Some people will read this and shrug, “So.” Other will read this, purse their face into a perplexed look, perhaps scratch their head and comment, “Why?” But those who know me will smile and simply say, “Joe has his wanderlust on.”
What I did, what I accomplished was to visit every county in Maine. Not just drive through them, but intentionally picked a location and spent time there.
In one way, it’s not such a great accomplishment. After all, there are only 16 counties in Maine. The grand design was to make the pilgrimage in 16 months — one per month. Because of schedules, it took more like 20 months. But I did do it!
Maine is a complicated state. There really is only one main road, a lot of Maine roads but mostly back roads and two lane highways to get you around the 35,385 square miles contained in its borders. It is the easternmost state in the contiguous United State and northernmost east of the Great Lakes. It is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways. And I’ve seen them all.
It took 3,096 linear miles, but I visited Auburn/Lewiston in Androscoggin County for photo ops of the bridge separating the two towns and dinner at Mac’s Downeast Seafood; Allagash in frosty Aroostook County because — just because — with an afternoon dessert at Two Rivers Lunch; Portland in Cumberland County for a downtown and waterfront stroll and lunch at DiMillo’s on the Water (floating restaurant); Weld in Franklin County for a hike toward Tumbledown Lake (never made it to the lake, only about halfway up the trail and skipped dinner); Hancock in Hancock County to visit Frenchman Bay Conservancy and the reversing falls with dinner at the Salt Box; State Capitol Augusta in Kennebec County for a stroll along the riverfront watching the sturgeon jumping out of the Kennebec River and working up an appetite with a visit to Old Fort Western before chowing down at Riverfront Barbeque and Grille; Port Clyde in Knox County for visit to the Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum and dinner at the Yardbird Canteen; Southport in Lincoln County for a coastal experience and dinner at Robinson’s Wharf; to a little town in the western foothills of Maine called Dixfield in Oxford County where I walked across the bridge and along the Androscoggin River bank on both sides before settling for dinner at the quirky Front Door Cafe; Lincoln in Penobscot County in November, which was gearing up for its annual Festival of Lights Parade, part of the Lincoln Tree Lighting event, with fish and chips at Gillmor’s Restaurant; Guilford/Abbott in Piscataquis County [my home county] where I stopped at a little park and boat launch to wander and wonder at the rolling Piscataquis River despite a misty morning and picked up a meatball parmigiana sandwich and an overfilled raspberry croissant from Abbott Village Bakery and Cafe to bring back to my apartment; Hockomoc Bay in Sagadahoc County with a serendipitous lunch at Ship’s Chow Hall; Rockwood in Somerset County where I spent some time on the edge of the lake, just watching the snowmobilers dashing on the frozen pond, the fishermen with their poles dunked through a hole in the ice, the fishing huts, some skaters near the shore and even an impromptu hockey game capped with an enjoyable dinner at The Birches, punctuated by the sound of snowmobiles on the lake [very dangerous after dark, I am told], the crackling and smell of wood in the fireplaces and and the chatter from the lounge; Belfast in Waldo County, a quaint little town with an expansive harbor at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River off Penobscot Bay with linner [between lunch and dinner] at local favorite Delvino’s Grill & Pasta House; Lubec, easternmost town in the country in Washington County, just for the sunrise where the sun first shines its light in the United States and breakfast at Helen’s Restaurant in neighboring Machias; and finally Cape Neddick, Nubble Lighthouse and dinner at Fox’s Lobster House in York C ounty.
Yeah, I’ve seen Maine bathed in summer sunshine, bundled in winter white, covered with budding green in spring and vibrantly dressed in fall classic splendor. Each venture was an adventure. Each stop was special.
My only problem now is what quest I should take up next.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Listen when God whispers words of change in your ear. He loves us just as we are, but too much to leave us that way.