This post was originally featured on Maine The Way blog.
This is your cue to rent a camper van and roadtrip around Maine. We just got back from our third adventure with Outdoorsy, this time in a Westfalia! I have dreamed about roadtripping around Maine in a Westy ever since I could conceptualize what that meant — and this adventure sure surpassed all expectations! From classic dining experiences to road side swims and everything in between, this rig was perfect for a spontaneous summer adventure on the coast of Maine!
We picked up the van at its home in Yarmouth, loaded our clothes and cooler, and hit the road. This rig was a manual transmission, so it took Cam a minute to find the clutch point before we were cruising. Everything about the Westy felt classic. It had four speeds, a jumpy CD player, crank windows, and many other details that make it feel like we were road tripping back in time to the mid ‘80s. It was awesome.
Unsure of its ability to hit highway speeds (it could) and our desire to take the scenic route led us winding through Brunswick towards Route 1 North. As we passed the navy field, Fat Boys Drive In caught our eye. A little hungry from a delayed start, we couldn’t resist this classic combination. We flicked the lights on when we were ready to order and propped up the table as we waited for our food to arrive. Our burger, fries, and a milkshake arrived in due time, which we enjoyed in the comfort of the van. This spontaneous stop sure set the tone for an awesome adventure ahead.
After a few rain showers on the road, we pulled into the driveway of Glidden Point Oyster with patchy skies overhead. Perched just up the bank from the Damariscotta River, these mollusks couldn’t be fresher. We ordered one of each available that day, which yielded us eight oysters. We brought the tray around to the picnic tables in the back and got shucking. Glidden Point is a shuck your own institution, which is such a fun and educational activity! There’s a certain finesse to opening an oyster. We certainly haven’t mastered it every time, cracking a shell here or there, but the fruits of that labor are always worth it! Once we had shucked and slurped all the oysters, we strolled down to the river to check out where they’re harvested and processed. Maine’s working waterfront will always be a beautiful sight — as was walking back up the hill to see our Westy waiting for us!!
We made reservations at the Lobster Buoy Campground in South Thomaston for two nights (we ended up staying there all three) and started heading in that direction. In Damarsicotta, we popped into the bookstore to grab some light reading and into the Rising Tide Co-Op for some provisions to fill out our meals. A little after 7PM, we pulled into the campground. Their offices were closed, but they directed us to our site where we made ourselves at home. One of my favorite parts of van camping is knowing we have everything we need with us! So, with cooking equipment and food in tow, we pulled out the Coleman stove to toast up some bread for tomato sandwiches — a summer treat! Just as we sat down to eat, booms of thunder and bolts of lightning struck overhead. The summer storm lulled us through dinner and into a cozy night of reading in the van. Once the rain had subsided, we popped the top of the Westy, contemplated sleeping in the upper bed, but converted the couch instead, where we made our bed and stored our gear above. We slept so comfortably under our light linens and cozy blankets, with the cool air wafting through the screens!
The next morning we had arranged tickets for the 10:30AM ferry out of Port Clyde. We had cold brew steeping overnight, so we poured that into our thermoses and whipped up some breakfast sandwiches before making our way to the ferry terminal. We said goodbye to the Westy for the day as we boarded the Elizabeth Ann, found a spot on the upper deck, and set sea. Conditions were a little rocky as we road the ocean rollers 12 miles off the coast. Along the way, we were graced with visits from pods of porpoises, lots of sea birds, and even a finback whale! Could the day get any better? Spoiler: it did!!
Upon arrival, pickup trucks, departing visitors, and island folk alike greeted us at the pier. We all scurried off the boat, caught our bearings, and picked up a coffee at The Barnacle before exploring the island. We ambitiously set out to circumnavigate Monhegan clockwise, so we ambled down Main St. before picking up Cliff Trail #1. Our first vista overlooked Deadman’s Cove with Manana in the background. Already hot, we were eager to take a refresher in the salty sea, but we had miles to go before we swam. We waved at those that crossed our path as we trekked along the gently eroded path. Our first stop overlooked Blackhead from Pulpit Rock. This grassy knoll had a certain magic, juxtaposing the gentle sway of the green shards against the white foam of crashing seas against towering black granite. Monhegan is magical.
We sipped on some water and let our heart rate slow down a bit before continuing the trek. Originally, we were planning on a swim and a picnic at Squeaker Cove, but the seas were a little too rough for our steamy selves, so we didn’t get to cool down at this spot. Lunch of pepperoni and cheese hit the spot with a seltzer from The Barnacle. As we ate, we admired grey seals splashing in the surf, envious of their playground. Over half way around the island, we decided to pick up the pace so we had some time to enjoy the village before hopping on the ferry home. We bounded over White Head, Burnt Head, and past the shipwreck in Lobster Cove.
One of the first buildings we had seen in a while was Monhegan Brewing, where a crisp kolsch was calling our name. We savored the pint, still sweaty and wishing for a swim, but ran out of time on the island! We savored our final stretch of the island walking through the village, past such charming houses, and hopped in line for the ferry. The ride home was much calmer. We found some standing room on the top deck to admire the islands on the way home and conversed with a mate on the boat about his life in the area. Monhegan is such a special place for so many!
Back on land, we reunited with our Westy and beelined it for a swimming hole. Drift Inn beach is right off the road, so we pulled the van over, changed into our suits, and ran into the ocean. It felt amazing to swap sweaty salts with sea salts! Of all the amazing things about van camping, spontaneous swims might be the best part. Since we had a suit, towel, and change of clothes within arms reach, there was nothing holding us back from that Atlantic respite!
At the campsite, we fired up the Coleman and grilled up some chicken sandwiches that we had marinating in the cooler alongside a salad with our CSA greens. Simple ingredients always taste amazing in the freshness of summer. We were tired after our 6 mile lap around Monhegan, so we called it after the beautiful colors of the sunset faded.
We had nothing on the agenda for our second full day, but the forecast was looking steamy so we knew we wanted to get a swim in early. We converted our bed back to a couch and hit the road to a local bakery for breakfast. Upon the recommendation of locals, we set off to explore a quarry on the St. George peninsula.
A beautiful hike in through the nature preserve took us to this salty quarry, where we couldn’t wait to swim. Originally, I thought it would be a fresh water quarry, so I brought some Dr. Bronner’s to clean with, but once I learned of the salinity I opted out of a shower because the last time I tried to wash my hair with this product it ended up incredibly matted. The water was feeling extra salty and we couldn’t get enough of floating through this serene scene.
From there, we set out on a quest for lunch, which brought us to the Owl’s Head General Store. I love the hub general stores are for local communities and this one is no different. Featuring delicious and accessible food options, trinkets, and more, we grabbed some sandwiches to enjoy on their picnic tables out back.
Onward, we continued heading north, through Rockland and into Camden. We popped into a few shops, like the Good Supply, Upstairs Vintage, and ended with a glass of wine at Oyster River Wine Growers. While we typically prefer beer to wine, having a local wine producer that makes such unique, funky, and incredible blends is such a treat. I loved my glass of Morphos, white wine, and Cam couldn’t get enough of the Chaos, a sparkling wine made from grapes from their vineyard in Warren!
Something about these full summer days had us looking forward to a chill evening, so we swung by a little farm market to pickup a few missing details for dinner, and cruised back to our site. We pulled out some lawn chairs and relaxed into the evening. With a few more fresh tomatoes and left over veggies from our CSA, we whipped up paninis for our final meal. After some reading and another beautiful sunset, we converted our couch to a bed one last time.
We were due back in Portland by 11, so we got up early and hit the road for breakfast at Moody’s Diner. I used to work at a summer camp in the area, so this diner is particularly nostalgic. I got a delicious breakfast special with blueberry pancakes and Cam had their biscuits and gravy, both with bottomless cups of diner coffee. This felt like such an appropriate end to our classic adventure, cruising around the coast of Maine in our Westy from Outdoorsy!
We seriously have the best time roadtripping with Outdoorsy. This is our third van adventure partnering with them and cannot recommend it enough! They make it so easy and fun to hit the road in whatever rig suits your style. Please let us know if you have any questions about the Westfalia, previous vans, or Outdoorsy in general! And definitely peruse their website to start planning a van adventure of your own!