When Ed and Rachel Barnhart retired in 2004, the intrepid RVers hooked up their Alfa Gold fifth wheel on a mission to see all that God created and man constructed...and find the best pizza in the USA. From the beaches of Seattle, Ed and Rachel set their sights on Maine. From there they would turn south toward the sunshine, only to be greeted by the worst Mother Nature had unleashed in decades. Undaunted, the Barnharts headed off into the sunset, through the southwest and across the Rio Grande to the shores of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. From sea to shining sea and back again, all in their first year exploring the ‘Land of Awes.’ In Chapter 15, Ed and Rachel have a wicked awesome time at the Rockland Lobster Festival.
Rachel vs. two lobsters
We arrived at Megunticook by the Sea on the coast of Maine on Tuesday, the day before the festival was to begin. It was a perfect place to put our feet up, relax and get ready to party. The park is quiet and wooded and, even if you are not directly on the water, you can follow a steep interior road to a gorgeous ocean view. The park offers free Wi-Fi, a heated swimming pool, a playground and a recently renovated bathhouse.
Our first order of business in Maine was to learn the language. Regional accents and colloquial differences are part of what makes RVing fun, and most locals are patient and enthusiastic translators. Especially with folks who had come as ‘wicked fah’ as we had. Here are a few phrases we picked up:
- All stove up = hurt, banged up, dented, e.g. “I slipped on the pier and I’m all stove up.”
- A piece = distance, e.g. “Up the road a piece”
- Ayuh = Yes
- Bah Hahbah = Bar Harbor, up the road a piece from Rockland
- Chowdah = Chowder
- Crittah – Critter (any furry animal, especially a cow)
- Couple-three = one or two, possibly a bit more
- Cunnin = Cute, e.g. “That’s one cunnin baby.”
- Hee-ah = Here, e.g. “You can’t get they-ah from hee-ah walkin’. It’s a wicked fah piece.”
- Lobstah = Lobster (also “Bug”)
- Mainah = a person from Maine, everyone else is “from away”
- Pot = Lobstah trap
- Steamers (also, “steamah”) = Clams
- Uptah = Over, at or to, e.g. “They got some wicked good deals uptah Shaw’s this week.”
- Watah = water, e.g. salt watah or fresh watah
- Wicked = Very, e.g. wicked good, wicked bad, wicked big
Lobster festival banner
We had been planning to attend the Annual Lobster Festival since before leaving Washington, so we literally had the breadth of an entire continent to anticipate this party — and it did NOT disappoint!
We invested our first day in reconnaissance, scouting out the best shows, locating our favorite displays and vendor booths. One of the more interesting displays was the marine tent. This included ship models, lobster traps...and a touch tank. The touch tank allowed you to pick up and hold crabs, scallops, sea urchins, anemone, starfish...and, of course, “lobstah.” We learned to discern gender on sight, though not by taste — both are delicious.
Rockland barbor scene
While headliners played on the main stage and local groups worked a smaller tent set up like a theater, there was nearly always some live entertainment going on in the “eating tent”. Local musical highlights included the Smith Brothers, fantastic teenagers who had been playing all over New England, and Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection, an outstanding six-piece group. The headliner was country and bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and his Kentucky Thunder. Dazzling!
On Thursday, feeling a tug of overwhelming sympathetic obligation to the folks who organized the Festival, we headed directly to the eating tent. We filled our plates with Italian sausage, seafood chowdah and lobstah. We took our dinner outside to enjoy a postcard picturesque view of Rockland Harbor complete with a lighthouse, several piers and hundreds of schooners, yachts and lobster boats. Just another perfect moment in an incredible week!
Schooner passing Rockland light
The entire five-day event was well planned, well executed and overall just wonderful. There was a full carnival with midway rides, game booths and vendors. The live entertainment was great, the displays interesting and the record crowd of over 100,000 was well behaved — perhaps because we were all too stuffed with incredible seafood to cause a ruckus. The prior year the Festival has served over 24,000 pounds of lobster...by noon on Sunday they had surpassed that with several more hours of partying to go.
In addition to lobster, other fresh seafood included shrimp and scallops. And all the carnival favorites were represented: sausages, pitas, pies, ice cream...and deep-fried everything! We don’t usually eat out more than once a week, but, well, it would have been rude not to sample everything...right?
To learn more about the Festival or how to attend the next event, visit www.mainelobsterfestival.com.
Ed on the Boone with a big gun
Friday, we headed back out to the harbor — sorry, hahbah — to tour the Naval frigate, USS Boone. Because we wanted to be back ashore in time to watch the Coast Guard tall ship, Eagle, sail into Rockland Harbor, we started out bright and early, arriving in town at 11:00 a.m. As it turned out, we were not the only early birds. Shuttles carrying 25 tourists each were taking folks out to the Boone. We waited while five other shuttles came and went before our turn. We grew increasingly antsy, worried that we would miss the Eagle entering the harbor.
Because the USS Boone was built practically in our backyard in Seattle, boarding the frigate had the flavor of going home again. Today, the 453-foot Perry Class frigate and its crew of 17 officers and 198 crewmen sails out of Mayport, Florida. Standing on the deck next to the long guns was an especially powerful feeling.
Eagle is piloted into position
As it turned out, we were still on the Boone when Eagle came into sight, but being on the Boone gave us a broadside view of the ship while folks on the shore only got the head-on look. Providence rewards patience! Even with sails furled and moving on engine power against unfavorable winds, the gallant Eagle was still a sight to moisten the eyes.
The Coast Guard Barque, Eagle, is the only operational commissioned sailing vessel still in service for the United States. Another unique feature of the Eagle is her pedigree. Built in 1937 by Nazi Germany, she was taken by the U.S. as a prize of war after World War II. In 1946 a Coast Guard crew, with assistance from the German crew still aboard, sailed the ship from Bremerhaven to New London, Connecticut. Today, this singular vessel is a floating classroom for future officers, allowing them to, quite literally, “learn the ropes.”
After the Eagle passed, we began chatting with some other folks touring the Boone with our group. Turned out they hailed from New Jersey. We mentioned that Flanders was on our itinerary, and they suggested a favorite local Italian eatery, Trattoria Toscana. Based on their glowing recommendation, we can’t wait to see if it’s a contender for the Top Pizza prize!
Read previous chapters by selecting one of the links below:
Chapter 15 – Rock Lobstah? Ayuh, it’s Good
Chapter 14 – Historic Boston, The Commons & Uncommon Pizza
Chapter 13 – Plymouth Rock and Saugus Iron
Chapter 12 – At the Atlantic and Around Cape Cod
Chapter 11 – Marches, Mozart and Mozzarella
Chapter 10 – Loving Life on the Road
Chapter 9 – Picturesque Settings & Police Surveillance
Chapter 8 – Erie Museums and Niagara Mist
Chapter 7 – The Amish and Edison
Chapter 6 – Dutch Treats and Bavarian Festivals
Chapter 5 – Two American Icons – Miller Beer and Chicago Pizza
Chapter 4 – Touring the Twin Cities
Chapter 3 – Discovering Middle America
Chapter 2 – A Trip Around the Sun
Chapter 1 –Pacific in the Rearview, We Wave Goodbye