AROOSTOOK COUNTY: THE VACATION OF A LIFETIME!

Hi everybody!  Sorry I haven’t written anything in eight years!  I guess I just don’t give a shit!  Nah, that isn’t true, please like me. 

I done took me a little vacation last week, and it was great.  Completely by accident I picked the perfect week to take off weatherwise.  Every day was super nice out.  In the weeks leading up to this little mini-vacay, we had off and on tried to come up with somewhere interesting to travel to.  Somewhere nearby, but not too nearby, that we hadn’t been to, yet wasn’t too unfamiliar.  Those are difficult criteria to assign an ideal destination to, and needless to say we still had no idea where we were going two days before my vacation was to start.  Finally we decided rather randomly to try driving to Pennsylvania.  To my knowledge I’ve never been there (although the fact that I couldn’t remember if I’d ever been there or not frankly didn’t make the state seem like a promising contender for a luxuriant getaway), and we understood there to be Amish people there, and wouldn’t that be interesting?  On top of that excitement, there’s a pretty tasty/intriguing restaurant detailed in my beloved “Roadfood” book called Dutch Kitchen which looked like a promising place to stop and eat some weird beet salads amongst mustacheless bearded strangers.  Reasonably excited about our decision, we declared that to be the plan, took some Advil PM, and resolved to depart the next morning as early as possible. 

Well, you can thank this woman for the fact that you will be seeing zero pictures of Amish people in this blog:

fucking suze

For the lucky few who may not know, this is Suze Orman.  It’s pronounced “Susie”, but I like to call her “Sooze”.  She just feels more like a Sooze.  Anyway, I hate Sooze.  But not for any terribly intelligent reason.  In fact, she gives what is from what I can tell very sensible financial advice on her CNBC program, in which people call in to try to get her permission to buy fun things, and are immediately and sassily shot down.  “You are denied, girlfriend!” Sooze will tell you when you inform her that you would like to buy a paddleboat to use at your camp to have fun with your children.  And Sooze will be correct in telling you this, because you are awash in credit card debt and have failed to save any money for your retirement.  Putting aside her psychotic demeanor, she is promoting common sense, an invaluable trait infrequently championed.  But if there are two types of people I hate (in both cases because I invariably surrender to them), it’s people who tell you what to do and people who tell it like it is.  I want to do what I want, and lie about it thereafter.  Sooze will have none of that, girlfriend.  Keep your money in your 401k until you’re in your sixties; otherwise the government is going to take almost half of it.  Girlfriend. 

Even recounting it is killing me, but Sooze haunted my dreams the night before we were to embark.  “Why spend money you don’t have on a vacation you’re not all that jazzed about?”  “You’re going to fund this entirely on your credit card, aren’t you?  Well, fine, then I assume you’re going to pay it all back immediately after you get back?  WHAT?!  You are denied, boyfriend!  DENIED!” 

The alarm clock went off, and after some bleary-eyed lying around I tentatively and reluctantly voiced my Sooze-inspired concerns to my groggy wife.  I was pleased and relieved to find that she felt much the same way, though whether or not her new opinion was the result of a hypnagogic Suze Orman remains unclear.  Anyway, in shockingly short order, we both came to the conclusion that instead of going to Pennsylvania and murmuring unkind things about the hardworking Mennonites under our breath, we would instead drive to Aroostook County.  The fact that we would likely find nothing of striking interest was not an issue.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, we had never been there, the car was full of gas, the CD book was full of classic rock, and I had an unspoken-for week stretching long and lean out in front of me like the open arms of a long lost buddy.  We would drive to Fort Kent, languidly regard the barren potato fields that no doubt awaited us there, and drive back. 

As I am occasionally wont to do on road trips to pass the time and record fleeting minutiae for prosperity, I decided to take a pen and notebook along to record items and events of ostensible interest/amusement, while Annie drove and made comments throughout.  I usually try to be funny in the course of this activity, but my wife was in rare form and stole my thunder throughout, God love her.  Anyway, here are some notes and pictures of our journey to a notoriously featureless region of Maine.  In a nutshell, more words and fewer pictures than you would probably like.  Enjoy, poopfarts!

ALL TIMES APPROXIMATE.

5:41: Embark.  Add coolant to car.  Car leaks coolant.  Hear what I think is owl in background.  Pleasantly drizzly.

5:42: Run red light.  Impersonation of police siren not appreciated, per usual.

5:43: “Do not put that I ran a red light!”

5:46: Enter Bradley, a town I like for no particular reason.  Surprising amt of general activity/traffic.  Could easily be 2 PM right now.  Annie expresses interest in hearing “L.A. Confidential” soundtrack.  Locate CD and put in player.

5:48: Tracphone taking inordinately long time to accept minutes I’m trying to add.  Need to spring into 2001 and get cellphone.

5:52: Beginning trip listening to “Accentuate the Positive” by Dean Martin.  Can’t help but be a good omen.  Or a cruelly ironic joke.

5:57: Going east on route nine.  Means absolutely nothing to me but figure I should record the information.  Still raining half-assedly.  Seem to be a lot of Quonset huts in this neck of the woods.  Eddington.  Dog shitting on lawn.

6:02: There seem to be a lot of different genuses of trees in Eddington.  Much more than the usual pines/spruces. Annie asks what I’m laughing at, reply “nothing, just being dumb”; do not want to tell her I’m laughing at the word “genuses”.  Sign advertising “breakfast buffet” stationed in front of what would appear to the untrained eye to be a toolshed.  Huh.

6:05: Extremely pleasant residential area of Eddington.  Happy with trip already.  Happiness comes to abrupt halt upon entering town of Clinton.  Now hate trip. 

6:08: Woman on cellphone wearing camouflage repairing mailbox.

6:09: One of those light-up arrow signs in front of vibrantly blue home reads “Beware of Dogs” and lists a phone number under this message.  Should’ve written it down.  “So, I understand you have some pretty scary dogs?”

6:14: Not sure what town we’re in now but it smells like perm.  Ah, it’s Amherst.  Amherst smells like perm.  Lotsa trees n’ trucks.  Must be perm trucks.  Have not seen one home yet in this town.

6:19: Signs of life.  Homes are ramshackle, not quaintly so.  Amherst General Store sign: “ATM, Breakfast, Lunch, Lotto, Dinner”.  People like to tailgate in Amherst. 

6:22: Enter Aurora.  Change CD to “Queen’s Greatest Hits Vol II”.  May have just passed a restaurant called “Wakka’s”.  So that’s where he ended up after helping to defeat Jecht. 

6:28: Unfamiliar late-period Queen songs good accompaniment for nondescript woodland area.  Guitarist in Queen better than I’d realized.  Flawless Fred M. vocals tend to overshadow the other dudes.  “Under Pressure” now comes on.  Never a bad thing to hear.  Excited for the “give ourselves one more chance” part.

6:31: Enter Osborn Plantation.

6:31: Enter Twp 22 and then Twp 28 seconds thereafter.  They better stop pulling this shit, I can’t write that fast.

6:33: This is gonna be a funny trip.

6:34: Somehow we’re back in Twp 22.  The fuck?

6:35: Man, I don’t think I can adequately express my fondness for “Radio Ga Ga”.

6:36 Seriously, I don’t want it to ever end.  Pass horrifically eviscerated porcupine corpse.

6:37: Mutual satisfaction of destination selection expressed.  “Radio goo-goo” makes me chuckle every time he sings it.  Wah: it ended.  “I Want It All” now playing.  Fondly recall a time when this song did not make us think of trucks.  Enter Beddington and with it Washington County. 

6:40: Car clearly not psyched about the hilly terrain.  Car deserves it for the constant problems it has given us ever since we purchased it.  Would hire elephant to do car up ass if I could.  Enter Twp 29.  People do not live here.

6:42: Other people are getting up to go to work while we’re in Twp 29.  Suckers!

6:45: Motorists comfortable passing us over double line.  Annie: “I hate it when people feel the need to double-break the law when I’m not breaking the law fast enough”.  Enter Twp 30.

6:47: Twp 24!  Annie: “These trees are like abstract trucker porn!” (?!?)

6:50: Back in Twp 30 again!  Did they forget they already made this “town”?  Belies distinct lack of savvy in zoning dept.

6:53: Enter Twp 31.  Consecutiveness appreciated.  Bears striking resemblance to Twp 30.  All very Maine-looking.  Trees up the ying-yang. 

6:58: Annie: “This song makes me want to angrily jog in place!” (“Breakthru”)

7:00: “Cloud 9” motel in no way reminiscent of its imagined namesake.  Enter Wesley.  Hyuk yuk.  

7:02: The Wesley “mini-mall” aptly described by wife as “dilapidated crackhouse”.  It really is that bad, I assure you; worse than you’re imagining.

7:04: Kind of a lot of stuff in Wesley.  A big blueberry establishment.  Houses.  Some green dome thing.  Weird towers.  Big pile of rocks.

7:07: Enter Twp-26.  Back to trees.

7:08: Enter Crawford.  Still trees.

7:15: Crawford is huge.  Sign reads “Ducks beware” in front of house.

7:21: Signs seem to indicate we’re in Alexander though no town line sign was noticed.  See two instances of trucks perched atop posts to serve as a sign for a mechanic business.  A “City Cab” passes us.  Seems unlikely.  Informed by wife, apropos of seemingly nothing, that one can pop a lot of trouble with the popomatic bubble.  

7:24: Entering Baileyville, which sign declares is “Village of Woodland”.  Not seeing how that distinguishes it from neighboring towns.  Pass “Nook & Cranny Restaurant”.  Suppose “Animal Crossing” theme too much to hope for.

7:28: Hitchhiker!  Sorry, dude.

7:29: Getting on route one now.  Orkin truck in our way and making left turn unreasonably difficult.  Pass “Holy Moses Heavy Equipment”.  Forgot that fine exclamation existed.  Someone has a “Kerry/Edwards” sign still hanging on their barn.  Word travels slowly out here.

7:32: Woodland Shopping Center pretty depressing but does have a video store called “Video 2000”.  Sounds like my kind of place.  Apparently we’re in Woodland then.  A green metal Quonset hut is evidently an establishment called “Stitch-It with Peggy”.  

7:38: Entering Princeton.  Queen CD over.  Follow late Queen with early Billy Joel but skip “Piano Man” due to no one wanting to hear it.  Too early for harmonica.  Always too early for harmonica.

7:43: Have never actually heard “Captain Jack”.  Did not realize it was about whacking off and picking nose.  No wonder he got Christie Brinkley to go out with him.

7:45: Very weird series of brick homes passed.  “White Keep” spraypainted on deserted trailer.  Odd cozy threat prevalent.  Homes are all perfectly rectangular, even the brick ones.  Pass “Telephone Road”.

7:50: Video game noises in “The Entertainer” hurting brain.  Surprising how many BJ songs I’m unfamilar with.  Associate him primarily with “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.  Probably wasn’t ideal introduction.

7:53: Entering Waite.  Celebrate this by chewing strawberry Bubblicious.  Haven’t chewed bubble gum in awhile.  Jaw immediately fatigued.

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7:57: Enter Talmadge.  Likely would never have known about Talmadge were it not for this trip.  Fairly certain I would have carried on somehow.  Pass unbelievable pile of metallic junk in front of three hollow out school buses.

7:59: Enter Topsfield.  My dad taught school out here.  Pretty desolate.  Lots of siding issues.  Neatly stacked woodpiles though.  I’m guessing Dagget’s General Store is routinely referred to as “Faggot’s”.  Town not completely without charm.  Lots of horses, all of which look like they get a lot of attention groomingwise.  Have seen 2 four-wheelers w/antlers mounted on the front.

8:06: Road starting to look like something out of “Excitetruck”.

8:10: Enter Brookton.  Abnormally friendly graffiti on rock reads “Welcome to Brookton!”

8:12: Sunlight hitting Brookton favorably.  Really pretty.

8:14: Heart attack ack ack ack ack ack.

8:16: Brookton maybe a bit too reliant on forked branches to hold up sagging power lines.

8:17: Entering Danforth.  Dad taught here too.  He never had much good to say about it, though I think it was more the long drive than the town itself or the people in it.  Still I’m sure he would laugh in my face if he knew we drove here on vacation.

8:26: Billy Joel thankfully through singing to us.  Downtown Danforth fairly diverting, so much so that we take wrong turn.  Or did we?  Bewildering layout.  Route designation sketchy at best.  Realize with dismay that I have to piss and shit.

8:30: Atlas consulted since signs nonexistent.  Park by church sign that reads “You Are Already Blessed”; good to know.  Listening to “That Thing You Do!” soundtrack.  Blackflies swarming car all of a sudden.

8:33: Enter Aroostook County.

8:37: Stop briefly at “scenic turnout”.  Scenic = trees.

8:40: Appears we’re in Weston.  Find much better “scenic turnout” and take some dumb pictures.

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8:47: Back in car.  Fart somehow goes undetected by spouse despite smelling like low tide with hint of ham.

8:48: Enter Orient.  Nothing even vaguely Asian about it.  Encounter construction situation.  Flagger instructs us to slow down by performing the opposite of the “raise the roof” dance, otherwise known as the “verify the sturdiness of the flooring” dance.  He’s a natural.  In retrospect it’s hard to see why this means “decrease your speed”, and yet we knew exactly what he was trying to get across. 

9:02: Enter Cary.  Weather getting much nicer.  Farting starting to get problematic.  Weiner keen to expel urine.  Decision not to make water at scenic turn clearly wrongheaded. 

9:06: Enter Hodgdon.

9:09: WHOA!!!  SHOE TREE!!!

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Boy, this is long.  Part two to come!

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8 Responses to “AROOSTOOK COUNTY: THE VACATION OF A LIFETIME!”

  1. Is Suze wearing a shirt with faces of children on it, or does she store the screaming and tormented souls of the damned in her chest like Freddy Krueger? Because I honestly can’t tell there.

  2. So you didn’t really notice that you drove through a Mennonite area outside of Smyrna and Hodgeton, did you?
    You did!!!!!!!

  3. Hodgdon

  4. butthorn Says:

    Bill–Jesus, I didn’t even notice the shirt face…yeah, she’s Freddy all right. After they took this picture I bet anything she went home and ate pizza with tiny screaming faces on it. Man, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen “Nightmare on Elm Street IV”. Thanks for reminding me!

    Emily–Dammit! You’re coming with us next time! Lacking a qualified guide, Aroostook County is just baffling. And brown.

  5. Yeah, well, you will know next time. Be sure to check my pictures out from our trip (that we are taking up there in three weeks) to see some really heavily off the road, weird stuff (if the child permits).

    Uh, you at least saw the shoe tree and I am guessing “hubcap heaven” would have been hard to miss. Interested to see the rest of this. Why there is so much road (and so few towns relative to the distance) left!

  6. butthorn Says:

    Actually, I don’t recall a hubcap heaven. We were reeling from the shoe tree for a good hour or so after witnessing it, so things like Mennonites and hubcap meccas would have been easy to overlook.

    I was more excited about dictating pithy observations earlier on in the trip. On the ride home I wrote almost nothing, so time and distance aren’t useful factors in measuring remaining blog content in this case, I’m afraid.

  7. How could you not be intimately familiar with “Captain Jack”? He wrote plenty of fairly decent songs, but how many others this appropriately self-abusive? Regarding the Mennonites, how could you really tell? Last time I checked, the differences between Mennonites and other county folks was pretty subtle.

  8. butthorn Says:

    Somehow I really had gone through my entire life up to that point without ever having heard “Captain Jack”. I’m as powerless to explain as I’m sure you are to comprehend it. I recognized the title but I thought it was a Jimmy Buffet song. I suppose a widespread argument could be held to determine who that’s more insulting to.

    In closing, wiener blut.

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