journal excerpts of our trip to New England 2000

THOMASTON, MAINE

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photo Amy's Point near Thomaston, Maine ©TPH00

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Tuesday 4 July Loon's Cry Campsite "Amy's Point", Warren, Maine $26
5:00 am warm/cool rainy

It's been raining since about 9:00 last night. We are at the most wonderful campsite right on a lake in a grove of oak, maple and pine trees. A bullfrog has serenaded us all night and if it weren't for the fact that it began to rain last night JUST as the chicken that T cooked over the fire was ready, everything would be perfect.photo Amy's Point near Thomaston, Maine ©TPH00

We had a lazy day yesterday. We were pretty sure we'd have to stay in a motel somewhere inland but thought we'd just see if any campgrounds had a space. We are about 10 miles north of Thomaston on the coast. It is a picturesque town (not _one_ hotel!) that is going to have a parade today.

photo Amy's Point near Thomaston, Maine ©TPH00We went swimming twice in the lake here - beautifully silky and warm. Before dinner was idyllic - perfect fire, not a soul around, ducks swimming by on the lake, lace canopy of trees above and framing the lake. Brilliant!

[...]

The birds are singing and something largish just jumped in the water. We're dry under our tent. Who could ask for more?

8:00am I woke up just now to the wild cry of a loon. Now there's nothing more to complete this!

Wednesday 5 July 2000
6:00am sunny calm (LOONCALL!!)

As I look out at the blue looking glass of the lake and hear the gentle "phoebe" from the bird overhead, it's hard to believe that we had such a night of fireworks last night. What a 4th of July party!

It began with breakfast at Moody's diner - good, with an all business waitress. She was thin and wiry and didn't flash a smile until she brought us our breakfasts and said she'd leave us alone to eat.

Moody's also has a motel; it's only $28!! for what looks to be very cute cabins with screened-in porches. Who knows why the Thomaston gas station attendant said there were no motels nearby. Maybe he thought we _had_ to be on the coast. (But we love our spot here)

We headed into Thomaston to arrive at 10:12. We parked the car on a side street then took our bikes and rode up and down the main street looking for a likely spot to sit on the boulevard. There were already lots of people sitting on camp chairs or the grass. They were wearing American Flag hats or red white & blue streamers or carrying little flags. People with ice filled wheelbarrows walked up and down, selling juice or water or balloons.

We chose a spot on the grassy boulevard near the end of the parade route. We were stopped there and just about to sit down when a family of 3, the man with a cigar in his mouth, waltzed up and sat down! We just laughed at his seeming oblivion (of course he knew exactly what he had done) and moved a little further down. A family of bicyclists saw the whole thing and indicated that they would move over for us.

But it wasn't necessary for anyone to move. There was plenty of room. We sat by an elderly lady who said she knew immediately that we were from Canada because T had said "eh". She was there with her daugher, son-in-law and grandchildren. They were a friendly family - well known and clearly quite popular in town.

We learned that a person from Maine is a "Maineiac" and that the "blind child" or "deafchild" signs we see on the road are specifically for one person in the area. The elderly lady loved T and told us all about Benedict Arnold, her favourite American hero whom she thinks has been given a bad rap. She is a RedSox fan and when she learned we were from Toronto, she said to ignore us because it turns out the Blue Jays are in 1st place right now.

'the Washingtons' ©TPH00 Then the parade began. First in line were the police with sirens wailing then fire brigade. Someone laughingly pointed out the the police chief hadn't even bothered to wash his car. There was a huge smear of mud near the back fender. Then came a high school band marching by, then Russian sailors from a nearby ship!! The Russians marched seriously by carrying their flag in front, a little bewildered by the cheering and clapping from the boulevard. Who would have thought it would ever happen that Russian sailors would be marching in a 4th of July parade!!stilts ©TPH00

There were more bands and pipers, donkeys, the county commisioner driving a tractor, the mayor, people campaigning for office, homemade floats by the local businesses, kids on decorated bicylces, prison guards (there is a maximum security prison in Thomaston),bigheads ©TPH00 another pipe band (the leader pointed at the embroidery on T's hat and laughed saying "Parry Sound!!" As they marched by with drum mallets swinging and twirling in the way that only Scottish pipe band drummers do, bigheads stilts in background ©TPH00we saw that they were carrying a Canadian flag! (They came in especially from NovaScotia for the parade.)

Then came a man on stilts and giant puppets and musketeers (but nobody limping and playing fife!) "Mr. & Mrs. 4th of July" drove by in a convertible and then came "Maine Sea Goddess" and the "Blueberry Queen". The younger woman next to us recalled fondly about being "Blueberry Queen" one year and joked with her teenage daughter that maybe next year she would be "Blueberry Queen".musketeers ©TPH00

Then a parade of old cars (some looked to be from about 1900) and another band and more cars for the 1950's with monstrous fins, then kids driving go- carts and even more cars. Many of the parade people waved to say happy "hellos" and "how are you" and "how is the garden doing" to the family we sat next to. Finally, last fancy chevrolet drove by and the parade was over.

4th July pekes ©TPH00 (jpg 3.37kb)We drifted over to the school yard where a craft tents and a little fun fair was set up with horseshoes, target shoots (no rides) and big tables with pie, hot dogs, barbecued chicken, onion rings.... The bands were scattered around giving little concerts and it was fun even though it was sunbaked Hell. Little clumps of Russian sailors were surrounded by pretty American girls.

Our pie was delicious. Onion rings were great. Watching all ages of men earnestly toss horseshoes was fascinating. But it was hot. We decided to head back here to go for a swim.

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It was still hot and humid and we kept listening to the forecasts to see if we could figure out if it would rain. We bought steaks and broccoli and looked at the sky and decided that the thunderstorm forecast for the late afternoon wasn't going to happen.

T built a beautiful fire and we watched the sun setting - not red sky, but pink sky. We joked about the verse and altered it to

     "Pink sky at night - Sailors get tight
      Pink sky at dawn - Technicolor Yawn"

The light was gold in the west so we put the steaks on the grill. About 30 seconds later, we heard thunder and then 30 seconds after that the unmistakable sound of rain on the leaves above. I hurriedly took my rain cape and spead it under T's jungle hammock with its rain fly spread wide above and moved the bread, butter, wine, glasses, candles, untensils over there. Then we stood in the rain with umbrellas over the fire until the steaks were cooked. We grabbed the plates that were dry because they were upside down and carried our dinner through the pouring rain to sit cross-legged under T's jungle hammock with the umbrellas out in front of us to guard us and the candle lantern from the rain dripping down from the fly.

The dinner was excellent and we listened to the rain gradually cease without dousing our fire entirely. T managed to rebuild the fire and we sat and listened to was it thunder? was it fire works? across the lake. But the "fireworks" suddenly were clearly sheet lightning, so we retired to our dry beds and the heavens opened and we had such a lightning storm with flashes lighting everything as bright as day then utter blackness and immediately the HUGEST crashes. The storm rolled on and on and the rain pounded down - better than any man made fire works!

Now it's time to pack up the sopping tent and begin to head west towards home.

[...] We were cold when we got up so T managed to build a fire(!) with what was left of our damp wood that had been under the fly of his jungle hammock. We gathered kindling form the ground - fallen branches. I can't believe he got a blaze going but it was very pleasant to have a fire as I cleaned up and packed the picnic basket. We turned the tent upside-down to try to dry the floor a bit.

I took the grill down to the lake and used a piece of drenched wood and sand to scrub most of the grease off. It was wonderful to crouch on the beach in the sun. The shallow water was at least 25C!

It was windy. I was up at the car putting things away and heard a faint cry from T. I looked down and saw him race over and just manage to grab the tent as it was beginning to fly towards the lake and disaster was averted. We packed the rest of the things and reluctantly left our beautiful spot.

photo Amy's Point near Thomaston, Maine ©TPH00

 

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