I Went to Maine and It was Closed – Day 124

I Went to Maine and It was Closed

Day 124 – August 2, 2003 – Saturday

I enjoyed a number of sights in Vermont and New Hampshire today. I then went to Maine and found there was not a single motel room available anywhere in the state! I drove south from Bangor attempting to find a motel room, and I did not find one until I reached Boston, Massachusetts — at 5 am! Needless to say, it was my least enjoyable evening.

I enjoyed driving through Vermont and New Hampshire — beautiful states! I found it to be unbelievably green in Vermont. We always felt the color green in Ireland and the UK was unlike the greens anywhere else — but Vermont fields are an incredible green, too.

I saw the Boutin home just outside of Richmond. They had an assortment of metal sculptures in their yard, pots and pans on top of poles, and other odd stuff. It wasn’t on the itinerary — just something that appeared on the side of the road.

Then I saw a sign that said “Trapp Family Lodge 5 miles.” OK! I’m going. The lodge is owned by the Von Trapp family made famous by the movie “The Sound of Music.”

Maria Augusta Kutschera was born in 1905. Maria’s mother died when she was two years old. Her father left her with an elderly cousin so that he could be free to travel. She experienced a lonely and very strict upbringing without any siblings or other children in the household. She ultimately found religion and entered a convent. Though Maria was intensely devoted to her convent, she was taken away from the outdoor activities she once thrived on. Her doctor was concerned her health was failing due to a lack of fresh air and exercise. The decision was made to send Maria to the home of retired naval captain Georg von Trapp. Her position was not governess to all the children, as the movie portrayed, but specifically to the captain’s daughter who was bedridden with rheumatic fever. The rest is truly history. Maria never returned to the convent and married the Captain on November 26, 1927. This is the story that has been made immortalized by “The Sound of Music.”

The Trapp family first started welcoming guests to their 27-room Vermont lodge in the summer of 1950. The lodge continues to be owned and operated by the Trapp family.

Today, the 2,400-acre resort with sweeping mountain views provides accommodations in an Austrian-style Main Lodge with 96 rooms and suites, and 100 2-bedroom Guest Houses, and 14 luxurious 3-bedroom Villas. Talented chefs prepare European specialties in The Dining Room, The Lounge and the Austrian Tea Room, complemented by nightly entertainment. First-class facilities are available for meetings and weddings. Year-round recreational activities include cross-country skiing and hiking on over 100 km of trails, tennis, croquet, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, children’s programs, maple sugaring, workouts in the Fitness Center, music lessons, guided nature walks, swimming, An Afternoon with the Pastry Chef, and much more!

I took a photo of a big family having a reunion. I hoped they would e-mail me all their names. There was a bunch of them. I also met Jocey, the desk clerk at the lodge who laughed and said “nice beads.” I gave her a card. I visited the popular ski area of Stowe, Vermont.

I saw a famous Round Barn. I met Tutt at the church; he worked for the Department of Homeland Security.

The Coal Hollow Cider Mill was a very enjoyable stop. The Coal Hollow Cider Mill produces about 4,000 gallons of cider per day in the summer, but in the fall they produce 40,000 gallons a day. I bought a cider steamed hot dog. The apple pies looked spectacular, so I bought one. It weighed a ton. I also bought a little piece of blueberry apple crumb pie and a couple of apple doughnuts. So I was good to go. The hotdog was very good. The bun was totally unusual. It was like a loaf of bread the height of a hot dog bun, but it was sliced across so that there was no crust on either side of the outside of the bun. The cider donuts were very good. There was not a strong, but a subtle apple taste. It was very tasty.

Shortly after noon, I began searching for a place called “Lots O Balls,” whatever that may be. It just showed up on a map and sounded like my kind of place. I met Nichole at the gas station. She asked where I had been. I gave her some beads. I finally found “Lots O Balls.” It turned out to be a miniature golf course kind of in the middle of nowhere. Oh well! Big Waste O Time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t work.

I just had a nice chat with Madison, Brittany, and Barbara. That was absolutely the highlight of the day. Madison is just a little over a year old, so we didn’t have a long conversation. 🙂

Montpelier, Vermont is the smallest capital in the nation. I took a photo of the gold-domed capitol building. It is in a beautiful setting. It sits back in trees. There’s a little walkway up to it. Very nice.

I saw a lot of folks in Vermont wearing sandals and dark socks. Not my choice of fashion statements.

Vermont must have the highest percentage of vanity plates of any state in the country.

At the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, I saw amazing Bug Art and a most unique will. The Fairbanks Museum features natural science collections housed in a wonderful Victorian building. Local industrialist and amateur scientist, Franklin Fairbanks, built the museum in 1891.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s will granted his November 13 birthdate to Annie Ide. That was different.

The artwork of John Hampson was also prominently displayed. His medium was bugs. Using pins and glue, he painstakingly arranged dead bugs and bug body parts into patterns and pictures that could be hung on a wall. He used butterflies, moths, beetles, and more. Each of his works used between 6,000 and 13,000 bugs and took 3 to 4 years to complete. His designs ranged from an American flag to portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

Hampson’s daughter searched the country for a museum that would exhibit his art, and the Fairbanks Museum was the only taker. So, the entire collection was right there in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

I stopped in Plainfield, established in 1797, and the home of Goddard College. The Maple Valley Country Store was on our list of sights to see, but it is actually a restaurant. It looked like a cute little place; it’s probably delicious, but I did not stop there to eat as I had eaten not long before at the Cider Mill.

There were many great old houses and barns in this area. I also saw a number of lovely ponds — On Golden Pond-like ponds, including Joe’s Pond.

The Wallenda Cabins caught my eye. They are tiny little things about the size of a storage shed, but I guess people come and stay in them. I took a photo and wondered if they were named after The Flying Wallendas aerial performers.

In Marshfield, there is a village store built in 1852. I stopped at a 400 acre farm behind the Marshfield Dam. It is one of the largest in central Vermont. I met two fishermen: Tyler and Cody.

I have noticed that milk cows get treated a whole lot better than beef cattle. They leave lights on for them at night in their barns. They have big fans, which serve to blow a lot of the flies away so they aren’t such a nuisance. The farmers cover the hay to keep it fresher and better, and I noticed that some even package the hay in plastic to keep it fresher and better.

There were cars are parked everywhere on the side of the road as I drove into Danville. I saw a big ferris wheel. It was the Danville Fair, and it certainly looked like a nice one. I would imagine the beautiful village green underneath the fair was very picturesque, but there was no way to take a photo.

Vermont and New Hampshire have many covered bridges, and I visited the Martin Covered Bridge.

I met a really nice tourist information lady near Littleton, New Hampshire. She informed me that the “Man in the Mountain” near Littleton, New Hampshire recently disappeared. It was a rock formation on the top of a mountain that cracked and broke off. It was a big attraction in the area.

Chutters in Littleton, New Hampshire has the World’s Longest Candy Counter. I had to stop in for some candy.

I enjoyed a good meal at the Littleton Diner. I loved the message on a T-shirt there. It provided The Keys to an American Renaissance: “Eat in Diners. Ride trains. Put a porch on your house. Shop on Main Street. Live in a walkable community.” Great ideas one and all!

There were BIG signs in Vermont and New Hampshire warning drivers to Brake for Moose. One had a smaller sign beneath the big sign that said “Hundreds of Collisions.” I was anxious to brake for a moose. I did see not one but two mooses today — a fiberglass moose at a miniature golf course and a brass sculpture of the world’s most famous moose. Unfortunately, there was no braking. Still no sightings of a live moose!

Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire was a fun stop. I spoke with Rudy the talking reindeer. We had a nice chat. Rudy commented on my beads.

I reached Maine late in the day. The state line sign simply said “State Line Maine.” Note that the sign didn’t “Welcome” me to Maine as most states do. Little did I know that Maine did not want me there.

In Maine, I did see the statue of the famous moose, and I saw yet another Paul Bunyan statue.

The sun set, and I still had a long way to drive to my planned stopping point. When I reached Wilton Maine, there were huge crowds standing on the side of the road. I had no idea what was going on. I finally pulled over and met a really nice family of nine in a cemetery. I learned that everyone was waiting for a big fireworks show that was part of the annual Blueberry Festival. I shared a few stories and went on down the road.

I gave up on finding a local restaurant in Maine, and I finally had dinner from Burger King in Skowhegan, Maine. I met four workers there.

Skowhegan was raising money to restore the World’s Tallest Wooden Indian. I tried to get a photo, but it is 62- tall, and it was really dark. The World’s Tallest Indian was erected in 1969 in observance of Maine’s 150th anniversary. The statue was created by Bernard Langlais, a sculptor who attended the local art school.

Then the fun really began. I stopped at every hotel and motel that I saw for the next five hours. Every room was taken, and no one offered any hope that I could find a room anywhere in Maine. I finally asked one of the desk clerks why there were no rooms. He said “fish.” I asked: “how in the world could fish cause there to be no rooms; was it a fishing tournament of some type?” He said: “No, P-H-I-S-H.” I first heard of P-h-i-s-h in Cleveland a few days ago when I was stopped from taking a photograph of their giant weiner. Now it seems there was a big Phish concert as well as a Lobster Festival, and there were no rooms anywhere in Maine. I couldn’t believe this was possible, but I stopped at every motel I saw, and there was nothing. I tried to pay one desk clerk to let me sleep on the couch in the lobby, but he refused. I drove south through Maine, and I never found a room. I drove south through the eastern tip of New Hampshire, and I never found a room. I really had trouble staying awake as I drove. I was welcomed to Massachusetts about 4:30 am. Lots O No-Vacancy-Signs.

I drove south through Massachusetts, and I finally found a room in Boston, Massachusetts. It was 5 am when I reached a Marriott with a room. What a miserable experience!

The lesson for the day was crystal clear to me: Always have hotel reservations when traveling to Maine. And don’t ever buy a Phish CD.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Montpelier Vermont — Trapp Family Lodge — Stowe Vermont — Coal Hollow Cider Mill — Fairbanks Museum — Round Church — Littleton New Hampshire — Chutters — Littleton Diner — Santa’s Village — World’s Tallest Wooden Indian