June 21, 2018
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Time for the summer bucket list

By Emmet Meara, Special to the News

It’s summertime (almost) and the living is easy … for at least eight weeks in Maine.

Here in the North Woods, we have to make the most of our precious, brief and bug-ridden summer. Some of us are more than willing to fritter away the season on the deck, reading the pile of grisly murder novels. It is time for the summer bucket list.

I have lost too many friends this year, so I must get serious. I have very few friends left, so I must plan most trips alone. Luckily, I am entertained by my own company, a rarity in the midcoast area.

At Cobb Manor, it always is a good idea to start slow. I believe the shakedown cruise will be to unravel the mighty tent and set it up in the backyard. It forces you to gather up all the equipment in one place at one time. Don’t laugh. With weather and the traditional ennui, that can take weeks. I plan on a Father’s Day sleepover in the Four Seasons campground in the Naples area. I believe the fabulous grandchildren will be in residence.

Last year’s list was to explore at least one new state park every week. That started (and ended) with the fabulous Cobscook State Park in Edmunds Township. Naturally a return trip to familiar territories is required.

In consulting the experts, I have been advised to shift my focus inland this year to Dover-Foxcroft and Peaks-Kenny State Park with kayaking on Sebec Lake.

I shall do it. We must expand our horizons.

I don’t know why, but I have fallen in love with the Machias area. It’s not just the strawberry pie at Helen’s Restaurant. It is the 80.6-mile Sunrise Bike Trail that heads north and south from Helen’s. We have nibbled at the northern section of the trail, even though it is a three-hour drive from Cobb Manor. But it is a great, smooth trail with no danger from out-of-state drivers.

This year the bucket list goal is the entire trail. Yes, the entire trail. The plan is to get a motel room as close to Helen’s as humanly possible. On the first morning the plan will be to head north and pedal as far as possible. Remember, I am 70 now, so I can stop anytime I want. The impetus to return to Machias and the motel will be a slab of apple pie at you-know-where.

The next morning (if I can still walk) I will head south and go just as far as I can. Slow and easy, lots of Poland Spring water. (I believe it has rejuvenative properties.)

Hmmm. If it is 80.6 miles, maybe I should plan for three days.

I must put that kayak in the water as much as possible this year. First, I must invade Lake Megunticook, located just a mile away. I blush to admit it, but I never have successfully navigated the lake all the way from the Route 105 landing to the Lincolnville shore. The excuses are varied. Too much wind. Too much fog. Storm clouds approaching. Summer ice. Too little energy. Many years I could not even find the connecting bridge.

This is the year. I will make Lincolnville or bust. I may cheat and have Blue Eyes leave her car in Lincolnville, so no return trip is necessary. This is the year, or Lake Warden Kenny Bailey will never let me hear the end of it.

Our “home river” is the (almost) mighty St. Croix, so a visit to Vanceboro is a must this summer. The trips are getting shorter and shorter, so a paddle to (appropriately named) Loafer’s Lodge is a summer must. This cabin features a wall photo of Ted Williams fishing with the late BDN sports editor Bud Leavitt. That alone is worth the paddle.

I would like to figure out a two- or three-day kayak trip on a pleasant river with nightly stops in motels that offer ESPN so I can watch Tony Kornheiser. That might take some huddling with my outdoor experts.

Forget hiking. I am much too fat. Forget fishing. I never had any idea what to do with them once I caught them. It seems that the hook was always in the fish’s eye. Now, I leave them alone.

Planning the summer bucket list is the easy part. Loading the mighty Tundra and actually hitting the road is something else. But I do know one thing.

I will at least pitch the tent in the backyard.

I promise.


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