Continuing up the Maine coast on Route 1, stop in Boothbay Harbor and have a Down East clambake on Cabbage Island. For $39.95, you get a nature cruise out to the island, beverages, fish chowder, two lobsters, a pound of clams, corn and a boiled potato. If you have room, have a slab of great blueberry cake. The Cabbage Island Clambake has been around since 1956, and for good reason.
You're in the heart of Lobster Country now, and the stops along the Lobster Trail come fast and furious.
Next up is the secret place, the place you hesitate to tell someone about because fame might ruin it. But what the heck, we're all friends here, right?
On Deer Isle, it's easy to find the Fisherman's Friend on School Street in Stonington. Just look for the storefront with the line snaking out into the parking lot.
The restaurant serves fresh, inexpensive seafood to locals. The lobsters are nicely prepared and the Toll House pie and wild blueberry pie will make you groan contentedly. The Fisherman's Friend has no liquor license, so bring your own.
Head up the coast on Route 1 and in Ellsworth turn right on Route 3. There on the left is Jasper's, with lobster served a million ways.
"Sometimes it seems that way," says Vicki, one of Jasper's waitresses.
How do we love lobster at Jasper's? Let us count the ways: cocktail, stew, salad, roll, Newburg, boiled, baked, stuffed, casserole, Alfredo and saute. Throw in the breakfast omelet and the special and that's a baker's dozen.
Steer toward Mount Desert Island and the final stop, the town of Bar Harbor. But first pull over at the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound -- pounds are enclosed tidal areas or coves where live lobsters can be stored for long periods -- where they boil lobsters in seawater on huge wood-burning stoves outside.
In downtown Bar Harbor, there are three places that prepare lobster in surprising styles.
Maggie's Classic Scales has an item on the menu to die for. Lobster crepes contain hunks of lobster in a butter-brandy sauce rolled up in airy crepes.
Owner Maggie O'Neil, a cheerful former fish filleter with red curly hair, perfected the recipe over the course of a season and knew she had a winner when customers returned for more.
"I change the menu weekly, but never the lobster crepes. People would kill me," she says.
Just behind the First National Bank on Main Street is George's Restaurant, an elegant spot with an incredible lobster strudel.
George Demas, a retired high school drama teacher who founded the restaurant and created the strudel, has retired. But the strudel, a phyllo dough pillow filled with lobster in a bechamel sauce, remains.
That brings us to dessert, the last stop on the Lobster Trail.
Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium on Main Street has been around 22 years and has been serving lobster ice cream for the last 10.
Jeff Young, the manager and creator, combines chunks of lobster and melted butter in a vanilla-pecan ice cream base. The result is one of the top 15 flavors in Ben and Bill's rotating stock of 72 flavors. Young sells about 100 gallons a month, which requires 200 pounds of lobster meat.
Says Young, who doesn't like lobster, "It's not for everybody."
AN IDEAL DAY
8 a.m.: Wake up at the Mariner Resort Motel in Ogunquit, Maine (800-335-9331; www.marinerresort.com), and find a Dunkin' Donuts -- they're about every 100 yards on Route 1 in Maine. Keep it light, you have lobster to eat.
10 a.m.: Lighten your wallet with a stop at L.L. Bean and all the other shops in Freeport. Try to fight the temptation for a Ben and Jerry's ice cream cone. Call ahead to George's Restaurant in Bar Harbor for a dinner reservation.
Noon: Nothing could be finer than a stop at Red's Eats. Get a lobster roll and a cold drink and head north on the Route 1 bridge. Over the bridge on the right, there's a small waterside state park with picnic tables. Enjoy the view and the food.
1 p.m.: Stop in Rockport and Camden, two pretty waterfront towns with lots of galleries and little museums.
5 p.m.: Check in at a Bar Harbor motel, relax and think about dinner at George's. A stop at the Argosy Gallery on Main Street is a great place to see the work of established Maine artists as well as up-and- comers.
8 p.m.: After dinner, get an ice cream cone at Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium and wander down to the town dock, where the vessels of pleasure sailors and working watermen sit side by side.
CRACK YOUR OWN
There is a preferred way to eat lobsters just as there is with crabs. The easiest way to learn is to look down. Many lobster restaurants have place mats with handy instructions.
Waiters and waitresses know the steps, too.
But just in case you have to fly solo, here's the lowdown, courtesy of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council:
* Hold the lobster with one hand and twist off the claws with the other. Crack the claws and take out the meat, including the small pieces in the claw's "thumbs."