The Great Train Adventure - Brunswick to Rockland

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With a sense of adventure and romance, we signed up for the train trip from Brunswick to Rockland. While the train moved forward at about 45 miles per hour, we felt like we were moving back in time, combining nostalgia with stunning coastal views as we rode comfortably through backyards and over rivers.

And we discovered the elusive Wiscasset Route One by-pass. It’s the railroad!

The night before our round trip to Rockland, we stayed at the brand spanking new Inn at Brunswick Station and enjoyed dinner at the Inn’s tavern. During a splendid sunny afternoon in Rockland, we breezed through the Lobster Festival and feasted at Rustica restaurant on Main Street.

 Arriving back in Brunswick at 8 pm, we hit the Sea Dog in Topsham on the way home for burgers and beer.

 It was 31 hours of fun.

Take a Hike on the Maine Beer Trail

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The best hikes in Maine are on the Maine Beer Trail. And you don’t need hiking boots!

Our state has gone from a wasteland to a wonderland of beer brewing. We’ve established an international reputation for finely crafted beers and many brew masters welcome you into their facilities for tours and tastings.

The Maine Brewers Guild provides maps and a list of brewery tours including days and hours. Some of the breweries include restaurants. Prizes are awarded if you visit 5, 10 or all 25 breweries on the trail. As if you needed any incentive.

Today’s column includes a piece by our son Joshua Smith, who works for My Brothers Keeper, serving the poor in Brockton Massachusetts. We’re very proud of Josh, especially for his commitment to public service.

Landowner Relations Getting More Attention

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 The relationship between landowners and land users – what we call landowner relations - has received a lot of attention over the last 20 years, with little to show for it. By my estimate, more than one million acres has been posted “No Trespassing” in the last two decades. Bitter fights have broken out at the legislature over contentious issues like Sunday hunting and ATV riding.

So I traveled today to Bangor to find out what the state’s Landowners and Sportsmen Relations Advisory Board is up to. Before we get to that, a bit of history.

Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife established a Governor’s Council on Landowner/Sportsmen Relations in 1992 “to foster public use of private land for recreational activities.” The council had twelve members, six representing landowners and six representing land users. For a period of time I served on the council representing sportsmen.

Lilies and Lobster Make a Great Combination

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Boothbay Harbor
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Lilies and lobster are a great combination. At the end of July, with our youngest daughter Hilary who lives and works in Washington D.C., we headed for one of Maine’s most spectacular venues, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Enroute, we enjoyed a luncheon feast at one of our favorite restaurants, Sarah’s in Wiscasset.

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Ritchie Retirement A Serious Setback for Maine's DIF&W

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Changes to the retirement system for state employees are emptying Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife of key leaders and some of the most experienced and capable people in the agency. None will be missed as much as Sandy Ritchie.

Sandy announced her retirement in an emailed message to friends and colleagues this afternoon. Here’s what she said.

“After much thought and personal reflection I have decided to retire from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife after 31 years of service; my last day of work will be September 16, 2011.

“This is a bittersweet decision for me as I have wanted to be a wildlife biologist since I was 10 years old, and working for MDIFW has been a dream come true for me. Still, I am looking forward to new challenges and opportunities that await me.

Rafting, Fishing, and More at Northern Outdoors

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The Forks
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The Kennebec river that flows through Skowhegan, Waterville, Augusta, and Gardiner starts its journey just north of the Forks where it passes through an amazing gorge. You really must see it.

The journey to the Forks from anywhere in central Maine will take you no more than 1 ½ hours on a scenic highway and deliver you to Northern Outdoors, Maine’s first rafting company and now a sprawling resort of log buildings with all the amenities and luxuries you seek in a vacation.

In a two-day one-night adventure a few weeks ago, we spent a half day fishing, a whole day rafting, enjoyed delicious meals and a very nice cabin, toured a brewery, got to know some great people, and learned a lot about this interesting region of Maine.

New Maine Hunting Law Book Coming Soon

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A new book of Maine hunting laws and rules should be available before most of the fall hunting seasons kick off on October 1. That will be particularly timely because the new laws enacted in this year’s legislative session take effect on September 28.

Andrea Erskine, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, has completed her work in pulling the book together. This is one of her former duties that followed her into her new position at the department.

DIF&W’s Director of Information and Education Edie Smith is now proof reading the entire book. You should look for it sometime in September at town offices and anywhere hunting licenses are sold

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