Thursday, July 28, 2016

Beat the heat with a trip to the Rangeley Lakes Area in Maine--or go any season.

Welcome to the Rangeley Lakes area (see map):  Photo of Haley's Pond
 (adjacent to Rangeley Lake)

Rocky gorges and waterfalls to swim in
 If you've never been to Maine, I hope to show you some of it here.  There's so much to see and do:  lakes, streams, gorges, mountains, wildness, sweet air, pure water, yummy local food and drink, ski in winter, hike in summer, swimming in pure lakes and streams, kayaking, canoeing, boating, camping in nearby state parks.  Or do what I did:  get cozy and take it easy at the historic Rangeley Inn. 

The Inn is conveniently located in downtown.  We walked to shops and restaurants from the Inn (an ice-cream store is right next door).   The Inn has canoes and kayaks for guests to use and access to Haley's Pond in their backyard.    
2443 Main St., Rangeley - 207-864-3341

historic guest room at the Rangeley Inn
My very cozy bedroom--so clean, lace curtains, air conditioning.

The Historic Rangeley Inn

We enjoyed a complimentary breakfast  in the dining room each morning.  No ordinary breakfast: Homemade strawberry or peach scones,  freshly-made that morning blueberry muffins,  fresh fruit,  and a hot dish.  For example,  the fritatta with provolone cheese was light and fluffy and full of flavor.

The living area fireplace
The Front Porch of the Rangeley Inn

View of the Veranda

A variety of  eating areas to choose from:

  • The veranda, a casual and comfortable spot with lots of light from large windows.
  • The Bar and Grill with cozy seating, stone fireplace and bar.
  • The gorgeous dining room.

The historic living area

The Bar and Grll
Ornate staircase to 2nd floor

In their backyard--one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots I have ever seen.

The sleigh on display in living room.

Original tin ceiling in dining room--over 100 years old.

Rangeley is home to  many great restaurants so it is hard to decide which one to choose.  I have to put a word in for the Rangeley Inn's restaurant, The Rangeley Tavern.  The menu changes seasonally.  The food is fabulous.  The chef is very creative.  His presentations are exciting.  I looked forward to dining there.  Open for dinner only 5-9PM.  The miso soup was one of my favorite selections.  The chef's maginatively-placed ingredients of local shitake and oyster mushrooms, tofu, seaweed, and bamboo shoots were in a sparkling white bowl.   Really outstanding!
Amazing Miso Soup by Executive Chef Jim Fargo

I also had lunch at another restaurant on Main Street, the Parkside & Main.  I had a great salad with greens that tasted like they were picked that morning--sweet and crisp.   I had a sprinkling of  Vermont goat cheese  over the top.   I also had their homemade onion soup which is made fresh each morning.  This is an excellent salad, soup and sandwich in a casual atmosphere with a deck and view.

Historical Society

Also, be sure to walk through the quaint town from the Inn and stop at The Historical Society.  A very friendly person  there will be happy to answer questions about the history and area.  The historic building houses many 19th century artifacts.   This tiny building still has the old post office, bank and jail on display.   Kids will love walking inside the old bank vault.  You can also see antique ladies dresses,  early photographs,  and interesting items.

Senior Communities

While there are no senior communities in the area of note, there happens to be a small apartment building for seniors, the Rangeley Townhomes,  in town.  Volunteers serve meals at the senior center.    The Health Center , a mile from town,  has stunning lake views.   Some of the activities for seniors and all ages are yoga, strength training, massage and more.

 The Rangeley Lake Area Resorts and Homes 

The major towns we visited on Rangeley lake were Rangeley and Oquossoc.  There are many condos and townhomes in these areas for short-term vacation leasing or for purchase long-term.  Also, Saddleback Resort is nearby with condos to lease for long or short-term.   They have a good list of places to stay in Rangeley on their website, but for the most convenience to restaurants, shopping and activities in town, the Rangeley Inn was our first choice.  (Note:  Please check status of the famous ski resort at Saddleback for upcoming seasons.)

While the large hotels and small cottages of yesterday have faded away, except for the Rangeley Inn, today's trend in real estate in the area is to purchase a lot and build your own permanent or vacation home.     

This area is still so quiet and peaceful that I would say your stay here could be very healing  At least for me it was.   Tranquil, sweet air, pure water, good food and gorgeous scenery.   It can be very restful (or very active if that is what you like.)  

Blue sky and water blending into one--clear water and lily pads on Haley's Pond behind the Rangeley Inn--a natural meditation and healing place -- hear the loons at night.  Ah!  A piece of heaven on earth in Rangeley!

Wilson Lake in Wilton:   (You can go through Wilton on your way to Rangeley)

Another beautiful lake is in Wilton and is called Wilson Lake.  It is part of the Rangeley chain of 7 lakes.  
You can swim, canoe, kayak, fish and boating
 in these lakes.

We were lucky to be there when this sunset happened one evening.  It started out a pale hue and became rich with color.

Also, in Wilton is an Italian Restaurant.  We dined on fresh haddock, shrimp, other northern Atlantic seafood, grass fed beef burgers, and locally grown vegetables.   Don't miss this restaurant in Wilton.  There is also a huge pick your own blueberries farm in Wilton.  We paid $2 for a quart of blueberries.   There was a Blueberry Festival coming in August in Wilton.

Don't miss this Italian restaurant if you are in Wilton -- Calzolaio Pasta Company is in the old Bass Shoe Factory.  History and photos on display.  Great ambience and food.  Italian food, seafood, fresh local vegetables, and more are on the menu.

Another lake in the Rangeley chain of lakes:   Lake Mooselookmeguntic

People gather  at this scenic spot to see this  lake from the roadside.

See Maine Retirement Communities on my website.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Side Trip to Charleston

Ever since I got back from visiting and touring the city of Charleston and the Joseph Manigault home on one of the little tour buses that ramble around the city of Charleston, I have been dreaming of fluffy hoop dresses, southern cooking and seafood, and longing to be a Southern belle.  (The photo above is not the Manigault home but one of the many beautiful and charming homes in Charleston.)

I was born in Maryland which is a little southern.  Maryland is not quite all southern and not northern either.  But off I went to California in the 60’s and I stayed there over 30 years.  But fate brought me back to the East Coast for awhile.

Road Trip

Recently a cousin asked me if I wanted to visit another cousin of ours in Myrtle Beach and “we have to see Charleston.”   I went with her on a 5-day road trip not expecting much.  I had been to Myrtle Beach before which I did like very much, but I never saw Charleston, a 2-hour drive away from Myrtle Beach.

What did I discover:  my roots and all things Southern. Charleston made me think that maybe after all I was a Southern Belle—after 55 years?   Life is funny like that.  

Towns Around Charleston with Retirement Communities

Myrtle Beach is an enclave of food and entertainment and fun and beaches, but Charleston is an elegant and stylish dream.   It reminded me of what I discovered when I first went to San Francisco—a touristy town but exciting with real substance underneath the surface glitter.  You have to choose because there is so much there.  

If you want a 55+ retirement community, the 55+ communities in Summerville would be nearest to Charleston 

Surrounding areas like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head do have plenty to choose from too.  You need to spend some time in these areas.  I found the Surfside Beach and Murrells Inlet areas to have some of the nicest residential sections in Myrtle Beach, but they are a 2-hour drive away from Charleston.  Summerville is about a 30-minute drive to Charleston.  Perfect  if you wanted to go for dinner there. 

A Foodie Town

And who wouldn’t?  I am convinced persons who decide to spend their retirement near Charleston love food.  There are so many restaurants and the food is so gorgeous that you might want to eat out every day.  There are 90+ restaurants in Charleston alone listed in the Visitors Guide. 

Bus Tour of Historic Homes

There are so many homes on this tour.  I didn't get all the photos I wanted because the bus goes at a clip.  Maybe the horse drawn carriage would allow more time to get the photos you want.  Here are a few I managed.

We were told the reason the balconies curve out was so the hooped skirts would fit on them when the ladies came out.

I thought the gardens and spring greenery were as beautiful as the homes although most of them were hidden behind walls and gates.  There are garden tours. 

So many beautiful homes. This photo shows the false doors and the Federalist style.

A Feeling of Southern Hospitality

So go to Charleston for the historic homes, gardens, horse carriage rides, and the restaurants.  Have fun.  Maybe you’ll be like me caught up in this romantic way of life.  You will sense the southern hospitality and I am taking that feeling back to Maryland with me.

Touring the Joseph Manigault Home

Here are photos of the Joseph Manigault house (the home I fell in love with.)  Is it possible to fall in love with a house.  Absolutely.  Go see it and you’ll understand.  It transports you back to another time and you too may not be able to get the image of swirling skirts out of your bedazzled mind.

The Center Entry Hall Staircase
The Joseph Manigault home is on tour for $12.00 - I didn’t blink an eye because when the tour ended I would gladly pay that much to see it again. 

I had come to this house on the Historic Homes Tour bus.  This historic home was the last thing on the tour and by far the best part.  To actually enter a home like this was thrilling for many reasons but taking a step back in time was what it was all about for me. 

Upstairs Living Area 

Note:  To get the original paint colors 12 layers were removed.  The paint colors are gorgeous and authentic.

In the upstairs living area there was a soft breeze coming in the window (this day was a beautiful day in the low 70’s).  I'm thinking the Spring is the best time to visit because the weather was a pleasant 72.  

A strong breeze drifted through the upper window as I entered the room.   Suddenly I could see the swirl of hooped skirts in beautiful colors worn by the women and hear the sound of their skirts rustling as they walked and tinkling tea cups as they sipped their tea.  It was a wonderful moment.  I was feeling the same breeze that they might have and seeing and feeling the walls and floors they did. 

Ahhh I want to go back.  I would never own this home but I wanted to soak in more of the past and get away from our present.  A slower time, a more gracious time — time come back to the present reality—a walk through the romance of the past.  There was much beauty and joy in this 19th century home as reflected in its interior.

We felt the Federalist-styled exterior was cold and even foreboding but the interior was a stark contrast because it was warm, sweet and lively.

The Dining Room

The dining room was downstairs.  I loved this pastel mint green color on the walls.  

Here are my photos but there is much more than you see in a photo.  A photo gives you a visual glimpse but doesn’t give you the full impact of the feeling you have when you are there.  Photos don’t smell, feel or play music.  There aren’t surprises and they don’t stimulate your senses fully.

This 19th century breakfront is one of the only pieces that was originally in the house. 

Other furniture shown was donated.

In the dining room there was a portrait of the master of the house.  The clock on the mantle is also in the painting.  There were fireplaces in just about every room.

Oh, and I found myself getting design ideas.  I recognized the architectural details in today’s southern new home communities.  

See our Myrtle Beach 55+ homes and 55+ South Carolina pages to understand more about the details of homes that reflect the Charleston homes of the past.

Paint Colors

Perhaps the mistress of the house chose the colors.  Notice the warm wood of the floors and doors contrasted with the cool mint wall color.  

The first thing I notice in this photo besides the beautiful portrait of the owner is the paint color.  It has such a contemporary look.  The tour guide said that the colors are authentic.  They went down 12 layers to get to the original one and that this was the first color on the walls.  This color is a truly happy and lighthearted one.

The Music Room

Look at this very vibrant wall color in the music room. 

The children were required to play an instrument.  Notice the original wood floors are worn from the many children that inhabited the household.

The Day Ends

This was a thoroughly enjoyable trip.  I want to go back.  I bought some fudge and pralines, had some tea and lunch.  We left before evening set. 

Horse Drawn Carriages Were Plentiful
 The scene was set as we were leaving with abundant horse-drawn carriages clopping along as the sun began to set.  There is a trolley that is free.  The town is well organized for tourists.  Be sure to see the retirement communities in the area, (Summerville, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Murrells Inlet to name a few areas), and we hope you enjoy Charleston.