Personal Journeys


September 19, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Maine, where quiet is a fact of life

By Jill Raymond

ven getting away from it all has become something to get away from.

So relentlessly overdeveloped is the mid-Atlantic coast that many "escape" destinations are either overrun (more human wildlife than the natural kind), overpriced or booked up a year in advance.

So I headed to Maine. You can get there from Maryland in a lengthy but pleasant day's drive up the back side of Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut, missing the most frenetic segments of I-95.

I cruised through the Delaware Water Gap on riverbank highways, then made up lost time on interstates from Port Jervis, N.Y., to just beyond Portland, Maine, where I slipped onto U.S. 1 and followed the ocean.

After sampling Maine coastal culture out the window of my car for a couple of hours, I came to a stop at the entrance to Alamoosook Lodge on Alamoosook Lake near the town of Orland.

This remote six-room inn feels like the kind of place my sisters and I lobbied our parents to acquire when they let it be known they were considering all kinds of new beginnings. They never bought our story that we would happily change guestroom sheets and scrub toilets after school, and my dad ended up staying in the engineering field.

Now, decades later, I could sit by the fire in the lodge, with coffee and quietude, gazing cozily out at the lake where the sun hits the water. Nothing need disrupt the illusion that I had the natural world all to myself -- without the bugs and the backpacks. And someone else could change the sheets.

I glimpsed several eagles soaring over the lodge, on patrol over one of nature's pristine outposts. At night, loons lifted their ghostly cries across the water.

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are about 40 minutes away. The ocean is there, Cadillac Mountain (the first place in the country to see the sunrise every day) is there, and so are all the cappuccino, lobster rolls and tourist kitsch one could possibly need.

For those of us who live in the East Coast megalopolis, the really precious aspect of Maine's inland country is that it is nowhere.

Make no mistake, most of this region is a workaday world. Human habitation co-exists with the elements without, for the most part, remarking upon it. People cope with the ice and the snow and the layoffs at the mill. They go about their business alongside the loons and the eagles, the trout and the bass, the occasional moose or bear.

Breathing the fragrance of the balsam fir, local residents take the quiet for granted up here. Imagine -- taking quiet for granted!

Jill Raymond lives in Silver Spring.

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Veronica Schellenschlager, Pasadena

Our long-awaited trip to Salzburg was worth the wait. Salzburg has attractive scenery and romantic stories and was the setting for a great movie, The Sound of Music. You can just picture the character of Maria dancing in the square. The fortress atop the mountain, built in 1077, overlooks the city and is called Hohensalzburg Fortress. It is said to be the largest fully preserved fortress in Central Europe.

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