The Lobster Roll and Presidential Adventure, Maine

Red's lobster shack, Wiscasset, Maine. Click to enlarge.

Red’s lobster shack, Wiscasset, Maine. Click to enlarge.

I saved an article from the Wall Street Journal detailing the best places in Maine to eat the state’s trademark lobster rolls.  The concept is similar to a hamburger, but with lobster.  I set out to eat as many as I could over two days.  I first went to Red’s in Wiscasset.  I waited for an hour in a long line to place my order and another 10 minutes for the food.  This was the largest and best lobster roll I received anywhere.

The last place I visited was an upscale restaurant called Pier 77.  It’s in an out-of-the-way location between Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise.  Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush (the elder one) lives just outside of town on his own little peninsula.  I parked on the beach ¼ mile away and walked to the compound.  Parking and sidewalk areas directly across the road allow tourists a full frontal view of the home, grounds, and staff buildings.  The whole complex is perhaps 150 yards long and most of it juts into the ocean.  A stout-looking gate controls access.

I crossed to Bush’s side of the street and walked up his driveway to the guard house.  A muscular Secret Service agent greeted me.  “May I help you?” he asked.  “Could I say ‘hi’ to the president?” I replied.  He patiently explained that Bush saw people by appointment only, and his staff fielded all meeting requests.  He suggested that I request an appointment, but I explained that I was just passing through town and would be gone by the end of the day.  “I didn’t expect to get in, but if I’m here I have to try,” I said.  I laughed when the agent said, “They don’t take walk-ins.”

I was a high school freshman when Bush Sr. was elected president.  I remember the competent presence he brought to the office.  No scandals, he just did the job.

Acadia National Park, Maine: I Ain’t Gonna Charge You Nothin’

Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

During my travels I seem to attract the best people just when I need them.  I was on my way to exploring the park’s forested dirt roads when I made a wrong turn.  While turning around I managed to back up onto a small boulder.  The rear axle and a corner of the frame were suspended on the rock, and one rear tire turned in midair.  It was an embarrassing thing to do.  Four wheel drive and a locked differential weren’t enough to free the truck.

Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

Just then a man pulled up in a pickup and offered to pull me out.  His truck displayed information for a contracting business, so I thought he was offering a professional service.  That would be great, I said, but how much would you charge?  I meant this as an innocuous question, but the man became excited.  “I ain’t gonna charge you nothin!” he exclaimed.  “I’m not that kind of a guy.  I may be rocked up in Colorado sometime and I’ll need you to pull me out.”

We made a great team.  My truck was free in less than two minutes.  The only damage was a shiny scratch on the frame.  I hadn’t noticed the fancy landscaping at the road’s entrance, and thus backed onto the boulder.  I incidentally left a prominent tire track in the otherwise pristine wood chips, which I considered fair payback.  The man was on his way home from shooting two moose on a weeklong hunting trip.  Next he was going out for deer.  I wished him good hunting.

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

The Acadia coastline features rugged rock formations and dense stands of trees.  Sand Beach, the only sandy beach in the park, is a popular attraction.  Throughout Maine I was struck by the glassy water along the coastline.  It was so calm it didn’t even look like the ocean.  The rare sand beaches were the only places I saw waves come in as one would typically think of them.

The U.S. Coast Guard operates the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on Acadia’s southwestern coast.  I arrived there shortly after dark to find a “Day Use Only” sign and a ranger on station to enforce it.  I told him I saw the sign and realized it was dark, but this was my last day in the park and I was pushing to see everything possible.  He let me in, told me to avoid the residential area, and pointed me to the lighthouse trail.  It was great to stand on the shore in the dark and watch the lighthouse in action.

Long Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

Long Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine. Click to enlarge.

After a hard-charging day in Acadia I headed to Bar Harbor for dinner and ice cream.  I ended up in a place that also sold hand-made chocolate truffles.  As I talked with the young woman behind the counter, another young woman in line behind me joined the conversation.  She was headed to Acadia the next day and needed an entrance pass.  My pass was valid for another 6 days, so I gave it to her.  I had been hoping for a way to pay forward the free tow I received earlier in the day.  Marci, the recipient, was very appreciative.  Like me, she preferred manual transmission cars.  Finding this rare common ground we chatted for several minutes before parting ways.

It was 10:15 pm and I still needed a place to sleep.  Driving through two towns and over 20 miles, I could not find a single hotel that was open to take a guest.  I ended up at the far end of a Wal-Mart parking lot among the RV’s that typically overnight there.  Reclining the passenger seat made a passable bed.  This is a scenario I’d prefer to avoid going forward.