Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all been enjoying your summer. I’ve recently returned from visiting our inherited vintage home on the ocean in Downeast Maine (which is really up east, as in, very close to the Canadian border). My husband inherited the house and two cottages on the water from his grandfather, who was born and raised there. My kids love to take pictures with the McCollum road sign and play on McCollum Beach down below the bank. I enjoy the 70-degree weather (when home in North Carolina is in the upper 90s) and the peace that comes with an unhurried life in this working lobster fishing town (population 1,300).
Staying in Jonesport is very inspiring to me as a writer. You might wonder why, since I write Scottish historical books, but Maine is rather similar to the Highlands of Scotland in temperature and terrain. I visited the Highlands three years ago during the time we are usually visiting Maine. I mentioned several times to my husband (as we sat on the beach of Loch Linnhe) that if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was sitting on McCollum Beach, but without the lobster boats chugging back and forth.
The pace is slow in Jonesport. I drove my daughter back down to the airport on a Saturday morning and during the first full hour I passed a total of eleven cars. Eleven!
In Jonesport, the birds caw at a bald eagle flying overhead, the muted beep of a truck echoes as it backs down the pier to retrieve lobster from the boats, the neighbor waves to me as she cuts wild primroses off the bushes along the bank. Even the fog, ribboning around the pine tree-covered islands before me seems peaceful and thought provoking. It reminds me of a snake drawing closer, mesmerizing its prey. No wonder Stephen King finds such inspiration for writing chilling thrillers set in Maine.
Even though I currently write Scottish Historical Romance, I’ve thought about writing a cozy mystery series set in Jonesport. The town is full of colorful characters and history, with many of the houses dating to the 19th century. A setting ripe for ghostly mysteries (just like Scotland actually). In fact, we might have a ghost in our own house.
We rent the house and cottages out when we are not in residence, and our cleaning lady called me to say that every time she straightens the quilt on the master bed and leaves the room, when she comes back the spread has an impression of someone sitting on the end of it, watching out the large bay window. So, she straightens it again, leaves to clean downstairs, returns, and the impression is back. We think it is my husband’s grandfather who died seven years ago at the age of 93. He always sat there when he woke to watch the lobster boats chug out into the open sea.
If you are thinking of exploring Downeast Maine (recommended late June through September), there are so many opportunities for fun. You can relax, hike, canoe and kayak, seal/puffin/whale watch, shop in Bar Harbor and in the quaint seaside towns, search for sea glass, and more. Below are my top recommendations:
- Hike one of the many trails through boreal forests out to the sea. Great Wass, Quoddy Head Quoddy Head link, Hamilton Cove are my favorite, but there are many more. Make sure to take a water bottle and pay attention to the trail markings to stay on track. I find that the hikes always take a bit longer than I thought (especially with kids). If you see the endangered Pitcher Plants, look but don’t pick as there is a fine for taking them home. But you can eat the tiny wild blueberries growing (ripe usually from mid-July through August). Delicious!
- Visit Campobello, Eleanor Roosevelt’s summer home in Canada. Remember to bring your valid passport for this one. I recommend attending the free tea where you learn about her amazing life while sampling homemade cookies and hot tea. For tea party lovers, it’s a must! Tea with Eleanor
- Spend a day shopping in Bar Harbor. Artisan shops meld easily with fun souvenir stores. Sample the blueberry ice cream and eat fish and chips at one of the wonderful restaurants. Shopping in Bar Harbor, Maine
- Sample the seafood. Try to find out where the local fisherman sell their lobster, and pick a few up to steam in a large pot at your vacation home. How to Steam Maine Lobster Or sample the lobster or crab rolls that are abundant at take out venues. Don’t forget the amazing soft served ice cream or Gifford’s hard ice cream.
- Find a way onto the water. Whether it is canoeing or kayaking on one of Maine’s many lakes Downeast Lakes Visitor Guide (there are fishing tours too) or buying tickets for a puffin Puffin Tour or whale watching tour Whale Watching out of Bar Harbor, being on the water gives you a different perspective of Maine.
- Find the perfect rock or piece of sea glass along the shore. My favorite beach for smooth, round rocks is Jasper Beach. Jasper Beach, Maine Tucked away in Machiasport, it has always been one of my favorite spots on earth. As the receding waves pull the rocks back with them into the water, it sounds like a gentle applause (Listen on You Tube Rock Applause). The rocks are warm under you and the breeze is usually cool. Perfect.
I’ve only been home for a week, and I miss Maine terribly. When our kids are grown, my husband and I plan to follow in his grandparents’ footsteps, living the summers up in Jonesport. Maybe you could stop by for a cup of tea on the deck overlooking Moosebec Reach.
Grab The Beast of Aros Castle by Heather McCollum for only 99¢!
Ava Sutton is on the run from a dangerous man and makes her way safely to Scotland. Masquerading as a titled, English lady, she must convince the darkly handsome chief of the Macleans of Aros to wed her before she is tracked down.
Tor Maclean, the new chief of Aros Castle, has sworn off marriage. Despite his efforts to scare away the Englishwoman his father arranged for him to wed, Tor is nonetheless drawn to her passion and beauty. But he doesn’t know if he can forgive the untruths that have come to light for a chance at a once in a lifetime love…
Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal and YA romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart finalists. The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entrances Ms. McCollum’s heart and imagination every time she visits. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her writing ever since her first journey across the pond. When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own Highland hero, rescued golden retriever & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.