Category Archives: THE EAST COAST MISC

Moravian College, Steel Stacks – Bethlehem, PA

BB137E36-B209-4F4D-AC59-CC6541753671Bethlehem has two interesting and very different attractions – the lovely old campus of Moravian College, with fieldstone and red brick buildings and gravestones dating back to the mid 1700’s and Steel Stacks, the former Bethlehem Steel factory — a massive hulking pile of rusted steel stacks and crumbling brick buildings that has been transformed into a destination with a hotel/casino, movie theaters, event space, tours, a local PBS station headquarters. I’d love to return and take the steel tour.

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Manheim, Mt. Gretna, Lititz – road trip to Lancaster County PA (and a little of Lebanon County.

The skies gradually cleared and we had a glorious drive through the Pennsylvania countryside, past PA Dutch  stone houses and barns, small towns with row houses lining the street, Amish buggies pulled by trotting shiny horses, rolling fields of corn,and soybeans.

First stop was Grim’s Apple Orchard just south of Allentown in Breinigsville, PA where I just missed the Mutsu/crispin harvest (oct. 14) but got some excellent honeycrisps. On to Manheim , a small Lancaster County town where we visited my aunt’s college friend Mary, who lives in an old farm house where she grew up, now surrounded, oddly, by a used car dealership.

She and her daughter Beth took us to see the family cottage in nearby Mt. Gretna (Lebanon county) which turned out to be in the Pennsylvania Chautauqua, a summer colony of charming old cottages with wrap around porches tucked into the woods near a small lake, with a few educational/cultural buildings including a theater and a “hall of philosophy.”

It reminded me a bit of the Chautauqua we stayed at in Boulder. Mary’s cottage was lovely, very rustic and old-fashioned, sort of stuck in time. It has been in her family for 75 years and someone else’s before that. The whole community is 126 years old. My aunt used to hang out with Mary and other friends there in the 1950s and she was delighted to be back. We sat in old rocking chairs on the porch in the shade and enjoyed the peace, quiet and each other’s company. Isn’t that what porches are for?

Onto the small charming Lancaster County town of Lititz, where we sat in a small shady park by a river and watched the ducks and young Amish couples (some in surprisingly contemporary duds) strolling by. We had a delicious late lunch at the Tomato  Pie Cafe. (We ate spinach and artichoke tomato pie – sort of akin to quiche, minus the egg custard but with baked cheese.) We didn’t get to see much of the town, but it looked lovely. I’d like to return. We also picked up some locally made Wilbur chocolates to give as gifts.

MAT and I took backroads all the way to Emmaus, where we had another lovely dinner with my cousin Ed, his wife Elizabeth and daughter Sarah plus two friends driving through in their enormous motorhome. We drove through towns with names including Brickerville, Reamstown, kutztown and East Texas. I’d love to come back and check out Lancaster, which has been likened to Brooklyn of late, and old PA Amish towns like Intercourse, Paradise and Blue Ball.

Last night I had the best hamburger at Bolete, in a lovely old stone house that used to be a stagecoach stop, outside Bethlehem. This has been such a great trip, in so many ways.

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Hotel Bethlehem, Emmaus, Allentown- travels with my aunt

Amazing to be back in this corner of the world where my mom, my Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Tom grew up and where I spent many summers as a child visiting my beloved Grama Betty in Easton. Aunt Mary Ann and I haven’t been to Easton yet. We landed at ABE ((Allentown, Bethlehem Easton) airport in eastern Pennsylvania after a quick trip from Chicago (an hour 20 min.) and drove pretty winding backroads lined with tall trees and the occasional beautiful old Carmel-colored stone house to My cousin Ed’s House in Emmaus. We had a lovely dinner with his great family (wife Elizabeth, daughter Sarah, brothers Joseph and James) and then drove a very roundabout way to Bethlehem and this historic hotel Bethlehem which oozes character. I rarely stay at hotels anymore (no more business trips) so this a treat, with valet parking and bellhops and a friendly woman at the desk and chocolates on the pillow of the enormous bed, next to the waffle cotton robe. I think I am going to like it here. Can’t wait to explore Bethlehem and to visit Easton again, especially with my aunt who is full of old family stories that I am trying to jot down soon after she tells them.

At O’Hare, I should mention that we had excellent (if overpriced) poke at seafood sushi place in the terminal. I could get used to aunt MAT’s style of travel (if I had the budget…)

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Pemaquid light house, Treats in Wiscasset, Casco Bay Mail ferry/Standard bakery – Portland, cousins Island

Wiscasset yacht club picnic

We had a very nautical day in Maine – on our drive back to Portland from Camden, starting with a visit to the Pemaquid Point Light House — the one that was noteworthy enough to land on Maine’s state quarter. We took the long, scenic road from Damariscotta, which went along the coast although you’d never know it. We were surrounded by trees. It was a tight squeeze climbing up the few steps inside the lighthouse with my broken arm but worth it for the view. We could see all the say to Monhegan Island, ten miles away, which we were told is unusual.

 buying Treats in Wiscasset

In Wiscasset, we got some cheese and homemade bagels and pretzels at Treats, a bakery/food store in an old building on the main street (not far from where people were lined up outside Red’s) and had a picnic overlooking the water on the dock of the modest (by yacht club standards)  Wiscassett Yacht Club.

We arrived in Portland in time to take the 2:45 Casco Bay Mail Ferry which goes to several islands and offers a great view back at the city of Portland. It was  bit overcast and drizzled a little but a good ride, although we’re a bit spoiled after our Norway fjord ferry rides. On the way to stay with our friend Lisa from Wichita, we stopped near the ferry terminal at Standard Bakery to pick up some goodies for dinner. Lisa lives in Cousin’s Island, technically in Yarmouth, and we had a lovely reunion (after 30 plus years). She walked us over to her beach at sunset and then cooked us lobsters (plopped wriggling into hot water) with corn on the cob.

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Exploring Portland/reunion with old friends…Yarmouth…surprise early arrival home

We didn’t have as much time as needed to explore Portland properly but what we saw of it, we enjoyed. After staying with a friend in Cousin’s Island, we drove on a bright sunny morning through the pretty village of Yarmouth (with lots of old clapboard houses labeled with historic plaques) to the Eastern Promenade, a park with a broad grassy lawn and walkway overlooking Casco Bay. Lovely way to start the day. We enjoyed both the harbor views and the beautiful old homes across the street, as well as a community garden in full blossom.

For lunch, we met old friends from Des Moines who now live in Brunswick in the cool Old Port area at a sandwich shop called The Works Bakery Cafe – nothing fancy or special, compared to the many other notable restaurants in town but an easy in-and-out place where we could focus on catching up with friends we haven’t seen in years. Our friend Jon’s architecture office is around the block in a renovated old redbrick building above the popular Bard Coffee. Dirck had to leave earlier than I did for the airport (we took different flights – long story) so I got to wander around, equipped with NYTimes travel stories on Portland. Lots of fun shops to explore including the Salt Cellar, Rough and Tumble (gorgeous leather purposes made in Maine) and restaurants/food shops including Holy Donut, which was down to one donut by the time I got there around 3 p.m..

Fortunately I decided to leave early for the airport to catch my 6 p.m. flight thru Newark. Arriving around 4 p.m. I found out that my flight was delayed 2 hours, which meant I wouldn’t make my connection. No worries. There was no line at the United Airlines counter and the young guy behind the counter seemed ready for my request (even though he was wearing a vest that suggested his regular job was steering planes on and off the tarmac). He rebooked me on a flight leaving at 4:50 p.m. to Chicago — with  2.5 hour layover. I’d get home about an hour earlier than my original 11:50 p.m.  When I got to Chicago at about 6:30, I saw there was a 7:30 flight to DSM as well as the 9:35 flight that I was booked on. I walked swiftly over to the 7:30 flight desk in the next terminal and got on that flight instead.  I  got to DSM at about 8:45 p.m. — much earlier than expected and at about the same time that Dirck’s flight on American (via Philly, which left at 3:30 p.m. from Portland) arrived. Not sure I’ve ever arrived 3 hours earlier than scheduled when flying. It  helped that I didn’t have any luggage (Dirck took my suitcase and checked it since I couldn’t lift it, due to my broken arm) and that I was rerouted.

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Primo and Claws/Rockland, walk from Camden to Rockport, Belfast shopping

Rockport

We have eaten very well in Rockland at two very different places. Last night we went to the well known farm-to-table Restaurant Primo, run by chef Melissa Kelly. Very good thing we booked ahead because every room in the old house that the restaurant is located in was full of diners.

Children’s chapel

We soon found out why. I didn’t think I liked raw oysters until we mistakenly ordered them at Primo. Three were in a light sauce made with wild blueberries. Not sweet or heavy. The second three were fried in a crunchy corn meal (I think) batter, also delicious. We also had cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms and two very different but equally delicious entrees – Saltimbocca

Dirck and chef

(pork pounded thin, cooked and served atop mashed potatoes and cooked greens in a delicious brown sauce) and seared local tuna served with two sauces, a green pesto and red sauce. (Red pepper?) Dessert was a float with espresso poured atop vanilla and chocolate gelato served with homemade light and sugared donuts. Too delicious. Excellent service, homey ambiance and we went to say hi to the chef in the kitchen (she’s a friend of Dirck’s sister, a Boston food writer.) Next time we will book a little earlier than 8 pm so we can tour the farm and gardens behind the restaurant in the day light.

Dinner tonight was totally different, at Claws, a popular (for good reason) lobster shack where we ordered at the window and got a goofy plastic lobster with our order number on it. We ate a tray full of seafood – lobster bisque, lobster roll, drunken mussels in a garlicky broth – all excellent and fresh tasting, eaten on a deck with picnic tables and portable heaters. And a lovely view of the harbor.

Rockport scenes

This morning, we followed our Airbnb hosts recommendation and drove to Latte Beach in Camden and then walked the back way to Rockport and back. Turned out to be six miles. Lovely scenery, walking on Bay View Road past gorgeous old and new mansions set on the water, then past an old farm with white-belted cattle and then to a pretty “children’s” open air chapel.

Belfast

Rockport was very quiet and pretty. After a picnic of Maine blue cheese and bread, we drove to Belfast and walked down the Main Street with old red brick buildings, popping into cute little shops. Very fun day.

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Road trip to Waterville – Colby college art museum, Lebanese cuisine, Johns ice cream, lost kitchen, driveby, wander around Camden town (not the London one) Long grain/Camden

I am glad it rained this morning because it led us to drive backroads through the wood about an hour west to Waterville where we thoroughly enjoyed the Colby College Art Museum, Maine’s largest art museum with a really nice collection of American art from flat folk art portraits to abstract Jackson Pollack, plus rooms full of giant portraits by Alex Katz (who lives in nearby Lincolnville, I happened to read last week in a New Yorker profile.)

It was fun to ride on narrow winding roads thru the wood past the occasional shingled farmhouse, organic farm stand, brightly painted hippie VW van, charming general store and world famous restaurant (The virtually hidden Lost Kitchen in the out-of-the-way village of Freedom, Me.)

Camden harbor

We also made sure to stop 15 miles south in the little town of Liberty, Me.  at John’s Ice cream, which was as good as we’d heard. Nearby, the fog and mist from the rain was rising above Lake George and the surrounding hills, making the place look like a Hudson River School painting or one like we saw at the Colby museum…

We ate a light lunch earlier at a tiny Lebanese place in downtown Waterville, a town with that quixotic feel of a faded factory town with a fancy private college. Back in Camden, we finally walked around the town which has lots of interesting shops and boutiques in well-tended old buildings. The harbor is full of boats, from small pleasure boats to tall schooners. We learned that our Airbnb hosts used to make their living taking tourists out into Penobscot Bay on their 50 foot sailboat (which they also sailed to the Caribbean). I am so glad we came to Camden in particular and mid coast Maine in general.

Dinner was at a superb Thai place in Camden called Long Grain. Imagine your typical Thai dishes, then think of  those dishes made with the best ingredients possible – the best meat, vegetables, homemade noodles, rice: that was what this place managed to do.

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