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.

 

Lubec is lovely and lively in the summer, a top spot for a short or long vacation. We’ve been “summering” there for — well, for our entire lives. We often get “down” to Lubec in June and always for a week in August.

Lubec has astonishing scenery, the “Bold Coast” with some of our best conservation lands, the tastiest chocolates in the state, great birding and whale watching, history and hiking, fabulous saltwater fishing and kayaking, and the prettiest lighthouse you’ll ever see.

We started to build you a list of “don’t-miss” places and activities in and around Lubec, but it got too long for this column!

GEORGE

My heart and heritage are in Lubec. My great-grandfather, Ephraim Johnson, was the lighthouse keeper at West Quoddy Head from 1905 to 1931. Mom grew up in South Lubec. My grandfather was a Canadian from Campobello, the island that stands just a few hundred yards from Lubec. My grandmother packed sardines. Maybe that’s why I love them!

While I used to ride a ferry to Campobello when I was a kid, a bridge now provides easy access to the island that features Franklin Roosevelt’s summer home and a fabulous 2,000-acre international park with isolated beaches, cliffs, hiking trails and great picnic areas. We spend a lot of time in the park.

Don’t miss the opportunity to catch mackerel from the wharf at Wilson’s Beach and eat fried clams at the island’s primary restaurant, Family Fisheries. Take your kayaks or rent them, launch at Mill Cove, and paddle to the East Quoddy Head Lighthouse — just don’t get too close to the whales! East Quoddy is a top whale watching spot, but don’t linger out at the lighthouse or you’ll be stranded there when the tide comes in.

Campobello also has a wonderful 9-hole golf course — often uncrowded during the week — and the golf course restaurant is a good place for lunch before or after your round. There’s a great beach and a good campground just past the golf course.

Back in the states, Lubec has a variety of places to stay from an inexpensive motel to private home rentals. We’ve been told the Peacock House is top of the line. You can even stay in an apartment at the old Coast Guard station. There used to be very few places to eat, but that’s changing, and we’re looking forward this summer to trying the new places, especially the Water Street Tavern & Inn that local folks rave about. You’ll find lots of sea glass right behind the tavern.

Lubec’s Main Street features some neat art galleries, the historic McCurdy Smokehouse and our favorite hangout, the Lubec Memorial Library where the staff are super friendly and the WiFi is fast.

Here’s an abbreviated list of “don’t-miss” things: The 2011 Bicentennial events from June 21 to July 9; the Summer Keys free Wednesday night music concerts; the south Lubec sand bar (best place in the state to see migrating shore birds beginning in August); West Quoddy Head (take the stairs to the rocky beach and don’t miss the painting of my great-grandfather and grandmother in the wonderful museum).

In the area, Cobscook Bay State Park is the best with campsites right on the ocean and a fabulous picnic area. Eastport is a wonderful day trip — don’t miss Raye’s mustard mill (try Raye’s spicy horseradish and you’ll never buy French’s again). Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge can be accessed right off Route 1 in Whiting.

And here’s the best tip you’ll ever get: A few miles past the entrance to Cobscook, on your left on Route 1 in Edmunds, the freshest and tastiest crabmeat you’ll ever eat can be purchased at Griffin’s Crabmeat.

LINDA

Only in the last few years, have we included bird-watching as part of our annual trip to Lubec. Shore birds are not our strong suit, so we were delighted last year to bump into Bob Duchesne, author of “Maine Birding Trail,” guiding a group of birders on the South Lubec mudflats. With awe, I watched and listened to members of his group identify birds by sound as they sat far away, and by their flight pattern as they passed high overhead. Some day we’ll get it.

Back in town, I was so happy to discover a boardwalk trail hugging the shore starting at the south end of Pleasant Street. Here you can enjoy warblers as well as shore birds — and it’s easy walking.

We’ve just begun exploring the Bold Coast trails that start in South Lubec and continue on to Cutler — nice hikes with great opportunities for bird-watching. One of our favorites is Boot Cove that has amazing ocean views and interesting woodland habitat. There’s a wonderful trail over the granite cliffs at West Quoddy, too.

After we sold our camper, we scouted around to find a nice place to rent close to Lubec. We settled in at An Island Chalet in Campobello, where Rob and Diane Lahey offer five nice two-bedroom, full-kitchen chalets with stunning ocean views.

Each chalet is identical, having a loft with a double bed and a first-floor room with twin beds. An open kitchen and living room area gives you plenty of space when friends and family get together. Our kids often join us for this trip, our favorite of the summer.

Monica’s Chocolates started in a little house near the Campobello bridge, then moved to its present location on Route 189. Consider it the official entrance to Lubec. Monica’s story could be a movie.

She moved here with her husband from Peru, where she was a fashion designer. When Monica’s husband became ill, she turned to a special recipe from home to make chocolates.

These are no ordinary chocolates! They are made with incredibly rich chocolate and combined with interesting ingredients. Monica makes truffles filled with a nutty Peruvian filling, and blueberry and raspberry truffles that have a hint of Maine wine.

Monica is a delightful lady who loves to give her customers tours and tastes. We worried that she’d have a tough time making a living making chocolates in out-of-the-way Lubec, until we learned that 95 percent of her business comes from her website. Now, we can get Monica’s chocolates year-round!

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

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