Connecting people to experiences that are focused on the possible
Summerâ€™s end, your beginning A fall travel journal of coastal maine
Mindful Travel AWAY magazine inspires explorers and travelers drawn to authentic cultural and spiritual experiences to embark upon their adventures while staying within their means. Travel is often seen as an activity for the glamorous. Our stories show readers how they can have simple treks to a peaceful campsite and exotic adventures, or anything in between. All vacations can have a twist of the eclectic or a bow to beautiful simplicity. Our adventures provide easy to accomplish options for those who seek big experiences on a small budget. AWAY takes pride in producing a mindful product. Much like our insightful travel stories, our publication challenges the idea that budgeting means cutting corners on beauty. As the saying goes, the outdoors is free. Yes, you may need to pay for some gear, but for the most part the grand beauty of our earth is provided at a bargain price. This fall issue takes you on a road trip up Maine’s coast where you can experience it’s beauty and find the best places to visit, all while watching the spectacular autumn color coincide with the slowing down of the tourist season. All too often people return from a vacation declaring they need a vacation for their vacation. This road trip avoids that feeling of vacation overkill by taking you to a place that is off the tourist track. As business owners near a halt for the season, visitors can feel the exhale of relief and participate in the joy that is encompassed in enjoying the last days open for business. As Maine’s locals celebrate a short break, you too can find your own balance. This issue also focuses its lens on a story of one woman’s journey to create new meaning in her life by working in Maine’s burgeoning lobster industry. Her hard work has paid off in dividends. Her balance is back and she wants to share it with everyone. A
All photos and stories by Jennifer Coombes
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AWAY fall issue
SUMMERâ€™S END, YOUR BEGINNING As fall comes to a head, many Maine businesses welcome the beginning of their closing season. An autumn road trip is just the time to take in Maine and enjoy its slow season.
Editorial Board Terry Eiler, Margaret Sabec, Kultwano Lumpka
COLD WATERS Surfing is not just for the warmer coast. Winter surfing in coastal Maine offers its own advantages and draws in the crowds and water worshipers.
FINDING BALANCE One lobster boat first mate finds clarity and balance on the water, something she struggled to discover everywhere else.
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Above: Visitors to Ogunquit Beach brought their own chairs and jackets to the sandy shore to enjoy one of the last warm days. Right: A starfish floats amongst the seaweed that washed up on the shore at Ogunquit Beach. AWAY |4
Summer’s end, your beginning
Maine’s fall closing season is the backdrop to one of the greatest road trips in the U.S. op
story and photos by jennifer coombes
ollyo’s Restaurant in York Beach, Maine buzzes with energy as one cook mans a row of toasters, shoving bread into them as fast as they pop newly crisped pieces of cinnamon toast out. The air is thick with the smell of bacon that piles up on the griddle alongside a mound of potatoes. All of the food must go and they are cooking everything until they run out of it. “No more blueberry muffins,” a waitress calls out as she plucks up the last one and places it on one lucky customer’s plate. Like many businesses
along Maine’s coast, October heralds in the changing of the seasons. Locals call it the end of summer but to most it is clearly fall. The leaves peak into technicolor and the summer visitors trickle down to those who are unscathed by colder conditions. Columbus Day signals closing time and Mollyo’s is no different. A chalkboard sign advertises their last weekend and various regulars and cooks part company with lines of hugs at the register as they cheerfully say their last goodbyes. Up and down Maine’s coast along Highway 1, fall means a slower pace. It is time for a vacation.
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Visitors to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse near Bristol, Maine can climb on the craggy rocks and watch the water foam up as it crashes.
When I was considering a trip to Maine the unappealing accounts of crowded beaches, long tourist clogged highways that doubled drive times, and expensive room rates made summer seem like a stressful nightmare. Who needs it?. Warmer, yes. But no one wants to fight for authentic vacation moments alongside throngs of others. For the adventurous traveler, the end of the season is actually a beautiful time to catch businesses as they wrap up for the year while also skipping the crowds. The weather is milder and the fall color makes it a magical outdoor experience. With weather dipping down and then bobbing back up, October may not be the best weather for swimming in the Atlantic but it doesn’t AWAY |6
mean you cannot enjoy the beach. This journal takes you just over 200 miles along Highway 1 from the southern part of Maine’s coastline all the way up to the Downeast region. Pack for warm and cold climate and bring an empty stomach.
Assuming you come up from Boston, the drive is just over an hour and a half. If you drive from Portland it is only 45 minutes. York is where visitors can find the most New England looking neighborhoods decorated for fall. The town is charming and is home to many worthy stops. While visiting Mollyo’s Restaurant one local rattled off a long list of must visits. “Aww, yah gotta go to the Nubble,” he said
sipping his coffee. By this he means the Nubble Lighthead just off of Cape Neddick. While not my favorite lighthouse on the trip, it is close so why not? I suggest checking out York Beach, maybe watch some surfers at dawn or collect shells and sea glass then take the short walk to the Nubble and watch the sunrise. Afterwards head to Mollyo’s for some first class breakfast and conversation. The barstools at the counter force someone to talk to while you watch your bacon on the grill. Another worthy notable is the Cat N’ Nine Tails General Store where a visitor can listen to the local gossip, grab a newspaper and a bowl of the best chowder on this coastal trip. You would never know it by looking at the place, but
Top: Frank Sprague lifts a fresh bag of clams and lobster out of his lobster pot at his waterside business, Sprague’s Lobster Shack in Wiscasset. Above: A crimson colored field of blueberry plants, long past their spring ripening, on a foggy road near Bar Harbor.
trust the handwritten fan letters they have tacked to the walls from previous visitors. The chowder is that good. Drive 10 minutes north and you will hit Ogunquit, a coastal town not to miss. Known as one of Maine’s most diverse and gay-friendly towns, it hosts some of the best piano bars and dinner theaters around. Ogunquit also celebrates fall right with costume parades, a town pumpkin carving display and an annual high heel dash that draws in locals and tourists by the hundreds. Don’t even bother asking who is going to win, everyone who is familiar with this town tradition already knows. “I don’t know how he does it but Richard wins every year,” Jimmy Lucibello says with an eye roll while dressed in heels,
a pearl necklace and a leopard print bra. Richard Cobb is a well known waiter in town who confidently wins the race each year with a cartwheel. The dash takes place on Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. One of my most memorable days on my trip was passing couples quietly walking the Marginal Way at sunrise. The Marginal Way is a mile-long paved coastal trail that connects Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. “Can you believe this,” whispered one woman to her husband, grasping his hand and pointing at the rocks illuminated by the sun. If the sun participates, everything glows with a heavenly softness. This trail tends to stun people into silence. I took the trail and returned to watch lobster boat crews come and go.
Old Port/Ricker Hill Orchard
“Oh, I almost feel bad,” squeals a customer as she cautiously approached a live lobster being held up for display. Giggling she shakes her head and moves away. Portland’s Harbor Fish Market is a no-frills harbor house that invites you to be nosy and take a look at how it is all done. During my visit Alex Bouloche, a fish monger, excitedly brought out one of the day’s largest lobsters and showed everyone how much it weighed before putting it into a huge tank for someone to purchase. The market is wall to wall display cases piled with ice and mounds of oysters from all over the state, scallops the size of a baby’s fist and glistening fish of all varieties It is a AWAY | 7
Lauren and Curt Devine set up their tent in Acadia National Park , the only large national park on the east coast and popular spot for fall hikers and leaf peepers. The Devines drove all day from Washington, D.C. to vacation and camp in the park despite a late arrival and rain. AWAY |8
seafood lover’s culinary playground but is still great for the casual visitor. After taking in the sites at the harbor, I decided to drive out of Portland to Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine. The drive is only 45 minutes out of Portland and is well worth the scenic views. I wanted to pick some apples for the rest of my trip and I heard that Ricker offered you-pick organic apples as well as fresh apple cider donuts and a tasting room of hard apple ciders. I, of course had to try out all of them and buy supplies for the road. The fresh donuts are hard to beat and so good that I shamefully ate two right away and then rationed off the rest throughout my trip. I also bought some Mainiac Gold hard cider to enjoy later on my camping trip. A drive past the tasting room puts you on top of what feels like a small mountain that overlooks a foggy, fall-colored valley and into a large orchard where you can choose between dozens of organic apple varieties. Harry Ricker, the owner of the orchard, is still at the height of his season in the fall but closing time tends to linger on and on. “Well, we were done half an hour ago,” Ricker chuckles as he looks out his office window to the orchard. The sun is sinking and there are still three cars in the lot. “We leave when we get everyone in.” A gaze out shows two visitors with a bag of apples, holding hands and skipping to the office as if the strong, heady aroma of fresh fruit has made them giddy with love. You can pick your own (or if you don’t have time, just pick up a bag in the store) but make time for this treat of an escape.
As you are driving up Highway 1 you may find that you need to get out and stretch your legs. Stop in Yarmouth where you can take a walk at Royal River Park. Just off of the highway, the park trail provides visitors a chance to visit the Upper Falls and the Cotton Mill Falls, which are right next to the old Sparhawk Mill. If the sun is out you will take in colorful reflections of the leaves and the mill on the waters.
From Yarmouth, Highway 1 goes through Freeport, the home of the flagship L.L. Bean store and outlet malls and the industrial town of Bath where shipbuilding continues to be a prevalent industry. I decided to check out the Monsweag Flea Market in Woolwich, which is only an hour from Portland if you don’t make any stops. I knew I was in the right place when I walked up to frequent vendor, Susan Reidy’s table stacked high with vintage hats, old photographs and tea cups. Dressed in flowing skirts and a leather hat with long, salt and pepper hair, she is a true example of what you hope to find at an outdoor flea market – someone who offers great stuff and even better conversation. “I do this for fun. I love finding something and bringing it here and knowing that it will be an item that someone really wants or loves,” said Reidy. “That is special, to pass that item on and share it that way. I get to think of others and what they want all the time.” Give yourself some time here. This market boasts over 100 tables of anything from war memorabilia to old wooden lobster buoys. The market was on its last day before closing for the season but this can work to your advantage if you are not interested in crowds and want to strike up a good bargain for that little something you see that you want. I saw someone win a barter for a brass frog. Not much farther on Highway 1, Wiscasset has a charming downtown area that overlooks a waterfront where you can see lobster boats out checking their buoys. Here I found long lines at the lobster shacks where customers were trying to get their last visits in at Red’s and Sprague’s Lobster Shacks. Sprague’s has been owned by Frank Sprague for 27 years. From May to October Frank and his 12 year-old dog Rue go to work in his net and buoy covered shack and serve customer after customer. The end of the season was apparent on his face. “I have not had a day off since May,” said Sprague. “I am ready to end this season and take a rest. Me and Rue, we come AWAY | 9
Top Row: A viewer at Pemaquid Point allows visitors to take a closer look at the Atlantic Ocean, a closed beach shop on the waterfront of York Beach sits just feet from the sandy York Beach shoreline, Wimpy Wilbur, owner of Ruth and Wimpy’s in Hancock cracks open lobster claws and collects the meat, a task he completes multiple times a day. Middle Row: Fall ferns in Surry, Maine at the Morgan Bay Zendo, apple pickers at Ricker Hill Orchard in Turner, Maine, a sign at Portland’s Harbor Fish Market Bottom Row: Penobscot Lighthouse at dusk, the common Maine decoration of old lobster buoys decorate the outside of a building, Niki Foss, a waitress at Ruth and Wimpy’s. AWAY |10
“Me and Rue (his dog), we come here everyday. She gets a 2.5 pound lobster for breakfast every day and I eat lobster just about everyday too.” Frank Sprague Owner of Sprague’s Lobster Shack
Mackenze Taylor tries to jump out the way as the tide moves at Ogunquit Beach. Taylor was visiting from Vermont with her parents Val and Kyle Taylor who said they visit every year because October is the ideal time to take in what they love about Maine, the colors and mild weather. here everyday. She gets a 2.5 pound lobster for breakfast every day and I eat lobster just about everyday too.” As he says this a timer goes off and Sprague pulls a bag of clams and lobsters out of his boiling pot. He calls out the name on the order and eyes the girls who come to the shack suspiciously. “Do you know how to eat this?” he questions over his glasses and then nicely explains how its done while handing them a paper place mat with instructions. His body is tired as he limps to his chair.
Boothbay is not on Highway 1 but is a perfect detour if you are looking for a true coastal Maine bed and breakfast experience. The off season is also the best time to get a lower price on a room since visitors start to dwindle. There are inns everywhere in Maine. So many, in fact, that chain hotels are few and far between. I chose to stay at the Harbor House Inn which overlooks the bay from atop McKown Hill and serves blueberry pancakes for breakfast. While my host shared the home’s history, I looked at the large antique maps of Maine’s islands and other maritime artifacts scattered in the parlor. Staying here feels like I am stepping back in time, but with electricity and a much needed soft bed. Because it is the off season I was the only guest and got a great price. My host suggested a coastal drive to leave Boothbay. If you want to live out your fantasy of driving a coastal highway with curvy roads and scenic views, leave town via Highway 27. Perhaps pack a scarf just so you can tie it in your hair, hang your head out the window and let it fly away. The drive made me slightly regret not getting a sports car but was a fantastic idea. The fantasy ended when the highway eventually spit me out at Southport, Maine where I suggest stopping at the Southport General Store. Established in 1882, the general store is an excellent place to pick up provisions for the rest of your trip. This is where I
purchased groceries for camping. The store offers staples such as cans of soup, crackers and milk as well as locally made cheeses, breads and jams. If you want authentic Maine-made food, this is where you should get it. While I was there locals were lined up for sandwiches and soup at the deli counter. It was here that I overheard the first of many locals declare they were “done for the season” and going to work at “the Bean” factory making boots. From here I drove to Damariscotta where I made another detour to see Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. This detour took about an hour. Honestly, I was on a road trip and thought I would check this one out because it had a cool looking staircase. Who would have known that rocks would play such an important role in why this was the best stop I made? The light house is perched above craggy rocks and strong, angry water. The deeply lined, almost slate-like rocks, go straight down to the sea where huge waves wash up and spray those that get too close. Visitors climb the rocks and scour the area for treasure, mostly clam shells and seaweed. The scene will prepare you for your next stop in Rockland.
I had heard about a quirky shop along the way from a friend so I scheduled a stop. When I walked across the parking lot a nice man smoking a cigarette greeted me and asked me how my day was. We talked about the weather and minutes later I saw him behind the cash register with a prison guard quietly watching him. On your way to Rockland you will pass through Thomaston, home to the Maine State Prison Showroom. I mention this because if you have anyone you care about that is fascinated by Maine’s most famous resident Stephen King’s popular movie “The Shawshank Redemption” this may be a worthy stop for a gift. The store is ran by prisoners from the Maine State Prison AWAY | 11
Harry Ricker counts receipts and organizes for the next day as the sun sets on his day at Ricker Hill Orchard. Ricker Hill offers dozens of apple varieties that visitors can choose from and pick straight from the tree for eating. AWAY |12
down the road and features a variety of items made by inmates including a large wooden carved biker and his lady friend riding a motorcycle. Wood furniture, wooden sailboats, toys, clothing and kitschy souvenirs such as a lobster-shaped bottle opener or cutting board stamped with the words “Handcrafted At The Maine State Prison” are all priced right. Just down the road is King’s hometown of Rockland. I chose different artists for a visit to the Wyeth Center where three generations of the famous painting family’s works are on display. Part of the works are present in the Farnsworth Art Museum which adjoins the Wyeth Center. N.C. and Andrew Wyeth’s work embodies much of the rugged and harsh beauty that can be found along Maine’s coast and served not just as a wonderful study of them as artists but also to deepen my understanding of Maine.
Acadia National Park
Almost three hours later I paid my park fee and chatted with a ranger at Acadia National Park where I had a reservation for a camping spot in the Black Woods Campsite. When I set up my site I found a young couple who had arrived late quickly trying to set up their campsite in the dark before a rainstorm arrived. “We needed this vacation so bad,” said Lauren Devine of Washington, D.C. “We drove all day. to get here. I honestly just want to be outdoors for awhile.” Acadia is one of the largest national parks on the east coast and tends to see a lot of crowds early in the season. Fall slows down because temperatures scare some people away. Camping is a great budget travel option in Maine with most sites charging between $15-$30 per night. There are many sites to choose from, however all but the national and state parks close after Columbus Day. At Acadia I hiked the Jordon Pond loop and visited the top of Cadillac Mountain at sunset for its breathtaking view of Bar Harbor and all of the islands. Next on my itinerary was Surry, Maine. “You will need to arrive before dark because no cars are allowed and you will have to hike a trail to your cabin. No electronics in the main building. No meat is to be cooked on the premises. You will need a flashlight or a lantern. We use composting toilets.” This was the message I received about the cabin I reserved at the Morgan Bay Zendo, a Buddhist retreat center. After Acadia I anticipated that I would need to recharge. I scheduled a stay in an affordable rustic cabin I found on Airbnb. Each cabin is equipped with a potbelly stove, a comfortable bed and instructions on how to access the showers, kitchen and bathrooms in the main meditation building. The cabins are not equipped with electricity so lanterns are needed. I wanted to take time to focus and rest from all of the travel. The quiet solitude of the grounds was just what I needed. From Surry, I took day trips including one to Hancock just half an hour away where I had my first Maine lobster roll at the popular Ruth and Wimpy’s. Wimpy Wilbur, named after the Popeye character, and his wife Ruth run the lobster shack and restaurant with the infamous fiberglass lobster out front. “We go through about two to three hundred pounds of lobster a day in the summer,” said Wilbur. With bags under his eyes, it is clear that Wilbur is welcoming the next week when his season ends. Niki Foss, a veteran waitress at the restaurant, smiles and hands a regular his bowl of chowder and plate of fries. The dining room only has four customers, a sure sign that the season has diminished and a slower pace is just days away. For my part, I have enjoyed a vacation that is focused on high-fiving those who are set to hibernate for the winter. It has forced me to enjoy what Maine has to offer when it is not putting on its big show for the summer. Here, the adventure begins just in time to bid adieu to those who need the same respite you are seeking. A
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AmyKelly’s Kelly’ssearch searchfor forsobriety sobrietybrought broughther herto tothe the Amy difficultwork workas asaafirst firstmate mateon onaalobster lobsterboat boat difficult storyand andphotos photosby byjennifer jennifercoombes coombes story Sippinga acup cupofofcoffee, coffee,Amy AmyKelly Kellylooks lookspensively penSipping sively out the window into the darkness of the early out the window into the darkness of the early morning morning hours. She hearcrashing the waves crashing hours. She can hear thecan waves from 500 feet fromalong 500 feet along Maine Cape Neddick, Maine and away Capeaway Neddick, and knows the day knows day may beputs a long putsthrows the cup may be athe long one. She theone. cup She down, her down, throws her oilers intothem the dryer to starts warmmakthem oilers into the dryer to warm up and upan and makingsandwich an egg and sandwich ing eggstarts and potato forpotato her and Captainfor and Captain Bo Kinsman, and boss on Boher Kinsman, her friend and bossher onfriend the Bittersweet, Bittersweet, a small lobsterout boat that works outa of a the small lobster boat that works of Perkins Cove Perkins Cove a few miles away. few miles away. For years she greedily made her way through her days drinking and having fun. Drinking through the hard times of losing her father, breaking up with
For years she greedily made her way through her partner, nursing and watching countless friendsher days drinking and and having fun. Drinking through die of HIV, creating ultimately losing her own the hard times of losing her father, breaking fitness business. Life was never in balance andup thewith her partner, nursing countless friends excess eventually led toand herwatching life falling into a black die of HIV, creating losing they her own hole. “When they say and you ultimately hit rock bottom, really fitness wassmiles. never in and the I mean it,”business. says KellyLife as she “Ibalance lost everything. excess eventually to her life falling intoIalost black was homeless. I hadled nothing. I lost condos, my hole. “When cars. they say rock bottom, they really own business, But you that’shitalright. Now I know that it,” says to Kelly as sheand smiles. lost itmean is a privilege be sober live “I this lifeeverything. everyday.” I was homeless. I hadand nothing. I lost condos, I lost my Kelly has a hard soft side. Some of this probably comes from growing up in a large household as the oldest of eight siblings in Rutherford, New Jersey. If you wanted to be heard you had to speak up. As
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ause Canada does not have as many great surfing options.
Amy Kelly sets her lunch box on the sideboard before boarding the Bittersweet while Captain Bo Kinsman readies the boat for their day at sea. AWAY |16
Bittersweet Atlantic Lobstering owner Bo Kinsman and first mate Amy Kelly at Perkins Cove, Maine where they moor their boat. The two have been working together for a year while remaining sober. an older sister she also learned early that taking care of others was something she craved, whether it was good or bad. That nurturing was ultimately part of her undoing. “I learned that if I took care of others I did not have to take care of myself,” said Kelly. “I could focus on being a mom to everyone and not my own problems.” Three years ago Kelly turned her focus to herself and started attending AA meetings. When she got sober things came into focus, and then sharply regressed. “It was when I got sober that I started having problems with vertigo. I had had it for years but the drinking always helped. When I wasn’t drinking anymore it came back,” said Kelly. It was then that the literal began mirroring the intangible. Kelly’s life was out of balance. She needed a place to live, a job, sober friends who did not need her to focus on their problems. Gradually each of these needs came into focus. She began house sitting a property and living in an apartment above the garage. She got a used car that she could fill with collected shells from her walks and began adding fresh lavender to help clarify her thoughts. She took on odd jobs such as window washing and anything else she could get her hands on. Kelly is popular in Ogunquit and considers it home. She has longtime friends who welcome her into their businesses because her powerful, outgoing personality is a magnet to others. She does not seem to meet a stranger anywhere she goes and her sobriety has brought her a newfound positivity as well. To add balance to her life she started learning yoga and putting into practice the breathing yoga requires to focus and be healthy. It was at one of her AA meetings that she spotted a former drinking friend, Bo Kinsman. Eventually when she felt the time was right she mentioned wanting to ride on
his lobster boat. “The first time I said it he agreed but nothing really came of it. Eventually I decided I really wanted to try it out because I thought the imbalance of the boat would help my vertigo because it would force me to focus on my balance. I went up to him and told him again but this time I made him say he would let me go on the boat.” Shaking her head Kelly thinks through what happened next. “Well I went out in April of last year and I just said I would volunteer. I did that for several months and saw my vertigo go away. There is something about the waves and the balance out there, the way I feel on the water. I feel so free when I am out there working,” said Kelly as she pauses to picture it in her mind. “It is hard to put into words how much it means to me to be able to go out there and work.” Kelly looks up with tears in her eyes. She has been Kinsman’s first mate for a year with just the two of them manning the Bittersweet business. She walks through the house, slipping on her bright orange oilers smelling faintly of the peppermint castile soap she uses as detergent and then her white lobstering boots. Kelly then takes a moment to do breathing exercises to start off her day. “If you believe you are going to get sick out there, it will happen,” says Kelly as she packages the breakfast for her and Kinsman into a large cooler. “You have to take 10 deep breaths and focus on the positive.” Even as she says this she pauses and listens to the waves crashing outside. “It sounds like the water is going to be rough today.” She packs a few extra flavored seltzer waters. The sky is a dark shade just shy of black, a deep blue that will continue to ever so slightly lighten as the morning continues. She grabs her cooler and pulls out of her driveway to the abandoned lot where she parks her car and AWAY | 17
Captain Bo Kinsman, left, and Amy Kelly, “steam” to their next buoy to pull in lobster traps that are were left three days before. Kinsman is allowed to have up to 800 traps but says he has around 560 off the coast of Maine’s southern towns of Kennebunk and Ogunquit.
waits for Kinsman to pick her up for the day. The balance is there but the heartbeat of that balance is with the sound of those waves. Kinsman pulls into the lot and she hops into his red, beat up truck with loud, bad brakes. His truck bed is empty now but will be full by the end of their long day. Kelly describes Kinsman as a big teddy bear who looks like Ernest Hemingway, which is alarmingly accurate. Kinsman’s stocky frame gives him a teddy bear appearAWAY |18
ance when paired with his belly which reveals his love of three scoop ice cream cones and fried food. He is pleasant but also a man of few words. When he does speak it is in a thick Mainer accent that often provokes Kelly to tease him. He and Kelly are the perfect yin and yang. Her boisterous, often vulgar outspokenness forces Bo out of his clamshell. With that said, on the boat the rules are Kinsman’s rules and so the days are often peppered with one word
replies or short clipped sentences. This also appears to be a lesson in restraint and balance for Kelly. “You really cannot say too much to Bo when he is working,” said Kelly. “I have found if I talk too much he cannot concentrate and he gets bamboozled. He doesn’t talk much anyway, but he really does not like to talk when he is working.” Once Kinsman and Kelly pull into Perkins Cove and load their bait of herring and cowhide onto the
Bittersweet , Kinsman pulls it forward and allows Kelly to climb aboard just as the fog starts to rise and the sun peeks above the horizon. It is cold and they both put on their lobstering gloves while Kinsman creates a hot water bath for their hands and the buoys they will retrieve with each trap. The hot bath helps kill any algae spores that may be on the buoys so that they last longer. As Kinsman points the boat and steams ahead, Kelly readies the rest of the boat for the long day of pulling lobster traps out of AWAY | 19
Amy Kelly notches a large female lobsterâ€™s tail to identify it for future trappers. The industry prohibits the capture and sell of female lobsters and boats can get fined for selling them.
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“Oh after a day like today I will be sleeping like a baby.” Amy Kelly
First Mate on the Bittersweet
the ocean, refilling the traps with bait and retrieving any lobsters that are in the traps. The smell could knock an elephant over but Kelly swears it does not bother her. Instead as she labors in the boat, inspecting each lobster and measuring those that are too close to being under 5 inches, tossing those that are not back into the water. “Look at this one” she says as she holds up the fourth lobster that she has pointed out in an hour. “I just love looking at all the different colors on them. They are beautiful.” Kelly collects crabs, sand dollars, starfish and any other oddity on the sideboards of the boat so that she can take them home with her later. “There are lots of sheep in the pasture today,” calls out Kinsman as he glances at Kelly, meaning the white capped waves are a bit rough. “We don’t usually bring people out on the boat when it is like this.” As the boat pitches side to side, Kelly takes a moment to adjust herself practicing her breathing and closing her eyes. Kinsman is unfazed. “I used to get sick. In fact, the first 10 weeks of boating when I was 19 I threw up all day, everyday. I had to figure it out because I was losing too much weight. Eventually you just get used to it out here and it doesn’t bother you anymore.” Kelly concurs. They recount the few times they have had guests on the boat, none of which have been too successful. Kelly and Kinsman want to make it a philanthropic part of the business so that they can educate others about lobstering and give them an authentic experience or a chance to decide if it is a job they want to pursue or even an opportunity to help others who might be struggling with sobriety. “Oh after a day like today I will be sleeping like a baby,” said Kelly. “This makes your body work in ways you are not even aware of. It is exhausting. But I love it.” As the boat pitches, Kelly picks up lobster after lobster that have been placed in the holding area and bands their claws. After the claws are banded she lets them go with a plop into the large drum of water that will keep them alive for the day. Ironically, for someone that catches some of the best seafood in the country everyday, Kinsman has never tasted his product. He hates fish and seafood. He claims his Irish mother came to America and had him when she was 50 years-old. She fixed fish boiled in milk nearly every night which caused him to have a deep aversion for any seafood. “I haven’t had fish or seafood since the day I moved out when I was 19. I hate fish and you would too. It was terrible.” Starting at one end of Nubble Point near Cape Neddick, Kinsman collects his traps and Kelly rebaits them before they toss the traps back into the
water. They eventually drive the boat out as far as Kennebunk where they collect larger traps thrown in threes in deeper waters. As they drive between locations, Kelly goes to the front of the boat and leans against the side while grabbing the edge of the window. She balances herself and practices breathing. She searches for balance. Once she opens her eyes she glances down and identifies her fathers ashes in an urn on the dashboard of the boat. “He would have loved being here doing this,” she smiles. She brought them aboard months ago and they have stayed. A sign of permanence and dedication that speaks volumes. Kelly has found her place in the Bittersweet Atlantic company by channeling her big personality. Each morning as they head out into the water Kelly pulls out her phone and broadcasts on Facebook live. She tells an anecdote or lesson she finds important which are often from one of the many AA meetings she attends, sends out shout-outs to those who have been a big part of her previous day or simply tells viewers what life on the boat is like that day. Bo rarely makes an appearance and if he does it is the back of his head. She laughs and shrugs. Oh well. She hopes that she can drum up interest in the Bittersweet. She started a Facebook page and has collected a large following that Kinsman is all but oblivious to. “He doesn’t know what to think of me sometimes,” said Kelly. “He just goes with the flow. Sometimes he doesn’t know how to talk to people or he will tell me to do something and not hear himself and how he sounds. I am working on him.” They have found a balance. She has found balance. The days are long and they rarely end when they pull up to the harbor. On this day they unload their lobsters to take to the pound to sell. When pressed, Kinsman says the boat is named the Bittersweet because it reflects life. “You know, life is not always perfect,” Kinsman says offhandedly, careful to not exactly make eye contact. “You don’t always get what you want. Things don’t always go how you want them to go.” At about this time, a friend and fellow Perkins Cove employee shows up with a large piece of chocolate covered caramel sprinkled with sea salt. She gives it to Kinsman and cackles as she asks if she can buy some lobster off the boat. Kinsman takes a big bite of the chocolate, ever the sweet tooth, and hands it over to Kelly. “Oh, who would have thought that caramel and salt would taste so good? Try that.” The salty sweetness of the caramel and the bitterness of the dark chocolate give him an idea as he looks over at his boat. “Hey, let’s go get some ice cream, it’s on me.” A
After a long 9 hour day on the boat, Amy Kelly puts her feet up and rests while the catch of the day is unloaded and sold at a lobster pound. AWAY | 23
Chris Kruse of Wells, Maine rides a wave at York Beach, on a high tide day. York Beach is one of the more popular beaches for winter surfing in America.
COLD WATERS story and photos by jennifer coombes
Winter and surfing might not be the two words you would expect to see together, but rest assured, it’s a Maine thing.
“We don’t like people writing about this place, like at all,” a surfer says as he eyes me warily. “This place is special to us and we don’t want it ruined. Don’t say anything about where it’s at.” With that he finishes up getting into his thick wet suit and walks away with a glare and a shake of the head. I later learn that such an inhospitable welcome is common amongst those who want to keep their surf locations, much like secret fishing holes, a secret. They don’t want to anger the surf gods. The thing is, Maine’s coast is definitely not a well kept secret when it AWAY | 25
Above: Chelsea McGowan waxes her board before at Long Sands Beach where she surfs when she is not working. “The weather was so nice out today I had to come out,” said McGowan. “I am usually out here a few times a week.” Above right: A surfer climbs along some rocks near Cape Neddick so that he can enter the waters from the best vantage point. Right: Laurence Cardin and her boyfriend Michael Arseneault, both of Montreal, Canada, visited Ogunquit Beach to surf because Canada does not have as many great surfing options.
“I feel like it’s addicting, like standing on a sled. Catching that turn. It’s the feeling of being out there.” Lani LaCasce paddle boarder
comes to winter surfing. Yes, two words that those not in the know would never place next to one another. Winter surfing. Though it is not uncommon to see surfers bobbing about in the waters when there is snow falling or thickly collecting on the ground (that is when most of the best winter storms and big waves happen), the 45 degree waters are every bit as popular in the fall when the seasons are changing and it is still possible to hit the waves when the temperatures are more bearable. Today is popular because the gravity of a Super Moon has created big waves at high tide. I get to York Beach early with a cup of coffee and watch the sunrise over the sandy beach. The waves crash hard up against rocky cliffs where hotels and summer homes perch. It is spectacular to look at and I can’t help but imagine just how hard the water crashing against the rocks feels if you happen to make a wrong turn and get caught up in a wave. Car by car surfers arrive, quietly pulling up and getting into their wet suits in the parking lot. It is a ritual that I hesitate to interrupt as most arrive solo and on a mission. Some work slowly, stretching and thinking as they move forward towards the water. Others confidently run towards the water bent in anticipation and plunge right in with a confidence and enthusiasm that is reinforced by their command of the waves once ensconced. “I sort of played hooky from work to be here today,” says Chris Kruse sheepishly. “I could tell the waves were going to be good and I just could not miss it.” He eagerly grabs his board and moves toward the water, snapping his hood onto his neoprene-covered body that more closely resembles a scuba diver than a surfer. He clearly knows what he is doing and knows these particular waves. I watch him confidently take on wave after wave while others, most likely tourists, flounder. One by one Kruse is joined by others who bob in the water, shiny skinned like seals, taking their turns on cold waves that rise and froth just off the sandy beach where less water-prone early risers trickle by in coats collecting sea shells and walking dogs. While York Beach is a not so well-kept local “secret,” less than five minutes away Long Sands Beach is the winner of the winter surfing popularity contest. Its name says it all. A long swath of sandy beach, it gets all the girls and guys. It’s a beach bum kind of beach with lots of room to spread out and a general
store and bum-friendly small hotels across the street. Lani LaCasce, a self-proclaimed mountain girl from Sugarloaf, Maine sits on the sand and watches her boyfriend surf. “I cannot believe how warm it is today,” LaCasce smiles. Though she has on a wet suit, her face is clearly sunburned from the unseasonably sunny and warm weather. “When we saw the weather forecast we just had to come out here. I paddle board so these waves are a little bit hard and intimidating for me but my boyfriend surfs and he has been out there all morning. I feel like it’s addicting, like standing on a sled. Catching that turn. It’s the feeling of being out there.” Eventually she grabs up her board and paddle and takes it on. Route 1 along the beach is lined with vans from Canada, a common occurrence that equally amuses and disdains the locals. Dedicated surfers flock to Long Sands because of the warmer conditions and welcoming waves in vans that are equipped to function more as small, mobile living spaces. The long sandy shoreline is peppered with surfers lounging or readying themselves for a plunge into the slushy water that on this warm day probably will not induce an ice cream headache. A few days later during a fall festival, Ogunquit Beach just 15 minutes away from Long Sands is covered in a foggy mist as a mixture of fine rain and warm and cold weather mix. The waves are barely visible from the seaweed covered shoreline and people are out in coats and sweaters scouring for treasures like sea glass, crabs and starfish. Elderly ladies with umbrellas sit and gaze out into the abyss and surfers take on the hard, choppy waters. One couple, down from Montreal, choose to neck affectionately on a beach blanket rather than take on the water. “It is just too rough today, too cold. We gave up for today,” laughs Laurence Cardin as she affectionately hugs her boyfriend. “We are just here to surf and for a short vacation to enjoy the warm weather. The waves here are known to be good so we come here.” She tellingly hugs herself and admits that it is cold. As I walk away they continue to enjoy the weather and each other, oblivious to everyone and everything, even the waves that seem to curl and rush with angry vigor just dozens of feet away with two surfers clawing their way onto the lip of a large curling wave. A AWAY | 27
AWAY Magazine is a travel magazine for those who want to have travel experiences off the beaten path. This fall issue focuses on travel in C...
Published on Dec 3, 2016
AWAY Magazine is a travel magazine for those who want to have travel experiences off the beaten path. This fall issue focuses on travel in C...