Back in what we hoped would be the end of Winter 2015, but was actually somehow only the middle, we decided to take a weekend trip to Maine. There were other contenders as we were planning the trip the day before.
Nah, they wont let Chris into Canada because of that DUI.
Eh. I went there once with my grandparents, and I’ve heard it’s really taken a dive. Besides, isn’t the Canadian side supposed to be better? Again, Chris.
Well, the Winter HAS been rough, but the snowbird thing seems like a bit of a yawn, and I’ve never loved the Atlantic coast.
Besides… ever since I moved to Long Island, I’ve had a weird fixation that any day I choose I could hop in my car and shoot Northeast until I run out of land.
So off we went! 3 of my favorite real-deal non phony folks in a van with zero plan. I wouldn’t trade this trip for the world, but it might have benefitted from some planning. It turns out there isn’t a hell of a lot going on in Maine during the winter, unless you’re up in a cabin somewhere rehashing the same horror fiction over and over again.
pt 1: Booze in New Hampshire
Ah. Now this trip is coming back to me. Two days prior I went to see Sleater Kinney with my friend Michala, and I learned that night that she has a much higher alcohol tolerance than I do. I drank so much at that show that I threw up in traffic on my way home from work THE NEXT DAY. So as we rolled into the glory of the New Hampshire State-Run Discount Liquor Utopia I felt my gills twinge green and quickly self-nominated to be DD for the weekend.
This place was pretty epic, and any state that makes their first stop over the border a liquor warehouse/rest stop is fine by me. As soon as we began our road trip, we asked Facebook for recommendations in Maine and stopping here was mentioned by no fewer than 4 people. If only it was on the way to Eagle Island.
pt 2: Some Brewpub
Portland, Maine. There was an ocean. The town looked cute, but we didn’t stay. Our meal and beer at GrittyMcDuff’s was mediocre. I couldn’t help but feel a little “meh” about my lobster roll, and isn’t that the point of Maine? Maybe lobster rolls are like Po’Boys in New Orleans. At the end of the day, it’s really just a crustacean sandwich and the person next to you’s food looks way better.
pt 3: Driving to Bangor
It’s important to know that when we picked up Chris in Brooklyn that morning, he climbed into the van wearing pajama pants and slippers. He may or may not have been wearing a coat. So after lunch, we headed to L.L. Bean’s flagship store to outfit Chris for the harsh Maine winter. After wandering around unsuccessfully for over an hour we left with 4 sleds and matching sweaters while Chris continued to gradually layer himself in the contents of Francis’s suitcase.
At some point we decided that our goal would be to hike around Acadia National Forest before heading home the next day, so we settled on spending the night in nearby Bangor.
As we got closer, Francis volunteered to make our hotel reservation. Two minutes in, he decided that the situation was best handled as insanely as possible. There’s really only one thing that Francis wants out of a hotel, and that’s a whirlpool tub. I personally think that’s a pretty reasonable thing to seek out. The crazy part is the shame that he feels about it. He sounds so fucking nervous when he calls the hotels to ask about their accommodations. It makes it so much worse that he knows he’s being weird, thereby getting caught up in a positive feedback loop of creepiness. Over the course of an hour and a half, Francis started demanding to use each of our phones to call the hotels repeatedly so that they wouldn’t recognize the number and he could ask more questions about their bathtubs. At one point he started trying to disguise his voice, and even made Cousin Meg call for him. I’m pretty sure he was getting a bit sweaty.
In the end, we got a room with a standard shower.
Whirlpool or no, morale made a massive upswing when we found a Goodwill that exclusively stocked items from Chris’s dreams. He was able to fully gear up for the rest of the trip, while apparently finding an exact replica of every Christmas gift he had ever been given and subsequently lost. I left with two velociraptor paint-by-numbers more than I previously had.
pt 4: Bangor
My food and beer were better than lunch, but I’m fairly certain no one’s world was rocked.
Over dinner, Francis convinced Chris and Cousin Meg to activate their Tinder profiles to see what Maine’s more sensual side had to offer. Chris found a lady who had the most insane photos of herself doing yoga ON AN ELEPHANT. She was not interested in coming to the hotel party we advertised. I mean, thank God. I think we can all agree how deeply questionable that decision would be.
After that we just went to the hotel and slept. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my body was still wrecked from Sleater Kinney.
pt 1: We drove around
Francis made us leave the hotel without taking advantage of the free continental breakfast. This is important because it was our last opportunity to eat for another 6 hours.
A mile down the road, Chris realized that he left his brand-new-second-hand jacket on the roof, which was now somewhere in the middle of the 5 lane road behind us. We went back and Cousin Meg deftly dodged an oncoming tractor-trailer to retrieve it. At least that’s how I remember it happening.
I assume that this was the point where the SoCo Lime was cracked.
Winding our way through backroads, we headed for Acadia with the promise of breakfast at the first restaurant we passed. Would you believe that there wasn’t a single restaurant. Not ONE. After Bangor, Maine was abandoned. Besides the occasional car it was just snow mounds and trees and boarded-up towns. Certainly some people must live there, but I imagine the suicide rates are grim.
Once Francis and Chris were drunk, our priority became finding a hill to sled down. The trees were very dense and the snow must have been 3 feet deep so climbing a hill was impossible. Eventually Francis picked what had to have been the absolute worst location. In my heart, I believe that we weren’t sledding down a hill, but the cliff of a rock face carved out for the highway. The snow was so deep that it had piled up against the rock creating what appeared to be a slightly-less sheer incline. The bottom of this hill deposited abruptly onto a blind bend in the road. We gave it a real shot, but thankfully the snow was so deep that you sank rather than slid and Francis lost interest after a few rounds and a bit more drinking. Al was there, too. The shitty one. Al the betrayer.
pt 2: We drove more
When we got to Acadia, we discovered that the park was closed. I mean, duh it was closed. How were we going to drive through or hike with 3 feet of snow? None of us owns snow shoes and I’m sure it’s crazy enough keeping the main roads plowed without shoveling trails. Dumb mistake.
So we jumped around by the water where the park entrance probably was and threw ice at each other.
Then we decided to drive along the coast, which was beautiful and rugged. At one point, we all got out for a good long romper-stomp among the tide pools.
pt 3: Ice lake
Driving along, we noticed that both shoulders of the already-narrow road were filled with parked cars. A little further up we saw people out on an ice lake so we pulled over to check it out.
This was my first experience on an ice lake, and I can confidently say that it will be my last. There is something unnerving about it. Seeing vehicles driving, children running around, and semi-permanent houses really makes you feel confident, but I’ll tell you, when you ask a kindly old cross-country skier if it’s safe and he just shrugs, pay attention to that foreboding feeling. As I right-left-righted across the ice, my leg suddenly shot through down to the thigh. I had to get dragged out, my boot staying behind wedged in the ice. It was funny, mostly, but also fuck that.
pt 4: Whoopie pie
Whoopie pies, we were told, are Maine’s state dessert. As if it’s preposterous for a state to NOT have a designated dessert. Our group, all famished and in varying states of shitfacedness, descended upon a gas station and each bought a whoopie pie. Some peanut butter, some plain, all slightly stale and so sweet that I could feel the sugar crystals crunch as I chewed. I’m assuming that they can taste much better when fresh or NOT from a gas station, but eating the whoopie pies really wasn’t the point. The point was the chaos created by that sugar high mixed with a day of nonstop SoCo Lime.
I’m actually not going into it fully, I’m going to wait for Francis to finish his video blog about it. I don’t think I can capture it.
Sometime after the Whoopie Pie song incident, we drove around some town that I can’t remember for the life of me while Francis deliberated restaurants. We ended up eating somewhere strange and then said goodbye to Maine.
pt 5: Snow storm
An hour or two after we started driving, yet another apocalyptic snow hit the Northeast. I saw a snow plow hit another driver on the highway outside Boston, rip off their bumper, and KEEP DRIVING. Stress was high, but we made it safely home by 4am. I certainly must have called out of work the next day.
That was our weekend adventure to Maine. I think we probably would have eaten better with a little research, but the trip overall was hysterical. While I’d like to say that I’ve seen Maine, something tells me that the experience would have been completely different in, say, August. Still- it was our shit show Maine.
Interesting side note, I just realized that this is the first time Francis used his gopro! He uses it so religiously now that it’s funny to think of a time before it. I look forward to linking this post to the video of the trip if he ever gets around to making it.