Perhaps those of you have been to the Hundred Acre Woods, some to the Northeast Kingdom other found the perfect spot in the Great Northern Woods and you have not yet gotten Down East. Well, you should make tracks or paint a trail there but perhaps not for the reasons most spots may be promoted as “destinations.”
There are still wild spaces and places once settled now returned to brambles and poverty in the Northeast of this land and yet having a distinct charm if not an object lesson.
If from the Forgotten Kingdom or the People’s Republic of Northampton there are quaint places and ruined majestic farms inhabited by those Liberal Elite, there too can be found Down East some fine examples of salt box or Carpender Gothic lived in by descendants of those first settlers and now decorated with blown out Ski Doos and all manner of items of interest as well as those of no interest at all, such as old appliances of the past three decades.
A trip to Down East may be tinged with some trepidation by those poking about looking for the perfect backdrop for a selfie. This is an area where the blessed mana of the American Dream once shone but now has since rescinded all offers – the farm in ruin. The house repossessed. But in a grand way, as with those castles one may tour in Scotland which were, after all, centers of oppression and murder most foul and now are in a state of desolation and ruin from whatever last bastard war leveled the fortress.
The drive up the coast of Maine is as varied as the coastline is crenelated and islands plentiful. The old breakaway colony of Massachusetts now seen as the lobster capital of New England and blueberry capital of the world, albeit the latter self proclaimed and witnessed only on one sign – from which for miles there was nary a berry blue to be seen. There are, it seems to this traveler, three distinct Maines perhaps reflecting the state of our Union or at least describing the activities of those vacationing and how far a tank of gas can get a traveler from Boston.
The first Maine is close to the Live Free Or Die state and may be mistaken for greater, greater Boston. Maine starts out seeming very crowded and little like what the Vacationland billboard advertises. All manner of establishments offer the Lobster Roll (seems from $9.99 to $14.99 is the most common range of price but nothing was Yelped or Urbanspooned) in such multitude that it is surprising there are any of the little buggers yet out unrolled in the ocean. These stands mix in with the usual manner of roadside crap and these chains and family operations all compete for what may be the scant few dollars or at least those funds that come with the wave of tourists in the all too short summer as those from greater Boston come to visit what may be described as greater greater Boston the way that a hundred mile radius about New York is also in many ways Greater New York. These bits of the Maine include much of the Geography of Nowhere as does so much of our lands yet here and there the route (US 1) is marked by classic moments of Roadside America and still intact town centers and villages.
The second phase of Maine is gentile and seems to be the summer homes of the old New England families or those posing to be such. It is a place of beauty yet that group of hamlets Lovecraft would be all too familiar with and were he to have written a piece set in the region by Deer Isle he would have written about a family five generations into holding onto a property, a stately house where the core of which, an evil and slanted cabin of dark knotty wide pine boards had morphed into a large monstrous house with a grand name the locals knew but never uttered, and this house was tended to a descendant who referred to herself as the “caretaker,” which was fitting since the place was loaded with art and objects brought back from the ancient regimes of Europe and dark evil corners of Cathay where people worshiped strange muttering idols, and the widow’s watch looked out over the cove and a spyglass was affixed – perfectly aligned with the dead pulsating lights atop the bridge crossing to the island – that he would not have to make much up, since this blogger did Air B N B and stayed in a home of a description, except that I made up a few bits… like the spyglass….
There are art galleries and lobster traps, as there are also all manner of little quaint inlets, coves, and isthmuses too numbered to count and too storied to retell. Then there is Down East.
One crosses into Down East of a sudden. The lands should remain the same. Islands. Hills. Sky. Yet, the number of fine homes quickly diminish and there is an increase of working trucks and rusted cars both on the road and filling yards. This is the third space of Maine, the workingman’s quarters. Here and there are some outcroppings of the monied classes, some scant outpost B&Bs, but there are also the blueberry barrens and the migrant workers set up to work these fields. Perhaps this is the wrong view, perhaps there are smatterings of wealth or crowded roadside America, but this was not viewed by a simple navigation of Route 1. This bleak land flowed ever up until it terminated in a village of many abandoned buildings and questionable ventures right up on the border with Canada. It was only fitting that a state that large would end in some border town of ill economy where it appeared the primary activity was the buzzing back and forth of white DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY trucks in a display of big government and paranoia which would be all too familiar to our old SOVIET nemeses.
These three Maines are very distinct and perhaps another further survey and additional interviews with the locals may provide insight or debunk the entire premise.
There is, however, also, the interior of Maine to consider… However, who goes there?