The day started with my phone alerting me with a gale warning, so I decided to scrap the itenirary for the day, which had included a 1.5 hour drive inland, and limit my adventures to one peninsula over, Georgetown Island. That way I wouldn’t be more than 40 minutes away from my room if I needed to outrun the gale, whatever that was.
Was it wind? Was it rain? Was it going to take me to Oz? Was it a lady with a poorly spelled name? Who knows.
And yes, one peninsula over can be anywhere from a 20-40 minute drive, because you have to go up and out of your peninsula, then down and into the other one. Google Maps doesn’t seem to understand this concept AT ALL, and every time I looked something up that I needed like, say, a grocery store or a restaurant, Google maps would pop up a list of places 2 miles away, but when I clicked “directions”, it would be 40-50 minutes away. Apparently Google thinks I’m grocery shopping via canoe.
But I took my time leaving. I ate some snacks I’d bought at the grocery store rather than going to breakfast, and I made sure I had everything I needed, including more snacks, since I planned to stay out until the gale arrived at 3pm, per the local meteorologist. Then I stopped by the gift shop to buy bug spray to help ward off the ticks, and also accidentally bought 3 local fiction books.
My first stop was the Josephine Newman Audobon Sanctuary. It had hiking trails and looked like it might have some pretty views. The road to it was uphill, narrow, rough dirt, and perfect. The signs, however, were a bit scary.
I triple sprayed my legs and tucked my pants and stayed carefully on the trails. But..the drive was 40 minutes, and I needed to pee. And it seemed like a terrible idea to lean against a tree and not a great idea to expose any unnecessary flesh. So I just held it, which probably made the nature preserve slightly less lovely than it would have been otherwise.
It was a nice hike with pretty views and some lovely trees and really funny squirrels who seemed to want to be my friend and to also to beat box with me and also to scare me away.
But I wasn’t blown away. Although lovely, it wasn’t different enough to feel like I was in another world.
And I needed to pee. And I was struck by the weirdness that somehow I’ve gone from feeling like I should worry about contracting COVID from a public restroom to contracting Lyme from squatting in the forest.
It’s a weird world.
Also, the irony is not lost on me that I refer to Alabama as the The Hunger Games Arena because we have so many items nature that want to kill us, yet I don’t think twice about any of those things when I enter our woods, yet I go to Maine and fear the ONE THING (that is microscopic and therefore somehow freakier) that they have.
(I’m not afraid of their moose, which I hear I’m supposed to be. I really wanna see a moose. But not a deer tick.)
I decided to head to the state park further down the same peninsula next – Reid State Park, up against the ocean, which blessedly had bathrooms, though they were one-way bathrooms – with 25 signs to make sure you knew it.
Me and the zero other people in the bathrooms definitely felt safer from COVID for their efforts.
Maine LOVES signs. This state park showed that off repeatedly, such as their very specific closing time at sunset,
But despite the signs, THIS was the park I was looking for – it absolutely blew me away. This tree said “same.”
It had a lagoon behind the ocean with wide fields and lovely trees and MOOSE PRINTS.
The shore had giant rocks and Christmas trees on the rocks.
The waves were the biggest I’d seen here yet.
People had built impressive structures out of driftwood.
This one felt very Alligator to me…
It even was outfitted with wind chimes.
And most importantly, you could see FALL FOLIAGE AND THE OCEAN AT THE SAME TIME.
Still no sea lions or actual moose spottings, but it was perfect. I walked a mile down the beach, then walked back on the road, and I was so glad I did because the road had the prettiest leaves.
There were also reversing tidal streams that filled and emptied the large lagoon – the ocean was pumping water into the lagoon when I arrived, and out of it when I left.
This park is when I was finally completely overwhelmed by how perfect Maine is. It’s everything I hoped and so much more.
I was parched and starving by the time I got back to my car – the wind had really taken it out of me. It was starting to look weird and overcast, but no rain was on the radar, so I decided to make a lighthouse stop before I headed back.
Right outside the state park, though, a really large deer crossed the road in front of me, stopped on the side, waited for me to quit staring at her and start driving, then crossed the road again behind me. I reached my phone out the window and shot a picture blindly. This photo has zero edits – except to crop out the side of the car. Maine needs nothing to be dreamy – just a blind iPhone shot behind your car.
The lighthouse on the way back was a couple miles down a gravel/dirt/mud road. It was privately owned, but there were many signs luring lonely travelers to it, because Maine Loves Signs. It felt a bit creepy, but I went with it. And it was adorable.
But as I got out of the car, it was exactly 3pm, and it started to rain. Because Maine weather is apparently very punctual. So I didn’t have long to shoot pictures at the lighthouse, but I did walk all the way out to the end of its boardwalk and turned the door handle – and I swear there was a dog or sea lion or ghost dog on the other side of the door that started whining and barking at me.
Then as I got back in the car, the lighthouse light started flashing.
Stephen King is from Maine for a reason.
The state is creepy as crap.
And I don’t hate it.
I came back through “town” to head down my peninsula, and it was shift change at Bath Iron Works, which appears to be currently building a cruise ship and a Navy ship. There were literally hundreds of hardy men pouring out of the iron works, and a few dozen hardy looking women.
(Speaking of hardy people, there are no diva women in Maine. They do not wear Lululemon and they are not Ladies who Lunch after getting a spray tan and acrylic nails. They are full-on LL Bean, cargo pants, Hiking boots, sensible cropped hair, and their jaws are set like they’ve walked into many a gale in the middle of a snowstorm in the middle of an ice lake while having an arm wrestling competition to see who pays for the twentieth round of beer.)
(Several of my friends could definitely not survive Maine at its harshest.)
(And also I could not.)
I finally made it through Lumberjack Rush Hour and to the resort, where I showered (and scrubbed my head really really well because Maine Loves Signs About Their Ticks), then walked below my room for sunset.
The gale was still offshore – I could see it in the distance. But as soon as the sun went down, it hit me smack on the shore, blowing me nearly over. It made the sunset spectacular, though, and I loved every minute.
By then I was super hungry – it was 6:45pm, and I hadn’t eaten a hot meal since 4pm the day before, because food is not high on my priority list when I travel alone.
I fought my way through the gale (just wind, no rain) to the restaurant and had a nice quiet meal. It was the first time I’ve ever eaten Haddock – which is apparently a local fish around here. I’m always leery of new fish because I want my fish flaky (not chewy) and light (not fishy). But this was exactly the way I like it – and so, so fresh. Yay for Haddock.
The walk back in the gale was quite bracing. The Rogue had definitely been gale-hit. The poor nondescript Rogue was nondescript no longer.