7/12 8:12 PM Peaks-Kenny State Park, Maine
Oh typing up my blog in a tent far away from electricity and wifi, how I’ve missed you! The last successful tent camping was in Georgia. If you remember, rain hindered my enjoyment in Shenandoah, and since then I’ve been staying with people (Dan & Anita, Carly, Wilson, Darrah, Elnora, Kathryn) or sleeping in my car. It’s great having a roof and a bed and a shower and company and conversation, but wow I’ve missed just being cozy in a tent and being in nature and long drives and spectacular vistas and actually making use of my cooler. Cities have city stuff. Museums and food and variety, but cities are costly and busy and just…they get to be a lot to deal with. So I’ll be camping for a few days more. I don’t know if I’ll camp another day in Maine. Find a spot near the Maine/New Hampshire border maybe. But I’m many days ahead of where I left you, dear readers, so let us go back to Massachusetts.
I left Gloucester in the midafternoon, after washing my sheets and eating. It was a great day for driving. It was just a bit cooler than it has been (low 80s) so I didn’t have to run the a/c. I drove North on 95, or was it East? Either way, I went up. I stopped in Portsmouth, New Hampshire at my beloved Trader Joe’s and stocked my provisions. I am going with bagels and crème cheese instead of PB & J, because my bread keeps ending up soggy before I can finish it, and that is a waste of food. But I know I can eat six bagels. Also carrots and apples and string cheese. My staples. Amy, the cashier, was so into the trip that I am on, that she have me a few flowers! I turned a waterbottle into a vase for them, and they are sitting pretty in my car, if a bit wilted by now. I don’t want to chuck them, because they were such a wonderful gesture.
That brief sojourn across New Hampshire was state 31, and then Maine brought me to 32. First time I’ve seen a distance sign that had three cities in three states on it, with all the distances being under 40 miles away. That little bit of MA, NH, & ME is not big at all. But going to Bangor and then down to Acadia…that is another story. But it was a nice drive, with good roads and nice rest stops, and reasonable tolls. I listened to podcasts, I admired the trees and woods that just go on and on, and wow Maine is lovely! It’s nice to be away from big cities and development and old money and just, all of that. It really is. I’ve missed the long drives. I got into Acadia before sunset. The whole island isn’t a National Park, just the good bits. There are roads that ring around the island, and it’s all very quick and easy and easily marked when it comes to getting around. I drove a bit, finally located where a campground was, and signed in for the night. Only one night unfortunately, but hey it’s the weekend. It’s to be expected. I couldn’t find my hammer at all, so I borrowed a mallet to pound my tent spikes in.
It was a nice night to be in a tent. No rain, no massive breeze, not too hot. Just very nice. I finished reading Edward St. Aubyn’s Lost for Words. It was a gentle, silly book. It felt like it was missing a few chapters, like they got edited out. Another thing that happens when I tent camp: I read more. I’ve missed the reading in my tent for several hours, because once it gets dark and you have no fire, but at not tired, what are you going to do? Yeah, I’ve missed this.
Check out was at 10, and I was outta there at 9:45. I went to the visitor’s center and got my stamps. Saw the informational video. I drove on the ring road and went up to the Cadillac Mountain peak. I sat on the flat rock and read and basked like the sea lizard that I am. I’ve done a lot of basking in the past few days. It’s been nice. I drove some more. The ocean air brought tears to my eyes; I’m not ashamed to admit. I didn’t know how much I missed that smell, but it is so specific. The fresh air, the sea weed, the salt, the…everything!
I sat on Sandy Beach for a while and wished I had packed a two piece swimsuit, because my legs and arms are getting tan, and the top of my back, but not my stomach. It’s all very patchy. What’s the point in spending months getting a tan, if it doesn’t happen evenly! Well, as long as I don’t burn. I spent more time on Sandy Beach today and I am right on the cusp of being pink. My back should be a nice tan in a few days. I’m not giving off that heat that happens when you burn, but I think I have such a nice base tan going on, that a few hours won’t lobster me like it would if I were my pasty Pacific Northwest self. It’s kinda fun doing the tan thing. I’ve got 26 years of pasty good skin care, I think I can take a few months of controlled exposure.
Anyway, Acadia! I went downtown in the evening and got an Italian soda, which was refreshing. All the seafood prices were cha-ching so I forgoed the local samplers. And who knows how local it even is? If I’m going to have Maine seafood, I’d like to know that it was alive and snipping in the sea not too long ago, and not too far from where it died.
Bar Harbor (pronounced Baa Haa Baa by a few) was like any tourist harbor. Imagine … uhhh Friday Harbor? Is that the one on San Juan Island? Orcas Island? Anyway, it’s like that. Cute shops, lots of little food places, lots of higher end food places. Just that stuff, but with less nautical looking tourists. I didn’t have a place to camp that night, but there were a Walmart in Ellsworth just 30 minutes away from the park! It was the safest looking lot thus far, and I settled in. I bought some coffee and doughnuts from the Dunkin Doughnuts in Walmart, and a mallet and some fuel injector cleaner from the Walmart, and that was my day. I remembered to drink the coffee and poor the fuel injector cleaner in. That would have been a bad mix up. The mallet is for the tent spikes, and it has already proven itself a worthwhile purchase (it cost less than $3 but still). I drove around the left side of the island. The less parky and populated side. I went to the Seur le Mons (or suchlike) garden and got my stamp. Then I returned to Sandy Beach. I hiked a little bit, but I wasn’t feeling up to the very vertical part of the trail, so I went back down, put on my swimsuit, and hit the beach. I’m reading The Goldfinch and it is doing a very good job of holding my attention just enough to keep reading, but it isn’t exactly enthralling me.
After the beach, I drove on a bit and parked once again and this time sat on the flat rocks and read there. I found a great spot where the rock chipped away enough to make a comfy seat, and there was a rock to clean against. Perfect. Sailboats went by, the surf crashed up on the rocks below, all was well and awesome.
From there I departed and decided to go north instead of further east. I stopped at this antiques place and browsed while talking to Ma & Pa on the phone. They were due for a good long conversation. I continued on to Bangor, a less than an hour drive. Almost everything in the part of the city was closed at 4pm! Except for the comic shop, but I have the latest issue of Lumberjanes and Sandman, so whatever.
Another hour north found me at Peaks-Kenny State Park. I got one of the last spots. Only being in a tent and only staying for a night gives me a good leg up on RVs and long term campers. My tent was set up in seemingly record time thanks to the mallet making the peg pounding a much faster process. I put my swimsuit back on and went down to the beach (this park is on a lake) and got a sunsetting swim in. The water wasn’t all that cold. The hills were green and rolling, with the ones in the distance that atmospheric blue color. The sky was blue and the sun was shining through mottled clouds. This campground has free showers! I’ll wash my hair in the morning if it feels like it needs it. I gave myself a good “if there are any ticks they better be off” soapy scrub.
I guess that is one benefit to having a husband: someone that’ll check you for ticks after a hike. The last person who found a tick on me set me on fire. So hopefully that won’t happen ever again.
And now I lay me down to sleep. I begin to go west tomorrow. The return begins. I’ve come so far, it’s time to go back to what was but will be different for I am ever changing.
7/14 3:09 pm, Plymouth, New Hampshire
I've got 30 minutes left on my meter so lets get to it!
I left Peaks-Kenny at noonish for Mt. Blue State Park. It was a nice drive, took me through Skowhegan. Only a few hours. I swung by a hardware store to see about getting some slime to repair my tire that has been loosing air, and the dude in the store advised me to go to a local shop and that it wouldn't be that much for them to repair a puncture with a plug (he estimated $20). I figured what the hell. I drove down to the garage he indicated, and the guy was available to help. Jacked my car up, got off the tire, and well there was a screw embedded in the tire! A long one that was really stuck in there, which is probably why it wasn't going flat in an instant. Really tight in there. He patched it with a plug and the cost was $6! I've spent more than that on air keeping the tire inflated since North Carolina. Dang! Well, happy I set off to go camp. I got in to my spot at 4pmish and the park was far from populated. Got my tent set up and ate my bagel and...it started to rain. And it kept raining till sunrise just about. I made sure my tent was closed all the way and took a walk in the rain with my umbrella. My tent was not flooded upon my return, but it was leaky. It is classified as "water resistant" but not "water proof". It comes through the stitching and the mesh if the top cover is soaked enough. I kept a towel in the tent and wiped down the leaks, but eventually it just rained more and more and I just gave up and slept in my car. Nothing got wet outside of my tent and the towel, because I learned a valuable lesson in Shenandoah! Still, ugh a wet tent. And more rain is predicted for New Hampshire, which is a bummer because I want to camp more! I love camping! But I can't do it in the rain. I could if my tent were waterproof, but it isn't.
So I packed up and left relatively early. I took a beautiful scenic drive through the White Mountains National Forest in New Hampshire. Just quality winding roads, rolling hills, mountains blue in the distances with clouds coming up behind them. Just lovely. I don't know what I'll do with myself. Maybe drive down to a city and go to a used book store or something. Get some A/C. I'm eating in a little cafe in Plymouth. Charging my phone and laptop and mp3 player. I'm due to meet Caroline in Toronto in a week. So a week to explore New Hampshire, Vermont, and up state New York. I think I'll skip Montreal. I'll contact Janet in Buffalo, maybe go hang with her for a day or so. I need to find a place to try the inside of my tent. Place being rest stop.
I really like being dry and getting a good night sleep. Sleeping in my car just wears me out as I seem to wake up fairly regularly to adjust my position.