Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Summer Favorites in the "Other" Maine

Since I reside in the Bangor area, summer is a completely different experience for me than it is for Mainers who live in the "other" Maine—the Maine south of Augusta. So when we go there, it's almost like visiting another state.

Museum by the Sea, Oqunguit, Maine - © Gail J. VanWart 2013The town of Ogunquit is a wonderful coastal town known for hosting one of the largest  Patriot's Day celebrations in Maine. Patriot's Day, only celebrated in Massachusetts and Maine, is a big deal in the Ogunquit area where much of our U.S. history was born. Beyond it's historic significance, the town is blessed with culture. It's museum and theatre are both a testimony of that.

© Gail J. VanWart 2013 - Ogunquit Museum© Gail J. VanWart 2013 - Ogunquit Museum

Sally Struthers has been one my all time favorite performers since the TV hit All in the Family. I know, that's dating both myself and Sally, however, age happens, and she happens to get even better with it. My husband and I  try to make a special trip to the "other" Maine just to catch her summer appearances at the Ogunquit Playhouse whenever our schedules permit us to do so. This year, my husband is using my birthday as an excuse to take us to see Thoroughly Modern Millie with Sally Struthers starring as Mrs. Meers. (So be looking for me Sally,  I'll be right up front with my nose almost on the stage with you.) A colorful history drenches the playhouse in the afterglow of the many stars who have graced the John Lane's Ogunquit Playhouse stage over the years. I always leave there feeling the actors have given it more than a hundred percent. It's truly "Broadway at the Beach" and the love of performance art is vibrant there.


Of course, since we'll be in the area, we'll have to eat at Joshua's, my favorite restaurant, just a little north of the playhouse at 1637 Post Road in Wells. Joshua's priority is freshness first; organic, natural, and local. Many of the vegetables served are grown at the Mather's own farm. Meals are slowly prepared and thoroughly enjoyed. Reservations are highly recommended, and keep in mind Joshua's is not an atmosphere younger children will enjoy. Adults, on the other hand, will relish the relaxing environment as part of Joshua's fine dining experience. 

We also enjoy little side trips to the the Kennebunks, York Beach and Nubble Light—plus, we have to do a little snooping in the Scarborough area. Through my maternal grandmother's side of the family, I'm related to many of the Scots and Englishmen who settled the area. I can find remnants of my 5th through 9th great grandparent's by the names of Alger, Okeman, Milliken, Wilmot, Allison, Banks, and Norman in structures and landmarks still present, such as the Lary House (ca 1700s) which was once known as Milliken's Tavern and originally owned by a grandpa Captain Mulbury Milliken. Captain Benjamin Milliken took over the tavern from his father, running it for a time before moving on to the other towns he settled in Maine. His life's journey ended in St. Andrews, N.B., Canada. It is pretty fantastic to ride on roads and visit points of land named after these ancestors, who were living livestyles I can only imagine. My love of touching my history takes me there again and again. But, if the history wasn't there, I'm sure the ocean breezes that kiss the shores of the "other" Maine would probably encourage me to visit nonetheless. 

Milliken's Tavern (Ca 1700) © Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013
This building was once Milliken's Tavern, Post Road, Scarborough, Maine
Circa 1700s

Blae wants dog owners to know he has a special place where he likes to stay in Kennebunkport, The Colony. It's a classic portrait of a historic Maine summer resort, inside and out, and pet friendly, too. The Colony even provides access to a pet friendly beach and well mannered pets can join their owners at mealtime, if they dine on the outside patio. Just down a short ways from The Colony on Ocean Drive you'll find the summer residence of President George and Barbara Bush and a fantastic Maine coast view.

Can't wait for my birthday! 

Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine © Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013
Nubble Light, York, Maine © Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

Blae at The Colony, Kennbunkport, Maine ©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

Blae & Dan at The Colony, Kennbunkport, Maine ©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

Blae & Dan at The Colony, Kennbunkport, Maine ©Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 25, 2013

L & H Burgers: The Best Burgers in Rockland, Maine and Possibly the World

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
Just around the corner from the Maine Lighthouse Museum
you'll find the best burgers you may ever eat anywhere at L & H Burgers

Knowing we were in for the third snowy Sunday in a row this February, my husband and I decided to catch a little break from our routines this past Saturday to take Blae out to nose around Maine.  This is the time of year us Mainers are starting to dream of spring, about a month away according to the calendar, but maybe longer according to our weather. It’s also the time of year we enjoy poking around our coastal communities, before the tourists arrive, to see what pleasures and treasures are in store for the coming Maine summer. Saturday, we hit the jackpot in Rockland.

© Copyright Daniel B. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
L & H Burgers
We had meandered down coastal US Route 1 from Bangor and arrived in Rockland just in time to be hungry for lunch. Dan had heard of a really terrific new place to get a sandwich or burger on Main Street. So, we turned left at the light and headed for Main Street, and there it was. Just as if we were meant to be there, a parking spot availed itself on the heavily traveled street right in front of L & H Burgers’ doorway. 

Upon entering the charming little eatery we found it decorated simply with unframed art and a smattering of antiques.  We took the two last available seats, Blae had to wait this one out in the car.  Others were following us through the doors, so we had lucked out again. But I didn’t really realize how fortunate we were to be there until my order arrived and I took my first bite.

I had ordered the house made veggie burger served with Coleslaw, and everything about it was perfect. I have never had a veggie burger of such quality and taste. After eating it, I can probably never eat a veggie burger anywhere else again. Yes, it was that good. The slaw was the freshest I have ever been served in any restaurant as well, and I have dined throughout the entire United States, Canada, Aruba, Guam, and Lithuania.

© Copyright Daniel B. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
Sister Restaurant on Main Street, Rockland
Rustica Cucina Italiana
As I was savoring every bite, I looked across the table at Dan who had ordered a regular, or classic, burger with Swiss cheese and onion served with hand cut fries. He announced, “This is the best burger I have eaten anywhere.” That was amazing coming from the pickiest eater I’ve ever met. He has been looking for a “great” burger for years, actually searching for one every time we travel or eat in a different town.

Yes, we had hit the jackpot at L & H Burgers, 313 Main Street in Rockland, Maine. You can bet we’ll eat there again and again.  Their menu is loaded with many interesting starters, burgers, Panini’s, salads, and desserts. They even offer gluten free buns. Another nice option, especially during the busy summer months, is a take out line, 207-593-7996.

L & H Burgers pleased us so much we now want to try their sister restaurant, Rustica, located right next door. It has carried the area's title of “The Best of the Best” for Italian cuisine since it opened in 2006. It is so highly recommended we're told you should make a reservation or be prepared to wait and hope you’ll eventually get in.

Did I mention we hit the jackpot for lunch? Well, we did, but poor Blae didn’t. We usually remember to save him a bite or two when we eat out during a nosing around outing.  This time our burgers were so fantastic we consumed them completely without saving him a blessed crumb. He, of course, made us feel guilty and we had to stop further down Route 1 in Thomaston to buy him a treat.

© Copyright Daniel B. VanWart 2013 All Rights Reserved
A menu feature at
L & H Burgers, Rockland, Maine
Most of all, I’m delighted to find in our fast food world, a place you can appreciate fresh wholesome ingredients and real food made from scratch.  L & H Burgers is a five star lunch in my book.  Next time I visit Rockland I’m going to try their Picasso and I’ll try to save a taste for Blae. No promises.

Check out their links:

© Copyright 2013 Gail J. VanWart  All Rights Reserved

Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to theSCENE:
a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine with distribution in Waldo 

and Lincoln Counties

Look for contributions by Gail J. VanWart in Washington County, too: 
County Wide News
County Wide is a journal of fact and opinion published since 1977 by 
County Wide Communications,Inc. at 25 Main Street, P.O. Box 497, Machias, Maine 04654.
Phone (207) 255-NEWS for a free online subscription to County Wide News or E-mail

Monday, February 18, 2013

In Bangor, Maine the Library is Much More than Books

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013  All rights Reserved
Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow Street, Bangor, Maine 

Since the days of its humble beginnings in 1830 as the Bangor Mechanics Association, with a collection of just seven books stored in a footlocker, the Bangor Public Library has served its community as a place of learning and sharing, not only in the form of books, but also in the form of exhibits, lectures, workshops, and social gatherings.
Bangor Public Library, Bangor,  Maine
The Bangor Public Library
displays art and artifacts from both
the past and the present.

Gardens, Grounds, and Children Exhibit by Debbie Story Alexander
Gardens, Grounds, and Children
Exhibit by Debbie Story Alexander
February 2013  at
the Bangor Public Library
I have known this library since I was a child, but even to this day I feel small climbing its massive stone steps and entering through its immense oak doorway that leads the way to a wealth of knowledge—vast knowledge I can merely sample portions of over my entire lifetime. I love this place!
I love the Bangor Public Library even more when its exhibits, lectures, book signings, and other events pay tribute to people I know in the area. With that being said, I’d like to introduce you to Debbie Story Alexander. Over the years we have been both colleagues at EMHS and friends, so I am delighted the Bangor Public Library recognizes her talent as an artist. Her acrylic paintings are presently part of the library’s many exhibits. You’ll find her work on display in the Stairwell Gallery. Other local Maine artists with works on display are Peg Hanson in the Stairwell Gallery Display Case and members of the Bangor Art Society in the Lecture Hall.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll scatter some images of Debbie’s paintings throughout the rest of this blog, which will focus on the rekindled passion Debbie has for creating them. Her own words and works of art tell her story best.
Maine Artist
Debbie Story Alexander, Artist
I am not sure if I have always had the good fortune to be surrounded by very talented people or if I just recognize that all people have talent, they just don't always know it or show it.

A family friend used to have me scribble on a piece of paper and he would add some scribbles of his own and turn my little scribble into a cartoon character or scene. Each little scribble can be the start of an amazing painting and each person scribbling has the potential to be an artist.
Painting by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine Artist 
I did some drawing in high school art classes under Christopher Pike. After high school I didn't draw very much. I had three children and worked full time so there was no time left for drawing or painting.”

After Debbie’s marriage of twenty-seven years unfortunately ended in divorce in 2007, and with her children grown, she found she had time on her hands and needed something to do. Watching her sister, Linda Story Kam, paint made her realize it was something she missed. With the encouragement of her best friend (and current husband) she purchased supplies and took some art classes offered through Bangor and Hampden Adult Education programs.

Painting by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine ArtistShe also credits her husband, Joe, for lending a critical eye and advice, as well as his moral support. “If I’m in the middle of a painting and can’t get the color just right, I get input from Joe. He is very good with color. I have tried to encourage him to paint, as well, but have not succeeded, yet. We do watch Bob Ross painting shows together.”

Painting by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine ArtistNow that she’s back into the swing of it, she is dedicated to her art. Debbie says, “I paint almost every day. I am inspired by my grandchildren, gardens, nature, and architecture.” You can clearly see that in her work.

If you are in or near Bangor, Maine, it’s worth a trip to Harlow Street to check out what is happening at the Bangor Public Library. You are sure to run into much more than a collection of books. Debbie Story Alexander’s exhibit, Gardens, Grounds, and Children, will be displayed at the library through the end of February. Her work is also currently on display in the cafeteria at Eastern Maine Medical Center on State Street, also in Bangor.

Gardens, Grounds, and Children Exhibit at Bangor Public Library, Maine
Paintings by Debbie Story Alexander, Maine Artist
Stairwell Gallery Lobby, Bangor Public Library
145 Harlow Street, Bangor, Maine 

Note:  A Commemorative History of the Bangor Public Library
Seven Books in a Footlocker, is offered for sale at the library’s circulation desk.

© Copyright Gail J. VanWart 2013  All Rights Reserved

Gail J. VanWart is a regular contributor to theSCENE:
a publication of Courier Publications LLC in Rockland, Maine with distribution in Waldo and Lincoln Counties