I needed to escape the Love Canal house for my own health so I started to plan a trip to Maine. Two days later than planned my stomach pains finally let up enough for me to make a midnight trek and I landed softly and quietly in the wee morning hours after spending four hours cranking up the classic rock and caterwauling at the top of my lungs. I don’t know why people seem to despise driving long distances alone so much. I find it… liberating.
I really wanted to make the most of this week. I have a bunch of stops all planned out but today? Up, still got that alcohol-free hangover, and once again didn’t make it out by noon. No matter. I was on my way! I had decided after reading a series of glowing reviews to check out Rangeley Lake State Park, a two hour drive, in the hopes of catching some great foliage snaps. I planned on making September my Leaf Peeping month but the weather has been absolute whack this year and the trees are terribly confused. “Do I turn color now or…? Well I see a third of your leaves are colored buuut….” Lakes are great for foliage photos because if it’s a calm day you can get all those gorgeous colors reflected on the water.
There wasn’t much for foliage when I started out but heading into the mountains I was soon awash with bright reds, oranges, and a few yellows. Perfect. There was however quite a bit of road work, numerous flashing moose signs, and by the time I got to park I don’t think I had seen another car in twenty minutes. That always makes me a smidge hesitant. Lately I have had a lot of concerned citizens tell me I should be loaded up on mace, heavily armed, and walking a large dog wherever I go. Bears! Moose! Serial killers! Oh my! But I probably should take heed. Central Maine is the Bermuda Triangle of weird disappearances and murder mysteries. I always felt this was because, as comedian Bob Marley put it, “There’s four cops in Maine and they’re all busy following the one black guy that lives there.” Dark humor cuts deep. Also it’s rutting season which means there are horny roving bucks who can be quite dangerous… SIGH.
The drive to the park was drop dead gorgeous. Just imagine being surrounded on all sides by coral colored trees fluttering in the breeze as your car zooms at light speed through them. (The speed of light is the general consensus of locals on how fast cars should go on their roads… Speed limit signs aren’t even symbolic anymore. They’re more like a snarky backhanded “joke” about your inadequacies.) The park was however… rather dull!
It was pretty abandoned. There was an entrance booth asking me for $6 but no one to take it. Instead an honor box optimistically read, “Put money here.” There wasn’t a soul in sight. I drove in and it’s basically one road that ends in a loop and has a couple other tiny roads jutting off that lead to a beach and a boat launching port. The entirety of the loop was set up for camping – spaces for RV’s, tents, and at this time of year – creepy wide open spaces labelled by number.
This place would be AWSOME if it happened to be in the dead of summer and I had a carload of children I wanted to dump in the woods somewhere so I could force them to socialize with other Lord of the Flies styled foundlings. This had everything for that – camp sites, picnic tables galore, well beaten paths with no parking directly adjoining the camping spots, a beach, two outhouses, even a drinking fountain! Granted by now it was filled with leaves and the beach and camp sites were so empty that all you could hear was an apocalyptic wind blow by. But I was here and going to make the best of it.
I parked my car at the boat launching dock, as one does in a Prius to confuse people, and hopped out of the car with my camera. A middle aged guy on a motorcycle drove up, claimed one of the docking ports, and spent an awfully lot of time avoiding eye contact with me as I strode by. HI. I’m Typhani. I have bright orange hair, a purple plaid shirt, and sometimes I bite. Usually only on Fridays though so don’t worry. So went the imaginary conversation in my head.
I took a few photos of the mountains beyond the boat docks before heading into the woods where I found a trail leading to the beach. Goodie! This was a well worn path. So many tiny traipsing feet had gone by here that the path was more of a gaping maw in the ground where tree roots clung to a tenuous existence above ground.
I must admit the beach was pretty cool as far as beaches go. It had picnic tables, grassy spots, BBQ pits, stairs leading to the water, a rocky and shallow slate lined lake bottom, and a very nice view. I took a few snaps and splashed a little bit before heading back. This time I went against the signs and took some path that led me by all these cozy little camp slots for VIP introverts. I found a little cragged cliff near the shoreline and decided to scramble down it and play for a bit. This was more fun than the beach! I took delightful whimsy photos of my soaking wet shoes (whoops, one missed step…) and marbles. I made this place look fantastic. Oh the joy of having an artistic eye. My walk back to the car was fairly uneventful except I managed to annoy a gaggle of Canadian geese and some song birds. I think all suffered PTSD from having so many kids harassing them during the summer. Never have I seen a titmouse dive bomb into the woods with a massive crash whenever they see a person. “OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THEY’RE BACK!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!” The geese were almost as dramatic as they stampeded through the parking lot trying to get to the water and away from me. And by this time another lookee-loo was driving around, this time watching me. I get watched a lot. Is it the hair? It must be the hair. Anyway that was my visit to Rangeley Lake State Park. Was it worth the two hour drive there? Well, for an anti-social single woman like myself probably not but I know where I will be sending people who have kids!