Monday, November 09, 2015

Morse Mountain and Seawall Beach

Morse Mountain Seawall Beach Phippsburg, Maine
Morse Mountain - Seawall Beach Phippsburg, Maine
 The objective of this hike was the view above. Similar to our hike through the Cutler Reserve, we knew we were getting close when we could hear the pounding surf and the trees were thinning out. Unlike the cliffs of Cutler, there was a nice sandy slope to the beach here.
Sprague River marshland
Sprague River marshland in the fog
 Along the way, on both sides of the mountain, we passed through tidal marsh lands. My guess is these are prime water birding spots although we didn't see anything except woodpeckers on the trail today.

Morse Mountain Seawall River hike
Bridge over the tidal river

Rock on the trail.
Morse Mountain trail
Morse Mountain trail

The trail is somewhat 'paved' with macadam almost, but not quite, covering small outcroppings of granite. In some places the tar is completely disintegrated and nature is taking over again. From the parking lot you'll traverse: macadam, gravel, sand and combinations of all three. Everyone we saw had good sneaks or hiking boots, this isn't a flip flop walk. Even though I only took pix on the relatively flat sections, the trail does climb to 180' in a short time. (Anyone who generally climbs in the Rockies can fall over laughing right about now, but this is a big hill here.) Then, just when you think you're headed downhill for keeps, you're going back uphill again.

Haunted tree
Looks like it was hit by lightening a long time ago.

Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine
Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine
Ahhhhhh! The beach! Nothing but sand and ocean as far as the eye could see. Low tide so we could walk quite a long way before reaching the rivers on either side.

Happy camper!

Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine
Seawall Beach Phippsburg Maine

How to get there from White Cedar Inn:

Turn right on Rt 1 in front of the house and head toward Bath. Turn off Rt 1 at Rt 209. Take Rt 209 to Rt 216 (Rt 216 goes straight, Rt 209 turns left). On Rt 216 when you see the 'No Parking' signs you're getting close. Turn left on Morse Mountain Rd, go to the parking lot. There is a fee in the summer, the rest of the time it's the honor system to pay to enter. If the parking lot is full you'll have to go to Popham Beach instead.

As this is a conservation area there are no facilities and certain items are not allowed on the beach (loud music, pets, kites, umbrellas, etc). Everything you carry in you must carry out with you when you leave.

From the parking lot it is 2 miles to the beach. Again, uphill both ways.

FMI on the conservation land check the Morse Mountain - Bates College website. 

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Hedgehog Mountain

Mt Washington from top of Hedgehog Mountain
Mt Washington from the top of Hedgehog Mountain

Another of the excellent, and mostly unknown, trails in the Freeport Conservation Trail System. This little gem, with over five miles of trails, extends the length of Main Street from Exit 20 to Exit 22, totally in the woods. You can hear the 'far off' (less than 1 mile away) interstate as a low hum in the background. However, once you start marveling at the canopy of trees, the vista from the top of the mountain and the stone walls that seem to appear from nowhere, you can pretty much forget the hum in the distance and focus on the hum of nature instead.

I took this hike last week with a group of women I don't know. We came together at the invitation of Katrina, the director of the Freeport Conservation Trust. You can sign up to receive their emails and get a head's up on when the next guided hike is. (Another hike I've gone on with the group was to Florida Lake.)

Canopy of autumn colors

Crossing the stream

Autumn view from top of Hedgehog Mountain
Autumn view from top of Hedgehog Mountain
From the top of the mountain you can see all the way to New Hampshire and the Presidential Range (dark blue 'hills' in the background). Also visible, to the right of the huge (and it IS huge) pine tree you can see Bradbury Mountain, another excellent hiking trail in the Maine State Park system.

Thru the woods at Hedgehog Mountai
Thru the woods at Hedgehog Mountain
How to get there: from White Cedar Inn turn right onto Rt 136/Mallett Dr (at the traffic light). Cross over I-295 and bear left onto Pownal Rd. In approximately one mile you'll see the sign for the transfer station on the left. This is the Landfill Rd/Hedgehog Mountain Rd. Parking is on the left just before the gate for the 'dump'. It's best to print a trail map before heading out. Trees along the way are blazed in different colors for different hikes. Take a picnic lunch to enjoy at the top. There are a couple of benches and a huge expanse of granite rock to sit on. This would be an excellent spot to watch migrating raptors in April and May.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lighthouse Cruise on the Kennebec River

Kennebec River
Kennebec River

There's nothing like a day playing hooky on the river! I grabbed the camera and headed for the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath for a lighthouse cruise down the Kennebec. These cruises run through the summer into fall. They're a great opportunity to get out on the water for 2 - 6 hours and see the Kennebec lights, the Sasanoa River and wildlife along the way.

Here are some shots from my 2 hour cruise on the river:

Bath Iron Works - Zumwalt Class Destroyer
Bath Iron Works - Zumwalt Class Destroyer

Doubling Point Light
Doubling Point Light

Kennebec Light
Kennebec Light

Harbor seal Kennebec River
Harbor seal Kennebec River

Osprey nest on channel marker
Osprey nest on channel marker

Maine Maritime Museum lighthouse cruise boat
Maine Maritime Museum lighthouse cruise boat

Kennebec River Range Lights
Kennebec River Range Lights

Ah Summer!

Just hanging around

Selfie stick

Squirrel Point
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the Maine Guide to Lighthouses and Harbors (usually in the living room on the side table). After the cruise down the river you can drive to see the lighthouses from land as well. Here are some of the daytrips I took to see them: Doubling Point and Squirrel Point.

Also visible on this river cruise is Fort Popham, Pond Island Light and, off in the distance, Seguin Island Light. There are different trips out to Pond Island and Seguin that allow you to get off the boat and wander around. Seguin is 3 miles off the coast of Popham Beach.

How to get there: From White Cedar Inn take Rt 1 north to Bath. Follow signs to Maine Maritime Museum to go on the cruise and wander around the museum for an in depth look at maritime traditions in Maine. For Popham Beach, Fort Popham and Fort Baldwin continue on Rt 209 from Bath to Phippsburg. You can take a couple of side roads (Parker Head Rd) for a more scenic, slower-paced route. 

One hike we haven't done yet is Morse Mountain overlooking the Morse River just off Popham Beach. Instead of turning to follow Rt 209 to the beach, you stay straight on Rt 216. More info when we go there!

Pick up a packed lunch for a day exploring!

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

sweet potato bread pudding
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Nothing says 'Fall' like the color orange! Leaves, pumpkins, Halloween costumes, sweet potatoes. And nothing says sweet New England comfort food like bread pudding. Without further ado, here's your new Sunday brunch or Thanksgiving go to sweet.

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
(serves 8 - 10)

1 loaf Italian bread ripped into large chunks
2 -3 medium sweet potatoes, baked
1/2 c pecans
4 c milk
4 eggs
1 c brown sugar, loose, not packed
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon


Bake sweet potatoes in 400 degree oven for about 1 hour. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

In the meantime: butter a 9x12" baking dish and shred enough Italian bread to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Set aside to dry out. 

When sweet potatoes are ready, scoop out of skins, and place on top of bread, spreading out to cover surface and pushing down to fill in spaces. Sprinkle pecans on top, pressing into sweet potato.

Beat eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in large bowl. Pour over bread and sweet potatoes. Set aside in fridge until liquid is absorbed (about 3 hours). You may need to push the bread back down if it starts to float around. Cut pats of butter and place on top of soaked bread, one pat per serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake bread pudding for 45 - 50 minutes until pudding is set. Let cool slightly. Scoop onto plates. Top with ice cream, whipped cream or maple syrup.We drizzled maple syrup on the plate, then topped with homemade whipped cream.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Friday, September 04, 2015

Anatomy of a Hotel Bill

We've been on the road a fair amount this year going on vacation, visiting the parents to celebrate milestone birthdays (theirs, not ours, we're still 29 and holding!), going to a wedding. We've seen it all now in regard to fees and service charges levied by hotels, airlines and restaurants. 

It's been in the news a lot lately, too. Famous restaurants with $310 'tasting' menus tacking on an additional 20% 'service charge' that went nowhere near the pockets of the actual servers who waited on the guests. (Now, it is noted, the extra fee tacked onto the bill is called an operational charge. What?)

And our favorite airline, Jet Blue, has now instituted a baggage fee. (Let's hope they lowered the price of the ticket then.)

So now we come to my favorite set of add on charges - hotel fees. Hopping back on the bandwagon, the $2.4 billion/year bandwagon, hotels are now set to charge extra for selecting a room near the elevator, away from the elevator, near the pool, away from the pool, on a top floor, on the ground floor. Yes, you can now pay extra just skip the line at the front desk. So, if everyone skips that line, you know the line is going to be somewhere else and you just PAID to stand in it! (BTW, worst time to check in in Vegas? 11 PM. No lines at 2 PM.)

You've seen these fees, right? You find that perfect deal at a hotel, lower rates than anyone else around. The pictures look great - swimming pool, festive drinks, there's even what looks like a guest pantry in one photo stocked with anything you might want for a late night nibble!

You happily plug in all of your info online, or you wait in a phone queue for fifteen minutes delighted you're getting such a sweet deal. Then comes the final tally, which you may be hit with at check-in after a 7 hour flight!

  • Room charge: $159/night
  • Resort fee: $19.99/day
  • Parking fee: $10/day
  • Breakfast: $15/person

What happened to your deal? (Even if your room started off much lower, don't you feel just a little nickel and dimed when you see the bill? You were going to spend that extra $44.99 on the slot machines! You were gonna make it all back so your vacation was free!)

My daughter asked what the resort fee covered. WiFi in the lobby (no access in the rooms), a 'free' newspaper, swimming pool (closed in January when we were there). That's what we paid the extra $19.99/day for - WiFi in the lobby. We never found the place where they hid the free newspapers.

We don't like surprises anymore than you do. That's why here we include everything. (Except the tax, and we do have to collect it!) Your room price covers:

  • WiFi access so you can work or goof off when and where you like - in your jammies at 2 AM if you choose! On the front porch. In an Adirondack chair out on the lawn. In a comfy chair in your room.
  • All the coffee, tea and juice you want with your freshly prepared breakfast. Maybe Maine blueberry pancakes, maybe our crowd favorite Tuscan eggs. Table service with no tipping or 'operational charge' added on.
  • Parking.
  • Concierge services to help you plan your day or find the best place for lobster roll. (And we do know where that is.)
  • A coffee and tea bar with snacks that you can help yourself to at any time. 
  • Feeling peckish at 5 AM? Pop down to the guest pantry and help yourself to a bowl of cereal or a granola bar and watch the sun come up.
It's all included. So, pick up the phone and give us a call. We won't hit you with random fees. The price you see is the price you get. Plus tax. Gotta pay the taxman.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Goat Cheese and Chocolate Puff Pastry

Goat cheese and chocolate puffs

Searching through the photo files I came across this beauty and realized I never posted the recipe! Let's rectify that situation right now.

Ingredients: (makes 8)

4 oz goat cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 pkg of puff pastry (2 sheets)
2 oz chocolate, chopped (dark or semi sweet; for milk chocolate don't add sugar)
1 beaten egg for washing pastry
1 tbsp kosher salt (chunky salt, not table salt)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If puff pastry is frozen, let sit for 20 minutes unwrapped before trying to unroll.

In a small bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients.

Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface. Cut into 8 squares. Divide the cheese mixture evenly into the center of the 8 squares. Top with chopped chocolate. 

Fold one corner (A) of the pastry almost to the opposite corner (B). Brush top with egg wash. Fold (B)corner over top. Your pastry should be long and open at the ends. Brush whole pastry with egg wash and sprinkle a little coarse salt on top. Place pastries on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm or cooled.

Alternative: use cream cheese instead of goat cheese. Add nuts or dried cherries.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Find It Used in Freeport!

So, last week I decided to check out all the cool places in Freeport to find the antique, unique and off the beaten path kinds of fun stuff you love to bring home from a vacation. And, it doesn't hurt that you're supporting local small businesses, artists and crafters. All of the businesses, and one non profit, mentioned below are owned and operated by local folks with a passion for what they do.

Without further ado - Freeport's Antiques and Uniques: (click the pin to show the detail or click the list link at the far left on the map)

A cool map of secondhand, used, antique and unique shops in Freeport, Maine.

The map above is laid out to start at White Cedar Inn. All of the pins have the address of the business and distance from here. Total distance from A to J? 4 miles. Easy peasy. 

Starting at J and working back, we have Pillars Antiques. 125A US Rt 1 Freeport, Maine 207-869-5164 At the Big Indian.

A remarkable collection of indoor and outdoor furnishings and decorative arts. Laid out in 'rooms' so you can get a sense of how everything will look. Lots of little nooks and crannies. Go ahead, poke around!

You can also stop here for lunch at the Old World Deli or dinner at Conundrum. (Caveat - Google maps, and possibly some GPS units think this address is in South Freeport, it is not.)

Pillars Antiques
Who doesn't need a mask to hang on the wall?

Pillars Antiques
Wonderful summer furnishings for your porch

Next stop is I - Two Brothers Books. 176 US Rt 1 Freeport, Maine 207-865-9524 

I have avoided stopping in here for 11 years. Why? I'm a book hound. I figured if I ever went in I'd never come out. As it is, I went in just for you, dear reader. (Ha! Do you really believe that?) Of course, I found books I knew they would have and that I should just have picked up years ago. Namely, some copies of books by Donald MacMillan and his wife, Miriam. Not to mention the miles of books I didn't stop to admire. Although, I was particularly taken with the novel (ha, ha) use of old closets for various book genres. I have to check out the postcard collection next time. I love framing the old scenes of Freeport and hanging them in the guest rooms here.

If you're a book fiend, plan a few hours in here, it goes on for miles. As a good old used bookstore should.

Two Brothers Books
The shelves go on forever.

Onward to H - Maine Wicked Goods Mercantile. 304 US Rt 1 Freeport, Maine 207-869-5251 

This is your Freeport home for all things Moxie. That's what I thought going in. Little did I know they also have a large collection of Chart jewelry, Lobstering Is An Art note cards, and Buoy Bob's Buoy Bats along with their ever-expanding collection of oddities, antiques and uniques. 

Need an antique hooked rug? Carved shore bird for the mantel? A set of juice glasses and pitcher with camels painted on them? This is the place for you! And don't forget to pick up the Moxie while you're here.

Maine Wicked Goods Mercantile
Hooked rugs galore.

Maine Wicked Goods Mercantile
Wicked good 'aht'.

Maine Wicked Goods Mercantile
Chart jewelry - a lovely gift for the person who's far away from Maine.

Next up is G - Freeport Emporium 291 US Rt 1 Freeport, Maine (Google maps also thinks this location is in South Freeport, it is not.)

Housed in exactly the kind of old barn you know has the sweetest finds, Freeport Emporium has 2 floors of everything you might think you want in an antiques, uniques and flea market type setting. Including some uniquely repurposed skis, gas cylinders and more.

Had I not been on a quest to get to each of these different stores in under an hour, I could have poked around in here for the full hour and then some! It's always fun to see how creative people can take something useless (beat up stereo cabinet) and turn it into something funky and functional (drinks trolley).

Things move quickly here, so don't dither! You see it, you like it, you buy it.

(Side trip - about 30 feet - stop in at Shard Pottery down the driveway to the right.)

Freeport Emporium
Even the layout is inviting.

Freeport Emporium
You know you need that tres 90's wedding dress!

Freeport Emporium
School of fish? Yeah, they have that.

Moving on is F - Great Stuff! 475 US Rt 1 Freeport, Maine 207-865-1000

Great Stuff! is a consignment store where you'll find lots of interesting newer pieces and refurbished older furnishings. Most items are in their original condition although, again, crafty folks have converted some kind-of-blah pieces into fun decor.

Getting a little peckish after your hours of traversing all these neat second hand stores? Pop into the Sunrise Cafe for lunch. Or, across the street at Cindy's for lobster or clam roll. You're also close to Maine Beer and Buck's BBQ. (More on drinking your way through Freeport in another blog.)

Nearby is E - Sweet Repeats Children's Clothing Consignment. 554 US Rt 1 Freeport, Maine 207-869-5179

Full disclosure, I've not stopped in here. Yet. There are no little ones growing out of clothes every month here. However, I've heard good things from guests who've happened on the shop while poking around in Cuddledown or popping into Buck's for a brew. It makes no sense to pay full price for little kid's clothing when you know, you just know, they are going to have messy fun in that cute little $88 Lilly Pulitzer overall set two minutes after you let them out of the house!

Getting closer to the inn is D - Annie's Book Stop 18 Independence Dr Freeport, Maine 207-865-3406

This is my go to used bookstore for reading material for my book group. It's close enough that I can go out for a walk and accomplish several things at once: exercise, poking around in a book store and carting home some new favs. You can also trade in books here.

Next up is C - Freeport Community Thrift Shop 53 Depot St Freeport, Maine 207-865-3985

The small thrift shop filled with clothing right at the entrance is only the beginning. Downstairs is where they store the big pieces like furniture, lamps, art work and dishware. Don't forget to check out the senior's little section at the top of the stairs. I've gotten some cool (new) Maine tote bags there!

Almost home now, B - New Beginnings Consignment Boutique 27 Bow St Freeport, Maine 207-865-7078

Adult clothing, shoes, jewelry and more. Follow them on Facebook! They'll let you know when a big consignment has come in, like a couple of years ago when they got bags of cashmere and wool sweaters just in time for fall. I scored a funky Woolrich sweater with sheep on it.

OK, now we're headed back to the inn with tons of fun and funky Maine gifts for friends and family. Oh, what's that you say, you bought it all for yourself? Not to worry, there's always tomorrow.

Many of these stores do not have websites, but quite a few have Facebook pages. Look them up and follow them online for insider tips on new items in stock! Be sure to say White Cedar Inn sent you when you wander into one of these eclectic shops!

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Did I miss something? Let me know!