I had coffee in Norway the other day.
I could have walked out the coffee shop door and been in Mexico inside of an hour.
Some “Maineiacs” (a common term for Mainers — i.e. people from Maine) got it in their heads to re-purpose many well-known geographical titles. As a result, one can hit up Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Vienna, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Mexico, Peru, Belfast, Stockholm, China, Poland, Rome, Verona, Sorrento, Palermo and Naples all in one day!
Read on to find out what happens to people using Canadian currency at U.S. tolls booths and how to find “Down East” on a map. (Hint: don’t look down and only-kind-of look east.)
When I first visited the circus school, I became friends with a Couchsurfing host. Months later, we stood together on the summit of Mt. Monadnock. He mentioned his family does annual Appalachian Trail maintenance in the heart of Maine’s wilderness. I immediately asked (and received) permission to join the trip!
As we drove north, I got a taste of Maine’s many quirks:
- Whoopee Pies – this pie-cake-cookie combo began popping up at every re-fueling stop.
- Maine Accents — I liken the Maine accent to Brooklyn’s – especially as compared to standard American dialect. Surely some locals would vehemently disagree. For sure, the Maine rural accent is not American “redneck”! Here’s an (adorable!) Lobster fisherman. Listen to the way he says female, lobster, here, macho, dollars, senior citizen, hire, are, water.
- Vacation Land — this unofficial state motto is printed on every license plate. I guess locals relate to the annual influx of out-of-staters better than they do to the official motto: “Dirigo” — latin for “I Direct/Lead.”
- Canadian Currency — allowed at tolls booths, but not happily. The sign on the window announces a “discount” for Canadian bills, meaning the toll system will give themselves a discount if your wallet is filled with banknotes from across the border.
- Down-East — upon hearing this popular geographical term, one might think of the lowest and then most eastern part of the state. One would be wrong.
- No Government is Good Government — The state park known for having Maine’s highest peak 2Mt. Katahdin — said kuh-TAH-dinn and being the official northern end-point of the Appalachian Trail, doesn’t compete for taxpayer dollars. It’s said that 1920’s governor Percival Baxter loved and wanted to preserve Maine so much that he spent the 40 years after his term in office buying up land around the highest summit and setting up a trust to forever fund what would become Baxter State Park. Then he laid the smack down about who in government would be allowed to have a say in the park management.
- Not-so-Creative Names — in Maine, the part of your property outside the front door where one either parks a vehicle or grows flowers is called the dooryard. In Portland — the state’s largest metropolitan area, a downtown building that has a time and temperature display is literally called “the Time and Temp Building.” Who let the Germans in here?!
The Trip in Numbers
The Appalachian Trail maintenance trip itself went well. A “digital” summary:
- 972 — times I stopped to marvel at the beauty of rushing brooks
- 848 – times I tried to eat or drink through my bug-deterring headnet
- 75 — trail blazes repainted
- 10 — times I re-wrapped my tweaky ankle
- 8 – cans of Moxie consumed
- 6.5 — number of Appalachian Trail hikers encountered 3three stayed in our camp, a handful of others were day trip fishing folk
- 4 — times I placed my naked body in the freezing “Rainbow Lake” at the foot of Mt. Katahdin
- 3 – times our group spotted moose
- 0 – times I spotted moose (sad basket!)