Might be Motel Sixing but it feels like Turks and Caicos

Welcome to day 20 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.

As I mentioned previously, there are six motels/hotels that we (spouse and I) stay at over and over. I’ve posted about The Holiday Inn Express in Savannah, Georgia, and the Middlebury Inn in Vermont. Today I’ll tell you about another of our favourites, the Footbridge Beach Motel in Ogunquit, Maine.

The Footbridge Beach Motel is really just a basic roadside motel, with a pool (which we’ve never used), with wifi (which we require), but what makes it perfect for us is that it’s a 5-10 minute walk to the Footbridge Beach — usually quite uncrowded, even in the middle of summer, and if you drive there in season you pay a $20 parking fee — and a 1.3-mile walk on a sidewalk into the lively tourist town of Ogunquit (about a 25-minute walk for us), which means we can leave the car most of the time at the motel and walk to the beach and town. (There’s also a trolley shuttle to town in July and August.) And there are good places to eat across from and next to the motel.


They also accept pets, which mattered to us when we first started visiting Ogunquit in 2012.


It’s a relaxing spot, both the motel and the beach. Photos below were taken at the end of August 2012, mid-June 2015, and late May-early June 2016.

Property exterior


patio, where you can cook out on one of the grills and/or eat outside (or have a smoke)
pool (2015)

Our room(s)

spouse (and my reflection) in chair outside room 12
We had room 5 this time
king bed, nightstands, fridge and microwave
king bed, table and chairs, dresser with TV, closet (2015)
dog in her bed with toy in mouth (2012) (spouse in foreground on bed)
the dog celebrated her 11th birthday at the Footbridge


The Foot Bridge (across the Ogunquit River to the Atlantic Ocean)

signs here are in English and French — there are lots of visitors from Quebec to Ogunquit
the footbridge (May 2016)
the footbridge (June 2016)
me on the footbridge (Aug 2012)
footbridge railing over the river (June 2015)
American black duck in the river (Aug. 2012)
boat often in the river (May 2016)
rosa rugosa lining bridge path (June 2015)
pathway from bridge to beach (June 2016)

Footbridge Beach

threatening clouds (June 2015)
(Aug 2012)
stormy (Aug 2012)
people on the beach (Aug 2012)
surf, sailboat, long view to Marginal Way in the evening (May 2016)
beach at 8 p.m., Aug. 2012
Plankton very excited to be on the Footbridge Beach! (June 2015)
evening (May 2016)
bird tracks on the river beach (June 2016)
plovers and terns nest here (June 2015)
plover in evening surf (May 2016)
fluffy plover, evening (May 2016)
ruffled plover (June 2016)
two sanderlings (Aug 2012)
misty beach, evening (June 2016)


Ogunquit – Marginal Way: A one-mile walk along the coast from the Sparhawk Motel to Perkins Cove

June 2016


sparrow, June 2016
June 2016


lobster trap with St. George the bulldog on Marginal Way (June 2016)


allium and iris at Sparhawk Motel along Marginal Way, June 2016
ladybug, June 2016
bee in white rosa rugosa, June 2016
crashing waves, June 2016
view to Norseman Motel and Ogunquit Beach from Marginal Way, June 2016


June 2015


Bonaparte’s Gulls on beach, near Marginal Way, June 2015
June 2015
yoga on beach, seen from Marginal Way, June 2015
man fishing in waves, seen from Marginal Way, June 2015
bridge on Marginal Way, Aug. 2012
one of many coves along Marginal Way, Aug. 2012

“I looked along the San Juan Islands and the coast of California, but I couldn’t find the palette of green, granite, and dark blue that you can only find in Maine.” –Parker Stevenson

Aug. 2012



Ogunquit – Restaurants and Cafes: Lots of good ones! We like Back Yard coffee house   for breakfast, and Banditos Mexican Grill, Caffe Prego, and La Orilla tapas for lunch/dinner.

view from Caffe Prego porch (June 2016)
olive mezza at Caffe Prego (June 2016)
Caffe Prego (June 2016)
porch seating at Caffe Prego (Aug. 2012)
view from porch at Caffe Prego (Aug. 2012)
Caffe Prego and alliums (June 2016)
La Orilla tapas restaurant (June 2016)
cheese, bread, chutney – June 2016, I think at La Orilla
lovely grilled shrimp – June 2016, I think at La Orilla
Banditos Mexican — great to sit outside with a Negra Modelo and come chips and guacamole (June 2015)
Banditos Mexican (Aug. 2012)
Banditos, June 2015
Banditos inside, Aug. 2012
fish and shrimp tacos at Banditos Mexican (June 2016)
Made in Ogunquit T-shirt at Banditos Mexican (June 2016)
Back Yard coffee house (June 2015)

And Angelina’s Ristorante: Wine Bar & Tuscan Grille, across from the Footbridge Motel, is nice, too (both photos Aug. 2012):


BeachFire Bar & Grille, right next to the motel:

patio, June 2015
BeachFire fire, June 2016


Beach Plum Farm – community garden on the way from the motel to Ogunquit

8 p.m. June 2016
raised beds, June 2015
lettuces, June 2015
angelica, June 2015
Aug. 2012


Can’t forget the inspirational trash cans around town, of which these are but three:

Perkins Cove (June 2016)
Perkins Cove (June 2016)
Footbridge Beach (June 2016)


*post title lyric from Vacation by Thomas Rhett


Seaside Inn, Between Earth & Sky

Welcome to day 5 of 31 Days of Heterotopias: Motels and Hotels, a month of posts about how motels, hotels, and inns function as heterotopias and liminal spaces in society.  Each post will look at these ideas from its own vantage point, which may not obviously connect with the others, and which may mention motels and hotels only peripherally or may focus on them without referencing heterotopia or liminality. I won’t attempt to tie the posts together. They’ll all be listed here, as they are posted.



“…vicinity to the sea is desirable, because it is easier to do nothing by the sea than anywhere else”― E.F. Benson, The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson

The Seaside Inn in Kennebunk is “directly on the beach!” and walkable to Kennebunkport’s Dock Square shops and restaurants.

view of Kennebunkport from St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery
Country Squire station wagon at Hidden Pond Resort
at the Kennebunkport Brewing Co. store

Not to mention just a few hundred yards from the really interesting St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery and Guest House,  with its Lithuanian art, stained glass, and sculpture. (And a red-tailed hawk, the day we were there.) What became the monastery and guest house was built around the turn of the 20th century, with landscaping “arranged by the Frederick Law Olmsted Brothers, designers of New York City’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace.”  The Lithuanian Friars of St. Casimir bought it in 1947, when they fled the Soviet invasion of Lithuania; their founder here, Fr. Justinas Vaskys, had left Lithuania at the beginning of the occupation of his homeland in 1940. (More on Lithuania under Soviet control in World War II and after.)


the chapel at St. Anthony’s
juvenile red-tailed hawk in tree at St. Anthony’s
lichen on wall, + river, St. Anthony’s


sheep at Lourdes shrine, St. Anthony’s
nativity scene, St. Anthony’s
stained glass window, St. Anthony’s chapel
stained glass windows, pews, St. Anthony’s chapel
Stations of the Cross, St. Anthony’s
side altarpiece, chapel, St. Anthony’s
frieze detail, St. Anthony’s
Vatican Pavilion detail, St. Anthony’s
dried hydrangea, pachysandra, St. Anthony’s
frozen cove, St. Anthony’s
rhododendron, path, St. Anthony’s
ice split on grasses, St. Anthony’s
ice, rocks, seaweed, St. Anthony’s
grasses in ice, St. Anthony’s

A bit farther, but still within walking distance, is the Mornings in Paris cafe, selling coffee drinks and a wide variety of macarons, napoleons, truffles, and other pastries and sweets.


A favourite home store for more than 20 years, Pallian & Co., is nearby in Wells.


Also in Wells, the wonderful Wells Reserve at Laudholm (or, Laudholm Farm, as I call it), with a short walk to the beach and ocean at Drake’s Island.

path with frost
orange and blue rock, Drake’s Island beach
blue-orange speckled rock, Drake’s Island beach
4 p.m. on the next to last day of the year
boardwalk with maple leaves
Canada geese
clam shell in foam, Drake’s Island beach
brook with leaves under ice

We also walked on the Mousam River Estuary Trail in Kennebunkport (if you haven’t listened to Hugh Laurie singing “Mystery,” please do. It’s the most important thing I can offer in this whole series.)



Seaside was the perfect place to stay in the waning days of December 2014. I can’t say the room was anything special — the most special thing was how well you could hear what was going on in the other rooms nearby (a reminder that the seemingly private space is actually public) —


— the patio outside the door was nice —


the sign on the patio wall

— and the location, across a small yard from the beach, is absolutely splendid.

9 a.m. view of ocean from room
crow in shrubbery between motel and ocean


frost on seaweed


“At the seaside all is narrow horizontals, the world reduced to a few long straight lines pressed between earth and sky.” ― John Banville


During this mid-winter time, the monastery grounds and church, the French bakery, the quiet beach and seaside motel, the cracking ice everywhere all lent a heterotopic feel to the place, a sense of being suspended in time in a timeless frozen landscape, of finding oneself in the alternate winter universe of a summer tourist town. It felt dreamy and slow.  It felt like the place was taking a deep breath, an intermission, waiting patiently for what would be next, as one year ended and the next came into view. It felt like a good place to end and begin again, a place blurring land-sea-sky boundaries.


I wonder if the Lithuanian friars felt that it was a good starting place, when they came here under tragic and difficult circumstances from the Soviet Union rather than, probably, be deported to labour camps during and after the war.




Living in Transition

I could have sworn I had posted something about the idea of “home” in all the years I’ve been blogging, but if I have, I can’t find it now.

deer were here, 28 Jan 2012I was prompted to think about it again this time by my friend Lynn’s class this fall on “a sense of place,” and by another friend, Caroline’s, post recently titled Staying Put, in which she writes, inspired by Wendell Berry: “We can’t love a place until we know it, and we can’t know a place until we are willing to open ourselves to its mystery, its intricacies and complexities, its willingness to invite us into conversation.”

Like Caroline, who calls herself a “former nomad,” I have never stayed put. Many of my friends (including Lynn) have lived in the same house or the same town for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. I think my imagination is pretty well-developed, but I have trouble envisioning what this would be like: to not consider every box that comes into the my piece of sky, 22 July 2012house for its packing potential, to not browse house listings (daily), to know how to get places, to not need to find new grocery stores and hair stylists, to never walk into a new library or church for the first time. To never have to make a complete set of new, local friends. To not feel the delicious, displaced, lonely, and anticipatory burden and freedom of living in someone else’s house and tending someone else’s garden.

I’ve lived in 24 places in 50 years, in 18 towns, in 6 states. I’ve spent another combined (estimated) two years in one- and two-week vacations across the U.S. (focus on Jekyll Island, Rehoboth and Myrtle beaches, New York City), and in the UK, Spain, the Caribbean; and another year or so of summers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, most summer weekends for six years on a lake in central Virginia, a cumulative month in San Francisco with a friend’s dying sister; and another 6 months perhaps on the train, travelling coast to coast several times, to New Orleans 5 or 6 times. I’ve spent some time in every U.S. state except Hawaii, Alaska, South and North Dakota, and Michigan.

I’ve lived in my latest state, town, neighbourhood, house and yard for exactly three years now. For the first two-and-a-half years, I felt like a tourist in this town. In fact, the Marti Jones song, “Tourist Town,” came to mind often as I walked and drove through town: “I’m tempted to hide away / I’m tempted to hide in a tourist town.” I felt hidden in plain view, recogising almost no one and unrecognised by almost all.

hummingbird in penstemon, 23 June 2012And I realised that I liked it, most of the time. A few palm trees, sand, the sound of seagulls, and some ocean would have improved the experience, but on the whole, I appreciated feeling anonymous, invisible, unknown by my fellow townmates. I also appreciate being known (or at least recognised) now. Both states feel deeply healing, in their owns ways.

The social theorist Michel Foucault’s idea of a heterotopia is extremely appealing to me; he speaks of heterotopias as “‘counter-sites,’ places positioned on the … outside of all places … irrelevant to the practical functioning of everyday life.” They might be reserved for “people undergoing transitional crises: adolescents, menstruating women, pregnant women, the dying.”  They can also be places of deviation, where “individuals whose behavior is deviant in relation to the required mean or norm are placed”:  prisons, retirement homes (idleness is a deviation in our society), psychiatric hospitals.

But they don’t have to be places of abnormal deviation and crisis. They can be cemeteries, gardens, theatres, cinemas, museums, libraries, fairgrounds, festivals, ships … In fact, they can be tourist towns, which remove people from their normal daily lives and which usually exist outside of time and flourish for only for part of the year and then close down.

Some places — gardens, museums, cinemas and theatres, e.g. — juxtapose many shade garden etc, 2 July 2012places or scenes in one place. They may even contain mini-heterotopias and places of transition within them, like a bridge, an archway, movement from a sunlit meadow to a dark forest or from a gallery to an open rotunda. Some, like museums and libraries, constitute “a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages,” while others (fairgrounds, vacation villages) are “absolutely temporal.”

As described by John Doyle at Ktismatics:  “Heterotopias open onto heterochronies —  disjunctures from the evenly spaced and empty continuum of time. Theater time passes differently from the time that surrounds the theater. The cemetery is a juxtaposition of the end of time and eternity. Museums and libraries accumulate past time in a place outside of time. Resort towns exist only at certain times of the year. Entering into a heterotopia often requires a rite of passage: enlistment in the army, arrest and conviction, death, travel. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence” because it is “a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea.”

monarch caterpillar on asclepias, 6 Aug 2012I’m starting to wonder whether my true “home” isn’t perhaps a heterotopia, or some sort of liminal space* I am continually passing through. A wholly unnecessary space, “irrelevant to the practical functioning of everyday life.”

A tourist town, a dis-placed place. No-home. A place removed from ordinary time. A kind of folly.

It’s where I, perversely perhaps, seem to feel most at home. Not “home” in the sense of feeling rooted and attached but rather in the sense of feeling relaxed, satisfyingly connected, most myself, engaged in discovering and exploring the new and mysterious (as Caroline put it, “willing to open ourselves to its mystery, its intricacies and complexities”). I feel paradoxically at home as an unrooted, uprooted stranger passing through a strange and passing land.

I seem to prefer being neither here nor there. Even as I mhosta shoots, 3 May 2012ake each new place “my own” — no matter the USDA hardiness zone, no matter which birds sing in the trees, no matter whether I am in the midst of the most-craved ocean and marsh, or of mountains, lakes, rivers, swamps, meadows, prairie, forests, desert, or tundra — I am aware of the illusion of terra firma, of an everlasting place, this eden.

I think, through practice and perhaps by nature, I have become skilled at inhabiting places in such a way that they feel real to me — real like the smell of fried food and popcorn on the boardwalk, the shriek of gulls fighting over a clam shell, the glare of the high summer sun beating on sand, the warm taste of coconut and pineapple in pretty drinks with umbrellas, the overlay of pop music and oldies coming from every other beach blanket — even as I know that this place too will shutter up when the season is over (though the gulls will remain).

Rehoboth boardwalk at night, 12 Aug 2011

* From Wikipedia: In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning ‘a threshold’) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants ‘stand at the threshold’ between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.”