Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Lubec (not Fort Kent), Maine (Part 10 of 10) – The Denouement

Seeds of doubt about completing our three-day journey on Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent creep into our heads and start to grow as we drive back to our Eastland Motel in Lubec. Wrapping up our second day of on the road, we’ve just finished hiking at Quoddy Head State Park. Click here for that blog.

Sitting with wine in our motel room (glamorous, I know), we toast two great days on the road but wonder about Day 3 of our 530-mile drive on Route One from the bottom to the top of the state of Maine.

You see, the forecast for Wednesday (Day 3) is showers and rain. Do we really want to spend the 250 miles from Lubec to Fort Kent in a car on a rainy day just to say we traveled the entire length of Route One in Maine?  Looking at each other, we just don’t. Fair-weather travelers?  I’m afraid so.

It’s like running a marathon.  No one else cares for more than a minute that you ran 26.2 miles.  Do it because you love the training, the challenge, and the satisfaction of completing a monumental task.  Do it for you. 

It’s like earning a PhD.  Don’t do it because you want people to call you “Doctor.”  From my experience it is way too much work for that misguided belief that anyone will give a sh*t that you are Dr. So and So.  Do it because it would lead to your dream job working with preservice teachers and seeing if you can cut it teaching “bigger kids.”  Your friends like you for who you are, not because of some title or that you ran a marathon.

You see, our travels north over the last two days have morphed into a hiking road trip. We hiked the Hundred Acre Wood in Brooklin and Peter’s Brook Trail in Blue Hill on Monday. Tuesday took us to Cobscook Shores, Mowry Beach, and Quoddy Head State Park. On the trails and getting lots of Fitbit steps are what we realized we wanted, not just driving on Route One. Tomorrow, we would have few such hiking options heading on the road to Fort Kent.

So today, we opt for flexibility to make the road trip ours based on what catches our fancy and what we learn as we go; not being limited and restricted to a plan hatched at home months ago. 

We did mostly keep to Route One, except when the shoreline country roads beckoned (e.g., Bold Coast).

We never did listen to music to Pandora or podcasts while driving but focused on the sights of Route One that grabbed our attention.

So what did we learn?

One, we don’t need to be a big fish in a small pond. Small towns are home to people who grew up there. I get the appeal. But these villages on, admittedly, the beautiful coast of Maine are just not our home. Home is where we have lived in York for the last thirty-nine years. We are staying put for the long-term as small fish in a small pond.

Two, being among our peeps is important. We are liberal, tree hugging, Obama Democrats that do not want to be lone wolves in a rural Red part of the state. Finding like-minded folks who also believe what we care about (i.e., the common good, the environment, truth, vaccinations, being our brother’s keeper and hope) are important to us. We’ll continue to grow that community in York.

Three, to fully know the Red part of Maine I would need at least ten days to stop in towns, go to local events (e.g., in high school gyms), and meet the rural people on their terms, in their villages and towns. You know, I like the sound of that.

Overall, I’d call our two-day road trip on Route One from Kittery to Lubec a success.

As Meatloaf sings, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad!

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 9 of 10) – Quoddy Head State Park

The highlight of our second day traveling Route One on this mid-September Tuesday is to be our hike on the Coastal Trail on the cliffs at Quoddy Head State Park. A mere six miles from downtown Lubec, the West Quoddy Lighthouse is a beacon on the border of the United States and Canada.

Originally built in 1808, by order of President Thomas Jefferson, the original wooden tower was replaced by the current tower in 1858. With “candy-stripes,” it is the only such tower in the United States. Previously the lamp was illuminated with, get this, sperm whale oil and lard oil.

We Maine seniors get the best deals! Hiking these trails will hardly break the bank.
Parking by the lighthouse, we will have a four-mile round trip on the Coastal Trail.

With a choice of trails, we opt for the four-mile macho man/woman Coastal Trail along the steep rocky cliffs with trees toughened by the punishing by the Atlantic’s harsh winds. The cliffs are remnants of marine volcanoes! Who knew!

The Coastal Trail starts benignly enough with a level trail that offers dramatic views to the ocean.

Coastal cliffs of Quoddy Head State Park
The trail initially seems straightforward and easy going. Not so fast, my friend.

Then the trail turns mean. With rocks and roots crossing the trail, we hold onto branches as we descend; it’s more cliff climbing than hiking.

The roots they are aplenty.

Keeping close the cliffside, we come to a point where we wonder if we have lost the trail or not. It’s zero fun so we backtrack towards the Bog Trail. We are looking for an enjoyable hike not an arduous one. Such is life at 73!

Backtracking, we find our kind of trail.
Wooden puncheons make for a sweet cliff-side walk in the woods.

Opting for the level sublime Bog Trail, we catch a hiking rhythm.

Off to the bog
Got a problem? You know where to go.

With the sun soon to set, we get our 10K steps and more and prepare to return to our Eastland motel, three miles out of Lubec on Route 189. We’ve a warm bed, a continental breakfast ahead to prepare for our third and final day exploring Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent.

Part 10 provides modest evidence that we are not all that stupid

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 8 of 10) – Mowry Beach in Lubec

Just before noon this Tuesday in mid-September, a fellow hiker at the Old Farm Point of the Cobscook Shores encourages Hannah and me to head to Mowry Beach, minutes walk from downtown Lubec.  (See map below.) Looking to lunch out before we hike, we are thinking an old favorite – Italian. And by that today I mean pizza. Sadly, we learn that Morano’s Authentic Pizza, the only pasta palace in town, is open only on Fridays and Saturdays during the off-season.  Ever resourceful and quite hungry, we lunch on peanut butter on Ritz cracker sandwiches with sparkly water. You gotta admit, these kids know how to live!

Driving down the Maine side of the Lubec Channel towards the Atlantic, we have trailhead parking for fifteen.  Mowry Beach looks to the east to Campobello Island, summer getaway for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Our less than half mile trail has us hiking on both on dirt and boardwalk through coastal scrub woodland.  See below.

Looks like a painting (iPhone-12 three cameras are simply amazing)

Situated along the edge of the village of Lubec, this property protects 1,800 feet of shoreline along a 1.2 mile beach overlooking Lubec Channel and Campobello Island.

A stone’s throw from the shoreline
At the far end of the half-mile trail/boardwalk we come to the Lubec Elementary School and return the way we came.

Along the lower portions of the beach at low tide, the remains of ancient tree stumps can be seen, quite possibly, indicating the location of a primeval forest (or so says Wikipedia!).

Primeval forest with Canada to the right of the FDR bridge
Needing to be vaccinated (which we are) and recently tested for Covid (which we are not), the FDR bridge to the Great White North of New Brunswick, Canada is off limits to us
You are literally seeing all of the quarter mile of the downtown of Lubec
Just cool, enough said.
A sign in a Main Street storefront window. We would have kindred spirits here in the Red part of Maine, but we would be in the minority.
Amid the polarization of Maine and America, there is some levity.
One tiny church for one tiny town (population 314)

So we come to another small town on the coast of Maine on a gorgeous shorts-and-tee-shirt day in mid-September. Live here? It’s still a strong no. A friend told me of friends of his from rural Maine who moved away. Asked why they moved, they responded “heroin.” Boredom can do some mean things to a person.

Our Strava app gives you the lowdown of our time in Lubec.

Part 9 takes you to the trails of Quoddy Head State Park on the Atlantic six miles from downtown Lubec.

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 7 of 10) – Cobscook Shores Trails in Lubec

In the dead of winter (2021) nestled in our nearly 50-year-old post and beam house in coastal York, Maine, I read in Outside magazine of the new trails of Cobscook Shores opening up in Downeast Maine near the Canadian border. 

Downeast Maine is often considered from Ellsworth to Lubec. Grand Manan in the above map is in Canada.

Some five hours from York, the trails of Cobscook Shores sing to me.  Sucker for a hiking temptress, with Hannah, I have twice postponed our hiking adventure due to rainy weather this past spring and summer.

But today, we will not be denied as we arrive before lunch in Lubec (pronounced Lou-beck). After a morning driving the 85 miles of Route One from Ellsworth to Lubec, we are ready to get our bodies moving and grooving and hit these trails. By the way, Lubec is the easternmost town/city in all these United States and is the closest continental connection to Africa in the United States!

Cobscook Shores is a system of 15 parklands spread around Cobscook Bay in Lubec.   The name “Cobscook” comes from Kapskuk, a Passamaquoddy word meaning “place where the water looks like it is boiling.”  Privately owned, Cobscook Shores offers visitors an alternative to the saturation hiking and congestion of Acadia National Park, 100 miles to the south.

At the trailhead, we have a farmer’s field for our morning hike at Old Farm Point.

The pictures and maps will take you on our hike with us.

We take Route 189 from Route One towards Lubec to Old Farm Point. Some of the Cobscook Shores trails are in Bold in the above map.
We park at the trailhead. The visitor center is in the process of being built (September 2021)
Our mid-day grassy trail is hiking literally around a working hay field. Please note that we didn’t see any pirates in Pirates Cove.

Lubec has a rich fishing history. Are you a big fan of sardines (small herrings)? Can’t say that I am! Popular in the 1800s, the smoked herring business was roaring along and, get this, employed nearly every male resident over the age of ten in Lubec. By 1900, 23 sardine factories were pumping out the little fellas night and day.

Over-fished by the 1960s, herring, the staple of the local fisherfolk, was in serious decline. The last cannery closed in 1990 and the last smokehouse shut its doors in 1991. Regulations limiting the numbers of herring caught have returned the herring to a sustainable level. Even so, lobster and shellfish are the focus of the fishing industry in Lubec today.

We would circumambulate the Old Farm in about 45 minutes. Helluva venue, yes?
Let the grassy trail begin!
Looking out to Pirates Cove at low tide. Trucks drove onto the mudflats harvesting clams, I’m guessing.
Low tide of Johnson Bay with a fair lass
A wannabe pirate doing just fine on a mid-day hike on a beautiful day.
And back one mile later where we began.

Yeah, it’s just a walk in a hayfield. No path at all, but it was sweet mile in the sunshine some 300 miles from home, almost in Canada, after a morning in the car.

The Strava app gives the details of our short hike.

After lunch, our plans to hike Black Duck Cove, another trail of the Cobscook Shores Parkland, are happily derailed by another hiker who suggests we go to Mowry Beach. Hannah and I are all about shoreline hikes and abruptly change our plans.

Part 8 takes you to Mowry Beach and into the town of Lubec.

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 6 of 10) – Ellsworth to Lubec

With the sunshine filling the sky on a day going tor 70F day this mid-September Tuesday, we are freewheeling up Route One onto our second overnight in Lubec on the Canadian border.

26 miles to Steuben

Tooling north on a very quiet Route One from Ellsworth, we have a WTF moment. A truck on the roof! A front yard ferris wheel!

Fortunately I live with a problem solver!
Abandoned ferris wheel

We walk around the property, that happens to be for sale, and see no one around. The faces out front (see below) make it a little weird. Maybe it’s just as well no one is about.

Motoring on, I am surprised how little of Route One goes along the shoreline. This scene below is one of the few glimpses of the bay to the Atlantic Ocean.

Then it’s on to Steuben. We’ve a pickleball buddy Bob with a summer place here. Never heard of the town myself, but we make a side trip into the town center to check it out.

Named after Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben of Revolutionary War fame. The population is a modest 1,131. They put the small in small town.
Across from the Congregational Church (next image), this home is seen better days in the town center just to the south of the K-8 Ella Lewis Elementary School with 108 students.
The Congregational Church in the town center of Steuben backlit

On a beautiful morning in the 60s, we wonder if we could live in such a small town. Wonder no more. There’s no way in God’s good green earth that we could leave the community in York we’ve grown for the last 39 years – access to pickleball courts and pickleball players, services such as gyms, large grocery stores, and clinics and doctors that we have at our disposal. That our daughter Molly’s family is an hour away from our home closes the “moving to a small town in the middle of nowhere” door.

Further down the road is the town Of Milbridge (1300+ residents).

Just north of Steuben is Milbridge, home to the “Purple Palace at 70 Main Street right on Route One. Again, we walk around and again no one is home. I’ll have to call Lisa to find a price. She texts me back!

The Purple Palace, a Queen Anne Victorian.

Lisa texts me. Hi Dan, this is Lisa with Better Homes and Gardens. I received your message regarding 70 Main Street in Milbridge. The Purple Palace. The seller has received and accepted an offer. I should be putting the listing as pending tomorrow. Thank you for your interest. If the sale falls through, I’ll reach out. Or would you like to put in a backup offer, just let me know. Kindest regards. Lisa

Now having the address, I find it on Zillow for $199,000. The restoration has already been started, so with some TLC and sweat equity, you could be the one to bring this sweet Queen Anne Victorian back to her glory….

Sounds like the buyer would need the constructions skills of our friends, George and Fran! (see the additional pictures of the Purple Palace at the end of the blog)

28 miles from Milbridge to Machias, home of the Clippers of U-Maine Machias

Heading north we take the sideroad closer to the ocean known as the Bold Coast.

We meander off Route One to feed our need for the shoreline.
The Bold Coast takes drivers and bicyclists much close to the water’s edge.

Click here for more info on the scenic byway of the Bold Coast.

We jump off Route One for Route 1A to skirt the water’s edge.

Low tide on the Bold Coast

This wire basket for balls struck me as clever in this small fishing community.

Always looking for university spiral notebooks for my journal writing (184 journals and going strong), we walk the still empty campus of U-Maine Machias (students were arriving the next day) in search of wire-bound notebook.

With no signage for the bookstore, we walk the campus looking for someone to help us out. One student tells us the bookstore is in the library, Unfortunately, one needs an ID card to get in the bibliotecque. Another student says she has been a student here for three years and has no idea where the bookstore is. Maybe online books have come to Downeast Maine? We leave town without a treasured university spiral notebook.

We have just 28 miles before lunch to our first of three hikes for the day at Cobscook Shores in Lubec.

Part 7 describes our hike from the above trailhead at Cobscook Shores in Lubec.

For your viewing pleasure, here are four views of the Purple Palace in Milbridge, Maine referenced above.

3800 square feet is a lot of square feet for $199K

Interested? Sorry, it’s off the market, for now!

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 5 of 10) – Peter’s Brook Trail in Blue Hill, Maine

Warmed-up by hiking the 40-minute, 1.7 mile One Hundred Acre Wood Trail in Brooklin less than 30 minutes ago (click here for that blog), Hannah and I drive nine miles inland up Route 175 into the little coastal town of Blue Hill to the oceanside trailhead of the Peter’s Brook Trail. 

With trailhead parking across the country road highway from the trail, we walk a hundred yards north on the opposite side of the road knowing we have sixty minutes to hike before the sun sets on this mid-September Monday.

With the Blue Hill Harbor in the background, we prepare to hike at the trailhead parking

After eight hours car-bound driving Route One, we fall in love with the brook-side trail into the forest of Blue Hill, Maine. A waterfall awaits.

With a trail system of five miles managed by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, we hike by the dashing stream just minutes from the ocean heading to our thundering falls.

We hike from red dot in the lower left to the red dot further up the yellow-dashed trail.
Using the Strava app, I document our hike, first to the right, then doubling back over the Three Bridges

Let’s let the images take you on this picturesque trail.

The trail beside Peter’s Brook
Rushing water heightens the sensory hiking experience for us both
Totally missing the signs to the Three Bridges and the falls overlook, we still come upon tumbling water at its best. It’s been a rainy summer in Maine.
Doubling back, this is the sign we missed. You ask, how could you miss this sign! Distracted being with each other?
We make our way over the first of three wood-planked bridges
Bridge numero dos weaves along the westside of Peter’s Brook
At 530 PM, we take the third bridge on to the falls overlook
With some slight elevation, the trail is easily negotiable, though, at times, muddy as we head inland.
With the leaf cover, the falls overlook is less dramatic than the previous falls photo.

With the setting sun, we motor fifteen miles to our overnight at the Comfort Inn in Ellsworth, Maine back onto Route One. A glass of wine awaits to toast our first day of three traveling Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent.

We left Route One east of Orland, took route 15 to Blue Hill, then after hiking at Peter’s Brook returned to Route One in Ellsworth

Part 6 describes our travels north from Ellsworth on Route One, far from home in rural Maine that we do not know. Let our education begin.

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 4 of 10) – Hundred Acre Wood in Brooklin

Leaving the Penalty Box Pub in Damariscotta after lunch, we drive north on our three-day mission to drive the entire length of Route One in the state of Maine (530 miles).

Damariscotta is south of Thomaston on this map

Despite having the most picturesque harbor in all of Maine, Camden and its sister cities of Rockport and Rockland are charmless when it comes to Route One; congested downtowns are not the stuff of adventure.  Having driven 140 miles over the past six hours, we find Camden filled with America’s excess – wealth management financial services, law offices, Walgreens, Oyster River Wine Growers, Camden National Banks, and the Smiling Cow selling tee-shirts.  You could be in Florida or Most Anywhere USA.

Fort Knox Observatory Bridge just south of Bucksport

By 3P we are in Bucksport the home to the Fort Knox Observatory, the tallest bridge observatory in the world.  With our sights set on two modest hikes, first at the Hundred Acre Wood near the Atlantic in Brooklin and then the Peter’s Brook Trail in Blue Hill near the harbor, we motor on towards the ocean.

Taking a side trip off Route One
Driving the Brooklin peninsula to the Hundred Acre Wood

Rated the #1 trail of the Top Ten Great Downeast Hikes for Kids and Grandparents (Maine Seniors, September 2021), the One Hundred Acre Trail is a modest 1.7 mile loop.   This trail is an ideal antidote to eight hours in the car on a September Monday.

Tooling down the country road of Route 172, we see no evidence of the promised trailhead.  With daylight waning, we have little margin for error; then we do as we always do – look for someone to ask or, if necessary, knock on a door for directions.

A delightful earth mother in this very rural part of coastal Maine tells to just go back up the highway a half a mile.  We do and see the smallest of signs that we missed as we zipped by.  You be the judge if they could have made the sign a little bit bigger.

Pulling into the trailhead, we see a lot for just three cars with, you guessed it, three cars filling the spaces.  Not to be denied after a day in the car, we park off the road on Route 172, very lightly traveled at this time of year.  Changing into our hiking shorts and shoes, we see a car pull out.  The hiking gods have come through in the nick of time as we take the vacant spot.

Let the pictures show you what we found on the Hundred Acre Wood Trail.

Though near the ocean, we never catch a glimpse of the seaside. We choose to hike clockwise on this loop trail
Let the trail begin
The well-marked trail takes us into the coastal woods of Maine
Quite possibly one of your favorite Ithaca Bombers bombs along the trail.
On our own throughout the 40-minute level hike
These puncheons are prepared for soggier times.

Out in nature our souls are renewed. Part 5 takes the reader back to Blue Hill for the highlight of our first day of the Route One Road Trip – the Peter’s Brook Trail.

Dan and Hannah Travel Route One from Kittery to Fort Kent, Maine (Part 3 of 10) – Lunch Out

Just for the record. Hannah and I are really trying to bust out of the shackles of our “eating out” reluctance. We are homebodies when it comes to the “eating” game. But I hope that this Road Trip will introduce a new Dan and Hannah.

Though Route One passes by the Mid-coast towns of Newcastle and Damariscotta, Hannah and I backtrack on Business One to find a local’s place to refuel for the afternoon drive north towards Bucksport, and on to hiking in Blue Hill. This is not quite as easy as you might think. We are out of comfort zone deciding where to eat out. We have little practice.

You see, Hannah and I are just not restaurant people.  Though never poor, we grew as a couple and later with children without a surplus of discretionary money. I was a teacher and she a stay-at-home mom. No need to throw a pity party for us, we just learned to be Frugal with a capital F. For years, the only meal we would go out for was breakfast, inexpensive AND free refills of coffee.

But now we have the money to enjoy ourselves. In my mind, I see us lunching at a pub for a cold brew and mouth-watering sandwich with sweet potato fries, mixing it up with the locals. Our Route One road trip is to push beyond our self-imposed limits. 

Spotting the Penalty Box Sports Pub with an outdoor deck, we pass by hoping for something better.  A classic rookie mistake that just wastes time. Seeing nothing but more expensive in-town, indoor cafes and upscale restaurants through Newcastle and Damariscotta, we drive two miles back to the Penalty Box hoping for magic.

Entering the pub, I notice it is divided into two sections, booths for couples and friends with lots of light from the windows and a bar with TVs and a more subdued vibe. One is gentle, another a little rough around the edges.

Fully masked, I ask the waitress if we can sit outside.  She is not loving the request. Business-like, she says we will have to go into the bar and the woman will set us up.  Walking into the bar, those instructions are news to the barmaid. Good-naturedly, but probably not thrilled with her co-worker, she agrees to unlock the door to the deck for us. She adds I’m the only one here, but I can take care of you. I don’t feel the “Cheers” vibe yet or that there’s the slightest interest in anyone knowing my name.

Widen the screen and check out the French fries.

Menus in hand, we settle on a buffalo chicken salad for $11 and a turkey sub for $13 with, as it turns out, amah-zing fries (shout out to Penny of the 2010 TV series – Happy Endings that we are watching on Netflix). Draft or craft beers never have a chance.  Frugality triumphs. We opt for water with a lemon slice rather than an $8 pint. Rome wasn’t built in a day, my friends.   

In our defense we are used to take-out. We get $11 Wegman subs and make four meals out of them; we buy $13 chicken burritos from Loco Coco’s in Kittery and have three meals at home.

Seated outside on the roadside deck, we are alone. The rest of the twenty diners have no problem eating indoors, not a one with a mask. We are not mingling with the natives as I had hoped. I misjudged the interaction we might have during these Covid times.

Our dream lunch doesn’t start out well as our salad and sub take forever. We still have 100+ Route One miles and two hikes in the queue this afternoon. When our meals do arrive, we see that we must have had the temp chef who learned his culinary presentation skills at the local middle school. The salad has six strips of chicken lined up military style on a sea of green, with the bare minimum of red, orange, and yellow veggies. To the rescue, Hannah resurrects this salad with egg salad from our cooler in the car. We share the salad and the heavenly baked French fries that came with the turkey sub.

The turkey sub itself is fine.  We’ll split it tonight for dinner as we are not chancing another meal out this evening. Once a day is quite enough.

We’ve (re-)learned three things:

One, old dogs that we are at 73 in people years have a damn hard time learning new tricks.

Two, we are take-out people.  Call in, no waiting, eat comfortably where we want with wine or beer that we’ve bought.

Three, order from the appetizers menu.  When I went in to pay, a regular had the best looking chicken nachos dripping with cheese on the coast of Maine.  For $12, we could have split the nachos and beam in triumph at our frugal ways. 

Part 4 takes you further up Route One (known as the Atlantic Highway in these parts) to hike the locals version of the Hundred Acre Wood (A.A. Milne.) in Brooklin on the coast.

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 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.