Picnics in Maine.
Most people I know enjoy food cooked outside over an open fire or sizzling on the gas grill. Munching on whatever gets served up and slide onto the plate is way way tastier combined with Maine outdoor scenery too. One exception, if there is no breeze, it’s early summer. And the black flies and mosquitoes dive in like Stuka bombers without the high pitched whistle signaling the attack.
This blog posts is about the pleasure and practical aspects of picnicking in Maine.
For starters, what does the word picnic mean, where did it come from any way? The French get the credit for the word picnic. The word pique-nique which means “pick, peck, nab” a small morsel of food. Combined with the second half meaning “of little importance, trifle”. That sounds like nibbling and snacking to me.
Grazing on nuts and berries is what comes to mind like climbing Mt Katahdin with the four kids taking trail side mini picnic stops.
Reaching into a bag of gorp. Which is a trail mix snack of nuts, dried fruit, granola, nuts, maybe chocolate for some quick energy without the bulk of carrying a picnic basket full of goodies. Or I think of wagon trains of pioneers and horse riders headed West in search of free farm land to homestead on or suffering from Gold or Silver Fever lust. Picnics would be quick pit stops to stop the possession and refuel and to avoid saddle sores. Take care of nature calls out in the privacy of the brush. To open up a can of beans. Again.
The picnics in Maine is more than curing meal time hunger.
I remember the end of the hike up and down Haystack Mountain in Castle Hill Maine and sitting at the picnic table to relive the accomplishment. Hiking for kids is a real adventure. Lesson of life that although the trail is steep and winding, keep at it. In time you get to the top to survey the landscape and have one more mountain top under your belt.
Spreading out a picnic blanket, opening up the basket to reach in for the tin cup for the coffee, whatever utensils needed to dine outside.
That’s what folks do for pleasure in Maine. Sometimes with just two people in love and the sheer romance of dining surrounding by Maine natural beauty, the birds singing, a slight breeze. Enjoying summer laying down with leisurely dining and no hurry or fanfare. Relaxing and taking in the setting. Changing it up and moving to other scenic locations in Maine for sampling home cooked picnic food.
Historically, the picnics were small meals, like a late morning brunch of light dining.
The aristocracy of Europe devised elaborate meal spreads and headed to the country to enjoy them. They could be a company picnic or church outing. But before Interstates like 95 and super highways, traveling was on US routes on the Maine road map. Here is a list of the state of Maine picnic areas. Another link for the camping group picnic areas in Maine.
When traveling, it is essential to add rest stops to the bathroom breaks. The dealing with the pull off the road meal time routine. Packed picnic baskets to quick and easy open up and reach in for something delicious. When you are hungry, it does not have to be fancy or elaborate. The cowboys and infantry soldiers in history dined on hard biscuits, beef jerky, whatever the chuck wagon dished out along with the fresh coffee brew. The meat shot on the trail and dubbed “road kill”.
Picnics in Maine.
Building a fire or setting up a Coleman gas stove is not always part of the roadside meal time operation. When you want to get somewhere by night fall. When there are lots of miles to cover from point “A” to “B, you don’t want to waste daylight when the time is better spent racking up the odometer miles. Also to avoid driving in the dark, a chicken salad sandwich, a home made molasses cookie or two with a slurp of cool air or hot thermos coffee can hit the spot nicely.
The early picnic area rest stops were kept spiffy clean and maintained by the Maine State Highway Commission.
The trash barrel reminder, the outhouse, the canopy over the picnic table and permanent metal grill ready and waiting. Spaced along the way to perfectly time when you would be needed another break. To stop the “10” and “2” and pull over. Check the oil, clean the bugs off the windshield. While others in the traveling party set up the home away from home simple meal. Since COVID19 pandemic, curbside take out restaurant food in Maine makes new places to dine outdoors in Maine very popular.
The more scenic settings in Maine for picnics to remember.
Often the return to sample them again happens. Picnics in Maine for more than the food and refreshing rest freedom from trapped sitting in a vehicle. Better than hitting a drive through, gassing up and eating while driving. Some picnics in Maine are long drawn out affairs where more than one meal is sampled at the tourist attraction. The state of Maine picnic or BBQ website link. Wildlife are part of the dining entertainment picnicking in Maine.
Picnics don’t just happen in the summer time.
Fall foliage colors are the floor show eating outside on a warm day without rain or high wind conditions. Winter snow sledding trail rides take you to lodges along the way to dine at or outdoor home made grills are stumbled upon. I remember watching an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain visits Maine to do a travel show installment. His Milo native videographer takes him by snowmobile up into central Maine. Far far away from the high priced coastal tourist traps.
A group of snow sledders had bought an old Bangor & Aroostook Railroad car and removed the wheels. Somehow got it to the middle of some unorganized township where it becomes a woods camp. A 55 gallon drum is pressure washed, a cutting torch slices in half and hinges are added. To create a lift up grill filled with hot coals and hickory or apple wood chips with home made cooking surface. For outdoor dining, eat with your hands. Smelling like snow machine exhaust and gas. But glad to remove the full coverage helmet noggin protector.
Picnics in Maine out in the wilds that are a little more natural and not so civilized.
Stopping, hitting the red handlebar kill switch. To take off the sled mitts and climb off the snow machine. Reaching for a cold brewski with one hand, the BBQ ribs gripped and nibbled on in the other one. As you eat, laugh, talk about what you saw on the sled trail in the outdoor, see your breath social gathering. Picnicking happens a lot in Maine, all year round. It’s not always held at a picnic table and sometimes the dining is done moving around, standing up and mingling.
Maine picnics on the back porch happen all the time.
Taking dessert out on the porch to enjoy your back yard or to invite people in off the sidewalk. Parts of meals, late night snacks are enjoyed out on open and enclosed porches in Maine. If you have read a few of these Me In Maine blog posts, you realize the smaller population here is outdoor pretty much year round. Dressed accordingly but hankering the fresh clean air and all this pure and natural outdoor beauty that improves your quality of life.
The get the food at a local venue, take it to the scenic location in Maine is another form of picnic.
I know many who get a fish dinner or clam basket or burger boat with home made fries to hit a scenic turn out. Still in their car but the engine turned off, windows down and parked with major views in their lap. The Million Dollar View is like that in Weston Maine. Weston also blessed with another scenic turn out a few miles down the same US RT 1 looking due west at always majestic Mt Katahdin. The coronovirus has made the regular indoor haunts reduced to food ordered in to take out and go. Picnic spots to consume it make Maine a perfect place for outdoor dining.
Have put on the padded but cycle shorts, the Lance Armstrong breathable jersey, tightly lace up the sneakers.
To bike up Cadillac Mountain where those cold yogurt Popsicles from the snack shack on top really do the picnic trick. Enjoying the snack while sitting on a hill side smooth rock. When here it comes. The hundred mile stare and jaw dropping gawk as your head pivots. What a view out over the islands, the Maine coastline ocean front.
With next up the climb on the pedal pike to do the second half of the excursion. Easily gliding down into Bar Harbor to enjoy a bucket of steam clams, dining on the street and out in the open. Before biking to Acadia National Park. The COVID19 pandemic interfering a little with the plans for outside vacationers. But the locals living in Maine have it made and easily accessing so many tourist attractions around the fringes. Using what is open and private and not fighting traffic or lots of people to enjoying the solitude. Picnics can be hot and cold. But you won’t be using a microwave to add the heat to warm up what you eat. Slow cooked trumps fast food any day of the week.
Picnics in Maine.
I grew up taking lots of them with family. Learning the sheer enjoyment of opening up the weaved picnic basket to what hides within to reach for and relish. The coronovirus for local Mainers means enjoy the simple pleasures all around us this summer. As the tourism industry slowly opens up in Maine to adjust to COVID19.
The impromptu simple and more elaborate picnics in Maine are alive and well.
Ideal for post COVID19 sudden need for adjustment and easy outdoor fun. Not costly, part of what camping in Maine is all about and why it has high appeal. Picnic dining was made for a place like Maine. You don’t think of picnic outings on a crowded city street. Maybe outdoor dining that has $ or $$$ attached.
If you don’t like crowds or sharing your special happy place in Maine with others, it is not a tourist attraction top ten location. If you run away from commercial settings of Maine that can get exploited for profit, there are plenty of no one knows about them but you spots for a picnic lunch.
The longer you spend in an area of Maine you want to explore, meal time rolls around more than once. That’s where what’s for lunch, supper maybe even breakfast is on your radar when cooking and preparing what gets tucked down inside the picnic basket.
The new potatoes and fresh picked peas, corn on the cob and more picnics in Maine require a little more preparation for the Maine picnic.
I remember picking potatoes in the fall on our Maine family farm and Viola Flewelling would put on a feast each noon. On the back of her station wagon lowered tail gate, there would be potatoes steaming. The New England boiled dinner underway in good shape. I had my bologna and cheese and ring ding, mountain dew. But the pickers in the next potato field section were in for a feast just like home. Local Mainers use the nearby picnic areas a lot. The tourist information center and roadside rest stops are not just used by out of state vacationers to picnic and enjoy outdoor prepared meals. Maine rest areas get enjoyed by out of state and in state diners a like.
What would you stash in your picnic in Maine for something good to eat?
Lobster roll, home made potato salad like your Mom or Grandmother made? The perfect picnic in Maine could have a fresh baked blueberry or apple pie to slice into for the dessert. Lemonade, iced tea, something cool and refreshing hydrates and washes down whatever you send to your stomach. Summer salads with fresh garden vegetables are hard to beat. Cucumber spear slices, juicy tomatoes, fruits, cheeses, nuts. All are healthy snacks to go along with your Maine outdoor experience. Lots of healthy appetizers to enjoy so the hand held mini meals combine to satisfy your gastric grumbling.
If a grill is involved and you have the time to kill in your Maine picnic.
Hot and spicy BBQ chicken or steak, burgers, hot dogs are invited to the dinner party. Watermelon is a kid favorite for hand held delight. Open up the bag of potato chips and other snacks but make sure to carry in, carry out. Keep the picnic in Maine setting looking out at a light house or out over the waterfront, whatever setting as good or better than you found it.
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