1st winter blog of 2015!

Welcome to Anne Plummer & Associates 1st winter blog of 2015! The timing for this entry I expect hits home for many locals, as it certainly is winter here in the Maine Lakes Region as January comes to a close! With upwards of 2’ – yes two feet! – of snow ending yesterday, and another 6”-12” due within the next 36 hours and supposedly more to follow next week, we are in a weather pattern that has many thinking about vacation, lakefront fun, and anything other than moving some snow around. The fact is this – and any true Mainer will tell you it is so: This too shall pass, and quickly!
The well-covered boat outside seems to be smiling at me. Maybe it, too, knows that the Red Sox pitchers and catchers report in just 22 days, and we are only 27 days away from the Red Sox baseball team’s first full workout! Spring follows quickly afterwards each year, and that is why now is the perfect time to see any of our talented and experienced staff about making your dreams come true this summer. Whether the goal is to relax on your new waterfront or water-access property, maybe you want to turn a short-sale into a worthy investment, it is time for the perfect view of the nearby mountains, or it is time for you to retire and enjoy yourself here in the lakes region, we are the right team to help you reach and exceed your goals. Right now is the best time to view and look for the ideal property for you. Call today and one of our experienced Realtors will explain why right now is the absolute best time to stake your claim to the best that the lakes region has to offer!

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.

Baby and a Backsplash

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 10.16.09 AMYears back, we moved into our home in the Lake Region area with a one week old baby! Having closed on the house in Naples just days after the arrival of our firstborn, it is safe to say that, despite our excitement to decorate, our priorities were on other matters. “Do we have enough diapers? Is she eating enough? Are we doing this right?” However, when we did find time to indulge in home decorating, we began with a few cans of paint. Transforming our space room by room took time, but was an exciting and enjoyable process. Selecting patterns for upholstery and making decisions on lighting may have taken more time than the average home-buyer, but it was fun to work at our own pace. Over the years, we’ve taken note of new trends in flooring and kitchen design while growing more confident in knowing which decorating choices fit our likes and needs. We’ve recently painted our kitchen cabinets, installed granite countertops, and tiled a backsplash. Our projects have been do-it-yourself weekend adventures but we’re also well aware that by investing time and a little money into our home, we’re adding to its equity, not to mention its aesthetic value.

Some homeowners make renovation plans for their newly purchased property before the closing date has even arrived. Lists of quick fixes to change carpeting, to switch out lighting fixtures, or to repaint a child’s room are common. Others feel the need to live and breathe inside the walls of a new home, slowly getting boxes unpacked, and developing a feeling for the space before making changes. No matter how quickly or leisurely the pace, it usually doesn’t take long after buying real estate that a desire to “make it one’s own” will kick in.

Whether its time to renovate, redecorate or invest in a new home altogether, attending local open house tours is a good way to become educated on the latest real estate trends. After deciding upon a budget, do your research. Decide upon a plan and secure recommendations from others on how to best proceed.

Our homes quickly become an expression of our personalities and lifestyles. What does your home say about you?

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.

Rattle Snake Mountain – Raymond (Trailhead off Route 85 Raymond)

This is an easy hike from the parking lot to the best view – about 1/2 mile. The view looks over Panther Pond and towards Raymond. The trail could be slippery in the winter as the viewing ledge has a slope to it hike or snowshoe.
This is a good hike for small children as it is easy and short and there is a good view within a 1/2 mile from the parking lot. Round trip is approximately 1.5 hours.

Pleasant Mountain Loop “Shawnee Peak”

Pleasant Mountain Loop “Shawnee Peak” – West Bridgton (Trailhead off Route 302 W. Bridgton)
Ridge hike offers excellent views to the southern Lakes Region and beyond. Pleasant Mountain is the highest peak in Southern Maine, rising dramatically over Moose Pond and the surrounding countryside to 2,006 vertical feet and stretching nearly 4.0 miles north to south (approximately 3 hours). The long, open summit affords outstanding ridge hiking and excellent views. The hike requires a moderate effort to climb the mountain.

Fall Foliage Family Hikes Southern Maine

Pleasant Mountain “Shawnee Peak” – East Fryeburg (Trailhead off Denmark Rd Fryeburg)
“Pleasant Mountain” – located in the Lakes Region of southwestern Maine, is the home of Shawnee Peak Ski Resort, which dominates the north side of the mountain and overlooks US 302 and the surrounding area. It is the highest mountain in southern Maine and a prominent landmark.
The majority of the hike lies inside Pleasant Mountain Preserve, and the Southwest Ridge Trail and summit area provide excellent views of the area’s mountains and lakes and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
It is a family friendly hike to the summit at an elevation of 2,006 feet.

Fall Foliage Family Hikes Southern Maine

Burnt Meadow Mountain – Brownfield (Trailhead off Spring St. Brownfield)
Burnt Meadow Mountain, close to the New Hampshire border, is comprised of three similar summits. The well-marked (though somewhat overgrown) route described here scales the eastern spur of North Peak and offers beautiful views beginning just 0.15 mile from the start.
The broad, grassy summit gives kids room to play and adults room to spread out a feast with the White Mountains as a backdrop. The climb in some places is somewhat steep, count on carrying preschoolers part of the way.