We LOVE Camden!

Trip Start Aug 05, 2009
Trip End Aug 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Sunday, August 16, 2009

We arrived in Camden yesterday and immediately fell in love with it. It is another postcard coastal village but this one is probably the most postcard-ish of all the postcard villages we've seen. I saw a book with some photos of Camden in the middle 19th century and it looks pretty much the same today. Right down to the dozen or so wood hulled schooners that are moored in the harbor. 150 years ago they were the standard means of moving people and goods up and down the coast. Today, they're the means of transporting travelers on a more touristic and romantic experience of coastal Maine...but they're still here!

It was hard to find a place to stay but the Birchwood was recommended by friends of ours who've stayed there numerous times and it is great. We have a great view of the Bay and the room is very comfortable with all the amenities we need. In contrast now, the Blue Hill Farm Inn was quite an unpleasant aberration. It was a good location from which to explore the more northern reaches of the coast but by the time we were leaving, we were very glad to be leaving...

As we drove out of Blue Hill yesterday (which is a very charming little village, make no mistake) we stopped at a potter's studio that we had seen and read about. It was Rackliffe Pottery and it is run by Dennis and Margaret Rackliffe, two of the nicest people you could hope to meet. Dennis is the main potter and though a civil engineer earlier in his professional life, he took up his father's potting trade in 1972 and has been at it ever since.

Rackliffe is a unique place. The clay they use is exceptional and it actually comes from a farm that they own in East Blue Hill, about five miles from the studio. Dennis's father discovered the deposit of clay there in the 1950s and it has been the base of their products ever since. They process the clay at the studio, a ton or so at a time. Every piece they make is hand made by Dennis or his 89 year old father. His mother is 85 and still puts handles on the mugs and pitchers and Dennis's wife does some of the specialty painting. They fire and glaze every piece themselves and the result is an exceptional and functional piece of art.

Dennis got Stephne onto the potter's wheel and right before my eyes the morning was transformed into a kind of "Iron Chef" of dueling potters! It was great. Stephne was working a one-pound ball into a sort of bowl at one end of the studio. Not far away, Dennis was at his wheel throwing eight-pound balls into thirteen inch shallow baking dishes. Stephne got her ball of clay centered -- Dennis cranked out three flawless baking dishes. The winner and still champion, Dennis "Iron Potter" Rackliffe!

It was an awesome start to the day and a perfect way to say good-bye to Blue Hill. We picked out a color style and we're planning to order some pieces when we get home. We're also looking forward to the original creation that Stephne threw! If you're looking for a really special gift for someone, we highly recommend Rackliffe Pottery http://www.rackliffepottery.com.

The drive down was really nice. It felt more leisurely than the drive up for some reason...could have been that we've been on vacation a week longer now or it could have been the cold medicine. Whatever it was, it was a nice drive...
We had lunch and dinner at the same place yesterday -- the Water Front restaurant. Both times we sat outside on the wharf overlooking the incredibly picturesque harbor. It really was heavenly. The weather is a bit warm and humid but there's a clear sky and a bit of a breeze so it is tolerable. We're going to have a little lunch now... So glad we came to Camden. As Stephne declared yesterday afternoon: "this is OUR Maine!"

Kevin & Stephne 
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