rockland1Left behind works fine in Maine when you travel with a sailor but feel happier as a landlubber.

Nooks, crannies and peninsulas extend Maine’s rocky coastline into zigzags of discovery, perfect for seeing from a sailing schooner.

Equally wonderful are surprises in two little towns harboring the fleet of Maine Windjammers.

History lives on the schooners. Art flourishes in town.

Rockland is a living gallery.

Know how pleasant it feels to be in friends’ homes, and like their art, maybe because you like them?

That’s how Rockland feels in shops, spas, restaurants and storefront windows. Art everywhere, before you even get to the galleries and museums, and those are friendly too, not pretentious.

Next-door Camden is a destination too. Don’t skip these towns because you don’t sail; wave your traveling buddy off to Penobscot Bay and explore the land.

DestinationReviewI’ve seen Maine’s craggy coast in paintings by Edward Hopper, but being in the Farnsworth Art Museum, standing in front of five of the 27 watercolors he painted in Rockland in 1926 — now that’s meshing art and geography.

Winslow Homer painted Maine too, and now I love his schooner watercolors better than ever since I could see some real windjammers a few blocks from the gallery.

Three generations of Maine-painting Wyeth family artists fill a white-frame church; its simplicity perfect for the often stark paintings by N. C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth.

Meet the people

rockland2People make these little towns interesting. Friendly, straightforward, polite it seems because they mean it.

Rockland is grounded as a working town, and residents seem to want to keep it that way,

Meet some local — the proprietors of four historic inns.

Each Inn is distinctly different from the other, equally offering concierge services, fine breakfasts and environmentally green habits.

That work-hard background included a lot of fishing, and the harbor in Rockland is a busy one, complete with auto ferry service to nearby islands.

Loads of lobster boats work the Rockland harbor too. Steve Hale will take you out on his named Captain Jack’s.

He’s trapped lobsters for 36 years.

“A lot of people eat lobster and I want them to know where they come from,” Hale says.

Schooner Bay is the community cab company and my driver said to be sure to visit the local library. Really, the cabbie said that.

Reading matters here

Bookstores I found in abundance. Might that be why conversations anywhere — restaurant server, bakery clerk, art gallery greeter, cabbie — were interesting ones?

Cabbie after dinner one night even asked if we had enjoyed all the “aaht” in town. Art would be the word in my town but in Maine you don’t hear too many Rs.

I didn’t interview chefs this trip, but certainly ate their fabulous food. People here prefer individual, locally owned restaurants.

rockland3Bookstore where I got a detailed map of the Maine coast to chart my route is a five-minute walk from the dock to gaze at stately windjammers.

When Rockland and Camden set the tone for more Maine destinations, Maine Day Trip with passionate-about-his-place owner/driver Norm Forgey is the way to go.

More Maine vacations needed by me.

Disclosure: Traveling Mom Christine Tibbetts received her trip to Maine as a gift for being named the first place Gold winner in the travel writing competition of the North American Travel Journalists Association in the “Newspapers under 250,000 circulation” category.

Photos by Christine Tibbetts