In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a day trip my husband, Clif, my daughter Shannon, her husband, Mike, and I took last Sunday. The weather was glorious, and the day was centered on two of my favorite activities—trying new restaurants and being outside, the latter a happy necessity because we brought our dog, Liam, along for the trip. In Part One, I wrote about the Frog & Turtle Restaurant in Westbrook, where we had some of the best donuts I’ve ever tasted. We were able to eat them on a boardwalk overlooking the Presumpscot River, and this certainly got the day off to a very good start.
Part Two of our day trip was a little trickier, again because of Liam and the heat of the day, which made it impossible to leave him in the car. Where to eat the takeout from Buck’s Naked Barbecue? But the trusty old Internet came to my rescue. Into the Web Search I typed, “Picnic areas in Freeport, Maine, that allow dogs,” and one of the options was Royal River Park in Yarmouth, which is four miles away from Buck’s. I had heard of Royal River Park and how pretty it was, but I had never been there.
“Let’s check it out,” I said, and Clif, Mike, and Shannon all thought it was a splendid idea.
Royal River Park was a delight. It’s not far from downtown Yarmouth, which even has a little bookstore called Royal River Books. The park is big and well maintained—I haven’t been able to find out exactly how big—with a large central green with picnic tables. Paved walkways go by the Royal River, which has brick and stone structures in varying states of repair, old dams and a small grist mill that are solid reminders of a time when water was used to power many things. As we walked along the river, we talked about the pros and cons of water power, and we all agreed that in this era of climate change, water power looks much more attractive than oil, coal, or gas. We also agreed that provisions needed to be made for spawning fish, so that they could move up and down the river.
All in all, we probably walked a couple of miles in Royal River Park, long enough so that the donuts were nicely settled, and we were ready to move on to Buck’s Naked BBQ. Our plan of action was to go to Buck’s, order takeout, and bring it back to Royal River Park to eat on one of the picnic tables in the shade. And that’s just what we did.
Buck’s Naked BBQ is on Route 1 in Freeport. As befitting a restaurant that specializes in barbecue, the atmosphere is casual, a cross between a log cabin and a road house, and the inside is spacious with lots of booths and a play area for children. According to their website, they do their own smoking and make their own sauces. Clif, Shannon, and I ordered entrées that gave us two choices of meat, two sides, and corn bread. Clif and I went with pulled pork, beef brisket, cole slaw, and baked beans. Shannon decided to go with a double order of pulled pork and a baked potato rather than baked beans. Mike broke with the pack and ordered half of a pit-roasted chicken.
The service was quick, and soon we were back at Royal River Park with lots and lots of food. The various sauces—ranging from basic to slightly spicy and packed separately—had a good tang, and the meat had a nice albeit mild smoked flavor. The sides were good, but the cornbread was bland. All in all, though, a tasty meal.
As we ate, we shared some of our meat with the dog. Not far from us, at a large covered area with several picnic tables, a family set out food and decorations for a birthday party. On the large grassy area, they also set up a bicycle obstacle course for the main entertainment. Soon more families came, and the children brought bikes. Around and around the children rode, dodging flags, riding onto a sort of stone stage that is part of the park, and bumping down the stage’s few stone steps. The birthday song was sung.
The taste of smoked meat and barbecue sauce, the picnic table in the shade, the dog by our feet, and the sound of the party all came together on that hot August Sunday. Is there any better place to be in August than Maine?