After driving US Highway 1 to Key West in June, we took a break at home to see if we were infected with any of the unvaccinated and unmasked southern climates. Finding ourselves safe thanks to our vaccination and the wearing of the mask, we decided at the end of July to venture to the other end of the spectrum, US Highway 1 in Maine.
At the risk of sounding like a groupie, I rhapsody: “Maine is so beautiful! The only negative thing I have to say about it is that it could be more easily located for those of us in the Midwest who aren’t that keen on long car fights.
Like Key West had entered my head because of a book, Silas House’s Southernmost, Maine is in my head thanks to my darling, Larry, summer stays there with his grandparents when he was a “ute”, and the writings of Elizabeth Strout. Books, of course: this is where curiosity is born and nourished. By the way, if you’ve never read any of Elizabeth Strout’s works, go for it. She’s a “mainer”, who puts her stories there and the characters and sets are fascinating. You will want to go there, even if it is in a poor location.
Our main destination was Acadia National Park. Not only does it have amazing views, but it’s close to ‘Bah Hahba’ which you might sound silly trying to say with a fake Down East accent.
Between Acadia and Larry’s old playground, Popham Beach, is Eastern Egg Rock, home to puffins. You go to Boothbay Harbor for a cruise to see this enclave which is enhanced by the Audubon Company. Hang in there to hear puffin calls at the end of this Chronicle.
One of the great charms of Popham Beach, the home of Larry’s grandparents, is the ability to be a part of what seems like a little miracle. You can walk to an island from the mainland! At low tide you can walk from the beautiful white sand beach in the Atlantic to Fox Island. Few things beat the wind in your hair and the lapping of the water on your feet as you begin your crossing over what is often underwater water. They do warn you, however, to watch the tide charts carefully so you don’t get stranded and / or washed away. (Maine can be as ruthless as it is beautiful.) In his research assistant form, Larry tells me that some people fill up with provisions: food and books, and spend the 8 hours between low tides.
Then, if you’ve had enough of the natural wonders, head a little south to Freeport to shop at the LL Bean mothership and the satellite mall that has attached itself like a barnacle to the city.
Plus, you have to stop every ten seconds for a lobster roll. Or, if that’s not your thing, oddly enough, Thai food seems to be great up there. Even non-Thai restaurants have one or two Thai dishes on their menus. Maine doesn’t seem like a climate that Thais would like, but then many Southeast Asians relocated to South Bend and stayed there. Go figure it out.
After the pleasures of Maine, the return to the Midwest can be interrupted with a day in Seneca Falls, New York, at Women’s Rights National Historic Park. If you have one of those national park passes, it’s a little disappointing that you can’t use it because the site is free, and it’s not so much a park as a building, but at Other than that, it’s great and easily worth your attention. Not only does it shine a light on women’s struggle for the vote and better conditions over a hundred years ago, but it features updates on ongoing trials and triumphs. To use an overused expression, this is the classic good news / bad news saga: you will laugh; you will cry, but you will be glad you stopped to see and think about the problems.
So, again in South Bend, and once again after escaping the curse of the unmasked and unvaccinated, for Michiana Chronicles, this is Jeanette Saddler Taylor.
Click below Atlantic Puffin Sounds, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology