Call me Ishmael. Some years ago I was haunted—by a lobster. Not just any crustacean, mind you, but “Moby Lobster,” a Maine variety so tasty and succulent that it lives on in my dreams. Every other dinner decapod since then has been doomed to mediocrity. Can you imagine how hard my life is back in New Jersey, ordering the surf and turf, and responding “meh?” I need to break free of this ravenous torment, so with my good friend Sandy on my six, I ride to the home of Moby Lobster and do what has to be done—eat more.
The Hunt Begins, after Lunch
The sun begins its long journey across the sky. The mighty Atlantic breaks upon the sands of York Beach. Somewhere in these waters lives a lobster (or four) with my name, and we (Sandy on a well-ridden Yamaha FJR and me on a 2012 BMW R 1200 RT) are earnest in our quest, but not that earnest. First, we have to see a woman about a bird. We dance along the coast until Biddeford and then head inland to cruise the quiet byways of Maine’s coastal farmland. We arrive at Phat Boys Diner in Cornish and have a Thanksgiving sandwich—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce piled high between two thick slices of bread. We skip dessert and aim our bikes back to the sea, countering a tryptophan-induced haze with caffeine. We ride until the road meets the sea again at Boothbay Harbor. At the Fisherman’s Wharf Inn, the dining room looks out upon the same waters that greeted us in the morning, but now the sun is at our backs and bidding adieu. The lobsters (two one-pounders) are very good; better than I’ve had in months. But it’s much too early for the quest to end.
Deep in the Heart
The land and the sea do a delicate dance in this part of the state—inlets, isthmuses, islands, and bays intertwined in a geological jigsaw. Our first stop, the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, is but a handful of miles away as the crow flies, but as a Mainer might say with their distinctive accent, “You can’t get there from here.” Instead we wander, zig and zag, and eventually make our way to the picturesque lighthouse. It looks familiar, and it should—it’s featured both on the Maine State Quarter and as a background option for Windows 7. Sitting on exposed veins of granite reaching out to sea, the lighthouse is a short stout thing, lathered in what must be 20 layers of white marine paint to withstand the harshest of winter storms. It is sturdiness personified.
Lunch today is at the classic Moody’s Diner on Route 1 in Waldoboro. Just walking in the door evokes the feeling that generations of vacationers have passed through here since the time Route 1 was considered a major thoroughfare. Lobster roll, a regional favorite of butter-soaked meat served on a hot dog bun, is on the menu. Certainly an indulgence at lunch, but the quest must go on, right?
We continue our wandering, hopping onto Route 1 when we want to make some time and hopping off when we want to take pictures. At Camden, we point inland for a spell and explore some scenic backroads. We return once again to the sea because that’s where the lobsters are. Near Bucksport, the 2,100-foot long Penobscot Narrows Bridge arches high over the Penobscot River, the tapered towers rising like obelisks and the cables fanning out to support the bridge deck. The Waldo-Hancock Bridge, a rusting relic, sits in the shadows, but not for long. It’s expected to be dismantled completely by the summer of 2013.
We motor south towards Stonington in the fading light and encounter another interesting bridge. Built in 1939 when suspension bridge design pushed the limits of safety, the Deer Isle Bridge is as wispy as they come. After the similarly designed Tacoma Narrows Bridge (“Galloping Gertie”) fell into Puget Sound during a windstorm, the Deer Isle Bridge was modified to avoid a similar fate. It still stands with its towers pointing proudly toward a deep blue sky. We arrive in Stonington just as the sun sets.
Stonington is a charming little town, not yet overrun by tourism and thus still maintaining the look and feel of a working fishing village. The docks are filled with pickup trucks, and the lobster pots on the shore aren’t just for decoration. That’s not to say that the town is resisting progress—the local cafe is now serving espresso from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the summer. Just across the street, the friendly Harbor Cafe is buzzing with a mix of locals and tourists. The decor is homespun; the maps imprinted on the table tops are worn due to years of dining. Tonight I pick two more one-pound lobsters (along with a side of corn and a beer), and there’s room left for pie. All in the name of the quest.