One Man’s Perspective: Maine

Where are you heading when you travel “Down East?”

To Maine, of course. “Down East” refers to the state of Maine being more east than north and south. It could be a sailing term because, to sail to Maine, you must travel east. Maine is a beautiful state. It is perfect for tree huggers. There are more than 23 billion trees in the state, most of them Balsam Firs. We like it warm, so when we travel or visit Maine, it is during June, July or August. These are the warmest months of the year with the temperature reaching the 70s.  

 

Our son, Brent, and his wife, Donna, have a summer place on Vinalhaven Island. This is an interesting place. When we first went there, we flew onto the island. They told us they would meet us at the terminal near the ticket counter. We were not prepared for a small, single engine aircraft landing in what appeared to be someone’s backyard. All that was there was a windsock, and they were holding up a sign on poster board that read “Vinalhaven Airport.” The nice thing was they met us in a car, so we didn’t have to hike.

We motored into the woods and up the mountain. It was magnificent. Their view went on for miles. They had driven to Rockland, Maine and ferried across Penobscot Bay for one hour and 20 minutes to get to Vinalhaven. The island had recently installed three windmills to generate electricity. But, not Brent nor Donna; they went completely on solar power. Their house had a lot of glass, and it overlooks Crocket Cove and Penobscot Bay. The main thing I noticed was a 10-foot tide range. Huge boulders would be hidden at high tide and visible as the tide changed. Since I’m a sailor and we needed six feet of water to stay afloat, I found this interesting and a bit scary. Maine is noted for fog among sailors, for good reason. It is one of the three most probable spots to get fog in this country; Pacific Northwest and Southern Appalachians are part of the group. Fog normally occurs when the air temperature and dew point are the same. Dew point is the temperature air must be cooled to become saturated with water. You can see that these are ideal conditions along the east coast of Maine.

 

On the bright side, the stars at night are fantastic. Pun intended. It is an astronomer’s dream and just perfect for a simple stargazer. You can see so many constellations, the north star, Orion’s belt and more. The sky is clear, and there is little commercial light to compete with the darkness. It is also nice to know there are NO venomous snakes in Maine.  

We found that once a person finds Maine, they keep coming back. They fall in love with the beauty and the pace of the place. While we were there, they had a music weekend. We had all types of musicians show up and demonstrate their talents, including singing. It is also well known for their artists that capture the beauty of the place.

 

Vinalhaven has one of the world’s largest lobster fleets. That means that if you like lobster, this is like going to heaven. The lobster boats must check their pots every couple of days. They empty the traps, returning the young and smaller lobsters to the sea, reload the bait and harvest the older ones. They bring their crates full of lobster to a central collection place in Vinalhaven where they are stored in the sea in their crates awaiting purchase. They don’t come any fresher than that. Lobster fishing is a tough physical business. There are many laws in effect to protect the harvest. For example, a lobster’s carapace, or body shell, must be between 3.25 and 5.0 inches to be considered legal to be harvested. And, you cannot get a non-commercial lobster license without being a Maine resident.  

We have friends who got married and celebrated their honeymoon by kayaking from Maine to Key West. Not me, sailing was our thing. They had two kayaks and started in Maine and hauled out for the winter along the way. One day, we got a call from them and invited them to come to Myrtle Beach for a stop. They did, and they hauled their kayaks out onto our dock in Myrtle Beach Yacht Club. It ended up they did quite well. We were on our way out of town and gave them our house and Mustang convertible for two weeks. They told us they had a ball. They did make Key West that year, and they are still married.

Maine, aka Down East, has a personality of its own. It is truly naturally beautiful. Hard to get there but guaranteed to be different. We are going back for our 12th year.

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