UP THE MOUNTAIN

 In Transit

Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?

Yesterday, we drove 320 miles from south central Massachusetts to Jackman, Maine. We are high up in Maine and 17 miles from the Canadian border … not one of the major crossing, either. We didn’t take a train or a plane because they don’t come here. I’m not sure there is even a bus route from anywhere to Jackman.

We drove. More accurately, Garry drove and I navigated. In our little, intrepid 2002 yellow Sunfire, packed with groceries, cameras, clothing, and computers. And we had as much adventure — not soulless, but adventurous in its own way — as we could handle. By the time you start collecting Social Security, adventure is redefined.


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It was a long drive. It probably wouldn’t have bothered us even a few years ago, but time has taken its toll. I’m totally wiped out. I did take a few pictures on the way … on the road and in Bingham, one of the small towns between Skowhegan and Jackman.

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Traffic was  no problem. We had a lot of company en route, but it was moving. Our little car did some automotive huffing and puffing as we climbed the mountain. A lot of “moose crossing” signs, some with an array of flashing lights.

We decided the ones with flashing lights meant “No, seriously, there are a lot of moose around here,” whereas the unlit signs merely suggested many moose are wandering loose, so watch out. We kept our speed down … and watched out.

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Although we saw a lot of “moose crossing” signs, we didn’t see any actual moose. I did see a great many hawks, chowing down and wheeling in the sky. Sometimes, a dozen or more of them. Outside of Portland (ME), an osprey flew across our prow, intent on some prey I assume … so close I could have touched him had we not been in a car.

After we turned off onto Route 201, we got serious about mountain climbing. Odd thing. All along the road, for miles, it was lined with crows. Just standing, watching the cars from the shoulder. A welcoming committee sent by Stephen King perhaps?

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There are mountains and rivers to photograph and at least one place where I think I’ll have a clear west-facing view to capture a sunset. I have no way to photograph sunset where we live. Too many trees … and no mountains.

Bingham

Bingham

Just when we began to feel as if the drive would never end, we saw the mountains. Huge, blue, a bit misty. We had arrived.

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And this morning, when I came into the kitchen to turn on the coffee — how quiet with no dogs to greet me! — the world was shrouded in mist and the sun was barely beginning to peek through. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

From the cabin porch, 8:30 am.

From the cabin porch, 8:30 am.

Tomorrow, I will tell you the story of how Garry and I — all 300 + combined IQ points — working as a team managed to figure out how to removed the gas cap, fill the tank with gasoline, pay for it, and drive away after remembering to put the gas cap back in place!

Did I say adventure or what? Maybe I’ll even tell you about the phone and … try to remain calm … it has got a cord!



Categories: Autumn, Nature, New England, Photography, Travel, Vacation

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

41 replies

  1. Too often we associate Maine with coastal views. Yet driving toward Quebec shows another scenic aspect of Maine. The photo of the mountains you took exemplifies the diversity of this gorgeous state. Maybe one of the nicest and also strangest (because unusual nowdays) aspects is how uncrowded this area remains. A slower pace of life is so important to everyone. At least for the time of a long weekend or short vacation. How is the phone cord doing?

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  2. It looks like you had a lovely day for your drive even if it was tiring. I love that feeling of setting off on a trip.Looking forward to more vacation stories and pictures.

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    • It was a good day and easy traffic … and it was still 8 hours in the car. Hard on bones and muscles. I remember when I loved long road trips. My body and I have parted ways on this subject … once a years is about my limit and it may eventually drop to zero. Garry’s getting older and his back doesn’t like it either. But beautiful it was. Maybe if we divide it up into two travel days, it would be more fun.

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      • Dividing long journeys into two days is a good idea. I remember when we were in our 30s we thought nothing of getting up at 5 am and driving 400km to the north of our state, spending a few hours and driving home again the same day. We’d never do that now. We’ve done the 700km trip from Adelaide to Melbourne in 10-12 hours, we like to stop every couple of hours but now I’m starting to think that next time we have to do it we should spend a night on the road because it is hard on creaky knees and stiff backs to be in the car all day.

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  3. Fantabulous photos of the magnificent colors up north. I’m so jealous. I laughed when I read about the crows. That must have been quite a sight to see. Ohh, let me just warn you, WATCH OUT FOR MOOSE just in case they’re aren’t any signs up there telling you. LOLOL. Keep the pics coming. Oh, corded phone? How barbaric! Have fun! Envious in Auburn.

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    • Turns out the corded phones are a necessity because the power goes out a lot during the winter and with a hard-wired phone, you can at least call the electric company. Cell phones don’t work most of the time. The mountains and trees block signals. When new technology doesn’t work, aren’t we glad the old technology does?

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  4. Very glad to hear ya made it… had no doubt; affirmation is always pleasant.

    How do you know the osprey was male? Owning all hardbacks of Stephen King, no worries…. if it were his greeting party, there would only be one. Unless, of course, there’s something upcoming of which I’m not aware. On that same venue, do watch out for fog.

    So glad ya’ll were able to take this trip. Every damned little bit of joy counts, ya know? Snatch it up, hold it in your hand, and consider it a blessing. My best, to you and yours…. XOXO

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    • I don’t know the osprey was male. Did I say that? I was just using the generic “him.” The osprey and I didn’t get that intimate, really 🙂

      Garry just discovered the National League playoff game is not available on this TV. Bummer. And we can’t get it on the computer because our provider (Charter) is not listed. Double bummer. Hey, your Royals are doing great!

      It’s nice to be away from the storms of home. I keep hoping our well will get fixed while we are away because I’d like to be able to take a real shower at home. Soon. Meanwhile, the weather is perfect, the scenery is amazing. Pictures and more pictures tomorrow … or more accurately, in about 40 minutes from now.

      And there really ARE crows everywhere. On the ground. Walking around. There must be something edible lying around, but what?

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      • Pretty sure your intimacy with osprey is now a widely known fact. 😀 Now, hopefully, Mr. A is surviving the lack of playoff games… perhaps a moose sports bar in the area would receive it?

        I’ve had a candle lit for your well to be finalized while you’re away. Told Rosa if we lived closer, I’d be ramrodding to ASSURE it happened. Since ’tis not the case, will just continue to send positive and speedy vibes at yer well man.

        Is it possible the crows are familiars of the moosii? Or mooses like to be reincarnated as crows?? Oh, the possibilities are endless. Bring one home with ya… a crow, not a moose. They likely eat too much.

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      • Seeds and bugs… I bet King’s behind it all! 🙂

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  5. You always do it so well! Loved the pix and got lots of chuckles in… Stephen King’s Crows was just one of many. XO

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  6. These places you write about and have visited are my backyard. 🙂 Nice piece.

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  7. Those pictures are beautiful, for me, the last one especially. I envy you those moose, and ospreys and phones with cords; makes me all nostalgic and yearning for some alone time. have a fabulous time up there in the mountains!

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  8. What ! – a phone with a cord !? (Hope it wasn’t a party line).
    Travelling is certainly a different “adventure” when you get older. Never counted on that. (Many things I hadn’t counted on!)
    Looks like a very nice trip tho.

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  9. You have full service gas stations where you live!?!?!? How quaint! 🙂

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    • Almost all of them are full serve in the valley. I think it’s cheaper to hire people than convert the pumps. Or maybe people in the valley have a thing about service. Personally, I don’t feel empowered by pumping my own gas. I LIKE the service and will travel to get it.

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      • They’ve been pretty much a dinosaur where I live for the last 30 years now. I do recall some stations had Full Service islands when I was really young, and some had that little tube that ran along the ground that sounded a bell when a car ran over it to alert the attendant. Me and my sisters liked jumping on them trying to set the bell off… sigh, I can’t believe I was once one of those annoying kids that grown ups hate!

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        • Those bells — I remember them well — are gone, but they have (gasp) people who watch for customers and come out as soon as you show up. This is such a boon to people like me who have mobility issues, especially in the winter when I live in terror of falling. I’m grateful I live in the last island of civilization. We also have the lowest gasoline prices in the state. Odd combination, isn’t it?

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  10. Totally enjoy your vacation!

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  11. 320 miles would be an exhausting drive for anyone, I think. Glad you arrived safely, and I hope you have a great time!

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    • My body is suing me after that drive. It’s a class action suit. Every joint in my body is litigating. I thought I was fused behind the wheel. But — it’s BEAUTIFUL country up here!

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  12. Wonderful photos -especially the 2 lane highway with just a truck ahead- it already signaled serenity to me. Enjoy that wonderful fresh air and view of the mountains. I understand about the gas- we had to pump our own a few weeks ago in upstate NY- finally the man inside the station came out to rescue us “city folk” 🙂

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  13. I am glad you arrived safely. I remember the 247 kilometer we would travel, mostly motorway to Lugano with the kids when we went on holiday. I don’t think I could do it now, although perhaps. We don’t even bother to drive the 40 Km to Bern, but take the local train. Looks like a real nice place, something I would like. Those mountains look higher than ours. Have fun – perhaps you could adopt a little lost baby moose and bring him home afterwards as a pet.

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    • Actually, I think your mountains or at least some of them, are higher. Regardless, these are no-kidding mountains and our little car was doing some serious chugging on the way up. I would have considered public transportation … but there isn’t any. The U.S. never developed as good a train system as Europe. Many places, if you don’t have a car, your only other choice is feet. Or donkey.

      It is beautiful. You would like it. They sell postcards at the desk and if there is anyone there (this is a very small resort!), I’ll pick a nice for for you. Otherwise, we have to go into town later for groceries, so I’ll find postcards too. The weather is perfect. Not merely nice. Like a storybook!

      Even a baby moose is pretty big . We are already sharing the sofa with the dogs. I do not feel adding a moose would improve our home experience 🙂

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  14. That’s some pretty country.

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  15. It’s funny you should mention the gas cap. Here in Oregon there’s a law requiring gas attendants pump your gas. I’ve lived in Oregon now for 9 years and rarely touch my gas cap. The exception is on the scooter. The gas workers hand you the gas nozzle if you’re on a motorcycle. Too many complaints about attendants spilling gas on shiny gas tanks I suppose. I can understand issues with pumping your own gas here.

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  16. On a morning when I’m wishing I could be anywhere but where I am, these photos really make me daydream. It all looks so peaceful. I think some day I’ll plan a road trip to Maine.

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    • It is beautiful. And uncrowded. Up here, it’s magnificent. The mountains and the lakes, the streams and rivers. Really quite splendid. And tourism is the biggest industry, other than logging, so they are glad to see you.

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