Summer is ferociously clinging to its final days — even in Maine where the ocean breezes make for perpetual sweater weather. I just returned from a mother-daughter road trip to the majestic Cliff House Maine overlooking Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick. Cliff House has recently transitioned to a year round travel destination, a big relief to those who love the serenity of Maine in the off seasons.
The last of the summer tourists are still lingering there as early September is still warm enough for shorts, but gives you a slight autumnal chill. I staved off my chill the glamorous way in the Cliff House’s cozy outdoor hot tub above the sea. But the hotel’s coffee stations on every floor can warm guests just as well.
Along the Marginal Way, one of the most scenic walks in New England, lovers, old and young, many of them returning to the place where they fell in love, sit on the benches taking in the rocky Maine coastline. A sailboat in the distance or the seagull swooping in provide the ideal memory.
The cafes in Ogunquit, the Cliff House’s neighboring village, are still bustling with orders for wild Maine blueberry pancakes.
At a farmer’s market in Kennebunkport, not far from the Bush family estate — Walker’s Point — fresh blueberries are in high demand as are the homemade blueberry and strawberry rhubarb pies.
Pumpkins aren’t quite there yet. Nobody wants to rush summer here.
Down at Perkins Cove, scenic cruises, like the one I took to Nubble Lighthouse on the Finestkind, will be busy as locals and tourists want to catch a whale sighting — something that’s happened more and more over the past few years.
I didn’t see any whales — but I did encounter a few Mola Mola, or ocean sunfish.
Not far from the Cliff House, a reluctant doe stuck out her head from the brush to check for tourist traffic before crossing the drive. The Mainer moose, I hear, aren’t quite as accommodating to passersby.
Finestkind also has a lobster cruise, but the best way to “see” a lobster is down the block at Barnacle Billy’s where the lobster rolls are the signature dish along with a requisite rum cocktail on their deck overlooking the fisherman boats of Perkins Cove.
My mother and I enjoyed a lobster and corn salad at The Tiller, the Cliff House’s nautically elegant restaurant with wide views of Bald Head Cliff. York, Maine is just a ten minute drive from the hotel, and we ventured over to see Wiggly Bridge, which leads to a nature reserve, surrounded by the York River. The bridge’s name is no joke — it does, in fact, wiggle. (Fortunately, this is strictly a pedestrian crossing.)
Nothing compares to the gardens and flowers in southern Maine-blooming and preening as though they’ve been sprinkled by fairy dust.
The sunflowers in York were a big as a dinner plate, and the hydrangeas, dahlias, and black eyed Susans are sweet reminders that summer is fleeting and should be savored.