One of the most common questions we get is also the hardest to answer: What is the best place you’ve visited? There are so many great places, not to mention experiences, that it is hard to pick just one – or even several – that rank supreme. So instead of crowning a single destination, we’ve chosen to highlight eight favorites selected from the 58 stops we made over 52 weeks of continuous travel. Read More…
Maine has such a large concentration of craft brewers that it wasn’t possible to visit them all. So as a departing gift to ourselves, we picked up some brews from places we didn’t get the chance to visit, and ones we aren’t likely to see elsewhere. We’re going to miss Maine, but these will go a long way to easing our sorrow.
Our camping fees at Camden Hills State Park also included free access to the toll road leading to the top of Mount Battie. It is a drive we almost skipped because of lack of time and spotty weather. We’re glad me made the effort. The drive is a short one, and the views are surprisingly good. From atop a medieval looking stone tower, one gets an unobstructed 360 degree panorama of Penobscot Bay in one direction and mountain ranges in the other.
One of the things we’ve discovered is that some places are better suited to visiting in an R.V. than others. We’ve found large cities to be particularly challenging given the logistical difficulties of day tripping from somewhere on the outskirts. Getting an in-city hotel room for a couple of nights might be a good solution, and one we’ll have to explore in the future.
On the flip side, small cities, towns and rural locations are ideally suited for R.V. travel. And one of the best places we’ve stayed thus far is Camden Hills State Park. The park put us right at the doorstep of 30 miles of hiking trails, and within minutes of quaint Camden, ME. Our camping fees also granted us free daily admission to the state park, which is one of the highlights of the area. There’s nothing like waking up every morning in the heart of your sightseeing destination.
The hiking trails in the park all connect, allowing you to hike for as long, or as little, as you want. We combined the Maiden Cliff Trail and the Scenic Trail to do a loop of Megunticook Mountain, and catch these great views from the 800 foot cliff overlooking Megunitcook Lake.
On our descent we spent a long while watching what we thought were several birds of prey circling the valley, including this guy, who may or may not be a bald eagle. On further investigation, though, we discovered that most of the birds in question were turkey vultures; possibly the ugliest birds on earth. As for what they were circling in the valley (less fortunate hikers?), we didn’t discover.
Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, ME, is a culinary Mecca, of sorts. We’ve been told by everyone from Road Food to CBS News that we absolutely must go to Red’s for what is widely proclaimed as the best lobster roll in all of Maine, if not the world. Red’s is so popular that routine hour long waits don’t even begin to describe the chaos. The New York Times recently blamed Red’s for maddening traffic congestion in the area and reported on a proposal to spend $100 million to divert traffic around the eatery. With such great press, and obvious popularity, we had to try these 100 million dollar sandwiches for ourselves.
But before I dig in to Red’s, I have another confession to make: I don’t really understand people’s fascination with lobster. As a protein for a meal, it’s better than chicken, for sure. But like chicken, it needs a sauce, or a marinade, or something else to make it special (and melted butter doesn’t cut it, in my view). Lobster Fra Diavlo is divine. An unseasoned hunk of meat with a spritz of lemon, not so much.
I have a pet theory about why lobster is so highly regarded, and I think it has to do with exclusivity. Lobster is expensive, so it must be good, because if it wasn’t good, it wouldn’t be expensive. Or so the reasoning goes. I think for some people it doesn’t really matter whether their taste buds actually confirm that steamed lobster is delicious, social pressures dictate that they proclaim that it is. But it wasn’t always that way. Lobster used to be so plentiful along the coast that it was once considered peasant food and fed to prisoners. It was even used for fish bait. Hardly the luxury item many people think of it as today.
You can still imagine a poor Maine fisherman of old, piling cold, unseasoned lobster on a slab of toasted bread with nothing to accompany it other than a tablespoon or two of melted butter. If that sounds appetizing to you, welcome to Red’s Eats; where the same experience can be had for the poverty-inducing price of $14.95 per sandwich. Umm, umm good.
I fully recognize that everyone’s tastes are different. It is entirely possible that Shannon and I aren’t wired to enjoy lobster the way other people do. I get that, really I do. But what I don’t get is how people can cause such a commotion over something so basic that you can do it yourself with very little effort. We’re not talking about needing culinary mastery to duplicate Red’s lobster roll. Or even a spice rack, for that matter. We’re talking about steaming a lobster and putting the cold meat on a toasted hotdog bun. That’s it, folks. That’s what the 100 million dollar sandwich consists of. Provided you are capable of boiling water, it is something you can do in your own kitchen in less time then it takes to get through the line at Red’s. So why on earth would anyone go to Red’s for one of these things, unless it was really cheap or really convenient? It happens to be neither.
I have to say, that after visiting Red’s today I’m a bit mystified by all the fuss. In part, I think Red’s benefits from a lot of second and third-hand reporting. No one questions whether Red’s food is good anymore, they simply report that their food is the most popular. That reporting drives crowds, and the press cites the crowds as confirmation of what everyone already knows: Red’s food is great. But for some reason everyone plays along; from celebrity chef Rachael Ray to the little old lady who proclaimed to me while waiting on line “It’s worth the wait.”
Do they all really think steamed meat on a hotdog bun is this good? Or are they just perpetuating a myth because they think they have to, or that they should? “For surely emperor Red is finely clad, everyone knows it to be true.” But are we really the only people who’ve noticed that Red’s lobster is completely naked?