Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 2 of 10) – Southern coast

Up before dawn on this mid-September morning of 2021, Hannah and I have packed canvas bags with shorts, tee-shirts, hiking shoes and sandals for our 530-mile road trip on Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent.  With umbrellas and jackets for cool and/or rainy mornings, we also bring two lawn chairs for the roadside when we just want to chill.

Kittery (just south of where we live in York) to Fort Kent

Just before 8 AM, we take the ceremonial pictures at the start of Route One just over the Memorial Bridge from Portsmouth, NH in Kittery.    Let the Road Trip begin!

Widen this picture to read the sign over my right shoulder about Kittery

For much of today, we will be traversing parts of Route One that we have traveled in the past.  By tonight we will have driven some 200 miles to our Comfort Inn in Ellsworth, which is the crossroads town at the Gateway to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.  By the way Bar Harbor is not on Route One and we will be 15 miles from the coastal national park.

In the past when hiking in Acadia, we’d take a mere 3 1/2 hours on the Maine Turnpike to Bangor, then Route 1A to the coast to hit the trails.  Today it will likely be sunset (7P) before we arrive in Ellsworth.

The southern part of Route One in Maine comes alive from Memorial Day through Columbus Day with visitors from Away. (Away is anywhere beyond the state that fashions itself as the Way Life Should Be.) The coastal traffic and congestion of those 4+ months is the price we pay for living in Paradise.  Not a bad trade off for 7-8 months of peace and love, and yes a lot of cold and snow from December through March.

Over the first fifty miles of Route One we only occasionally have views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s basically a forgettable inland stretch of ten thousand traffic lights with Hannaford grocery stores, car dealerships, Dunkin’s, Subways, Tire Warehouses, Mister Bagels, gas stations, financial services, and Salons by the Sea. You get the picture – modern day America that you could see most anywhere.

But there are local treasures. See below.

Flo’s in York, Maine. Iconic for its one offering – hot dogs with Flo’s special sauce. We hope to find more “Flo’s” as we head north on Route One.
In Wells. Maine with a familiar plea about hiring that we will see most everywhere.
Just liked the playfulness of the name of this gym in South Portland.

Here’s the morning break down of our version of the slow boat to China. In fact, China, Maine is inland and not a part of today’s itinerary.

8A – leave Kittery

9A – 26 miles to Kennebunk

10A – 57 miles to Falmouth

11A – 70 miles to Freeport

12P – 108 miles to Damariscotta

By the way, this summer, this same 108 miles would take all day!

Always looking for a bargain, Hannah and I park in Freeport so Hannah can shop at the LL Bean Outlet Store, just down the street from the Flagship Store on Route One. With rain in the forecast for Wednesday (Day 3 of our Three Day Road Trip), Hannah looks for a stylish raincoat at the right price. Never much a shopper, I check out the Big Daddy Bean Store up the hill.

The hiking/fishing boot was the start of this Outdoor Clothing empire.
Everyone I saw was wearing a mask! Mask-wearing is hardly a sacrifice. Thank you, one and all.
Linda’s lobster rolls are not cheap at $26.
Many stores along Route One had the same plea.
Success. Hannah gets 40% off her $70 raincoat. (I hope the one who thought up this bumper sticker got a raise!)

Leaving the outlets of Freeport, we head to Newcastle and Damariscotta on the Mid-coast where we plan to find a pub where everyone may not know our name but will at least appreciate the business.

Part 3 has you come along with us to the Penalty Box and learn about our issues with “dining out” and something about old dogs and new tricks.

Dan and the Wedding Yin Yang – KGUA #62

For the September 27, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are told that yin yang, an ancient symbol of harmony reminds us life is a balancing act. Most fulfilling when we learn to embrace dualities such as a joy and a challenge. 

My wedding yin yang

There’s this family wedding.  Wait!  You’re considering going to a wedding in the time of the Delta Variant!  Are you high! 

Quite possibly.  Let’s examine the facts, the yin and yang of the situation, the joy and challenge that Hannah and I face.

Otesaga Inn in Cooperstown, New York

It’s my brother’s daughter who is getting married.  Richard is just a good guy, generous in the extreme.  He’ll drop everything to help a friend; get a cat out of a tree, always ready for a good time.  Classic good guy. He’s one for the yin side.

On the yin side, all the wedding guests are required to be vaccinated or have a negative Covid test. The wedding itself is outside as is the cocktail hour.

To those rowing with the yang side, the dinner is indoors. 

But the yin remains strong!  Despite all the news of the breakthrough cases of the Delta Variant, vaccinated folks like Hannah and myself have the one in 5000 chance of getting Covid.  And one in 10,000 if folks, like we are, are cautious (i.e. wear masks) in dealing with the general public.  I like that math.  Always liked the science.

Yang does have that ICUs in hospitals are bursting with distressed and dying Covid patients.

Yin responds that these are mostly unvaccinated folks.  And if vaccinated folks get Covid they are very likely be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.  I like our odds

I bet you can see where this is going.  We are going to the wedding.  Bottom line is that reasonable precautions have been taken and we are vaccinated.

Through this daunting pandemic challenge, we will have this moment of joy.  My yin yang.

Words – 264

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 1 of 10) – Intro

For the past six months, Hannah and I have been planning a two-week “friends and hiking in national parks” getaway in California for September 2021.   Truth be told I’ve been planning and Hannah has let me freewheel it.

A week before we were to fly to Los Angeles, the increasing threat of wildfires and the thought of breathing the toxic smoke when we hike in central and northern California had us cancel our outdoor adventure.  The Delta Variant of Covid-19 contributed to our decision.

Kittery to Fort Kent

And then I got to thinking.  Ever since I read in the New York Times about a reporter driving the entire 530 miles of Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, I thought, “How cool is that!” We could take three days on a road trip in Maine. (“Driving The States of Maine” by Richard Rubin – June 20, 2021).

You see, I have been hankering to have my own Blue Highways (1982) experience ever since I read the William Least Heat Moon travelogue about his adventures driving his van from sea to shining sea.

Ours would be a mini-version – seeing the unexpected, learning about the Maine that we have never visited, and hiking new trails in the woods and on the coastline of the Pine Tree State.

As I am wont to do, I came up with a three-day plan to explore the southern and mid-coast of Maine on Day 1, Downeast Maine from Ellsworth to Lubec on Day 2, and then from Lubec to Fort Kent in the far north of Maine on Day 3.

Truth be told, there are indeed two Maines.  Though my generalizations certainly have specific exceptions, I’m trying to make a broader point here that there are haves and have-nots of Maine.

I think of the wealthier, more liberal part of Maine within 30 some miles of the coast from Kittery to Bar Harbor.  Often, these people have money and choices.  The map in blue to the right from the 2020 presidential election pretty much captures this part of Maine.  To compare these folks to high school culture, these are the “cool kids” who are going off to college.

The red part of Maine is more rural, working class, less affluent.  In high school terms, they are sometimes (often?) the faceless, the forgotten, the ignored.

Many feel disaffected, feeling judged by their more “successful” neighbors.  Like many of us, they want to be known, to be heard.  They often are the ones that make our society work – for they are the carpenters, mechanics, the clerks, the waitstaff – and they fight our wars.  

As residents of blue Maine for nearly 40 years, Hannah and I will spend Day 1 in one Maine along the coast and spend Days 2 and 3 in the part of Maine we know little about.

Let the 530 mile road trip begin.

Part 2 of 10 describes the ride up the touristy coast of Maine in mid-September, still a popular time for visitors from Away.

Dan and Letting Go – KGUA #61

Created with GIMP

For the September 20, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are told that So many people are free with their advice and say, “just let it go!” sounds like a buzz phrase. BUT, if you did “let something go, what would it be?”

Today was the day Hannah and I were supposed to be flying back from San Francisco to Boston after concluding our two weeks in California with three days with our friends, Scott and Tree, in Gualala, California (150 miles north of San Francisco).  We also had plans to meet up with KGUA’s own Peggy and Mark, the folks who have generously given us airtime to share our weekly freewriting. 

Alas, all does not go as planned.

One week before Hannah and I were to leave for hiking in Yosemite and Redwood National Parks, we cancelled our trip primarily because of the widespread wildfires throughout California. The Delta Variant of Covid contributed to our decision, too.

Did I/we make the right decision?  I believe so.  And the added benefit is that I let go of any second guessing of our decision.  I moved forward and planned a local road trip in Maine for three days. We’d drive the entire length of Route One, some 530 miles, from Kittery in the south to Fort Kent in the north.  I let go of judging and doubting our decision.

And then on our second day, we are pumped for the four-mile Coastal Trail along the cliffside at Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec, Maine. Soon, the trail began to deteriorate with steep, muddy, rooted descents followed by challenging climbs. In short order, the hike slipped into the “no fun” category. With that, we bailed.

Did we make the right decision not to complete the challenging loop trail that we had planned?  You bet.  In addition, I didn’t second guess our decision and put the doubts away in the closet and took the rehashing to the pantry

Letting go is not a fully formed behavior of mine. It will take practice and more practice for me not to fall back into the mythology of what might have been.

Words – 266

From the Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations of Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living by Ryan Holliday and Stephen Hanselman

When you set your mind to a task, do you always follow through? Don’t let yourself become a prisoner of that kind of determination. Conditions change. New facts come in. Circumstances arise. The point is not to have an iron will, but an adaptable will. Flexibility is its own kind of strength.

Route One from York to Quoddy Head is in fact much closer to the coast

Dan and His Example of Resilience – KGUA #60

For the September 13, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite on Resilience: What’s Your Definition or Example of?”

Resilience personified

What if your voice was silenced? 

Imagine that you couldn’t be heard in a group.

Imagine that you couldn’t read to your grandchildren for more than five minutes.

Imagine being tired of not being heard so that you just choose to listen.

Imagine needing your spouse to finish your stories when speaking with others.

Imagine having to repeat everything.

Imagine playing pickleball or any sport and not being able to communicate with your partner or teammates.

Imagine people routinely saying to you when you speak, “What? Say that again.

Imagine when talking on the phone your voice sounds crackly to others.

Imagine you can’t speak up enough to talk to a friend across a room?

Imagine your humorous quip at just the right moment can’t be heard.

It’s not hard to imagine that you might just want to stay home and hide.

But Hannah hasn’t.

Twenty years ago Hannah found herself unable to project her voice and had trouble speaking words that started with an H or an S.  Diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, of which there is no cure, she has chosen to stay engaged with her world.

This voice disorder causes involuntary spasms in the muscles of her voice box or larynx, which in turn causes her voice to break and have a tight, strained or strangled sound. 

She works through reading with her grandsons.  She finishes more and more of her stories, albeit the shortened version.  She makes the phone calls when she must, though she prefers texting and emailing.

Still she can’t be heard in a group and appreciates her friends and family who give her the time to tell what’s on her mind.

As her husband, I have been witness to twenty years of her resilience personified. 

Words – 293

Dan’s Wednesday Quotes of the Week #41 – Will Rogers

Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.   

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day. 

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.   

There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it’s such a nice change from being young.   

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. 

Will Rogers, 1879-1935

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 3 of 3 – The President

After summiting Mount Monadnock, Owen, Molly, Tip, Hannah, and I approach the trailhead after a four mile rock climb in three and a half hours; we notice swarms of young woman and men just beginning their climb to the top. 

They look like first year students on a bonding climb as they begin university life.  Think back to starting out in college, if you were so fortunate. It can be a lonely and challenging transition from the cocoon of one’s hometown to the trials of dorm living and making friends.  Universities are now welcoming students into the college family by outdoor team building experiences.  

Could I ever have used such an experience back in the fall of 1966 when I entered the College of Wooster in Ohio!  Though I had core group of childhood friends growing up, the problem was I didn’t really know how to make friends.  My friends from Fair Lawn were just always around.  

Muddling through, I eventually made it through thanks to three relationships: the guys on the tennis team, my roommate Jim Francis, and the girl of my dreams, Hannah Kraai (pronounced CRY).

Looking to confirm my suspicion, I speak up to a gaggle of passing students, What kind of group is this?  They are students from Franklin Pierce University, not fifteen minutes away in nearby Rindge.  Upbeat and high-spirited, wave after wave of groups of ten to twenty happy kids chatter by.

As we get to the trailhead itself, we pass by the university vans that brought the students to this popular state park.  I then notice plastic-wrapped packages of 24 water bottles near a covered open air structure with four or five adults.  Buoyant from our successful climb to the top of the mountain, I shout out, Are you from Franklin Pierce?

When they reply in their affirmative, I add, looking to Owen, We have a member of the Class of 2031 for you!

Immediately, a welcoming man approaches and engages us in conversation. Guessing the man is from the campus Alumni Relations or some PR arm of the university, I nod yes when he says, Would you like to meet the president of the university?

And just like that President Kim Mooney comes over and greets Owen, Hannah, and me.

President Mooney, Dan, Hannah behind Owen

Whoa!  La presidenta.  It turns out Kim is the first female president of FPU and the first alum named president.  They navigated the Covid year successfully on campus and are here as part of 50-year tradition of FPU students climbing Mount Monadnock to start the school year.  And then we learn that upbeat man is her husband, Greg Walsh.

As we wrap up our conversation, Greg hands Owen a coin of friendship.  Walking to our picnic table for our lunch touched by their kindness, Owen poses with his first silver dollar.

Though Owen and his brother Max seem like future Sun Devils from Arizona State University – the Harvard of the West and my alma mater, who knows, maybe Owen will be a Raven from Franklin Pierce University!

PS I sent the blog to Kim this morning. She responded almost immediately.

Dear Dan,
On a morning when Greg and I have already shed tears thinking about the perfect fall weather morning  on 9/11 twenty years ago, your email filled our hearts. 
Our encounter with you, Hannah and Owen has stayed with us too. Thank you for memorializing it so vividly in your blog below. You captured the spirit of Franklin Pierce students so we’ll! 
Our best to you, Kim and Greg

Dan and Hannah Hike Mount Monadnock with Their Grandson Owen (9) Part 2 of 3 – The Bend

Descending the White Cross Trail

As we continue our descent down the White Cross Trail from the Mount Monadnock peak, Molly, Tip, Owen, Hannah, and I come upon this branch, bent at childbirth as a sapling.

Owen carrying on the Rawding Tradition of Bent Tree Climbing

A young woman on the trail mentions that this branch was purposefully bent by Native Americans.  Intrigued, I did a little research.   By that I mean, I googled “bent trees as trail guides.”  I learned the following.

It seems Native American bent trees in the direction of a frequently visited destination such as a water source, campsite, or a safe river crossing. These were called Marker Trees.

Hardwoods, oaks, maples and elms were their trees of choice.  With the sapling staked down, the undamaged tree would continue to grow and new branches, not near the ground, would shoot upwards.  

In front of Owen from left to right are Molly, Hannah, Dan, and Tip on the last Sunday in August 2021

They go by other names: Trail Trees, Crooked Trees, Prayer Trees, Thong Trees. 

To be a trail tree, first of all, it must be old enough to have been alive when Native American tribes still lived in the area. The bend is about four or five feet off the ground. The bend is a sharp right angle. The tree then runs parallel the earth for a measure, and turns sharply up again, towards the sky.

Owen and his Pop

After the picture taking, we head to the trailhead after four miles of hiking/climbing over the past three and a half hours.

I use the Strava app to record my hiking, biking, and walking

And then we see masses of young’uns, late teens/early twenties, pass us by in gaggles of fifteen or twenty.

Heading to the summit

Part 3 concludes the Mount Monadnock blog with what we learned about these young folks and the impression a prospective future member of the Class of 2031 made.