The Travelin Maine(rs), George and Linda Smith of Mount Vernon, have spent their lifetimes enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Now they’ll tell you all about it — their favorite inns, restaurants, trips, activities, experiences, and travel books and websites — in their own personal style. They’ll be offering anecdotes, tips and all the details you need. So join them in exploring, experiencing and enjoying the great state of Maine.

THIS AREA IS well-known for it’s outstanding recreational opportunities, but did you know about the community’s fabulous inns, restaurants and shops? Even though we central Mainers can reach the town in about an hour, we tend toward I-95 and longer trips north and south, even for an evening’s dinner. Turn that vehicle west and you will find a warm and welcoming community offering everything that gives Maine bragging rights for its quality of life.

Linda

Are you looking for a great place to stay in the Rangeley Lakes area? You really must try the Rangeley Lakes Bed and Breakfast if you want to experience a comfortable, welcoming stay in a very hospitable atmosphere. Owners Sandy and Barbara Miller have done a great job renovating this house, conveniently located right on Main Street.

Four affordable rooms are available with a variety of sleeping accommodations — a room with two twin beds, one with two queens, and the other two with one queen bed. The rooms share a common bathroom, and reminded us of accommodations in Europe.

The kitchen is beautifully decorated with stunning cherry cabinets and hutch, marble countertops, and detailed backsplash and ceiling. Any other guests will soon become friends as you enjoy one of Sandy’s home-cooked breakfasts.

Starting with a pot of “help yourself” coffee, you’ll soon feel like you’ve visited here many times before. Then choose from pancakes, waffles or eggs, each served with freshly prepared fruit and home-style servings of bacon, sausage and homefries. Believe me, you won’t be hungry again for quite a while!
Rangeley’s Main Street has lots of interesting shops and eateries. One of my favorite shops was The Farmer’s Daughter. The range of delicious-looking produce was impressive. From avocados to zucchini, it’s all there — including specialty items for that special recipe. If I lived closer I’d do a lot of shopping here.

Be sure to visit Ecopelagican, too. You can borrow free skates to enjoy the community’s outdoor rink right in back of the store. We noticed several families doing just that. Inside you can find supplies for camping, hiking, birding, snowshoeing and more. I spent a while admiring all the special bird feeders they carried and knew I had just the spot for the small tube-feeder I bought.

On one of our fall leaf-peeping rides years ago, we stopped in at Parkside and Main for a bowl of terrific French onion soup, and I’ve never forgotten how wonderful that soup was. George and I shared a bowl on our latest visit, and it’s as good as I remembered.

I had the grilled portobello sandwich that includes roasted red peppers, pesto and Swiss cheese. Served on a sizable roll (handmade from The Bread Chef and obtained through North Center), this is a great sandwich. I substituted sweet potato fries for the chips, and was so glad I did.

I’ve been searching for the perfect sweet potato fry, and believe I have now found it. These fries are thinly sliced, topped with coarse salt and perfectly crispy. Heavenly.

We’ve eaten here several times since our first visit, and always had a great meal. This is a wonderful family restaurant, with a pleasing décor and big picture windows looking out across the park and onto Rangeley Lake, a gorgeous view in all seasons.

They serve breakfast on the weekends and have a separate dinner menu, which includes the appetizers and burgers from the lunch menu. Some of their entrées and specials sounded pretty amazing.

George

We discovered you can enjoy a great 24-hour vacation without being more than two miles from Rangeley’s busy business district.

Sandy Miller’s Dad was responsible for Sunday breakfasts when Sandy was growing up in Mexico, Maine, and we’re so glad about that because he taught Sandy to cook. While the rooms and hospitality are first-rate (with the lowest prices in the area), I’d visit Rangeley Lakes B&B just for the breakfasts!

I also like B&Bs because you often meet interesting people there. At Sandy’s we met and visited with Serge Liros, whose Blue Hill art gallery is well-known. Serge was in Rangeley to ski at Saddleback.
And if you like to hunt or fish, Sandy’s got photos and stories that will entertain you late into the night. That’s also one reason I’ve eaten a lot of meals at Parkside and Main, next door to Sandy’s B&B.

Co-owner Kash Haley is a fishing guide when he’s not working at his excellent restaurant, and is happy to exit the kitchen to share fishing tips and stories. And any place that offers Allagash Black — one of my favorite brews — has to be first rate!

My eye was naturally drawn to “The Rapid River,” menu selection, seeing as how the Rapid is a favorite fishing destination. This was one of the best steak and cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had — and I’ve had many.

While the burgers are superb here, so is the fish — including fish and chips with fresh haddock. And shame on you if you miss the breads, soups, chowders and pies made by Kash’s 80-year-old grandmother, who once cooked at Grants Camps.

My favorite Main Street business is the aptly named Books, Lines and Thinkers, with its great selection of books and art by local artists. A lot of Rangeley’s businesses offer impressive play spaces (and merchandise) for children, including Nancy’s. Those moose caps are adorable!

You can ride into Rangeley’s business district on snowmobiles and ATVs, and many arrive by bike (including Canadians) or canoe (traveling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail), or even on foot, taking a day off from hiking the nearby Appalachian Trail.

Rangeley has great downhill and cross-country skiing, and an amazing new bowling alley/lounge/restaurant/arcade — perfect to keep the kids entertained.

We also attended the grand opening at Camp Do What You Wanna where you can rent snowmobiles and ATVs — and buy very tasty baked goods and sandwiches for the trail!

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.

IF YOU GO . . .

• Chamber of Commerce: www.rangeleymaine.com; 864-5364
• Parkside and Main: 864-3774
• RANGELEY LAKES B&B: www.rangeleylakesbb.com; 864-9944
• STORES: www.ecopelagicon, 864-2771; www.thefarmersdaughteronline.com,
   864-2733; www.campdowhatyouwanna.com, 864-3000
• Rangeley Lakes Trails Center: www.xcskirangeley.com, 864-4309