Port Clyde, Maine drips with charm and personality

Art Weber

        Pleasant surprises can be found in the most unexpected places. It’s a magical part of the adventure of travel.
        They’re often found, as Robert Frost penned, by taking the road less traveled.
        Maybe it’s the two-track or the dirt road you’ve decided to try. Maybe a spur-of-the-moment decision to shunpike, leaving the interstates to follow leisurely meandering roads through the countryside and small-town America.
        Or it might be simply at the top of the steps above a General Store.
        Maybe the General Store in Port Clyde, Maine.
        Port Clyde, like many communities along the Maine coast, drips with a charming personality that’s rooted in a close relationship with the sea.
        The Seaside Inn, a bed-and-breakfast that offers nine units in a sea captain’s home built in 1850, sits high above scenic Port Clyde Harbor and Muscongus Bay. It’s a short walk down the hillside to Port Clyde’s waterfront that’s anchored by the General Store.
        Located at Four Cold Storage Road, the store’s retail area is a big notch above the norm, offering harbor services including overnight mooring, showers and laundry and picnic tables on the dock. Linda Bean’s Perfect
Maine Lobster Roll, joins specialty soups and sandwiches on the menu. Elsewhere in the self-described rickety store, customers peruse the well-stocked grocery with the necessities and sundry items to be expected in a general store.
        And then there’s the door marked with an unexpected invitation to head upstairs to Linda Bean’s Maine Wyeth Gallery. In the gallery is a nicely displayed selection of one-of-a-kinyeWd signed prints and originals from one of America’s most celebrated artists – as well as his father and sister – that can be enjoyed free of charge.
        There are bigger collections at higher-profile metropolitan galleries, but to find such a collection on display at a venue like the General Store is a delightful surprise. It’s made even better when it’s revealed Andrew Wyeth, one of America’s best-known artists of the mid-1900s, kept his beloved summer home nearby. For decades, he drew on the area and its residence as inspiration for his watercolors and tempura. Some of those locations that inspired the Wyeths can be observed on a two-and -one-half hour boat cruise that begins in Port Clyde.
        “I paint my life” Wyeth once said.
        The fictional Forrest Gump had some famous words to say in Port Clyde, too.
        It’s just a one-mile walk from the General Store to the historic 1832 Marshall Point Lighthouse at the tip of the St. George Peninsula guarding Port Clyde.
        It was there that Tom Hanks, in Forrest Gump character, ran up the planked walkway to the distinctive light tower, successfully ending his cross-country run.
        “I figured since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going,” he said.
        Look seaward and visualize a ferry ride to a place, over the horizon, where time has stood still. Monhegan Island is another road-less-traveled destination that’s well worth the investment.
        For more information, start with www.stgeorgemaine.com.


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