Maine is the “greatest state”, or at least the “greatest state left” and I absolutely love it. Don’t get me wrong, there are other great places out there. I’ve had the pleasure of living in exotic places such as NYC, Texas, California, Florida, Tennessee and others; each have some great malls and lots of really neat cement things. I've also traveled the world from Iceland to Chile to Turkey and many places in between during my military service. In all of that time I found only three places I could consider living other than Maine- Stavanger, Norway, Mar del Plata, Argentina and Yuma, Arizona. I only list Yuma last because it smells like cabbage all summer. Apparently, cabbage smells the same whether it is growing in a field or cooking on a stove. Mmmm. Pass the…what goes with cabbage? ...Nose plugs.
Maine really is the greatest state. Most of the people residing here have a good idea of “what they are missing” by not being part of the grand scheme of things in Massachusetts, New York etc. Sure, the job market isn’t the most expansive. Most of us are aware that we could be doing what we are doing in Maine somewhere else, for more money, more opportunity for advancement and less of a commute. Minah. There is a reason that Mainers stay, or at least nearly always come back after leaving to explore the rest of the world. The Maine Outdoors.
What else is really worth the sacrifices we make? Yes, Maine has very low crime rates, a microscopic pupil-to-teacher ratio for our children and Stephen King…but doesn’t every state? No? Surely, all of the other states have thousands of lakes and ponds, vast tracts of pretty much ”non-Jerseyfied” wilderness areas, fresh clean air and cool accents-don’t they? Hmmm. Bummer. I don’t have hard figures, but I’d be willing to wager the lobster roll I ate for lunch that the proportion of Maine citizenry passionately involved with outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, etc is greater than it is in any other state.
Now…before anyone has to bother to shoot me an email explaining that “tourism is the lifeblood of Maine’s economy” and/or that “you would have NOTHING if I didn’t come up there and spend my money” let me explain that you are probably correct…most of the time. We are aware of this fact, and like I mentioned above, are used to taking the good with the bad. You know, we’d rather take the good with the good, so to speak. We’d rather enjoy your stay as much as you do. We love this place and actually love to see “people from away” come here and enjoy themselves. With that in mind, here are a few tips that you can use to ensure that your stay in Maine is as pleasant as possible.
1. Come for at least a week or at least come twice! Maine’s weather is notoriously uncooperative. We’ve learned to adapt. You’ve seen us out there in the cold wearing shorts and tee-shirts. If your stay is lengthy, you’ll probably have at least a day or two of the wonderfully sweet weather we are known for. If you can’t stay long or come twice, try to be prepared for any eventuality. Rain suit, warm weather clothes, etc are par for the course. You may find yourself needing it all before your stay is over. The last thing you want to do when you come up north is find yourself stuck in some moldy cabin for the week. They are dark, cold and boring…that is why we aren’t living in them.
2. Meet the locals; it is ok to talk to them, but treat them with respect. Growing up on a lake in Maine, I had several friends from out of state. They would generally show up after school let out for the summer and stay until Labor Day. Some of them were great. I consider one of them to by one of my very best friends. Mainers love to meet new people, we are probably sick of the old ones we just spent the winter with anyway. One caveat: If you are going to bother speaking to us at all, speak to us as equals. Nothing will turn a Mainer off quicker than some person from New York giving us the "I’m cultured, you’re not" attitude. We know that you aren’t as cultured as you think, and we know you know we know. So stop it. We get the same news, movies and books as you do. We have Cadillac retailers and L.L. Bean (obviously). One thing to remember is: please, by all means, please- DO NOT use a Maine accent when you talk to us. I always find this hilarious and insulting at the same time. It is like someone talking louder and slower to a deaf person. It doesn’t work and it makes you look pretty stupid. This is the main reason people are told “you kahnt git theyah from heayah”.
3. Do what we do! We live here and have a pretty good angle on things to do and places to see. There are a few places we won’t frequent at certain times of the year. We’ve decided to leave Acadia National Park to you for the summer. Have you ever seen it in April? It is great. Same with Baxter State Park. You may have climbed Katahdin in July and lost half of your blood to biting insects. Try it in October instead! The air is cool and crisp, the flies are at a minimum and the moose are on the loose! Please see #1 before packing, however. In most cases, we’d really love to show someone who we think deserves it some of our “special places”. DESERVES IT? See #4.
4. Treat the/our Environment with the Utmost Respect: If there is one thing that you need to treat more tenderly than the locals it is the Outdoors. Notice I capitalized it. I believe that the biggest issue people from Maine have with “out-of-staters” is the less-than-respectful way in which some seem to treat our most precious resource. Since you recognize it as our lifeblood, please treat it that way. Of course, I recognize and understand that there are a great many people that come from Maine who don’t adhere to this ultimately important rule. It makes one ill. These folks are generally the ones who you ARE more cultured than. They are everywhere, however, and aren’t limited to Maine. Any TRUE Mainer has developed a huge respect for the environment because they’ve spent so much time in it that they can’t help but see the beauty of it and the importance of preserving it. You can help. Ever been to New York's Museum of Natural History? Of course you have, you are cultured. I seriously doubt that you threw your lunch trash into the “Burgess Shale” exhibit. Ever check out Sea World? Ayuh, you have, but I’d wager you didn’t throw your cigarette butt into Shamu’s tank when you were done with it, did you? Of course you didn’t, that would be asinine and quite below someone of your standing in society.
The Maine Outdoors and every aspect of it are just as unique and valuable as exhibits in the finest galleries and museums in your home state that you never visit. There is only one Mona Lisa just as there is only one Katahdin. Please feel free to visit, we want to share Maine with you, but as they say “leave only footprints and take away only memories”.