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The Cliff House Maine is the essence of getting away, far away

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The Cliff House Maine is the essence of getting away, far away

Escape is subjective when it comes to vacation vibe.

For some, escape means finding a spot where you can just be; where you need not do much more than settle into a magical spot you’ve found that just feels completely away.

For others, it’s setting up a comfortable base camp centered around all kinds of side trips like hikes, biking trails, shopping, dining; whatever strikes your mood.

And then there’s me: I want to have my settling-in spot but leave it too. But does such a spot — one that combines the very best of both of those goals — exist?

As evidence, I present the Cliff House Maine (cliffhousemaine.com), where, on a crisp early-autumn getaway, I found all the magic I could want — and even left some aside to discover next time.

It’s no surprise that the Cliff House has sat on its dramatic 70-acre jaunt of craggy coast for nearly 150 years.

Opening in 1872, the Cliff House was very much a family project. Just after the Civil War, the Boston and Maine Railroad announced they’d be adding a spur to York, Maine.

Eliza Jane Weare, wealthy wife of Capt. Theodore Weare, lived nearby and saw the opportunity.

She invested their money and purchased Bald Head Cliff, planned a resort and enlisted her brother to build the original hotel.

It was built with wood cut from nearby family land and milled in their sawmill in Ogunquit, as locally sourced as could ever be.

Her goal then was to provide comfortable rooms and settings, fine food, relaxation and excursions all on and along the dramatic setting of Bald Hill.

While the Cliff House has seen many incarnations since that time (including being taken over by the military as a radar station to look for Nazi submarines during World War II), my recent visit proved that Eliza Jane’s vision is still intact.

Today’s Cliff House, which includes a spa added in the early 2000s and a major recent renovation that not only added a wing but lifted ceilings, expanded windows and more, maintains the original vibe in a nautical yet modern setting.

I headed to the Cliff House on a Sunday morning in late September.

A quiet coastal road winding along the seashore led me to the entrance of the Cliff House, less than two hours from Boston proper. The entry road winds through thick trees and then pops out on a magnificent rocky cliff where the resort is tucked perfectly into the landscape.

“Every movie ever should be shot here,” I thought as I sat out on my room’s balcony and watched the ocean do a dance off the rocky cliffs and ledges that are the foundation of the property as a whole.

You could plant yourself at the Cliff House for an entire visit (weeks, even), and never tire of it.

There are — in season — two pool areas; one for families and one for all. There are multiple dining choices, from the farm-to-table joy of The Tiller to the old-school Maine (but with a twist: lobster tater tots? Be still my heart!) of Nubb’s Lobster Shack and things in between (like Bald Head Coffee and the Cove Bar and Grille).

Their spa is worthy of an entire day — when you visit set aside that time. I treated myself to an amazing facial, and savored the sauna and fitness room (Pelotons and more).

Their relaxation room needs no piped-in music; the sound of the sea is the most soothing thing one can imagine. I sat, sipping an herbal tea and staring out at the crashing waves and dramatic coast.

I chose to leave my room slider open each night just to be lulled to sleep by that same sound. It’s truly nature’s music.

You can walk the grounds as well, taking in views up and down the Maine coast. It’s not unusual to spot amazing seaside wildlife as you walk, too.

Like I said, I could tuck in and stay there forever (and this winter, when it is open Thursdays through Sundays, I can imagine taking a winter escape there to do just that).

But there are places to go and things to see, so I did what I love just as much and set out to explore.

Ogunquit is a perfect little Maine town. It has a fun and walkable downtown area where you can poke through galleries and shops — and find every kind of dining. There’s Nubble Lighthouse, a breath-taking spot that reminds me of the feel I get on the southwest coast of Ireland.

There are beaches too, from expansive ones that draw many visitors to tiny inlets with sand that feel like your own private spot.

I walked Marginal Way, a kind of mini Newport Cliff Walk that not only took me past amazing properties but gave me a chance to watch a gaggle of surfers practicing their sport on a bright autumn day.

There’s Perkin’s Cove, a spot that’s like a mini version of Rockport. With little shops, great lobster rolls at The Lobster Shack and a cool footbridge to walk over, it’s a special place.

I spent three days savoring the resort itself and the sites around it, and left wanting more.

Alone on this escape, I chose to dine at the bar of The Tiller on night one. There, while savoring seared scallops on lobster fried rice (bartender’s suggestion; one of the best meals I’ve had in years), I made friends. One couple had just been married the night before. Another was on their last day of an escape from Boston. Everyone, it seemed, knew one another.

As I walked back to my room that night, I saw an open seat at the fire pit. I settled in and asked a couple next to me where they bought their glasses of champagne.

“The Tiller!” the man told me, then said, “But we have an extra glass and more bubbly!” He poured me one because at the Cliff House, everyone is a friend.

I felt welcomed, comfortable and happy.

As I dozed off to the sound of the crashing waves that night, I thought, “As Eliza Jane meant it to be.”

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The 10 best jazz albums of 2021

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The 10 best jazz albums of 2021

December means “best of” list time. And here’s the list I think about putting together all year long.

My criteria are pretty simple: What albums, out of the hundreds that come my way every 12 months, am I liable to put on again and again? What surprises me every time I hit play? What invention and beauty sets one piano trio date, say, apart from the others?

It’s been a remarkable year for new music, and emerging old music was well represented in 2021, too. Here’s my top ten, followed by some terrific excavations. I hope you’ll dig in.

James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet — “Jesup Wagon” (Tao Forms)

The emerging tenor saxophonist and composer leads a thrilling band, featuring cornetist Kirk Knuffke. Lewis has his free jazz history down, and at times he sounds like Albert Ayler might in the 21st century.

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Lewis & Clark Community College partially reopens after cyberattack

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Lewis & Clark Community College partially reopens after cyberattack

GODFREY, Ill. – Lewis & Clark Community College is reopening its campus Monday to team members only.

The school shut down just weeks before finals due to a ransomware attack on November 23. The school was forced to shut down everything from its phones to the website’s home page.

Student activities and events will all return to a normal schedule starting Tuesday morning.

All classes, campus events, program events, and athletic events were canceled last week as the college’s IT department worked to resolve the matter.

Students were told they will not suffer any academic penalty for this disruption.

Due to the attack, all of the electronic systems on campus were taken offline to prevent further problems. It’s not been made clear how the attack occurred.

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Kiszla vs. O’Halloran: Did Broncos throw too much money at receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick?

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Kiszla vs. O’Halloran: Did Broncos throw too much money at receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick?

Kiz: Broncos general manager George Paton recently spent more than $95 million, including in excess of $50 million guaranteed, in new deals for receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. During an embarrassing 22-9 loss to Kansas City, however, Sutton and Patrick produced only three receptions for a grand total of 24 yards after being targeted 11 times by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Did Paton throw good money down the drain?

O’Halloran: Handing out receiver contracts days apart remains an interesting development, particularly because Jerry Jeudy is making plays befitting a No. 1 target. But two games is too small of a sample size to serve as a judgment on the deals because Paton is playing the long game, trying to keep (and then gather) assets that make the Broncos attractive to a veteran quarterback next March. But the numbers also don’t fib — Sutton and Patrick should be more involved. In the last four games, Sutton has nine catches and Patrick 13.

Kiz: The Denver offense definitely isn’t explosive and often isn’t efficient. Should we place all the blame at the feet of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and Bridgewater? Or is it fair to wonder that outside of rookie running back Javonte Williams and 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, the Broncos’ simply don’t have enough playmakers? Patrick can help you move the sticks on third down. But is either he or Sutton a true big-play threat?

O’Halloran: Much of the criticism should be directed at the play-caller (Pat) and trigger man (Teddy), which you correctly took to task after the Chiefs’ 12th consecutive win over the Broncos. Where is the originality? Where is the smart-but-aggressive chances? Where is the downfield accuracy? The Broncos called an early shot to Patrick, but Bridgewater overthrew him. They threw a pass to Sutton down the right sideline, but he couldn’t break free of coverage. And they went deep to Sutton, but the pass wasn’t anywhere close to being accurate. In the biggest game of the year, the Broncos were particularly short-handed at quarterback.

Kiz: I understand the logic behind the new deal for Patrick. He’s a football warrior. While Sutton is a solid teammate and stand-up guy, he doesn’t strike me as either a true No. 1 receiver or a target who will make it any more likely for Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers to dream of playing quarterback for the Broncos in 2022. While I firmly believe Paton has shown what it takes to be the GM who returns this team to an elite level, I also think he showed too much love to Sutton.

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