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Beyond the Farm Gates: A week in Maine 2021: Part 1

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

By Kim Carr:

This summer, my friend Jacque invited me to join her on a trip back to her home state of Maine for kayaking, otherwise referred to as “paddling” by the locals. Our trip was to include hiking, lobster eating, and whatever other adventures we might decide to partake in. It isn’t often that I get off the farm, so this was a real treat. Having been nine years since Jacque has been back to Maine, this was a homecoming of sorts for her.

Jacque rented a beautiful home overlooking Dyer Bay in Steuben, Maine, for two weeks. I joined her for the first wee—Saturday, August 14th thru the 21st, 2021. Her kids flew in to stay the second half of her vacation as I headed back home to Missouri. It has taken me a full week to recover; all that paddling and hiking certainly pushed me. It felt good to get out there and become one with Mother Nature and well worth any aches I may be feeling now.

Kayaking was a must, and Jacque rented two for the duration of my trip so that we could spend as much time on the water as possible. We met twice before our actual trip to make travel plans, write out a grocery list, and lay out an itinerary. Even the best-laid plans often go askew. Flexibility and being able to adapt to often-changing plans are a key to happiness and peace of mind when traveling. Our key goal was to explore and have fun. This being my first visit to Maine, I can assure you ALL GOALS were met. I LOVED EVERY second of my trip, even the challenging parts; they made the trip all the more interesting. Here’s a little recap of my adventures in Maine.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Columbia, MO

My cousins David Mark and Arlene let me stay at their house Friday night so I would be close to the airport in Columbia, MO, on Saturday morning. Over the course of the last couple weeks, I have been making arrangements for three sets of friends to stay at the farm and take care of my critters and the farm while I am away. My mom headed to my brother’s for a little vacation of her own. She was able to attend my nephew’s wedding and made a trip to the St. Louis Zoo and the new aquarium in Union Station. I believe she had as much fun with my brother and the great-grandkids as I did in Maine.

Pro Tip: My cousin Arlene makes homemade pizza every Friday night, and it is scrumptious. If you ever have a need to visit my cousins, I highly recommend you go on a Friday.

My cousins had me to the airport about 6:30 a.m., earlier than I get up at home but plenty of time to check in and get oriented. This is very easy to do at the Columbia Regional Airport, as they only have two terminals—smallest airport I have ever seen (of course, my knowledge of airports is slim since I’ve only flown a handful of times). During this early hour visit to the Columbia Airport, I counted a total of six people upon my arrival, and this included employees. Being someone who doesn’t travel often, the much, much, much smaller airport made things easier and less stressful. It was impossible to get lost, and it took a matter of 3.5 seconds to walk from baggage check to security. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would become very appreciative of this tiny airport and the ease of the whole process. My travel home was a little less smooth.

When Jacque arrived, she asked if I would help her unload her suitcases from her truck. It took me, two employees, and a forklift to get her big suitcase out of the back of her truck . . . well, maybe it was only me, but I’m a certain she did pack her entire closet and the kitchen sink. Once we hoisted it onto the scale, United charged her $100 to ship it! Now you know I was not kidding about how heavy it was. I laughed at the weight, but on the positive side, EVERYTHING I asked for after arriving in Maine, she had. Her suitcase was like a Mini Walmart. It saved us extra trips to the store because she had everything we needed except for food.

It was neat to walk out to our airplane, felt like someone rich and famous boarding our private jet. Not sure why I was entertained by this, but I was. The flight to Chicago for a short layover only took a little over an hour. Last time I flew to Chicago, I am certain it took at least two hours. So the Earth is shrinking or these smaller planes fly faster. Or, I have a bad memory. Let’s not dwell on that.

We flew United, and it was really nice for a small plane. Seemed the same to me as a big plane only fewer people. United would text us messages about our flight. I wish someone would invent an app that would tell you what part of the country you were flying over and cool facts about the area. Being in contact with the airline through text messages just made travel that much easier. Once in Chicago for our layover, the airline texted an active map with directions from our gate and how to get to the next gate, which according to the text, would be a seventeen-minute walk. That was fun, but the signage is good in the airport, so we would have made it anyhow, but technology is cool. Oddly though, I did not get such a text when returning home, and I had zero minutes to get to my next gate. Perhaps the airline already knew I was out of luck and had zilcho possibility of catching my connecting flight. I wish they had sent me a text telling me I was tough out of luck before I broke a sweat running the mile with a backpack wearing sandals.

As far as airports go, O’Hara is a pretty one with lots of art and color, so it makes your miles of walking from gate to gate very pleasant. I saw several Cannabis Amnesty Boxes on our hike through the airport along with high-end shops like Coach and others that I’ve heard about. I went the cheap route for lunch when I saw they were charging $13 for only a hamburger at some little restaurant. I headed to Aunt Annie’s for a regular pretzel, a cinnamon pretzel, and a medium drink. Funny thing, two pretzels and a soda cost me $13. Live and learn.

Once we boarded our plane in Chicago, we had about a forty-minute delay because we were waiting on a flight crew that was on another flight. This meant Jacque had to scramble trying to get the folks at the rental car place to wait for us, as we wouldn’t be arriving till about four and they closed at three. If we couldn’t get our rental, we would be up the creek without a paddle. Luckily, Jacque ended up with a real nice gal who said she would wait and would pick us up from the airport and get us to our rental truck. Jacque caught the shuttle that was there specifically for us. The young lady who waited past closing so we could get our rental truck is an angel. While Jacque was off getting our rental truck, I waited for our suitcases at the Bangor Airport. Everything worked out great despite the delay. This trip ended up teaching me a lesson or two in delays and patience.

We stopped at the Walmart in Ellsworth, Maine, to grab groceries for the week. It was the only big town on the way to our house. I saw my first seagulls for the trip hanging out on top of the light post. I also found out Walmarts in Maine are as under stocked as Walmarts in Missouri—lots of bare shelves, but we managed to find everything we needed: peanut butter, eggs, bread, the essentials. My plans were to eat as much lobster as possible, so the lack of lunchmeat didn’t really phase me. For the fashion-forward folks, you can now buy a matching shirt and mask in case you want to be trendy. Also, all Walmarts in Maine have gone bagless. Bring your own reusable bags or, in our case, buy a couple. Having the four-door rental truck with full-size back seat sure came in handy for hauling luggage, groceries, life jackets, paddles, and dry bags for our float trips.

Saturday Night / Sunday Morning, August 14–15, 2021

Steuben, Maine

Arrived at our rental house in Steuben right at sunset, about 7:30 p.m. We were able to check the house out before darkness engulfed us. Of course, a favorite spot was the deck, great view of Dyer Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The house is huge; I had my pick of three bedrooms upstairs. I chose the one with the starfish quilt overlooking the ocean. This was an excellent choice, as I was awakened each morning to the sunrise slowly peeking over the pines and water that gently rolled through the bay. I added an extra blanket so I could leave my windows open at night. This allowed me to awaken each morning to the sounds of lobster boats and seagulls.

On our first night, it wasn’t long before it was dark. We turned off all the house lights and sat out on the deck enjoying the night sky. Amazing the difference of how many stars you can see when there is no light pollution; there was no dusk-to-dawn light, no distant lights from town, no lights from the neighbor’s place. It was magical.