Our Maine experience & Y2K (also Nova Scotia/NB)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Just returned from a week traveling around Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

My initial impression of Maine is that, even if there were major infrastructure disruptions, there are sufficient natural resources including extensive forests and seafood, to keep a large number of people alive and well for a lengthy period. The lobster fishing industry depends upon petroleum but the people who work these boats seem to be a very hardy breed who could improvise in a pinch.

What may be a bigger problem however is the people's attitude. We found a great many people there willing to take our money but very few willing to be friendly about it. Fryeburg, Boothbay Harbor, Bar Harbor, and Mohegan Island were particularly bad. We were treated much better by the residents of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Maine seems to treat its tourists as 'a necessary evil'. I don't know if they're always like this or just simply tired of dealing with tourists because it is the end of the season. I can tell you that a business in Iowa that treated its customers like we were treated in Maine would not be in business for long.

One very notable exception to this experience was a restaraunt in Camden, Maine called 'The Waterfront'. The food was superb, by far the best we had in Maine and the wait staff treated us very well. If you are going through Camden, this is a place you don't want to miss. Get the 'smoked seafood appetizer' platter and of course, the clam chowder.

All in all, though, with its extensive forests, wildlife and seafood, Maine seems to be in a much better position to 'go it alone' for a period than many places. It is definitely not the worst place to have to rough it.

For your basic tourist though, with Y2K issues aside, I would recommend eastern Canada over Maine. Not that Maine isn't pretty, it really is. Lots of trees and scenic oceanfront. But the Canadians seemed much more friendly and more willing to converse with their visitors. I don't know, maybe it's because the Canadians have to try harder to attract American dollars. Of course, your milage may vary. Our experience certainly may not have been 'typical'.

Having now seen most of the US, our all-time favorite place is still the Cascade region (Cascadia) along the western coast of Oregan, particularly the area around Brookings/Gold Beach/Grants Pass and inland to the Crater Lake area. If everything basically holds together next year, that's where we'll be going for our next vacation. If not, then maybe the year after...

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), October 18, 1999



Nice to see the East Coast Canadians treating you good. They are a great bunch and not just looking for US cash. If things don't fall apart and you make it to Cascadia think about coming up to BC Canada. The Province is awesome, promise it will be well worth it.

-- Brian (imager@home.com), October 18, 1999.

Arnie, if we're still alive, we'd be very happy to host a little camping expedition for you & family in Cascadia paradise :-)
Save our addy ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 18, 1999.

The Umpqua River between Reedsport & Drain is the most beautiful place on Earth

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 18, 1999.

A&L -

*tch* *tch*

Head out of "Puddle City" going west on 26. Drive down the coast and then head south on 101 to any viewpoint on the mountain above Short Sands beach. Get out of the car and just stand there, breathing sea-cleaned air, looking south at miles of deep green and some of the most beautiful coastline in the world.

Ok, I'm biased, so sue me. 8-}]

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), October 18, 1999.

Sounds like an enjoyable challenge! Will do this week. YES !!

Picture of Short Sands Beach & other beckoning beaches

Gotta shopping field trip with Mr. Gadget Whiz Mikey Mac first, then off to the beach!

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia, primed for some camping ;^) (allaha@earthlink.net), October 18, 1999.

Arnie, you might have wished to read up on the unique personality and culture of the Maine coast referred to as "Downeast" and its people "Downeasters" before visiting there, and you would perhaps have better understood what you were experiencing. My father's family was the one which first landed in and colonized Maine/NH a few years before the Pilgrims (Mom's ancestors) landed at Plymouth Rock. Three sea captains from Norway, commissioned by the King of England. In reading about this in several history books and books about modern Maine, I learned why my grandmother and her generation, as is still true of most Downeasters, was so taciturn. When these folk landed, they didn't have the friendly Indians that met the bunglers who landed at the Rock. It was strictly "do it yourself with what you've got" for them, and they handled it with admirable grit, determination, and plain hard work. One of my books says that in order to survive in Maine one had to "be a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-all-trades." These pioneers met an extremely harsh climate, a rock-bound coast not suitable for farming, and isolation. Out of this they carved colonies.

Life has never been easy for the people of Maine. Although they have the forests you describe, on the coast they have only rocky soil. The lobster industry has suffered greatly in recent decades as well. The only "industry" that keeps them going is the tourist industry. However, they many decades ago had the unpleasantest of experiences with these wealthy folk who came to spend summers there.

My grandfather was chief gardener with 18 men under him who worked the Rockefeller island estate summers. The saddest experience dealt to them from a summer tourist was the killing of their 3-year-old youngest daughter, by the teenaged son of a wealthy family whose chauffeur was teaching him to drive...I still have the yellowed news clipping about this. The wealthy looked down on the residents, with their proud heritage as survivors as if they were slumming amongst them! The game warden loved getting them for their brazen out-of-season hunting of deer that were necessary to feed the winter population.

When I would take my children there summmers to camp at Mt. Desert Island and visit with my father's brother, we would approach the natives with great admiration and respect. If one gets to know them one-on-one, they are the salt of the earth. I've seen posts here on how one must blend in if they are to move to a rural area, and the principles are much the same in getting to know them.

Anyway, they know the tourist isn't there to befriend them, but just to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the fine meals served to them, which the average local cannot afford to eat regularly.

I am sorry that your visit wasn't what you wished it to be, but please don't paint the area's folk with too broad a brush, or realize their reasons for being taciturn.

(By the way, Downeast humor is classic, and if one learns how it goes, one can enter into priceless repartee, and set all the men around the wood stove in the store into gales of laughter!!! I know...I've done it.)

-- Elaine Seavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), October 18, 1999.

Thanks Elaine..you said it all....so do you know Tim Sample?

-- rmoose (hybrmoose@ctel.net), October 18, 1999.

Elaine: Thanks for your comments regarding the 'downeast' region. You are correct that I should not paint with to broad of a brush. I guess I don't understand the difference though between the people of Maine and those of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I think many of them face the same challenges.

If ever there was a difficult, rocky, barren place to eek out an existence, Nova Scotia would be it. Coming from Iowa, we got quite a chuckle at the cornfields and gardens in Nova Scotia. It must be incredibly hard work to grow anything there considering the rocky nature of the soil and the shortness of the growing season.

Yet, we were never treated with hostility.

Currently, there is quite a dispute going on between the native (aboriginal) fisherman and the rest of the fishing industry in the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick area. Some violence has occurred. We did see signs on a few businesses there pleading for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

I guess my point is this: If you don't like tourists and see them as nuisance or threat, why would you choose to make your living by courting them? I enjoy coming to work every day and the people that I work with - I can't imagine spending time doing anything else.

Perhaps you are correct and they have had bad experiences with ill- behaved tourists. We are not rich - in the American sense of the word. Though compared to many on this planet, we certainly enjoy a higher standard of living than the worldwide average. We try to be good guests and do not 'look down' upon the local residents in any community that we visit - perhaps that is just an Iowa thing. But what really upsets this Iowan is standing in a long line to give money to someone so that they can be rude to you.

In any event, I appreciate you comments and thank you for taking the time to write.

One thing we did find curious in Canada was that just two people seemed to own everything. One, named Irving (last name unknown) owned all the gas stations. The other, Tim Horton, owned at least 16 coffee/donut shops in every little town. From all apperances, towns seem to sprout up wherever this Tim guy opens a coffee shop.

I have no idea who these two gentleman are but they seem to have petroleum and donuts pretty much sewn up.

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), October 18, 1999.

One short follow up. We took "The Cat" - a high-speed ferry from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, NS See:
http://www.nfl-bay.com/me- ns1.htm
This is one impressive boat. A 5-story football field that moves at 55mph over the Atlantic. Quite an experience. Recommended!

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), October 18, 1999.

Arnie, thanks for the reasoned reply. I only regret that you didn't get to know some Mainers during your visit, but that takes time. You would love them if you did. I am sorry that you experienced what may have been rudeness, or may have been just the restrained natural reticence of Downeasters.

As to the ferry you mentioned, an interesting note is that it follows the route of the original "Blue Nose," a sailing ship that plowed that course to bring supplies back and forth between Maine and NS. My great-great grandfather and great-grandfather were captains of the "Blue Nose" and I have a hand-carved model of it which I purchased in Bar Harbor in the early 60's. There is a neat little ditty sung about that trade via sailing ship.

Moose...no, I don't know this fellow. Maine and NH are, as I'm sure you know, full of Seaveys though! I'm ninth generation.

-- Elaine Seavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), October 19, 1999.

Mac, we just got a new patient, so can't go camping this week to check out your spot. Hope we get the chance before the rains start ... :.(

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 19, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ