Being easily swayed by media, I began to feel I should actually see a trap tree live and in person. But which one: the Beals Island one, which was the biggest; or the Rockport tree, which was the original? I’ve never been to Beals Island, located Downeast of here. I’ve been to Rockland, which is just over an hour southwest on the midcoast. Rockland has a downtown filled with bakeries, restaurants, galleries and gift stores. Beals Island, as I read in Guide to Sea Kayaking in Maine by Shelley Johnson and Vaughan Smith, has Island Variety, a convenience store.
But Beals Island has another feature which is far more appealing to a kayaker: the Great Wass Archipelago, a series of more than 50 islands. It looked like there was an easy loop out through the inside of the islands, around Eastern Bay, stopping at an island with a lighthouse on it. I read Mark some of the descriptions of the islands, many of which are sea bird sanctuaries, thus off limits for much of the spring and summer. When I got home from work the next night there was a chart on the table. “That chart’s a little small” Mark explained, “I’ll redo it in two sections.” Then he added temptingly, “You know ocean water is warmer than the Penobscot now.”
So with reasons to see both, we decided to visit both trap trees, and scout the two locations for launch sites.
Since our first available day coincided with rain, we planned a trip to Rockland. The tree is located by the Fisherman’s Memorial and the Rockland Public Launch, 152 traps make up this tree.
The public launch has a small gravel beach from which kayaks can be launched. There is also a public beach nearby. My favorite feature is this nearby park filled with marine relicts.
|See how the bell has been worn away by the striker|
But the real joy of this trip was visiting the downtown.
|Decorations at Seagull Cottage|
|I'm not sure how many bakeries exist in Rockland, 4, 5 more?|
|Not only is an island in view, but someone is working on the boat.|
|Either I've shrunken to half size, or this tree is twice as big|
The water was filled with boats, with more on shore waiting to join in. Traps stored on shore indicated that in the summer access to launch points would be very limited, and the need to be on guard for working boats paramount.
Beals Island has a seasonal take out stand but Island Variety has been closed for years. Hikers would be interested in the trails on Great Wass Island, on land managed by the Nature Conservancy. Nearby Jonesport has some scattered stores, and is also the launch point for Norton Puffin tours. I’d hoped to eat at Tall Barney’s in Jonesport, named for a local giant. But though there were cars in the lot, it was closed, as was the nearby diner.
So we began our trip home. As we passed along route 1 in Addison a hand painted sign noted that the Bohemian Mama’s Bakery was open, and had a tiny “WIFI” lettering added. Since Mark needed to check in, we decided to stop. About a mile off route 1 at 251 Ridge Rd we came to the bakery.
facebook site Inside was a case full of scones, puff pastry, bars and other treats, as well as a rack of loaves and rolls. And on the counter were samples of their wood fired brick oven pizza. Delicious! We settled in at a table, and soon were splitting a pepperoni pizza. Their menu lists several amazing deserts, and has been stored away for future use. Sadly, in the winter they are open only two days a week.
So, though the Beals tree was bigger, I have to rate Rockland as the better winter experience. However, hikers looking for wild coast line would probably prefer Beals Island. And, I feel our trip to Beals Island was not wasted, the sheer number of boats there makes that a much different paddling area than I’d expected. I hope to get back there again when the weather is better, maybe after bird nesting season ends and probably on a Sunday, when traditionally lobster boats stay home. I did find that Ray Wirth had done a winter trip to Beal, which you might enjoy reading.
And I also think this proves that if you build something wicked big, people will come and spend money in your area.