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It’s the Maine attraction

North America

Northport, Maine - We left for Maine with three bicycles on the back of the car.

One for him, one for her, one for any house guest who cared to ride along. There were other modest recreational plans for our three-week vacation on the coast. Twice-weekly yoga at a local community centre, a little kayaking, a little hiking maybe, and certainly walking the hilly streets of Bayside and admiring its gingerbread-house architecture.

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That was all before my wife's broken ankle. On the second day of the trip.

By the end of the vacation, only one bike had been taken out. Only one of us had paddled the Penobscot. Mount Battie remained unconquered. And the yoga mat remained coiled and unused in a closet.

But as vacation disasters go, this was a relatively small one. The broken bone was Debbie's fibula, so she didn't need a cast, just a walking boot. Still, she couldn't walk much. So we had to rewrite our expectations and create a Maine vacation that was friendlier to the differently abled.

 

NERVOUS NELLIE'S JAMS AND JELLIES

A wise friend who has vacationed in Maine countless times mentioned that some of her best times in the state had been just driving around. Sitting in the passenger seat did turn out to be a boundless source of pleasure for the injured one: the abundant Queen Anne's lace and tiger lilies that decorate the landscape, antiques stores and lobster shacks around every bend, wonderful vistas of inlets with bobbing boats, bridges connecting islands and peninsulas.

 

 

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On one outing, to the 17th century French settlement at Castine, waiting for lobster rolls to arrive, a fellow diner at our picnic table recommended a stop on neighbouring Deer Isle: Nervous Nellie's Jams and Jellies, which Google correctly categorises as an art gallery. Yes, there are jams, but the big attraction is the sprawling installation by metal artist Peter Beerits, which evokes an old Western town, complete with saloon, jail and 24 slightly menacing life-size characters. No charge, although they take donations, and you do feel honour-bound to purchase a jar of something. There's a nice little cafe with coffee and tarts too.

 

FARNSWORTH MUSEUM AND OLSON HOUSE

The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland is a well-polished gem, with a collection of American works, especially Maine-influenced ones. In this part of Maine, that means three generations of Wyeths: NC, Andrew and Jamie. Equally important for our injured traveller, little walking was required. Both the main museum and an annex in a converted church have elevators? galleries easily accommodate available wheelchairs, which, thankfully, we didn't need.

 

 

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The Farnsworth also runs the Olson House in Cushing, about 20 minutes' drive away. The modest clapboard farmhouse is where Andrew Wyeth painted his most famous work, “Christina's World,” in 1948. No elevator, but there's a delightful docent-led tour of the first floor (you can sit for most of it), chock-full of details about Wyeth's relationship with Anna Christina Olson and her brother Alvaro. The high, wavy grass in the painting can be seen in a patch in the front yard, where everyone takes pictures, occasionally in the prone. We didn't. Too hard to get up.

Museum admission is $15 (about R200), another $5 gets you in the Olson House.

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MONHEGAN BOAT LINE

Double kayaking was out. But we wanted to be on the water, so we chose a 2 ½-hour lighthouse survey out of Port Clyde with Monhegan Boat Line, $30 per passenger. Easy to board, even on only one good ankle. It came with a fascinating demonstration of lobstering by a 19-year-old tour guide and third-generation lobsterman. At a lighthouse now owned by Jamie Wyeth, someone came out � we were told it was Wyeth himself - and fired off a cannon as a salute. At that distance, it could have been anyone. But he's in our story and we're sticking with it.

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ANTIQUES AT 10 MECHANIC STREET

A throbbing ankle can be a good way to judge Maine's many antiques shops. After a while, you've had your share of distressed buoys and shellback lawn chairs, and clomping through another store with a clunky orthopedic boot can feel more like a chore than an adventure. Not so, however, with Antiques at 10 Mechanic in Camden, a former movie house where “Peyton Place,” which was filmed nearby, had its world premiere. Antiques at 10 Mechanic feels like a grandfather's attic crossed with Beatrix Potter's pantry and, perhaps, an old set shop from MGM. You can't walk 2 feet without wanting something. The day we visited, Lou Bega's A Little Bit Of Mambo was playing on the stereo, and broken ankle girl was practically dancing through the store. Bonus: Saturday Cove, a popular spot for Flax clothing, housewares and art in Northport, which closed this spring, has an outpost in the back of the store.

AP

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