And now for the Maine attraction…

What a journey! The past week has been so eventful, it’s hard to even keep track of everything. Just over a week has passed since leaving the beauty of the Kara Kahl farm. It’s an odd feeling when the memorability of events is due to both expectations that were never fulfilled, as well as expectations fulfilled and – of course – unexpected, pleasant surprises.

  • Wisconsin:
    • I haven’t brewed beer in years, but had the unexpected pleasure of doing so with my brother, Dan, at his place in Wisconsin. We shared great food and drink with his family even though our stay was quite short.
    • He found some amazing Wisconsin beers, one of the most amazing was the Central Waters BBA Scotch Ale.
    • We also made pizza from scratch and there is something VERY special in that, even if it is regarded as an unsophisticated foodstuff. The crust, the sauce, even the cheese all made from scratch; delectable only partially describes it.
  • We drove across WI to the UP in MI in a hurry and I was once again surprised at the beauty of the landscape that manifests where you least expect it. I never expected places like Iowa or Wisconsin to have much in the way of “landscape” that wasn’t massive, corporate farming. But they each house gems and the only way to find them is either serendipity or being clued in as we were, fortunately. Thanks, Teri!
    • Wisconsin state highway 23 north of Spring Green is amazing, and overshadowed most unfairly by the attractions surrounding the area.
    • Crossing the border between the two would have been uneventful except we locked the keys in Charley. Luckily the gas station, which claimed there were no slim jims to be bought and no readily-available locksmith in town, had a coat hanger that some other poor sucker had fashioned into a slim jim. More unfortunately our windows were rolled up. So I took it upon myself to break into a car for the first time. I was surprised at how little time it actually took. With a fresh reminder about key etiquette we resumed the journey…
  • Michigan:
    • The UP brought many expectations: meeting up with the folks we met in the Badlands, wide open views of Lake Superior, beautiful, lush vistas of forests… none of which happened.
    • Basically we glimpsed Superior in failing light as we passed through Marquette for dinner. The rest of the time the landscape consisted of same-looking, endless highway bordered by impenetrable trees one either side. You could catch glimpses of lakes from time to time, but rarely could you see more.
    • After crossing the Mackinac Bridge (now THERE was a view!), we headed to Grand Rapids to visit Founders Brewing. Several scrumptious beers were tried and we had some of the best hummus we’ve ever had in a restaurant! Their Curmudgeon is probably the greatest beer in recent (and not-so-recent) memory.
  • Ontario:
    • Next we attempted to hot-foot it to Toronto only to be thwarted by the Toronto area traffic. And not just any Toronto traffic; Friday rush hour traffic. By the time we reached our safe haven (one of the most wonderful AirBnB hosts we’ve ever met; thank you Paula!!) we had taken over ten hours to drive less than 400 miles. Pure hell. While we were excited to attend the wedding, we were convinced we never wanted to drive through that area again. Too bad that driving out of a place is usually a requirement when you are only visiting and you drove into it in the first place.
    • The next day was Mattelie’s (or is it Nathew’s?) wedding. A wonderful time to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and enjoy good food and beverage – including wines made by the happy couple! Best wishes to them for many years of happiness to come!
    • Then we drove out of that hellish highway nest and on to…
  • Niagara Falls!
    • We spent time on the Ontario side, not really on the New York side. Wow, wow, wow. In so many ways – good and bad.
    • Being in the tourist throng was as generally awful. The crowding wasn’t so bad; nothing like what you’d encounter in Tokyo. But the din of the tourist trap is a special kind of torture. By design you can’t maneuver quickly (regardless of your means of locomotion) and strategically placed loudspeakers at every other establishment blare out the most idiotic cacophony imaginable. Combined with the exhaustive kitsch in each monumental facade and gaping doorway, the supreme distaste of the experience achieved fruition. It was like the future in Idiocracy had come alive in the present. Yet…
    • None of that (nor the other problems that I won’t bother to mention) could detract from the power and majesty of the falls. Like any other tourist we took lots of pictures and will hopefully have a few very pretty shots to include in the next Picture Pages! Shoshone Falls may be taller, but even at its highest flows it does not come close to matching the power of Niagara. And, as a bonus, having driven around this area we have seen all five of the great lakes!
  • Vermont & New Hampshire
    • We were so exhausted by that time that even Dani overslept and, on a day where we had almost zero margin for delays, we were 90 minutes behind schedule before we got started. We had only two hours penciled in at Jamaica Cottage shop in VT before their closing time. As the day unfolded and we powered through the miles, it became apparent that we would only make it (if we were lucky) to the shop at closing time. So we either had to give up the visit altogether, or stay in the area one extra night and then have a full day to kill with only two hours activity planned. It didn’t help that the much anticipated Maine, family reunion and respite were SO close. So we decided to power through…
    • We put in our longest day of the trip so far as I posted on our FB page:
    • “Before the past week we had done 2700 miles and been through 5 states – taking 4 weeks to do so. Before today we added 1400 miles and 3 states and one Canadian province, Ontario, in seven days. Today in only 15 hours we added 700 miles and 4 more states to bring us in to Dani’s parents’ place in Maine. We’re exhausted.”
    • While it was unfortunate to not stop at Jamaica Cottage there were reasons, which I won’t detail here, regarding we didn’t try to make that work. So my only real regret is I barely got to see New Hampshire; most of the drive through was in the dark.
    • With what I did see I can say VT and NH are as stunning in their verdant beauty as the Badlands are humbling in their austere majesty; as the Rockies are awe-inspiring in their grandeur; as southern Minnesota is heart-warming with its peaceful hills, dells, rills and groves. I MUST spend more time here.
  • Maine!! To be continued…
    • The best is yet to come, we certainly hope…
    • We have not been here long and have had to take a lot of downtime recuperating and trying to avoid falling into exhaustion-based illness. More will certainly follow.
    • Even with only a short time in Waldo and Belfast so far, I can say this: The serenity is palpable. Nature speaks. The ocean is nigh. The people are loving. The land and food are nurtured. As the leaves begin to turn; the weather cools; the ocean air wafts inland… this feels like home.

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