We have arrived in Maine, one of our major destinations on this year’s route plan, and one of only a handful of stops that had an actual “no later than” date of arrival requirement. We are here to celebrate a wedding, and to take advantage of the gathering of family and friends to throw a 50th birthday party for Rosemarie.
With Maria and KayKay getting their first taste of riding in the motorhome, the four of us departed Connecticut and passed through the Massachusetts before cutting across the southeast corner of New Hampshire, where we stopped to take advantage of the lower cost and untaxed liquor at one of the state run stores. It’s a bit ironic that the Live Free Or Die state mandates that all spirits and liquor have to be sold by the state government! It was a good midway stopping point allowing all of us to stretch our legs as well.
Back on the road, we finally arrived in Maine, and continued north about 45 minutes beyond Portland, getting to our destination in the late afternoon. You have heard of the town, Poland Spring, from the bottled water company that originated and still operates here. After research, we selected the Poland Spring campground as the best bang for the buck campground we could find in the vicinity of Lewiston-Auburn (LA), the location for the wedding. We were not disappointed.
Our first Maine campground, though a privately resort, had the feel of a state park in terms of natural setting, spaciousness, and greenery. It is heavily treed, with large sites well separated from your neighbors, the greenery adding to that sense of privacy. Unlike many public parks, though, it had plenty of amenities as well. In addition to the power and water connections, we had two included WiFi passes to the fully functional resort network, and access to a pool, playground, boat dock and lake swimming area.
For us the clear highlight of the campground was the potential for significant animal sightings, particularly birds that nested or hunted along the lake chain. Lots of loons and other water fowl, of course, but the star attraction were the nesting pair of eagles and two chick in the 700 pound nest on the island just off shore. On our first day we were able to observe one of the adults standing watch and the two chick poking their heads up occasionally.
Though the park is a Passport-America participant, they have the unusual restriction of only providing that rate for walk up campers; you can’t make a reservation on the PA rate. Not willing to take the chance, we had originally reserved five days on an electric and water only site, saving a few bucks by not electing for a full hook up spot with sewage. Shortly before our arrival, feeling a bit tired from the faster than planned pace of travel, we added two days to our reservation and received a modest discount for the weekly rate, coming out to about $29, all in.
Titi Maria and KayKay stayed with us the first night before moving over to Junior’s house, enough for them to get to enjoy the natural setting, swim in the lake, and see the eagles. After that the week turned into the expected whirlwind of wedding preparations, continual family get togethers and, of course, Rosemarie’s party! We held it at the lake cabin Jason and Linda had rented for themselves, Rosemarie’s mom, Gloria, and her cousin Christopher and his family. We had the expected fantastic, loud, and drink filled time.
After that, it was all about the wedding. Junior and Kaytarra had rented the Elks Lodge in Lewiston, and had arranged for all of the guests to bring the food in pot lock style. We spent the early afternoon preparing 80 wings, and then helped transport people and supplies to the wedding hall. Junior himself had prepared two pernils which we took in Loki, the smell driving me a bit crazy; After having tried several versions of this Puerto Rican pork dish, and Rosemarie having had decades of them, we both agree that Junior makes the best, and have resolved to alter our technique to match his.
Rosemarie helped decorate the wedding arch once the groomsmen delivered it. About 100 guests having arrived, while not exactly on time, not nearly as late as we are used to in Miami, the event kicked off with a great ceremony, immediate reception, and quite a lot of dancing. Yes, me included.
The next two days continued with family gatherings before each group departed, which also allowed me the opportunity for a couple more fantastic Maine lobster rolls. Hey, you gotta eat something when at a seafood shack, right? We got pretty much the entire remaining out of town contingent plus local cousin Junior and son Nazir together for one last seafood extravaganza; thanks to The Lost Gull in nearby Oxford for a fantastic lunch.
Cousin Christopher, his wife Amy and their children Elijah and Jude, stayed with us for two nights at the Poland Spring campground before making the drive back to Virginia. We spent the days exploring the camp and the nights beside the fire, all of us slowly working out way through the vast array of leftovers from the wedding.
Finally the week of activity came to a close, and used to our relative isolation on the road, we collapsed, not at all ready to continue on to another campground quite yet. Plus, our budget was pretty much devastated from tires, repairs, parties, and the usual wedding guest expenditures.
Accordingly, I talked with the front office and negotiated a three day stay, but on the Passport-America rate since we were not making a future reservation. We had to move sites, but had three days at this beautiful park just to ourselves and at only $20 a night, sewage included at the new spot . We settled in, relaxed, recuperated, and reassessed our plans for the rest of the month, focusing on cranking down on our expenditures to make up for the first two weeks. During this time we feasted on the extensive leftovers that I had quite literally been forced to take home by the family clean up crew at the wedding, and spent almost nothing except for the very much worth it two hour boat and trolling motor rental.
We spent our last day at Poland Spring cruising the Lower Range Pond, most of it under power until the battery gave out, after which we enjoyed the sunset as we paddled back to the dock. We could not have asked for a better ending to our first Maine stop.