Exploring Deer Island

I have written in previous blogs about the many peninsulas to explore in Maine.   I think Maine is one of the best states for a road trip, because there is so much to discover around every corner.   It seems the whole state is one scenic sight after another.   Of all the driving trips we took during our time in Maine, I think our day traveling the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer island was the most beautiful.   In this blog I wanted to highlight some of our stops on the way and invite you to come along on this day of exploration.  Above is a photo from Caterpillar Hill, the highest point on the peninsula offering far reaching views of wild blueberry fields, mountains, water and islands.

Our first stop was the coastal town of Castine which has a Maritime Academy where students learn on the training ship docked next to the college.   We checked out the remnants of Fort George, an earthworks fort built in 1779 by the British during the Revolutionary War.   The town also has a small lighthouse (pictured above) at the end of a road.   Established in 1829, the grounds of Dice lighthouse are now a private residence but people are still allowed to wander the grounds.   It is always a treat to find a lighthouse that can be accessed by land since many of them in Maine are on islands and therefore accessible only by boat.   The Dice light still shines today.

Deer Island which is at the southern part of the peninsula is connected to the mainland by an impressive, tall bridge.   After crossing we headed to a rather unusual place, Nervous Nellie’s, located in a secluded part of the island in a forest setting.   Nellie’s makes an impressive variety of jams and jellies on site and sells everything either in their small store or online.   You can sample most of them in their shop before buying.  In their tiny cafe you can enjoy homemade scones with jam.   On the table they give you a tray with about five jars of jam to try with your scones.   The scones and jam were quite good and we had the cute little cafe to ourselves.

So I mentioned that Nellie’s was an unusual place.   It isn’t the jams that make it unusual but the Nellieville village with buildings, art installations from scraps and junk and sculpted figures created by the owner Peter.    The figures are made from metal and wood and sport real clothing.   Peter designed an old west town including a market (above), saloon, jail, auto shop and hotel.   There are other buildings as well that he incorporated from his visits to the Mississippi Delta including “Red’s Lounge” and a general store.   In the woods next to the village sits a small chapel building, two story outdoor theater and King Arthur’s Court with figures seated around a table and armored soldiers standing guard.   In another area under the trees is a group of musicians with real instruments including a banjo, drum, horn and piano player.

Some of the figures and groupings appeared a little creepy like the lone ghostly looking apparition sitting on one of the chapel pews or the strange looking guy in the dilapidated car pictured below.

This is one of the most different and quirky places I have visited on our travels.   There is so much to see here that you can spend an hour or more just looking.   I really enjoy sculptures and quirky art, but Mark not so much.  His uncultured opinion was it was just a bunch of old junk.   While I wandered, he headed for a bench and then on to the truck to listen to an audiobook.   This was really his loss, because the place is fascinating as well as a labor of love by the owner.   Clearly he does not have an appreciation of fine art with repurposed items (smile).   Apparently this place is a work in progress.    There were piles of old parts, household items, tools, machinery, metal and wood stacked around waiting for further inspiration.  My favorites were the scenes he set up inside the buildings like the one at the auto shop below.   The figures are sitting around with their instruments among car batteries and tools as if they had dropped in for an informal jam session.

After we bought a few jars of jam and I thoroughly enjoyed rambling around Nellieville we drove on to the town of Stonington which is considered one of the most picturesque lobster fishing villages in Maine.

Mark and I drove down to the harbor to watch the lobster boats coming in to drop off their catch and then take their boats out into the middle of the harbor for the night.   It was fun to observe the comings and goings at the end of a fishing day.   Stonington is reported to be the top lobster port in Maine as to commercial value.   We had an interesting talk with one seasoned lobsterman who reported when he was younger there wasn’t much to do for a livelihood in Stonington:  It was catch lobster or work in the shipyard around the bend.   Above is a view of the village and below a lobster boat preparing to leave the pier with its fishing dog aboard.

I love seeing the small white churches that seem to be in every village and along the country roads in Maine.  The St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church caught my attention because it has a perfect view from a top a hill above the harbor.   I also think it has the nicest name.  It is hard to capture in a photo the beautiful contrast of the white church and blue water below.

Driving down the road from the church we stopped for a pleasing view of boats in the harbor.

We finished the day at the Fishnet lobster shack in the town of Blue Hill.   We saw these shacks all the time driving around Maine and besides lobster, clams and other seafood there is always ice cream on the menu.   It seems that lobster and ice cream just goes together in this state.   The Fishnet has been a popular stopping place for many years and of course I had to try the lobster roll.

Thanks for stopping by!

4 thoughts on “Exploring Deer Island”

  1. Beth,
    We really enjoyed this blog about Deer Island because we visited Castine, stayed at B&B but didn’t have time to go to Deer Island. I have always regretted this especially since we have the watercolors by Kathryn Davis over the fireplace & in the hall that are places on Deer Island. I believe we shared this with you. Thanks again for all your blogs & sharing your trip with us.
    Dad & Judy

    1. Thanks for such a nice comment! Glad you enjoyed this blog of a place you visited. I wish before we went to Deer Island I had asked you for the name of the church in the watercolor that you have. It would have been fun to try and find it and take photos to share with you. There are so many beautiful churches in Maine that I am not surprised that Ms. Davis painted one of them. I sure enjoyed seeing all of them.

  2. LOL can’t let Dad off so easy!! Maybe confiscate his phone during similar visits so he has to look around?!? 😉 Love places like that, very cool!

    1. Thanks for the comment Matt! Yes, dad should give these quirky places a try, but he has little patience for them. Too bad, his loss. I still think of this place from time to time, it was so unique, well done but also quite strange and a little creepy. So, you have to have the right mindset for it. I think dad left that mindset at the truck, ha, ha!

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