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The Great Maine Lighthouse Tour

8 lighthouses in one day. A personal feat that has yet to be beat.

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished 14 days ago 6 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Sunset at the end of a very fruitful day

Two Months Out

I have the train ticket. The time off approved.

My friend Phil is getting married in a place called Bangor, Maine.

I’m taking the train up from D.C. to Boston, then a separate train up to Portland on Thursday. The wedding’s Saturday, so I have Friday to get to this mystical place in the center of the state.

Now the question is if I take the two-hour straight shot up I-95 or if I take the scenic route with my rental car.

I Google “what is there to do in bangor maine.” A Top 10 list appears. Of course there’s a Top 10 list.

#1: Visit Stephen King’s house

That’s Number 1? The best this city has to offer is standing on the sidewalk and staring at some author’s house? While they’re home?!

Scenic route it is.

The Day Before

The Northeast Regional wends its way up the coast, stopping in Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Haven, and Providence before finally depositing me in the heart of Boston.

Then, I set out on a 1.5-mile march straight through Downtown Boston to get from South Station to North Station where I will then catch the Downeaster to Portland. Thankfully I thought ahead and fit all my things into a trekking backpack, allowing my hands to be free for a quick picture to appreciate the fact I’m smack dab in the middle of a city I’ve never seen before.

The Downeaster train has one locomotive at each end because they have nowhere to turn around. I’m too focused on boarding to take a picture, but it’s one of those details that stays with you.

In transit to Portland, the sun is setting. Did I mention I woke up at 4 a.m. to make the 6:00 train out of Union Station in D.C.? All so that I stood a chance of actually making it to Portland the same day? In the end, it’s all worth it, because I get a stunning shot:

Besides, they got Dunkin everywhere up here. Much better coffee than Starbucks.

Finally, I make it to Portland, and one quick Lyft to the airport to the one rental place open that late, and I’m set up with a new Chevy Malibu. God, I forgot how fun it was to drive a sedan.

While I’m waiting for the keys, I remark to the man behind the counter how nice it was that Avis waved the “under 26” fee for me. Especially since I was turning 26 a week later. The Avis website even threw in an additional discount, simply happy for the business given how little travel there’s been this year.

I suppose I should also mention that it was October 2020.

The man’s brow furrows, and he informs me that the “under 26” fee is actually showing on this reservation.

I go to pull out my phone and look up the confirmation email, figuring he now thinks I lied to finagle a discount. But he waives it himself right then and there. No proof required.

Nice people up here in Maine.

I arrive at the hotel, and the man behind the counter informs me of the travel requirements in these times. I reply that I understand and go to dig the negative COVID test result printout from my backpack.

Instead, he simply has me sign the form verifying I’ve tested negative in the past 72 hours. No proof required.

Very nice people up here in Maine.

I spend the night in a historic inn that I got for 50% the normal price. Off-weekend rates, plus the whole pandemic thing. Good time to travel if not for the whole risk of disease.

The Great Maine Lighthouse Tour

Another day, another early start. Yet more adventure to be had.

And the first three lighthouses don’t even require me to leave Portland.

#1: Portland Head Light (an icon)

#2: Spring Point Ledge Light

#3: Bug Light (small but mighty)

Then it’s time to hit historic Route 1 and wind along the coast. I quickly discover that everywhere you look in Maine, you find something stunning. From the harbor in Portland full of crisp blue water (much better than the murky green-brown of the Chesapeake Bay) to the many natural vistas where I risk crashing just to appreciate a few seconds more.

#4: Pemaquid Point Light (my favorite of many great lighthouses)

#5: Owls Head Light (smaller but mightier)

At this point, I’ve been going for around six hours, so I need food. As I drive through Rockland, I spy a lobster stand and pull off Main Street.

When I get to the window, I ask if they recommend the clam chowder or the lobster roll, both staples I’d had but never straight from the source.

“Why not both?” the woman counters.

Unable to think of any reason why I shouldn’t, I get both entrees, which are fantastic and good fuel for the rest of the day. Oh, yes, I’m not finished yet.

#6: Curtis Island Light

#7: Fort Point Light

It’s somewhere around 4 p.m. I’ve been zooming around the coast of Maine in my Malibu for close to 8 hours. Fort Point Light is the final stop on the itinerary before I make my way north to Bangor. But there’s another lighthouse I could make it to before the sun goes down.

I decide to go for it.

#8: Dice Head Light

And I time it just right to catch this lighthouse at golden hour. Impeccable.

Now, I’ve been going for 10 hours and have an hour drive before I reach Bangor and the AirBnB my friends and I booked. Darkness is settling over the land, and this is the wilderness I’m about to be driving through.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t trust myself to stay awake after such a marathon road trip and without the daylight.

So, I stop off at a local gas station and buy a cup of coffee at 5 p.m. It does the trick. I even pick up beer for when I get to the house. Allagash White. An uncommon delicacy in Virginia. Available off the gas station shelf in Maine.

And when I arrive in Bangor, I discover my friends are still out helping set up for the wedding. So, late caffeine still fueling me, I zip over to the grocery store and pick up provisions.

The Next Day

I wake up early, brush my teeth, and get to work on breakfast. Gabrielle, Josh’s wife, has left already to help the bride prepare for her big day. Which then allows me to keep her updated on her husband’s state of affairs and free-style riff:

A breakfast made

A Josh still not awake

My haiku for today

(Yes, I know none of those lines have the requisite syllable counts to qualify as haiku. That’s what would be referred to as meta humor.)

Later, I drop Josh off so he can fulfill his duties as a groomsman.

Then, eventually, I change into my own suit that I have been hand-carrying from Virginia to the center of Maine and arrive for the ceremony.

And Phil and Ashley are married!

The Day After the Day After

Most folks are catching flights home, including Josh and Gabrielle. I, however, saved quite a chunk of change by waiting to fly home until Monday. So now I’m left with an empty house, a city whose greatest claim to fame is Stephen King, and the world-renowned Acadia National Park only an hour away.

I skip paying the entry fee and visit the lighthouse just outside it instead.

Posthumous #9: Bass Harbor Lighthouse

I also walk around Bangor a bit to appreciate this place I’ll likely never see again and enjoy the bright fall foliage some more, which has been an added bonus to everywhere else I’ve gone and everything else I’ve done this trip.

I then consider my itinerary for tomorrow, followed by making a bunch of sandwiches with everything remaining in the fridge (I overbought). Thus allowing me to squeeze one more lighthouse in.

The Final Day

I wake up early—again—and close up the house. I then take the two-hour straight shot down I-95 and through Portland to a lighthouse I hadn’t even realized was just to the south of Portland Head Light. So much so that the GPS conflates the two.

Posthumous #10: Cape Elizabeth Lights

As close as the public can get since it's still an active Coast Guard station

Then, at last, it’s time for me to bid goodbye to this state I have experienced so much of so quickly.

Someday, I will be back, Maine.

Note the Owls Head Lighthouse hat I bought as a souvenir 😊

The Trip

Should you wish to partake your own lighthouse tour (or want to see the route described above for yourself), I mapped it out in Roadtrippers:

The B-roll

I have 200+ photos from this trip. Here's a few more of my favorites:

solo traveltravel photography

About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

I am an award-winning author from Arlington, Virginia. Started with short stories, moved to novels.

...and on that note: A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛


Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Excellent storytelling

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Comments (8)

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  • Anna 9 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)10 days ago

    Stephen, this ride-along with you on your trip to a friends wedding!! I have a soft spot for lighthouses and loved that they seemed to be a big highlight of this rip for you!!! My favourite that you showed was Dice Head, probably because of the fortunate lighting you had for the photo!! It seems, now that I'm half way through your book. I have this new appreciation for your narrative voice. While I'm on that note, would you mind if I did a Vocal post "reviewing"/ sharing my thought on your wonderful novel?? It will be all positive, I assure you as I am loving it/ savouring the brevity of it!!

  • Alyssa Nicole10 days ago

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I traveled through Maine for the first time last year and it is absolutely beautiful! Congrats on the Top Story!

  • Jazzy 10 days ago

    The only thing I can think of right now is, of course, you would take a scenic route of the lighthouses in Maine. However, it looks like a journey well spent, and now Maine should pay you for this review because I want to go now. It's the perfect tourist ad. 😝

  • Christy Munson10 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story! I've traveled to the region and have seen most of these lighthouses, so this story is a wonderful reminder of those travels.

  • Mark Gagnon12 days ago

    Stephen, first I want to thank you for ordering Mitigating Circumstances. I hope you enjoy the story. The tour guide's commentary and the locations in the U.S. are as accurate as I can recall. I've driven that tour at least a dozen times. The London locations are also real for the most part. As for your Maine excursion, my father was from Northern Maine and I have traveled the state many times. Your pictures and commentary brought back many memories. Good luck with the challenge!

  • Novel Allen12 days ago

    I have heard about the beauty of Maine, plus I love lighthouses. I hope to be able to visit, the pics are great.

  • Mackenzie Davis14 days ago

    I swear I’ve seen most of those lighthouses on a boat cruise. I’d completely forgotten I went to Maine lol! But I did see the Portland Head Light up close and on dry land. What a beautiful trip!! I’d love to go back. Compared to Boston, I prefer it, though I adored Boston too. Being on the water like you were is the best way to vacation. So relaxing and lovely. This was so fun to read!! I hope you place. 👏🤗

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