Road 2021 – 2022, Maine: October 3 – October 9
I heard once that Maine is much like Northern Michigan with lobster. My expectations were high for that familiar feeling. Yes the land rolls and swells with trees, then dips into bog land. If I must guess, I’d bet the same glaciers scraped this land too.
But the towns in Maine established earlier. The architecture adds up to a slightly different human story. The graveyards first dug at least a century earlier. The Atlantic Ocean salt breeze is distinctly unlike the harsh cold fresh smell of Lake Superior.
Kurt and I wanted to see Acadia National Park, without packing into a campground like a sardine, so we stayed across the bay at a small campground on the waterfront. Kurt set aside the first full day for errands. The next day we set out for Mount Cadillac (in Acadia National Park) first thing in the morning.
At 8:30 am the people density was tolerable. For Mount Cadillac the Park controls how many cars are able to enter per hour. By 9:30 am the tour busses were rolling up. Everyone and everything was pleasant until I noticed a family ignoring their young son leaning into an informational podium with a wet cough. The boy was looking tired and continued to cough without a mask or covering his mouth, plastering the podium with coodies. The parents socially unaware of the discomfort being aroused in the people nearby. (Later that day I would find out that this area is seeing an increase in Covid cases and masks mandates are being enforced for businesses).
Bar Harbor. Ummm. It’s hard to enjoy crowds anymore, but that was where the food was. Kurt found a place with no one in it, on a street less visited. I’m a lot less picky these days. After a year of no eating out at all, my bar is low. It’s above fast food and well below my first choice. I snuck in a quick peek at the one gallery that was nearby and open, D’Alessio Gallery. A small two room gallery dedicated the artist D’Alessio’s very vibrant acrylic paintings. Strange yellow rabbits and paper cutout type bikini beach women. Lots of high saturated, bright colors.
By noon we’d had enough of the too many people in Acadia, even if the woods there smelled the sweetest I’ve ever smelled. After making plans to come back during less obvious times, I chose a new and different mission. Art supplies. I spied an art supply store in the area that carried a product I’ve been eager to try: absorbent ground. Only a two hour drive to Waterford, Maine.
The place, the Italian Art Store, was not where Google said it was supposed to be. A man in the barber shop explained the business moved, from there we figured out the new address. Unfortunately it wasn’t a retail shop. They were there however, just moving in. The woman who I am guessing owns the business gave me the absorbent ground because it was “too old to sell” (but most likely still good). I cannot recommend this supply store enough: they have paints I’ve never heard of up until now, they sell rolls of linen and they more than accommodated an out of town artist when they didn’t have to.
I like to believe there is a difference between tourists and travelers. Tourists going where they are told to go and travelers enjoying finer experiences. I’d also like to think there’s a third category: the wanderer, a person who is enthralled with the experience. The good, the bad, the hidden, the powerful and the mundane. My new idea was to see if we could find the bioluminescence along the ocean front. One way to go about this was by tour. Another, by local advice.
Kurt and I set out at 4:00am to catch the low tide in Bar Harbor. Fortuitously we had a new moon and clear skies. In the darkest hour we walked down out onto the sand bar. (Note: sign says do not park on the bar, 9 hours until the next low tide and your vehicle can be rescued). Since not every idea I’ve ever had worked out swimmingly I was pleasantly shocked when we did find the the little glowing spots. Much like lightening bugs winking in and out.
Behind us the sky gently greyed and the shore birds woke up. Grey moved to blue and the first colors of sunrise progressed over the horizon. These are the banal adventures I cherish. And I can now share the experience of photographing them with Kurt.
Kurt and I headed west and south. At about three pm started checking out campgrounds and dispersed camping along the White Mountain National Forest track, retracing our path northeast. By six pm we were right back at the set of campgrounds from the night we drove into New Hampshire. Since it was Friday and the peak of the colors we surrendered to staying two nights, beyond that the campgrounds in the area would be shutting down by Monday.
- In the Bar Harbor area many residents have erected signs in opposition to a fish farm proposed for Frenchman Bay. Acadia National Park shares part of its waters with Frenchman Bay. (2021)
- Maine residents are also voting on a Corridor Proposal that would bring “high impact electric lines” from Quebec to Massachusetts. There are a lot of ‘vote no on proposal 1’ signage around. (2021)
- There’s suspiciously a ton of white houses in the area. White churches. White buildings. A theme.