Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Maine Girl Travels!

In the weeks since my last post, this Maine girl has been on the road!  I’m sorry for the ‘blog neglect’ and hope to get back on track starting now.

To fill you in on where I’ve been, Nick and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on October 2nd.  Hooray!  We actually took a vacation – pretty rare for us – and spent a wonderful week visiting the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains in Virginia, and we even made a brief trek up to State College, Pennsylvania.

Pretty shot of the mountains... snagged during my morning run!

Pretty shot of the mountains… snagged during my morning run!

We stayed at the Massanutten Resort in McGayhesville, Virginia and spent our days golfing and visiting wineries.  Massanutten has two golf courses, Woodstone Meadows and Mountain Greens – the latter is significantly more challenging, but I enjoyed playing it much more.  It is further into the resort and feels more remote – you’re surrounded by nature and mountain scenery, including the occasional, stunning vista.  The Woodstone Meadows course is a good beginner choice, as the fairways are flat and pretty straightforward.

We did venture into Harrisonburg for our anniversary dinner, which we spent at the Joshua Wilton House.  I love old, historic homes, and this inn and restaurant popped up immediately when I googled (who knew that would one day become an accepted verb in our vocabulary?) fine dining in Harrisonburg, VA.  Our experience was exceptional from beginning to end.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Happy Anniversary to us!

The atmosphere reminded me very much of Calhoun Corners, a nice restaurant in Clemson, SC (Go Tigers!).  They have maintained the feel of a home in the dining area(s) by setting tables up throughout the various rooms downstairs, which makes the dining experience feel unique and intimate.  Lovely furnishings and beautiful artwork came together with delicious food and excellent service to deliver a very special anniversary for us.

Did I mention the outstanding Creme Brulee?

Did I mention the outstanding Creme Brulee?

While on our trip, we did complete my Fat Friar’s Mead tasting!  Stay tuned for the review to come… and the return to ‘Maine’ topics!


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Happy Memorial Day from Jekyll Island, Georgia

On this Memorial Day, I’m writing to you in a place far from hoME – miles and miles down the coast in Georgia.  This is a place steeped in history – like much of Maine and other coastal communities – and being surrounded by that history has, on this particular holiday, enhanced my understanding of this important day and my thankfulness to those who have given, or risked, their lives for our country and our way of life.

There are elements of this place that strongly call Maine to mind – particularly the ocean and marshes – although it’s a very different coastal experience from the rocky, rugged coast of Maine.  It has been soothing to be close to the ocean again – I miss it and the outdoor activities that go hand-in-hand, being so far inland in Charlotte.  And so today, I hope to share this place with you through my post, and perhaps you’ll be inspired to come, visit, see, and do.

Nick was asked to attend a conference for work over this holiday weekend, and since they were sending us to such a beautiful spot – Jekyll Island, Georgia – we readily agreed.  We followed a recommendation to stay at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a lovely, luxurious hotel with a rich history.  In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to be a winter retreat for America’s wealthiest families – the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, Pulitzers, and more.  The Club officially opened in 1888, and over time, some families built “cottages” for themselves on the property.

The Jekyll Island Club

The Jekyll Island Club

Today, we would not describe these structures as remotely cottage-like.  Intended to house both family members and servants, two of these large homes have been restored and are actively used for hotel guests.  Nick and I stayed in the Sans Souci, pictured below, which was built in 1896 and owned in part by J.P. Morgan.  The other restored home, the Crane Cottage, was built in 1917 for Richard Teller Crane, Jr., and is the largest and most lavish of the cottages.

The Sans Souci

The Sans Souci

This resort effectively combines the best of history and modern conveniences – our room was both spacious and charming, with a working fireplace and stunning crown molding.  The sensation of walking along the same halls as those individuals who played such a significant role in making America what it is today is both fascinating and sobering.

Although the island is small – about 7 miles long- there is much to do and explore.  On Saturday afternoon, shortly after our arrival and the set-up at the Convention Center, we enjoyed our first on-island dining experience – at the “Rah” Bar (I appreciate their humorous spelling) on the pier directly across from our hotel.  We enjoyed fresh, wild caught shrimp and two Pina Coladas – and while the shrimp were slightly overcooked (making the peeling a little challenging) they were still quite tasty, and the Pina Coladas were delicious – the bartender didn’t skimp on the rum, a welcome surprise, as that is often the case.

Mmm, seafood does not get fresher than this...

Mmm, seafood does not get fresher than this…

On Sunday, Nick headed off to play golf with the other conference attendees, and I decided to rent a bike and cycle around the island.  I must admit – I can appreciate the irony of my selecting this mode of transportation.  I used to actively protest cycling around Acadia National Park on family vacations, and I still don’t really like to bike.  Regardless, I thought it would be a good way to get some exercise and see the entire island.  Roughly 18 miles and two hours later, my seat was incredibly sore and I was exhausted, but it was worth it, and I’m better able to appreciate why my parents wanted us to get around that way in Acadia.

Every moment on the Club property is like a scene from Gone with the Wind – from the formal dining room, with its ornate carvings and columns, plantation shutters, and view to the lush scenery outside to being outside – surrounded by old, old oak trees that are heavy with the Spanish Moss that epitomizes the coastal South.

In the case of this old oak tree, its heavy branches have actually grown down and slightly into the earth.

In the case of this old oak tree, its heavy branches have actually grown down and slightly into the earth.

Most of the bike ride was breathtaking – from my ride along the Intercoastal Waterway to the striking views of the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern side – I was able to see and experience the island lifestyle in a way I couldn’t have otherwise.  Where the Club is quiet, with the soothing grace of the old South, the Atlantic side of the island, with its wide, flat beaches, has more of the bustle and activity that you’d expect from a modern vacation destination.

Beautiful, flat beach

One of my favorite things about this area is that it still feels a bit remote and rural – it has far fewer people than a vacation hot spot like Myrtle Beach, Charleston, or Savannah, and I love that.  Perhaps that also means fewer dining and shopping options, but that’s fine by me – I’m not high maintenance about those things (after all, I grew up with only the Maine Mall to shop in).

I hope, if you decide to vacation down south, that you consider visiting this idyllic, picturesque place.  True, it’s a bit further than some of the destinations I mentioned above, but I have to say – it’s well worth every extra moment in the car, plane, or boat.

A welcome sight at the end of my long bike ride - the backside of the Club property!

A welcome sight at the end of my long bike ride – the backside of the Club property!

Happy Memorial Day!