Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Goin' Down East

The term Down East refers to an area along the coast of Maine south a-ways from the Canadian border.  Sailors refer to "Down East" as the ports east of Boston as recalled by those who felt the wind at their backs as they sailed here. They were sailing downwind, so it seemed reasonable that they were "down" east. Naturally therefore, as they returned to Boston, they'd be headed upwind. I'm told that's why many Mainers speak of going "up to Boston" even though, in fact, Boston is south of Maine's southernmost state line.  Ah ha.... another history lesson.

Geographically speaking though, I'm told the towns of Bucksport, Lubec, Calais, Eastport, Machias, Bar Harbor, Blue Hill and Ellsworth are "Downeast".  That's where we are at this point in time.

We're rendezvousing with friends we met here in August 2010. The late summer weather is generally mild in these parts and we look forward to seeing familiar faces, so here we shall stop for awhile.  We arrived on a Thursday and by Saturday night we found ourselves enjoying another fabulous "Lobstah Feast".

The group of friends here were met at Shady Oaks Campground near Bucksport. One of the couples bought a campground here in Ellsworth and the other couples joined him here last year. Because we have dogs (didn't in 2010) we can't camp at Shady Oaks.

It was great to re-connect with Errol, his wife Lori, their daughter, Maddie and her best friend, Allison. They're all true "Down East-a's" and genuine "lobstah" people who do not pronounce "R's".  (More 'bout that later.)
L to R: Lori, Errol, Maddie, Allison and Donnie (photobomber)
Another family is Gleason, his wife, Barbara and their son, Tim. They introduced us to "whoopie pies"... ah joy!
Gleason, Barbara and their son, Tim.
But the main character in the crowd of Down Easters would have to be Donnie, another lobsterman. His wife, Gina is not pictured here. Donnie and Gina serve as hosts at nearly all the gatherings. I don't think Donnie has ever pronounced an "R"....

Donnie holding lobstah; Errol in the background.
For a dinner crowd of a dozen people this night there are at least three dozen Maine lobster, thirty pounds of steamed clams and six pounds of smoked fish. If I exaggerate the numbers here, it's not by much. Everything's cooked outside in huge pots over gas burners.  Clean-up is easy; use the garden hose.
Errol with a bowl of hot steamed clams, Donnie and Wayne (in the "Butter Me Up" lobstah bib).
A feast for the eyes!

Steamed clams. Fresh today!
Three years ago, Lori and Errol taught me the to eat lobstah the "Maine way"... that is to find all the best pieces easily with the least amount of mess.  I don't have the "mess" part under complete control.
Lori and I playing with our dinner.

Maddie (left) and Allison (right) are constant companions.
Neither is of legal driving age yet but both can work lobster traps like any man twice their size and age!
More on that subject in the next post.
Surprisingly, I hadn't forgotten all my "lobstah eating pointas" yet and with a few reminders, I was on my way into my second crustacean.
What can't be seen in this picture is that lobster water is running down my arms and into my lap.
Lori's bib is embroidered "You Crack Me Up!"
What I did forget from three years ago was that you should absolutely "never, ever sit on the low side of the picnic table" while eating lobstah.  All the water runs into your lap if you're on the low side of the table.


  1. Our neighbors in Apache Junction are from Maine and they go back every other summer. They are definitely lobstah eaters but they especially love lobstah rolls.

  2. Boy, they look like great people and LOTS of fun and laughter!! Made our mouths water to behold all that good eating - will try (probably without success) to leave off "r's when talking around "down easterners"! MS (Ohio)