Sorry for the absence of the blog yesterday. I was fired up and ready to write it last night, but after we checked in to the Bangor Inn & Suites, it turned out that their “free WiFi” is not just poor, it is non-existent. When I went to talk to the front desk clerk about it, he explained that he gets complaints about it every night. In 2016, this is not a hard issue to address and fix, so the fact that they’ve been hearing about it and not fixing it reflects poorly on the management. In any case, no internet – no blog last night.
We started yesterday at the fun little beach town of Old Orchard, Maine. It was misty and almost-raining (that stuff that collects on your glasses, but seems to be otherwise invisible) and we drove around the town a bit. It looks like it would be a going concern in the summertime, but it’s a ghost town in early October. I don’t know if you’ve read Stephen King’s Joyland, but it reminded me of the town in that book. (I loved Joyland, by the way, if you’re looking for a fun, fast read.)
We hopped up the coast to Portland and drove out to Portland Head Light. Portland Head is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, having first been lit in early 1791. Before we got to the lighthouse, though, the view of the bay took Dawn’s breath away. I love it when she sees something, sucks her breath in and covers her mouth with her hand. Pure joy for her, and for me, seeing her that way. Here’s a couple of shots of that bay:
That’s Dawn in her natural element, by the way. We found something here in this little bay that we’ve never heard elsewhere. There are small rocks and pebbles where the water comes in, as opposed to sand. So when a big wave rushes in and then empties, it jostles the small stones and makes a unique, wonderful sound. Dawn thought the sound was akin to chopping down a tree – the sound it makes just as it’s going over. I thought it sounded like heaven. We stood and listened to it for a long time. If that sound was outside my window, I would sleep like a babe, every night.
The water was pretty rough, there:
In the top right of that first photo, you can see the second, smaller light that guards that bay – it’s called the Ram Island Ledge Light Station. Here’s a better shot of it, standing duty:
That’s the appetizer here, though, as the Portland Head Light is pretty much everything you might think of when you see the words Maine Lighthouse.
It was so picturesque, we bought a stunning photo from a photographer that was hawking his wares there on site. It will be hanging in our own little beach house on the opposite coast as soon as we get back.
Even with the lighthouse, there was a shipwreck on this spot on Christmas Eve, 1886, when the Annie C. Maguire ran aground right in front of the light. That crash is a bit of a mystery, as it apparently happened in daylight with good visibility. The spot where the wreck happened is still marked:
They wrecked so close to the shore that the lightkeeper, his family, and some other volunteers were able to help all hands safely to shore. No word on whether the black box was ever recovered, or if blood alcohol content checked on the captain.
After seeing the perfect lighthouse, we headed north. We wanted to spend the day leaf peeping. We’d been planning this portion of the trip all along – arriving in Maine the first week of October, when leaf season is in full swing. Unfortunately, the saying, Man plans, God laughs, was in effect here. The drought this summer has pushed the changing of the colors out a week to ten days. So, in order to see any color at all, you had to go to the northern part of the state. Of course, that’s what we did.
Even so, the colors weren’t as vibrant and present as they will be in another week, but it didn’t matter to us. We spent five or six hours wandering the back roads of Maine, enjoying the serenity. Here are a couple of shots we did manage to grab.
Yes, we found another lovely old cemetery to wander through, while we were on the hunt for colorful foliage. Of course. Then, there is this unremarkable photo:
The only memorable thing about that photo is that it was very nearly the last photo I ever took. I snapped this shot, climbed in the passenger seat, and we were ready to head north. Do you see that little two lane road in that shot? It’s a 45 MPH highway. Dawn was driving and pulled up to the edge of the road. There was a line of traffic heading south, but no impediment to us. Dawn looked left, saw that it was absolutely clear, and began to inch forward onto the northbound lane. At that moment, a silver pickup truck (F250, I think, but can’t swear on that) came up on the back of the southbound traffic at a high rate of speed and pulled out to pass them. (Remember, no one was coming from that direction.) When he did, he came so close enough to our front end that we felt the whole car shake. Big pickup + high rate of speed, slamming into a mid-size car = horrifying accident and the two of us waking up on the other side of life’s curtain.
The thing is, if I had been driving, the accident almost certainly would have happened. I tend to anticipate when I drive. So, I would have checked left and, seeing it clear, I would have already had our two front tires in the lane. Dawn is much more cautious. She checked left, and for some reason, checked again right, just as that silver blur rocketed by us, missing us by a foot or two at most. We didn’t even have time to scream. We just looked at each other, knowing that we were fortunate to still be converting oxygen to nitrogen for the trees. I asked Dawn if she was all right, she said she was, and off we went, continuing our search for beautiful leaves.
In another week, I know the colors would have been more apparent, but we still have New Hampshire and Vermont ahead of us the next few days so we remain hopeful, and greedy, for more.
This morning, waking up in Bangor Maine, what’s a Stephen King fan to do? Why, drive by the master writer’s house, of course. I think he’s used to it – I’ve seen quite a few people posing for pictures in front of his famous bat-topped gate.
I have always loved Stephen King (at least since picking up a discarded copy of Carrie in Mr. Grimes’ English class in 1978) but after seeing his house I love him even more. He is among the wealthiest of authors, and though his house is awesome, it’s not a 10,000 sf mansion in a gated community. It’s a family house, where you can just tell that he and his wife Tabitha raised their kids.
I wasn’t about to let the opportunity to get a shot in front of the house pass me by:
I dedicated my book Rock ‘n Roll Heaven to Mr. King, since the inspiration for it came from one of his short stories. If I’d had a copy with me, I would have signed it to him and left it at the gate. Alas, all my copies are packed up at home.
We spent the rest of the day driving through Maine and into New Hampshire. A couple of cool spots we discovered on the way:
I loved the way the clouds reflected against the water.
Finally, on our way out of Maine, we found this cool Grange:
It looks to us like it’s all dressed up for Halloween all year ’round. 🙂
Tomorrow – Vermont!
Cheers, and safe travels.