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Penobscot Bay; Maine coast: islands, charm, lobster - and fog

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Munching a lobster roll from the deck of a waterfront restaurant, you have a dockside seat on Camden's crowded inner harbor. Small children row dinghies, yachtsmen maneuver their sleek yawls into berths at the wharf, and powerboats go in and out.

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Where do you spend the night? The area offers a wide variety of accommodation. Many people opt for the old-style inn, such as Whitehall Inn in Camden, built in 1903, at which Edna St. Vincent Millay read one of her early poems in 1912.

Another favorite is the Camden Harbour Inn, furnished in 19th-century style with claw-footed tubs in the bathrooms. Meals are served on a glassed-in porch, and views include the harbor and mountains.

Aubergine, a ''small, romantic inn,'' serves French cuisine (room and bath for $40 a night). More in the luxury resort line, the Samoset in Rockport offers golf, indoor and outdoor swimming and tennis, and a harbor view.

You can camp for as little as $6 a night in one of several campgrounds, such as Megunticook By-The-Sea (AAA) overlooking Penobscot Bay, or Old Massachusetts Homestead Campground, a wilderness area with nature trails leading to a swimming pond.

Bikers can rent bicycles in Camden (try Maine Sport) and cycle the five miles over to the neighboring village of Rockport, about half the size of Camden and just as attractive. The busy harbor is the scene of a free performance (daily at 4 p.m.) by Andre, the famous seal who used to swim from his winter quarters at the New England Aquarium in Boston to Rockport each summer.

You can stop at the galleries of Maine Photographic Workshop, just up the hill, or Maine Coast Artists, down the street. Or you can cycle down the dirt road leading along the rocky shore, through a pine forest to the Children's Chapel, a quiet garden retreat overlooking the water.

Another favorite tour is to visit lighthouses - at least five are within easy distance by car. At Rockland, you can walk out the 7/8-mile granite breakwater to the 1888 lighthouse at the end. On the other side of the harbor, from Owl's Head Light, you are 100 feet above the water.

Other things to do include antiquing, visiting museums (Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Historic Old Conway Homestead in Camden), blueberry picking, and attending concerts and theater.

You might plan your trip to coincide with one of the special events: North American Festival of Story Telling (Rockport, June 25-27), 100th Annual Fireman's Ball Celebration (Camden, July 9-11), Camden Garden Club ''Open House and Garden Day'' (July 15), Annual Arts and Crafts Show (Camden, July 18), Great Schooner Race (Rockland, July 23), Rockland Seafood Festival (Aug. 6-8), or Union Fair with its Blueberry Festival (Aug. 23-28).

Temperatures are apt to be in the 70s or 80s, perhaps the 60s on foggy days. Be prepared for rain or wind. Old-timers say there is more fog in June, then less as the summer progresses.

Conversing with old-timers is probably the best activity of all, a sure-fire way to mentally shift gears to Down East time. (The term Down East was coined when travel was by sailboat and going east was to sail downwind on prevailing breezes.)

You can spot these down-easters from their slow walk, their dry humor, and their kindly tolerance of the tourists that rush into town to ''do it'' in a few hours.

''Do you think the fog is going to lift?'' might do for openers.

''Eh-ya (meaning ''yes''), always has,'' begins the thoughtful response, and the door is open for a good hour's easy conversation while you quietly cross the threshold into Maine.

Practical information: The address of the Rockport-Camden-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce is PO Box 246, Camden, Maine 04843; telephone is [207] 236- 4404.