I have traveled to (or through) 35 states. And I can tell you with absolute certainty that Maine and South Dakota are the most underrated. Everyone should apologize to the residents of those states, who probably constantly get asked: “Why, besides lobster, would you live in Maine?” Or “What’s in South Dakota?”
I knew Maine would be pretty, but I had no idea how pretty. It’s not pretty in the same cheerleader way that California is pretty; it’s pretty in a dark, mystifying, eerie way. It’s the kind of place you should run to if you ever become a fugitive. Lots of woods. Close to Canada. Easy access to water.
Maine beaches in fall
I know, I know. You’re supposed to be burying yourself in a pile of leaves, not sand.
I am not a fair-weather fan of the beach. I like to feel the spray of salt-water on my face, like to stand there and scream “Bring it” to the abyss when (hopefully) no one is around.
I like to watch the clouds cluster and their bellies swell and darken with rain. I like walking underneath abandoned boardwalks, I like the silent remains of carnivals, like to watch everyone buzzing around, cleaning up and preparing for winter.
Fall brings locals to the beach, so if you’re a tourist who doesn’t like other tourists (me), visit the Maine coast in fall.
We stopped at Old Orchard Beach a half and hour outside Portland on our way back to Boston. We strolled along the coastal ghost town; the kids long gone, in their classrooms, forgetting about summer and thinking about Halloween.
The waves roared, but the carnival rides were lifeless, the seats empty, the whirling lights and joyous screams halted.
Everything was calm. Lovely.
Until I absentmindedly spilled a medium Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on the front of my coat while trying to take a snapshot of an empty pier. I forgot I was holding it. I lifted the camera and then 16 ounces of cream-and-sugar infused coffee splashed down my coat.
First off, to answer your question: yes, as a Seattle resident and food writer I will defend Dunkin’ Donuts to the death. As for the spill, this is the type of thing happens to me a lot. I swear my IQ is above 99 and normally I remember when I am holding coffee. I am sure my wild tresses coupled with the purple shoes, purple coat combo (total accident) didn’t help prove my sanity.
The thing is, I am so busy noticing and cataloging every detail (waves that look like little ducktails! an 80-year-old couple holding hands! cigarette butts half-buried in the sand -what does it all mean?!) that I am somewhere in the back of my mind, writing it all down. The Husband calls this aliment the Mandy-verse.
I don’t know what IT is, exactly. Writers’ brain? A Maine moment? So enthralled and enraptured by its beauty was I….oh forget it.
I don’t have time to worry if I am teetering the balance beam between artistic genius and insanity. Besides, they say if you worry about your own sanity, you’re not crazy.
Maine Travel Tips
Food for thought: Footbridge Lobster house on Perkins cove is a must. Order lobster rolls. Be excited.
Lighthouse tip: There are seven lighthouses within driving distance from each other. I highly recommend the one at Cape Elizabeth.