Wicked cool in every sense, almost


By Angela Shepherd - [email protected]



No matter how much a person likes what they do for a living, it’s not easy to return to the grind after a good break.

Over nearly two weeks, I didn’t touch a keyboard, an office phone, or wear a pair of slacks or trouser socks. That first day back to work was the first day I didn’t don a pair of flip flops and cropped, comfy pants. But now how I miss the tie-dyed T-shirts and the sunglasses that were part of the uniform of our days driving across the lands that stretch in between my little Greenfield and Maine’s coastal shores.

And while I not once heard anyone say “wicked,” we were in the territory for such vernacular, so I feel it’s quite alright to use it here.

The Shepherd family vacation as a whole, indeed, was wicked awesome in the sense that New Englanders use the term.

We ate some lobster (lobstah) as well as other seafood as we sat at the water’s edge in the salty breeze, seagulls coming in close just in case we dropped a morsel or two.

Bar Harbor (Baa-Ha-Baa) was chock full of people, but still the place to go to experience the most of what the area has to offer this time of year.

The locals were always very nice, err, wicked nice, but that comes with the territory I suppose when a large part of the economy is supported by folks like us visiting their neck of the woods.

The other tourists, well, they left quite a lot to be desired, but we had to brave them to see Acadia National Park as well as most of the other things to do and see on Mount Desert Island.

We learned quickly while on the island, and its island way of roadway setup, that it was every man for himself while driving. Vehicles were nearly always travelling at least 20 miles per hour over the posted limit, and if you didn’t move along, there were horns a blazing behind you to light a fire under your bumper.

C’mon folks, this isn’t New York City.

And it was a nice reprieve to find the quieter parts of the island and to dwell there for a time. I have never, ever been much for crowds no matter the location or the view everyone is bustling to see.

The one really touristy thing my daughter and I did (while the hubby and stepson went on a fishing excursion) was go on a whale watch, along with a couple hundred other tourists.

The amount of people on that big ole boat was enough to make me nauseous, even before the captain’s pre-setoff warning of rough seas and even the toughest of tough likely to find themselves bent over the railing as they were turned inside out.

We sat on the top deck of this triple decker catamaran that took us out to sea about 30 miles to feeding grounds in the Gulf of Maine frequented by Humpback whales.

It didn’t take long into the journey before people started dropping off like flies, seasick bags clasped tightly to their mouths as they made a mad dash below decks to the nearest bathroom, or railing.

Up top, those of us left had quite the view, not only of the open water, but of the whales that came up to take their breaths before heading back into the deep for more herring, according to the educated gal on the microphone providing us with information.

It was, dare I say, a wicked cool experience, even with all those people.

The whales, sadly, were about the only local wildlife we got to really experience.

As it was with South Dakota last year and being in the area of at least two large herds of buffalo and not seeing hide nor hair of the great beasts, so it was this year.

So many moose crossing signs, but not a single moose to be seen. In Acadia National Park, we saw one deceased squirrel in the pine needle covered dirt next to the road by where we parked our car. And for all the porcupine in the area, the only one we saw (a couple times actually) was road kill, poor fella.

But there was so much exquisiteness, too, like that first big sniff of briny air, the slightly sticky, salty breeze coming off the water, the constant sounds of the plentiful seagulls, tides in, tides out, tide pools, and knowing that I was standing on the edge of my country. Indeed, we saw some wondrous things this summer.

Adding to the whole Maine experience, this Stephen King fan — who has never read, or watched, “It” because not only of my fear of clowns, but also King’s ability to make absolutely anything frightening — began reading that very book while there.

Seeing the signs and being near to all the places that surround King’s fictional town of Derry, Maine sure made it all feel much more real, and in the night, in the dark, I found myself closing my eyes very tightly, um wicked tight, just in case there might be a set of silver eyes looking in my direction.

Something about being nestled in all those Maine trees, the same sort of trees and the same area King was amid when he wrote the novel, added an extra bit of scary to the whole thing.

I’m getting the heebie jeebies just thinking about it all right now (insert shiver here).

But that aside, we took our time on our way to Maine, stopping first in Niagara Falls, going over into Canada a bit, heading across New York and then up through the Adirondacks on our way to U.S. Route 2, which we picked up in Vermont.

And quite serendipitously, the GPS led us straight to the Essex ferry, on to which we drove and then shoved off onto Lake Chaplain, crossing into Vermont.

While the pace was slower along U.S. Route 2, that was the point. And the views were quite simply, splendid.

In New Hampshire we stayed over for a night nestled somewhere in the White Mountains, south of Franconia Notch State Park. We ate dinner on a stone patio next to a mountain creek. We watched the full-ish moon rise over an adjacent mountain, and we took in that cool night air as if we would perish if we didn’t.

We only deviated from Route 2 somewhere near Bangor, Maine, from whence we made our way to Lubec, the easternmost town in the country.

From Lubec we crossed the one bridge to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. It’s the location of the former summer home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and home to the Head Harbour Lightstation, which is only accessible at low tide.

Getting to the lighthouse was a tricky, treacherous trek, but well worth all the tricky and all the treacherous.

The thing is, we saw a chunk of the country that none of these Shepherds have tread before, and it was amazing.

Even with all the crap — nasty tourists, everything’s too expensive, and the persistent grumpies from too-close quarters — that comes along with a family vacation, I’d say it was worth every second.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

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By Angela Shepherd

[email protected]

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