Saturday, June 30, 2007

Maine is for boat people

Reason #79,276 that Marc and I are so perfect for each other: It’s often the case that we just don’t see what other people see, but since we’re both that way, we don’t have to pretend for each other. We’ve both heard that Maine is so beautiful, such a place to see. We were expecting rugged coastlines, rocky beaches, a somewhat unusual landscape compared to home. We were expecting Acadia National Park to be really beautiful, lots of photographic opportunities, scenic splendor. Bar Harbor, always heard of that town, gotta see it.

Instead, we had this growing feeling that led us to look at each other and say, “is that all there is?” Is that all there is? If that’s all there is, my friend, then let’s go to Vermont.

That’s right. Yesterday we went to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, and were underwhelmed. Maybe it’s just that we had unreasonable expectations – I’m willing to concede that. Maybe it’s just that we’ve seen such amazing places together that the bar has been sent high for us – willing to concede that, too. But whatever the reason, we were underwhelmed. It was pretty enough, but we could’ve been anywhere. We could’ve been in the Catskills, much closer to home. We could’ve been near the Delaware Water Gap – much much closer to home. Anyway, we did see a few things:

The amazing bridge over the Penobscot River:
A scenic view in Acadia National Park
No babies in tow -- dogs in tow. We saw a couple of bikers
who were both towing dogs around. Funny.
We'd both heard of Bar Harbor (though neither one of us knew what we'd heard, we had vague associations) so we decided to go, since it's on the same island as Acadia National Park -- Mt. Desert Island. I guess I was thinking "fishing village" and Marc was closer to reality, thinking "vacation spot for rich folks." So here you go, Bar Harbor, Maine:

Main Street lined with quaint little shoppes. (Yes, shoppes).
I think that was Pop's Ice Cream Parlor.
No rest for me -- a long phone call to a psychologist I'm trying
to convince to edit an important book for me.
Last night we went back to the same restaurant for dinner that we went to the night before, because it was so good:

HUGE fantail shrimp, fried in a beer batter. And the very best
onion rings, anywhere. I ate this two nights in a row.
I'm going to die from all the fried food but I'll be smiling.

After dinner, we walked around Belfast:

Quacking up -- which made us think of that
kindergarten joke about ducks flying upside down.
Patriotic windowboxes, red white & blue.
I got the feeling it's always like this, it has nothing
to do with the 4th of July.
The lovely harbor. I thought these three boats were
so beautiful, red yellow and blue. Primary colors.
And then on the beach at the foot of our hotel back yard:

rocky beachesseaweed with bladders
barnacles everywhere

Oh, and a couple more about our hotel. It really did win a Platinum Award, see? We still don't know what it means, but they're really proud of it:

And there were beautiful flowers everywhere:

In Belfast, we kept seeing signs that gave directions to a Redemption Center. There were Redemption Centers everywhere, and I kept thinking religious redemption, since there are SO MANY churches here. Marc suspected it was a place to redeem S&H Green Stamps or something, which never occurred to me. To me, redemption = J.C. Who Redeems Us All. Turns out Marc was much closer to the truth—these are places to redeem glass bottles and jars. So funny, though.

We decided we’ve now seen Maine, and we’d drive to Killington, VT. Marc often skis there, and we decided to ride the gondola up and down the mountain. Maine’s a fine place, kind of hard to buttonhole. Quite country and hick (and I can say that, because I’m a hick), but also very gay-friendly. Those often don’t go together. Red, white and blue bunting everywhere, and rainbow flags and bumper stickers. Double-wide trailers and lesbian couples. It’s very unusual in that way.

Impressions: There are Curves everywhere. Curves on top of restaurants, Curves in empty strip malls, Curves in the country. Maine women must love 30-minute circuit training. Flea markets everywhere. Lots of cars parked in lots of front yards. Yard art is ubiquitous. Cars pulling boats (with a boat inside the boat sometimes), cars on top of boats. Lots of things named ‘Schooner’ and lots of “Oriental” restaurants (very un-P.C., Maine!). Gasoline: $3.02 for clean regular, leading me to wonder if you can buy dirty regular for a cheaper price.

As we were leaving this morning, Mapquest took us on the most insane route – off the main highway (Rte 1) to meander in the wilderness for 20+ miles, only to return to Rte 1, 3 or 4 miles from where we left it. We just kept going in disbelief, and I want to complain to someone. Along the rural roads, I saw a house with a sign in front: “We don’t rent pigs.” I can’t imagine why anyone would need to advertise that, but OK. A house with a sign that said, “Wink’s Bottle Shop,” and around the corner, “Wink’s Automotive.” Wink gets around, or else Wink is a common nickname in these parts.

And then, as we were wandering through this rural landscape on these small windings roads, stuck behind one after another truck pulling or hauling something, Marc said:
That’s all people do in the country, they haul stuff. They haul it over here, then they haul it over there.
I guess we’re city mice, all the way. Nothing against Maine, it’s just fine and the people were friendly, the landscape was pretty, it just wasn’t what we thought it’d be.

1 comment:

Diva Carla said...

Hi Lori,
I clicked through from Country Don't Mean Dumb, and saw the Maine blog. As a long time Maine resident, and ex New Yorker, and ex Southerner, I am interested that you found Mt. Desert underwhelming, what with Thunderhole, and the only fjord on the East coast of USA, and the view from Cadillac Mountain. Bar Harbor, you got that pegged. The new bridge is rather fine, and I hear it has an observation deck.
Belfast is one of my stompin grounds, and all I can say is if you are used to New York Eats, maybe Weathervane is good. As long as you enjoyed it. If you drove past Wink's empire, there is a good chance you drove by my house in Hope. An amusing thought.

All in all, the midcoast where I live, including the view from Mount Battie is perhaps more compelling than Mt. Desert / Acadia. Hope you'll come back and try some other spots.

I enjoyed your VT pictures, and will look in on your other travel blogs.

PS, Mapquest sends people through a blueberry field to get to my house. I dunno.