July 10, 2007

The Maine Idea (II)

A needham is a native Maine chocolate filled with coconut and mashed potatoes. The idea is a little wacky, but the experience is unforgettable. My trip to Maine was more than a little like eating a needham.

The idea that I was visiting a male friend at his home on an island in Maine was a topic of some interesting conversations pre-travel. However, it all worked out well. Friendship(s) are intact, and I had a relaxing vacation with Stephan and his family.

Unlike some people, I do not enjoy traveling simply for the sake of movement. I like reaching a destination and then branching out from there on bike, foot, boat or chaise lounge.

Learning that a lake was not a quarter of a mile away from Stephan's home, needless to say, was all the vacation I would have needed. In the span of two days, I visited the lake--or pond as the sign said--three times.

The walk was lovely, but I think I enjoyed the view of rippling blue between the tall trees most of all because I knew that the view of the swimming hole was next: cool water lined by a rocky shore overlooked by millions of pines.

I did laps with Stephan's brother, John, across the lake; but seeing nothing but dense green with a few particles of white flying by in my goggles was downright creepy, so I switched to backstroke. Blue is such a soothing color, especially when footage of Nessie flits through my mind in the middle of an incredibly wide lake.

Silly me.

However, there's much more to do besides just being a lake bum. About halfway through the week, I traveled to the the top of Mount Battie. I spent the day with Stephan's parents, David and Kathy, and we were to picnic on the rock face of the outlook. David went out to a ledge (an uncharacteristic thing because he's afraid of heights) and was readying our picnic spot, when our cooler, filled with Maine factory-fresh cheese, soda and other perishables, did the unthinkable.

A little bit of a rocking motion (pardon the pun), and the cooler and its entire contents spewed forth and down over the rocky ledge, down, down, down into the green canopy below. But our eyes weren't on the food, they were on David's outstretched hand, grasping only the sky.

And then he said: "It's still going!"

Our lunch took about fifteen seconds to completely reach the bottom of the trail-less ravine. I take comfort in the raccoons and squirrels eating like kings that night.

The semi-non-perishables--a loaf of bakery fresh bread and an oatmeal chocolate cookie were left in my arms. Our lunch. And what a great lunch it was.

After that, we hiked to the top of a Mount Megunticook. Around and around it we went. The terraced trail was a challenging, yet fun jaunt, and we found a luna moth on our way. When I reached the top, a little sooner than his parents, I had a moment to reflect: I felt more accomplished than I had in a long time. Actually living out a common metaphor, it seems, is better than using it.

There's much more to say about Maine. About its endearing L.L. Bean fetish. Its docks and harbors filled with boats worth more than my upcoming education. Its seafood. Its beaches. Its life. However, there's a lot to say, and I've spent too much time on this blog already.

But I guess it comes down to a question. I've always wondered if you left part of yourself in the places you've traveled to, but really, I think you bring more back with you. Maine is an addition in every way.

I don't need to look any further than the the calorie count on the needhams package to prove that.

If you'd like to see some photos and commentary, check out the extended entry...

breakfast.jpg
Stephan, John and Kevin around the breakfast table. I think Stephan was playing with the jam.

oldlight.jpg
On the first full day of the trip, we went to this old lighthouse. I climbed the ladder (probably not a good idea), but the view was amazing.

pinkshirt.jpg
Islands, islands everywhere. Adjacent to this pier is a dock. Several private boats are anchored there. I was swarmed by black gnats not far from here after a rain shower.

seamoss.jpg
Below the pier, shown above, is masses of seaweed. I made the landlover mistake of calling it moss. John really got a kick out of that.

sparklyfreedom.jpg
I don't think I can remember a colder Fourth of July, but I chalk it up to Maine. haha. Rain was falling, and most of my photos have lovely shots of drizzle, but this one turned out. I give a lot of credit to the town's firemen for this amazing show over the river. Fireworks spewed from one end of the pier to the other by the time this was shot. Surprise. Shock and awe.

harbor.jpg
Overlooking the harbor on top of Mount Battie. This was shot not far from the cooler's demise location.

luna.jpg
This luna moth met its end along the path up Mount Megunticook. Moths were the least of my worries, however. I was fodder for the mosquitoes. I don't even dare count the bites scattered on my arms and legs.

camden.jpg
This was an odd find in the middle of a charming town called Camden. Many of the buildings are built on stilts and the water rushes beneath until it empties out into the ocean via this beautiful waterfall.

harbor2.jpg
You look and look at views like this. It's called "postcard territory." Compliments to Maine.

redhotdogs.jpg
How can red hotdogs--a thing they only do in Maine, I'm told--be organic? Word is it's beet juice. I haven't altered the color on this photo. I couldn't believe it.

happyfeet.jpg
My feet love the water, as does the rest of me. I learned to love the lake, despite my misgivings about the stuff on the bottom.

swing.jpg
The swing is great, but the rocks are a constant fear. Good times, and I didn't die.

Photo alterations by Pixer.

(If I've gotten any names of places wrong, I apologize. A journalist on vacation can't get everything absolutely right.)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at July 10, 2007 3:16 PM | TrackBack
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