Choo choo! Model railroads and free admission
Train fans take note: The Maine State Museum, in Augusta, is celebrating model railroads Dec. 7 and 8. Two Maine clubs, the Great Falls Model Railroad Club and the Maine 3-Railers Club, will be operating displays running G, HO, O, and N-gauge model trains. Trains figure prominently in the museum’s collections. Most notably, the 1846 Lion, one of America’s earliest surviving steam locomotives, continues to be a popular attraction as it greets visitors at the museum’s entrance. Even better, admission is free on both days.
Dinner at The Palace Diner
Been to the Palace Diner, in Biddeford, lately? If not, you’re in for a treat. Meals in the classic 1926 Pollard diner car are a healthful twist on the usual diner fare. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve been impressed with the fresh and local ingredients, use of whole wheat and spelt flours, and all the homemade goodness. Don’t worry, it’s still delicious and the diner standbys are available.
On Friday, Dec. 14, The Palace, Maine’s oldest diner, will be having a special by-reservation-only dinner featuring Nonna’s macaroni carbonara. According to the family: “This dish is said to have originated in Italy during World War II. As the legend goes, there were food shortages after the liberation of Rome in 1944. The shortages were so severe that Allied troops distributed military rations to the population consisting of powdered eggs and bacon. The result is a unique pasta dish that we are sure you will love. In our recipe we use real eggs, bacon, parmigiano cheese and Italian prosciutto.”
Here’s the menu: bread and olive oil, mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, Nonna’s macaroni carbonara, cannoli and coffee. Fixed price is $30 (tax and grat are additional). Seating is extremely limited, so make reservations ASAP.
Winter camping along Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway
Winter camping will be available at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook along The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW), the 92-mile-long ribbon of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds that winds through northern Maine’s woods. Registration opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Chamberlain Bridge ranger station. The 48 camp sites available at Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook will be allotted on a first-come, first-served basis until the campground capacity is reached, which could occur as early as noon on opening day. Campers should arrive at Chamberlain Bridge before 8 a.m. to be sure of getting a site. “These unique winter campsites offer extraordinary access to some great winter ice fishing,” Matthew LaRoche, AWW superintendent, said. “We have visitors who return year after year to enjoy the beauty, camaraderie and winter sport that this part of Maine offers.”
Camp sites are available for a rental fee of $50 per month, plus a 7 percent meal and lodging tax. Eight sites are reserved in the parking lot for transient use at the regular camping fee of $4 per person per night for Maine residents and $8 for nonresidents. The water access campsites on the lakes are available for use in the winter as well as summer; the same fees apply to these sites.
The AWW provides public drinking water, vault toilets and snow plowing at the Chamberlain Bridge and Kellogg Brook winter campgrounds. A groomed snowmobile trail is marked from the parking lot to the south end of Chamberlain Lake and to Round Pond/Telos lakes.
Magic of Christmas
Master Illusionist Lyn Dillies and the Windham Chamber Singers will join the Portland Symphony Orchestra for 2012 Magic of Christmas concert series Dec. 14-23, held in Portland’s Merrill Auditorium.
• Music Director Robert Moody leading the Portland Symphony Orchestra in a festive and inspirational program of classical and popular holiday hits including Joy to the World and “Pastorale” from Christmas Concerto.
• The amazing artistry of Master Illusionist Lyn Dillies, who has earned national acclaim for her “Magic At The Symphony” program, which helps to inspire children to enjoy the symphony through her colorful illusions.
• The rousing sounds of the Windham Chamber Singers, led by Richard Nickerson and comprised of 40 high school students from Windham High School. In its 24th year, the Windham Chamber Singers have received praise through the years for their performances at international music festivals, for U.S. Presidents, celebrities and other notable figures.
• Director Rob Westerberg leading The Magic of Christmas Chorus, a group of over 130 volunteers who are members or friends of the Portland Community Chorus. The singers come together from 27 communities extending from York to Brunswick and Baldwin to Otisfield to join the annual PSO performance.
• Audience favorites including Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” when the PSO players try to outdo each other with their festive and comical attire, and the inspirational audience sing-along when patrons can lift their own voices in celebration of the season.