Maine, Maine, Where Have You Baine All My Life?

The view from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Oh, my goodness. I’d never baine to Maine before (yes, it’s a word, they’ll be adding it to dictionary.com any second) but I’m in LOOO-VVVV-EEEEE! Where to start?

One of the goals of our current nomadic lifestyle is to find a state we’d be happy retiring to, and for me Maine is leading the pack thanks to its beauty, coastline, lakes and rivers, and lack of drumpf signs—proven to cause eye spasms and other sundry stress-related illnesses in those with dumpty-allergies. However, we have many miles to travel before such a lofty decision can be made, so I’m tucking my oh-so-humble opinion away for later perusal as we traverse the rest of this fine nation.

The Fridge Fracas

I told you we were total camping newbs, right? Turns out this is good news for you, because I’ll have an extra large barrel of “mistakes were made” stories to dole out as we go along. Yippee!

It seems that the refrigerator locking mechanism, seen above, becomes an important tool to prevent meltdowns and loss of food resources as said camper gets yanked along from Point A to Point B. In this case we undertook a 248-mile trek from Littleton, Massachusetts to Ellsworth, Maine, where we plopped ourselves at the Patten Pond campground for an 11-day stay.

We’d been on the road for only twenty minutes when Joe said to me, “Hey, did you remember to lock the fridge door?”

I gave him the side-eye. Was I supposed to? “No, why, did you?”

“No,” he frowned, watching the camper sway in the rearview. “It’ll probably be fine, though, right?”

“Yeah,” I said in my most reassuring voice. “I’m sure it’s all good.”

NO! No it isn’t, ya dorks! By the time we bounced ourselves into our next campground, most of the fridge and half of the freezer were rolling around on the camper floor. We were able to salvage much of it, and we considered ourselves lucky when we saw what DIDN’T fall out of the fridge—the oversize jar of dill pickles with its requisite buttload of pickle juice. Whew, that was a close one…

Who’s gonna tell ‘im?

Animals in Name Only

The Patten Pond Camping Resort had their streets named with a local animal and then a word starting with the same letter. (Except for Owl’s Way, which just messes with my OCD.) “OOh, how exciting,” methinks to myself. “I would totally name my streets that way too. (Except for Owl’s Way, which—as I’ve mentioned—just messes with my OCD.) “I can’t WAIT for all the animals I’m about to meet! In 3-2-1…”

A Wise Bear brings Wine

Have I told you I like animals? Maybe. Well, I do, and the highlight of each stop for me is always the wildlife. But alas, in Maine I was stymied at every turn. We took the Nature Tour boat ride and only saw seals from afar (nah, we won’t take our binoculars, why would we need those?), hiked and encountered no bears or rattlesnakes (which was probably good, though, now that I think on it) and didn’t even share our campsite with a chipmunk.

But I know they’re out there somewhere; they’re just waiting to get to know me better before revealing themselves. The supply of wooded acreage in Maine is ample and the animals have tons of space to avoid humans, which I grant them is the most smartest move.

The Campground

The Schoodic Peninsula, SHHHH, Don’t Tell Anyone

We found out about The Schoodic Peninsula from the volunteers who run the Downeast Scenic Railroad (above), which we tested out on Sunday. They only do excursions on Saturdays and Sundays, and are a nonprofit with some dedicated volunteers at the helm. As long as you’re expecting a slow, pleasant ride through some woodlands and the town of Ellsworth, you’ll get your money’s worth.

The bottom of Schoodic Peninsula is part of the Acadia National Park, but most people don’t go over there because it’s an hour drive from Bar Harbor and the more well-known Park attractions like Cadillac Mountain and Thunder Hole. For me Schoodic was the hands-down winner, both because of the gorgeous views AND because of the lack of crowds.

So I’ll tell you about it but let’s just keep it between us…if you can only pick one, pick Schoodic. If you can only go on a weekend, choose Schoodic. The Mount Desert (pronounced dessert, I know, don’t get me started) park area is ALWAYS more crowded. Always. No matter the day.

The first day we drove to Schoodic, we set up our chairs along a gorgeous swath of coastline and I commenced reading and snacking with abandon; “ah, this is the life,” methinks to myself. “Finally, I’m livin’ the dream—beautiful weather, beautiful view, quiet, treats, and a book.”

Unfortunately for me, Joe was as antsy as a kid on a sugar high. “Shouldn’t we go hike the trail now before it gets too late?” he blurted out on more than one occasion, ruining my peaceful enjoyment of my surroundings.

“Argh,” says I. “I just wanna read and take in the scenery, why can’t I do that? Fine, then,” I grumble, mumbling to myself about how I’m comin’ back here and reading All. Damn. Day.

Which I did. Only the next time I played it smarter: I made him walk BEFORE we sat by the seashore, and told him he had to stay until I was ready to leave this time. He took a nap, which was fine and dandy by me. The longer he slept, the longer I got to relax.

At Cadillac Mountain we met an artist who was painting the scenery on tiny little copper canvases; seeing talent in action is so inspiring. [Should I take up art again? Nah…I’ll just watch others create, SOOO much easier.] We also explored my fear of heights further (yes, it’s alive and well) and Joe’s unfortunate need to make jokes about plummeting over the edge as my anxiety skyrockets. I’ve heard this is a man thing, but let me be the first to assure men this IS NOT HELPFUL. IN ANY WAY. Thank you.

Should we Talk about the Lobster in the Room?

One of my animal rescue friends texted me: “Tami, make sure you go out on a working lobster boat while you’re in Maine.” We’re still buds because of my kindness and easygoing nature (eh-hem), but I do have to admit he got an earful in return.

I mean, I was already engaged in a fruitless attempt to ignore the very existence of the Maine lobster fishing fetish. I hadn’t realized at first that the buoys I was seeing throughout the water belonged to lobster traps. I thought they were guidance buoys, and when it dawned on me what they actually were, Joe used his patented technique to distract me from the coming animal rant. “Do you see seals out there?”

My head whipped around, “Seals, where?”

“I didn’t see any, I just wondered if you did. Any chipmunks?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “I know what you’re doing, ya sneaky bastage.” Truth be told, it usually works, because then we bicker about his distraction techniques instead of him listening to me rant, which he must find an acceptable tradeoff.

Luckily for me he doesn’t like seafood.

Bar Harbor itself is quite lovely, with a plethora of restaurants, harbor and Acadia tours, and souvenir shops. I decided that when I was annoyed by an animal industry, I would buy myself a passive-aggressive t-shirt to make myself feel better.

Animals eating people is always a good choice. Until I get scarfed down by a bear of course…then it won’t be so funny, eh? But I’ll be dead, so maybe I’ll still get a good chuckle out of the irony of it all.

I Can’t Believe it Happened!

Last week when I suggested campgrounds prohibit political signage (you realize before drumpf NO ONE was dragging political signs camping with them, right? Who in their right mind?) I figured it was a pipe dream. But when we hit Maine the campground rules had the following:

Halle-effin-lujah! It finally happened. Now I can’t leave Maine.

Tootius Maximus Gets a Fix

Everyone’s got their way to escape, eh? But Tootie, as a feral cat, doesn’t have much of a life outside this camper. She’s certainly not a cat I can outfit with a harness and leash and walk around the campground, or even let her sit outside with me. She would be terrified and find a way to wiggle out of the harness and that would be it for her. She’d be gone. And I’d be wrasslin’ with a whole tankful of guilt and remorse.

But when I see her sitting in front of the screen door and wistfully looking outside I get sad for her too. Like her mommy and daddy, she used to eat her feelings, but now she can’t because of her throat issue, so she’s forced to eat to live rather than live to eat.

I wanted to enrich her life, but she’s not much for toys at her age. “She does love herself some catnip,” I muse. “Except she usually makes a huge mess by rolling in it and eating it before finally passing out covered in the stuff.”

Still, it was one thing I could offer her to give her a moment of escape, no matter how brief her “high” lasts. Joe picked some up for me at the store and the second it arrived she was out of her “office” and searching for it. This was rare for her in the middle of the day, so I knew she had caught the scent but just couldn’t find it. After letting the anticipation build for just a few more moments I put a small amount on a towel and let her go for it. She did not disappoint! I tried giving her more the next night, but she showed little interest, so I guess catnip will be a once a week special treat so she has something to look forward to!

My friends are starting to send me memes with a little something in common. Should I be worried?

East Hampton, CT, Land of Father’s Days, Anniversaries, and Family Visits

One of the funny signs seen while camping in East Hampton

Happy Father’s Day, Male Readers! What, that was a week and a half ago? Well, no matter. Keep in mind that I thought of you that week, and make this retroactive to last Sunday like a good lad. There ya go.

Here, I’m leaving you this funny sign that was probably written by a man, which doesn’t in any way interfere with its ability to amuse. You’re welcome.

Who doesn’t love the word “amok”?

Camping signs are a definite “thing” out here in the RV world, and I’m all for anything that can make me lol. Therefore I’ll be kind enough to share with you any gems I come across in my travels. No need to thank me—I’m generous like that.

I love the word “amok,” don’t you? It’s just funny without even saying another word, which is a rarity. In fact, one of my favorite lines from a movie is in Two Weeks Notice, where Hugh Grant is eating cheesecake and he says to Lucy, aka Sandra Bullock, “There’s something amok with this cheesecake.” In his English accent? Hilarious. [Turns out it was made from tofu, which probably wasn’t as good back in the early 2000s, but is downright tasty these days. I’m looking at you, Daiya.]

Signs in Campgrounds Should be Funny or Kind…Not Anxiety-Producing, Amiright?

Turns out there are signs that aren’t amusing in any way, and I don’t understand why campgrounds won’t make their sites a politics-free zone. You know the ones I’m talking about. Ones that, say, worship a man who led a cult to assault our Capitol and our democracy? Yeah, that one. We trundled our way up to Connecticut, a blue state, eager to escape the stress-inducing world of drumpfdom.

The first sign I saw as we pulled into the Markham Meadows Campground read, “You are Now Entering a Stress-Free Zone.”

“Oh, Hallelujah,” methinks to myself. “Finally, I’m in a sane place and can relax into the moment.” Then we schlepp around the corner to park our camper, and lo and behold run headlong into yet another disturbing sign of drumpf worship—and it’s directly across the pond from us. I despair that this particular disease has spread well beyond the borders of trumpland, and folks like me are being ideologically assaulted everywhere we go. Bah.

All these campgrounds already give campers a list of rules you have to abide by; how difficult would it be to add one little rule that reads: “No political signage. Everyone is out here to leave daily life behind, so please leave politics at home and be kind to your neighbors. Thank you.” There. Problem solved!

The 11th Anniversary Bargain

We celebrated our 11th Anniversary on our first whole day in East Hampton, and a bargain to forego cards and gifts FOR THIS YEAR ONLY was struck in advance due to space constraints in the camper. I had to be very careful to ensure that the hubs understood this was a ONE-YEAR EMBARGO only, because he’s fully capable of extending the policy ad infinitum if I don’t keep an eye on him every second. How do I know that? There is precedent.

Consider this . . . every year we hold this particular discussion at Easter:

Me: Are we doing anything for Easter?

Him: We aren’t religious, we don’t celebrate Easter.

Me. The Bunny doesn’t care if you’re religious or not, The Bunny brings candy for ALL.

Him: But we aren’t religious.

Me: Buy me some fucking candy.

See what I’m sayin? He’s a sneaky one. He has also attempted to deploy the same argument in favor of boycotting Christmas, but that test balloon never made it off the ground. I’m watching you, Bud! (But I’ll always love you…)

We ate breakfast at a little local diner, and then headed in the direction of the coastline hoping for some beach time. We landed at a harbor in Old Saybrook where there wasn’t a beach per se, but there was putt-putt, so we shrugged our shoulders and the challenge was on.

Joe and I are both a trifle too competitive. He will deny it of course, but I for one shamefully admit to being the bearer of a competitive nature; he won’t even play Scrabble with me anymore because he claims that I get mad if I don’t win by ENOUGH. I don’t think he has any evidence to back him up on this foul accusation, though, so it will have to forever be his word against mine.

Hubs with his tiny putter

I immediately claimed the right to choose his putter for him and handed him the tiniest one for the tots. To get even he pulled the one for Andre the Giant out of the rack for me, and the game commenced.

I was distracted by the local pokemon go action (don’t be judgy) and by the third hole I was already bleeding profusely. I made the ultimate sacrifice of putting my phone away so I could focus on the task at hand, but my luck never improved and I was soundly trounced by my loving husband.

After the match we once again went in search of a beach, but Old Saybrook was charging between $25-$40 just to park at one of their beaches if you weren’t a resident. Highway robbery, I tell ya’. Nah…that wasn’t happening.

Visiting the CT coastline? I’d recommend doing a little better homework than we did.

In the end a nice dinner (Impossible burger for me, yum) and a couple different ciders rounded out the day nicely.

Grandma Pat and the Laundry Conundrum

This would come up as a topic of discussion at some point, so we might as well thrash it out now. I have a teeny tiny laundry issue—that’s not really even worth mentioning really—except it impacts my joy of travel.

I spend less time pondering the fun things we can do on our trip than the following crazily important questions: “What about laundry? Can I do laundry there? Is it gross? Crowded? What if I can’t do laundry for weeks at a time? How will I survive?”

I’ve never liked laundry to pile up, because then it seems overwhelming, like it’s something you’ll never get done. I’ve got enough overwhelminginity in my life without adding dirty laundry to the list. My fairly normal OCD worsened from my years in dog rescue, because then EVERY DAY became overwhelming. Not only did my laundry need to be done but all the dog laundry too. AAAHHHH!

I felt a touch bit better knowing we were going to visit Rayne’s grandma Pat; not only because I love her to pieces, but also because she’s a laundry nut too. She’s constantly doing laundry and even grabbing our laundry when we visit, so I knew she’d be onboard with us dragging our dirty clothes along behind us. We even washed our sheets and our comforter, so I can breathe a little easier for a week or two! Whew.

Dishwasher Despots

Every family’s got one: that person who knows the ONLY right way to load the dishwasher, and spends half their lives re-arranging it along behind the rest of the family. God help ya’ if you have more than one!

Joe is ours. Brynn and I never cared enough to argue about it with him, so we’d just shrug our shoulders and save our energy for more important battles. We don’t have a dishwasher out here on the road, and I think Joe relished the opportunity to put his considerable skills to use at Pat’s house.

Except here he ran into an immutable force: a fellow Dishwasher Despot, in her own territory! He was outgunned. As it turns out, there’s MORE than one right way to load the dishwasher, and Pat took the opportunity to school him on the REALLY real correct way: hers.

I simply sat back and enjoyed the show. In fact, “relished it” wouldn’t be a stretch. Sometimes it’s just the little things, ain’t it?

This week we’re in Massachusetts, and I will regale you with more splendiforous tales soon. In the meantime, enjoy some more photos from the campground and other Connecticut delights.

Oh, and P.S.

I put my Imagine: Life on a Chain novella into paperback and kindle formats if you’re interested in reading it or purchasing it as a gift. Audiobook to come soon.

I will definitely be offering nonprofit pricing to any groups who’d like to purchase to give away or sell at booths. Just reach out to me through my site at tamirathayne.com.

I don’t have it up on the site yet because I’m still figuring out how to make time for writing and publishing while I’m on the road, but I’ll get there!

Imagine: Life on a Chain

by Tamira Thayne

The dog awoke, feeling more uncomfortable than usual—which was saying something, given that he was chained to a dilapidated box the size of a grocery cart.

The world seemed off, the neighborhood quiet, even the woods behind him hushed—like everything waited…

He shifted uneasily, sniffed the air.

What was that? He brought his head up and inhaled deeply.

He didn’t recognize it—and yet…and yet. Something about the odor nudged a memory from his mind, of a time when life held promise, when he’d fully embraced the naïve enthusiasm that came with puppyhood.

He tugged on the mental string, and the flashback overwhelmed him. He sagged onto the ground, assaulted by memories of his first home…

• Based on true-life stories of rescue dogs •

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-954039-20-9
Paperback https://www.amazon.com/dp/1954039204

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B4BD34S8

Untethered Tour Camps in the PA Poconos, But No Heart-Shaped Honeymoon Tub for Me

The Pocono Palace. Hubba hubba.

We were halfway through our sojourn in the Poconos before Hubs comes out with the truth.

“See that hotel? That’s where my first wife and I went on our honeymoon.”

“Whaaattt? Oh, these jokes write themselves. Where’s my heart-shaped jacuzzi tub? Champagne? Why did she get all the good stuff and I’m in a camper in a rundown campground with my 11th anniversary looming in a matter of days? WHAAAAAA!”

I can’t imagine for the life of me why he waited until we’d passed it a dozen times before fessing up. It’s not like I’m fully capable of turning such things into joke fodder or a means of upping my own wifely status.

Redboxes: They Still Exist and Now I Know Why

I remember it clearly, as it was just a month or two ago and it hasn’t yet slipped through my mental sieve. I stopped at a convenience store and noticed the Redbox outside. “Redbox? Who the hell still rents movies from those things. Dinosaurs, I tell ya’!”

Cue digging foot of mouth in three…two…one. Me, that’s who! Turns out we’ve got ourselves a tiny little internet problem out here on the road. Firstly, I assumed we came equipped with unlimited hotspot on our phones—as we used to—but Verizon played a sneaky trick last time we “upgraded” and cut us down to 25 GB a month. Joe ran out of data in May and I ran out in June, and that just ain’t raight. Rude, Verizon, Rude!

Secondly, I assumed all campgrounds would have free wifi as this isn’t the dark ages, but apparently much of the U.S. is still missing that memo. Including campgrounds. Double Rude.

Others traversing the U.S. are sporting internet solutions that we haven’t yet explored—newbs and all. But I’m sure Joe will investigate more this week, and then we can slay this particular giant. Or not.

We ended up renting movies we hadn’t seen on two different nights, and I’m here to assure you that Redbox does still have a purpose on this earth after all. My bad, Redbox. Continue about your business.

Bushkill Falls Hike

Come on, it’s Adorkable!

We’ll be sightseeing at least a coupla’ days at each stop, but don’t expect us to showcase the obscure or out-of-the-way stuff. We’ll most likely be hitting up popular tourist activities that spark our interest or float our boat, and who doesn’t love him or herself a good waterfall?

We sojourned to Bushkill Falls during the week (advised, so much less crowded!) and it cost $15 each to partake of this particular beauty. It’s $18 on weekends.

In my humblest of opinions it was well-worth the price of admission. They’ve spent a ton of time and money adding wooden walkways and steps throughout, so you get to feel like you’re living in a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse as you traverse the terrain and trot out your own particular brand of oohs and aahs.

We picked the longest route, even though it clearly told us those who are out of shape should be moving along to one of the easier trails. I’m surprised our faces weren’t plastered on the sign as a cautionary tale: “These idjits thought they could do the two-hour tour. Don’t be them. Bwahahahaha….”

Maybe we’ll actually get a little more svelte throughout our journey thanks to all this exertion? One never knows.

The Big ‘Un

There’s no shame in admitting that I had to make frequent stops when ascending the rocks and steps. As soon as this girl’s heart rate hits 140, my inner diva makes an appearance and I do declare “Imma bouta faint” or something equally awkward. Luckily for us we were surrounded by others of a similar shape and size, and there were frequent drink and “I gotta sit down before I die” breaks for most everyone.

The only animals we saw were stuffed, which is ew, but at least they don’t appear to have been killed just to display here, as the sign claims they were donated by “state and local game commissions.” Take it for what it’s worth.

Speaking of Out of Shape…I Got A Bike

This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not a good biker either. I know. Who’da thunk it?

Ever since I was a little kid I had to walk up ALL the hills. Even the little ones. Everyone says, “Don’t you shift down?” like I never thought of it or somethin’.

“Why Yes, Yes I do! But then I have to peddle MORE to go a shorter distance. How is that easier? My poor tiny leggies get too tired to go on. All I can do is end this torture and get off the bike!”

Walking is easier.

Joe lived in town and biked EVERYWHERE as a kid. He even peddled 12 miles to go work for FREE at a garage, and all I can think is Who Does That?

For whatever reason, even though he’s barely ridden in years, he hasn’t lost his bike finesse. Being the gentleman he is, however, he kindly got off and walked when I did, informing me we’d work on my lack of biking fortitude as we go. Don’t hold your breath, man!

Pocono Snake & Animal Farm

In a perfect world there would be no zoos, no roadside animal exhibits, no exploitation of animals, but support for them to live in their native habitats. We don’t live in a perfect world, alas, and sometimes BETTER has to be good enough because BEST isn’t an option. This applies primarily to wild animals who are purchased by humans with zero clue as to their needs, and who hence inevitably seek to “get rid” of them. But where can they go? They can’t go back into the wild because they’ve become unable to fend for themselves.

As such, I didn’t find myself vehemently opposed to the Pocono Snake and Animal Farm. Many of their animals are rescues, or “donated” as they called it, by people who got them and had no business having them. Most of the animal habitats ranged from adequate to good, and I truly hope these babies lives have improved from whatever dastardly conditions they previously endured.

Food we purchased for BearBear, the monkeys, and the pigs or goats.

We paid $9.50 each to get in, plus $6 for food for the animals.

Food! For the Animals!

I’ll be the first to admit this is a genius move on the part of the PSAF. We pay to get in…AND we pay for the food for their animals, too? Diabolical!

I’m a hardcore animal feeder, and my primary concern (i.e. obsession) when I visit these kinds of places is “Are the animals being fed?”

I worry and drive myself to distraction over the thought of hungry animals, even though I logically know it’s happening all over the world at any given time and there’s little I can do about it.

But I can at least help in my little corner, right?

If I see an animal I want to feed him or her. It’s really that simple, and it brings me great joy to watch them eat and know I played a part in filling their little bellies. [Assuming they aren’t chomping on a human or another animal, that is…I can’t be seeing that, oh, the trauma.]

I bottle-fed the pigs, tossed fruit and veggies to the monkeys (spoiler, they throw most of the veggies on the ground, but they love the fruit), and fed the bear. Bearbear is over 20 years old now, and they have a couple monkeys who are over 50 years old. It’s normal for animals reaching the end of their life spans to look a little worse for wear; as we age it happens to all of us—and our companion animals, too. The owners of PASF wisely posted signs about the age and condition of the oldest animals so that people like me wouldn’t lose our minds.

A few of the animals we met that day: Bearbear sits in front of the tube and catches each treat as you put it down. Timmy the capuchin jumps up and down and throws his pillow around to entertain the kids who visit. The alligator snapping turtle sits with his mouth open, wiggles his tongue, and the fish swim right in. Who knew!

Tootie Gets a New Hiding Spot

If you know feral cats, you know they have to have a hiding spot. These are hard to come by in a small camper, but Tootie was squeezing herself amongst our stash of stuff at the end of our bed whenever she felt scared. This was far from ideal, since she couldn’t turn around in the tiny space and was left with her butt hanging out. It looked downright uncomfortable. So we moved her cat tube to the end of the bed and covered it with the bottom of the comforter. Now she can slip under the blanket and up into the tube whenever she wants. She proclaimed herself satisfied with the upgrade, and now she comes out of “her office” for food, potty, treats, and some occasional mommy love.

Timothy Lake North Campground

What a dump! Oh, is that too harsh? How about this: Methinks this campground could use a teensy bit of fluffing up. We felt like we were camping in an apocalyptic ghost town, complete with skeletons of campers past and an aversion to grass cutting or any of the basic tenets of groundmanship.

The campground is run by Thousand Trails, which we’ve joined with a basic camping membership on the recommendation of a friend. We’re still debating the pros and cons of purchasing any of their various upgrades, but Timothy Lake North Campground was not a plus for their side. Oddly enough, Lake Timothy South is just a mile or two down the road, and it is clearly a much better run and cared-for campground. What up with that?

PoGo in the Poconos

Either the Poconos isn’t fond of Verizon or Verizon isn’t fond of the Poconos. Whichever the case may be, I showed two bars or nothing throughout our stay, an unfortunate circumstance which is not conducive to pokemon play. I even got tossed from a Mewtwo raid that only had four people in it, an obvious crime against PoGoLand! I was needed, dammit!

The worst violation took place at Bushkill Falls, which sported an impressive array of gyms, pokestops, and pokeman for the taking. I witnessed the bounty before me as we turned onto the property, slavered appropriately, only to freeze up and catch the distinct tinkling laughter of Verizon as they mocked my dismay. I never could get back in the game while there. Triple Rude.

We’ve landed in Massachusetts at a tres bonne campground boasting internet AND cable. Lordy, lordy, am I witnesseing a miracle? I shall regale you with our [mis]adventures from last week and this one soon. Tata for now…