Summer Adventures: Popham Beach – Paul Landry

Summer Adventures: Popham Beach

For starters, I would like to dedicate this article to any and all lovers of New England beaches…

You are truly a breed of your own! Braving the “arctic” 65 degree waters can be a bit of a eye-opening experience for even the most hardy of summer beach-goers, and we applaud you for your bravery.  

For all those of you new to the “Pat & Madison show” (CBS, HELLLOOO), we get bitten by the adventure bug bad...and frequently. As much fun as an office is, it is just too hard to look out our windows at the beauty of Maine, and not get drawn out the doors. Fortunately for us, my inner ten-year-old was C H O M P I N G at the bit to get a few days off to drive down to my favorite beach in Maine. Madison and I were just finishing up our licensing agreement with the Puffin Project, and being the proud new Puffineers that we are, decided we earned a trip*.

*A quick side note: we had originally planned on going Monday morning, but we unfortunately got out the door a bit too late, and upon seeing the L.A-level  traffic of Wiscasset, we changed gears and went Tuesday.

The "disappearing" island 

The beach, just down the peninsula from the great boat-building city of Bath, is Popham Beach! Due to its massive tidal change, guests are treated to the exploration of an ever-changing topography. So drastic, in fact, that an island reveals itself at low-tide (but you don’t want to get stuck out there at high-tide!).

Everything happens for a reason though; and our Monday nonsense did at least allow us to pick up some more Cape Cod Chips, deli meat rolls (personal favorite) and of course, the sweet sweet nectar: a.k.a. Coca-Cola. One of these days we will get sponsored to talk about our absurd addiction to these American staples, but for now….we will express our boy-next-door love for them on here.  

As planned, we hopped out the door at 8:00 am to get an early start. We wanted to not only beat the traffic, but also try out some new photography techniques before it got too hot. With luck on our side, we cruised right through Wiscasset and hand-railed the Kennebec River to Popham Beach State Park. Unfortunately, my New York License Plates ( I go to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute if you were wondering. Go Enginerds! ) were a dead giveaway that we were out-of-state’rs. We forked over the $8 a person to get our beach-lovin butts inside the park, and found a spot right next to the boardwalk! Score!  Thankfully, the beach was not heavily-populated yet, even the lifeguards hadn’t made their way out. After putting our snacks down, we ran off in pursuit of a handful of beach scenes in Paul Landry gear. The first photo-op presented itself in the form of an ultra-adorable lifeguard stand, and we “went to work” haha.

"Majestic" beach run

We just bought a new tripod, and began experimenting with the 10-second timer to our great amusement (I’m sure the ONE other couple at the beach thought we were off our rockers) . We try as hard as we can to act all model-like, but nine times out of ten, we can’t stop cracking up. Madison then had the idea to go explore the island before the tide came in.

Even though I had been in this exact spot hundreds of times before, that day the Sun seemed to be hitting the landscape just right, creating a creamy atmosphere of delight. I scampered around on the ledges and rocks while she chased after me, camera in-tow. The top of the island lends its ocean facing side to an absolutely stellar view. Watching the waves build as they walked toward the beach was awe-inspiring and peaceful. Our gazing trance was only broken by the familiar noise of the cheaper-by-the-dozen-sized families making their grand ascent to the very spot we were in. By then, it was already well past 11:00 and we were heating up. The clouds had cleared out and the Sun was hitting both of us at full-force. My only motivation on the way down were the delicious snacks waiting for us at our “basecamp”.

Our excitement was cut short, however, once we got to our spot. We were met by the horrific scene of our shredded paper grocery bag, and glass coke bottles spread about the sand. Our chips and deli meats were nowhere to be found, not a crumb to be seen. A kind lady jogged over and explained she had seen the culprits, a flock of seagulls, engulf our snacks, but her efforts were not enough to make a rescue. Although disappointed, we did not let this damper our day, and instead used it as an opportunity to try out the local cuisine.

One benefit of Popham Beach over some of the other state parks in the area, is they allow you to leave the park, and return without any trouble. You just display your tickets in the dash and cruise on by. We headed for the small seaside town of Popham, as I had looked up a well-known restaurant there. Spinney’s Oceanside Restaurant, as it came to be, was the ONLY restaurant on the postage stamp of a town, yet still had a very inviting exterior to it. We were both in desperate need of a cold glass of ice water anyway, and sat ourselves out on their ocean-facing porch. The menu was very well-priced, offering typical beachside cuisine of calamari, seafood platters and burgers. Madison suggested their Bang Bang Calamari as a starter, and we were in burger moods, we ordered two beef burgers with coleslaw.

Being raised in a restaurant family, (my parents both had established corporate restaurant experience before opening their own successful restaurant in New York) I can easily recognize good service and poor service. A few things initially stood out to me, including our waters not being brought out until well into our appetizer, and a noticeably absent waitstaff. I brushed it aside as the lackadaisical “beach vibe,” but was then forced to reconsider upon receiving our dishes. A high school band fundraiser could have made a better burger. Unseasoned and gray, the patties themselves were nothing to write home about; not to mention the soggy buns and limp lettuce. Holding onto my glass-half-full attitude, I grabbed the coleslaw with no prejudice. JEEZ WAS IT AWFUL, no flavor whatsoever, and smelled a few days old.

We left shortly thereafter, disappointed and still hungry. As much as I love trying to find cute spots around coastal Maine, I can not recommend this one. We drove back to the beach, and still made the most of it, enjoyed a long swim and lounged in the sandy tidal pools. We both tried our best to tan without inducing sunburn; but as I type this now, I can confidently say we failed on that accord. As late afternoon showed its orangey sky, we packed our belongings and headed for home. We both indulged in a Dairy Queen blizzard on our way back as well, it was my first time in almost ten years, and Madison’s inaugural trip. Extremely delighted, our remaining ride was all smiles.

    Overall, a worthwhile trip, and as always, a great escape from the rise and grind of work!

                    Thanks for the views Popham Beach,
                        Pat & Madison

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