Candace Karu

What I Like About...Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Candace3 Comments

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Growing up in an Army family, moving every year or two, insured that I never really had a hometown. While I loved the adventure of my childhood and the freedom of leaving my childhood mistakes behind me, not having a place that was truly my own left a distinct void in my life. I never knew what a hometown might feel like...until 13 years ago when I moved to Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Living in this beautiful coastal town, a stone's throw from downtown Portland, has taught me what a hometown feels like.

I love being a part of this community and knowing that, barring catastrophe, I will be here forever. I cherish the responsibility of helping make my adopted hometown better for my living here. I don't even mind going into town hall to pay my painfully high property taxes, especially around Memorial Day, when the building is decked in proper celebratory bunting. Living in the heart of such beauty and tranquility doesn't come cheap, but in my mind, it's money well spent and seems cheaper than a lifetime of therapy, which I would surely need if I didn't live here.

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Cape Elizabeth Town Hall decked out in patriotic finery.

The best part of living here is impossible to convey with words and pictures. How can I properly describe the feeling of contentment I experience as I drive past the marsh coming home from a day or a week away?

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How do I relate the muffled silence and wintery beauty of Robinson's Woods after a snowstorm? Or tell you about the host of trails that wind around the town, through marsh and shoreline, ponds and forests. Walking and running these trails connect me to nature and to the friends who share their beauty with me.

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Cape Elizabeth is less than five miles from downtown Portland, and yet it retains its rural character. There are acres of farmland and abundant opportunity to eat locally, whether it's summer produce or year 'round seafood.

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There are so many reasons I love this town. Can I show you just a few?

Lighthouse at dawn

The Portland Headlight in Ft. Williams Park is said to be the most photographed lighthouse in the country. It has been featured in hundreds of print ads and television commercials. Its iconic presence guards the entrance to Casco Bay. On the first Saturday of August, Ft. Williams is the scene of the finish line of the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K, one of the country's most prestigious road races.With more than 6000 participants and thousands more spectators, for the past 13 years Ft. Williams has been the scene of Maine's biggest and most enthusiastic summer party.

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Beach to Beacon's founder and Cape Elizabeth native Joan Benoit Samuelson sure knows how to put on an event. Winner of the gold medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics, the first woman's marathon in Olympic history, Samuelson remains a world-class athlete and a passionate supporter of her community as well as her sport. "Joanie's race" attracts dozens of the world's best runners, as well as recreational runners from around the country. About one tenth of the finishers are from Cape Elizabeth, a runner's dream community to be sure.

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Joanie's statue marks the entrance to the town library, a popular gathering place for the town's many recreational athletes.

Another hangout for runners, and readers, and bikers, and moms, and oenophiles, and strollers, and students, and just about everyone in town is The Local Buzz, a coffee house and wine bar that's laid-back enough to be a comfortable place to bring kids, and cool enough to attract a hip after-dark crowd who can work their way through an impressive wine list and light dining fare.

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The Buzz is Cape's newest addition to the town's list of restaurants and bistros. While the list isn't a long one, our town offers visitors a variety of options.

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The Good Table serves incredibly fresh, incredibly delicious food in a cozy, comfortable setting, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their specialty cocktails are worth the trip, as are their various preparations of mussels, always one of the best choices on their menu.

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The Lobster Shack at Two Lights offers Maine sea food people from away dream about, including a to-die-for lobster roll and breathtaking views of the Atlantic from the rocky coast of Maine. Two Lights is open from March to October, and while it's at its most picturesque during the warm summer months, I love nothing more than to bundle up on a cool fall day and watch the sun set with a bowl of clam chowder and a beer.

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And when I'm jonesing for a summer ice cream treat, I know I can head down the road to Kettle Cove Creamery & Cafe, where I'm bound to run into a neighbor or make a new friend while I wait in line for the best ice cream this side of the bridge.

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Lest you think that dining in Cape Elizabeth might lack a certain dining sophistication, let me turn your attention to The Inn by the Sea and their incredible restaurant, Seaglass, winner of Wine Spectator's 2009 Award of Excellence and Wine Enthusiast's 2010 Award of Distinction. Combine their fine dining experience with yet one more killer view and it feels like we've got our culinary bases covered in Cape Lizzie.

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There are so many things I love about this town, not the least of which is its rich history. The Spurwink Church, with its austere beauty and tranquil marsh views, was built in 1802 as the Spurwink Meeting House. It sits at the top of the hill overlooking the Riverside Cemetary, where I fully intend to spend eternity. Nothing like pre-need planning

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This post has only scratched the surface of what compels me about Cape Elizabeth, a place in incomparable rugged beauty. What is even more extraordinary are the people who make this community the only place I want to call home.

So if you happen to be in Northern New England, you owe it to yourself to visit Cape Elizabeth...the way a hometown should be.

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Moonrise on Spring Cove. Cape Elizabeth, Maine.