07/17/2005: Mainly Crossing Maine
We almost got an early start from the Gateway Motel: 8:54. The weather is still hot and hazy.
We drove east on winding U.S. 2 with birches and pines shouldering up to the road. A small blue sign announces, "Maine State Line" in this tunnel of trees. Then: "Pavement Ends". The next few miles were rumbling dirt road on U.S. 2! But it got better.
I noticed that this is Sunday, as we drove through the township of Pleasant Valley.
We passed a roadside stand named "Tourist Trap". Down-Easters (Mainiacs?) have the reputation of being straight-forward.
I was sure we were in Maine because a roadside diner listed "Chowdah" on its signboard.
We stopped briefly in Rumford, ME, a town built at a former waterfall, now a hydroelectric facility, The town was originally called Androskogee Falls. The lady in the welcome center said that it may well have been named for the former expatriate Benjamin Thompson, Baron von Rumford (like Benedict Arnold, but he wasn't caught).
At 10:45 we stopped for brunch in Farmington, ME at "The Homestead", a college town artsy bakery & restaurant. Karen requested a padded chair, and they brought out a fully upholstered chair w/skirts! I kept my wooden chair and ate with Queen Karen on my right on her throne. We had Eggs Benedict and blueberry crepes: Quite good.
We had barely got out of Farmington, when I stopped to look over a rusting 1916 bridge at New Sharon, Maine. This was the old bridge along U.S. 2, and had a weather beaten sign at the approach, "Temporarily Closed".
When we passed through Skowhegan, the bridge was lined with anti-Iraq-war protesters holding placards like: "Leave no oil well behind!" And "Bring them Home!"
On the brief, 22 mile stretch of interstate that crosses Maine horizontally, the I-95 Visitors Center approaching Bangor was "Closed Due To Heat Index"!
We arrived in Calais ("Cal-less") at 4:00 and found the one of 2 motels that had the hot tub Karen needed. I'd was up to doing about 1½ hours of today's driving (with the aid of cough syrup and decongestants), but she was still pretty sore. This town has no Verizon cell signal, no WiFi, and is one of those many communities largely killed off by a Wal-Mart. But, the Easternmost bridge to Canada is here, and we cross it tomorrow.
We went for an evening walk from our motel along the St. Croix river, looking out at New Brunswick. Unfortunately, the tide peaked at that time, so it just looked like any river. By 2:00 a.m. the water will have dropped 12 feet and there will be a narrow stream surrounded by mud instead of the river we saw. Oh, well. It'll be low tide for Fundy Monday.
Unrelated observation: We are far enough north that DirectTV satellite dishes are almost perfectly vertical! If we went much farther north, then the horizon would get in the way between the satellite and the dish.