God’s Country: Mid- Maine’s Damariscotta & Camden (New England)
13 Oct 2012 - “Dama what?” Didn’t matter how many times I said the name, Peter just couldn’t get it. He eventually settled for the bastardized version of “Damascotia” instead.
The name “Damariscotta” is in itself an extreme corruption of the Algonquian (Native American Indian) word Madamescontee, meaning "place of an abundance of alewives." And what is an alewife? It is a type of herring about 7 inches long, weighs a few ounces, and is in great abundance in the waters off Mid-Maine. Which is where we are. Right now. In Damariscotta. Still with me?
Damariscotta is our last coastal destination before we head inland towards Vermont. And what better way to end our coastal tour of New England. Our reason for basing ourselves here instead of more touristy Camden is that it is largely bypassed by the masses and much less crowded. A former ship building town, Damariscotta is picture postcard perfect with its white steepled church, gracious mansions that attest to its prominence in the colonial days, and vibrant mix of unique shops, community services, restaurants, local theatre, farmers’ markets, and artists’ galleries. Damariscotta River still provides locals and visitors alike with boating and fishing opportunities as well as a thriving industry that supplies both oysters and the sweet local mussels to the area’s restaurants.
Speaking of alewives, our B&B on High Street, Damariscotta is called “Alewives & Ales”, after the local herring and the beer that innkeeper Ray brews himself. But the house itself has an interesting story: The original home was built circa 1847 in a town whose atmosphere was permeated with the sights and sounds of shipbuilding. At the foot of the street and across the Bristol Road, Joseph Day’s shipyard once bustled with skilled workers creating beautiful maritime vessels along the shore of the Damariscotta River. At Alewives & Ales B&B, each of the three guest rooms is named after a wooden sailing ship built in a Damariscotta shipyard.
I know you’re dying to ask... what’s Ray’s beer like? Haven’t tried it. But Mimi does make a mean French Toast in the mornings. And Mimi and Ray McConnell have been gracious hosts who have provided us with one of our most tranquil stays on our New England journey.
Dr. Michael Giglia, Chiropractor: Light at the End of the Tunnel
The drive from Maine to New Hampshire in two days time was going to be long - at least 3 hours and 40 minutes long - and one that I was dreading like the plague. I could see Peter having to extract me from the car seat at the end of our journey as I my lower back muscles would have jammed right back up again. While I was no longer in agony after the deep-tissue massage that I had received from Tana in Chatham, things still weren’t right with my lower back.
It’s in times like these when I’m so thankful for Peter, my personal and trusty “radar”, always on the lookout for me and my wellbeing, especially when I’ve lost focus due to pain or discomfort, or am past the point of caring. Spotting Damariscotta Chiropractic Health Center on Blair Street on the way to our B&B, he pulled into the parking lot and got me to walk right into reception on the off-chance that a doctor could see me. They do things differently in this part of the world apparently, where a doctor will never turn an urgent case away and will stay on until all patients are seen.
Dr. Michael Giglia, who worked on my lower back on the day we walked in as well as the following morning (on a Saturday no less!), would have to be one of the most progressive chiropractors that I have met anywhere in the world. And believe me, I’ve met a few. In the span of 48 hours, he transformed my lower back, not with hard core neck twisting and spine crunching adjustments. Rather, he took a scan of my back, neck and shoulders, saw where the heat and the stress lay on my body via the scan results, then proceeded to do some very gentle manipulations and massages along with the use of a cold pack to reduce the inflammation of my muscles. Each session took a good 45 minutes. The relief was immediate and the results were far longer lasting than any other treatment I had tried.
Travel Tip: After my sessions with Dr. Giglia, Peter and I invested in these incredible aero-dynamic back support cushions called The Back Huggar (by Bodyline Comfort Systems) which the Chiropractic Health Center sold for $35 a piece. If you're among the millions of people worldwide who suffer chronic back pain and fatigue, do try and hunt down The Back Huggar. It’s anatomical design supports the lumbar region laterally as well as vertically. Look for it by name as anything else is a cheap imitation and will not give you the same level of support.
Why Don’t You .... load up on all the wonderful seafood until it positively seeps out of your pores! Clam chowder, lobster rolls, haddock, clams and oysters..... You will not get better anywhere in the world.
Damariscotta River Grill - Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Rick Hirsch (Executive Chef) and Jean Kerrigan (General Manager), the popular restaurant has been a favorite of locals and summer visitors alike. Located in the heart of Midcoast Maine, the Damariscotta River Grill offers creative and regional comfort food year-round, from fresh Maine seafood including oysters, salmon and haddock to more traditional fare like beef brisket, tenderloin, and pasta. 155 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME. http://www.damariscottarivergrill.com
King Eider’s Pub: Awarded the 2012 Restaurant Neighbor Award by the National Restaurant Association and American Express, King Eider’s Pub’s brick walls, low wooden beams hung with handcrafted earthenware mugs, and impressive selection of ales and lagers from both sides of the Atlantic heightens the feeling of relaxed comfort of an English pub. But the menu is pure New England: the freshest seafood, including Maine delicacies such as crab cakes and clam chowder, as well as pub classics like Prime Angus beef and Chicken Pot Pie. Succulent and sweet, their raw oysters, freshly delivered from the icy waters of Maine daily, are a religious experience. 2 Elm Street, Damariscotta, ME. http://www.kingeiderspub.com/
Located in the Mid-Coast region of Maine, Camden is a highly sought after summer destination for wealthy Northeasterners from Boston, New York and Philadelphia. While the population averages 5,300 (2000 census), the population of the town more than triples during the summer months due to tourists and summer residents. It is for this reason that the cost of Camden’s lodgings and food during the summer is higher than those of many other Maine communities.
Like many communities along the Maine coast, Camden has a long history of shipbuilding. With its picture-perfect harbor, framed against the mountains of Camden Hills State Park, Camden is one of the prettiest sites in the state. While most vacationers come to sail, Camden also has galleries, fine seafood restaurants and back streets ideal for exploring.
Why don’t you... discover some of the exquisite home shops in Camden.
These Camden hangouts are used to decking out some of the most magnificent summer “cottages” of Camden, so why not take their lead? Our favorites are : Jo Ellen Designs for their home accessories and hand hooked wool rugs and pillows (21 Main Street) and Glendarragh Lavender for the infinite ways that you can add lavender to your lifestyle (22 Main Street).
Why don’t you... take a hike up to Camden Hills State Park.
The saying, “In all things nature there is something of the marvelous” truly applies to Camden Hills State Park. Located just north of Downtown Camden on the shores of Penobscot Bay, it attracts thousands of hikers, campers, picknickers and other outdoor enthusiasts every year. The park’s 5,700 acres encompasses several mountain tops, including Mount Battie, with its panoramic views of beautiful wooded hillsides and lakes, Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. A must-see, literally!
Why don’t you... eat a pie at Moody’s Diner at nearby Waldeboro.
Established in 1927 as a couple of cabins for weary travelers looking for a clean, inexpensive place to stay the night, Moody’s has grown into a Mid-Maine institution and a national icon. Over eighty years later, they are best known for their old fashioned pies - the best that you’ll taste anywhere in the world - and continue to serve hoards of people every day, thousands of people every year, and over a million people in eighty years. 1885 Atlantic Highway, Waldeboro, ME. http://www.moodysdiner.com