Thursday, 17 November 2011

USA Today (10) - Hard Scrabble Road & Linger Longer Lane

“You look like you’ve been plugged into a Van de Graff generator” said Tris as I emerged from the tent. It’s not really what you want to hear from your new husband on your honeymoon. But he wasn’t wrong – my hair was vertical. I looked like Einstein. This wasn’t good. I really needed to get to a supermarket and find some Frizz Ease.

I love camping!
After flicking the slugs off our tent and adding North Carolina, Tennessee and Alaska (top points for that spot) to our growing list of car number plates, we packed up and shipped out of Greenville (Moosehead Lake).

While searching for somewhere to have breakfast, we found ourselves driving along yet another dirt road to ‘The Birches’ tucked away on the South West banks of Moosehead.  Built in 1935, our waitress ‘Pattie’ told us that she’d vacationed there as a child and loved it so much, she’d come back to work.

Best breakfast of the holiday.
Ahhh – two eggs sunny side up, crispy bacon, fried potatoes, wheat toast, OJ and endless coffee. What’s not to love?  It had a real old fashioned ‘cabin in the woods’ feel to it. Like Pattie, The Birches has gone on my list of places that I must come back to.

Mt Kineo in  the distance.

Just in case you didn't know where we were.
We were 20 miles from the Canadian border when we nearly drove into a family of deer crossing the highway. Luckily, powered by six cups of strong coffee, my reflexes were sharp. Slightly shaken, we carried on and drove amongst the huge – nay monstrous logging trucks from Quebec, singing along to Quebec FM on the radio, which was interesting as my French is rubbish. 

Driving the 201.
We’d planned to stop at The Forks, where the mighty Kennebec and Dead River’s meet, forming a massive foaming torrent perfect for a spot of white water rafting. 

Unfortunately we had to can it. When Hurricane Irene passed through, she dumped a massive amount of rain across New England. High waters themselves aren’t enough to stop rafting, however as dams further up river were being periodically opened to release rising waters, the levels were really unpredictable. So, on that basis we were advised to give it a swerve. 

I was gutted – we went white water rafting when we were in Banff (Canada) a few years ago, and it was awesome. I absolutely loved it. Ah well, we’d just have to come up with an alternative of similarly awesome proportions.

Canada 2007.

While admiring the thundering Kennebec, we noticed signs for the illusive Moxie Falls, which we’d tried unsuccessfully to reach the previous day along 18 miles of dirt road (we managed five before turning back). This time, we managed to follow tarmac to within walking distance, so with my cleavage glistening with 25% deet (insect repellent) I strode off in my new trail shoes which I’m delighted to say still matched my top.

I soon lost Tris, who continued to be obsessed with photographing fungus. 

You thought I was joking!

Totally irrationally, I still panic madly if he’s out of my site for too long. I had images of him being eaten by a bear. The logical part of my brain tells me that is unlikely, and I would have heard something, but the illogical part of my brain tends to dominate and imagines all sorts.

Peculiar eyeball berries.

Beautiful blue berries.

We passed a big notice, warning us that the dams upstream could be opened without notice making the water level rise by 5ft in one minute. It didn’t inspire me with confidence, but we soldiered on.

I was the first to reach the falls which ROARED as the water cascaded over the 90ft drop. They were spectacular – and once again triggered the illogical part of my brain which instigated ‘wobbly legs’ and an irrational fear of accidentally throwing my car keys over the edge – even though they were in my back pack!

Tris at the top of a 90 ft plunge.
Once back in the car, we followed the river to its source and had lunch on the banks of Lake Moxie. Lakes are two-a-penny in Maine and are all really pretty. What made Lake Moxie special was the old golden retriever who sauntered over to the lake and went for a swim to cool off, the massive dragon flies who buzzed us constantly, the ducks who quacked around lazily in the shallows, and the father who had driven up from Rhode Island – parked his van by the lake and then carried his disabled grown up son to his wheel chair so he could sit and enjoy the view.

Lazy 'hot-dog'.

Tris drove us on to Kingfield, passing some crazy road names along the way – ‘Hard Scrabble Road’, Katie’s Crotch Road’ and our favourite, ‘Linger Longer Lane’.
I’d chosen Kingfield as an overnight stop, because it was the resort town for Sugar Loaf Mountain. 

Creepy Kingfield.

In reality, Sugar Loaf was covered in cloud and Kingfield gave me the creeps, so we decided to press on and head for Bethel passing signs for Moscow, Peru, Madrid, Paris, Mexico en route to a refuse centre, which our sat nav was convinced was a campsite. We finally hauled ass into a campsite next to The Pleasant River which following Irene, had just flooded. It was soggy and basic, but it was pleasant enough!

The ultimate in luxury.

Spooky mist headed our way.

Once the tent was up, Tris set about making fire. I stayed out of his way and caught up writing my diary while he poked his glowing log.

After cremating the dinner and welding our packet pasta to the pan, we set off to explore. It was only 8pm, but Bethel, apparently one of New England’s most picturesque villages, was shut. We were jubilant when we finally spotted an ‘English Pub’. Wondering what made it qualify as ‘English’ we thought maybe a selection of Tetley’s, Bass and Newcastle Brown Ale at the pumps. Sadly we never got the chance to find out, it was shut – not very English after all then!

However, the evening wasn’t all lost when we walked in on a man and woman ‘washing each other’ during an intimate shower in our communal bath house. Damnation – just as I’d managed to get my hair to go flat, the shock made it stand on end again! 

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