Tom Jamrog’s letter to the editor..

Needed: a big push for Maine Woods tourism

By David Vail

(Aug 23): It’s the height of Maine’s summer tourist season and based on anecdotal information, things are not booming. This is not surprising considering soaring gas prices and consumers’ general sense of vulnerability. Yet another reason for Maine to get serious about energizing its tourism industry, especially in the North Woods where new economic engines are urgently needed.

Maine Woods tourism extends back beyond H.D. Thoreau’s mid-19th century sojourns. In its heyday a century ago, the Moosehead Lake region alone had 20 hotels accessed by three rail lines. Although the Great Depression and automobile touring ended that golden age, post-World War II decades were marked by renewed tourism growth. Traditional outdoor adventures and hospitality services were supplemented by new attractions, such as alpine skiing, snowmobiling, white water rafting and fall “leaf peeping.”

Maine’s hinterland, despite its storied history and natural beauty, shows numerous signs of economic and community distress. Compared to the state’s relatively prosperous southern and coastal counties, the six “rim counties” (Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Aroostook and Washington) suffer from persistent low incomes, high poverty rates, high unemployment, youth out-migration and rapidly aging populations.

One challenge is to frame strategies for economic sectors with the greatest potential to lead rural Maine toward sustainable prosperity. Tourism has that potential. It directly generates over 10 percent of rim county employment and 8 percent of income. Including multiplier effects, tourism accounts for one in seven rim county jobs.

With a few exceptions, rural Maine’s natural attractions and gateway towns have underutilized supply capacity. On the demand side, our nature, culture and heritage have the potential to attract significantly more visitors, especially high spending experiential tourists. However, sustainable tourism growth will not happen automatically through “the magic of the market.”

Responding to rural Maine’s serious economic challenges, Gov. Baldacci and the Legislature have accorded tourism unprecedented priority in the loose collection of programs that pass for a rural development policy.

Pursuing a “world-class” reputation, the state has recently launched numerous tourism ventures, including the Maine Nature Tourism Initiative and a university Center for Tourism Research and Outreach.

The private and nonprofit sectors, with substantial state support, have also been innovating. Theme-based recreational trails have proliferated in rural Maine, for instance the Kennebec-Chaudière International Heritage Corridor, the Maine Birding Trail, the 180-mile Maine Huts and Trails, the Maine Fiber Arts Trail, the Piscataquis Waterfall Trail, the Maine Ice Age Trail and the fast-growing all-terrain vehicle trail network.

Investments in downtown revitalization, resort upgrades and new resorts will help brand the Maine Woods as an amenity rich destination.

Although these ventures show promise, most are piecemeal, geographically scattered and too small to create the “buzz” of a world-class destination. In this era of Internet bookings, the Maine Woods competes for visitors not only with nearby rivals, like the Adirondacks and White Mountains, but also with world-renowned international destinations like the Canadian Rockies. Furthermore, Maine’s cultural and heritage attractions are modest compared with competing Northeast destinations, such as the Hudson and Lake Champlain valleys. In sum, the Maine Woods destination may have world-class potential, but we’re not there yet. The region must re-invent itself as a destination and re-conceive its brand image to thrive in 21st century conditions.

We need a “big push” — with three core components — if tourism is to play a lead role in revitalizing Maine’s rural economy and communities. First, our dispersed mountains, lakes, wild rivers, trails and other natural attractions must be more effectively woven together into a Maine Woods whole, renowned for outstanding and varied recreational experiences. Second, cultural and heritage amenities must be upgraded, networked and integrated with outdoor recreation to shape exciting itineraries for travelers seeking a rich and varied experience. Third, tourism service quality needs to reach the standard of excellence demanded by quality conscious tour arrangers and travelers. Service excellence is also the key to creating more livable wage tourism jobs. At present, fewer than half of tourism jobs pay a livable wage or offer health benefits. Yet we know quality tourism jobs are possible, because our best practice guide services, outfitters, sporting camps, hotels and restaurants already offer them. The foundation of a win-win strategy, then, is top quality service, leading both to greater profitability and better employee compensation and satisfaction.

The 10-million-acre Maine Woods is the largest contiguous forest east of the Mississippi. It contains regionally and nationally recognized destinations: the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail on Mt. Katahdin, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Rangeley and Moosehead Lakes, and the 1,500-mile ITS snowmobile trail network. The area of protected lands has grown to over 1.5 million acres. Building on these special assets, we can shape a world-class Maine Woods destination where the whole is greater than the sum of its many not quite world-class parts.

David Vail teaches economics and environmental studies at Bowdoin College and is a Maine Center for Economic Policy board member. He recently advised the Governor’s Council on Maine’s Quality of Place and serves on the advisory committee to the University of Maine’s Center for Tourism Research and Outreach. To learn more about tourism strategy for rural prosperity, visit the MECEP website at


My response:

Growing up on a Massachusetts farm, I moved a lot of rocks as my family  cleared fields for crops. Back in the 1950’s many folks  in town laughed at my grandmother’s prediction, “ Someday, people will pay good money for these stones”.     She was right, so today we see expensive pallets of lichen encrusted  field stones stacked through the New England countryside as residents pay to have these genuine stones nearby.

In  David Vail’s Guest Column “ Needed: a big push for Maine Woods tourism”,   Mr. Vail is encouraging us to realize that  “Investments in downtown revitalization, resort upgrades and new resorts will help brand the Maine Woods as an amenity rich destination”.  

Greenville is considered the gateway to the Maine Woods.   I am still floored when I drive down Indian Hill approaching town where there stands an deteriorating, empty McDonald’s franchise that gave it up years ago after there wasn’t enough business to sustain it.  I’m not convinced that now is the time to put more “ world class amenities”  into the North Woods in an effort to  “…attract significantly more visitors, especially high-spending experiential tourists”.  

I live here a few miles away from Route 1 where there are ample resorts, and more than one tastefully vitalized downtown.   I shudder to think of how my own  wilderness  experience would be seriously degraded if we merely transplant this whole deal up into the North Woods.  

Believe it or not , there are people  out here who deeply crave a true wilderness experience, desiring a few precious days to canoe, walk, or snowshoe in undeveloped nature and lay our bodies down to rest beside waterfalls, brooks, or on mountaintops.  It is getting difficult to even find these types of  experiences even in the Maine Woods, as snowmobiles, ATVs, and motor boats fill our waterways and paths, thawed or flowing.  Any such plan that  Mr. Vail, or any others  propose needs to recognize that there are people like me out there, who would prefer to swat away at black flies and mosquitoes and labor up and down the gut busting mountains on the Appalachian Trail in Western Maine rather than stroll along the recently cut over lowlands on the 180-mile Maine Huts and Trails corridor.  I want to sleep out in the forest in my little tent, and not in  an upgraded version of an Appalachian Mountain Club  hut, where I can hope to climb to to the last third high bunk and get my supper and breakfast to me for just $96.12 a night ( current rates for one person AMC bunk space on weekends).  

Mr. Vail compares Maine’s assets to those of the Canadian Rockies and Norway’s fjord country.  I personally think that is stretching it.   To some, Mt. Katahdin’s majesty may approach or even equal the grandeur of those two destinations. Thankfully,  we are blessed by the vision of Percival Baxter, whose strings-attached gift of Baxter State Park ensures that no paved roads will be established to allow us to place one one of these “new resorts”  up on the edge of the Tableland.  

Mr. Vail, please think of folks like me when you draft the final stages of just what this “big push” will look like .  I know I won’t be able to afford those rates.  Americans, and many wealthy Europeans , want it all and want it right now, but if we can somehow leave a few of those ancient stones unturned, people will someday pay good money to just stand on them.    



Climbing Katahdin? Better Bring That Flashlight !

I received an e-mail last night from and then followed it up with an interesting phone call with my friend Pat.  Pat’s brother Dave spent an unplanned evening somewhere along the Abol Trail last night.  Three people went up for a day hike and Dave and his friend never made it down until the next morning.  Dave didn’t have a flashlight in his day pack.   Direct quote = ” No flash light , nope , don’t need one of those foolish things !”

Dave’s cell phone died after making a bunch of call from Baxter Peak, so he was unable to call out later, when he need to.

I heard they were going up , and had advised Pat to tell Dave not to descend on the Abol, but to take the Hunt Trail ( AT) down instead.  The Abol is still wet, and a park ranger confirmed this when he told Dave, “You go down the Abol trail, you’ve got bragging rights!”

Pat’s friend, who accompanied the two, did bring her flashlight, and used it to get off the mountain , but she spent an long, lonely , unsettled night waiting for them in the car in the day parking lot.  Dave and his buddy spent an even more unsettling night after Dave managed to start a fire with some toilet paper he had with him.  The night was exceedingly dark, so Dave was forced to crawl on the ground and feel around for some twigs and branches in order to fuel the fire.  They basically stood around the fire all night waiting for the day to bring light.  Thankfully,  it was a relatively warm night, and there were no mosquitoes to devour them, nor rain to bring on hypothermia.

The member of the trio who successfully made it down with the aid of her flashlight was a former resident of Colorado, where she had previously summited 14,000 footers and was shocked at how difficult it was to climb the 5,267 foot Mt. Katahdin. She told Pat, “O, my god!  I had no idea.  It was much worse than anything I had done, even in Colorado!”

The State of Maine has some guidance to avoid such blunders.  From BAXTER STATE PARK RULES AND REGULATIONS 2006: :  “Hikers must wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and must carry a working flashlight… The Baxter State Park Authority may request reimbursement of search and rescue costs in cases of reckless hikers”.

Good thing that Dave and his friend made it down unassisted.  Could have been expensive, as well as embarrassing.

We have our first winner!

Inov-8 shoes!
Coming out of England, Inov-8 wins the customer service contest, hands down!

In April, I was down for Trail Days in Damascus, VA where I  met Mark Lundblad, who was promoting the Inov-8 sport shoe line for Sundog Outfitters.  Mark had the new Roclite 295’s  with him and I bought a pair, due to the fact that they had even more forefoot room and cushion than the three pairs of Terroc 330’s that I had successfully used on my 2007 AT thru-hike.  I love the fit of the new shoe, but the stitching on the outside of the right toe had already begun to unravel at the flex point.  I had not put more than 100 miles on the shoe.  I felt it was a design flaw, that the exposed stitching was prematurely weakened by abrasion against the rough granite we rub our feet against as we hike these New England trails.

I sent Mark an e-mail.  I had his business card and he had requested that I get back to him about my impressions of the shoe.   Mark answered my e-mail the day I contacted him.  At first , he suggested that  I contact corporate in MA or to Sundog in Damascus for return.

But he quickly suggested that I  send him  digital picture to save shipping and time.  I took some closeups of the shoe and the next day Mark made me an offer to trade up to the brand new Rocklite 370 boot at no cost for shipping and at a hugely discounted price.  The Roclite 370 boot retails for $ 130.00.  I received the new boots the next day.

Me be happy!  The fit is excellent, the shoes are extrememly light and I look forward to wearing them on my next backpacking trip.  Way to go Inov-8!

Inov-8 boots
Inov-8 boots

Everything Is Broken

In addition fixing one broken lawn mower, a cracked window, demolished garage door panel, inoperable taillight on my VW Jetta, nonfunctioning clothes drier, broken storm door, useless front motorcycle shock absorber, and questionable shock mount on my Santa Cruz Heckler mountain bike the following hiking-related items are also recently went south:

Highgear watch/altimeter
Inov-8 Roclite 295 shoes,
Leki trekking pole
Therm-a-rest sleeping pad.

Contacts have been made with each of these companies. Now, the effectiveness of customer services is on the line for these companies. I’ll be reporting on how they do.



Originally uploaded by whereskarl

On Aug. 5, 2008, ultra-runner Karl Meltzer set off on the biggest race of his life. His challenge: to run the entire length of the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail in less than 47 days. Definitely daunting. Absolutely grueling. Probably insane. His website has many photos, and lots of short videos of the sloppy, watercourse trail conditions in Maine. Today, he’s up over Mt. Washington. This video was taken on day 4, Aug. 8, less than a week ago..

Mt. Katahdin, summit hike #14

Tuesday , 8/5/08

Back on top again.

Nothing much more satisfies to me than being a resident of Maine, driving for free through the southern gate at Baxter State Park, and heading on up to the top of Maine’s highest mountain, Mt. Katahdin. Those first steps up the A.T. ( Hunt) trail are always deeply centering.

The initial purpose of today’s hike was to celebrate Birdlegs’ birthday.

Ms. Birdlegs invited a gaggle of guests to top out with her today. Birdlegs completed 95 % of her own AT thru-hike last year, only to be derailed in Maine by a bizarre incident around Caratunk , where an unrelenting backwoods stalker persisted in generating enough concern that the State police strongly encouraged her to leave the Trail. Her well-written account of her adventures ( and there were many) can be accessed at her Trailjournals website .
Joining us on the hike were Bad Influence, Ohm, Quartermoon, Mother Nature, and two young hitchhikers who accompanied Zar. Each one of these folks is already moving well into legend status, in their own manner.

It was also no coincidence that just before we pulled out of the driveway, I checked my mailbox and found a zippered brown canvas bag, fresh from the Maine State Library’s Books-by-Mail outreach program, for those of us Mainers who live in towns that have no libraries . Inside I found a worn paperback copy of Earl Shaffer’s Walking With Spring, where he recounts his experiences as the first person to thru-hike the AT, in 1948. I tossed it into the Caravan.

We assembled our group in various stages from Saturday, 8/2, to today, when Zar and the hitchhikers met us at Katahdin Stream campground at 8:30 AM. The rest of the group made it to Millinocket yesterday, where 20 miles later, we rolled into the Abol Bridge Campground and my reservations allowed us to take up the last two tent sites.

To me, there are no coincidences in this world, and our sites, numbers 38 and 39 were the exact same sites that MEGATex had on the night before own our summit walk of Sept. 14, 2007. The account of that day can be accessed at my Trailjournal entry for that date . My memories of that day, almost a year ago were, rekindled by our presence here. I replayed mental tapes of how different it was then, how much colder the temperatures were, and what the site looked like with all those personalities, tents, and Bird Dawg’s hammock in place.

Recently I have been reading several books either written by or about Henry David Thoreau. In Bridget Besaw’s newly published book, Wildness Within Wildness Without, I discovered that Thoreau spent a night at this exact confluence on Sept. 6, 1846, where he described an interlude of trout fishing in the clear waters of the Penobscot River, with the majesty of Mt. Katahdin towering in the background. (Two recently published, highly interesting books about Thoreau are described on my page on my Goodreads site).

We were packed up and ready to leave by 8 AM, when we drove over to the Baxter entrance via an unmarked woods road detour cutting through the puckerbrush from the Golden Road

Photo by Mark Shaw, Clearstream Sound
Photo by Mark Shaw, Clearstream Sound

Today, there were no more available campsites at either Katahdin Stream Campground or The Birches, where there is a thru-hiker-only pair of lean-to’s just outside of KSC. We actually had two reservations ready for this caper. After some discussion at the gate with the ranger, we decided that our group would camp at Foster Field, three miles north of Katahdin Stream Campground. I gifted up tent site #18 at KSC to a group of thru-hikers that we never did meet. The ranger pinned our reservation to one of the thru-hiker’s backpacks, which were left on his porch, by the hiker who had borrowed day packs to make a group ascent. I felt fortunate that I was able to dispense some anonymous Trail Magic to that group.

The massif of Katahdin was socked in with ominous clouds. The weather prediction was for late clearing, and that was good enough for us. No matter what, I was truly looking forward to the ride.

We signed in our party at the trail head and at 9 AM started up the 5.2 mile AT ( Hunt Trail).
I experience the Trail up as being divided into 5 separate zones, each roughly a mile long. We quickly moved up the relatively flat first section ( 400 ‘ elevation gain) when we ambled along the rushing waters, and eventually walked across the footbridge over Katahdin Stream. Normally, this is the last dependable water you’d encounter on the way up, but it would be a different story today, after a couple of weeks of regular rainfall . Quartermoon told us that on his way up last September he briefly bathed in the frigid deep pool just under foot. Today it looked like a frothing malestrom. The sheer hugeness of Katahdin’s presence manifests even here, as the roaring of the falls above told me that this could be the wettest of all my walks up to the top. We left the Trail and went over to get closer to the Falls. Unfortunately, I got tangled up in my Leki poles backing away from the slippery, rooty overlook and fell, breaking the second section of my left pole, and drawing blood on my knee. No big deal. I am sometimes a mobile Band-Aid repository.

Just 0.1 of a mile above the footbridge and up over a bare ledge the real work begins. This second zone leaves Katahdin Stream Falls and steadily ascends 1900 vertical feet in 1.5 miles, through increasingly stunted tree growth where tree line ends and the Hunt Spur begins. Almost a mile of this section was done walking in a stream bed, with clear cold water dumping onto the AT from numerous small rivulets above.

Now we are in the climbing zone, featuring another unique challenge thrown at us by this mountain. The first third of this section is following the white blazes that weave up, over, and around huge boulders.

At this point, I stash away the broken and the intact trekking poles and put on light gloves, mainly to prevent abrasion of my hands. There are several iron rungs permanently attached to some of the trickier sections to assist with the climb. It is real work to haul yourself up. After the boulders are left behind, all that remains of the very steep Spur is exposed walking, sometimes even crawling, over the jagged, worn granite spine.

Still no views. We are in Cloudland. The visibility made it impossible to anticipate reaching the Gateway, the entrance to the Tableland.
All these difficult step have their purpose, and eventually all of our group trudged up the last vestige of steepness and sat and snacked on the lip of The Tableland, a relatively flat area nearly 4 miles long, with drop- offs abruptly falling away away on all sides for at least 1,000 feet. Grassy areas predominate, but everywhere are boulders, the scattered remnants of receding glaciers. It was at this point that the clouds dissipated, and we could look most of the way over the mile long path ahead across the Tableland where Baxter Peak was still enshrouded in thick clouds.

On the way over, we passed Thoreau Spring, which was flowing strongly. The Trail for a quarter mile in either direction was inundated. Generally, when I have been up here, the spring is dry. I needed water, so I leaned over and filled my bottle from a tiny waterfall. I drank up immediately.

Baxter Peak seemed elusive today.
The last section is the one mile, and 1,000 foot elevation gain approach from Thoreau Spring to Baxter Peak (5,267 feet), where the skyline and Trail were punctuated with colorful moving dots of humanity. Toward the final approach we were back in the clouds, and thankfully free from the winds that normally accompany these cloudy conditions.

Eventually we all reached the top, where we viewed the ancient worn sign and 13 foot high cairn that brought the top of this pile of rock to the one mile elevation mark.

The requisite photos were taken, tall tales retold, new one reformed, and I connected to my repository of images of past ascents, and even some degree of hope welled up that this level of deep experience could somehow continue for me.

Birdlegs took her birthday photos.

Today had a special meaning, perhaps for others up here? Today was the 60th anniversary of Earl Shaffer’s historic first thru-hike of the Appalachain Trail.

Bad Influence persistently encouraged me to speak for Earl, to make a summit pronouncement to the some 75 hikers who were gathered up here at noon today. I was reluctant to do so. I respect that others may be deeply in thought or feelings and that they might not appreciate me directing their attention to my own possibly myopic agenda.

I eventually relented and shouted out.
“ Folks, today is a historic backpacking date that is being celebrated in other parts of the country! Exactly 60 years ago today something significant happened up here at this summit. Anyone up here know the significance of this date, August 5, 1948?”
“ Anyone here ever heard of Earl Shaffer?”

I spoke up again and told a very brief version of the saga of Earl. I was content to roust a cheer out of most of the group. Some returned to mumbling into their cell phones.
The long distance hiker community is a tiny one, and it took a call from Queso a couple of days later to remind me that only recently has the ticker registered the 10,000 AT thru-hiker. That’s over the space of 71 years! I understand that there were decades as recent as the 1970’s where fewer that 10 persons a year thru-hiked. I need to recognize that we are a tiny club.

On August 5 1948, Earl stood exactly here, four months after departing Mt. Oglethorpe in Georgia, a man on a mission everyone thought to be impossible. He was initially walking to shake off the negativity of the World War II. I read Walking With Spring before I thru-hiked the AT, and thought that read nothing special. In the past 2 days, I have re-read the book and found it impossible to put down.
Mr. Shaffer was a gifted writer and I particularly enjoyed charting his emergence as a man totally given up to wildness. As he moved North, he found himself increasingly drawn to stick to the Trail, and forgo towns, houses, and materialism.

As my benefactor and perennial Northeast Trail Angel Paddy-O has stated with tongue-in-cheek many times, “That damn AT ruins many people’s lives.” Paddy-O is exactly right on. In the process of change, we shed our our former beliefs, routines, and habits. For me and many others who have hiked the AT, not much of my old life is intact. I am still trying to figure out what happened to me during those five and a half months. All I know is that it is huge.
Walking way up here today was a big deal for us.

Despite his best intentions, Thoreau never made it up here to the top of Katahdin. For the rest of his short life, he longed to reconnect with the power and majesty he experienced on his frightening two visits up through the clouds. In The Wildest Country, Huber states that “Eleven years after his excursion to Katahdin- and after he missed his last opportunity to return- he revealed to a close friend that the experience was still very much apart of him; ‘I keep a mountain anchored eastward a little way, which I ascend in my dreams both awake and asleep’.”

The image of Earl standing here in 1948 needs to be recognized for what it truly is. Throughout history, we see solitary individuals standing on stage after their own dangerous and arduous paths through life. Earl Shaffer has made it possible for some of us to reach for undefinable gifts.

Man versus Hill = the ultimate workout

Sports / Olympics

The trail, known among the athletes as the Incline, gains about 2,000 feet in elevation over the length of about one mile. Quite a great read for those of us who know about what a brutal angle this would present.  Click the hotlink below to read this New York Times article.

Up a Mountain, Olympic Dreams Are Carved


Published: August 2, 2008

Olympians visit the punishing mountain trail, known as the Incline, for the most basic workout of them all: Man versus Hill.

A Visit from the Metric Bubba

I was walking the dog early this morning when I heard a voice from behind me shout, “ Hey, I thought that was you!”
It was Steve Gleasner , rocketing by on his bike, apparently here on a loop all the way from Appleton, ME, still riding strong from his month long marathon mountain bike ride. Steve is a plywood artist and master wood turner.
Just last week, I received a bicycle visit from “former Bubba ” Steve, who completed the Tour Divide .

“Tour Divide is the most demanding ultra-endurance mountain bike race on the planet. It’s 100% self supported for almost 3,000 miles with very little access to communication or emergency help,” states Matthew Lee, two-time victor and co-organizer of Tour Divide.
“Tour Divide is a pure test of mental and physical determination for endurance mountain bikers attempting to complete Adventure Cycling Association’s 2,711 mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route at one fell swoop. It follows the trails and jeep roads lacing the Continental Divide from Banff, Alberta to the New Mexico/Mexico border crossing. It passes through two Canadian Provinces and five States, summiting the Divide 30 times for a net elevation gain of 200,000 feet. On average, twenty-five competitors toe the line each year and typically ride separated from each other by days and hundreds of miles on route. Fifty percent of the competitors each year never see the Mexico finish line due to mechanical failure, injuries and/or fatigue”.

Steve started in Canada, and made it to the Mexico border.

He said that some days required 15,00 feet of vertical gain, unsupported. This year 17 insane people started it, with just 9 finishing in the required 30 days. At one point Steve was out there for 1,000 miles without connecting with any of the other riders.

We talked for over an hour, comparing notes about what kind of things happen out there on long distance wilderness outings. We both agreed that these events change you. I’m still figuring out what the hell happened to me.

Camping on Two Wheels, final installment

Returning Home
Day 5 = Baddeck, NS, CAN to Cobscook Bay State Park, USA

We’re heading home.

It was back onto the TransCanada, with our first stop at Truro to gas up. The day was humid and overcast with gray skies. We planned to get back into the US of A today, so wasted no time in getting back on the road. It felt as if it was going to rain. We all agreed that our next stop would be for a late breakfast at the very same restaurant we enjoyed on the way over to Nova Scotia.

It did rain. There’s a section of the TCH between Amherst, Nova Scotia and Sackville, New Brunswick that is always cold and windy. Here, the TCH passes over a huge marsh that sits between Chignecto Bay and Northumberland Strait. Not only did the rain increase in force, but the combined effects of the horizontal wind, gusting up over 40 MPH, and the thick fog, made steering the motorcycle downright frightening. At one point I was struggling with muscling my bike back to upright as the power of the elements combined to push against the left side of the motorcycle. Hard. The surface of the road was awash with water. I was relieved that I had mounted a new set of tires on the bike just before the trip, the narrow patch of rubber holding steady. It was very hard to even see, but the head and taillight in front and back of me helped guide me toward the center of the travel lane. At this point it was every man for himself; deep survival mode. I managed to view Pat’s bright headlight in my rearview mirrors, but couldn’t make out where Steve was.
Eventually we moved past the flat marsh onto a gentle uphill where I found the exit for the restaurant. Pat and I pulled in about the same time, and 5 minutes later Steve came in, after taking the wrong exit and finding his way here. I was relieved that we made it without an incident.
The rest of the ride was uneventful, banging off the mileposts of Moncton, Sussex, and St. John before we finally reached the border crossing at St. Stephen/Calais. We also gained an hour, as we moved from Atlantic to the Eastern time zone. There was hardly a wait at the border, and again, tourist numbers seemed way down on both sides of Customs. We were quickly waved through.
In Calais, we took a left turn on Route 1 and eventually arrived at our destination for the afternoon, Cobscook Bay State Park.

It is always easy to find a site at this excellent state park, sited right on Whiting Bay. The price was half of what we paid to camp in Canada, as well, just $14.95 for the three of us. Due to the slack numbers of campers, we had our pick of the best sites. We chose one large site right on a cove off of the bay.

A water spigot was at the end of our driveway, and although it was a bit of a walk back toward the entrance where the single wash house was located, he hot showers were clean and free, although the only swimming pool available here was way too big, way too cold , and was called Whiting Bay.
The evening was mostly pleasant, although we were forced into our tents while it was still twilight due to the unrelenting onslaught of both mosquitoes and no-see-ums. I hadn’t felt like cooking, was still full from lunch, so I made out just fine by placing a can of Campbell’s Italian Wedding Soup soup up against the exhaust headers exiting the BMW’s engine block. Enough residual heat remained to heat the soup to “almost piping hot”, it was eminently palatable, and eating out of the can meant I didn’t have to wash any dishes.
I put major trust in tightness of my tent, and opening up the storm flaps all the way so that I received unrestricted views of the night sky. I awakened in the night and focused my vision upward. The North Star and the Big Dipper were the first objects I saw when I opened my eyes in the dark. It was just the sort of scene that will define this trip for me, as I drift back to it in the months to come.

Day 6

Cobscook Bay State park to Lincolnville, ME
We were up early again today, with the morning sun golden as it framed our activities in dismantling the campsite and heading back home. The energy shift that happens when you turn the handlebars and head for home has now completely taken over.
It is easy to get up early when you go to bed as it is just getting dark.
In the morning, we caffeined up, and I recorded a exit summary video from Steve, with background from Pat.

We eventually fired up the bikes and headed back down Route 1 to our last destination before home, Helen’s Restaurant in Machias , where the pie is so good you eat it for breakfast.
Canada worked its magic again. The Maritimes delivered the good stuff.