There’s something about the prospect of staying in a lighthouse that adds an element of rugged nautical adventure to any trip. The small rocky island that’s home to the Inn at Cuckold’s Lighthouse may not be far off the coast of Maine’s Boothbay Harbor, but arriving there feels a bit like abandoning civilization; until you see how elegant it is inside. Nearly 12 years and $3 million in the making, the Inn, which has only two spacious suites is currently celebrating its first full (and completely sold out) season. One of just a handful of lighthouses you can stay in around New England, it was originally constructed as a fog signal station in 1892. In 1907 a light tower was added, greatly aiding the development of Boothbay Harbor as a safe haven for both commercial fishermen and summer residents.
Driving on US1 in Maine this past weekend I happened upon the Montsweag Flea Market. I hadn’t planned on stopping at this particular flea market, but I had some time to kill before we could get the keys to our summer rental and I knew there’s a lot of good stuff on US1. Once I found this place, I was not disappointed. (I didn’t know it at the time, but this flea is coincidentally listed on the map of flea markets that I made way back in 2009.)
Having given up on the Brooklyn Flea some time ago (partially because I’m not in New York all that much when it is going on and partially because it’s a bit too over-thought for my liking) it’s not always easy for me to get to a good flea market. I’ve spent more than a few early weekend mornings going to the Elephant’s Trunk in Connecticut and have found some great stuff there, or have at least had a great time hunting. Most of the time looking is what these things are all about. There’s a challenge to dig and find the cool little things that are really worth taking home. There’s a sense of adventure and hopefully a surprise around the corner. That’s keeps me coming back and what always makes me pull-in if I spot a flea while driving down the road on a beautiful Saturday in Maine.
These were my only purchases at the flea. There’s a guy in a Pharrell hat and a bunch of Maine beach beauties.
When you break it down, a summer weekend getaway comes down to three simple things: a sandy beach, a cold beer, and an L.L. Bean Boat and Tote. Okay, maybe you could toss a few other ingredients into that recipe (a bikinied lady co-pilot certainly wouldn’t hurt) but it’s hard to top the simplicity of just tossing a Boat and Tote into your trunk and taking off for the shore.
The folks at Harrison Limited down in Birmingham may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good taste when it comes to boat shoes: case in point these handsome Rancourt mocs. It was only last summer that I was falling for the long-time-coming made in Maine Sperry Topsiders, but one can surely make room in his closet for two well-made pairs of boat shoes.
There have been mentions of it here before, but Harrison Limited is probably my favorite store I have never actually been to. That honor was help previously by Leather Soul, but I’ve now been lucky enough to have visited that shoe mecca the past two years in a row (and I might even see it again this April, depending on how things go).
In 1973 a group of students in Kennebunk, Maine complied a series of home-spun articles about life in New England into The Salt Book. Led by the group’s adviser Pamela Wood, they documented lobster men making traps, a barn raising, the gathering of sea moss, wrote articles about how to make your own wooden snow shoes and generally waxed on about the characters and daily life by the sea in Maine.
Recently while I was booking a cottage in Maine for the summer, I was reminded of this book and my jaunt up there last year. I have a hard time disguising my affection for the state and nothing fills me with anticipation like an escape up to Maine. It doesn’t have to just be summer — I’m equally impressed by fall, winter and spring in the Pine Tree State. Even though I grew up in Ohio, much of my family was from New England originally and we often when on summer trips to The Cape, New Hampshire and those parts. Long after those trips I am still fascinated by Yankee culture and the salty folks of New England. So even though I am stuck in this new york winter (stuck largely inside for the better part of the past six weeks due to the most ironic of injuries) the stories in The Salt Book can easily transport me to one of my favorite places.
You haven’t visited most of Maine—few people have. It’s an immense state that’s largely unpopulated. Well, try this: fly to Bangor, then drive three hours north. You’re getting up there. At the end of an 18-mile dirt road is Libby Camps. Established in 1890, it’s been in the same family for five generations. That all sounds promising, and it should. We’re partial to lodges and cabins that don’t dress themselves up (wall-to-wall carpeting is a telltale warning sign). When you arrive at Libby you know you’re in a place that has earned the right to take the long view.
Come in May and June to fish for native brook trout in many of the remote ponds that can only be accessed by foot or, even better, by float plane. Or come back in September when the water falls and they turn red before they spawn. Either way, you fly fish from a 20’ Old Town canoe and cast out one of the idiosyncratic flies made by the guides. Or, if you’re more classically minded: a caddis or March Brown. You can hope for a trophy 3 pounder, but that’s a setting the bar high. Aim a little more realistically, while expecting regular action from strong, healthy fish.
The Rancourt & Co. shoe portfolio has been expanding beyond just loafers and blucher mocs recently. I’ve noticed a few interesting new styles have been popping up on the company Instagram and other social channels as of late. Intrigued, I reached out to Kyle Rancourt to find out more. Eventually this lead to a preview box of nine pairs of the Maine maker’s new styles —all made with a Blake welt construction—showing up at my office. They are great shoes, I didn’t get to keep any but getting a closer looked sparked this post to find out more about Rancourt’s new Blake shoes. These are their stories.
Part of this new crop of Blake styles is Hamilton boot, which is more traditional dress boot —as opposed to the handsewn styled moc toe shapes that Rancourt has become known for— made with the Blake welt process. If you like the shape but wanted something sightly different from what is seen here, Rancourt can also do custom orders of styles like these with the outsole and leather of your choosing. More on the Blake welting process and it’s similarity to Goodyear welting below.