First Stop - Washington County on the way to Downeast Maine Coast
Last week I went for a ride to the coast. We headed out to true "Downeast" Maine - Washington County and Machias in particular. After a 2 ½ hour drive through the country side with its quaint farms, we knew we were getting close when the road started through the Maine Blueberry Barrens. Acres and acres of open blueberry fields, dotted with bee hives, and just blossoming blueberry plants before the road will finally give way to the coast makes me realize the enormity of the Maine blueberry harvest.
The Blueberry Barrens of Washington County, Maine
The blueberry barrens here in Washington County, Maine seem endless. They play a very important part in the Maine economy. In 2022 the blueberry harvest had a $250 million impact on the state's economy. They also are a thing of beauty in the fall when the leaves of the low-bush wild blueberries turn a vibrant red, attracting leaf peepers to the downeast coast.
A brief stop to examine the blueberry fields up close and personal!
Although you can't see them from afar the Maine blueberry fields are dotted with thousands of blueberry blossoms that will eventually develop into delicious Maine blueberries this time of the year. As the days of May feed into summer, the work of the pollinating bees turn these plants into a vast sea of harvestable berries in August.
Important to the cultivation of the blueberries are honeybees. Local apiaries supply bees to the blueberry farmers and harvest the honey created by the bees. And then the apiaries process the honey and sell that. Yes, blueberries add a lot to the Maine economy, particularly Downeast Maine and Washington County.
It's time for Maine LOBSTER!
Our destination was Machias, for the best lobster rolls this side of heaven. We visit the coast twice a year once in May/June for lobster rolls and then we make another trip in early August in the height of blueberry season hoping to score some fresh blueberry pie! After stuffing ourselves with lobster rolls, we went exploring along the coast. We like to take the "off the beaten path" approach and take obscure little roads that take you into hidden coves and right down to the sea. This time we ended up on a wonderful little peninsula called Ripley Point.
It was so picturesque and very, very Maine coast. At the very end of the road was a little enclave of weathered shingled Victorian cottages with the most incredible views of the Atlantic and coastal islands.
There was a strip of rocky beach that we walked looking for sea glass and other treasures. I found a couple of interesting rocks that we brought home to put in the garden. I love living where we do in the inland forest, but I wouldn't mind having a place on the coast. Listening to the surf crash on the rocks, the clanging bell of a buoy just off the shore, and the fog horn from a distant lighthouse, and the smell of the salt air...........just puts you in another world.
I found this driftwood stump that had washed up on the shore. I really wanted to bring it home to tuck in the garden but we had the Jeep Wrangler and it just wouldn't fit in the back. It's one of the few times I wish we had a truck.
On our way back to Route 1, the coastal highway, we stopped at the Ripley Point town docks and watched them unloading a lobster boat.
There was this tiny little building out on an island. It really stirred my imagination thinking about why someone built it where they did and what it is used for.
Time was passing and as late afternoon came, we had to head back to the Katahdin region. It was a glorious day. I wish you could have been there with us.
If you ever come to Maine, get a copy of the Delorme Maine Atlas and get off the beaten path....it's where you'll find the true treasures of our incredible State. It gives you maps that show every hidden dirt back road in the state of Maine, and trust me, that is where the fun discoveries are!
For more information on cooking Maine lobsters and lobster recipes try these previous posts -