Loved hanging out with & shooting Brendan and Kelly from vancrafted today! Two very talented and inspiring people just a week into their 6 month journey to hit every state in America. Check them out if you (for some reason) haven’t yet, and be on the lookout for a blog post on unitedbyblue!
Conde Nast Traveler posted Kelly’s photo from the beach in Montauk. We had decided to wing it on our first few nights of the trip - driving out to Hither Hills campground, the chances of getting a site were slim. Luckily someone had just cancelled two nights and our van was able to sleep soundly next to dune and wave.
Photographed by @kellyemshea in Montauk. Check out CNTraveler.com to see if your #packyoursunglasses photo was included in our round-up! #montauk
Enroute to our first van date with Greg, Michelle, and Arabella (the van)
Arabella’s previous owner had dubbed her a “Westi”
Brendan and I had been talking a lot about the notion that people make a place and how many of those people it takes to make a community. Neither of us had been to Maine since we were kids on vacation (highlights at that age were the LLBean outlet and chocolate lobster pops), but had been inexplicably drawn there. The reasons were not foreign to us, but we didn’t quite say them outright either.
There were the intangibles of hardiness and the do-it-yourself-or-learn-how attitude that we had assumed. There were the dotted islands and intricate rocky coves that intrigued us. But what we found in Maine showed more heart, ingenuity, and hope that any guide book could tell. It came in the form of two people, who have designed their life to support a budding young artist community in Maine - by creating the store they always wanted to walk into, but could never find.
We passed Hammond Lumber and pulled Bernice into a new-looking driveway in front of a beautiful old yellow house with a gray barn (those had been the directions). After knocking on the front door, we heard no answer and headed back toward the barn. Alex said that he would be working in there, so we circled until we saw him come over the hill.
We were met with a huge grin over a winter-thick beard. It was our first time meeting and we knew vaguely of each other. Alex had been introduced to us by his sister who runs a women’s small-batch apparel company called Tradlands. She had told us that he lived in Pemaquid and would soon be opening a mercantile in his barn.
After hearing this and seeing photos of his beautifully hand-made wooden spoons, there was no question that we had to reach out and make it a part of our journey.
He led us past a tree stump toward large sliding barn doors, guided by a trail of tree trunk slices that had been chopped from the fallen arbor. Inside the barn, we were shown the makings of a store amongst beams that breathed the artful beauty of age and windows that looked down toward the water.
The barn felt as warm as its owners, with soul and stories in every corner. Alex spoke of the previous owners of the home, divulging the ancestry of an old leather baseball glove, a bicycle, even a boat that were all buried inside when he bought the contents.
Within minutes of meeting, Alex and Katie had dropped everything they were working on to ready to store and offered to show us Pemaquid’s most tucked away places - the Carpenter’s Boat shop and Shaw’s (a truly authentic lobster joint, where lobsterman return from a day’s work to have a beer, or ten).
Old items had been selected, with a modern eye and a Wes Anderson-esque attention to placement and importance. Empty glass jars lined two shelves on the back wall, which we later learned would hold lobster-shaped gummies. We later vetted that their taste in gummy form held as much superiority as their relations in crustacean form.
The shop would open soon and we got a sneak peek at the wares. In lieu of the ubiquitous tchotchkes, knick knacks, and dime-a-dozen tea cups, Pemaquid Mercantile will be stocked with larger vintage statement pieces and hand-made goods.
Katie, Alex’s girlfriend, is a truly talented visual artist whose designs can be seen in the form of cards, prints, and postcards. There are few quintessentially Maine items in the shop, but those that are have been carefully chosen for their unique nature. Katie showed us one of her postcards that looked more like a framable treasure than something you are indebted to keep on your fridge. Her pastel hues and graphic block style brought the Pemaquid lighthouse to life in a new way.
After a day of exploring, as our time together was drawing to a close, they extended one of the most generous offers that we find on the road - a place to sleep. An expertly strategized board game of Settlers of Catan was laid out by Katie, but sat on the table, unplayed for hours, as our ambitions of competition gave way to conversation.
We had gone from strangers to friends in a day. The next morning both were hard at work when we woke, but there lay a spread of giant cinnamon buns from the Cupboard Cafe next to Maine-made jams. A paper bag sat on the table for us. Inside was a jar of the same jam, a bar of charcoal soap that they had made, a card designed by Katie that bid us Safe Travels, a wooden knife carved by Alex, and most deliciously, a bag of lobster gummies.
If you find yourself driving along the Maine coast, or are looking for a boost of inspiration, make your way to the yellow house with the gray barn, just past Hammond Lumber, across from the Bristol library in Pemaquid. You won’t be disappointed.
By Kelly | Part 1 of 2
Photo taken on 2014.07.02