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A quick loop around the Northeast

September 30, 2019
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Wells, Maine

Lobsta, Anyone?

My brain full of vague Jack and Jackie Kennedy memories from my childhood, I headed out to the Cape. I even spent my first night in Hyannis, at a funky Elks lodge that had been built from a converted health club.

Cape Cod was beautiful and maddening. Beautiful because there is ocean hugging every side, which made it smell salty like home. A purple-blue sky expanded overhead. Pines and oaks stunted by the wind closed in around all the roads.

Maddening because these TINY twee little roads. I know the place is historic, but give a girl a lane more than 8 feet wide, people!

I can hear the residents saying “Nope. We’re from Massachusetts and you will deal with our wicked dinky roads or you can go back to Lala Land.”

Anyway, it wasn’t good for my anxiety. I felt like an elephant trying to balance on a popsicle stick going down those roads. And ducking from the branches overhead. It’s a good thing you’re cute, Cape Cod.

Country Roads, Take Me Home

It wasn’t just Cape Cod, though. It was all of New England, pretty much. Tiny winding roads, overhanging trees, me jumping out of my skin – alternating with gasping at some lovely brick building dripping with history.

After Cape Cod, I spent a lovely evening with my old blogging friend Jessica’s family in Rhode Island. I loved Rhode Island and I loved Jessica and her family. Our smallest state is a wacky puzzle, with ocean at every turn. It’s also adorable in that historic New England seaport-y kind of way. Jessica drove me around and showed me the sights, from the huge historic estates and the wareshouses crowded by the water to the funky part of town by a back bay.

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Wells, Maine

I headed north, passing a pleasant evening at the Elks in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a lodge located right at a river mouth by the ocean. They even offer kayak storage for their members to go for a paddle.

The Maine Thing

Maine was next, since New Hampshire only has about 12 miles of shoreline. The southern part of Maine was a shock to my imagination. I had thought of it being a rough and rustic coast, and instead it was rough and touristy. Crowded. Even in mid-September, packed with people storing up the last few weeks of warm weather. Hundreds of houses line the shore, cheek by jowl, interrupted by towns full of tchockhe shops and lobster shacks.

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Ogunquit Museum of American Art

I stayed in Wells, near the highway, where I could walk a mile to the beach and then stop at a brewpub on the way back to drink some IPAs and chat up my fellow travelers, since locals seemed to be huddling down and waiting for the invasion to be over.

My favorite thing in the area was the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, a small museum surrounded by colorful gardens and facing a rocky cove. Dear rich people: please endow more museums.

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Bar Harbor, Maine

Bah Haaabaaaa

I wasn’t going to go further north, but some of my brewpub pals talked me into going. “It would be a shame if you came all this way and didn’t go up there,” they said, and I couldn’t argue with that logic, so I drove the 4 hours up to Bar Harbor.

What a visually stunning place. Acadia National Park tops some tall hills over a large bay. Bar Harbor sits at the foot of the hills right on the water, with many waterfront restaurants where people can enjoy the sun and eat some lobster.

I made the terrible mistake of trying to drive Gladis in Bar Harbor. It was an even smaller and more crowded New England town than all the towns before, and they brag in their brochure “There’s nowhere to park.” I circled fruitlessly, using all my hard-won driving skills to avoid sideswiping other cars or killing people wandering out in the road with lobster rolls in their hands.

A Spot of Trouble

I finally spied a sign that said “Beach Park.” Great, I thought. I can park there, maybe. I ventured down a narrow road* that soon became even narrower. I could see cars ahead of me at the beach. Then I dropped down about a foot…onto sand.

Me and Gladis were sitting on a rocky outcropping above a beach, a spot about 30 feet wide and 12 feet deep. One one side, a rocky ridge with a 3-foot drop behind it. On the other side, a wall. In front of me, rapidly deepening sand, dotted with cars…all four-wheel drive cars.

About 60 onlookers gaped and laughed. How was this crazy California bitch going to get out of this?

With grim determination and a 72-point turn, six inches at a time, I decided. I just had to DO IT. The last thing I wanted was to have Gladis towed out of there.

Back and forth I began inching around, a spirograph pattern in action. Forward. Reverse. Tiny progress.

Then my savior showed up in the form of a friendly man from Texas. “Oh hun, I got a 35-footer. I’ll help ya out.”

And he did. He directed me back and forth, back and forth, yelling “Come on, come on” and “STOP” and “You got this” and “Just be patient, you’ll be fine.” And with help, I was. It took about 10 minutes and some sweaty moments, but Gladis and I finally emerged safely to the rutted path back to civilization.

I told this story to my friend Robin and she said “And at that moment, you said ‘Fuck Bar Harbor,’ and I started laughing because she knows me too well.

I went out to the mosquito-riddled KOA and took the shuttle back into Bar Harbor, but there was no love there from me. I took off in the morning, glad to be gone.

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Franconia NH

I drove Route 2 across Maine and New Hampshire for almost 7 hours. It’s a little two-lane highway that slows to 30 mph for every little burg that dots its length, but it was such a scenic and pleasant drive that I didn’t mind a bit. Finally, a road wide enough to drive on.

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*I thought I must have been mistaken and that the road was some kind of hiking path. But nope, it is clearly marked as a road in Google maps.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2019 11:24

    I love hearing about kindness from strangers. Glad you had help; that sounds like a nightmare. I’d hate getting stuck in sand too.

  2. Jackie Hall permalink
    October 8, 2019 07:03

    That sounds terrifying. Glad you are safe.

    Did you ever work with Philip Defranco? You look like one of the ladies that do research for him for his YouTube news channel as well as other projects in the office.

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