March 2014 Newsletter
Greetings from the Harraseeket Inn! With warm weather on the horizon, thoughts turn toward planning our summer vacations. For many lucky kids, the end of the school year means attending a summer camp in Maine that fills their days with outdoor adventure and comraderie. The coast of Maine is a destination for many vacationing families, an iconic and beloved collage of picturesque villages, spruce clad rocky coastlines and snug harbors sheltering lobster boats. The beauty of Maine's rugged mountains and crystal clear lakes draw others inland. Many seek lodging in hotels or bed and breakfasts, or inns like the Harraseeket. Others choose a more rustic venue of tenting out or staying at a rental cottages or camps.
In my family, "camp" was a log cabin in the Maine woods, tucked among tall pines at the edge of a remote pond. My father built that cabin when he returned from Korea. He filled his pack basket with provisions, took his ax and draw shave and hiked along that lonesome stretch of Canadian Pacific railroad track stretching between Jackman and Megantic, then cut into the woods and walked until he reached the pond, a journey of about fifteen miles. He came out only once during that time, when he cut his leg with the draw shave and had to hike back into Jackman to get stitched up. The time he spent in the woods building that log cabin, with just the whiskey jacks (gray jays) for company, was a healing time for him when he came back home from the war.
My earliest memories are of that camp in the Maine woods, whether tramping at my father's heels, packed amongst the gear in the canvas canoe or riding in the pack basket on his back when my legs got too tired. To this day, the smell of Old Woodsman fly dope brings all those memories back; the excitement of going to camp! Camp was the deep dark woods where the wild things were. Camp was fishing morning and evening while my father smoked his pipe in the stern of the canoe to keep the mosquitoes and black flies at bay. Camp was the smell of warm pond water, the haunting cry of a loon at dusk, the splash of a moose feeding in the cove. Camp was the glow of an oil lamp through the windows as dusk thickened, the whir of backing being stripped off the reel, a brook trout rising to the fly. Camp was the claw marks of a big bear on the weathered logs, the smell of bacon frying and coffee boiling in the morning, wood smoke curling from the chimney and laying out over the pond while thunder rumbled in the distance. Many years later, camp was my father waking me at two am on a February morning, twenty below zero, to walk out into the moonlight, past a team of sled dogs curled on nests of fragrant fir boughs, to stand at the edge of the frozen pond and listen to a great horned owl.
Maine is a state of mind, a place far from industrial development and cities that makes us realize we're a part of nature, not separate from it. Maine's rugged coastline and its mountains, lakes and forests have been a haven and refuge for world weary travelers for the past two hundred years. People visit Maine for many reasons, and one such visitor back in the late 1800's came to Island Falls, Maine to fish, hunt and climb Katahdin. Weak and asthmatic, Theodore Roosevelt, then a junior at Harvard, was known as "the four eyed dude from New York", but what he lacked in strength and outdoor skills he more than made up for in resolve. The friendship he forged with Bill Sewall, his Maine guide and mentor, lasted a lifetime and helped hone Roosevelt's love of the great outdoors. Andrew Vietze, a Baxter Park ranger, recently researched and wrote a book about this unique friendship: "Becoming Teddy Roosevelt--How a Maine Guide Inspired American's 26th President". Published by Down East Books, it was awarded a silver medal by the Independent Publisher soon after its release and the 124th Maine Legislature decreed that the work was "symbolic of the spirit and unique character of Maine."When Roosevelt later became president, he signed legislation establishing five national parks and four national monuments, recognizing the need to preserve these special places for all Americans to enjoy. It could be said that, in part, these parks owe their existence to Roosevelt's early experiences in the Maine woods.
Maine's natural beauty has inspired presidents, poets, philosophers, novelists and environmentalists. Small wonder that people from all over the world are drawn here to admire its iconic landscapes. We protect what we love, and that's why it's important to get kids outdoors and reconnect them with nature. Maine's future depends on their stewardship. LLBean has the best Outdoor Discovery Schools on this planet, and some great summer kids day camps as well. If you want to spend a week or just a few days here in Freeport, there's an outdoor adventure just waiting for you and your kids to enjoy. This is a great way to learn new skills, start new family traditions and make great memories that will last a lifetime.
Special Offers and Upcoming Events:
Mothers Day at the Harraseeket Inn; Sunday May 11: We're preparing a sumptuous Mother's Day Grand Buffet for this very special occasion. Make reservations early and give your mother the pampering she deserves. 1-800-342-6423
LLBean Clinics and Events: Everything from blueberry tasting to roadside bicycle repair!
Freeport USA calendar: Shop, play, dine and explore! See what's happening and plan your getaway!
Last month's trivia question: What is the name and location of the Maine lighthouse where a proposed film project involving the legend of Abby Burgess may have run aground over a blaring fog horn and Coast Guard regulations? Answer: Moose Point Light, Jonesport, Maine. Some good news on that film project, the Coast Guard has agreed to a "fog horn" compromise that will allow the filming to continue. This month's trivia question is a difficult one and has to do with our 26th president. What is the name of the place where young Theodore Roosevelt stayed while he was in Island Falls? All correct answers win a voucher worth $5. toward food or lodging on your next visit, and from all the correct answers a grand prize winner will be drawn who will win dinner for two in the Broad Arrow Tavern or Maine Harvest Dining Room. You may redeem up to one years worth of vouchers at one time, $60. value. One voucher per household, please. Trivia questions must be answered before the next month's newsletter is sent out, which could be fairly soon since this month's newsletter is so late!
Good luck, happy Earth Day, and we hope to see you soon!
The Gray family