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.

 

Many people travel to Millinocket to visit Baxter State Park. We go to Millinocket to eat sandwiches from Orvieto Italian Market & Deli. Yes, Baxter is special. But wait until you taste an Orvieto Italian sandwich!

You probably know that the good folks in the Millinocket region are struggling economically. You can do them, and yourselves, a favor by visiting the area this summer or fall. You will find real value everywhere, from lodging to meals to outdoor activities. And Mainers get into Baxter for free!

Linda

Millinocket has a special place in my heart. It reminds me a lot of another favorite town of mine, Lubec. Economic downturn has adversely affected both of these towns. Both are in a beautiful part of the state and should be prospering from tourism.

We’ve found great places to eat here. We first read about Orvieto in the newspaper. We tracked down its location on Prospect Street by stopping a mail carrier on her rounds to ask for directions!

This is a very cute Italian market that serves unbelievable sandwiches. Prices are low (even for wine), bread is made here and the ingredients are fresh. Original combinations make their subs unforgettable. Try the Italian sub or the Al Capone (both just $5.50). I also buy deli meats, cheeses and olives here.

George and I have a copy of the Orvieto menu in the Subaru, and call in our order about 20 minutes before arriving in Millinocket. Everything is made from scratch so it takes a few minutes for them to create our sandwiches.

The Appalachian Trail Restaurant in the business district is a well-known stop for hikers, but even if you don’t hike, stop to try their home-cooked food.

Baxter State Park also has a very special place in my heart. We’ve been coming here to unwind for 20 years. We were lucky enough to be able to spend at least half the summer at our camp just outside the northwest corner of the park, when we were raising our children. What a gift that was.

No electricity, phones, TV or other distractions. But lots of time to explore all that Baxter Park has to offer. Boat rides and fishing, hiking, moose and deer watching and just drinking in nature.

Our kids were imprinted with camp and the park early in life, and now treasure the camp as young adults and visit it often — sometimes without us!

My parents and George’s parents had never come to Baxter prior to our purchase of the camp. A great many Mainers have never visited the Park, and what a shame that is. I’m not a mountain hiker but I am “exhibit A” that a person can be extremely happy hiking in Baxter and not have to attempt vertical climbs. There are many beautiful flat hikes to be explored. There’s so much more to Baxter than climbing Mount Katahadin.

The top 5 reasons I love the park are: walking in the woods, the view of all the mountains, special lakes and ponds, bird watching and observing nature up close.

If you haven’t gone yet, put Baxter Park on your “bucket list.”

George

You have many lodging choices in this region, from roughing it in tents to pampering yourselves in luxurious accommodations.

Matt and Wendy Polstein have created a North Woods oasis at Twin Pine Camps on Millinocket Lake, blending traditional older camps with astonishing and beautiful LEED-certified guest houses, many with stunning views of Mount Katahdin.

They also own Millinocket’s best restaurant, River Drivers, and are moving it to a gorgeous new setting on their Twin Pine Camps property. We plan to be there soon after the restaurant opens at the new location, tentatively scheduled for early August. I’ve eaten several times at River Drivers over the years and am no longer surprised by the high quality of the food and experience.

Because Orvieto is closed on weekends, we found ourselves looking for another sandwich shop last year and stumbled into Angelo’s Pizza Grille on Penobscot Avenue (the business district). What a find! It’s a small place with a huge menu, including 29 pizzas!

On a drizzly Saturday a few weeks ago, we ordered chili with real western beef after a fellow in the next booth recommended it, and it was among the best we’ve ever had. A lot of locals eat here, starting with breakfast.

If you watched American Logger on TV, I don’t have to tell you that the Pelletier’s American Loggers Restaurant draws fans by the hundreds. It’s a huge place with an equally huge menu.

There’s a lot to do in this area. Several outfits offer moose tours, including Twin Pine Camps. You can find a Maine guide for any outdoor activity from canoeing to fishing but you can also enjoy these activities on your own for free. And there are some unique shops in town, our favorite being North Light Gallery featuring very talented Maine artists. Don’t miss the birds carved by Millinocket’s George Young. Amazing!

I’ve rafted the West Branch of the Penobscot River quite a few times. It’s a fabulous trip, exciting but safe, good for all ages.

Of course, much of my time here is spent fishing. Our camp, one of a set of old sporting camps called Camp Phoenix, sits on the best wild trout lake in the state, Nesowadnehunk (Pronounced Sour-da-hunk).

Our driveway runs right into Baxter State Park where I love to fish the ponds, brooks and streams. I’m not going to give away all my best fishing spots, but I will say that the smaller ponds around Kidney Pond are very special.

My favorite place in the park is Upper South Branch Pond where we often camped in our old VW camper in the good old days. My favorite hike is Mount Coe, a 2-hour hike that takes you through a fabulous stand of old hardwoods, a long esker and a steep rockslide.

Conclusion

If you’ve never been to Millinocket and Baxter State Park, go this year. If you’ve been before, go again. The park is amazing. The people need your help. And you will thank us many times over when you bite into an Orvieto Italian!

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