January 24, 2018
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Encounter in Penobscot River cave

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

As you may have noticed (or heard about in the radio advertisements we’ve been running recently), the Bangor Daily News has unveiled a new outdoor page on its website, and we hope you, our readers, choose to share your experiences with us.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors here in Maine, after all. For some, “outdoors” means hunting or fishing. For others, it’s hiking or biking or wildlife-watching.

And if you’re seeing neat stuff, or having interesting adventures, we want to hear from you.

The new Web page is a celebration of the Maine outdoors that we all love. Sharing those experiences with others can help highlight just how special our state really is.

Case in point: a recent tale that reader Free Martin of Bangor passed along in an e-mail.

Martin is like many of us: He has spent his life here and loves getting out and enjoying the recreational opportunities that Maine provides.

On a recent family outing, he had an experience he’ll never forget — and I imagine you’ll get a kick out of it, too.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

“On July 4, my boys, Free and Tristan, were just dying to get over to the [Penobscot] Salmon Club in Brewer. We have been members there for a couple years now,” Martin wrote. “My girlfriend, Heidi, was champing at the bit, too, to go. So we loaded up all the goodies and a couple kayaks and decided we would just relax this Fourth of July in the Penobscot by swimming, kayaking and maybe getting a line wet for the mysterious striper … no luck.”

With the fish not cooperating and the sun beating down, Martin decided a little excursion might be in order.

“My mother stayed with the boys as Heidi tried out her new birthday present, a kayak I had bought for her,” Martin wrote. “We ended up exploring the shoreline, checking out beaver houses, muskrats and other people bathing in the sun.

“We toured the old waterworks. It’s such a fine facility, I am glad they were able to preserve it,” he wrote. “Then we paddled across the river again, by the Brewer side of the old dam. The tide was about halfway in. When we arrived at the other side, we saw a little cave that was attached to the old dam. It didn’t look like much, but with the heat in the 90s and ultraviolet rays permeating our skin, we thought we would check it out for a breather.”

That’s when the tale gets interesting.

“Both kayaks fit easily and we just sat there for a bit, with the bows pointed toward the river, and watched the waterfowl,” Martin wrote. “All of a sudden, I looked to my left and there was an object that wasn’t there in that little manmade cave before.”

Martin had company.

“For crying out loud, a beaver was in the cave with us!” Martin wrote. “He was sort of just checking us out, barely moving, until Heidi began making the type of sound you would hear someone [use to] call a cat. Lo and behold, the beaver started swimming toward us.

“She said, ‘Free, are we safe? Is he going to attack us?’ I said, ‘No. He is more afraid of us.’” Martin recounted. “He wasn’t apprehensive at all. He came all the way over to us until his side hit Heidi’s boat, then [he] gave a huge splash and went under. Then up he popped, close to us again.”

The beaver was a big critter — Martin says it may have weighed 50 or 60 pounds.

“He was what trappers refer to as a ‘blanket,’ or maybe even a ‘super-blanket,’” Martin wrote.

“It might have been the coolest thing I have seen in the mighty Penobscot. So although we don’t see many salmon any more, there are still a lot of good reasons to support your local salmon club. You never know what is around the next bend,” Martin wrote.

And in honor of Independence Day, Martin figured the big beaver deserved a fitting name.

He and Heidi decided to call him “Uncle Sam.”

Watch moose for free in Rangeley

There are plenty of reasons to head to the Rangeley area for some summer relaxation: Beautiful mountains. Fantastic lakes and rivers. The peaceful woods of western Maine.

Now, thanks to the folks at Saddleback ski resort, there’s another good reason to head west this summer: Free moose.

Well, that’s not exactly true. You can’t take the moose home with you. But Saddleback is offering free moose-watching tours twice a week this summer.

Visitors will head out on the Saddleback Shuttle on Mondays and Thursdays, and will ride in comfort along Route 16, also known as “Moose Alley.”

Photo opportunities abound, and Saddleback officials say recent visitors have seen an average of eight moose apiece during their 1½-hour tours.

Reservations are required, and the tour typically begins at about 7:15 p.m. Contact the Saddleback Guest Services Center at 864-5496 for more information.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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