Friday, August 31, 2018

My month in Maine

My take on Mainers

Mainers love their state - even those who don't stay here year round.  And actually, I didn't meet many of those, though I'm sure there are plenty of them - I met one of them in a state park in Delaware, in fact.  But I didn't meet one single person of any age who was not completely in love with this state.

What was odd to me was that, with one exception, every single young person (approx. age 18-25) I talked to loved where they lived, and most of them were living in very small towns.  I had trouble believing it, actually, but I heard it from person after person after person.  They liked living in their small town, liked not having so many people around, liked that people were friendly, that people looked after each other, thought that town was a good place to raise kids, and so on over and over.  If I hadn't been the one talking to them, I wouldn't have believed there were that many young adults in this country who preferred living in all these small towns.

And the one exception lived in Augusta, not in a small town.  He didn't like living in such a big place (population 19,000) and really wanted to move down to Bar Harbor where he had family.  But others who lived in cities said they liked their cities, so he seems to have been an anomaly.

Mainers are obviously aware of their dependence on tourism throughout the state, but I didn't hear anybody complain or say they'll be glad when they can get their town back to themselves or other things I've heard (and said myself) in tourist-dependent towns.

People are friendly without appearing to be - I mean, they usually waited for me to start but then just lit up if I so much as said good morning.

As far as I can tell in such a short time, Mainers like being independent, while knowing they're completely dependent on their neighbors.  It's a little like the feeling I got from Alaskans when I lived there.

I liked it here.  I felt at home much of the time.  Though I could seriously do without the extraordinary crowds of people.

What I missed that I wanted to see

I've noted some of the things in the daily posts - downtown Portland, for instance, and several of the lighthouses and their environs.

I'd like to go try again at Castine to find the Dyce Head Lighthouse and Fort George, both of which I missed, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings to spend a little more time walking through the town there, which seemed a lovely and interesting place to be.

I missed several places around Bangor - the Maine Forest and Logging Museum, the Mount Hope Cemetery, the museum at the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation.

I'd like to go back to some of the beaches and coastal areas in - say - mid-September, when there might be fewer people around and I can actually enjoy them.

The multi-building museum in York looked really interesting to me, but I just didn't want to take the time when we were passing through.

And mostly, I just enjoyed being along the north rim in the French-speaking area of the state.  And I enjoyed being in the Lubec/Eastport area.  Both places had plenty of people but seemed easy-going and unpressured anyway.  I'd like very much to go back sometime.

Maine - Days 30 & 31

Yellowstone Park Campground
Thursday the 30th and Friday the 31st, August 2018

I've been promising myself for several weeks that I'd take the last 2 days of my month here to rest and regroup, and that's what I've been doing.

I took a quick trip to the grocery store this morning - solely because I was out of dog food, which I regarded as a crisis - but otherwise have been sitting at this campsite.

The weather finally broke and the humidity is back down to reasonable levels, thank goodness.  The temp went down too, so we're not all in danger of dying if we don't turn on the AC.

I've cleaned the whole inside of the RV, and it's been long enough since I've done that that it took some doing.  I cleaned all the windows, inside and out.

I reorganized or tossed the stuff that accumulates if you don't stay right on top of it every day, which I rarely do - the maps and receipts and tourist info and newspapers . . . .

I've cooked several dishes and split them into serving portions, so I'll have easy meals that aren't Lean Cuisine for the rest of the week.  And then I washed the dishes.

I've caught up on my blog, which is important to me because I really don't want to forget the things I see - and I absolutely will do that, so I need this record of them for myself, even if no one else reads it.  I've already found myself going back to try to find something I remember vaguely.

I'm starting to make plans for my month in Massachusetts, but I've learned not to get too detailed until I've stopped at the state's visitor welcome center.  They all seem to have campground information and publications with sights to see that I might not be able to find out about otherwise.  And they especially have state maps.  I have a AAA map for each state, but I've found those maps don't always show the same roads and towns that the state maps do.  It's not that one's better than the other - they complement each other.

I'll have the Labor Day weekend at the KOA campground in western Mass. and will likely stay put to avoid the traffic that will almost certainly be on the roads.  So I can do some planning then for the rest of the month in my nice clean cabin.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Maine - Day 29 - Portland

Yellowstone Park Campground
Wednesday, 29 August 2018

On the news today, I heard that some Mainers are incensed because they’ve learned that the governor, who no longer appears to be ailing, recently (and apparently quietly) joined other governors and attorneys general (including Texas’s I think) in an appeal from a court ruling in Michigan that said employers couldn’t fire somebody just because they fell into an LBGTQ bracket.  Local LGBTQ folks are saying, he’s only got a few months left in his term and he really wants to spend it saying people should get fired?  Business people are noting Maine’s 3% unemployment rate and saying it’s already hard for them to find workers without making Maine look less inclusive.  (How did this guy get elected in the first place?)
today's fuzzy route
Today I’d hoped to spend a little time in Portland, Maine’s largest city by far, but as has often happened in the large cities I’ve visited, I got shoved out by the traffic and lack of parking.

I found on the online map of the town that the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House was only a block from Monument Square, the center of town, where there would be a Farmer’s Market today.  So great, I thought, I could visit both and hoped that by getting there around 9:00 I might be able to find a parking place.  But it didn’t happen like that.

First, because I wanted to take a rural route rather than the interstate, it took me a lot longer to get to town than I’d hoped, though it was a pretty ride.  Second, I actually did not get lost (almost unheard of) but it’s an old town so the streets are narrow, which made maneuvering a chore.  Plus, that farmer’s market used up a lot of parking spaces I might otherwise have been able to take.  And most deadly, the parking isn’t with regular meters but with meters you pay online, which I’m unable to do, not having a smart phone.  There were parking lots, but they don’t like letting vehicles like mine in and, of course, parking garages are completely out because of the height limit.

So I drove around downtown a bit – it looks like a nice place and I’m sorry I couldn’t visit – and then aimed for the harbor.  Which I also found with no problem and drove along there looking at all the shipping businesses and ferry terminals and restaurants and so forth – a bustling area, it seemed.  And still without getting lost (unbelievable) I found the bridge across the bay to South Portland.
Casco Bay Bridge

I’ve included an online photo of the bridge mainly because it turns out to be a drawbridge, and the bridge was in the middle of drawing when I got there.  But I didn’t have to wait long, though there was a long line, and got across and found the laundromat I was aiming for, again with no problem.

Nice laundromat, staffed, well maintained.  But not an inch of shade in the parking area where I had no choice but to leave the critters, though I walked the dogs a couple of times, and the RV being nothing more than a metal box, after all, it got really hot and stuffy.  The second I got the laundry done, I drove across the street to the grocery store and managed to find a tree we could park in the shade of.  And I sat with the AC on for a bit, trying to cool things down to something that wouldn’t kill my babies while I went in to get some supplies.

I also ducked into a vet’s office by the groc store to get some pills for Gracie’s arthritis, but they didn’t have the same brand and she’s so picky about what she eats I was afraid to experiment.

We drove down the road a little way to Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Head Lighthouse, that marks the entrance to Portland harbor. Built in 1791, it’s Maine’s oldest lighthouse.
Once again we were fighting huge crowds – who’d have thought? - so I walked the dogs and took this photo off the internet.

During the day I passed a towing company called Anything Tows.  And another business called Probably Auto Inc.  I swear.  I have no idea what their business is.  And a coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings.

And I got behind a car with a bumper sticker that said: I’m not lost. I’m exploring.  Which I should probably take as my motto for this whole trip.

And somewhere along the way I learned that Poland Spring bottled water comes from Poland, ME – that’s where I was at the Range Pond Campground a few days ago.  And it still comes from there. I had no idea. 

Driving down Route 1 on the way back to the campground, I was looking for veterinary offices.  I found one, parked in their lot (just barely big enough for me), left the engine/AC running for the critters, and went in still on a quest for Gracie’s pills.  Nope.  They too have similar but not the same products.

I saw another office but not until I was too far along to be able to stop safely.  And then I spotted another, missed their parking lot but pulled into what I thought was a driveway that went around the building and back to the parking lot.  It didn’t.  It was just a driveway, and a short one at that.  And it was right at a busy intersection with lots of traffic.

So I did my usual backing and forthing, trying to get myself at an angle where I could back onto the highway easily without holding up traffic too much, only to find a car had seen my antics and stopped up his whole lane of traffic while I maneuvered my way out of there.  Extremely nice of that person – I don’t know how I’d have gotten out safely otherwise.

After all this trauma, I decided to make a side trip before I went to the campground and got some more of that really good Shaker Pond ice cream.  I’ve been getting the plain ordinary chocolate and it’s really wonderful.  I figured I deserved it.

And while I was in the ice cream parlor, the heavens totally opened up and rain absolutely poured down in sheets and the wind blew it sideways.  There was a couple about my age inside who had ridden one of those 3-wheeled motorcycles there – but we all figured there were much worse places to get stuck.  I didn’t want to wait it out, with the critters out there and Gracie terrified of thunder and lightning (having learned they’re connected), so I raced back to the RV and got completely drenched in the 15 seconds it took.

And 5 minutes later it was over.

I got back to the campground, only to find that while I was gone someone had taken my water hose that I'd left on the picnic table.  I'd done that every day I was here, and also left the dogs' long leashes and a trash bag of dog poop.  I checked with the campground owner but nobody had mentioned it to her (they might have thought it was a lost and found, you see), but her husband brought me a substitute that someone else had left a while back. 

Then later in the evening the owner drove up with my very own water hose.  She said one of the seasonals had decided, for some reason, that I'd abandoned all that stuff and walked off with my hose.  They were apparently apologetic (as well they should be) and the owner said I'd asked her why they didn't take the trash with them.  What on earth could they have been thinking?  With all that other stuff there I'd have just driven off and wasn't planning to come back?  But all's well that end's well.

Maine - Day 28

Yellowstone Park Campground
Tuesday, 28 August 2018
today's route
I heard on the news this morning that a 3-masted windjammer called Victory Chimes is the only privately-owned item that appears on a state quarter, and it’s on Maine.  It was on the news because it's for sale and can be yours for the bargain price of $650,000.  But it's really pretty.
Victory Chimes

Also on the news is concern about Maine’s governor, who has been hospitalized for the last 3 days with an unspecified medical problem.  People aren’t really pushing for him to disclose the problem, but they are concerned about who can take over for him if he’s incapacitated.  Maine is one of only 7 states that doesn’t have a lieutenant governor; its constitution specifies what happens if the governor dies but not what happens if for some reason he’s unable to fulfill his official duties.  I’m guessing this question wouldn’t have come up if he’d just say what happened to him, but he isn’t, leaving everyone to speculate about incapacitation.  Odd situation.

Today I drove back down to the coast, going north on Route 1 through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Reserve to Kennebunk.  From there I turned southish, along Kennebunk Beach (see yesterday’s note about York’s Long Beach for a ditto description here).

George HW Bush's house
the president's house, internet version
the Bush compound
By following Beach Road along the coast, I came upon an excellent view of Pres. Bush Sr.’s home.  That road is very narrow and winding, but along the eastern side of that little peninsula is where you can see the house, and the town has sensibly put up wall-to-wall signs saying don’t stop here, there’s a parking area farther down.  And sure enough, there is, which is where I was when I took this photo.  I’m sorry but it was still fairly early in the morning, so the sun obscured my photo a little.  Because I’m sure you’re fascinated, I’m including an internet photo of the house, and an internet photo of the whole compound.  These buildings take up the entire peninsula known as Walker’s Point.  As the road goes by, it’s easy to see the security gate at the entrance to the peninsula.  Those poor people didn’t have much chance for privacy with that kind of set-up.  But it’s a beautiful location.

In the neighborhood is a monastery – St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery – that allows the public in the daylight hours; I hear the grounds are beautiful and peaceful.  There’s a Guest House on the grounds that’s open for public guests.  I just didn’t expect a monastery on the Maine coast, though I suppose I should have.

I went a little farther along the coast, aiming for Cape Porpoise and a view of the Goat Island Lighthouse, which the internet swore could be easily seen from the end of Pier Road.  Trustingly, I drove out to the end of Pier Road and found a private restaurant, with a parking lot that had signs saying absolutely no RVs here, and parking only for restaurant patrons.  I can take a hint when it’s not really a hint, but had to do some backing and forthing to get out of the tiny parking lot, which I’d gone into because I was hoping I can see the lighthouse and grab a quick photo before anybody got upset.  No view and no photo.

So I managed to get out of the parking lot and went just a little farther down the road because it looked like there was a boat launch there and I thought there’d be a turnaround (it was a boat launch, after all) and maybe a view.  That was an enormous mistake and I don’t know how long I’d have had to sit there if a restaurant patron hadn’t taken pity on me.  See, people parked along that turnaround that was, in fact, there and parked in such a way that there really wasn’t room for my 8’ wide RV to get through.  I had to come around the turn with cars parked on both sides, and the angle they left me would have been a bit of a squeeze for a car, let alone a large pickup – and for me it was paralyzing.

So I sat there, stuck, wondering how long I’d have to wait for the car owners to come back from whatever boat trip they were on, and a nice local woman came across the road from the restaurant’s parking lot to the restaurant, and I waved at her and begged her for help.  I think I must have been asking for the sort of help she’d never had to give before, because she didn’t look at all sure of herself, but she took one look at my clearly desperate situation and agreed.  She managed to inch me through that spot – and I do mean inch – and patiently checked both sides over and over and had me turn this way or that or straighten out the wheel – I think it took 5 minutes but felt like an hour.  She was so nice about it I was ready to buy her lunch or something.  But she trotted off really quickly, apparently afraid I’d ask her to do something else impossible.  What a situation.  And once again I’m thankful I’m not any longer than a 24’er.

And I never did even see the lighthouse. I’m including an internet photo here. 
Goat Island Lighthouse
Finally, back in Cape Porpoise, I stopped in front of a pretty church and walked the dogs around town a bit – their town post office is inside their local market – and generally had a good rest.  That street the church was on was the usual narrow village street – uphill – and I wasn’t about to try a turn-around there, so I drove up the street to find the road dead-ended and was just about to make a Hail Mary turnaround when a young woman with a baby in a stroller told me that little lane off to the right came out back by the village market.  So, again trustingly, off I went down the lane and she was right (unlike Google).

Not satisfied with my near fiascos so far today I set off down another local road, looking for the Seashore Trolley Museum, which I found with no trouble!  Yea!  I found some shade to park in – it was seriously hot and humid (the temp and the humidity were about the same) and there was almost no breeze, so I was worried about leaving the critters, who all had fur coats.

But I did anyway and for $10 (senior fee) I got a great ride on an old trolley.  The one I was on was from New Haven, Conn., and among other things transported Yale students to football games with about 5 times the recommended number of passengers.  Among other things, I learned:
  • the forestland the trolley was running through used to be all cleared off for dairy farms; the dairy farmers would flag down the trolley as it passed by on its route between Kennebunk and Biddeford
  • the Brooklyn Dodgers team was originally named the Brooklyn Trolleydodgers (guess why) but the name got shortened by use
  • trolleys allowed the mills in Sanford (see Sunday’s post) to function as they provided affordable transport for workers to the mills
  • in the same way, streetcars allowed cities to expand and suburbs to be established
  • trolleys between towns could be quite high speed – the Portland to Lewiston train was clocked at 78 mph
  • in 1914, former president Theodore Roosevelt rode that trolley back from a moose-hunting trip in the wilds of Maine
  • trolleys were used to haul freight as well as for passengers
  • the Sanford Mills Co. and Goodall Worsted Co. used up to 300 tons of coal/day, and the trolleys hauled that coal from the ports up to the mills
  • to help convince the general public that electric trolleys were safe, streetcar companies built luxurious cars with rare wood inlays, window shades, cut glass windows, polished brass fittings, comfortable seats
  • the museum has the trolley that was used in the original Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 movie with Walter Matthau
  • the museum includes not only trolleys they’ve renovated but also a workshop where visitors can watch the restorations underway
  • the trolley I rode had old fading signs advertising Burma Shave, Gaines dog food, Maidenform brassieres, and Viceroy cigarettes – and the short 30-minute ride provided the best breeze all day and made me feel guilty for leaving the critters without it

my Connecticut trolley

 The plaque explains the building, which is made of tin.  I know because I thunked it to be sure.

And from there it was time to head back to the campground before we all died from the humidity.

We passed back through Kennebunk and I made a detour to see a home called the Wedding Cake House – I think because it’s so elegant. You can probably see the no trespassing signs the owners have posted and can guess how much trouble they’ve had with idiots tromping around in their front yard.
Wedding Cake House
I also drove around Kennebunk for a bit, trying to find a spot where I could stop to take a photo of this church and finally resorted to the internet.  This is the First Parish Unitarian Church, built in 1773.  The bell was cast by Paul Revere in 1803 and is still rung.  The clock was built in 1883 and still runs.  The organ inside dates from 1900.  Of course, everything’s been refurbished along the way, but it’s still all what you might call genuine antiques.  Pretty neat, huh?

Maine - Day 27 - south Maine coast

Yellowstone Park Campground
Sunday, 27 August 2018
today's sadly fuzzy route
I had several sights I wanted to see today but, I'm sorry to say, I missed several.

I drove back down to South Berwick and from there down to Kittery, the farthest southwest town in Maine, right across the river from Portsmouth, NH. 
this is an online photo of a sight I saw but couldn't stop for - it's the bridge across from Kittery to Portsmouth
Oddly Kittery, rather than Portsmouth, is the home of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  I knew I wouldn’t be allowed on base so wasn’t disappointed at making it only as far as the gate. 
a gate at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
I knew just a little way farther down the road was a church I wanted to see, but the road was so narrow with multiple s-turns and lots of traffic that I’m sorry to say I missed it.  This picture is from the internet.  It's the 1st Congregational Church and is supposed to be the setting for Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  It looks severe enough to be a Puritan church.
church in Kittery

A little farther down the road is Fort McClary.  The blockhouse in my photo was built in 1844.  I don’t know if you can see the 2 lighthouses in my photo – the closer one is in NH on the other side of the river that the fort was guarding; the farther one on the left is known as the Whaleback Lighthouse. 
Fort McClary blockhouse

the tiny lighthouses
Whaleback lighthouse, built 1872
Not far up the road is the town of York.  (Again, everything’s so close together up here, I only drove about 80 miles today.)  In York itself there’re quite a few historical structures that have been preserved.  This photo I got off the internet (because the streets were too narrow for me to stop for a picture) is of the Old Gaol.  Built in 1719 (can you believe it?), it’s the oldest British Colonial structure that’s still in the same place it was built.  The stone part was the original, and the rest was added as time went on.  It was used as a jail until the Revolutionary War, and after that it was the York jail for years.  It’s considered one of the oldest prison buildings in the US.

Across the street I saw a marker that said on that spot in April 1775, 63 minutemen gathered and marched to join the Revolution.

I tried to get to the Whaleback Lighthouse to see it for myself but found that to do that I’d have to pay a $10 entry fee for Fort Foster, and I wasn’t interested in the fort and didn’t want to pay just for the lighthouse photo. So enjoy the internet photo above.  This is the lighthouse that was way in the distance from Fort McClary in Kittery.

York is the home of Long Beach, which surprised me for being only about 15’ wide at high tide and narrower in some places.  But Maine’s coastline is so rocky that I’m guessing any place where there’s an actual sandy beach is considered primo.
sample rocky Maine coastline
The whole beach was elbow to elbow.  It was the same across the street in the little apartments and hotels lining the sea walk – people were practically hanging out the windows, it was so crowded.  And this was a Monday!  I’d figured the crowds would have gone back to work by then, but I guess folks were grabbing the last week of summer.

Long Beach Ave. winds along the coast (duh) and after a bit comes to the turn to Cape Neddick and what’s known as the Nubble Lighthouse.  Because there were so many people I could barely drive in, let alone park, I'm posting this photo of it from the internet. 

Nubble Lighthouse
By this time I’d had enough of the crowds and decided I’d tried to see enough for one day, so I went home.

Maine - Day 26 - western Maine countryside

Yellowstone Park Campground
Sunday, 26 August 2018
today's route
I figured on a sunny Sunday, the whole world would be down at the Maine beaches and I definitely didn’t want to be among them, so I decided to explore the small inland towns in this area.  I’d heard of a winery in Lebanon down the road a few miles, that was only open on Sunday afternoons, so I figured that was as good a destination as any.

With some time to spare in the morning, I drove over to the NH border, which is only 14 crow-flight miles from here.  But I didn’t want to follow the crows; I wanted to sightsee.

I should say right way that I only drove about 65 miles all day, even though I covered maybe 5 or 6 little towns and a fair amount of countryside.

I went first down to South Berwick (passing through North Berwick) and found a really charming little town.  You can see on the map it sits almost smack on the NH border.  In fact, all day I think I saw at least as many NH license plates as I did Maine ones.  Actually, all along the Maine coast I’ve been seeing so many Massachusetts plates it hasn’t always been easy to remember which state I’m in.

downtown South Berwick
Cummings Mill Apartments
But back to South Berwick.   I’ve got a photo of the downtown – the whole one street’s worth.  I found a parking place and took the dogs for a walk (you’d think they hadn’t been out in a month, the way they were acting), and we found ourselves at this building, with a sign saying it is the Cummings Mill Apartments.  But I’m getting used to looking at mill buildings now and was sure it had once been an actual mill.  Sure enough, I found online that from 1872 to 1990 it was a shoe factory.   At its height it produced 5,000 pairs of shoes a day and employed 350 workers.  That’s a lot of workers at any time, and I imagine the region wouldn’t mind having that many jobs back again.  But shoes aren’t made like they used to be.

North of South Berwick I found Berwick.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t look nearly as prosperous and I’m guessing hasn’t figured out how to reinvent itself as well as South Berwick has. But surely that will come.  It’s just not there now.

Berwick and South Berwick sit on the Salmon Falls River which, I hadn’t realized until today, is the dividing line between NH and Maine and what makes the lower boundary deviate from the otherwise totally straight line that forms the rest of the western boundary.  See that little squiggly bit way down at the bottom left?  That’s where I spent the day.  That map shows Sanford, which is the town my campground’s next to.

I wanted to find the Salmon Falls River but couldn’t see any county or state roads on the map that would get me along there (as opposed to crossing it into NH) so decided not to pin my plans on being able to turn around on some wildly narrow country road.  Yeah, well, as it turns out I had to do that anyway later on.

So I abandoned the river and drove north to Lebanon where the winery was supposed to be.   Note my phrasing because I never did find the winery, or even a sign directing me to it.  I once again trusted online directions – both from the winery’s website and from Google – and they both lied, as far as I was concerned.

I drove up to US Rt. 202 in Lebanon, as directed, located the correct road by not following the directions but by following an online area map instead, and then got to an odd intersection that neither set of directions mentioned.  The intersection consisted of the road I was on; a crossroad that went west to Rochester, NH, and east to nowhere I could identify; and 2 roads straight ahead, neither with clear labels.  I chose the road more-traveled (with apologies to Robert Frost) because I figured a winery would be more likely to be on a 2-lane road than a 1½-lane road, plus a man in another car (who stopped to tell me I was a long way from home) said that’s the way I should go.  So I went.

And went and went for miles and miles and finally started to think that if I went much farther I’d be in New Hampshire and anyway why had I not seen any sign whatever for this winery when I was sure I was in the vicinity – and then the road forked and both forks looked equally likely – and equally unlikely.  And since the fork was a big enough intersection to turn around in, I turned around and went all-l-l-l-l-l the way back to that intersection, and finally saw the street sign telling me the street I wanted was the 1½-lane one.

So I started up that one, and almost immediately I saw a sign saying it wasn’t a through road.  Well, okay, I thought, so it would stop at the winery and there would surely be a parking area there.  The online directions said the road would be unpaved and I so far hadn’t encountered any unpaved roads, but I quickly wished this one was unpaved because the pavement was so broken it was horrible to drive on.  My poor little home was rocked like crazy with each gaping pothole, and the road was too narrow and too broken up for me to avoid them.  And then the road started going uphill and got narrower and narrower, and I got nervouser and nervouser.

And then up ahead I saw a US Mail truck – on a Sunday (let’s hear it for contracts with Amazon, no matter what the president says) - which was turning around in a driveway, which I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do.  At that moment I was sitting at what you might call an intersection, since there was a labeled road going off to the left, and I decided enough was enough and I gave up trying to find that winery and turned around at that semi-intersection.

I never could figure out where I went wrong.  I mean, I didn’t go wrong since I found the road the directions told me to find.  No idea.

Sanford's currently unused mill
I drove on into Sanford, looking for a place to stop where I could walk the dogs, because I’d promised them they could walk at the winery and they were overdue.  And I found a nice
Sanford's waterfall
little park by the town’s waterfall/electricity source.  In fact, it was what made the town a long time ago because it provided the power for the Sanford textile mills.
 That sign should have had some proofreading before it got cast, but it shows the town’s civic pride.

From Sanford, I drove the 4 miles farther down the road to Alfred – just to see the town of that name, which it turns out is a pretty little town.  On my way back to the campground, I stopped at the Shaker Pond ice cream parlor (I figured I deserved ice cream after that drive), and learned later that Alfred is the home of this ice cream.  Which is really good ice cream, by the way, if you ever happen to be in the vicinity.

My current campground is growing on me enough that I've decided to stay here the whole week, and get the reduced weekly rate from then while not paying my last cash to that other campground.  This campground agreed, and the cash campground said they hoped I'd stop by another time.

Maine - Day 25 - Saco River

Yellowstone Park Campground, Sanford
Saturday, 25 August 2018
today's route
I could see from the map that there aren’t any main roads between last night’s campground and tonight’s; I also knew that last night’s campground is right on the Saco River (pronounced sack-o), and that it flows down to the ocean to the town of Saco, so I decided I would try to find roads that followed its route as far as possible.

I remembered last month in New Hampshire I visited the fish ladder in Manchester and the fish hatchery in Nashua.  They both told me the eggs they harvested were taken to Maine and released in the Saco River.  That seemed odd to me – to take fish from one state to another – but the staff explained that conditions in the NH rivers weren’t very conducive to the success of the fish and they were much better in the Saco, and who cares which state the fish are in as long as their populations are thriving.  It seemed to me at the time to be a very adult point of view.

Anyway, I decided to make friends with the Saco River since I was in the neighborhood, so I planned a route along country roads that seemed like they’d get me near the river.  They did.

I started first by going away from the river, to the town of Denmark which was a few miles away from my last campground.  I’ve only been in Copenhagen before, and only for a few hours, but I can say with authority that Maine’s Denmark doesn’t look like Europe’s Denmark.  This Denmark is spread out around the hills with a nice view of the White Mountains to the west.  I’ve found that, in Maine, when a town is marked on a map as being in a particular spot, that spot is just the general vicinity the community is centered around, and the community can spread out from that spot for quite a way.  In Denmark’s case, there were still pieces of it 7 miles from the dot on the map.

I found the river at several points along the way, and found it to be quite a decent sized river.   I didn’t bother to take any photos of it, partly because I couldn’t find a safe vantage point, and partly because it looked much like my earlier photos of the Androscoggin and other large rivers.

Even though I was on narrow country roads and couldn’t (and didn’t want to) always go very fast, I still made it down to Saco by lunchtime.  I drove only 80 miles altogether today, and the section to Saco wasn’t but about half of that.

General Dynamics has a big presence in Saco, I was a little surprised to note.

In Saco, I got lost again, as usual, because of not understanding why a road I wanted to take to the west was labeled as being to the east.  So I didn’t take it, which turned out to be a mistake.  Instead I wandered around town trying to find Main Street, figuring that would be US Route 1, because that’s what it’s called in most towns I’ve been in.  Well, it isn’t in Saco.

In the process, I found myself on a street that had a warning sign that up ahead was a bridge with a clearance of 10’5”.  This made me very nervous, because I’m pretty sure that my rooftop air conditioner makes me 11’ tall.  So I turned down the only available option, which ran right into the local elementary school.  With trees shading their parking lot and not many people around, it was a perfect place to stop for lunch and walk the dogs and regroup, i.e. try to figure out where Route 1 was.

It was a nice young couple I met when I was walking the dogs who told me to follow School St. (of course that was the name) on around and I’d find Rt. 1 no problem and they were really pretty sure there were no low bridges along the way.  So I did and they were right.  In Saco Rt. 1 is called Elm St.  Main St. is a different street.  Now I know.

A little way south on Rt. 1 I found Arundel – again, the map shows Arundel as not being on Rt. 1 at all but along the coastline, but all the businesses along the road claimed to be in Arundel, so I guess they were.  Those businesses were almost entirely antique and (self-described) junk shops, sitting at a crossroads.

I went through Kennebunk down to Wells, where I turned north.  I’d already made reservations for next Thursday and Friday at a campground in Wells and wanted to take a look at it.  I made the reservations days ago because those are my last days in Maine and I wanted to be sure I had somewhere to go, which I was afraid might be a problem since they were the lead-in to the Labor Day weekend.  I just had a feeling half the northeast would want to be up on Maine’s beaches that weekend and I didn’t want to be floundering around with no plug-in for my AC if it got hot.

That campground, though, accepted only cash, and the 2 nights would take almost every dollar of the cash I had left.  I don’t have an ATM card and there aren’t any Chase banks in Maine – as there weren’t in New Hampshire or Vermont.  I kept this Chase account as a leftover from my mom because I figured there would be branches all over the US and I’d always have access to money if I needed it (which is why I didn’t bother with the ATM card).  And that reasoning was almost right, with the apparent exception of northern New England.

Anyway, I wanted to see that campground to see if it was worth giving up almost my last dollar right before a national holiday weekend when every bank in the country would be closed.  I have to say that from the road, the campground looked very nice.

I came north on a Maine route 8 miles to my current campground, which isn’t quite as nice but is certainly more convenient regarding method of payment.  The only drawback here is they don’t have wifi.  They’ve got a service I haven’t run across before where I’d contract directly with a private company that would provide me a signal.  But finally!! I’m getting a good strong signal from my little hot spot, so I don’t need to worry about it.  I’ve got a good campsite with nobody on either side and lots of trees for shade, so I think I’ll stay here a second night as well.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Maine - Day 24

On the Saco Campground
Friday, 24 August 2018

This is a very pleasant campground.  Their showers are the most expensive I've run across - 50¢ for 6 minutes, when the most expensive I've seen before now was 25¢ for 8 minutes - but they're clean and the water is hot so it's a trade-off.  Otherwise, it's a small place with only 28 RV sites and a dozen or so tent sites, with the RV sites ranged around a large green space and fairly thick hedges of trees between the sites, and the tent sites set along the Saco River. 

I'm limited in how far I can walk the dogs during the day because there are lots of other dogs here, which of course make mine act a little wacko, but there are still areas of green verged by trees a little away from the sites where my dogs find enough distractions to keep their attention away from the dogs. 

Very pleasant.  Very family-oriented, too, and I have to turn the fan on at night for white noise so Gracie and I can sleep without hearing the little kids.  Run by a young, cheerful, competent couple with a small child themselves.  And a decent wifi signal - so a perfect place to stay an extra night.

The main thing I needed to do today was try to figure out where there's a campground that I can afford that's a little closer to the coast and the sights I still want to see in Maine.  The closer you get to the coast, the higher the campground prices rise.  I found one where even the tent sites were $60/night.  How could it possibly be that great a place?

Here I'm only an hour and a half or so from the coast, but I'd hoped to get closer, and I finally found one of the least expensive campgrounds with a vacancy on an August weekend: Yellowstone Park Campground.  Why do you suppose they thought that was a good name to choose?  I doubt if I'll ask them, but it seems an odd choice.  With that price it may be a dump, but if so I can still stay there one night while trying to find someplace else.  If it's decent, I may stay there for my last week in Maine.  We'll see.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Maine - Day 23 - LL Bean

On The Saco Campground, Brownfield
Thursday, 23 August 2018

sort of today's route
Undaunted by yesterday's poor performance by online directions, I tried again using the almost nonexistent wifi at the last campground - it worked briefly and then I couldn't pick it up again.  Not really useful.  Anyway, I got directions using Bing Maps that purported to take me from my rural campground to Freeport.

Not far from my campground I missed the turn for Bald Hill Road and drove for more than 2 miles before I could even find anywhere to pull over, let alone turn around.  After puzzling over both my maps (remember, I don't have a smart phone or GPS) I noticed I was parked near an office and decided it was time for some help.

I met a very nice woman there, who wholeheartedly embraced the project of getting me to LL Bean where, she said, they were having a 25% off sale.  She printed off Google Maps directions for me.  She also told me, when I asked, that she was originally from Aroostook County (that's the huge one that covers most of the northern part of the state), and pronounced it a-ROO-stook, rather than the A-roo-stook I'd imagined.  She said when she moved down to Poland (where last night's campground was), she thought she'd moved to the Bahamas because there it was, Mother's Day, and there wasn't a snowbank to be seen.  Conveying in that one anecdote more than she could have imagined.  Her daughter lives in Grand Prairie, TX, and now speaks with a Texas accent, the woman said, but she didn't think there was such a thing as a Maine accent.  I assured her there is, though I haven't been able to put my finger on what makes it distinctive.

Anyway, armed with new directions, I got completely lost again in very short order, after I had trouble reading the format and following the directions while still driving (hard to do with my reading glasses on).  So I wandered around, using my trusty Pres. Franklin Pierce compass to aim generally southish, and suddenly found I was on one of the roads in the Google directions.  Aiming the wrong way.  So I turned around and headed back, and then abandoned the directions when I saw a sign saying that if I didn't follow them I could go down this other road for 7 miles and hit Freeport.  So I did.

It looks different when it's not raining.
LLBean's photo - I didn't have my camera

I went into the store intending to spend a fair amount of money if I could find what I've been noticing I don't have - a decent all-season rain-resistant jacket and some winter version of tennis shoes, my current ones being air-cooled for summer.  I really looked and really wanted to find something.  Just not there.  Apparently I'm too picky.  I want a jacket with a hood, and with both a zipper and snaps, and with pockets.  Why oh why is that too much to ask.  Not one of the many many styles of jackets in that store had all these features.  I asked 2 salesclerks for help.  I finally told one to pass on to the designers that some of us have hot flashes and need ventilation while protecting ourselves from the wind (thus, the snaps).  And that some of us walk our dogs and find ourselves in sudden rain showers and want a hood to keep from getting soaked.  She was in her 50s and looked sympathetic and said she'd pass it on.  You never know.

The dogs got 2 walks in the LL Bean area - it's a huge campus, plus lots of other stores have sensibly opened outlets there: GAP and American Eagle and so forth.

The parking lot was nearly empty when we got there, and completely full when we left, and if the woman parked next to me hadn't come out when I was trying to leave, I would probably have been stuck there till she did.

Then I tried again with the online directions.  Actually, the original set Bing had come up with looked dumb to me, so I asked it for adjustments that were much less convoluted and more direct.  But once I got out in the real world, I discovered even those weren't as direct as they could have been and adjusted to the different route I could see in real life.

These people here too have promised a wifi signal and, unless it's completely nonexistent, I'm going to stay here a second night just to rest and regroup a bit.