower Goose Island
Friday morning on the island and we were excited to have newcomers! Aunt Robin & Uncle Scott were headed up to close camp, so we had set an alarm to get up early and head to LLBean in the morning. After porch coffee, some trash collection to take over to the mainland, we took an early morning boat ride to dock and head to Freeport. Robin & Scott would scoop us up in the boat later, as they’d be at the marina before 10. Puttering around the huge LLBean store, we found great sales on summer stuff, boat shoes, flip flops for Mike. I even got some Christmas presents while there.

Maine Beer Company was releasing their Dinner, a delicious double IPA, so after almost 2 hours, we headed out, not without popping into the bike shop, where argot the lowdown of local mountain biking trails, along with maps of the hut system at sugar loaf, where you can bike from hut to hut. Put it on the bucket list for sure!
It was definitely beer thirty, so we headed to Maine Beer co for some delicious wood burning pizza and scrumptious beer. The place was our Mecca! We wrapped up and headed to the marina, where Robin & Scott scooted us over to LGI.

That afternoon we started closing up the Merriman, sweeping out the cabin and taking down gutters, putting on shutters and covering mattresses. We then took a property path, did some more closing in the main cabin, taking down pictures, putting away pots and pans we weren’t going to use and generally packing up a bit. It was the first time I had closed camp so it was good to see the procedures around what gets done. That evening, we had wine and a homemade vegan lasagna Robin had made, with a gorgeous sunset to wash it down.

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