The Maine of my imagination finally became a reality this summer, with a brief road trip to the land of many lobster.
After the fourth hour of highway driving towards our destination, entertainment hit a plateau. "What's the state motto of Maine?" I wondered aloud to my co-pilot.
Natural Bridge, Orr's Island, Near, Portland, Me., Digital ID 63106, New York Public Library
"Dirigo," it was revealed in Google. "Which means 'I direct.' But the license plate motto is Vacationland." The former motto harkens back to a time when the North Star was still the trusty mariner's guide, and the state just joined the Union. And by extension, the delights of seaside shores, locally brewed ale, and stunning parkland had effectively guided us to Vacationland.
We first meandered along the Southern coast of Maine, with forays into the towns of Ogunquit, Wells, York, and Kennebunkport. This region boasts The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, and seeing the serene coastline and the wealth of waterfowl that it harbors makes it clear why Rachel Carson felt strongly enough to write Silent Spring.
Next we hit Portland, Maine. My friend and I had the pleasure of being scolded by an eagle-eyed security guard from the Portland Museum of Art for photographing the artwork (the tiny slash camera symbol, located across the wall from said objects, was out of the scope of our vision.) But before the harsh security crackdown, we managed to take in some great artworks, including Maine's own Marsden Hartley.
After Portland we headed up to the region known as Downeast, destined for Acadia National Park. The park is so far East, that the top of Acadia's Cadillac Mountain is the first location in the USA to receive the earliest rays of the sun. Acadia's scenic beauty has not surprisingly made it the location of at least seven feature films, including John Irving's The Cider House Rules.
Our hotel near Acadia National Park didn't have a working TV, so this presented a good opportunity to catch up on some reading. I bought along Ruth Reichl's memoir of being an undercover food critic for the New York Times, called Garlic and Sapphires.
Food was never far from the forefront of our minds, and eating lobster was one of the Maine reasons we came to visit. Check out the essay Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace (also available online at gourmet.com), where he truly captures the spirit of the annual Maine Lobster Festival.
For further reading, check out some of these other famous Maine authors: