It REALLY blankets the coast. As mentioned in my must see activity on Acadia, we tried to go the park in bad weather. Make plans to go there for a few days at least because if you're trying to escape the remnants of a hurricane, chances are it will catch up with you at some point. And even more likely, there will be some fog of cloud cover when you're trying to see this wonderful place. It was a great way to see the Park, actually. We got to focus on things close up at first because we couldn't see 10 feet ahead of us and also got an idea of the things we wanted to come back to see later. Also, we had driven by a few spots where we were like "wow, what's so great about this?" and then later, we had no question what made the place special.
Caribou, Maine. I've always wanted to go here. I don't know why...perhaps because it's the town farther north than any other on the US east coast. There aren't any big cities close to it...it's just so out of the way and isolated all tucked up in the NE corner of Maine. We were both very excited about going here, so there was no argument about it whatsoever. It does take a LONG time as there are no interstates that go here, just US Rt. 1 and ME rt 11 to ME 163. Even if I had looked on the internet and found nothing great about it, I would have wanted to go...I would have just thought it was a great secret or something. Not so. Caribou SUCKED.
When we finally got up there, I drove all around the town looking for something cool and there wasn't anything. I couldn't even find a cool bar or a restaurant that served beer. I'm sure they are around, but I don't know where--certainly not their chamber of commerce website or advertised anywhere. Finally we did find a restaurant and I grabbed a local guide they always have in such places. It included real estate and I was amazed at how cheap everything was. They have 5 bedroom houses--lakefront--for $50,000. Maybe here in rural PA you can find an apartment for that much but even trailers in most cases cost more.
I had a vision of Caribou and if I worked for the town, I would try to make it happen. It could be the Alaska of the lower 48. There's wilderness surrounding it, lots of rivers and lakes, supposed moose, (Caribou?), mountains...it could be a cute little town for people who wanted to get away or for eco tourism. Instead, it's more like a town with no image of its own. Plain brick faced buidlings, churches that look like they were constructed in a hurry sometime in the 1970s and houses from the same era. The only outdoor events we saw posted for the county (Aroostook County) were for trapping and hunting. Oh well, at least we can say we've been there and probably won't go back.
An ever-constant danger in most of Maine are the large numbers of Moose that roam through the vast forests and across many of the highways. The problem is more acute in the autumn months when they are really on the move and darkness falls early as winter approaches. These are large animals, very dark in colour and they can suddenly trot up out of the woods and ditches directly into your path. I had a 'wake-up' experience a few years ago on Interstate-95 just a few miles from the New Brunswick border, south of Houlton, Maine. A buddy and I had been on a course in Boston in mid-October and it ended on the Friday afternoon. We headed north, for the 7-hour drive home, thinking that we would stop in Bangor and finish the trip on Saturday morning. We ended up cruising along the straight and mostly empty highway in Maine at a good clip so we decided to keep on rolling. However, we had not counted on two Moose running out one behind the other! I hit the brakes and steered for the shoulder but I could see that we were not going to miss the hindquarters of the second Moose. Foot on the brake, hands on the steering wheel, I leaned sideways into the middle part of the front seat as we struck on the driver's corner of the car. The moose landed on the hood, hit the windshield and roof pillar in front of me and catapulted up and over the roof. When the smoke cleared, we looked at each other and realized that we were stopped and still alive and unhurt thanks to our seatbelts! Not so for the moose. It had ended up in the median of the highway, so we reported the mishap to the State Police via cellphone. Amazingly, our car was driveable, only the driver's side windshield had been ripped open from top to bottom with bits of glass all through the front of the car. We drove into Houlton, got some plastic and duct tape to place over the gap and continued on home! An interesting law in Maine is that, since you killed the Moose, you are offered the choice of taking it home if you wish. We declined.
A fact of life when visiting anywhere in the great northern woods of New England or the Maritime Provinces of Canada is that there are millions of mosquitos and blackflies out there looking for their next meal! They are at their worst during the early and peak summer months of May to July and really only calm down in September when temperatures drop a bit. During peak season, you will need to use insect repellent of some sort if you plan to do any camping or woods-related activities. In our case, my wife's brother was allergic to the insect bites when we visited Baxter State Park in 1977. After a day or two, he began to swell up and we had to seek medical help in the small village of Greenville beside Moosehead Lake. We were very impressed with the quality and speed of service - the antihistimines prescribed soon brought the situation under control.
Like all Maine islands Cliff has it's share of poison ivy...but unique is it's Brown Tail Moth infestation.
To some people this means nothing....but to the people who are senstive to their little tiny hair-like filaments that float in the air after they bust out of their cocoons, they mean lots of itching and rash like reactions.
I am personally allergic to them....so I itch and walk around covered with calamine lotion.
Just a note if you do go to Cliff and you do break out this is why. Keep towels and clothes off clothes lines. This helps.
If you decide to climb Katahdin, I would not recommend the Saddle Trail. If you do, be careful. I slipped and fell down some of the landslide in the photo. It was too steep to walk, and not solid enough to climb. All the rocks are loose and there really isn't a good way to go down. See Sports tips for more details.
Every once in a while, driving through Maine, you will see WATCH FOR MOOSE signs. They are very large and hard-to see animals. They can usually be seen by the roads in early morning or around dusk. The signs are usually place where moose have been known to cross the road and the sign will tell you to "beware" for the next ??? miles.
Hans and I actually saw a moose cow with her young calf, only once, and it was early morning.
Traffic coming and going into and from Maine is "horrific".
We always plan on driving into Maine during the Midweek, and also try to leave on Monday.
If that is possible with your vacation time, it will make things alot more enjoyable.
We have waited for periods of a hour just to get through the main toll gate or through New Hampshire where all routes emerge. And if there is an accident it can be hours extra.
Recently Maine has added an extra lane from Portland southward, but it is still a challenge.
Be careful of moose when driving Maine's country roads at night, especially along the northern tier. Every year, several Maine motorists die in collisions with moose, an animal perfectly designed to have the most devastating impact on drivers. With tall spindly legs and a huge torso, most of the weight of the beast ends up in the driver's seat during a collision with a car, putting the brunt of the impact right on the driver. Though I hate to say it, the safest speed to drive at night in northern Maine is 50 miles per hour, which gives you time to stop if you spot a moose atthe end of your headlights. If you can't avoid a crash, it is recommended that you aim for the rear of the animal, which has less weight.
Of course, not all moose accidets lead to death -- only about one in every 700 crashes are fata to the humans involved. Sitll, since there were 2009 moose-vehicle collisions just on Maine road from 2000-2004, there were probably 3 or 4 deaths over that period. In 1998 there were 5 deaths in 859 moose-vehicle crashes, so sometimes the numbers work out for he worst. And they always work out bad for the car and the moose.
It is easy to pack on the pounds when in Maine. Between the fine food and great beers, it is likely your weight will increase so if in the Desert of Maine, heed the signs. I have not been under 75lbs in some time.
beware oversized praying mantis on the garden path at the Cry of the Loon. See south Casco page for more Cry of the Loon. Looks like this carnivore could have recently emptied the park bench of an unwary tourist
Hypothermia can be a real issue in Maine. The combination of water and cold weather can be lethal. If you are planning to be outdoors for any extended period of time where you might be isolated from civilization and get wet, wear a material that will keep you warm when water-logged (such as wool or some of the newfangled stuff). If you travel to the coast during the winter, dress warmly as the damp air increases your risk of hypothermia. The good news is that, if you are properly dressed, the Maine winter can be as beautiful and inviting as any sason anywhere -- in fact I'd rather plan to be outdoors in Maine in December than in Thailand in July!
Visitors to the North Woods in the summer should be prepared for mosquitos. The mosquitos breed in the numerous lakes and ponds that dot the North Woods.
There are stories from the frontier times that tell of people actually being driven insane by the swarming insects. Moose have even been known to spend most of their time in lakes to avoid the mosquitos, with just the tips of their noses sticking out of the water.
I once tried to take a walk in the woods near Moosehead Lake in northern Maine, and I had to literally run back to the car because the mosquitos were so bad. I can really believe that people have been driven insane by these pests.
Be careful, there's a lotta moose! Really, watch out, especially at night, but even in the day time. We saw this small moose less than 30 minutes after entering the state and seeing numerous signs warning us of moose crossings. There are huge flashing signs warning you of these animals... well, warning you about not hitting them! This one was small, but moose can be HUGE and can definitely put a damper on your trip. In New Hampshire that same day we saw a car that had hit a moose... it did not look pretty... ambulance and police were on their way and traffic was stopped in that direction. This was on the interstate!!
This is gonna sound silly, but be careful when walking on rocky beaches, especially if it's damp or the tides recently gone out. It's very easy to take a nasty fall, and the landing won't be too soft, either!
Worst experience ever !!! We booked Hilton Honors reward reservation- a non-smoking room with double...more
Our family has stayed here several times over the past 25 years, usually in the Ocean Front Lodge....more
Only one of 2 campgrounds actually in Acadia National Park, Blackwoods is really in the middle of it...more