Kingfield, Maine is, by far, my favorite town in Maine. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it’s the fact that Kingfield is just small enough to be hidden from the rest of the world, but just large enough to find on the map. Being this way, only a select few have decided to call the area home. And these select few are wildly interesting, to say the least.
Every once in a while, Laura and I like to jump in the car for a short road trip. If you’re a reader of this blog, you may have concluded that these trips usually occur around September and October. The air gets cool and the need for sweatshirts returns. All in all, autumn is the best time of year for antiquing, visiting restaurants and hotels and meeting new people. And just so you know, when you meet someone in a small Maine town, such as Kingfield, there’s a good chance that you’ll know them for the rest of your life. I’m not kidding about this. It’s just the way it is.
I had a few goals for today’s trip. First, I wanted to try out my new camera lens that I purchased for food photography a while back. It’s a Canon 50mm prime lens and today would be the first day I used it outside of the house. Second, I wanted to go out to lunch so Laura and I could talk about various ideas we have for the future. It’s good to enjoy a change in scenery to get the mind working in all its glory. Third, I was hoping to bump into some locals and business owners up in the area because it’s always fun to see who’s steering the economic ship and finally, I thought it would be nice to see what kind of events were planned for the next few months. I’ll talk about all these goals and their outcomes as I write the post below.
We parked in front of the Herbert Grand Hotel, which is really the centerpiece of Kingfield. We’ve seen this hotel as we traveled through the area in the past, but have yet to go inside. The reason I like to park in front of it is because it’s side-of-the-street parking and there’s a reduced chance of someone swinging their car door into mine. I’m not a fan of “snuggle” parking.
Kingfield has tons of flowers up and down the sidewalks. Combined, Laura and I probably took over 50 photos of them. The town does a fantastic job with the display.
You can find all different types of flowers in pots along the sidewalks and in planters on windowsills. Their existence is a benefit to visiting the area during this time of year.
After taking some photos of the flowers, we decided to check out the bridge in the center of town. The bridge spans the Carrabassett River, which is used for all different type of recreational activities. Kayaking, swimming, jumping from the bridge, a big pumpkin float that’s going to happen later on in October – you name it. It’s an awesome spectacle that runs from Sugarloaf Mountain all the way down to Anson where it joins the Kennebec River.
There’s a little bit of traffic that crosses the bridge, but that didn’t stop us from shooting away. I’m pretty sure we got some funny looks, but that’s fine. The world is meant to be photographed.
The first thing I noticed after I stepped foot on the bridge was a long line of American flags. I thought they would be wonderful to photograph, especially since the sun was shining on them and their colors so vivid.
Next, I looked upstream to see a beautiful mountain. I’d love to say this is Sugarloaf, but I have very little confidence that it is. I thought it was something from the Bigelow Preserve, but as I look at Google Earth, it appears that it’s probably something else. Perhaps Mount Abraham, Mount Redington or even Black Nubble. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s Mount Abraham.
Please correct me if I’m mistaken.
Since Laura and I were so close to the bridge (standing on it), we thought we should get some different shots from underneath. So, we walked right down into a nearby parking lot to do just that. Here is a side view of the bridge.
And here is the spillway that sits right past the bridge. I’m not sure why this is here, but there seems to be some semblance of and old mill on the shore. Pretty much every town in Maine has an old mill involved with its history.
On our initial trip into town, Laura and I passed a small gallery (Stadler Gallery) that caught my eye. It was situated in what looked like a large garage. It may be some type of a barn, but what it is doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that it’s huge when you get inside. Its construction is post and beam and the artist, who is a German woman named Ulrike Stadler, paints some rather remarkable pieces. From what I gathered after speaking with her for a bit, she cooks all of her paint herself. She told us that she makes everything from scratch and doesn’t purchase anything. I thought that was very interesting.
Here is a photo of the entrance to her gallery.
And here are two pieces hanging from the walls inside. Unfortunately, due to my new lens not having image stabilization and me using the wrong aperture setting for indoor photography, many of the photos I took indoors came out less than stellar. These two were okay though and should give you an indication of what’s going on.
It’s a really curious place and I’d like to go back again at a later date.
After leaving the gallery, we continued walking up the road. There’s a small sidewalk that kept us somewhat safe from the passing cars. At the end of the sidewalk was a really cool little store called Scent-Sations. It’s one of those places that sells all sorts of things from Crocs to candles to incense to cookbooks. It’s a tourist’s dream. The thing about this shop is that unlike other similar places I’ve visited is the prices are very good and the quality is high. Laura purchased some neat incense that smelled like spiced pumpkin, root beer and a few others that I forget. Overall, it was a fun visit. I even got to talk to the owner about the Berkshires and various hotels and mansions that I visited in a previous life. That was fun.
Here are a few photos of this store. The first one is obviously the front entrance.
If memory serves, I think this is a collection of different types of tea. I’m sure there are some other things included as well.
And finally, this is just a photo of one of the corners from the upstairs level that I found cozy. I’m always joking with Laura about how much I’d like a chair in a corner with a table next to it. On top of the table, I’d like a lamp and next to the chair, I’d like a small book shelf filled with my favorite cookbooks. I don’t ask for much.
By the time we finished up looking inside the gallery and shopping at the gift store, we were hungry. In reality, the real reason I asked Laura to accompany me to the area was to bring her to lunch. We’ve eaten at a great little restaurant called Longfellow’s in the past and have found that they have the best sweet potato fries and garlic hummus this side of the Carrabassett. We go there primarily for those two things. If we can get a few veggie burgers thrown in, that’s all the better. With that in mind, we started walking back to town.
On the way, I took a few photos. Nothing in particular – just some odds and ends. The two that were my favorite were signs. The first is the sign for the Western Maine Pharmacy. Check it out.
The second sign is one that I found on the wall at the back of Longfellow’s. You can see it from the parking lot where all the snowmobiles are parked in the winter months. It’s pretty cool.
After moseying around for a while, we made it to the front of the restaurant.
It really is an awesome restaurant. One of the things I had planned was to take some random shots of things inside. I know it’s weird, but I enjoy these odd types of photos, so I did what I had to do. I kept showing the waitress my creative work and she gave me the thumbs up.
I’ll spare you from having to look through all the photos, but I will post three of the better ones. I really like these. The first is a photo of some painted wrought iron that was situated near our table.
As you can see, the bar is behind the iron. Next is the old window that was next to where we were sitting. I took a photo a long time ago that reminded me of this shot. The previous one was from when we were visiting Putnam and the quiet corner of Connecticut. I love antique windows.
Finally, I managed to snap a few shots of some bumpy gourds as we were leaving after we ate. I don’t know – it’s just the way the sun was hitting them, I suppose. I don’t argue with these things.
It’s funny. As Laura and I were walking around town with our cameras in hand, a few folks made recommendations for where we should visit next. One recommendation was that we head towards the Wire Bridge in New Portland. Since we had already visited that area, I had to explain that we’ve been there and done that. It’s always hard to see the disappointment in people’s eyes after they get shot down in such a manner.
The second place that was recommended was the Grand Herbert Hotel. We were told that if we headed inside and asked for a tour, Dawn, the innkeeper, would be happy to show us anything we wanted to see. Since we’ve never been inside this hotel, I definitely wanted to see what it was all about.
The lobby is really big and actually quite stunning. I wasn’t expecting something so expansive. Since I had a 50mm lens on my camera, I wasn’t able to take many good indoor shots. I did, however, manage to take one of the staircase, which was a marvel in itself. Take a look.
After looking around for a bit, Laura and I introduced ourselves to Dawn and expressed to her how we were told about her talent at giving tours. I think she knew what we were talking about, so she invited us to follow her through the upper floors. She showed us three of the larger rooms that were recently remodeled and some of the interesting and unique antique furniture. I asked questions and she was very happy to answer all of them thoroughly. She’s a really nice person and both Laura and I sincerely appreciate the time she took out of her day to let us see behind the scenes. She even brought us out onto the upper balcony so we could take in the view of Kingfield from a different perspective.
On our way out, I asked if I could take a photo of the out-of-service switchboard that remained behind the front desk. “Of course you can.” she said. So I did.
What a great visit and what a great day. Everything turned out exactly how I had planned. We managed to do so much more than we normally do and that’s really only because we put the effort into it. Regarding the goals for our trip, we met them all.
Camera Lens: From now on, I’ll be leaving my Canon 50mm lens at home. It’s really no good as a walk around lens. This has to do with the fact that it’s permanently zoomed into 50mm, which is horrible for indoor photography. I’ll be reattaching my trusted Canon 18-135mm. That has yet to fail me.
Lunch: It was perfect. Laura and I discussed many a topic and came up with some great ideas for the future. Many of them have to do with photography, but some even pertain to this blog. All really good stuff.
Meeting Locals: This goal was met and exceeded my wildest dreams. I’ve been searching for a local attorney for a good long time and the few that I’ve called, I haven’t liked at all. I’m looking for some very casual work to be done, such as estate planning and things like that, so I’d like to talk to someone who is as casual as I am about it. Well, just as luck would have it, we met an attorney on the sidewalk as we were wandering through town. I mean, really. What are the chances?
Meeting the attorney, the innkeeper of the Grand Herbert and the owner/operators of many local shops was really fun and productive. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Events: Kingfield offers many events throughout the year. The one that’s closest and that interests the both of us the most is a Halloween Ghost Walk. Apparently, the town is hosting some sort of spooky walk for four hours on a Saturday in October, where the townsfolk will be led through various establishments and will listen to stories of the scary nature. The event is to celebrate Kingfield’s bicentennial. You can read all about that here.
I think I’ll end things here. We did a lot and I left many photos out. I’m sure you’re thankful for that. We’ll have to make another visit soon so I can continue writing, photographing and sharing some of the types of experiences that aren’t often shared. Thanks for reading!