Jeff and I took a long weekend trip to the Great North Woods of Maine at the end of September. We were determined to cross Katahdin Mountain in Baxter State Park off our “Places to See” bucket list.
Thursday, Sept 25
Lunch at Goody’s Pizzeria in Gray, ME. We were made welcome as the owner chit-chatted with the locals. We both had subs which were made with some excellent, tasty sub rolls.
Almost to Greenville, ME, we happened upon the flying moose. What more can I say.
The sculpture was based on a Native American legend.
Kineo View Motor Lodge, outside of Greenville is on a hillside down a long driveway. This no-frills motel is a bit old with modest furnishings, but it is exceptionally clean. The owner and his family are friendly and helpful. They also have a small gift shop located at the office. The expansive view of the lake and mountain ranges from the wall to wall windows is the same from every room on the second floor.
If you prefer sitting on your own balcony enjoying a great view at a reasonable price, rather than being on the main routes downtown, this is a good place to be. The continental breakfast had the bare essentials, bagels, cereal, coffee and juice.
Stress Free Moose Pub and Café in Greenville for dinner. This is a bar with the café as a second thought. There are more beers on tap than menu choices, and we probably made a mistake of not ordering what appeared to be the specialty, flame-grilled burgers. I had the antipasto appetizer and Jeff had Caesar salad. Although presentation was nice, I would have liked more wow for the price. For drinks, we experimented. Jeff had a microbrew, Lobstah Killah, and I had an Irish Cider.
Friday, Sept 26
On to Katahdin, and although I am not physically fit enough to attempt a climb, many people along the way were enjoying all the trails in the area.
Lunch was at Northern Restaurant, a small watering hole on the narrow, dirt Golden Road, which happened to be a check in station for moose hunters. I watched a bull moose being weighed and listened to the hunting stories while Jeff got a photo of Katahdin from the nearby Abol River Bridge. The menu explained the reason for the higher prices was because they were off the grid and ran the restaurant/convenience store off a generator.
We had soup and sandwiches, and shared poutine made with hand cut fries. If you have never heard of poutine, it’s a Quebec dish made with French fries smothered in beef gravy and cheese curds. Artery clogging, but don’t knock it until you try it.
Hunters, logging truck drivers, and hikers drifted in and out as the young waitress seemed to be a bit overwhelmed with the added business the beautiful weather had brought in, but it all added to the backwoods charm of this oasis in the woods.
Later, I waded in Tougue Pond at the foot of Katahdin behind the ranger station at the southern entrance to Baxter. The water was so cool and clear, I never wanted to leave, but time was limited because we didn’t want to drive too late into the night, so we headed back to Greenville, this time on the paved road.
Flatlanders, “where the locals eat.” If you go by the license plates on the cars parked outside, many of the patrons were actual “flatlanders” from Massachusetts, like us. Seating is limited, so get there early for dinner rather than later. Fried food on the menu, and the specialty is ‘broasted’ chicken which Jeff had, and declared it very good. Desert was ice cream down the street at the The Dairy Bar.
Back at the lodge, we watched the stars over Moosehead Lake. We were a little disappointed that we had not seen a live moose that day, but if we had a mind to, we could have hired a guide. There are local certified Maine guides on every street corner and they know where the moose hide. But our focus was on fall foliage for Jeff’s blog, New England Fall Foliage, and he spent the rest of the evening answering questions that had been posted that day.
Saturday, Sept 28
We did a little shopping at Northwoods Outfitters Outdoor Store, and set out for Rangeley, ME. On our way out, the low tire pressure warning came on and then went off. Jeff checked the tires and they looked fine, until we stopped at a rest area. When I got back to the car after using the facilities, the tire on my side was flat.
After getting help from some nice fellow travelers in getting our spare ‘donut’ on, we spent the afternoon looking for somewhere to get the tire fixed. Forty miles out of our way, in Skowhegan, we found out the hole was too big to plug, and no tire of the same kind was to be found. Instead of purchasing four new tires, we kept on the spare, pulling over for faster traffic along the way.
We could have given up and headed home from there, but with reservations made for our last night in Rangeley, we kept going. This is the pro and con of reservations. You are assured a place to sleep, but you can’t change your plans, or if you do, you are out cancellation fees.
However, if we had gone home, we would have missed out on one of the most beautiful historic places in the area. The Rangeley Inn and Tavern is chock full of charm.
Our room, in the historic Ellis wing, was decorated with a collection of period furniture.
We peeked into the adjoining tavern, but after a day cooped in the car, we wanted to stretch our legs. Down Main Street, we found Parkside and Main. Even though the deck with its lake views was full, I was happy with a table by the window.
I have had baked haddock all over New England and this was one of the very best I have ever had. The fish was fresh and creamy, and the light covering of crab stuffing was complimentary, not overpowering. And I don’t usually care for Brussel sprouts, but the maple glazed variety won me over. Jeff had fried scallops which were also exceptional. This chef here knows what he is doing.
Sunday, Sept 29
After a restful night, we had the continental breakfast in the elegant dining room. It seemed like gentlemen in top hats and ladies in long gowns would stroll in at any time, but the room filled with other travelers like us, couples and families discussing where they were going and where they had been.
On the way home, we stopped for gas at LL Cote in Errol, NH, a sprawling convenience/gift/outdoor supplies store in Errol, NH, and for lunch at Northland Restaurant and Dairy Bar, an unassuming building just north of Berlin, NH village. Pleasantly surprised to walk in and find a comfortable, clean, bright and airy interior overlooking the river. Prices are very reasonable. We had a great lunch of bison burgers. I would recommend this place for hungry travelers.
We finally made it home on our ‘donut’ tire and got everything straightened out with that.
If you want more details on our route, check out Jeff’s article on his fall foliage blog.