George

Monhegan Island is the perfect place to relax and escape the troubles weighing on our country and the world. It’s a very friendly place. Both residents and visitors stop to visit with us on the many walking trails and, if we’re wearing binoculars, ask what we’ve seen.

Yes, Monhegan is a birder’s paradise, but it’s much more than that. On our first visit here — a May daytrip with Maine Audubon to see migrating birds — we fell in love with the island and have returned many times since, both spring and fall.

In early September, as I contemplated a gift for Linda’s birthday on Sept. 26, I could think of nothing better than four days on Monhegan. Unfortunately, I was too late to book “our” apartment at Shining Sails. Thankfully, John and Winnie Murdock, who are wonderful hosts, also own the Fish House building across from the island store, with four upstairs apartments.

We were lucky to get the Periwinkle apartment, with a full kitchen, small living room, bedroom and bath, and a deck overlooking the harbor. We spent a lot of time on that deck, enjoying the view while eating, reading and birding the nearby trees.

We also enjoyed Linda’s birthday dinner at the Island Inn, which we will tell you about next week, and two great lunches at the Barnacle, a breakfast and lunch place owned by Michael Brassard and Jaye Morency (who also own the Island Inn.)

For my first lunch, I enjoyed lobster sliders: two rolls chock full of tasty lobster. The next day, I had to order the reuben after getting a bite of Linda’s the day before. On both beautiful sunny days, we sat at outside picnic tables overlooking the ocean.

We spent time at the island’s wonderful library, shopped at the grocery store, visited the shop full of crafts and art, and enjoyed many hikes.

Of course, one of my favorite places is Monhegan Brewing Company, where lobsterman Matt and his wife, Mary, along with Mary’s Dad Danny McGovern, produce tasty brews, all of which are sold on the island and can be enjoyed at picnic tables outside the brewery. Some of their hops are grown right on the island, and the local farmer’s co-op uses their spent mash to fertilize and mulch their plots.

Linda

A three-day stay in Monhegan at the end of September was a real birthday treat. The fact the weather was quite hot at home was icing on the cake, as a nice breeze and clear skies gave us picture-perfect days.

Part of the fun of getting there is taking the Barstow family’s Monhegan Boat Lines ferry out of Port Clyde. We had arrived in Port Clyde early, allowing us to visit the nearby Marshall Point Lighthouse. The Barstow’s boat, Elizabeth Ann, can hold 149 passengers and that day we must have been close to that number because a bus of Japanese tourists unloaded for a day trip to the island. It was a scorching hot day, so sitting on the upper deck was a real pleasure. We’ve enjoyed other cruises with the Barstows, including a trip to Egg Rock to see puffins.

We hoped to catch the fall migration of birds. So shortly after a lunch at our apartment, we headed out on one of the many trails on the island. At first we thought it was just us, that we didn’t see many birds, but that was the case for many other birders also. An Audubon group from Connecticut helped us identify a couple of fall warblers and pointed out a peregrine falcon.

Though the birds were not numerous, we still had an incredible trip. We hiked to Lobster Cove, by Jamie Wyeth’s house, and discovered clay-colored sparrows.

Two hikes, Burnt Head and White Head, took us out to the cliffs on the backside of the island. The view from the cliffs on a blue sky day is something to remember. It is mesmerizing to watch the white sea spray crashing on the rocks.

The Barnacle is a great restaurant located just off the ferry dock. It is a good place for breakfast and lunches. I highly recommend the reuben panini. Maybe it was the balance in proportions of meat, sauerkraut and dressing that made it such a standout. The bread was nice and crispy, not soggy. I savored the excellent iced coffee, the perfect drink for a hot day, and also had it again the next day.

Picnic tables afford a spectacular view over the harbor. They have an outdoor deck as well. They do a brisk business for lunch, especially after the ferry arrives. Desserts are made by the same pastry chef who cooks at the inn, and though owner Michael said we should try the pastries here, our sandwiches had filled us up.

Before we left the island we booked for a week at Shining Sails next May.

Maybe we will catch the fantastic spring bird migration.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.