Maine

Just returned from a week on the Maine Coast. Our last trip out there was a long, arduous trek to Acadia in a frighteningly overloaded Hyundai Accent; this time it was just Ra & me and way too much gear in the Elantra. All went well, we had a great time. The plan was to do less driving, look for things not so far as Acadia, and see what the state has to offer outside its premier National Park destination.

For water-loving types, it turns out Maine has a lot to offer. The beaches of York are narrow but provide plenty of rolling surf and soft sand for swimming and strolling. Ogunquit’s beach is wider, though it seemed to have a strong undertow while we were there. Of course, the water is colder than it is to the south: while we managed to swim on the one hot day there, it would be a tough place to endure on a cold day. But I’d take it over the overcrowded beaches of NJ any day, and our one stop in New Hampshire’s beaches convinced me that it’s too close to Boston to be less crowded than those beaches.

The shore, like all the east coast, is filled with tourist-oriented shops and inns, or the homes of wealthy folks who can afford the price tag and taxes. Expect to pay a lot to park – the meters clock in at about a dollar an hour – and spend an equally-inflated amount dining. It’s no worse than anywhere else near the ocean, and decidedly more beautiful, cheaper, and less synthesized, than the debacle along the Jersey shore; and considerably less crowded.

For climbers, the options are rather more limited once Acadia is ruled out. And the driving is still extensive. There’s bouldering galore, almost all of it semi-pristine, with few signs of previous passage. I saw a couple dabs of chalk while boulderingĀ near the Nubble Lighthouse, and a death-head’s rusty old bolt by the fort, but nothing else along the shore. We made a desperate drive to Camden and climbed there; this turns out to be worth stopping if you’re passing through, but as the local guidebook states, is not a destination.

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