Monday, November 19, 2012

Downtown Waterville

In recent years, downtown Waterville really shown some growth and improvement. Growing up in the area, it seemed that many businesses would move in but not many would stay. These days, the area really has grown to a budding neighborhood with cute shops and tasty restaurants. Even the Waterville Opera House, which has long been a fixture in the downtown area, has recently been renovated and is better than ever.

There are a number of businesses in the area that I am fond of, but first I'd like to mention a few annual events that are worth checking out. For me, they definitely are tinged with nostalgia, but there are definitely some enjoyable events that are improving every year. First, (and since it's getting to be that time of year) is the set-up of Kringleville in Castonguay Square. Every year, the square sets up for the arrival of Santa and his helpers--and of course Santa has visiting hours so that you can make sure he gets your Christmas list right. It was always a very exciting and magical event for me as a kid, and it is always preceded by the Parade of Lights. I have not attended in recent years, but it is my fervent hope that some of the older decorations have been replaced by now. The animantronic elves and reindeer were definitely seeing some wear and tear in my childhood; I can only imagine that by now they would be downright frightening. Either way, it is a great event for children and parents alike.

Another favorite event of mine happens every August. If you are ever in the area, or feel like visiting, the Taste of Greater Waterville is really fun and worth checking out. Main Street shuts down for the day and local restaurants set up booths so that people can walk around and get a taste of everything. There's also live music and rides set up in the square. It's great to walk around and try out everything, and the event has blown up in recent years.

Hardy Girls and Foliage
On a regular day, it is fun to walk around Main Street and check out all the shops. I've always enjoyed looking at the window displays, especially at the jewelry stores ;). Many businesses have been in the area for a while, such as Jorgensen's. Jorgensen's has been serving the coffee and sandwich addicted crowd for years, and it was once one of the only coffee shops in town (besides Dunkin' Donuts). It's popular with Colby students, and it has a nice seating area perfect for sitting down with a book or some work. Recently, Selah Tea has opened down the street, and I have to say that it is giving Jorgensen's a run for their money (especially in terms of desserts. Tiramisu? Yes please!).

City Hall
For beer lovers, Mainely Brews has recently opened and they feature a number of their own brews on tap. Their trivia night and other events are fun, and it is fast becoming a popular hangout. There are several other restaurants and pubs to choose from (Cancun, You Know Whose Pub, Amici's Thai Bistro, and plenty of others!), so there is something for everyone. For you local foodies out there, The Waterville Farmer's Market is held every week in the downtown area, and Barrels Market is open 24/7, serving and selling locally grown produce and products.

Downtown Waterville
Recently, Sean and I were in the area visiting family, and we were able to get some nice shots with some great fall colors in there.

Abby and Penny

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rolly's Diner

If you are ever passing through Lewiston/Auburn one morning, and the craving for fresh pancakes and hot coffee hits you, then you might want to head over to Rolly's Diner to satisfy your needs. The place is nearly legendary in the area, but travelers might not be aware of it just yet.

Whether you're a local or just passing through, know this: the place is always PACKED. I wish you the best of luck finding a seat on a weekend morning. On my first visit to Rolly's, the line went all the way out into the parking lot, but if I remember correctly it moved fairly quickly.

The other thing to know about Rolly's (aside from the awesome breakfast foods, which we will get to in a moment) is that the atmosphere is so darn friendly. It just feels homey, almost like you're sitting amongst family, waiting for the pancakes and bacon to be ready. Even with the hoards of people, it still feels this way to me. The decorations inside add to that effect as well; the last time Sean and I went, the ceiling was done up to look like the sky, and dozens of colorful balloons hung from it (in honor of L/A's Balloon Festival). The place is so cheery, it's no wonder people flock there.

But enough of this pretending to care about the decorations and such; what about the food? Well, it's good. The place stays open until 2 pm, so I have only eaten their breakfast. I can't say that this fact bothers me a whole lot; while I'm sure Rolly's lunch offerings are very tasty, breakfast features some of the greatest comfort foods in the world. I am never one to pass up on a good breakfast menu. Rolly's offers a lot of your standard breakfast fare, like eggs, omelets, bacon, etc. They do, however, serve up some pretty tasty crepes, and the fillings are very decadent. They have the fruit fillings, like blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry, and the brown sugar filling. They also have their special recipe called Sadie's crepes, which are chocolate crepes filled with mocha Bavarian cream. Yeah...this is a real thing. I am a terrible blogger who has NOT tried any of these crepes yet, but Sean has and he assures me that they are every bit as delicious as they sound. I mostly stick to my hash browns, eggs, and toast, and Rolly's has never disappointed me.

You can visit Rolly's website to check it our for yourself--and to plan your next meal! It's a great place to visit, and I promise you won't be sorry that you went.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Maine Mountain Adventurers: Tumbledown Edition

Today on the Maine Adventurers: We conquer a mountain!

This past September, Sean and I (and Sean's mom! Hi Linda!) climbed one of the more popular hikes in Western Maine. We took the trip over to Weld and hiked the Brook trail to the summit of Tumbledown. Tumbledown is a 3,068 foot mountain and has a really nice surprise waiting at the top: the pond! So rest assured, after all your hard work, you will be rewarded with a really serene spot to rest up and have a snack.
Pond at the summit

Now, the Brook trail is the easiest trail out of the bunch, but I don't think I'd recommend it for beginners. The trail starts with a steady climb up an old logging road, then veers further into the woods. The last part of the trail features some pretty rugged spots; I scrabbled up quite a few boulders in my desperate attempt to reach the top. However, it is very rewarding all throughout the hike because there are several nice small waterfalls and streams that pass through the trail. I would say that the climb up took the three of us an hour and a half, so it wasn't too bad. Plus, like I said, the top really is spectacular, and it's so nice to sit and stare out at the pond. It would be great for swimming during the summer, but it was pretty cold when we went, so I wouldn't have gone in if you paid me. Despite the cold, we did get to view some nice changing leaves and cooled off before the trip back down.
View of the peak

One of the many trail side waterfalls

Panorama of the summit 
Another waterfall
Of course, if you're a crazy advanced hiker, you have the other trails to explore, but I think I would need more experience before taking on any of those. You can also set up camp at the summit, and we passed a party of people who had just spent the night at the top. It really is a great experience for the intermediate to advanced hiker. If you are planning your hike in the summer, be sure to bring a swimsuit, and if you're going in the spring or fall, layers will be your best friend. Enjoy!