STATE O2: MAINE
One of the most surreal moments of the tour happened within the first week, surprisingly. I guess that goes to show you how many beautiful places there are in the U.S. just around the corner.
After leaving Vermont, we headed east and rolled into White Mountain National Forest through the northern entrance near Gilead, Maine. We stopped the truck in the middle of the road that went along the Wild River to get a photo of the Airstream surrounded by green.
After I snapped the picture and brought the camera down, I immediately became aware of my surroundings: the birds singing, not a soul or car in sight, the freshest air I’ve ever smelled, the cool shade of the trees with sun occasionally poking through, and the peaceful sound of the flowing water. With a billion moving pieces constantly around us, there aren’t many things in the world that can be called perfect. I think I’m blessed to have experienced this moment of perfection.
And yes, at this point, we still didn’t have our permanent license plate for the trailer. But that’s another story for another time.
We snuck into an empty site in the nearby Hastings Campground for the evening but left quickly in the morning to make our way toward Portland. The day ended with us at the Cabela’s parking lot in Scarborough, Maine, where we bought a fantastic collapsible dish rack that fits perfectly on the little counter extension we have.
Seriously, when you have limited space and you find something that fits and functions, you feel like it’s destiny. Some may believe living minimally means not being materialistic but I’m thinking you just feel a stronger attachment to the limited number of things that you own. What can I say? Cause we are living in a material world and I am a minimalistic material girl.
The next day we checked into Hid’n Pines Family Campground located just down the road from Old Orchard Beach Pier. On a side note, can we talk about American beach culture? What cultural phenomenon occurred that led every pier or coastal commercial areas to include the same t-shirt shops, tropical bars, and fried food joints? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing it.
I’m genuinely curious as to what allowed this consistency to occur because isn’t it peculiar that no matter what water you’re near, salt, fresh, or even pool water, you are bound to come across the same neon t-shirts, elephant ears, and strawberry daiquiris from a slushy machine. Is this all an extension off of the surf culture that rose to popularity in the 1950s and ’60s??
Either way, we love water, so we were able to overlook some of the distractions and enjoy the sounds and smells of the waves crashing against the pier.
The next couple days were spent adventuring as much as we could around the Casco Bay area. One day was spent driving out to the fingers of the coast, climbing the rocks of Bailey Island’s beach near Harpswell, winding along the narrow roads lined with cottages, and Tyler cracking lobster for the first time and then being very disgusted with his fish-smelling fingers afterward.
During the Maine project days, we ventured into Portland, a town that you can tell is filled with a busy history, being a port along the northern east coast. A few of our project participants and AIGA Maine members took us to go try their best local beer (and Tyler’s favorite: freshly baked hot pretzels!) a few blocks away downtown near the fisherman’s wharf area, suggesting for us to smell the air as the fog was coming in.
“Fishy,” we both replied.
Beyond the sights, smells, and taste of Maine, one of the things we enjoyed more than we expected was walking through the old cemeteries where we were able to admire the carved graves and be in awe at the dates. It was our first experience on the tour beginning to understand and imagine the history of the early days of our young, yet still old, country.
After the Maine state project, our friend Michelle generously offered us her driveway and home in Freeport while she was away for the weekend. As it turns out, she lives in a beautiful and remote wooded area that was the perfect home base for us to catch up on some laundry and enjoy her spacious shower.
The night before she left, Michelle, Tyler, and I, along with her son and a few hilarious friends of hers, sat out on her patio, cracked lobster, drank wine, ate peach cobbler, and laughed our asses off.
Michelle’s friend even showed us how a Mainer shotguns the juice of a lobster claw by putting your mouth on the base of the claw, cracking the “thumb” to release the liquids, and then slurping. We took his word for it.
Freeport is also the home of L.L. Bean! Being the footwear designer he is, Tyler had to go to their flagship store and buy himself a pair of slip-on Bean Boots to wear when he’s setting-up and tearing-down to keep his tootsies warm and dry.
He also drove to their headquarters, hoping he’d be able to find out more information about their factory with hopes of getting a tour but he was not successful. Maybe next time!
We spent our last day in Maine hiking then having a picnic in Wolfes Neck Woods State Park. At some point during the hike, I pointed out to Tyler that we were on a trail overlooking the rugged coastal rocks and the Atlantic ocean while also being in a forest of pine trees that smelled like it could be a candle labeled “Maine.” It sounds naive now but I had never experienced an area along the sea to be so lush and green, but not tropical.
We would have loved to continue exploring Maine because every word you hear about how beautiful the state is, is true. It is a wilderness wonderland. Unfortunately, we had to move on and head south to New Hampshire, but we will be back, Maine! I have an animal bucket list going on and I’ll be damned if I don’t see a moose in the wild (preferably not on a road).
*View the Maine state project we facilitated with U.S. Army Veteran (and design professional) Chris Moore, designer Morgan Gelfand, videographer Jamie Munro from The VIA Agency, and photographer Sean Alonzo Harris in partnership with AIGA Maine. Their collaborative design is entitled “Don’t Panic,” which represents the collage of experiences, education, and opportunities that the military provided in times of peace, in war, and once home.