Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ogunquit, a Meditation

Most of you know that I am just nuts about mountains, the Adirondacks in particular, but there's another place that draws me, where Bill and I have gone for thirty-four years. We have made almost-annual trips to Ogunquit, Maine, before children, while raising our children, and as empty-nesters. 

(Ogunquit River from our lodging, and dunes beyond)

We know what to expect, so decisions are few.  We have stayed at the same lodging since 1981, and we eat out or get take-out at most of the same places. Some things have changed and we could do things differently, of course, but the location suits us and the food can't be beat.

Years ago, Thomas and Meredith thought we owned the cottage that we rented. We would put them in the Radio Flyer wagon we had brought from home, and walked the 3/4-mile to the Footbridge Beach.

(heading to the beach, 1986)

Now, we no longer get a cottage just for the two of us, but have a room with an efficiency kitchen, and cruise through the quaint neighborhood on our bicycles. Going to the beach is always our first activity after we arrive.

(Ogunquit Beach)

We walk over the Ogunquit River on the wooden slat Footbridge, up the board walkway over the dunes, and there it is, the 3-mile stretch of beach, spread out before us.  We've been there in drizzle, high winds, and on perfect blue-sky days.  Regardless, it smells like sand and salt, and we like the subtle gray-toned water crashing into white foam as much as the deep blue. We walk long distances on the sand.  Relax and breathe.

(Bill helps Thomas and Meredith make sand castles, 1988)

Eating is easy too, because we know just what we want.  Back in the day, when Thomas and Meredith's interest in daily seafood didn't quite live up to ours, they were thrilled to have a night of hot dogs on the porch of our cottage.  Bill and I would steam up the kitchen cooking lobster for ourselves.

(Oh yeah, hot dogs and Doritos! 1992)

But the big favorite for all of us was, and still is, the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. We think the Clam Shack serves the best fried haddock there is. For decades, we have bought our fish and carried it in the back of the car to the stony town beach, where Bill serves up plates and we eat while watching the people, seagulls, and waves as they hit the shore. Listen to the rhythm of the waves rolling the small stones.

(the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport has won numerous awards)

Kennebunkport is a quaint village of shops and pleasant walks.  After our fish dinner, we often walk along Ocean Drive, past the big houses and inns, all the way to the first President Bush's estate.

(Thomas, Meredith, and Virginia play on the rocks in Kennebunkport, 1987)

When the kids were young, we searched for shells between the rocks or found stones with interesting colors and shapes.  Now, Bill and I watch the spray of water shoot into the air at the Blowing Cave.

(Blowing Cave and the Bush estate)

In recent years, Bill and I have added Cape Porpoise to our list of favorite places to go for fish.  It is still most-frequented by lobstermen and fishermen, and feels like the active fishing harbor that it is.  Here, we eat outdoors at picnic tables on a deck overlooking the harbor.

(Cape Porpoise is off the beaten path)

Our list of must-do activities always includes one or more walks along the Marginal Way, a paved public walkway across rocky waterfront to Perkins Cove, a pretty point of land in Ogunquit.  High tide or low tide can make the difference between thunderous waves crashing on the rocks or peaceful whitecaps rippling across the blue. Stormy weather brings its own drama.  Be mindful of the water's colors and textures.

(a good-weather scene from the Marginal Way)

Perkins Cove has lots of shops as well as being an active fishing harbor, where lobstermen get designated parking spots in this high-tourist area.  If we stay enough days to get tired of fried fish, we like to get chowder and a lobster roll on the Cove.

(Perkins Cove)

While walking the beach, eating fish, and climbing on rocks are all well and good, one must have ice cream at the ocean.  Granted, there are myriad ice cream shops in southern Maine, but we choose to go to Brown's on the way to Cape Neddick in York.  Going to Brown's is an excuse to drive the very beautiful Shore Road and to visit Nubble Lighthouse.

(Nubble Light at high tide on a cloudy day)

Mr. Brown used to serve us through the open window of the ice cream shop. Now, after almost 50 years, Brown's has closed and his protegee has opened Dunne's nearby.  Ice cream at Dunne's is still worth the trip.

This year, Bill and I had a summer full of major family activities, with fall promising more to come! We decided to take a few days just to get away.  What better place to let-down than coastal Maine, where everything is familiar and surprises are few.  Carry the serenity of the early morning into the day.

(sunrise on the Ogunquit River)


  1. Oh we did Maine for years at Long Beach..know the clam shack. Tried to get to Rhode Island again this year but we waited too long to reserve. I love those pics of your gamily over the years. The first one, 1988, was the year I met you. Time is a weird thing. I refuse to let Thomas and Meredith grow old in my mind.

  2. Some beautiful, and familiar pictures in here! Hope you are relaxing! ;-)