Pete’s Guide to Bethel, Maine

We’ve spent the last week here in Bethel, Maine with the gathered Rukavinas: 14 people and one service dog housed in a palatial mansion that far exceeds our station in life (but which, split 5 ways, is surprisingly affordable).

While the details of the intra-familial hijinks that ensured are locked, of necessity, in a vault of secrecy, I can report the following highlights we came across in Metro Bethel:

DiCocoa’s Market Bakery & Cafe, on Main Street downtown, is the local bohemian, dog-friendly, coffee house, serving espresso, intriguing bagels, a wide range of pastries made in-house and offering an eclectic range of local grocery products (kimchi, yogurt, gelato, coffee beans from Larry’s). We had coffee there every day, often-times twice. It’s got a nice vibe, acceptable coffee, and the food is tasty (especially the intriguing bagels). The highlight of our week at DiCocoa’s came tonight, however: the annex next door is opened on occasion for “dining experiences,” and tonight it was Mexican Night, a meal, served family-style, that blew our minds; everything was fresh-picked, locally-sourced, and lovingly made. If you have an opportunity to take in the next offering, I highly recommend you do.

The Good Food Store, on Route 26 heading toward Sunday River, is a nice little healthy grocery store with an array of dry and fresh goods. They have a large selection of dry goods, bread, wine, some frozen entrees that are good for large-group-feeding, and the largest selection of kombucha I’ve ever seen. I learned a lot about by place by eavesdropping on conversation between the cashier and the personable Tucker Carlson while I was waiting in line. There’s a BBQ trailer next door where Catherine and Oliver indulged in various falls-off-the-bone barbeque delights.

Marta’s Bakery, a 30 minute drive south in Waterford, was an unexpected treat. Marta is a Czech baker who serves a lovely array of pastries, accompanied by the best coffee we’ve had on the trip, from her hillside chalet.

The Local Hub, a 30 minute drive east in Greenwood, was described online as a cross between a European bakery, an organic grocery and a yoga studio, and that’s pretty accurate. We stopped for lunch on Wednesday: the food was tasty and the staff exceedingly friendly. Catherine picked up some very nice wool after lunch from the display at the back. Right across the street was a shop selling guns, ammo, Hello Kitty products and origami supplies (which is how you know you’re in Maine when you’re there).

We’re heading back to PEI in the morning, by way of Campobello Island and the ferry to Deer Island, NB, arriving home, if all goes according to plan, on Sunday. This has been the first vacation I’ve had in years that resembled vacations as they are meant to happen: eating, drinking, swimming, relaxing, enjoying the company of family and not working at all. It was oddly pleasant.