Sometimes our travel column visits take a lot of advance work. And sometimes they just come together beautifully, like this trip to Boothbay Harbor.

George

It all started in July, with Linda’s family members and a cruise around Boothbay Harbor with Mark Stover. Mark encouraged us to come back someday and let him take us to Damariscove Island for a picnic, hike and birdwatching. Sounded great and we scheduled it for September 14.

When we did, Mark suggested we stick around for an evening concert at the Boothbay Opera House. That sounded good, and a quick call to Opera House manager Cathy Sherrill set that up.

Then we really needed dinner and a place to stay. Remembering the spectacular visit we’d had last year at Spruce Point Inn, I emailed Angelo DiGiulian, the co-owner and manager, and he welcomed us back. So, let’s see if this sounds like about the best 24-hour getaway anyone could dream of.

We arrived at the inn on a breezy cool Saturday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the “Captain’s Room.” This second-floor corner room has stunning ocean views in two directions, a very comfortable seating area with couch and rocking chairs and a charming corner desk, at which I wrote most of this column.

After checking in, we enjoyed hot drinks and cookies in the warm sun on the deck, watching boats sail by. I, of course, kept my eye on a couple fishing off the dock. The inn provides an astonishing amount of outdoor and indoor activities for its guests, including kayaks, bikes, tennis, two pools, a large spa and exercise building, an indoor building full of games and a fire pit for evening s’mores. You could stay here for a week and never leave the grounds!

We enjoyed dinner in the inn’s elegant main dining room and restaurant, 88. That will be the subject of a future column, but I will report now that the creative cuisine, the service and the sunset view from our table made this a very memorable dining experience.

Then it was off to the Boothbay Opera House, a beautifully restored building that attracts world-class entertainers. David Wilcox played and sang his own songs for an hour and a half. At just $16, ticket prices here are a bargain. We continue to be amazed by these opportunities throughout the state to enjoy professional musicians and actors in historic and beautiful venues, at prices far below what you’d pay in Boston.

Manager Cathy Sherill, who joined us for our Damariscove adventure the next day, says she gets very few patrons from north of Damariscotta. I urge you to get down there to enjoy an outstanding evening of entertainment — and tell Cathy we sent you!

Our Sunday morning breakfast at the Spruce Point Inn’s comfortable Bogie’s restaurant was delicious. Once again we had an ocean view from our table. And of course, I chose the buffet, dived into the muffins, ate a lot of fruit at Lin’s urging, then had an omelet made to order. That tided me over until Lin unveiled her fabulous picnic on Damariscove Island.

Mark Stover is a fascinating guy, a great musician and singer with the group Holy Mackerels, a recreational fishing guide and a charter boat captain. His Redhook Charters offers full-day, half-day and hourly adventures.

Having spent his entire life in Boothbay Harbor, he knows everyone and everything about this wonderful place. And we really lucked out, with a gorgeous sunny Sunday and a very interesting group of other guests. Damariscove Island’s 2-mile-long barren landscape was first settled in the early 1600s and actively farmed well into the 20th century. Mark gave me a book, “Coming of Age on Damariscove Island, Maine,” that’s a captivating account of life on the island in the early 1900s.

Most of the island was donated to The Nature Conservancy in 1966. TNC transferred ownership to the Boothbay Region Land Trust that now manages the property under a “forever wild” conservation easement. The island includes guest moorings and several hiking trails.

I called this “walking in history.” On one shore we noted granite that had been cut but never transported off the island. I couldn’t imagine a more stunning place for a picnic, close to the foundation of an old farmhouse, as we feasted on the food Lin had assembled.

Every Mainer ought to anchor in our state’s history at least once, in Damariscove’s sheltered harbor. My next trip with Mark will be in June, to catch some stripers!

Linda

It sounded like fun from the get go — a boat trip out to Damariscove Island to enjoy a bit of hiking, birds and a picnic. But I had no idea just how much fun it would turn out to be. Mark Stover is a perfect tour guide as he shares his knowledge of the land, waterways and history of the Boothbay area.

I’m not on the water much, and was amazed to see both Monhegan Island and Pemaquid Point from our boat just out of Boothbay Harbor. Everything is much closer if you are on the water!

We started our adventure by picking up two couples who summer here, the Wymans and the Bowditchs. Mark knows both well, and as we chatted away we felt as if we’d also known them a while. We made one more stop to pick up Cheryl, who runs the Opera House. What a wonderful way to spend the day — getting to know people while experiencing this special Maine place.

The weather was so perfect that calm waters and enjoyable conversation had us out to Damariscove, five miles out of the harbor, in no time.

The island has some easy hiking trails and spectacular views from its rocky shores. We hiked to a fresh-water pond but could also see the ocean nearby. We spotted our first-ever Peregrine falcon as soon as we landed and the bushes were alive with sparrows. We all met for a picnic after spending some time enjoying the island on different trails. And on the trip back, Mark motored us out to an island where seals hang out. Huge gray seals and harbor seals were lounging all over the rocks and slipping into the water, making it a very special experience for us.

Our stay at the Spruce Point Inn was lovely. Upon opening the doors to our deck we were blinded by the sunlight dancing off the water. What a view from these rooms in the main inn! The breeze off the ocean was cool, but the sunshine warmed us to our core as we relaxed on the deck. The inn does a great job of combining the traditional (Adirondack chairs on our deck) with the modern (WiFi and a big TV in our room).

From our side windows, we noticed the staff preparing for a big event that evening. It turned out to be a cocktail reception for a wedding, with the rest of the reception taking place at the inn’s Pemaquid building. George and I peeked in there prior to the festivities and met Joe Paolillo, one of the owner/managers of the inn. This large room is stunning, with locally milled pine and wrought iron candelabras by a local artisan.

With the tables set, sound system, flowers and lighting in place, it was a breathtaking scene. Joe told us, “We want people to experience what Maine has to offer.”

After the evening performance at the Opera House, we returned to the inn and walked up to check on the wedding celebration now in full swing. White lights accented the beautiful arched windows and guests were dancing to a live band. Clearly, the Spruce Point Inn offers a spectacular venue for weddings!

The inn has become one of our favorite summer getaways.

IF YOU GO

Spruce Point Inn, 88 Grandview Ave.,  Boothbay Harbor
sprucepointinn.com • 633-4152 • 800-553-0289

Redhook Charters • Captain Mark Stover • 203-633-3807

Boothbay Opera House • boothbayoperahouse.com
633-6855 • Box office 633-5159

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

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