Ogunquit & York, Maine
When I was a girl my father occasionally talked about his experiences as a young man tent camping just beyond the beach in York, Maine. He spoke so longingly of special times swimming, cooking and sitting by a campfire, doing little to nothing while enjoying the company of dear friends that he considered family.
As kids, my parents would load us up in the family wagon for a vacation that was full of rituals as we visited the same local haunts year after year from York to Ogunquit. We noodled around on hot, breezy afternoons on Long Sands, trying to keep up with my Dad as he body surfed in the numbingly cold waters of the Atlantic. In the late afternoon we would pile in the car for a peek at Nubble Light followed by an ice cream at Brown’s, then onwards to Short Sands penny arcade and souvenir shops, stopping at The Goldenrod to stare at the steady churning of the immaculately clean, taffy machinery in the window as it spun the most perfect salt water kisses. We rode in the Mercury wagon with the windows down smelling the salt air as we traveled through picturesque Cape Neddick, past the Ogunquit Playhouse where I first saw On Golden Pond performed live-paling the later Fonda-Hepburn film version, then winding up in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit for a lobster roll at Barnacle Billy”s. Those were good days.
Early in the summer each year, I still travel up that way when I need to have a mini-break, perhaps overnight, but usually just an afternoon road trip. There is something about crossing the Piscataqua River Bridge from New Hampshire to Maine that does more than transport the car over the river. Maybe it’s the notion of entering a state called Vacationland that allows me to leave whatever I was carrying in my head behind at the state line.
Southern Maine can be a bit kitschy in spots, but for the most part you can still find quintessential Maine views with rocky outcroppings and wide salt marshes, albeit a dose of custom homes and celebrity chefs are now making their imprint as seems to be the case nearly everywhere. On recent visits, I dined at the renowned restaurants of James Beard Best Chef of the Northeast 2010 Award winners, Arrows and MC Perkins Cove– both fantastic, amazing, delicious and memorable in very different ways.
This part of Maine can’t really be compared to Acadia or the Penobscot Bay known for glorious beauty, but it is a teaser of all that the Maine coast has to offer and it reminds me of days with my Dad when he smiled as he spoke of memories so very dear to him that I can nearly hear his voice as I pass over the footbridge in Ogunquit. Oh, how I wish I could have just one more of those days with him.