Monday, our third day on the road, was our last day in the Portland area. My sister and her husband had to work (which happily reminded me that I was enjoying my first ever paid vacation), so we were on our own to explore the area. After a drive through the countryside towards Sanford, we headed back to Portland city to do some shopping and have lunch.
My sister had kindly written us a list of restaurants she recommended, but of course, we forgot it in the car! We spent quite some time wandering aimlessly, trying to find an affordable restaurant open on Monday for lunch. Finally, we found Pat’s Pizza and decided to give it a try. The sports bar atmosphere was comfortable and the menu was loaded with an enormous selection of interesting combinations. I ordered an individual pizza (by individual, they mean 3 meals worth!!!) and my husband ordered a calzone. The food was delicious!
We didn’t realize that Pat’s was a chain (which we try to avoid on vacations so we can get a feel for the local cuisine) until we got back to my sister’s house and she asked where we had eaten. We looked it up and it turns out that Pat’s Pizza is a small chain, only found in Maine. It has been around since 1931 and has won all sorts of awards for the best pizza in the state. So, albeit a chain, it was delicious and unique to the state.
After lunch and a stop in the toy store to pick up a present for my nephew, we wandered past a shop where the smell and sights gave us no choice but to enter. The Coastal Maine Popcorn Co. had the most unique flavors of popcorn I’ve ever seen! As a bonus, it’s all air popped so there’s no guilt attached (not that food guilt is allowed on vacation). We picked up a bag of apple pie corn for my brother-in-law who loooves apple pie, a bag of bleu cheese corn for my parents and a bag of unpopped kernels to bring home to Bethlehem. Of course, we got to sample both, and they were soooo good! I wish I had seen the sign for a maple-rosemary blend before we left, but if we go back there, that is what I am trying next!
Heading out of the city, we stopped at Bard Coffee for a boost before we trekked out on our bikes. I got a Vietnamese coffee, which is similar to Thai coffee—cold, rich and creamy with condensed milk! The small café offered fair trade, organic, single origin coffees with a great vibe. I even saw a flyer for a latte froth art competition they host for charity on a regular basis.
Reinvigorated, we headed back to Mackworth Island to find some geocaches and visit the famous Community Village.
This was one of the most fascinating community projects I’ve ever seen. I had heard about this place years ago and was glad to get to see it and participate! On one end of Mackworth Island, the woods are full of small structures built from twigs, leaves, shells and rocks—Fairy Houses. It’s quite magical. Everywhere you look a new hut or house pops out. I don’t know much about the history of the village, but it seems to be connected to the Fairy House books by Tracy Kane (odd, she shares my maiden name!) in an effort to get children back in the woods. There’s a little more info here.
Someone hid a geocache in the village, which we found after a good bit of hunting. There were so many places it could’ve been hiding, and we didn’t want to destroy any houses. It turned out to be inside this turtle container, hidden in a hollow log, covered with moss.
With the cache logged as found, we began to build our own fairy house. As we collected materials, the faint buzzing of island insects grew louder, and we found ourselves engulfed by mosquitos. I had so been looking forward to building a hut, though, so we stuck it out, building hurriedly. The outcome is less than what it would have been without mosquitos, but I think it’s suitable for a fairy.
The outcome on my bare shoulders from staying in the mosquito ridden woods was not quite as cute:
After running from the infested area, we stopped to take a look at Governor Baxter’s pet cemetery—Another odd feature of the island!
Governor Baxter donated the park land on the island. His summer home become the storied Baxter School for the Deaf, still in existence, and the state of Maine had to agree to maintain his pet cemetery in exchange for the land. His horses and dogs are buried here.
We wandered along the beach, squelching through seaweed on the way back to our bikes, then rode back to my sister’s for one last evening of relaxing on Casco Bay.
Look for our adventures in Camden, Maine next!