No one warned me about Maine. No one said it would take my breath away. All I knew about Maine was lobster and the Bush mansion in Kennebunkport. Besides those, this southerner thought all the rest of Maine was just frozen tundra.
To be sure, most of Maine is wilderness, and that’s one thing I love about it. My friend, outdoor writer Tod Cheney, details the magic of the Maine wilderness in his book, So I Can See the Trees, but I hadn’t known about his book before I arrived. It would have been the perfect supplement to my time there. (I highly recommend getting his book if you’re at all interested in nature and wilderness tales.)
There were so many adventures I had in Maine, too many to mention them all here, so I figured I’d just have to let my photos tell much of the story — See my entire Maine collection on Flickr. I went lobstering – and ate more lobster than I’ve ever had.
I went on ATV adventures in the woods and around blueberry fields (a major crop in Maine…another thing no one told me). I followed old logging trails on my mountain bike.
I ate lobster. Went jet-skiing and swimming in a “pond” – they call their lakes, ponds.
Cruised around oceanwater coves on a moped. Ate lobster. Talked story (or rather, listened) with real lobstermen and lobsterwomen – (I’ll share one of their stories in another post). And, as a minor side note, I ate lobster…breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The truth is, I could have come away from Maine with a very different story if it weren’t for the family who hosted me, the McDaniels. They’re barely-related-by-marriage-only connection with my family, but they took me in as one of their own. They make a living lobstering, so it was nice to have an “in” to witness firsthand the authentic realities of that trade.
But more than their work, they welcomed me to join in their pleasure and enjoyment of life to the fullest.
After leaving, I began seeing this pattern, which started in Florida, carried me up to the Carolinas, into upstate New York and Massachusetts and Boston, and now Maine: It’s the people that make the difference. We have truly amazing, caring people in this country. Strangers who welcomed this stranger into their homes, with never meeting before. Even if there’s one microscopic strand of connection we can claim – or not – people like to help others here. I’m deeply grateful to all my hosts throughout my journey around America. And to the McDaniels, for showing me that there’s more to feeling like family than direct blood relations. Family is often a state of mind.