Blue Mountain State Park, Maine

(It has been a challenge to find wi-fi so I’m backed up on posts. Sorry for the delay)

Wednesday, August 19: Awoke late as we only have about a 3-hour drive to get to Blue Mountain State Park (ME) campground. Enjoyed a lovely breakfast of oatmeal, and included the English muffin we’d carried along since the New River Trail camp. Jack and I split it and I toasted it on our stove-top toaster. Yum.

Didn’t get started until around 10A, and rolled through beautiful Vermont and into New Hampshire, winding our way east while missing out the big mountain passes. As we approached NH, we discovered services to be rather thin along the route we’d chosen, so I was glad we’d filled the tank before leaving VT.

Into NH, we saw many “Motel cabins” — a throwback to another era still in operation up here in the north backwoods — and the scenery was nice, looking east to the mountains.

Ate lunch at a cute little cafe just outside of Bethel, Maine. It was called The Hitching Post and it had a deck with an ice-cream window like Cheri has at Tuggles Gap back home, plus you could go inside and order either take-away or sit-down. We sat down and noticed there was a definite “western” theme in the decor — what decor there was, that is.

The Hitching Post Cafe
The Hitching Post Cafe

But the food was delish and the folks were friendly, and after lunch we switched drivers for the last hour. Oddly, it was 89 or 90 degrees. Our young Hitching Post waitress complained of the heat, and we remarked that we Virginians believed it wasn’t supposed to get so hot up here in the northern country, and that we thought it was cooler down in VA right about now (they’re having a lot of rain at home, we hear).

We were interested to note that along the Androscoggin River, there is an actual Canoe Trail! Very interested to know more about that, but other than paralleling the Androscoggin for a long time, we know very little about it. Need to do some research for another trip.

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As we approached Weld, ME, where Mt. Blue State Park would be found, we passed one of those darned brown signs that said “state park camping turn here” but our guidance system said we still had 6 miles to go. So this time, we decided to follow the guidance and as it turns out, it appears that was a good choice. We had paved road right through Weld and down another recently re-paved road to the Park entrance, and we found the registration station, and soon we were at our site, #38.

The back-in was a 90 degree path, so we had to remove the anti-sway/load distribution bars, but the place we elected to remove them would not subsequently allow us to remove the jack post wheel.

So we put the bars back on, and I drove around the circle again so we’d be able to get them off at a place lower in the road so we could remove the wheel afterwards.

The final back-in was a snap, and it wasn’t long before we were all set up, but with no services.

And it was still HOT. Jack was pouring with sweat, even though we really didn’t have to work very hard to set up. But the humidity is extreme.

I fetched some filtered water from the nearest access point, which is also near the pit toilets. A friendly fellow camper reported that she’d gone down to the ranger’s station and discovered that shortly, a lot of rain was scheduled to really hammer us.

Jack and I got into Roomba and turned on the ceiling fan, plus got out the 12v oscillating fan we’d gotten from Tractor Supply, and sat down to cool off a little. As I write this, the sky is darkening, but the temps are still stifling. Without hook-up electricity, we cannot run the AC; and if it rains, we’ll have to close the ceiling fan, so I earnestly hope the weather will bring some breezes and cooler temps with the deluge. I’m thinking this is going to be a rather long night.

But our dinner was a reprise of what we had last night, and we’re set for victuals so bring it on, weather, bring it on.

Post Script: We decided that, although we were nicely tucked into the site, and Mt. Blue was nice enough, if it had been a weekend or a busy time, we would have felt chock-a-block and crowded. And the services were just ordinary.

Scenes from the drive:

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Second night camping

So we had a very long day at Safari Condo on Tuesday, when we picked up our Blue Roomba. Denis was very patient and tried to get us through the “training” quickly, but we had so many questions, it must have driven him totally mad. He never showed it, though.

  
We first saw our little baby Roomba with a big red bow on the bow, and that was very fun. We checked out the interior improvements we requested (extra storage in the loo with a shelf actually applied over the toilet; no microwave and that area converted into storage), and then got to the business of climbing our very steep learning curve. This ain’t like tent camping, I can tell you.

   
 

We (of course) took the required pix of us and Denis in front of our new baby, with bikes en suite, and then we were totally on our own. YIKES!

   
Denis and Jack.

Denis and Lee.  

Jack and Lee.

  

The total rig.

It was later than we’d thought we’d be when we left Safari Condo, so once we made it through the Jackman, Maine customs/border crossing, with a lovely chat about bicycling in Maine with the officer in charge, we headed into the town of Jackman.

Warning to anyone traveling that road: it is absolutely horrible, pocked, pitted, and buckled by heavy truck traffic and what must be horrid winters. Really rough way to learn how to tow a trailer weighing nearly a ton behind a smallish car. In our experience, even if they say you can go 50 or 55, you certainly don’t have to and probably don’t want to.

The scenery was quite fine, however. We traveled along a river but the forest was definitely winterized. Lots of snow still among the trees, and rough looking evergreens being the only greenery we saw. Not much had begun to bloom or emerge with spring growth at this point in their season.

We’d asked about reservations at Jackman Landing Campground back in Feb, and they said that April was their flood season so they didn’t take reservations.

But we stopped there anyway, as we were tired and ready to stop driving. While things were definitely spongey and wet, and certainly the lake was very high, there was some decent ground to park on, so we did, paying the proprietor $10. With the geese and the other water birds, we shared a resting spot that was quite glorious for the few minutes we had before the sun set.

   
Leveling before raising the roof.

Lots of snow still in evidence.

  So this was our first un-hitching, late and we were tired and hungry — but we managed.

Got to a place that sold everything from bottled water and Maine Kitche to beer & whiskey — and they had a deli type place, whose workers were kind enough to take pity on us southerners and make us a pizza, even though they had just closed. 

We took the pizza back to the campsite, opened our celebratory bottle of wine, and toasted our first day abroad with our Roomba. Very fine. 

The site had electricity, but no water, and we were staying for only the night anyway, so we got away not terribly early on Wed AM headed to Freeport, Maine (home of LL Bean). 

Found another place with a deli/food service place tucked back among the hunting and fishing equipment, which was behind the tampons and chips, and ate brunch. A major qualifying characteristic prompting our stop at this — what appeared to be a hunting outfitter — was that there was a large enough parking area that we didn’t have to back the trailer to get out again.

The road improved about halfway to Freeport, but was still like a roller-coaster in some places, so we experimented with the trailer’s load, and piled more of the heaviest things along the trailer’s axle and things seemed to be almost like we weren’t towing anything for a bit. But the quality of the road is a key element to feeling comfortable about towing, we’ve learned.

We seem to be the only peeps at this campground in Freeport — Recompense Shores or something weird. Even though we have a reservation, no one is in the office, and all the showers are locked up tight. So we picked a spot that looked open and flat (and not too wet) and are happily ensconsed for our days two and three, right next to the water. After setting up we had enough time to pop into town for a microbrew and a visit to the grocery store; and to begin to find places in the Roomba where all our trailer stuff will be stowed. More learning curve climbing, but this is the fun bit — the part we’ve been puzzling about and thinking about since last August when this route began to be mapped for us. 

It is a glorious world we live in, and that world is full of wonderful, friendly people who are often quite willing to help a couple of travelers out.

Is this life great or what?

   
After our dinner of seafood and cask conditioned microbeers, we turned on some of the Roomba lights to show what the solar-powered battery can accomplish.

A full moom in Roomba Land.