Maine Private Campgrounds
August 5th, 2016
I’m not cold, even though both tent doors are open… The waves surge a few meters away. Walking along the beach earlier I saw a huge heron, around a meter and a half in wing spread, long neck, landing close to me in the water. It waddled around a bit, then flew back into the darkness…
Somebody mentioned ospreys.
It is hard to be alone, even though my friend’s daughter recommended it highly for empowerment. You need to do everything yourself: drive, shop, cook, navigate, build tent.
But there is also something nice about that. Nobody pushes you in any way. If it takes 10 minutes to struggle pushing the little flashlight ring on the keychain, so be it. “It takes what it takes”, but I manage in the end.
It is very quiet and safe here, so quiet and so safe I left my purse, keys and credit card in the tent. People pay $30 for camping, and that does not even include the shower (50 cents for 5 minutes). Most people come with RVs and carfuls of BBQ gear. Not exactly the place to worry about pickpockets.
I was told there were seals and small whales around…
The beach is totally wild. No need to tame the Atlantic, the sea does its thing. Rocks covered in Sargasso algae like hairs on a skull. Three islands opposite the beach, for sure full with wondrous birds. Broken mussels on the rough rocks.
Tomorrow there is a lobster celebration in Camden. Will see. Good night, Oriti. Why is it so hard to have love?
Digging for Clams
This morning the shower did not work, the phone did not charge, I couldn’t find the rope and hung the towel on the car’s handles. I keep reminding myself: Rule number 1: everything should have a definite place!.
But flocks of Canada geese flew in from nowhere, the sky was cloudy precisely to the right degree.
On the beach I met Madelline and Corbyn. Madelline has golden hair and is about 5 or 6, and Corbyn is perhaps two years older. Madelline approached me first with a small collection of colored glasses worked by the water. She asked how water can polish glass like that. I found out it was much harder to explain than I thought.
The system is that Madelline found the “clam holes” and Corbyn dug them out. The clams spray water which helps to find them. Grandpa showed up a bit later. He said the kids grew up in the area and are natural “sea children”. You cannot take them away from the water.
An older guy tries to invite me to go with him to Connemara in Ireland, just as his girlfriend sitting next to him tells me she’s soon going on a trip to the Holy Land with the Presbyterian Church… He’s giving me many tips where to go and what to do. There are many options, perhaps too many.
I dismantle the tent, and soon will be on the road. I hope the phone behaves (later I gave up on that. The phone just does not charge properly).
The sea does its thing, the birds do their thing, and the Sargasso weeds cover every rock on the beach, creating slippery surfaces up to 20 meters from the waterline. (Oddly I did not connect that with tides at this point in the trip…)
From Lobster’s Buoy I drove to Owl’s Head, using Hertz’s GPS. An Asian group kept taking photos everywhere and at one point they also pulled out a selfie rod. There was a nice lighthouse but it “did not do it for me”.
Funky Lobster Day and a Glorious Bridge
Nothing quite “did it for me” actually that day, especially Camden on Lobster’s Day. I spent $11 on a lousy small haddock chowder (I don’t eat lobster), that was mostly smashed potatoes, and a miserable tiny green salad. Lots of overweight people were sitting everywhere and eating the Standard American Diet or SAD, as Dr. Fuhrman calls it.
And still, the power and size of that enormous country. The middle class is supposedly destroyed, so where do all the RVs come from? The huge cars? Did anything really change here since I last lived in America?
I passed Ellsworth’s tourist haven and then found myself driving in an increasingly rocky terrain. Storm clouds were gathering. The rocks developed into cliff “narrows” that opened up abruptly onto an amazing bridge – the Fort Knox. I knew there was a military base with that name, but did not know it was in Maine, or about the bridge. At any rate, once you are on route 1, you have no choice really, so I crossed. Was fun!!!
It’s difficult to take pictures of bridges as you drive on them. You are not allowed to use a cellphone while on the bridge, but it is also hard to stop before the bridge to take the pic. Somehow there’s never a good viewpoint on the other side either…
Maine Private Campgrounds: Mountain View (Flanders Bay)
In this campground I have my own picnic table and an electrical connection to charge the phone. I am now using it to heat water for tea using my iconic electrical spoon.
The small lantern I got for $6 at Cabela emits a soft and magical light, enabling this rendezvous with my diary. It also has a little extractable hook for hanging on the loop in the middle of the tent.
When I wore my forehead flashlight, the flies and mosquitoes were all over my face, so I took it off. I discovered that the tent had light reflectors of its own, making it easier to spot in the dark. They thought of everything.
When I typed the street address in Sullivan, I was sent to an obscure spot somewhere off route 1. I drove back to the main road, now typing in “Flanders’ Bay Campground”, but was sent instead to the “Flander’s Bay Cabins”. I tried driving around on the dirt roads, but got nowhere. I saw an antique store, but no sign of a campground.
Just as I was starting to get frustrated, I got a surprise phone call from my dear friend. The timing was auspicious, as at that exact moment I was fumbling with the car near the cabins, clearly a fancier accommodation than what I was booked for.
The amazing thing was that my friend was looking at his own Google map at home and giving me instructions how to drive….!!! He said I should U-turn so the lobster shop will actually be on my left (I thought it should be on the right), and then take the second turn to the right. Voila…
Apparently the campground manager called Jim to find out why I hadn’t arrived yet. The office closes at 6 pm and I wasn’t there in time. When I finally arrived, I discovered the reason I was lost. The campground was now called “Mountain View”, while the Cabins were still called “Flanders’ Bay”. GPS is literal.
Ironically, I did pass by the office, but didn’t recognize it . The sign advertised it primarily as an antique store… People run multiple businesses to make a living.
The manager was kind and generous. She explained to me where to get water, sold me a popsicle, warned me not to trespass into other people’s RV sites. I was handed a map with instructions and the Wi-Fi code.
Dusk over Flander’s Bay
I got a nice site over the water since my dear friend made sure I’d be happy. As the trip proceeded, I cared less about my tent sites. With time I learned to live with what I could get. Booking a site in advance was too difficult usually, but it was always a walkable distance to the water…
Somebody is shooting firecrackers into the night on the other side of the bay, probably to celebrate Lobster’s weekend.
A neighbor was sitting for hours in front of his RV staring. It took me a while to understand he wasn’t just biding his time – there was a TV installed on the exterior wall protected by a small awning…
Unlike yesterday’s bathroom experience (Lobster’s Buoy), here there is a large and fancy utility – mirrors on three sides, a space continuous with the sinks that you can actually sit on. There are only two showers, but large with a nice curtain and a small anteroom for putting the staff. Only in America!!
An hour after sunset there is still residual twilight over Flanders Bay. A yellow moon hangs over some houses on the other side. Last stripes of dirty pink, greyish white and layered clouds lie above the horizon. Undefined hues transform continuously to eventually fade , endowing the water with last touches of color. The moon gets entangled between tree branches and I, actually, relax from the entanglements that characterized the day.
Morning, August 7th
The Disappearing Beach
I regret not being able to watch the Olympics, but instead I gain sunsets, sunrises, water, air and fire.
The neighbors “next door” have chopped wood and burned the logs in the half barrels dug next to the tent sites. The aromatic smell of burning wood brings back memories of Guatemalan Indian villages. Ah…
After lunch and a cup of chamomile tea, I went back to the beach, intending to walk north this time. I was surprised, however, to see it was gone!!! Beach – gone! Rocks with seaweeds – Gone! Algae clusters – gone! The previously muggy places were now sunk under several meters of fresh seawater…
Despite my marine biological background I somehow did not add 1+1 to realize those were “tidal planes”. In Israel they are non-existent, tides are negligible, so you forget.
In that situation, my walking stick came in real handy to help with balancing on rocks and vegetation. It also helped to check if the ground is not too muddy before stepping in.
For lack of enough beach to walk on, I got into the water that was cold and full with seaweed floaters, but…it’s “the” Atlantic, and me in it. Even with its power attenuated here in the Bay, I still felt it deserved my full respect.
The Social Scene
Brought my recorders to the beach. Playing music brings people around. This time these were two young teens, I. and J. and an older man. I saw them previously rowing kayaks in the bay and the man asked where I was from. He did not respond in any way to my answer, but did not get friendly either. I’m used to people getting weird when I say I was from Israel.
Now, with the music and the children, he said he himself was not Jewish, but the kids were. We talked a bit and they said something that made me very sad about “us” having large noses. I said: nonsense, these are slurs. Sheer lies. I was astounded that in this day and age that kind of hateful junk can permeate the minds of beautiful young kids in modern America! I let them try the soprano recorder. They were shy and afraid “to fail”. I told them there’s no failing here, only music. They succeeded to derive 2-3 notes, and I instructed them to close the holes well.
Later, yet another older guy gave me much advice and recommendations for Canada. He was a person gifted with penmanship and sketching abilities, so he drew me maps of Fundy, Truro (told me about the Big Bore), even Newfoundland. He talked about fishermen’s villages in the north of the island and a historical Viking village (the Vikings were there, yes!) and gave me a bunch of other tips. His wife kept quiet throughout the conversation. They were about to leave the campground, yet were waiting for me to make sure I got the tips before they left… Nice!
I helped two sweet youngsters to put up their first-ever tent, a $10 children’s device, and they left smiling. I asked them if when they’re 64 they’d like an RV with a boat on top, and she said: “A goal to work for”. I said: “I’m not sure”.
People here have all kinds of dwelling solutions, all the way from 3-room tents for a family with teenagers, to huge RVs with two stories and side openable rooms. My Chevy, considered a big car in Israel, seems very small here, and I don’t have boats, bicycles, kayaks, canoes or TVs. I also don’t have a partner and/or children with me and in that I am very exceptional here.
And suddenly it rained. Hysterically I took the laundry off the line and brought everything in as swiftly as possible. Now I am lying half dressed under the lantern in a hermetically sealed and messy tent. Very relaxing somehow… Could have been perfect with somebody nice, but it is what it is…I breathe and enjoy the peace…