My summer vacation in ‘polite,’ ‘friendly,’ ‘inexpensive’ Maine


Welcome to Vacationland

Wondering where this column was last week? Sorry. I forgot to say I’m taking two days off. My computer’s exhausted.

I went to Maine. Why? I’m a world traveler. Done Cambodia, Indonesia, most of South America, Fiji, Kabul, Kathmandu, Beirut, Siberia, India, Outback, Galapagos, Iran, Iraq, Laos, the whole Caribbean, all Europe, Fiji, Samoa, New Guinea, China, Japan, Taipei, Alaska, Hawaii, Himalayas, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Guam, etc — but Maine? Not.

I’ve also not seen Oklahoma — but who cares?

Longtime friends whose ancestors founded the state of Maine in the 1800s and are in its museums and histories invited me.

It’s north. Eight hours as the crow and a BMW flies. Borders Canada, so it’s cool. Clean. Airy. Fresh. Ocean. Shoreline. Beaches. Open sky. Green. Trees. Lighthouses. Boats. Harbors. Coastlines. No litter. No trash. It’s polite. Friendly. Inexpensive. Seafood. Lobsters the size of Radio City. Locals whose behinds overlap the state of Texas all stuffed into shorts. Realtors could establish an entire campsite on the average ass.

In Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor, Portland, Ogunquit, Freeport, Eastport the concept of dressing is only for salad. Forget shopping. Skirts, necklaces, socks, ties, footwear, knife-pressed longpants went out with the first settlers. L.L. Bean jeans, drawers, plaid shirts, crappy sweaters, sweats, sneakers and backpacks are considered black tie.

New England’s largest state, it’s sparsely populated and 90% forest but looked like no trees went to build elegant stores. Also forget consignment shops because what they’re wearing is already consignment stuff.


Water, water everywhere

Fishing? Great. Fashion? Forget it. There’s not enough fabric on NYC’s Seventh Avenue to cover any local behind. Mainers consider flannel formal.

People shopping and walking on the boardwalk at the Old Orchard Beach Pier.
People shopping and walking on the boardwalk at the Old Orchard Beach Pier.
Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Want shore, water, sand? It’s got Old Orchard Beach, Ferry Beach, Goose Rocks Beach, Wells Beach, Kennebunk Beach, Cape Elizabeth, Pine Point, Biddeford Pool, Southport, Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, Christmas Cove, Bailey Island, Orrs Island, York’s Long Sands. Venice in a hurricane has less water.


Beers and trees

There’s yachts, boat restaurants, great food. The Garage was once an actual garage. Now inside where formerly they repaired trucks and motors they serve ribs with cornbread, coleslaw, tubs of beer. Everybody does beer. They probably shower with it. Prefer French furniture with gilt arms and legs, white linen tablecloths, waiters in tuxes — forget it.

Portland’s 19th century Observatory which signals ships is millions of steps. This I didn’t do. When they add an escalator I’ll do it. There’s also hiking the clean Long Sands. Schlep along a Frisbee, surfboard, hot dog and real dog.

“Downcoast” locally means “far north.” “Upcoast” is northeast. “The city” equals Portland. Traffic’s zero. Congestion is two vehicles in opposite directions trying to avoid a moose. Stephen King, Anna Kendrick and George Bush are from here but they’re not here. Mainers, maybe ecstatic just to see anyone, are friendly. Anything you want, except for trees, you have to get in your car to get.

I climbed into mine to get back to civilization and New York.



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