Eat Better, Live Better

Chef Lou Stubbs and his incredible team in the Dirigo Pines kitchen make mouth-watering meals that leave residents (and visitors) raving. Using locally sourced produce and seafood is important to the team, and ensures high quality, fresh and delicious meals. You can find some of your own locally sourced food at area farmers markets – and Orono has one of the best around!

The Saturday Orono Farmers’ Market opens at 8 a.m. in the Steam Plant Parking Lot at the University of Maine and remains there until the Saturday before Thanksgiving. During Homecoming weekend in mid-October, the market will move to the Asa Adams School (behind Fire Station) just for that day. From December until commencement in May, the Market will be held downtown.

From fresh seasonal fruits and veggies to organic milk, yogurt and cheese, to amazing locally sourced meat, fresh bread and bakery products, to coffee, seafood, and more, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of fresh food and local products. Remember to bring your own bags and an appetite. It’s a great place to find fresh food and meet the farmer who grew it. For more information, visit their website and Facebook pages: 

Close to Home: Portland

Maine’s largest city is just 2 hours from Dirigo Pines – and a great place for a summer road trip! From sea kayaking to brewery tours to museum visits, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to eat! Share your favorite Portland highlights below!

Here are some ideas for your next trip:

  • Take a tour of Portland breweries. Visit “y’East Bayside” and Rising Tide Brewing, or take a tasting tour of Allagash Brewing Company. Allagash’s location on Industrial Way in Portland is also home to a veritable farmers market of beer – and food trucks. And of course there’s the Old Port with Shipyard and Sweetgrass Tasting Room. Thompson’s Point and Bissell Brothers is another great stop on your beer tour.
  • Explore Casco Bay. Rent a kayak for a workout and on the water view of stunning Casco Bay, or enjoy the trip via a sail boat cruise or hop aboard the Casco Bay Ferry for a trip to the islands of Peaks, Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long, Chebeague, and Cliff. Check out the schedule here: www.cascobaylines.com/schedules.
  • Visit Peaks Island. Once an important WW II outpost and also known as the Coney Island of Maine, Peaks Island is home to artists, retirees, commuters of all sorts and a substantial summer population. Take the ferry over and explore the island via golf cart, the preferred island transportation and enjoy some delicious food and great views.
  • Portland Museum of Art. Enjoy American, European, and contemporary art, as well as iconic works from Maine-highlighting the rich artistic tradition of the state and its artists.
  • Catch a Show at Thompson’s Point. Thompson’s Point outdoor venue is located on the southern tip of “The Point”, adjacent to the recently restored section of the Union Station platform shed that was moved to the site in the 1960’s. A beautiful piece of land on the banks of the Fore River, Thompson’s Point has a scalable capacity of 2,500 to 5,000 for concerts and festivals – and within close proximity to downtown Portland – the venue will be linked to Portland Trails for easy walking and biking access.
  • Catch a Game at Hadlock Field. The Portland Sea Dogs are the Eastern League Double A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and play their home games at Portland’s Hadlock Field.
  • Fun for Kids. Located in the Arts District of downtown Portland, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine features a wide variety of interactive exhibits and activities for children and families!
  • Something Unusual. The International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland offers up an inside look at the study of hidden or unknown animals, and the world’s only cryptozoology museum. With a wide range of exhibitions from rare, one-of-a-kind scientific, zoological specimens to popular cultural homages, there’s lots to discover! Ever seen a Yeti hair sample? Plan your visit!

It’s Festival Season!

It’s festival season in Maine! Take advantage of living in the middle of it all at Dirigo Pines in Orono, and visit these August festivals for lots of fun and Maine culture!

American Folk Festival – August 25-27 on the Bangor Waterfront

A massive 3-day music events, the American Folk Festival is a Maine tradition offering music and dance from all cultures and corners of the world. Dance to zydeco from C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, check out a Quebecois group, enjoy the blues, celtic music, jazz, reggae, and our own Pride of Maine Marching Band from the University of Maine. Insider tips: Don’t miss the Inuit Throat Singing for a unique musical experience – and make the trek down to the Dance Tent – you won’t be disappointed!

www.americanfolkfestival.com

Maine Lobster Festival – August 2-6, Rockland

Celebrating its 70th year, the Maine Lobster Festival serves up the state’s favorite crustacean (we’re talking 17,000 pounds of lobster last year!) in every way possible. Enjoy five days of feasting on the coast of Maine, the coronation of the Maine Sea Goddess, the Great International Lobster Crate Race (open to anyone brave enough to risk falling into the chilly ocean with thousands of people watching your every move), parade, arts & crafts, and more food. 

www.mainelobsterfestival.com

Machias Wild Blueberry Festival – August 18-20, Machias

Blueberries get their time to shine in August too. Celebrate the powerful little fruit in Machias as they roll out the blue carpet with food, entertainment, contests, and all things blueberry. There’s no admission charge. About 2 hours from Dirigo, the area also offers great whale-watching, lighthouses, hiking, kayaking, lobster rolls, and lots more!

www.machiasblueberry.com

Ploye Festival – August 11-13, Fort Kent

If you’re up for a bit of traveling, there’s a unique tradition in the northeast corner of America this time of the year – the making of the world’s largest ploye. And if you’re not familiar with ployes, you’re in for a special treat. The buckwheat pancake is an Acadian icon and it’s celebrated every summer in Fort Kent along side the International Muskie Derby (and if you’re not familiar with that one – it’s a real big fish!). The events include activities such as making the world’s largest ploye (12 feet in diameter last year!), live music entertainment, craft and vendor fair and more. It’s a weekend of fun for the whole family.

visitaroostook.com/event/24th-annual-ploye-festival/

Close to Home: Baxter State Park

One of the best parts of living at Dirigo Pines is the location – we’re centrally located in Vacationland, meaning amazing day trips aplenty. People travel far and wide to get to Maine – so take advantage of having places like Baxter State Park so nearby! Whether you want to take a day trip, hike to the top of Katahdin or camp out for a night or two, Baxter won’t disappoint in breathtaking views and incredible experiences.

Did you know… The Park is self-funded through an endowment left by former Maine governor Percival P. Baxter, user fees, and revenue from the Scientific Forest Management Area. Gov. Baxter left a trust of nearly 7 million dollars to ensure that Park managers would have sufficient funds to maintain the Park without ever having to compete for Maine taxpayers’ dollars from the general fund account.

Baxter was governor of Maine from 1921-1924. He enjoyed fishing and vacationing in the Maine woods throughout his childhood and his affection for the land and Maine’s wildlife were instrumental in his creation of a park for people of the State of Maine.

There are two park entrances, from the north and south. The entrance through Millinocket is about an hour and half from Dirigo Pines. Click here for driving directions. 

Here are some other fun facts about Baxter State Park and what not to miss:

Close to Home: Bangor City Forest

Summer is here – time to get outside and enjoy! Dirigo Pines is home to many of its own trails, which connect in with the Orono Land Trust’s Sklar Park trail system, a 40-acre parcel situated at the west end of Main Street, between Route 2 and I-95. (Click here for a map of the Sklar Park trail system.) And just up the road from Dirigo is the Bangor City Forest and Orono Bog Walk.

The Rolland F. Perry City Forest includes 680 acres of wildlife habitat and forest, offering  more than 9 miles of trails for walking, hiking, biking, and during the winter – snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. It is owned by the city of Bangor and open throughout the year.

Here are some other fun facts and what to know before you go:

  • Dogs are welcome in many areas, but must be on a leash at all times, per city ordinance, on Main Road, Shannon Road, Tripp Drive, and East Trail.
  • The Orono Bog Walk is a 1-mile boardwalk loop that begins at the forested wetland edge in the Bangor City Forest, and after 800 feet, crosses the Orono town line into the portion of the Orono Bog owned by the University of Maine. Along the way the boardwalk passes through a wide range of changing vegetation and environments on its way to the open, peat moss carpeted center of the Orono Bog. Click here for more about the Bog Walk.
  • The Orono Bog Walk boardwalk is wheelchair-friendly, with benches for rest and contemplation every 200 feet. Please note that dogs are not permitted on the Bog Walk.
  • Nature walks are scheduled throughout the summer, guided by experts in their respective fields who provide insights into the ecology and natural history of the flora and fauna found along the boardwalk. Learn more and find a calendar here: umaine.edu/oronobogwalk.
  • Walden-Parke Preserve, owned by the Bangor Land Trust, encompasses more than 300 acres adjacent to City Forest, on the west side of the former Veazie Railroad bed. It features more than three miles of hiking, biking, skiing, and snoeshoeing trails. The land trust also owns the 84-acre Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve, near the end of Kittredge Road in Bangor. For more about the Bangor Land Trust, click here: www.bangorlandtrust.org.
  • The forest is accessible via Kittredge Road and Tripp Drive. The Tripp Drive entrance is just 4 minutes from Dirigo Pines. Click here for directions. 
  • The Bangor City Forest is a great place to spot wildlife. Be on the lookout for great blue herons, raccoons, downy woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, wild turkeys, white tailed deer, porcupines and more.
  • Look for pitcher plants along the Bog Walk, in bloom throughout the summer. Pitcher plants are carnivorous, luring insects into a cavity in the middle of the plant.
  • What to bring: bug spray to keep the black flies at bay, sunscreen and water. And a camera to remember your visit!

Have your own tips? Share below!

Discover Bangor’s History

June is great time to explore the history of the Bangor area, with tours of Mount Hope Cemetery, the nation’s second oldest garden cemetery, and historic downtown Bangor on the calendar. The Bangor Historical Society offers a variety of programming, walking tours and special events, including tours of the Thomas A. Hill House Museum Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June through September. Interested in becoming a member? Senior memberships are just $25 and include admission to summer Wine Night at Hill House on June 22. Find more at bangorhistoricalsociety.com.

Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tour

The Bangor Historical Society and Bangor Arts also host walking tours of Mount Hope Cemetery throughout the summer, with the first scheduled for June 3 from 10-11:30 a.m. Mount Hope, built in 1883, is located just down the street from Dirigo Pines and offers 300 acres of beautiful walking paths and historic gravestones. It was designed by renowned architect Charles G. Bryant as part of a national movement to provide respite form grassless urban landscapes. Garden cemeteries were created as much for the living as for those who had passed on. Tickets for the tour, which includes little known facts about some of Bangor’s famous and most infamous residents, are just $10 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and under; available at bangorhistoricalsociety.com.

Historic Bangor 101

On June 10, the Historical Society hosts a tour and tales of Bangor’s first settlers, the Great Fire of 1911 and more. The tour costs $10 for adults, $5 for ages 10 and under, and meets at the Thomas A. Hill House at 159 Union St. at 10 a.m.

Make it a Hoppy Father’s Day

Give Dad what he really wants this Father’s Day: wings and beer. Just a short drive from Dirigo Pines, Bangor is ready with fun events focused on both this June – the perfect ticket to celebrate Dad (and enjoy some suds). Check out these fun-filled events just in time for Dad’s special day…

Wing Fest

The month kicks off with the food that kicks back. Sample wings from restaurants all over the Dirigo Pines region. Taste test, vote for your favs, and enjoy a beer sample. As if that’s not enough, attendees also get mini whoopee pies and live music from Chris Ross and the North (check them out here: www.chrisrossandthenorth.com). Mark Dad’s calendar for June 1 from 5-8 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. And find more info and tickets at www.wingfestmaine.com. All proceeds to benefit the United Way of Eastern Maine.

Wine Fest

Perhaps Dad prefers a nice merlot to an ale? Check out Wine on the Waterfront 2017 on June 16 from 4:30-8 p.m. in Bangor. Maine wineries and distilleries are offering up sample of their wines and spirits. Local favorites like Cellardoor Winery, Winterport Winery, Dragonfly Farm & Winery and Twenty2 Vodka and lots more will be there! Find more information at www.facebook.com/GreaterBangorCVB.

Beer Fest

Bangor’s Beer Festival: Tap Into Summer 2017 is set for June 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. This is the 5th year for this fun-filled event, which offers samplings from 25 Maine breweries. And just when it couldn’t get any better for Dad – they’ve added a bacon bar courtesy of Hops House 99. Go crazy and get Dad the VIP ticket, which includes lunch with the brewers, early admission, and T-shirt. Visit www.brownpapertickets.com for more info and tickets.

Mother’s Day Planning

Whether you’re at a lose for what to do for the special women in your life this Mother’s Day or just looking for something different to do with the ladies – there’s no shortage of Mother’s Day fun in the Dirigo Pines area. Here are a few ideas we recommend:

  • Mother’s Day Beer Brewing: For the mom who has everything and enjoys a good brew, Central Street Farmhouse in Bangor is offering a Mother’s Day Beer Brewing course (for moms and non-moms alike!). Get a lesson in beer brewing, samples, snacks and your own six-pack of homebrew for $50. Scheduled for May 13 at 1 p.m. Find more details at centralstreetfarmhouse.com.
  • Enjoy a Show: “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti,” the story of Giulia, who shares stories of good food and bad boyfriends, is being performed at the Penobscot Theatre Company in downtown Bangor through May 14. Visit penobscottheatre.org for details and tickets.
  • Pasta for Beginners: Speaking of spaghetti, The Mill Inn + Cafe in nearby Dover-Foxcroft is offering a Mother’s Day workshop on making homemade rustic pasta on May 14 at 3 p.m. Use simple tools, learn about different flours, and wrap it up with a tasting of fresh pasta. Find more at dfmill.com.
  • Color Bangor 5K: Get Mom moving by joining the walkers and runners participating in the American Folk Festival’s 2017 Color Bangor 5K. A fun and colorful event, with multiple stations where volunteers cover participants in colored corn-starch powder. Visit americanfolkfestival.com to register.
  • Celtic Music: Enjoy dinner and a pint at Geaghan’s Restaurant & Pub in Bangor on May 14 and listen to local musicians playing celtic music from 5-7 p.m. Visit geaghans.com for more info.

Have your own great idea for Mother’s Day fun? Share it with us!

Close to Home: Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows

Warmer weather is slowly coming to Vacationland! That means it’s time to plan some day trips! One of the best parts of living at Dirigo Pines is the location – we’re centrally located, meaning Maine’s amazing attractions are within a short drive. People travel far and wide to get to Maine – so take advantage of having places like Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Observatory so close by!

Fort Knox is located in Prospect, which is just 40 minutes from Dirigo Pines. Click here for driving directions. 

Located on the west bank of the Penobscot River in Prospect, Maine, in an area known as the Penobscot Narrows, Fort Knox is one of the best preserved fortifications on the New England seacoast. Fort Knox is open May 1 to Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to sunset. The grounds are open year round. The Penobscot Narrows Bridge boasts an observation tower, rising 420 feet above sea level, which may only be accessed through the Fort. 

Friends of Fort Knox created a “Drone’s eye view” of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory – click here to check it out.

Seniors can tour the fort at no charge and enjoy the observation tower for just $2.50. The fee for adults (ages 12 to 64) is $6 for the combination pass. Kids ages 5-11 are only $4.

Here are some other fun facts about Fort Knox and what not to miss:

  • The observation tower of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge that opened to the public in May 2007.
  • A one minute ride on the fastest elevator in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont will take you to the top of the tallest public bridge-observatory in the world.
  • Maine was repeatedly involved in northeast border disputes with British Canada. The area between Castine and the rich lumber city of Bangor was invaded and occupied by the British during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Fort Knox was established in 1844 to protect the Penobscot River valley against a possible future British naval incursion.
  • There are picnic facilities on the Fort grounds, including BBQ grills, picnic tables and a covered pavilion. Guests with wheelchairs will find the Fort’s Gift Shop, Visitor’s Center, Picnic Area and Restrooms accessible, and you can access the inner fort (parade ground) with a wheelchair. The original granite steps and stairways in other parts of the Fort (a National Historic Site) will limit the access of anyone who is mobility impaired.
  • The Penobscot River is the largest river in Maine and the second largest in New England (after the Connecticut River). Its name is believed to be derived from the Native American word penobskeag, meaning “rocky place,” or “river of rocks.
  • In searching for a “historical” design for the bridge, the Maine DOT decided on modeling the main support towers of the new bridge after the obelisk shape of the Washington Monument, and like the Washington Monument, include a visitor’s observatory at the top. The choice of modeling the new towers after the Washington Monument was relevant for a number of reasons, including that some of the granite used in the construction of the Washington Monument came from nearby Mount Waldo – which also where the granite for Fort Knox’s construction came from.
  • The construction of Fort Knox began in 1844 and continued (with numerous work stoppages due to funding problems) until 1869. Funding from Congress was intermittent, and the fort’s design was never fully completed despite an expenditure of $1,000,000.
  • The only times there were soldiers in any number residing at the fort were during the periods of the Civil War and Spanish-American War. Troops were sent to Fort Knox in 1863 to help protect the area from Confederate raiders who were terrorizing the Maine coast. During that year these raiders had burned or captured 20 vessels including the Tacony, which was seized near Mount Desert Island.
  • Fort Knox was named after Henry Knox, George Washington’s Secretary of War. General Knox was also the Commander of Artillery during the American Revolutionary War, and at the end of his life lived not far away in Thomaston. America’s other Fort Knox, which is located in Kentucky, was also named after him.
  • The Fort is reportedly haunted. Ghost Hunters TV program and many others have researched the paranormal activity in and around Fort Knox. The Friends of Fort Knox website offers a whole page of “haunted news” about reported ghosts and strange happenings – click here to check it out.

The Orono Bog Walk

The best way to enjoy springtime in Maine is to get outside! Just down the road from Dirigo Pines is the Orono Bog Walk, a 1-mile boardwalk loop that begins at the forested wetland edge in the Bangor City Forest, and after 800 feet crosses the Orono town line into the portion of the Orono Bog owned by the University of Maine.  Along the way the boardwalk passes through a wide range of changing vegetation and environments on its way to the open, peat moss carpeted center of the Orono Bog.

It’s a fascinating and educational walk, allowing visitors to observe the colorful bog, its tranquil beauty and the amazing plants and animals that call the bog home. Signs with illustrations help visitors spot interesting plant and animal life along the way. 

Check out a map here: http://umaine.edu/oronobogwalk/files/2013/03/Board10003rev.gif

The Bog Walk is set to open May 1. Hours through Labor Day are 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The boardwalk is a wheelchair-friendly facility, and benches for rest and contemplation are provided at least every 200 feet. Please note that dogs are not permitted on the Bog Walk.

Nature walks are scheduled throughout the summer, guided by experts in their respective fields that provide insights into the ecology and natural history of the flora and fauna found along the boardwalk. Learn more and find a calendar by clicking here.