Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall foliage walks & drives in Maine

bridge by beaver pond
What a gorgeous day it was today! We decided to head out and take a look at some of the fantastic foliage in the lakes region. Bre always likes to go along on our expeditions so we used The Ultimate Guide to Dog Parks, Beaches & Trails in Maine. (Published by Downeast Dog Guides and available at www.downeastdogguides.com or, if you stay at White Cedar Inn with your dog a copy is included with the pet fee.)

Here is Bre on one of the side trails we found.

We ended up taking a 120 mile round trip to check out the Jay-Farmington Rail Trail. The Rail Trail from Jay to Farmington is approximately 14 miles long. We hit about 2-3 miles of it before turning around and heading back. (We also wanted to check out places to eat along the way!)

fall foliage walks in maineAlthough we were headed out for walking, we passed so many boat access points along the way, I would definitely recommend this route for anyone wanting to canoe or kayak. (Lake Auburn, Androscoggin Lake and Sabattus Pond looked good from the road!)

Not being a bicyclist, I am not sure this trail, at least the Jay end of it, is suitable for anything other than mountain or trail bikes. The trail bed is a combination of sand and gravel for a few miles, then the gravel is less and the sand is more. It was great for walking. (Wear sturdy shoes as there are some 'off road' trails that go off to the sides of the main trail. And the gravel can get annoying if it's constantly getting into your sandals.)

Many of the roads we took meandered alongside the Androscoggin River, which is well-known for it's scenic beauty via canoe or kayak. A good river map will point out where the dams are and where the portage points can be found.

The walk was easy and the tree canopy dense enough that I think this would be a good walk even in the summer. (bring bug spray!) Then in the winter the section we were on would be an easy x-c skiing trek (exception being the parts that cross the roads).

snake on a trail
Although we saw the usual suspects as far as flora and fauna- robins, blue jays, raptors, chickadees, ducks, a couple of snakes, a beaver dam and the beautiful maples & birches, we were told that locals have sighted moose on the trail. And why not! It's an easy hike for the moose as well. It had just rained pretty hard last night so there were no tracks at all, people or animals, when we hit the trail around noon.

We had the trail pretty much to ourselves for most of the walk. We started to see other walkers and ATV riders as we were on our way back to the car. The ATV's were very quiet, which was nice given the serenity of the walk up to that point.

After walking along the trail until it hit Rt 4, we headed back to the car and decided to stop along the way home for lunch. Eschewing the chains (as we always do), we stopped in at LaFleur's Restaurant in Jay. The service was great and Rock had the scallop basket and I had the lobster roll (remember I'm on the lookout for lobster roll everywhere).

A new twist on the lobster roll was to put it on a hamburg bun instead of a hot dog bun. Interesting! My requirements are a nicely toasted bun, whether hamburg or hotdog and this one was. A little schmear of butter and it's good to go. For me, I took the lettuce and tomato off the sandwich and made a small side salad with them. The lobster had good, big chunks in it but a little too much mayo for the way I like it. Overall, we definitely recommend LaFleur's!

A couple more shots of the trail and then directions for how we went, althought there are a number of routes to take to get you to the same places. And, you can drive all the way to Farmington and start at that end of the trail as well.

quiet autumn pond
So, how we got there: Take Rt 136 to Auburn and then Rt 4 through Turner and Livermore Falls to Jay. (Right turn onto Rt 4 in Auburn, heading North.) Once in Jay (approximately 54 miles from here), park at the back of the Jay Plaza. (Dollar Tree & Hannafords, across the street from the Jay Municipal Building...very nice people in Jay all around. Thanks for all the directions!) You'll be on a small side road on the left side of the plaza and you will see the trail head straight ahead of you.

To return home, we took Rt 133 and Rt 41 through Wayne and Winthrop, Maine and back to Rt 202 in Lewiston/Auburn. You could turn off and head toward Lisbon Falls just after Mardens on Rt 202. That will take you to Rt 125 and eventually back to Rt 136.

Another foliage walk that is close by and could be incorporated into this drive is at Bradbury Mountain, about 5 miles from here.

Don't forget about our foliage and lobster package which is available through October, Sunday-Thursday!

maple leaves

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Owl's Head Lighthouse, Transportation Museum and General Store

Last weekend we took a drive to Owl's Head. I wanted to see some of the lighthouses that were open for Maine's Open Lighthouse weekend and it's a cinch to et Rock in the car if I mention the Transportation Museum! Now that we are members, it's even better. (BTW, because we are members, we can get discounted admissions for our guests, so let us know when you book if you'd like tix.)

So, after cleaning up on Saturday morning, we hopped in the car and headed north. Owl's Head is about and hour and a half from White Cedar Inn. To get to the Transportation Museum, take Rt 1 north and turn right onto Rt 73 and follow the signs. You can head out to Marshall Point Lighthouse on this route as well. Follow the signs for the Owl's Head State Park to find the Owl's Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse has a Coast Guard family in residence!

Although the lighthouse is not open every weekend, it is open on some weekends. We noticed a sign on the Owl's Head General Store door that stated the lighthouse was open that weekend. If you are in the area for the Transportation Museum, it's not that far to drive over to see if the lighthouse is open. And if you are stopping at the General Store, Rock definitely recommends the 7 napkin burger! Recently voted by the Food Network as the best burger in Maine, you should certainly give it a try. They have an extensive menu of sandwiches and more and inside dining is available.

Fall foliage in Maine and other sure signs of autumn

Leaves are falling on the first day of autumn. Not too many, but we have had a few weeks of little rain so some of the trees (the ash, aka gutterus clogus, for example) are just letting go of their leaves. Looking out the window today, I spotted our favorite chipmunk looking back. He has the best view from the top of the bear's head. You may see him watching you while you eat breakfast!

Some trees have started changing color and the reports are that this should be a fabulous show this foliage season! The combo of the excessive rain (OK, it seems it was good for something!) and the heat at the latter part of the summer should provide a spectacularly colorful season this year.

Some of the best color can be viewed from the top of Bradbury Mountain. On a clear day you can see the ocean in the distance. It's a short drive from White Cedar Inn, about 5 miles.

Another great option for color is along the Androscoggin River. Take a boat ride from the Maine Maritime Museum. Or, opt for the mail boat from Portland. New in Freeport this year is sailing aboard the Nimbus, a wooden sloop berthed in South Freeport. Any of these options would be an excellent way to see the color from the water.

If you don't have your sea legs, there are many excellent drives along the coast and in towards the lakes region that will have you quite breathless with the show of leaves. Just driving from here to Pineland Farms is beautiful. Stop at the cafe at the farms and have a locally-grown lunch!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fudgy Brownie Cookies- September Recipe of the Month

White Cedar Inn guest favorite! These are to die for hot out of the oven!

1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c flour
2/3 c uncooked oatmeal
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
1/3 c coconut flakes
1/3 c chopped pecans

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter & baking soda. Beat in egg & vanilla. Mix in flour, oatmeal and cocoa powder. Stir in chocolate chunks, coconut flakes & pecans. Dough will be thick.

Drop by tablespoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Makes 18-20 cookies.