The third Monday of April, it’s an holiday in the US, thanks to Patriot’s Day. As good holiday patriots, we enjoyed a 3 days weekend to discover Maine, a northeast state of New England. Vermont was another option, but the season hasn’t started yet, it’s too soon (I mean, cheese factories and farms – the true reason to go on weekend – are closed until May). I wanted badly to leave this weekend because it was Manu’s birthday. I bought a tourist guide about New England, and Maine trips sounded fantastic: Lobster Tour, Spooky Maine, 60 Lighthouses in 60 Hours, Acadia National Park, Dramatic Coast… Decision was made: we were going to Maine.
Maine, where is it?
In New England like 5 other States : Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and our Massachussetts. New England is very small, which is striking when we look at a US map (I sometimes have the feeling we don’t actually live in the US – luckily, there are so much flags at every corner, in front of houses, etc. to remind us that we really are living here).
Maine is the biggest state of New England, northeast, close to Quebec. It’s also the less populated : lakes, forests, and coasts, in Maine, nature is everywhere. After several months in cities, we really needed a break: nature, fresh air, silence and rustic stuff were more than welcome.
Culinary specialties in Maine: lobster and blueberry
It’s pretty indecent all these lobsters on the menus. I ate lobster maybe just once in France, the concentration of meals based on lobsters on this weekend was insane. We tested Lazy Lobster (I like this name, it means the lobster is already shelled – in the restaurant I had the lazy lobster, it was also sauteed, yummy yum), linguine with Lobster, Lobster Roll (in a bun, with mayo) and at last, the “simple” version, the Steamed Lobster, served with melted butter. Spectacular!
Acadia National Park
We went there by chance, we didn’t know it was one of the most popular attraction in Maine. It was the best surprise of the weekend. This park is located on a small island, Mont Desert Island, surrounded by smallest islands. Coast and landscapes are dramatically beautiful, there’s not a lot of sandy beaches, boulders are everywhere, cliffs, coves, lakes, forests… We were wearing sneakers, motivated to do a (small) hike. But the trail I was hoping to do, “Precipice trail”, was closed, because peregrine falcons are nesting (I read it, I didn’t know it…). We crossed the island following the Loop road. We stopped in nice spots, but, truly, sneakers weren’t that useful.
We didn’t see a lot of animals, except from usual squirrels (they are tiniest and red, contrary to cities squirrels). We desperately wanted to see mooses, but… nothing.
One of the mountain on the island (I mean “montain” is a big word, it’s like a big hill, 1530 feet or 466 m high) has the name of a French explorer, Cadillac who knew well the area (he also helped to found Detroit, and the car was named after him). One of the most spectucular bay of the island is also named: The Frenchman Bay.
Road trip, dangers of driving “à la française”
We can see in the video that a big truck is passing on the right of our car. We first panicked, and then we understood it was tolerated. Other striking fact: bikers don’t wear helmets. We saw a lot of men with flying hair on their big Harley Davidson (sometimes they had a very 80′s scarf). Manu was stopped by a cop (on a bike… seriously?), because of a dangerous U-turn on a big road. The cop asked for the driving license. I stupidly wanted to laugh and filming everything with my camera. The cop didn’t know what to do with the French license and so he let us go. “Have a good day, m’am”. We had to pass the US driving license (I’ll write it on my Procrastination List).
Motels along the road
Finding a place to sleep wasn’t easy. It’s not the right season, most of hotels are opening in May. Friends recommended us to camp, but (1) we don’t have any equipment (2) our camping experiment – a few days in hot Sicily in August – proved us we are not very adapted to outdoor life (3) I wanted to go to a motel, it’s so American ! I’m already pleased when I pronounce the word. I looked on Internet and found a motel opened in this time of year, and it wasn’t right in front a road. The motel is in a cute village, Bar Harbor, very close to the Acadia Park. Perfect!
So what? A tiny town motel, with 2 big beds in one room, an old TV, a bible in a drawer, tacky furniture and a coffee machine! And a spooky swing is the garden.
Spooky Maine ?
I’ve recently learned this word in English: spooky. I admit it: I love using (and misusing it). When I read that Maine has the reputation to be spooky, I thought it was a sign: we really had to go there! (NB: I’m a real chicken, I would never go and check electricity in the basement by a storm night; basically, every noise at night is spooky to me).
True story: Stephen King was born in Portland, ME. Creepy cemeteries, foggy lakes, isolated islands and houses… his spooky novels were inspired by Maine landscapes. Actually, we didn’t see anything really spooky. Bar Harbor was a little bit spooky (if you have a psychopath mind): most of the houses, restaurants, hotels were closed, no lights in the streets at night, a deep silence… it has a spooky look. The other spooky fact of the weekend is an old lady following us in the Park. She might have see we were lost, she reached us by car, following us for some miles. Why is that? We were worried, but she just wanted to give us a map of the island. Nice and spooky old lady!