Road Trip: The Maine Lobster Trail: Day 4

From Vinalhaven Island to Camden via the Olson House and Rockport

Breakfast at teh Surfside on Vinalhaven Island, Maine.
Breakfast at the Surfside on Vinalhaven Island, Maine.

We got up at the crack of dawn to get an early start on our last day. At the little shopping center next to the ferry docks, we cut between two souvenir stores to get to the back deck where a screen door led into the Surfside (West Main St., Vinalhaven, 207-863-2767), favorite of the local fishermen who roll in at 4:30am for the best home-cooked breakfasts on the island.

Owner Donna Webster and her staff knew (and teased) all their clients in broad Maine accents, from their friends who came in to discuss yesterday’s The Bold & the Beautiful, to the baggy-clothed skateboarders killing time and declaring the food “wicked good” (the ultimate complement one can bestow in Maine), to the traveling Sysco salesman who had just arrived on the island for his monthly rounds.

Mid-Coast Maine Road Trip
Day 1: Yarmouth, Freeport, and Westport Island
Day 2: Bath, Brunswick, Bailey Island, Damariscotta, & Waldoboro
Day 3: Pemaquid Point, Thomaston, Rockland, & Vinalhaven Island
Day 4: Rockland, Rockport, & Camden
Practical info

Since we were leaving on the next ferry, I wolfed down two eggs with plump kielbasa, crispy home fries, and thick slices of toast made from homemade amadama bread; Frances had blueberry pancakes; with coffee and juice, the bill still only came to $11. Stuffed, we waddled over to the ferry dock and headed to the mainland.

Roadside icons near Rockland

Perhaps the most famous Wyeth painting of them all is Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 Christina’s World, a woman in a pink dress, her back to us, propped up on one arm in a field below a distant singled farmhouse. I had seen it countless times at MoMA in New York’s, but never realized that the reason the woman was lying in the grass was because her legs were paralyzed and she had to drag herself around on the ground. Christina Olson was a friend of Wyeth’s, and that iconic farmhouse, the Olson House (Hathorne Point Road, Cushing, 207-354-0102,, open daily Memorial Day to Columbus Day) in Cushing (about 15 miles from Rockland), has been preserved by the Farnsworth Museum.

Maine is home to 63 lighthouses, and we made a long detour south of Rockland just to see one of the most picturesque: the Lighthouse at Marshal’s Point (Marshall Point Rd., Port Clyde, 207-372-6450,, built in 1857 and made famous when Forrest Gump jogged out the long boardwalk leading out to it during the running montage in the movie.

Turning north again, we got off Rte. 1 at Rockport to take the back road (Russell Ave to Chestnut St) into Camden, just so we could see the belted Galloway cattle of Aldermere Farm (70 Russell Ave., Rockport, 207-236-2739,, a downright picturesque herd of shaggy black cows that look as if they’re wearing white girdles lounging around a postcard green field.

The view from Camden

Camden (, was such the picture-perfect town we actually caught ourselves eyeing “For Sale” signs. No wonder rich folk from across New England and beyond choose to summer here: giant old Victorians on quiet tree-lined streets, a little river spilling over a waterfall into the harbor, and a gaggle of fun shops filling the brick buildings that line Chestnut, Main, and Elm Streets—very Norman Rockwell.

We browsed ABCD Used & Rare Books on Chestnut, and Heavenly Threads on Elm (57 Elm St., 207-236-3203, threads + SOS.html), a church thrift store blessed with leftovers from the closets of wealthy summer crowds (blast my tiny feet! The $7 pair of Prada shoes was size 12; I had to make do with an $8 Structure sports coat).

Camden was the end of the road for us; time to turn back and shoot down to Portland. But first, we popped into the Camden Deli (37 Main St., 207-236-8343, for sandwiches (turkey on rye and a chicken, chèvre, and sun dried tomato paste on sourdough) and cookies, and drove through a residential neighborhood to the end of Megunticook St.—pausing to buy 10¢ Dixie cups of lemonade from a trio of under-ten entrepreneurs.

We parked the car and made the rugged half-mile scramble up the trail to the top of Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park (207-236-3109,, slaking our thirst with cans of Maine’s cola-from-yesteryear Moxie and scaring a red fox out of the bushes halfway up.

The view from Mount Battie in Camden, Maine.
The view from Mount Battie in Camden, Maine.

We stopped just below the mountaintop to sit on a sunny boulder and break out the lunch. As we munched on sandwiches and sipped microbrews, we took turns reading "Renasance," the 1917 poem which launched the literary career of local high school student Edna St. Vincent Millay, and which was inspired by this very birds-eye view of Camden, snuggled between vast tracks of Maine forest and an island-dotted harbor.

The Maine we saw from our perch seemed to have changed little in the 90 years since she wrote the poem’s opening lines:

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.

Day 4 details


Tourist info

Maine Office of Tourism,


• Olson House, Hathorne Point Road, Cushing, 207-354-0102,, open daily Memorial Day to Columbus Day, $5 (or free with $12 ticket to main museum; also free Sundays 10am–1pm).

• Marshall Point Lighthouse, Marshall Point Rd., Port Clyde, 207-372-6450,
• Aldermere Farm, 70 Russell Ave., Rockport, 207-236-2739,
Mt. Battie-Camden Hills State Park, 207-236-3109,


Heavenly Threads, 57 Elm St., 207-236-3203, threads + SOS.html


Surfside, West Main St., Vinalhaven, 207-863-2767, breakfast from $5.
Camden Deli, 37 Main St., 207-236-8343,, sandwiches $6.25–$7.95.


Vinalhaven to Portland (105 miles)

• Detours to the Olson House and Marshall Point Lighthouse aside, from Rockland, Route 1 shoots straight up into Camden.

• However, I’d get off in Rockport at Pascal St. to take the lovely back roads (Pascal to Central to Russell to Chestnut) into town, along Rockport’s cute little harbor then past the postcard green field where lounge the belted Galloway cattle of Aldermere Farm, a downright picturesque herd of shaggy black cows wearing white girdles.

• From Camden, Route 1 is the straightest line back to Portland, or you can save time by going inland via Route 90 to Route 17 over to Augusta, then catching I-95 to I-295 south.

» Practical information

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in June 2012.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.