Waking up to the fog in the early hours of the morning
seemed to be the perfect atmosphere for a day trip. It was five o’clock and I
awoke before the alarm even sounded.  Most mornings, I seem to become conscious
without even an alarm to wake me. Our plan was to visit Monhegan Island during
our stay with the family at Owl’s Head, Maine.  Corey had shared her memories of the trips and time she had spent
on Monhegan with me and she wanted 
to take me there to have our own experience to travel together and
explore for ourselves. The Maine coast has so much to offer: ocean air, spring
flowers and spruce trees imprint such an amazing aroma on the senses that it
feels as though natures’ intoxication could sustain us indefinitely.  Upon my waking I had dreams that
bordered on nightmares so it was welcome awakening that I get out of bed and
make my way downstairs in the cottage to start the coffee brewing.  We drank our full cups with a little
maple syrup for sweetness and off we went for the ferry in Port Clyde.

As we meandered through the winding roads on Owl’s Head
making our way to the port of Clyde, we listened to Teacher Man narrated by the
author Frank McCourt. He narrated his experience of teaching high school in New
York City for thirty years and was a wonderful way to pass the time while
driving on vacation.  Arriving at
Port Clyde, Corey purchased the tickets that she reserved the day before by
phone and made our way into the general store. A beautiful old building with
everything a traveler could need. Two breakfast sandwiches and an iced tea and
soon we would be on the Laura B. As we waited for the ferry to depart, Corey
shot photos of the fog, lobster boats, Mainers and travelers to Monhegan.
Corey noticed a couple she knew and said hello to John and Winnie Murdock, owners of Shining Sails B&B.  A place she stayed on her first visit to Monhegan island for a week as a present to herself for graduating massage school while working full time.  She told
them that we were headed to the island for the day and introduced me.  They own
two inns on the island and another in Port Clyde.  They looked like hard working
people who are constantly on the move.  Something about the dock was so familiar
to me.  I spent twenty-five years visiting my grandparents who lived on an
island in Greece; I was starting to get a little nostalgic.  Their tiny part of
the world was called Platanistos, also known as “Cava Doro”, or the Hard Cove.  A village of hard working peasant
farmers who like my grandparents had only what the land and the sea gave
them. 
We were treated to a few stories and jokes from Bob the
retired truck driver, who in his trucking hay-day would drive the route from
Maine to Florida on a regular basis.  He asked us if we were from the Milford
area and we said no.  That was one of his gas stops on route ninety-five. As Bob
was sharing his story, and reaching its crescendo, the captain made his
announcement that we would be departing for the island.  Bob said that it was nice to meet us
and said to Corey, take care of this guy.  I think sometimes people get the
feeling that I listen a bit too well to their stories.  Making our way down the
steep pitch of the ramp onto the boat Corey was still taking pictures.  We found
some not so dry seats, laid down our rain jackets to sit on and the ferry
pulled away from the port of Clyde.
The water was perfectly calm and people were already lying
down on the benches, as it seemed that we were not the only ones that didn’t
sleep so well.  For the first few minutes all was going smoothly then Corey got
up and walked to the nearest door.  What was the matter, I thought to myself.  I
approached her and said, “Is everything alright?” She told me that between the
cologne that the man sitting in front of us was wearing, the diesel fumes and
the vibrations of the boat she was getting a little sea sick. I felt for her
and sat next to her on the outside deck bench.  Having an upset stomach on the
ocean is never fun and it has happened to me before.  She was able to make it to
Monhegan without getting sick by standing outside and I was relieved for her.
Arriving at the dock on Monhegan I was a bit overwhelmed by
how underwhelming the size of the dock was.  I was shocked and loving every second of it and taking it
all in. People were already waiting above us and looking down and it felt like
we were on stage, but not in a good way.  The pick up trucks were packed into
the port like sardines, waiting to pack up the luggage and supplies needed for
visitors stay on the island.  The
Barnacle was a coffee and bakery right on the pier and had just what Corey
needed for an upset tummy: Coca Cola!  Friendly service in the morning with a
smile made our first contact with islanders extremely pleasant.  I walked back
outside and it finally hits me that I am here.  On the island, my mind always
takes a few minutes to catch up to my body.  I look around and take in the
sights and smells of the port.  People were moving purposely, loading and
unloading cargo, it was a beautiful sight.  The sound of a strong woman says,
“Hey, need you to move this red truck out, we gotta get this pick up in here.”
It was like an automobile puzzle.
For some reason I had pictured something a little different
when I imagined our arrival, but that is what is so amazing about life: the
unexpected.  Corey and I started
walking up the hill, past the Island Inn and onto the dirt roads of the island.  I did not see one inch of pavement on the island, another resemblance to my
summers in Greece and that made me feel good.  As time moves forward some things
will be lost forever. We started up the path towards the woods and Corey was
already shooting photos like a solider with a machine gun in the heat of
battle.  I stood in front of the little Monhegan schoolhouse and posed for
Corey as I am a teacher.
The farther we walked up into the woods the quieter I
noticed sounds became.  It is something that we all live with in populated
areas: noise pollution.  It was such a strange comfort to hear no automobiles,
people and heavy machinery.  We made a right off the main trail onto some
private land that is open to visitors, as long as they are respectful to the
land.  As we meandered through the tiny trail, Corey said welcome to fairyland!
We were in the fairy forest.  I wore my Vans, which were a footwear
disaster in the woods that had been soaked the night before with a heavy
rainstorm.  A few steps into the muddy wet woods and I had to make a change into
my crocks.  Oh well, plan better next time I guess.  If I thought that just going
to Maine for a little vacation was a good thing, it just got even better with
the dreamlike forest on Monhegan.
We were walking up and down the ledges on the edge of the
island; made it out to the vistas for some breathe taking views and I handed
Corey the petal of a wild rose that was in the shape of a heart. There is some
kind of magic in the air on Monhegan.  We had a wardrobe change from our cooler
weather clothing to some summer clothing.  No one was around.  Down some slippery
roots on the trail Corey lost her sunglasses.  We asked a couple whom we had
seen on the ferry to keep their eyes out for them. Around this time we saw a
wild pheasant, which I had never witnessed before.  It was a wild cock.  Just
after this time we came upon the wreckage of the D.T. Sheridan.  So much rust
covers the ship’s body that it didn’t resemble a ship at all just a curved
hull.  
When I walk I get hungry.  It doesn’t even compare to bike
riding.  I can ride for two hours and not feel hungry, but walking seems to
create a hunger like no other.  So we proceeded into town and straight for the
nearest food stop on Fish Beach.  I spotted a woman in her fifties carrying a
specials sign from a small seafood eatery.  I walked down the path and saw the
closed sign on the door.  We waited by the water, as did an older couple, so I
hoped that this was clue about the food.  Word to the wise when traveling: look
for the out of the way or edge of town food spots.  You can bet you will find
great food at half the cost.  I ordered a lobster roll, crab quesadilla, fish
chowder and potato chips.  Corey made her way to procure a beer for us to share
and the meal was complete.  Did I
mention that the roll was butter toasted?
While we were eating we saw something that was out of
character for Monhegan. A huge delivery ship was bringing a large dump truck to
the shore. Was this the omen of shifting tides on the island?  Is the island
becoming over constructed?  Is the
once secluded island changing its quant facade for the modern facelift?  Sadly
Monhegan is not the only place where this is happening.  We finished our
delicious lunch and made our way to see some more sights of the island. We
stopped into a gallery to purchase a writing utensil and view the art that was
on display.  Most of the art consisted of works by artists in residence and
regular visitors who love the island.
It was just about 1:30 and we decided to venture up the hill
to the lighthouse and visit the Monhegan historical museum. A bit earlier
Allison Hill, a friend of Corey’s and painter told her that there was an art
opening for Susan Gilbert at the Island Inn and that we
should stop by.  We also stopped into another artist’s gallery, Kevin Beers.  Corey just so happens to have a portrait painting of her old boyfriend in her collection.  I was having some feelings that I
couldn’t necessarily figure out, was it the atmosphere of the island’s aura?  Finally the museum opened and we went inside to see the past come alive.  A small tribe of Native Americans used
to use the island during the summer months for a fishing outpost.  The white
people came and the rest is history.  There are a handful of families who have
been here for generations.
While we had been in the museum, the weather started to shift
and it was getting colder.  Corey took the opportunity to use the rest room and
change clothing back to cold weather attire.  I will also mention that most of the people I noticed to be
the biggest visitors were active couples and retirees. We started
making our way back towards “town” to visit the art opening.  Before that we
made sure to stop into the Eider Duck Café for a couple of lattes to keep us
going.  They have unique gifts and artwork for sale at affordable prices.  After
that it was straight over to the Island Inn.  At first when we walked into the
Inn the numbers of people in the lobby and dining area astounded me.  On the
island, when something like an art opening is happening all of the inhabitants
and visitors are there with bells on. We looked a bit out of place with our hiking
attire and backpacks on, and we didn’t care, once we made our way over to the
free provisions we blended right in.  Corey made her way through the crowd to
say hello to Allison Hill and I made my way to the nearest corner to have a
seat and observe the gaggle of art lovers.
It was really great meeting Allison.  Corey had bartered with
her in the past when she had come to the island on her previous visits, art for massage. We were
making conversation with Allison and as is with art openings it is very hard to
have a private conversation without other people sliding in (who are these
people I have never met before?)  So much for Corey having the opportunity to
catch up with an old friend.  We made the best of it.  A woman who visits the
island every year, shared her history to the island and her family in connection to Allison’s art.   By this time the place was
getting noisy and hard to hear people speaking from a close proximity.  Allison
asked me what I thought of the island, so I paused as I often do when people
ask me my opinion and I said, “The island feels a lot like my fathers island
village in Greece.  It has a dark magic about it.  The people are friendly but
have a serious attitude about them. Very salty, hard working and self-reliant.”  Allison looked at me and her eyes lit up.  She said, “That’s exactly the
island in a nutshell.  That’s so true, I feel like you totally get the
essence.”
We decided to make our way out of the Inn and take some
pictures on the front lawn, overlooking the water and sitting in Adirondack
chairs.  I was feeling the time counting down on our day trip. The Barnacle
called to us once more, we purchased a few treats and gifts for the family,
waited inside where it was nice and warm, played a game of kings in the corner (a game Corey’s grandmother taught her as a child) as we passed the time before our ferry took us back to the Maine coast at Port
Clyde.  So many of the experiences I have had when traveling have given me
lessons to learn from.  I am so lucky to travel and take in all that my senses
can absorb.  Just like walking around the fishing port of Karistos in Greece as
a child.  I was a sponge.  Our ferry made it through the stormy waters home to Port Clyde and Corey was prepared with Dramamine this time, the ocean swells didn’t upset her one bit.   We were both sad to leave the shores of Monhegan and are hopeful to return with open
hearts once more.  A day trip isn’t enough to absorb the richness of the island and it’s people.

What is your favorite destination getaway?  Do you prefer active, restorative, historical or cultural?  The ocean, mountains, city or the woods?  Share your peaceful place with us.

Story by George Mastrogiannis
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