Cup o’ Joe

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 9.16.33 PMI love coffee, I love tea

I love the java jive and it loves me

Coffee and tea and the jiving and me

A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

So, where does one get a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup? Well, that might depend upon where and who you are! There’s a playful skirmish going on between my brother and I. On his travels around the Bangor area, he makes a daily stop for his morning breakfast and coffee at a certain coffeehouse chain that had its start in the west coast region of the United States. I, on the other hand, make regular stops at a popular northern New England coffee shop chain here in Naples, the same chain store that can also be found in Bridgton (which is Kathy’s favorite drive-thru), Raymond, Oxford, South Paris, Poland, Windham, Gray, and Standish. I go on days when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so my order can warm my hands as well as my belly. John claims his shop is the best. I support the home team. However, in all truth, when I have more time, I prefer the small businesses here in Lake Region that will offer me a sit down breakfast and a hot cup o’ Joe. There are plenty of opportunities for that caffeine jolt most of us need in the morning and everyone has his or her favorite shop, cafe, store, or restaurant that serves a great breakfast or the “world’s best cup of coffee”. There are numerous recommendations on where to go. All one has to do is ask a local! Bridgton’s Morning Glory restaurant is a favorite of mine, Ricky’s Diner is frequented by Kim and Sydney, and Beth’s Kitchen Cafe now located on Main Street near the Bridgton News building is another popular spot with “good food and a great atmosphere” say my friends Mary, Jyselle, Vicki and cousin Cathy. Heading a little east, “Danielle’s in Raymond is always good for breakfast”, says Patty. Chute’s Cafe in Casco serves up a hearty breakfast and Chute’s Coffee Shop in Windham will not disappoint either, say Chelsey, Kelsey, and Jody. Locals such as Samantha and Gayle speak highly of The Stone Dog Cafe, also in Windham. Traveling over to Gray, Belinda says Cheetah’s is her favorite, Mike says Village Store in New Gloucester is his pick, and of course, everyone knows of Cole Farms Restaurant; it’s been serving up homestyle food for 50 years!  Over in Sebago, Ellen confirms that Jordan’s Store is great, Ruby Slippers in Harrison has “great service and yummy food” says Virginia, and Norway’s Cafe Nomad’s gets rave reviews for its blueberry pancakes and “great espresso”. Surely, my brother John needs to head over to my neck of the woods here in the Lake Region of southwestern Maine. If he hurries, breakfast and coffee will be my treat!

–Written by: Anne Freeman Walker, a resident of Naples, Maine for the past 22 years.

Love in Lake Region

Photograph by Anne Freeman Walker
Photograph by Anne Freeman Walker

Anticipating Valentine’s Day, my husband and I reminisced, reflecting on how a romantic cross-country skiing outing at Sebago Lake State Park, led us to buying real estate in Naples in 1992. “We packed a picnic lunch and skied out to a point overlooking the lake, remember?” 

After we married in 1988, Eric and I rented an apartment in our college town of Gorham, saving our money in hopes of buying a house within the next few years. By the fall of 1991 we’d begun our hunt. Both working in Gray, we searched area towns before a chance invitation to tour a model home in Naples brought us back out to the Lake Region area. We remembered our afternoon skiing at the park and fell in love with the home we toured in a friendly wooded neighborhood. My Mom and Dad returned the next day to enjoy lunch on the Naples Causeway and gave us their nod to the area which helped secure our plan to live here.

We’ve never questioned our decision to purchase real estate in Naples as it has led fun outdoor adventures over the past twenty-two years. We’ve hiked with our three children at various spots including Jockey Cap in Fryeburg, Rattlesnake Mountain in Raymond, Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, Sabattus Mountain in Lovell, and Douglas Mountain in Sebago. We’ve gone snowshoeing, skiing, and skating at area venues each winter, and swimming or kayaking at Long Lake, Brandy Pond, Crystal Lake, and Sebago Lake each summer. The beauty of the area is breathtaking. Fireworks on the Naples Causeway and catching movies at The Magic Lantern Cinema, the Bridgton Drive-In in Bridgton, and at Smitty’s Cinema in Windham will forever be in our children’s memories also.

But don’t solely take my word that the Lake Region area offers some great date opportunities. Come enjoy cross-country skiing in the crisp air at Sebago Lake State Park or go snowshoeing at Sabattus Mountain in Lovell whose peak overlooks Pleasant Mountain, Kezar Lake, and the White Mountains. Catch a constellation snowshoe walk under a beautiful night sky in Bridgton. Dine on bruschetta at a waterfront restaurant window overlooking Brandy Pond. If you have children in tow, consider snowmobiling and ice fishing at the annual Sebago Lake Region Ice Fishing Derby or if you’re incredibly brave, lock hands with your significant other and plunge into the icy water at the Freezing for a Reason event at Highland Lake in Bridgton this Saturday, February 15th.

As for Eric and I, there will be many more dates to enjoy here. We never stop seeing a shop, restaurant, or trail to explore, however the most romantic spot I can think of to enjoy with my husband this Valentine’s Day is before a warm fire in the hearth of this house we made a home all those years ago. Love is in the air of the Lake Region area! 

–Written by: Anne Freeman Walker, a resident of Naples, Maine for the past 22 years.

Wool Socks and Snowshoes

Photo by Anne Freeman Walker 2-4-2014
Photo by Anne Freeman Walker 2-4-2014

Each school day I’m up at 5:00am, and we’re out the door at 6:15am. My son and I hop in the van and drive down the hill to his bus stop. The month’s freezing temperatures have dipped into the single digits again and we’re impatient for the dashboard heat to hit us. “Mom! You always blast the fan before the heat is there. It’s not the season for the air conditioner! Oh, I really don’t like winter”, he says shivering. I laugh, for he’s right about the way I blast the fan before the car’s even warm, and I find myself needing to reassure him that the Maine winters can indeed be enjoyed, but that means getting ourselves out into the snow and onto the ice: “You love to ski downhill.You enjoyed going skating the other day. Remember when we all went sliding together? We ought to go snowshoeing this weekend. Or we could go cross country skiing and bring along a thermos of hot cocoa and a lunch”.

“Listen to you!” my son teases. He begins to mock my string of winter activities, doing his best impersonation of my “Mom voice”.

He wasn’t buying it, but I know that it’s tough to raise the spirit or the temperature of a 14 year old boy who could use a little extra sleep in his warm bed these days. The conversation took me back to when I used to hear my own mother explain to me how important it is for we Mainers to get out and enjoy the winter weather, otherwise it’s an extremely long trek to spring. To this day, my brother struggles with winter and I am sure he is ready to go to Florida any day now, once he reaches his retirement. But would I want to do that? No. I’ve always echoed my Mom who says she loves the four seasons, and I cannot imagine what it’d be like to forgo the snow falling outside my window or to miss out on the series of weather-related cancellations that grant me an excuse to cozy up by the fireplace reading a good novel for an entire day.

To “hunker down” in a storm would be one thing I would truly miss if I were to leave Maine. I also don’t think avoiding the cold elsewhere could ever come close to appreciating the beauty of the first buds on the trees, witnessing the way in which they quickly fill in by Memorial Day weekend, or simply catching my breath after a beautiful trek on the snowshoe and snowmobile trails outside my door.

So, I agree, I ought to warm up my car a little earlier before my son and I get in there each morning. And perhaps it’s time for me to make good on my preaching that the best way to enjoy a Maine winter is to put yourself out there in its elements. Because truth be told, I’ve seen enough movies this winter. I’m ready for some real adventure. With the temperature rising this weekend to a balmy 36 degrees, my son heads to Shawnee Peak for some night skiing, and I vow to begin tomorrow by finding a good pair of wool socks and strapping on those snowshoes.

–Written by: Anne Freeman Walker, a resident of Naples, Maine for the past 22 years.

Moose Pond in Bridgton, Maine – 7 Miles of Wildlife and Water Fun

The northern end of Moose Pond looking at Shawnee Peak ski area

 Moose Pond in West Bridgton stretches seven miles from its wilder reaches in its north end in Sweden to its shallower, more placid south end in Denmark. In between find its widest and deepest section in Bridgton just south of the Route 302 causeway. Here the pond is nearly a mile wide and its maximum depth reaches 70 feet.

The distance around the perimeter of this riboon of water is over 33 miles. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has given Moose Pond an “above average” water quality rating.

Moose Pond is the setting for one of the most striking views of the area, that of Pleasant Mountain and Shawnee Peak ski area from the Route 302 causeway that bisects Moose Pond. To your right is the wilder, more undeveloped north end of Moose Pond and to your left is the main body of the pond with the massive bulk of Pleasant Mountain, fronted by the ski area, looming up behind.

Moose Pond is home to many different fish species including bass, perch, trout, and pickerel. Because of the variety of shoreline and water depths, Moose Pond is a favorite for local fishermen. There’s a public boat launch at the causeway.

In the winter you’ll find the main body of the lake dotted with ice fishing houses and the surface crisscrossed with snowmobile tracks.

In the summer, take a break from the pond to hike up Pleasant Mountain and enjoy the magnificent views. The town of Bridgton is nearby offering shopping, restaurants, and a movie theater. Just 15 miles further west along Route 302 enter the shopping mecca of sales tax free North Conway, NH.

Check out all the lakefront property for sale on Moose Pond and other area lakes and ponds by going to www.mainelakefrontexperts.me .

Bridgton, Maine Visitors Love the Lakes and Outdoors

The view from Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, Maine

Bridgton, with a population of just under 5,000, is located along the Route 302 corridor, 35 miles from Portland and 26 miles from North Conway, NH.

While it maintains its small town feel, Bridgton is a destination for many in the area because it offers a first class hospital with a full compliment of primary care physicians and services, a brand new movie house, two grocery stores, a leading Maine-based retailer, a large building supply company, several restaurants, and a vibrant downtown area featuring many small shops and businesses.

Just a few miles west of the village is Shawnee Peak ski area with its expanded trail system, night skiing, and family-friendly atmosphere.

Many lakes and ponds fall within the boundaries of Bridgton including Long Lake, Highland Lake, Woods Pond, Moose Pond, Ingalls Pond, and Peabody Pond. All of these water bodies offer clean, clear water and ample opportunities for boating, swimming, and fishing.

Cultural attractions include the Rufus Porter Museum where you can see many fine examples of the interior, decorative mural painting done by the master of the genre from the early 19th century. Also visit the 302 Gallery, an artist collaborative offering many fine and varied examples of artwork from the area located on Main Street, and “Narramissic”, the Peabody-Finch house located in South Bridgton where you can take a walk into past by touring this restored farmhouse and enjoy the surrounding vistas.

Outdoor recreation opportunities are numerous and varied, but worth mentioning is the new walking trail that begins at Pondicherry Park near the outlet to Highland Lake and follows Stevens Brook on its two mile journey to Long Lake. Also, hike up Bald Pate Mountain and enjoy the views, hike Pleasant Mountain from the Wilton Warren Road, visit the Holt Pond Preserve, take a class with the Lakes Environmental Association, or enjoy 18 holes of golf at the Bridgton Highlands Country Club, open to the public.

It is easy to see why Bridgton is a destination for many. Locals and visitors alike love it for its location, convenience, amenities, and friendliness.

Boating Paradise Found on Long Lake in Harrison, Bridgton, and Naples, Maine

Beautiful Long Lake from the east shore, Cape Monday, Harrison, Maine

Bordered by the picturesque western Maine towns of Naples, Bridgton and Harrison, Long Lake is considered one of the premier recreational lakes in all of Maine. Along with Brandy Pond and Sebago Lake to the south, these three interconnected bodies of water form a navigable 35 mile long stretch of water that most boater’s consider their paradise.

Long Lake is 11 miles long, a mile wide, and covers 5,295 acres in surface area. It is 59 feet deep at its deepest and has a mean depth of 23 feet. The town of Harrison lies at its northern most point and Naples at its southern most point, where Long Lake flows under the causeway and into Brandy Pond, also known as the Bay of Naples.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has rated Long Lake’s water quality as “slightly above average”, reports that the incidence of nuisance algal blooms is “low”, and that there have been no documented evidence of any invasive aquatic plants such as milfoil or hydrilla.

Fish species found in Long Lake include brook trout, brown trout, lake trout, salmon, pickerel, largemouth and smallmouth bass, white and yellow perch.

There is a public boat launch in Harrison at the head of the lake, as well as one in Bridgton. The local marinas that service boaters on Long Lake are Harrison Marina and Gateway Marina in Harrison, Long Lake Marina in Naples, as well as Naples Marina, Causeway Marina and Moose Landing Marina in Naples, all located on Brandy Pond.

One of the added features of Long Lake is that it provides boaters with facilities to tie up in either Naples or Harrison where they can go ashore to enjoy a meal, do some shopping, or just walk around a quaint New England village.

Take a look at all of the lakefront properties currently for sale on Long Lake by clicking here.