Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tell the tale – part 1: What’s the point?

What’s it all about? Why am I doing this? What is the end goal? Is there an end?

I’m not questioning my existence. My existence is firmly established. I’m old enough to have gone past the questions of youth that prompt starry eyed angst.

What I’m questioning is the existence of this blog. Clearly I haven’t been giving it the attention it needs. Given the last post having been written in June, it’s not getting the love it deserves. I know I have some useful information here. I can see that people DO read it.

To find these answers, I’ve had to go back to why I started it in the first place. It was back in 2010. I had a gallery site for my photography but no blogs. I had just returned from a vacation and was sitting at my desk at my office job thinking about how I’d like to travel more. But how?

  • What can I do to earn more money so that we could experience more of the world?
  • What are the skills I have that could contribute to this?
    • Photography
    • Writing
    • Creative design
    • Marketing
    • Small business management
    • Bookkeeping experience
    • Desire to travel
  • What do I WANT to do? What gets me fired up? What do I have enough passion about that I’d be willing to give up some of my spare time to get it going?
    • Photography
    • Writing
  • How could each of those talents translate to the end goal of more travel?
    • Travel photography
    • Travel writing
  • How do you get started?
    • DO IT
I researched and found that one of the best ways to get started in either travel photography or travel writing, or both, was to start in your own backyard. I live in Maine. I’ve got a backyard that’s desirable to a lot of people. Maine has a thriving tourism industry, an industry that would support the need for Maine travel writing and photography.


All of that is great as far as determining something I could work towards. But, what does that mean on a day to day basis? At that point, it meant:

  • Building a portfolio of work that was marketable – How?
    • see what’s already out there that’s being created for this
    • take more travel related photos – find a way to showcase them
    • write more about travel – develop a voice – develop a following –
    • DO IT
In the coming weeks, I will further explore these concepts and plot a course for success.
I'd love to hear your advice as you've managed the evolution of your blogs.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Backyard Tourist: Things to this summer in Maine

For the past few years, I’ve been a backyard tourist. We usually take a vacation at some point in the summer and go somewhere outside of Maine, but that leaves quite a few weekends to fill with summertime activities and here in Maine, there are plenty.

In fact, I bet I could come up with some thing to do in Maine this summer that would fill every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s 98 days.

Many publications put out their “things to do in Maine this summer” lists. I know that mine will have some of the same ideas. In fact, I’ve compiled suggestions from many of them as inspiration for this post. They all try to be a good assortment, pleasing all. This is not one of those lists. I’m not out to find something for everyone. I’m out to find things for people like me.

I just celebrated my birthday and that always brings a bit of retrospection into my life and into my to do lists. So, because of my mood and because I am unique but not so unique that no one out there will share my interests, I will put forth a list of things to do this summer in Maine that interest me. It’s not a list of suggestions that everyone will like. It’s a list of things to do that I’ve done and want to do again and a list of things I have never done but want to try. This list is for all the other 48 year old women with a teenage daughter, a husband, a couple of cats and a busy life who enjoy the sun, great views, a well planned picnic, a good book, lots of time behind the camera, funny names, humorous juxtapositions, roller coasters, deep fried things, clever gadgets and a comfy pair of flip flops.

Here we go . . .


  1. Wild blueberry festival & Union Fair – Union – Agricultural fair and celebration of the state’s favorite berry.
  2. Old Port Festival – June 9th Been there. Had a blast. It’s been a few years and time to go back.
  3. Whoopie Pie Festival – June 22nd – Haven’t been there but am dying to go. I love whoopie pies and this festival grows every year. Held in Dover Foxcroft, this year’s festival will encompass more of the downtown and have more to offer. Again, for me – a previous engagement will keep me away from the festival. Have a whoopie pie for me if you go.
  4. Windjammer Days – June 25th – I haven’t been to this annual event yet. Now in it’s 51st year, the festival takes place in Boothbay Harbor and includes lots of nautical history, fireworks, concerts and food.
  5. La Kermesse Franco American Festival – June 20th – 23rd – held in Biddeford, this is a fond favorite of mine. Experience Franco American history, food, music, and just plain enjoy some summertime festival fun.
  6. South Berwick Strawberry Festival – June 29th I’ve been to this one quite a few years ago and really enjoyed the whole thing, the atmosphere, the strawberry shortcake, the arts, the strawberry shortcake . . .
  7. Moxie Festival – July 12th – In Lisbon Falls, this festival has been on my list for years. Moxie’s iconic presence in the state makes it one of the most unique events around. Fireworks, music, carnival, and a Chug-n-Challenge are included in this free event.
  8. Yarmouth Clam Festival – July 19th – it’s been a while since I’ve been to this one. The arts and crafts and the food, of course, were spectacular.
  9. Maine Lobster Festival – July 31st – Aug 4th – hard to believe I’ve never been to this one. It’s always seemed like so much fun, but something else always conflicts and this year it’s a family vacation. The Lobster Festival is held in Rockland and has lobster related events for the whole five days.
  10. York Days Festival – July 28th  Christmas in July will illuminate the Nubble Light house.
  11. Bangor Sidewalk Arts Festival – downtown Bangor – painters, sculptures, photographers, glass artists, jewelry makers, display and sell their work.
  12. Kahbang Music and Arts Festival – Aug 8th – 11th – held in Bangor, this festival gets better every year. Music, Art, Film, Go.
  13. Great Falls Balloon Festival – Aug 16th – 18th -This one I’ve been to and really enjoyed. Not only are the hot air balloons spectacular, the setting in the Lewiston-Auburn area by the river is beautiful.  Another cool thing about this event is that the concession vendors are all local and fundraising for something. There are crafters and demonstrations and of course, you can watch the balloons light up the evening sky and take off. Rides are available too!
  14. Cumberland Arts & Crafts Festival  - Cumberland – a favorite of artists throughout the state.
  15. Machias Wild Blueberry Festival – Aug 16th – 18th (see what I mean about conflicting events – so much going on here) This downeast celebration of the state’s star berry has grown to include pie eating contests, cooking contests, the Blackfly Ball, parades and
  16. American Folk Festival – Aug 23rd – 25th – in Bangor. This is one I have attended for quite a few years, in rain and in extreme heat. The Folk Festival draws thousands to the Bangor waterfront to listen and dance to music from all over the world, Cajun, Calypso, Irish, Fiddle, you really get a world tour of music at this event. It’s not only the music here. The craft tent, food vendors, and storytelling sessions make this one of my favorite festivals of the year.
  17. Open Farm Day – all over the state – July 21 - Farms around the state open their barns, lay out samples of their products and welcome guests.
  18. Bangor State Fair – Bangor – this 10 day fair is the largest state fair in Maine. Rides, shows, animals, food, the midway, a photo contest.
  19. International Seaplane Fly in -     Greenville – this event has grown substantially and now includes an average of     planes, street festival fun, food, and an amazing view of Moosehead Lake.  
  20. Bangor Beer Festival – June 22nd - – Bangor waterfront – 16 breweries join forces with the Greater Bangor Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for this first time event. for more info and to purchase tickets.


  1. Waterfront Concert Series – Bangor’s Darling’s Waterfront Pavillion will host an impressive roster of musicians this summer including Sting, Miranda Lambert, and Kenny Chesney. Improvements to the location of the stage and layout of the grounds will allow for better sound quality.
  2. Birding – Noted as “the warbler capital of the world” more than one hundred species of birds flock to Mount Desert Island each year.
  3. Portland Observatory – on Congress St in Portland, this Portland landmark is open daily 10:00 to 4:00 and on Thursdays offers sunset tours. I’ve never been but this in on my list for this summer. The view has got to be fabulous!
  4. Sabbath Day Lake Shaker Village – New Gloucester – I recall going to the historic village as a child but haven’t returned since. Really would like to go this summer.
  5. Stephen King tour – Bangor – “Tommyknockers and More Bus Tour” the author is a Bangor resident and was inspired by the area for many of his tale’s locales. Four times per summer. See dates and get more info at
  6. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens – Boothbay Harbor – kitchen garden, a children’s garden, paths, a wonderful experience.
  7. Cadillac Mountain – you can drive, bike or hike to the top. It’s the first place on the east coast to see the sunrise. You’ll never catch me up there at that time of day unless I’ve had some kind of breakdown (mechanical or mental) but I hear it’s beautiful.
  8. Acadia National Park’s Carriage Trails – the best place to bike ever.
  9. Fort Knox & Penobscot Narrows Observatory – Verona Island – very cool to check out. The fort is amazing, historical, and reportedly haunted. The observatory provides views that stretch hundreds of miles. 
  10. Roosevelt Campobello – This international park is shared by the US & Canada and once served as the summer resting spot for FDR. Afternoon Tea With Eleanor is a popular event and reservations are suggested.
  11. Downtown Bangor Cool Sounds – Bangor – live music and open crafters markets every Thursday night during the summertime. Check the website for the schedule
  12. Camden Hills State Park –  Mt Battie tower & Mt. Megunticook. The view from the tower is really cool, with Camden Harbor spread out below. The view from up on the high points of the trail is even more spectacular, Owl’s head, Blue Hill, all the way to Acadia. The best part is that it’s not very strenuous or extremely long.
  13. Littlefield Gardens – University of Maine Orono – gorgeous horticultural gardens. Often a spot for weddings (like mine) you can wander amongst the flowers and trees, to the pond, and through the orchard. 
  14. Moosehead Lake – Greenville - huge subject, huge lake. They claim that moose outnumber people 3 – 1. Go in May and June to see the Mamas and the babies, then in the fall for the large racks on the males. Remember that moose lose their antlers every year and regrow them through the summer. They’re also very tall and colliding into one on the road will likely crush your car. Oh and the lake is beautiful too.
  15. Camden harbor – eat, shop, wander. Take a lot of photos. That’s what I do there anyway. Very cool little toy store downtown called
  16. Belfast – shop, eat and wander around downtown Belfast and the waterfront.
  17. Maine Lumber Jack Show – Trenton - “Timber Tina” Sheer and her crew are amazingly talented with axes and saws.

  1. Searsport Flea Markets – Searsport – fun to make your way through the stalls. You really never know what you might find. Route 1.
  2.  Big Chicken Barn – I’ve always loved the name. The place is darn cool too. Used books, music, antiques, various memorabilia.
  3. Maine Cottage Furniture – I haven’t been in here yet, but drool over their furniture in magazines. I love the bright colors and spend hours fantasizing about how I’d decorate my dream cottage. Not really, but I do need a new coffee table and something in a plum would be perfect.
  4. Marden’s – any of them, really. I understand the store in Waterville is the original, but the one here in Brewer is pretty darn good, too. Go when you have time to poke around.
  5. Perry’s Nut House – Belfast – I remember this place when I was a kid and still love it when we stop in now. Just fun stuff, and they actually do sell nuts.
  6. Hussey’s General Store – the sign says it all – Windsor –
  7. Stonewall Kitchen – York – years ago, my sister worked next door to their original shop and started giving Stonewall Kitchen’s fabulous concoctions to us as gifts. The list of my favorites is too long. Just go to the website and develop your own.
  8. Kiwanis Auction – Orono – usually falls mid July. Like a giant yard sale and auction for a good cause. So much stuff. The best part – they sell these awesome sausage and pepper sandwiches. Bring a pocket full of cash and go have some fun.
  9. Portland Architectural Salvage – I’ve been wanting to go for so long now. Got to make it there this summer.
  10. L.L. Bean – I know that every book you read about Maine is going to mention L.L. Bean, but if you’re anywhere near Freeport, just go. Notice that there are no locks on the doors since they’re open 24/7 every day of the year. As a seasonal employee, I can tell you they have customer service down better than anyone. It’s actually spoiled me for shopping at other stores. I’m appalled if there are limits on returns or satisfaction. I know the prices are higher than at other places but I swear you’ll have the darn pair of shorts for the rest of your life.
  11. That reminds me: Goodwill – I have no proof of this but the last time I was in the Goodwill store in South Portland, the shear quantity of L.L. Bean sweaters and other clothing they had there got me a thinkin’ that it may be a donation center for the outfitter.
  12. Goodwill in Brewer is rumored to be one of the best in the state because of “all the rich summer people going to Bar Harbor” and dropping off their “gently used” clothes there.
  13. Mexicali Blues – Bangor, Freeport, Portland, - channel your inner deadhead. Sandals, skirts, peasant blouses, sundresses (my favorite part) patchouli and incense, fun jewelry and scarves, too.
  14. Metropolitan Soul – two locations Bangor and Orono – fun, funky, really great place for gifts for your sister or friend. Stuff guys don’t understand, like inspirational wall hangings and pretty bags.


  1. Portland Museum of Art – When I lived in Portland I went to this museum quite often but haven’t been for years. It’s one I hope to get to this summer. It is home to some of the great Wyeth paintings and a must for art lovers visiting Portland.
  2. Ogunquit Museum of American Art – it’s hard to believe this museum will be celebrating it’s sixtieth year and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never been. Maybe this year’s Andy Warhol exhibit, featuring 50 photographs by the artist, will be the catalyst.
  3. Hudson Museum – University of Maine at Orono – Closed Sundays and Holidays FMI on hours, exhibits, events and collections:
  4. Maine Discovery Museum – Bangor – three floors of fun for kids right downtown. Critters, crafts, sciency stuff . . body parts, constellations, shipping and receiving, world culture, waterworks.  Seriously, I could go on. This place holds good memories for me and my daughter.
  5. Patten Lumberjack Museum – Patten – with the rich, multi generational lumber history in this part of Maine, it seems that everyone has some kind of connection to the industry’s past.
  6. Leonards Mills – Bradley – also in the lumbering tradition, Leonard’s Mills is a working lumber and living history museum. Special events in their seasonal calendar include Children’s Days and the Blacksmith’s Roundup.
  7. University of Maine Museum of Art – Bangor – located right downtown, this museum’s admission is free and exhibits rotate regularly.


  1. Bunganut Lake State Park – Lyman/Alfred – nice playground, sandy bottom swimming for kids.
  2. Mousam Lake – Acton – There is a small public beach with swimming area but this lake is also a great place to rent a cottage for a week and relax. Boaters and anglers are welcomed.
  3. Beth Pancoe Pool – Bangor – open to the public for residents and non residents. An inexpensive break in the middle of the city with water slides, a zero entry area, all kinds of things that splash and spill and dump on top of you. Grassy lawn to spread out your blanket and chairs. They have changing rooms and vending machines. It’s also a regular stop for the ice cream truck.
  4. University of Maine Campus Recreation Center – Orono – Open all year but do check the hours on the website as they change according to the school schedule. This facility is worth a stop for the pool alone. A daily entry fee of $7 for non members gives you access to the hot tub, sauna, vortex pool (yes, continually whirling water), lap lanes, shallow splash/play area for kids, and use of the lockers, showers, etc.
  5. Mother’s Beach - Kennebunk – a sandy beach, plenty of tidal pools, and a playground all in the same place? It’s no wonder that Kennebunk Beach is affectionately known as “Mother’s Beach”. Parking is right at the beach but does get crowded on hot days. Get there early if you can.
  6. Fortune’s Rocks Beach – Biddeford – a gorgeous beach decorated with smooth beach rocks tucked into the sand.
  7. Biddeford Pool – Biddeford – ahh … a beach from my teen years when you slathered with baby oil and baked in the sun. last summer we spent an afternoon here and it was deliciously spacious, clean, a sundrenched spot I hate to disclose. Get a parking pass at city hall or you could get shut out
  8. Sand Beach – Acadia National Park – beautiful little beach. Gets crowded in high season and requires entry to the park to access but if you can get there early, do it.


  1. Rachel Carson Wildlife Reserve – Wells – Birds and wildlife, a good accessible pathway, and some wonderful views of the inlets.
  2. Mt Hope Cemetery – Bangor – might sound strange to suggest a walk in a cemetery but this is a beautiful one, with hills, views, a pond with ducks, many people run and walk here.
  3. Orono Bogwalk - beginning in Bangor’s City Forest, the peat bog crosses over into land owned and maintained by the University of Maine. The Bog boardwalk is a one mile loop where you can see birds, wildlife, and plants native to the area. Benches and informational signage along the way can help you determine what you saw.
  4. Eastern Trail – Part of the East Coast Greenway - enters Kittery, Maine from the west at the New Hampshire border, meanders through southern Maine, 65 miles winds up at Casco Bay. Well marked with ET signs, bridges over busy roadways, rest stops along the way, it’s kind of a hop on hop off hiking trail where you can go long distances or shorter ones, depending on your tolerance, schedule, and how badly someone needs to pee.
  5. Appalachian Trail – the 100 mile wilderness runs from Monson to the top of Mt Katahdin and is reportedly the most demanding and unforgiving portion of the trail which begins in Georgia. I’d like to wander on the trail someday, like for an afternoon, although Bill Bryson’s book “A Walk In The Woods” taught me of the history and culture surrounding the trail and is a great read for anyone with a pair of hiking boots and a sense of humor.
  6. Macworth Island – Falmouth – just off of Route 1, on an island accessible by causeway, Macworth Island is home to the Baxter School For the Deaf and is a state park, with a hiking trail that loops around the island, places to sit along the way, and the best part (if you have kids or are a kid) is the fairy garden. Gather natural items along the way and use them to create your own little fairy mansion.
  7. Downeast Sunrise Trail – Brewer to Calais – this portion of the Eastern Trail is being developed. The portion from Brewer to Ellsworth is a railroad bed. I haven’t done this yet, but will this summer.
  8. The Heath – Saco – This living peat bog has trails and a boardwalk to get out and enjoy the wildlife and birds.
  9. Baxter State Park – Millinocket & beyond – This is a big one. Baxter State Park is crested by Mt. Katahdin, the northern end of the Appalachian Trail and a grueling ½ day hike up, then back down. Several ways to the top, all demanding an early start.
  10. Acadia National Park – the quiet side – over on the Schoodic Peninisula has trails, coastline drives, and turnouts for scenic stops.


  1.  Jordan’s – Ellsworth/ - playground outside, just like the outdoor seafood stops of my youth. Gets me all misty.
  2. Spring Creek BBQ – Monson – when the meat’s gone, they close. Bring your own drinks.
  3. Ruth & Wimpy’s – Get your photo taken with the giant lobster out front. I think it’s the law.
  4. Mainely Bar-b-que – two locations that I know of, one on Mt. Desert Island sharing space with Atlantic Brewing. The other on Rte 3 (?) and cozies up with an ice cream parlor for a match made in the heaven of my mind.
  5. Wasses Hot Dogs – Rte 1 & 3 Belfast – in the Reny’s parking lot. Grilled dogs with fried onions. Get two.
  6. Rapid Ray’s – Saco – growing up in the Biddeford Saco area, I recall when this was truly just a food truck, and not even one of the fancy ones like are all the rage these days. Get in line and order yourself a big one with cheese and everything, a cheese dog, fries and a choc. Rapids is a tradition, an institution, and so simple good and cheap.
  7. Dysarts – Bangor – truck stop, bakery, breakfast spot, featured on Food Network and loved by millions. Awesome pot roast and pies. 
  8. Gelato Fiasco – in the Old Port in Portland – last summer I had something that sounded disgusting but was incredibly delicious – Sweet Sorghum something. Don’t fear. Try it.
  9. Bucks Naked Barbeque – I’ve been dying to get naked and eat barbeque (just kidding about the naked part). Friends have raved about this place in Freeport, Windham, and Portland.
  10. Garsides Ice Cream – Saco – ice cream of my childhood, great flavors, old time feeling. Sit outside on a summer night – Perfect. Ferry Rd.
  11. Ken’s Place Seafood – Pine Point Rd. Scarborough – not really a secret but us locals love this place. My mother swears they have the best clam cakes. I am mighty fond of the shrimp dinner.
  12. Mike’s Pool Street Market – Biddeford – everyone’s got a favorite place to get lobster rolls. Some make the big publications and get raves. This one seems to be a secret to locals. Mike’s makes huge lobster rolls and doesn’t charge huge prices. Get a few to go when you’re headed out to the beach.
  13. Alex Pizza – Biddeford – maybe because it’s the pizza of my youth or maybe it’s the crust or the greased stained thick paper plates or the one size pizzas stacked in a paper bag that waits on the counter for you but this is one of my favorites.
  14. Loco Coco’s Tacos – Kittery – I realize Maine isn’t known for its Mexican connections but I hear this place is very cool, with a ton of sauces and a casual atmosphere.
  15. Pat’s Pizza – statewide – the original is in Orono. I didn’t get formally introduced to this until later in my life. Now the thin crusted, pepperoni and pickle calls out. In house bottled orange or grape or cream soda is perfect with it.
  16. 4 Points BBQ & Blues house - Winterport – Haven’t been yet but am going to get there soon.
  17. Maine Diner – Wells – I know, I know, many of you know about this already but it is a Maine landmark and the food is good. Made it to Diners, Drive Ins & Dives.
  18. Farmer’s Markets – all over the state – we are an abundant and resourceful bunch.


  1. Beach to Beacon Road Race – Aug 3rd Cape Elizabeth to Portland Head lighthouse at Fort Williams Park. This 10K road race passes through some gorgeous coastal scenery and raises money for charities each year.
  2. Zip lining – statewide – my first zip line ride was in Mexico and I’m excited to try some of the zip line rides here in Maine.
  3. Blueberry picking – statewide – June & July – high bush, low bush and wild. Whatever you want. Bring pots for picking.
  4. Strawberry picking – statewide – June –

Ok – so there’s something to do for every day this summer in Maine. Feel free to expound upon my list and send me your suggestions for this backyard tourist. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hotel Room Review: Henley Park Hotel Washington DC

Get tucked in at the Henley Park Hotel

I enjoyed the opportunity to spend a few days at the Henley Park Hotel in Washington D.C.  I was in the city to participate in a travel show, the Travel & Adventure show, in March held at the Washington Convention Center. For most of these events, exhibitors are given information about hotels nearby which will discount rates for the show. I normally tend to stay at chain hotels when I go to these shows. I am usually traveling alone and feel a certain security in the familiar. Boutique or specialty hotels are generally out of my budget range, too.

For this Washington DC show, I was part of a foursome representing the Maine Office of Tourism. One of the other members happened across the Henley Park Hotel online, took a look at the rates and the location, and decided to book his room there. He emailed the rest of us and after very little hesitation, the others changed their reservations. I figured that with the others there, I felt some sense of safety. The rates were lower and saved us about $200 off the four night stay and it was a couple of blocks closer to the Washington Convention Center.

Welcome to the Henley Park Hotel
 From my arrival at the hotel, I was both impressed and at ease. The staff opened doors, helped me with my bag, and checking in was fast and painless. Friendly too. The main lobby, though not the cavernous entries I've seen at other properties, was beautiful. Marble tile floors, immense floral arrangements, dark colonial style furnishings, it was stunning.

I've written more about the hotel property itself, the restaurant, lounge and parlor on my photography blog. This post will review the room itself.

The Henley Park Hotel was built in 1918 as an apartment building named the Tudor Hall, "a grand residence favored by senators, congressmen and other notables of Washington society."

Like many older hotels, the room I was given was pretty small. I was on a budget, went for the least expensive room available at the time, and wasn't expecting an expansive suite nor a view of the city. My room overlooked the glass topped dining room. Again, this was fine with me, just a head's up for those of you who travel with different expectations.  My only other complaint about the room was that it was a bit dark. Not too dark to hang out and watch TV and relax after a day of sightseeing, but a little dim for working. Besides that, everything else about the room was great.

Here's a little tour:

The bed, mini bar and window
Chair with lamp

The room had a closet with a safe, hangers, and a robe.
The ironing board, safe, extra coffee cups

Nice waffle cotton robe

Flat screen TV, door to bathroom

The bathroom

Work desk

Very comfy bed
 The details:

The mini fridge was stocked every day. I don't drink so I took out the beers, wine, liquor bottles. About a block away is a CVS where I got bottled waters, seltzers, and fruit and yogurt. I did open and consume the tin of smokehouse almonds, which I love, despite the $8 mini bar outrageous price. 

sodas, beer, juice, wine in the mini bar

a nice array of liquors - if you're into that sort of thing.

coffee, nuts, water and a bottle of wine.

The bathroom wasn't huge but it was bright and clean. I love the brand of toiletries they had, nice smelling from Bath and Body Works. Plenty of towels, nice fixtures and lots of hot water. 

I ran a bath the first night I was there.
Maybe the second night, too.

Not a very comfortable bathtub, really, but soaking in hot water does something for the soul. 

I ordered room service the first night and was thrilled at how fast it arrived, the friendliness of the gentleman who delivered it, and how tasty it was. A simple burger can be a wonderful thing. 

The Henley Park Hotel was a very nice hotel for my time in Washington. I would recommend it to anyone who asks. The price I had for the room was very reasonable, although I did read somewhere that prices are normally much higher but that rates were adjusted to account for the construction across the street. I didn't hear a thing, but hotel offered earplugs to help with "city noise".

The room I was in, in the center of the hotel, didn't allow much for noise. Being March, it wasn't as if I was throwing open the windows. My experience was that it was quiet, and I slept well.

I found the staff very helpful and friendly. The hotel was gorgeous and the location allowed me to walk easily to the convention center and to Chinatown. The Metro is nearby as well.

Great hotel - Worth a try!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Blog Challenge Feature: New England Crafters

Nice surprise for a Monday morning . . . I received a notice from Kris at New England Crafters via Etsy that one of the photos on they Etsy site has been included in their weekly blog challenge. The topic was Earth Day with a focus on green.

Here is a link to their blog:  New England Crafters

Very cool.

This is the image link to my Etsy store: Feels Like Spring Lupine Leaves with raindrops

Thanks for the feature!!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Maine Travel Resources: Summer 2013 Vacation Planning

Happy Spring Everyone!

After such a long, cold, snowy winter, it's nice to see some springtime signals arriving. Crocuses are coming up in some sheltered spots. I have heard some of the warmer weather bird songs in the mornings. The best sign is that I don't find it necessary to layer on so much protective gear before leaving the house.

At this time of year, many people have already begun planning their summer vacations, whether as a mood altering exercise of cabin fever, or because their experiences have taught them that it really does behoove them to plan and reserve ahead. Though I am a fan of the spontaneous departure (in theory anyway) working in the tourism industry has taught me a few things. So, whether you'd like to begin dreaming about your summer vacation in Maine or you're in the deep planning stages, you might find some of these resources helpful.

My top 10 Maine vacation planning resources:

  • Visit Maine: - this is the site of the Maine Office of Tourism, a state agency tasked with gathering and providing tourism related information for all eight tourism regions of the state. This is a great starting point to begin planning your Maine vacation. With lodging, events, maps, dining and things to do all in one place, you can see that we've got a lot going on here. From the site, you can delve much further and find exactly what's the best route for you and your family. 

  • Maine Arts Commission: Live music, dance, galleries, lectures, classes, performing arts, and just about everything that can fall under the classification of an art form is here. This events calendar is a handy one to bookmark and return to. 
  • Maine Agricultural Fairs: I love going to the fair. Fresh squeezed lemonade, fried dough, sizzling sausages, cotton candy - can you tell I like to go for the food? Oh yeah, and the animals and the 4H contests. Rides, shows, and the midway - no matter which fair you choose to check out, you'll surely find what you expect in a fair, but will also be surprised. The Bangor State Fair is the one I am most familiar with and one of the biggest in the state. It takes place in late July - early August each year. The Fryeburg Fair is another biggie in Maine, slated for a bit later in the season, it often showcases some of the agricultural freaks of the summer growing season like the state's largest pumpkin. Both always have live music, spectacular events and not to harp on the food, but THE FOOD.
  • The Maine Camping Guide at is the place to go to find out about camping in Maine. Whether you're the tenting type of folk or want to bring the RV this site can link you to all the campgrounds, RV resorts, and other camping resources.

  • Maine Camps & Cottages - a sister site to the Maine Camping Guide, this is the place to go if you're looking to rent a cottage or go "upta camp" in Maine. Lake front, beach front, or into the woods it's got info about all types of places you can start your family traditions.
  • The Maine Innkeepers Association is a fabulous resource for hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, and inns throughout the state. Traveling on a budget or in high style, you may be surprised at the range of offerings here. Really a great site.

  • Part of the Maine Restaurant Association, Feast on Maine is the ultimate Maine dining guide. Last year they introduced the app you can use while in state and on the hunt for great food. Maine is earning quite a reputation as a foodie destination, with a strong farm to table movement and the state's allure to creative and industrious types of people, it's not a surprise to me that its getting more and more recognition.
  • Up for some sports? The Maine Sports Commission is a relatively new arrival on the tourism scene in Maine. Not only focused on traditional sports, this site will provide you all you need to know and where you can find out more about what's going on in sports in Maine this summer. 
  • I'm a huge fan of North Woods Law, the Discovery Channel show that's on the lives and work of Maine Game Wardens. Just thought I'd throw that one in there as a plug for the really good guys who do their best out there. When you visit Maine, if you're coming for the fishing, hunting, and other outdoor wildlife, the website for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will provide you with the laws, seasons, and whatever else you need to know about enjoying Maine's abundant outdoor resources.
  • Last on this list, but only the beginning the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands will give you locations, hours, amenities, and various programs offered at Maine's State Parks. 

So, if that's not enough to get you started, stay tuned. I will be posting more in the coming weeks as we approach the summer. If this is all too overwhelming and you don't know where to turn, simply email me at I would be happy to help you with some itinerary suggestions, personal recommendations, and additional resources to help you plan your vacation in Maine.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Maine Destinations: Romantic places

Not to get all sappy and sweet on you here, but it’s Valentine’s Day and being the romantic I am . . . I thought I’d share some romantic places in Maine to visit with your favorite other in your life. Or your other and the kids . . . romance is all in how you spin it. I certainly love chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, a bubble bath, and the other stuff the merchandisers want you to think women want as gifts for Valentine’s Day, but I’m on a diet, flowers are ridiculously expensive, and our huge tub takes hours to fill. 

Give them an experience.

Give them a memory.

A string of bleeding hearts

A weekend getaway in Maine? Great Idea. For me, just going somewhere new is an experience I truly enjoy. Making memories in that somewhere new just comes with the package.  Going back to a familiar and memorable place is wonderful too. Shared memories bind us as couples and as families. Reinforce the bindings by continuously striving to create new memories and keeping the pleasurable memories of the past alive.  

These places are not just for Valentine's Day. In fact, some are best visited at other times of the year. I consider them romantic because a.) they are places to go with your spouse, partner, other half, friend with benefits . . b.) they are places to go with your family, the result of the romantic interlude.

Cape Porpoise Harbor

Cape Porpoise – just north of Kennebunkport, Cape Porpoise is a working harbor. The seafood is unbelievably fresh. You can watch the boats come in with the catch of the morning. Have a picnic on the dock. Just stay out of the way of the lobstermen. Have lunch at Pier 77.  For an authentic Maine experience, romantic and real, this is a great little village.      

Summer at Biddeford Pool
the beach at Biddeford Pool

Biddeford Pool – I’ll write more about this place when I’m ready to expose it to the world. This was the beach of my teen years, on a blanket with my friends, rubbing baby oil on our skin for the deepest tan possible. Ah the days before we learned about skin cancer or worried about wrinkles! Why it’s romantic: it’s kind of hard to find. You have to have a pass to get to the beach. There’s a bathhouse with an outdoor shower. It’s a huge, long, wide beautiful beach. Like beaches in summer, people are hardly dressed, indulging in such carnal pleasures as taking a nap under an umbrella, basking in the hot sun reading a book (my personal favorite), the air is salty and hot and smells of the mix of sunscreens and sandwiches, and you can walk far away from the crowd and just be the two of you, or as many as you want, and swim and frolic all day. Bring your own snacks and drinks, but the ice cream truck does come by every once in a while. Rentals can be found here: Maine Seaside Rentals

Old Orchard Beach Maine Pier
Old Orchard Beach's famous pier

Old Orchard Beach – in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, the weather is mild, the sun shines brightly, and the summertime crowds are nonexistent. The beach here is seven miles long and so wide at low tide you’ve got plenty of space to stroll in the sand. Skip stones, jump the waves with your pants on (or off!), and breathe in that salty air. Do like the summertime high school teens and sneak under the pier to make out. Do like grownups do and get a room (great discounts in the low seasons!). visitor info can be found here: Old Orchard Beach Info

biking on the carriage trails at Acadia National Park
Biking on the carriage trails at Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor – a coastal town that’s arguably the most requested destination in the state. There’s a good reason. This little town’s got a lot to offer. From awesome shopping and dining downtown, to whale watches and schooner day trips out on the sea, to bike rentals and canoe and kayak outfitters to take you out of town, there’s really something for just about everyone. Folks go to walk around the town dock and see the boats and birds. Poke your head into some of the shops, have an ice cream cone, and a lobster roll. Get yourself over to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor’s neighbor on the island, and enjoy Sand Beach, drive up Cadillac Mountain and drink in the view of the islands, or bike on the Carriage Trails. You can find yourselves alone for remarkably long periods of time.  On your way off the island, stop at Mainely Meat BBQ for sticky, finger licking barbeque. Or cross over into Trenton and pull into Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound , one of the restaurants just off the road whose gigantic steaming pots are perfectly primed to cook you a lobster while you wait. 
Visitor info can be found here:

Portland's Old Port

Portland –  with a foodie reputation that’s growing by the moment, Portland is a city to visit if you’re into trying anything. Gelato Fiasco on Fore Street. East End Cupcakes right across the street. TwoFat Cats bakery up on Munjoy hill. More restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation. Beyond the belly, you can check out the Old Port and Commercial Street, for shopping experiences you won’t find any where else. If your blood really gets pumping when you shop, you’ve got to go to Freeport, just north of Portland. Freeport is the home of L.L. Bean and loads of outlets, as well as quite a few uniquely Maine stores like Mexicali Blues.   
Portland Head Light

As Maine’s largest city, Portland is chock full of culture, teaming with museums, live music, and theater. Nearby Cape Elizabeth is home to Portland Head Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country and located on the grounds of Fort Williams Park. Info about the lighthouse and the park are here: Portland Head Light

baskets of cherry tomatoes

Farmer’s Markets – With a very strong farm to table movement in the state, Maine has a lot of farmer’s markets, both in summer and in winter. For a listing, click here: Maine Farmer’s Markets
 Why it’s romantic: earth and seed and sun came together to produce gorgeous fruit and vegetables. The visual displays at Farmer’s Markets, as rustic as they can be, can’t help but stimulate you . . . somewhere. The passion of the people who live to grow and share their produce is palpable. If you and yours are shopping for items that result in a great dinner, well, all the better.

Here’s where you can find tons of info on getaways in Maine. 

If you find that your getaway has led to further romantic entanglements and want to plan your wedding in Maine, Real Maine Weddings is loaded with ideas for receptions, food, and guest lodging. 

Thinking about summer plans? Everything you need to get you started is here: Visit Maine

Come and fall in love in (and with) Maine.

Relax, you're in Maine.