The Maine Attraction: Domestic COVID-19 Travels

This trip to Maine was the first in years I didn’t plan myself, and that in and of itself held some appeal. I was invited by my partner’s family to join them on their annual vacation to the coast, and I jumped at the chance to get out of NYC for a week. Covid-19 fatigue was hitting me hard, and the urge to be somewhere less populous where I could relax my (now baseline) state of hypervigilance excited me.

We drove the seven hours from Brooklyn to a tiny village called Cundy’s Harbor, located in the town of Harpswell- population 4,912. Upon arrival at our home for the week, a cozy east coast cottage at the end of a windy road, the tide was in and boats dotted the bay. After pinching ourselves that this was the view we’d be waking up to each morning, we unpacked and headed straight to the local grocery store for supplies. We planned to dine out most evenings, but pancakes are a family tradition and since Maine is the blueberry capital of the USA it seemed a match made in heaven. In the store, my partner’s mother and I ogled the low price tags of basics like butter (2.99!) and oat milk ($3.39!) and snapped up items we don’t see in New York.

I’d been informed that the roads in ME are well kept and that is an understatement. It took about 45 minutes to get anywhere from Cundy’s Harbor, but the time flew; scenic views were around every corner and the condition of the coastal roadways is pristine. We went for a few hikes which were innately less strenuous than hiking the Adirondacks or anywhere out west due to the low altitude, and therefore felt like meandering walks through coastal vegetation with an occasional peek at water. We were a little early for peak foliage, but the leaves were changing daily, the air smelled of pine and the weather was temperate, so we felt very fortunate.

We never tired of quaint towns with picturesque Main Streets and boat-lined harbors, but for overall adorability, Booth Bay Harbor was the clear winner. With a population just over 2,000, my inner city-girl-snob expected little, but we were blown away with the local boutiques, colonial architecture, elegant yachts, and colorful sunsets.

The surprise of the trip, however, was the sheer number of incredible meals we had. Having last visited Maine as a poor college student many years ago, I had no knowledge of the local food scene, but farm to table seems standard and the use of local ingredients made menu exploration a treat. Of course the standouts were the seafood meals (lobster roll at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, oysters at Fore Street in Portland, and haddock at Dolphin Marina & Restaurant in Harpswell), but the duck at James Beard winner Primo in Rockland gave the seafood a run for their money.

Before settling back into the car for the return journey, I had one last cup of coffee overlooking the bay, drinking in the sunshine sparkling on the water, the red-orange trees, and the sailboats bobbing up and down. I’d underestimated Maine, but it’s laid-back people, serene pace and natural beauty were delightful. My week there had calmed me in a way I didn’t know I’d needed, and though I was happy to return to life in Brooklyn, I’m grateful for the opportunity Maine provided to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

For more on COVID-19 travels, check out this blog post about our CEO’s international trip during COVID-19.

cundys harbor maine