A round of pickleball, a weekend in a yurt, and a lovely picnic in a meadow

Shop Local: Three Maine gifts of experience

Tue, 12/28/2021 - 1:45pm

    For the holidays and to highlight activities and adventures, we’re shining the spotlight on Maine craftspeople. Shop locally and support innovators and entrepreneurs who keep the creative economy alive in this state. 

    Pickleball with Friends or Family

    Rockport, Maine


    The back story: If you’ve never heard of pickleball, Mid-Coast Recreation Center is the place to find out what makes the game so fun.

    The game, a cross-between ping pong, badminton, and tennis, is a racket sport in which two to four players use a paddle to whack a whiffle ball over the net. 

    “It’s played on a shorter court and is easy to learn,” said MRC Executive Director and pickleball instructor Craig Wilson. “It is one of the fastest-growing sports in America and there is a high demand for a sport besides tennis. This appeals to people who haven’t played a sport in the past. It’s a good, entry-level game that is fun to play. The average length of a rally in tennis is three shots and the average length of a rally in pickleball is nine shots, so you can keep the ball in play longer.”

    Cost: You can rent the court for $35 an hour for up to eight people on the court. All paddles and balls are complimentary.  Conversely, you can drop in on a pick-up game for $5 per person. The court is popular, however,  reserved weeks ahead, so get your reservation in early. FMI: MRC

    In his words: “The majority of our players are 50 and over. It appeals to retired folks and to people with injuries or less mobility because there’s not as much movement on the court. Generally, it’s a lot more fun.”

    Maine Forest Yurts

    Durham, Maine


    The back story: This family-owned business, set upon 100 acres in Durham on Runaround Pond, was started by the Maine winner of the reality show Survivor: Gabon, Bob Crowley, the oldest contestant to ever win on the show. “My parents bought the property in the early 1980s with the intent of cutting lumber, and about 20 years ago, we began to think ‘We could share this with people,’” said Operations Manager Page Atherton. Bob used his $1 million prize to open up this glamping retreat with his wife, Peggy. After Survivor, he built the wooden bases for the four eco-friendly yurts. Each one has six bunk beds and a futon that pulls out, a wood stove, and is fully furnished (including stacks of cut firewood) with a composting toilet. Nature lovers can bring their own cross-country skis, snowshoes, and ice skates and explore the property and pond. It’s also pet-friendly.

    Cost: $150 per night. Find out more at maineforestyurts.com/yurts

    In her words: “It’s nice and cozy with the woodstove even in the dead of winter. It’s the perfect getaway when you’re stuck in Maine for the winter and you can’t [for pandemic reasons] go anywhere else.”

    Luxury Picnics Acadia

    Mount Desert Island, Maine

    Johnston's Apple Orchard in Ellsworth. Photo courtesy Zelli Isherwood of Zi Photography

    The back story: Acadia Luxury picnics is the creation of Bar Harbor resident Tabitha Brown, an entrepreneur came up with the idea to do luxury picnics outdoors in the midst of the pandemic while everyone was at home during the quarantine. “People were stuck inside and nothing felt normal anymore,” she said.  “I wanted so badly to do things outside and still feel like I was ‘going out’ on a dinner date, even though the world was closed down. Being that I was a new mom, that gave me even more drive to create something to better our lives and show my child that even though the world was unpredictable, life wasn't just the four walls of our house. I spent a lot of time on TikTok (I’ll admit it) and came across some other companies on the west coast doing similar things. I thought, how cool would it be to bring that to Maine? We are Vacationland. We have so much to offer and I can show it to them. I have always considered myself to be a Type A planner with a Type B personality, so this fits me like a glove. I talk to clients from start to finish, with the goal of making their date night as stress-free as possible. I do all the planning, find the location, put together the theme, order and deliver the food, and do the full set up/clean up.”

    Cost: Acadia Luxury Picnics offers four packages: two “date” packages starting at $200 for two people for two hours, as well as a “proposal package” starting at $400, and finally a larger party package. Each package has several styled themes to choose from: Bohemian, Farmhouse, Maine, and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Each varies in color, but any picnic is totally customizable. FMI: Acadia Luxury Picnics

    In her words: “As a 12-year-old, I remember my aunt’s wedding vividly. I ran around her wedding venue and tried to fine-tune her reception area before she arrived. Moving small unsightly bookshelves and clearing the surfaces that seemed to have been forgotten. I wanted to see her eyes sparkle when she walked in and saw nothing but beauty. I thought to myself, ‘This is a job I would love to have’ —and I’ve done just that.”

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com