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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

North to Maine

Since we were travelling with no reservations or itinerary, we made sure to stop at each state's welcome center.


When we hit Maine we picked up tons of brochures, cards, maps and newspapers. One of the coolest things they provided was a little book that listed some restaurants and activities all along I-95, the route we were taking, no matter how often Ms. Garmin chimed in, "recalculating, recalculating..."

I still wasn't 100 percent sold on the idea of heading to Acadia. Not only was it so far away, but I wondered what the heck we would do there. My husband and I are not exactly what I would call National Park people. We don't camp, we don't hike, we don't ride horses, we don't mountain bike, we didn't plan on fishing, so I figured it would be like going up to Mill Mountain. Okay, nice view that lasts about five minutes, then what? Once again, we decided to "play it by ear."

Originally our destination was either Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach or Kennebunkport. I thought we could spend a day or two somewhere on the beach, and then decide if we wanted to stay longer there or venture further northeast. We stopped for lunch in Wells, Maine at Congdon's Donuts, a place that was recommended in the I-95 book. Although they were noted for donuts, and had a little shop in the front with baked goods and other Maine specialities such as chocolate-covered bacon strips, in the back was a small diner complete with lunch stools and a counter.


The first thing we noticed was how friendly the people of Maine were, warmer than the folks we encountered in Massachusetts. We immediately felt welcomed in the state. Everyone spoke to everyone and I adored their accents. The eggs tasted as if the hens were out back laying them fresh for each customer. The coffee just the way I like it, strong and aromatic, and the waitress made sure it never got below an inch in the cup.

We felt refreshed afterwards, and since it was still early in the day, we thought we would go further than originally planned and stop at a town called Belfast situated on Maine's inland coast halfway up the state. It was a couple of hours away from where we were, and only an hour and a half away from Acadia. If we wanted to go to the park, it was doable.

One of the brochures I picked up at the Welcome Center was for a motel/cottage set-up situated on the bay in Belfast. It looked lovely and a quick skim through the AAA Tour Book and some other pamphlets made Belfast sound like a nice place to just chill out and relax. So, off we went, but before we left, I did leave a calling card on the bulletin board outside the restaurant. During the 2,400 mile trek, Fractured Facade gave the Travel Gnome a run for his money.


As luck would have it, the cottages also had a coupon that I hoped we could use. Ms. G. got us there, in a roundabout way, naturally, and I immediately felt good about the place. There were two elderly ladies in the front office and they said no problem using the coupon for two nights, but we'd have to be in the motel, not a cottage. Boo, hiss turned to okay, cool, once they assured me we would be able to see the water from our back porch.


Now, if you're looking for luxury, this is not the place for you. When the lady at the front desk told me, "We don't have any amenities," she wasn't kidding. I called it The Bates Motel with a view. C'mon, when's the last time you saw a room key like this?


There was no hair dryer, no little bottles of shampoo, or even a clock in the room, but it was fairly clean with a comfortable king-sized bed, and they had more television channels on the buzzy old-fashioned small television set than the last place had on their huge flat screen. While I did the mandatory check for bedbugs test, the first thing my husband did was get into Motel McGuyver mode. I wasn't concerned about safety, but he took it very seriously. Luckily I had tacks in my bag (doesn't everyone?) so he was able to tack down the shade on the front door so that no one would be able to peek into the side of the curled cover. Then he pulled out a little screwdriver and plunged it into the hole of the back window metal thingie to secure it so no one could open it. He wouldn't let me experience the smells and sound of the sea by sleeping with the back porch door open. "Someone could climb up the porch and kill us in our sleep!" He put a chair under the front doorknob and stacked our suitcases at the back one. I guess being a New Yorker never leaves you.

So why would people who call "roughing it" staying at a hotel with no room service, even stay at such a place? Because it's exactly what we were hoping for...









Time to explore downtown Belfast...









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