Outdoors

(Unofficial) guidance for our president

Posted July 14, 2010, at 7:20 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:26 p.m.

Dear Mr. President,

Welcome to Maine! Glad to have you here! Have a great stay!

I know, I know. You’ve got plenty of people telling you what you ought to see while you’re here, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll head far afield during your way-too-short stay.

But as a genuine, died-in-the-wool-pants Mainer, I’m here to help if you need any tips.

Consider me your own personal Maine Guide.

Oops. Let me rephrase that: I’m not officially a Guide, which is a big deal in these parts. I don’t have a Guide’s license. I can’t take money to show you around our great state. But a Mainer I am. And I’m happy to offer a bit of guidance.

A few things you might want to know about our state right off the bat: Our hot dogs are red. At least the good ones are. Don’t be afraid. They’re yummy. Also, don’t say “Ayuh.” You’ll sound like Tom Bosley on “Murder, She Wrote,” and we Mainers won’t think it’s funny. And one more thing: The green stuff you find inside lobsters is poisonous. (OK. Just kidding about the green stuff … you guys “from away” always fall for that one).

Now, let’s talk about wildlife.

Having lived in Bar Harbor during one crazy college summer, I can assure you that there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen.

Just walk down Main Street at about 11 p.m. and you’ll get your fill.

Fortunately, there also are a lot of cool animals on and around Mount Desert Island. You might see seals. You could watch whales. There are plenty of deer and eagles. We’ve got peregrine falcons. Borrow some binoculars from your favorite Secret Service agent, and you’re sure to see some really cool stuff.

If you want to see the other elements of our great state, however, you’ve got to find a way to sneak inland for a bit.

Personally, I find the old “Hey, look! It’s Elvis!” trick works well as a pre-sneak diversion. Of course, I’ve never been encumbered by around-the-clock security.

Inland, you’re bound to find all kinds of really great things to do.

Heck, you might even see a moose or four.

Ah, moose. Big, burly critters. I guarantee you never saw anything like ’em in Chicago … well, maybe you did, when the Bears were in town. They’ve got a few burly critters on their roster, too.

But come ashore for an afternoon, and we could find a few moose to ogle. In case you don’t know, in these parts, moose-ogling is a major industry. Just ask a Maine Guide. (Which, again, I’m not).

People pay good money to moose-ogle. They travel for hundreds of miles to moose-ogle. And we industrious Mainers charge these avid oglers cash money for the privilege of ogling our ugly … whoops … beautiful moose.

Come inland with your family, and we might even be able to talk to the moose. I’m not exactly fluent in moose, but I do know a few words, and I’d be happy to teach them to your wife and daughters. (In the interest of full disclosure, the words I’ve been able to master thus far are, “Hey, Big Horns! I’m not a moose!”)

Even so, it gets their attention, and sometimes they even answer back: “No joke, chubby! What do you think we are? Stupid?”

One of our state’s most famous exports was Muskie. Ed Muskie. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

Great politician. Ran for president. Cried in public. Lost election.

Well, Mr. Muskie isn’t with us any more, but we’ve still got muskies, and I’d be happy to show them to you.

We’ll head up to Fort Kent (do you have access to a helicopter we could use? Route 11’s a bit hairy, especially when the moose start tap-dancing in the road). They’ve got muskies coming out of their ears up there.

Big fish, muskies. Ugly. Lots of teeth. Mean-spirited … not that you haven’t dealt with a few big, ugly, mean-spirited politicians in your day.

We also have plenty of bears. Not the Chicago Bears. Black Bears. I know a biologist who could find a few for us to ogle. (Ogling bears is less of an industry in these parts, mainly because bears are shy, and don’t cotton much to city folk).

The biologist named a bear after me a few weeks ago, and I’m sure he’d be willing to name one after you. Or, if you prefer, maybe he’d name it Limbaugh … or Hannity … your pick.

And I know you’re a big basketball fan. In fact, I saw you practice with the University of North Carolina squad. I saw you beat up Clark Kellogg in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Nice lefty jumper. Even in a dress shirt. Impressive.

Still, I’ve got a challenge for you.

No, I’m not foolish enough to think I could beat you … I’ve found that I have a hard time making jumpers when I’m surrounded by armed agents in suits and sunglasses.

But I bet Cindy Blodgett could take you.

Never heard of Cindy?

Well, she’s a black bear. Not the kind you find in the woods (although, come to think of it, she probably ought to get a bear named after her, too).

No, she’s the women’s hoops coach at the University of Maine. Those Black Bears. When she played, she was the best the state ever saw. Scored 3,000 points in college. Played in the WNBA.

Even today, I figure she’s the best basketball player on the UMaine team … and she’s the coach.

Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t let coaches suit up and play … but I bet she’d be willing to take you on, if she’s not on the road, recruiting.

One game. H-O-R-S-E. Or M-O-O-S-E, if you prefer.

You’ve beaten bigger. You’ve beaten more famous. But trust me: They weren’t Cindy Blodgett.

I’ll even place a bet on it: You win, we’ll let you say “Ayuh” once. Just once. (I’m not guaranteeing that we won’t laugh, however).

Cindy wins, and you buy the red hot dogs.

Sincerely, your unofficial source of Maine guidance (not to be confused with a real Maine Guide),

John

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