Category Archives: Maine

Airline #2

Back to Maine’s Route 9, The Airline, a northern highway straight across northeastern Maine.

Also posted in highways, Maine Route 9

Airline Travel

Eats on The Airline, the section of Maine Route 9 between Bangor and Calais, a traditional route from northern New England to Canada’s maritime provinces. Accounts differ on why it’s called The Airline, but apparently it’s because Route 9 is a shortcut across northeastern Maine. And there is something about it, cruising along rolling, glaciated hills in the north woods past blueberry fields and old cemeteries, that makes you feel as though you are up high and remote. Definitely remote. Take a look at a map. Still enough business for Mace’s American Snackbar and Grill in Aurora though.

Also posted in highways, Maine Route 9, roadside eats, snackbars

Northern River, Maine’s St. John

The St. John River is just about as far north as you can go in Maine, paralleling the Quebec border where the river begins in the ponds, streams and bogs of the North Woods. It runs 418 miles from the middle of nowhere, north and then east and south to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. The St. John is surrounded by land owned by paper and lumber companies. You pay their fees ($24 per day per person) to run it and you spend hours rattling over their dirt roads (made for logging trucks) to get there. But the Maine branch of The Nature Conservancy has bought 40 miles of shoreline, there are no dams on the northern reaches, and the river feels wild and remote like few, if any, others in the Lower 48. For mile after mile, tinged like tea from the tannic acid of the woods runoff, the river turns past shores lined with spruce, fir, pine, and poplars and birches in their lightest spring greens. It is narrow and shallow at the top but grows wider and deeper with every branch and brook that enters. It’s northern river and shore country, but for the East, it’s also big sky country: big expanses of weather stretching out over the trees and water. It has to be run during spring runoff because, barring storms, it’s too low in the summer.

Paddling down the river last week we saw moose every day, including a calf so small it must have been only a few days old, and a big moose splashing across the river in front of us, high-stepping from shore to shore. Unfortunately, it also rained every day, culminating in an all-night rain, followed by an all-day rain, headwinds, rising water and plunging temperatures. When we pulled off, a day early, record river heights for the date, snow and temperatures in the 30s followed. We were happy to head for the Northern Door Motel in Fort Kent (La Porte du Nord, as the sign says) and burgers at the Swamp Buck. I should have more pictures of the rain and foul weather and the big white- and brown-topped waves in the Big Black Rapid, but — except for the one of Lisa and Andrew and their border collies Rigby and Nitro, below — I kept the camera in its waterproof box when the weather turned bad and stayed bad. Need to get a waterproof housing. And I need to go to Maine more often.

A classic article on the river is John McPhee’s 1976 New Yorker story, “The Keel of Lake Dickey”, which describes a trip down the river and concerns that the proposed Dickey-Lincoln dam would flood much of it. The dam was never built.

 

Also posted in canoeing, rivers, Spring, St. John River, water, Weather

Katahdin

On top of Maine’s Mount Katahdin Sunday, Appalachian Trail hikers R.J. Kielian, left, and Jay Knoll celebrate the completion of their five-month 2,000-mile journey from Georgia to Maine. R.J.’s father brought him the suit, all the way from Florida. Jay, who is from Tennessee, bought his for $5 in a thrift shop in a nearby Maine town. They started hiking at Springer Mountain, Georgia, in April. Katahdin is a rocky climb above treeline and it’s beautiful in the fall. For more on Katahdin, including hiking the Knife Edge, click here (mouse-over the thumbnails on the gallery page for captions).

Also posted in People, Travel Tagged , , , |

Coastamaine

Tourist time on the coast of Maine, Pemaquid Point..

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Maine BBQ

OK, you don’t usually associate Maine with barbecue, but there it is, in the orange trailer poking out of the snowbank where U.S. Route 2 sweeps eastward from Bethel toward Rumford. I didn’t have any, but it smelled good. It’s in the parking lot next to the Good Food Store and run by the same people who run the store. It’s called Smokin’ Good BBQ.

Also posted in Colors, Food, Snow, Travel, Winter Tagged , , , , , , |