Guide to Maine by Paul Sampson of Oyster River Joinery
Paul Sampson is a Maine-based artisan and Founder of Oyster River Joinery. We asked him to tell us about his favorite spots in Maine, some of which include oyster recommendations (of course), sandy beaches, breweries, swim spots, and maritime museums. We’re honored to see Maine through a local's eyes. Read on for the full guide from Paul.
When Jaimie asked me to blog about some of the spots that I love in Maine, I was both honored and terrified. How could I possibly narrow my favorites down to only 5 or 6?
Would I be breaking one of the codes that true Mainers share? An unwritten code that encourages us to be tight lipped about special places so they do not become too popular. I am pretty sure other folks have blurted out some spots before me so, here goes.
It’s hard to go wrong in Maine. You are almost guaranteed a fun time anywhere at any time of the year in this magical state. I enjoy all the five seasons in Maine but tend towards Fall and Spring as my favorites.
Today I am going to concentrate on the upcoming Summer season. Some of the places I'll mention are seasonal but many are fantastic year round. Weather plays a large role in where I might set my compass for an outing. Being prepared for sun, rain, wind, fog and pests is key. Being flexible is also key. If a parking area is filled or the sky just opened up, move on to the next option.
Paul Sampson’s Guide to Maine:
A trip north from my shop may find me heading to the Seal Cove Auto Museum. They have an old Peugeot with incredible woodwork that makes me drool. A stop at Joanna Fogg’s pre-hand to pick up some of her Bar Harbor Oyster Co. delicious Bar Harbor Blondes. I might enjoy some at a little park on Seal Cove. On the way home I might check out the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport to stretch my legs and work up my appetite for a “Bucket List'' special at Young's Lobster Pound in Belfast. Talk about enough seafood to put you in a comma!
Locally, I love Ducktrap beach in Lincolnville anytime. Early quite foggy mornings are special there. If I want a little more excitement then I’ll head to Camden or Rockport to people and/or boat watch. There are numerous little town parks spread across these to towns. Not to mention the much larger Camden Hills State Park. The area is not called “where the mountains meet the sea” without a reason. On a hot day, a quick dip off Beauchamp Pt. in Rockport followed by a swim in Megunticook Lake to rinse the salt off puts a smile on my face.
If I am craving wide open sandy beaches then I go south to Reid State Park or Popham Beach. Both are so different from the rocky coast line of my area. Usually, I‘ll try to pick up some oysters and clams at The Clam Hunter off of 209 in Phippsburg. The rainy day back up for the area is The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Never get tired of marveling over Maine’s rich ship building history.
To truly understand Maine’s shoreline one must get a feel for the inland forests and rivers that wind through them towards the Atlantic. I live in the watershed of the St. George River. The Georges River Land Trust has over 70 miles of hiking trails that extend from the headwaters to the ocean in Port Clyde. Meeting up with friends to explore a new trail is always fun. Especially if we start or finish at a brewery. Some favorites include Lake St. George in Liberty, Threshers in Searsmont, or The Pour Farm in Union. Usually no oysters on those trips. :(
A quick jaunt to my south may find me picking up oysters at Jess’s Market in Rockland or Aphrodite Oysters in So. Thomaston and taking them to Waterman Beach Brewery. The inclement plan for that includes at least one trip to the Owls Head Transportation Museum (however, if you’re into planes go on a good weather day) or The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.
The Damariscotta River is a mecca for all things oyster. It is incredible how different an oyster from one farm tastes from another farm. Only a mile or two apart on that river makes large differences to flavor and texture. My favorites are from Johns River Oysters. There are well over a dozen growers on the river. One can not go wrong with any of them.
Ok, so what’s my favorite? It is actually a tie. My backyard consists of one hundred acres in a bowl between Moody Mtn. and Megunticook Lake. A brook runs through the middle of my property. The wildlife is amazing. If the coyotes wake me up with their howling in the early morning hours then, I thank them and try to go outside to enjoy the stars. It is stars that contribute to me trying to spend an evening on a special island in Penobscot Bay. Holding true to my Maine roots, I can’t say which one but, there are dozens of them that are open/semi open to the public. I am fortunate to own a small boat so I can go when a clear night is in the forecast. Viewing the stars with little or no light pollution is inspiring!
You can shop Oyster River Joinery platters handcrafted by Paul for all of your oyster hunting needs at Covet + Lou.
'Tis the season. Enjoy.