“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a very uninteresting motion picture; so much so that it’s driving me to actually compose a new blog entry less than 2 weeks after my last one.  That’s some powerful filmmaking. So without further ado, here’s the second half of our Aroostook County trip.  There’s a few more pictures in this one, mostly of old store signs that I found intriguing.  The end of the journal really peters out, as we took a different route home, one that turned out to have even fewer sights of note.  Either that or I was just sick of observing and reporting.  Anyway, don’t rent “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”.

9:13:  On to “Dazed and Confused” soundtrack.  Still enjoying the shoe tree afterglow.  Vacation officially validated by shoe tree.

9:18: Enter Houlton: Where the Action Is.  Woman stumbling around driveway in a Raggedy Ann sweatshirt.  

9:20: Houlton the most civilized community we’ve encountered yet on this trip.  Nearly every house is for sale, though.  Thinking we’ll eat at Elm Tree Diner unless it looks too horrifying.  Hope toilet not too grotesque.

9:23: Find Elm Tree.  Looks fine.  Back in a few.


10:00: Done.  Food perfectly fine.  Each got breakfast specials: eggs, bacon, toast, home fries, coffee for $4.99.  Can’t beat that w/stick.  Got pumpkin cream cheese muffin instead of toast, proved wise decision.  Waitress difficult to read, friendlier at cash register than at table.  Bathroom very clean, however could not seem to poop.  In spite of this, a contraption called a “Niloder” sprayed something at me.  Could not help but take offense.  Certainly worth the $13, all in all.  

10:09: Get gas.  Fuel prices again approaching cornholing levels.  Annie: “I frigging love maps!”

10:10: Pass “Tourist Information Station”.  Annie’s impersonation of what that might entail: “We got a Sears, ya know!”

10:13: Enter Littleton.  Potato fields becoming apparent and copious.  One in back of cemetary.  Yum, dead body taters.  Now playing a game called “Count the Potato Fields”.  Up to six.  Vacation!

10:15: Pass sign: “Trav & Mel’s Wedding”.

10:17: Spouse inexplicably excited by seated bovines.  “I never get to see cows sit!”

10:18: Mutual decision reached to don sunglasses.  Should write story with protagonist named “Don Sunglasses”.  Wocka x 3.

10:20: Enter Monticello.  13 potato fields so far, give or take.  

10:28: Enter Bridgewater.  Reeeeealllly big potato field almost instantly.  Then another one.  And another.  Tired just looking at them.

10:31: “McCain/Palin” spraypainted on shed.  “Tuesday’s Gone” ideal soundtrack for downtown Bridgewater.

10:34: Now surrounded on all sides by potato field.  Very few trees, feels like Montana almost.

10:36: Enter Blaine.  Didn’t even take him out to dinnah!

10:40: Enter Mars Hill.  Suddenly lots of buildings.  Pretty decent Main St in a rickety, paint-chipped kind of way.  Turning off towards Caribou now.  Now have “Malibu” by Hole stuck in head but “Caribou” instead.  Weird Al, take note.

10:47: What appears to be model of Saturn suspended on pole out of nowhere.

10:52: OK, now we just passed Jupiter.  This is some kind of thing.  Also, entered Presque Isle.

11:00: Main St of Presque Isle bricky and mildly compelling. 

11:02: Brief excitement upon spying “Bonanza” sign, but no dice, it’s a Chinese place now.  Pooey of them to keep the sign up.  

11:08: Massive karate dojo in middle of field.

11:10: Entering Caribou.  Thankfully that’s still legal in Maine.  Fa fa fa!

11:12: Very little in Caribou thus far except a wreath store and a “disc golf” course and a closed restaurant called “Farzi’s”.

11:22: Continuing on Rte 1 w/no agenda.  Beautiful day.

11:38: Enter Cyr Plantation.  Precious little to remark upon. 

11:45: Enter Van Buren.

11:51: Pass restaurant called “Tasty Food”.  Really wish I was even remotely hungry.  Actually looks like several good places to eat in Van Buren.  

12:02: Enter Grand Isle.

12:12: Possibly enter Madawaska.

12:14: Yup.  Madawaska.  Several years ago wrote sappy but well-meaning song about this town but have never been here.  Just liked the name.  Interested to check it out.

12:18: Adorable septuagenarian on tractor spotted.

12:19: Lawnmower store/motel called “Roland’s Rendez-vous”!

12:20: Sign advertising: “BBQ, Onions, Cow Manure”.

12:21: Man asleep in van in front of Madawaska Police Dept.

12:23: Madawaska main drag quite visually appealing.  A lot of signs that look from the ’60s.  Sadly most of this stuff is closed down from the looks of things.  Get out, walk around, take some pictures. 





(I swear I turned this picture right side up on some stupid program or other, but clearly it didn’t take; fart on a cock.)



(Sorry these two are so huge, but they can’t be fully appreciated any smaller.)

12:40: Enter Frenchville.

12:53: Enter Fort Kent.  It’s green, brown + white.

1:04: This seems to be the town proper of Fort Kent.  McD’s, “Jan’s Primitive Treasures”, “Jazz It Up Dance Studio”, “Quigley’s Building Supply”.

1:07: Get out on main drag and walk around.  Decide to get a lite-ish lunch @ “Rock’s Family Diner”.  Choice is between that and “Bee-Jay’s”.




(In hindsight, I sort of regret that we did not patronize “Bee-Jay’s”.  Any testimonials out there?  For the restaurant, please, not the sexual act?)

1:17: Each get hot dogs.  I get footlong.  Ketchup + mustard are under hot dog.  Disapprove of this.  Also, waaaaaay too much K + M in general.  Otherwise good, bun especially.


1:32: Then go to Miller’s.  V. similar to Reny’s.  Annie buys spiral-bound sudoku book.  I buy nothing.

1:43: Happen upon Good Samaritan Thrift Shop.  Two old ladies happily gabbing in French.  I recognize the word “hat” at one point.  I buy 2 VHS: “Switchblade Sisters” and some marital arts revenge chick flick called “Fighting Mad”.  Woman doesn’t know how much they cost.  “Is it too much to ask for a dollar?” No, it is not.


(We kept seeing these guys alongside the road at various points in the Fort Kent area.  They’re recycling bins.  Extremely awesome recycling bins.)

2:04: Back on the road.  Taking Rte 11 in the opposite direction.  Listening to Wood’s Tea Company.  Pleasant Irish music.

2:16: Hilly!

2:21: Enter Eagle Lake.  Lake itself is quite nice.

2:24: Big hand-lettered sign on someone’s porch reads simply “Potato”.

2:45: Zzzz…


2:46: Entered Porter.

2:48: Entered Portage Lake.

2:54: Entered Nashville, surprisingly enough.

3:00: Enter Ashland.  Vividly burping mustard.

3:10: Ashland both vast and dull.

3:11: Entering Masardis.  Sounds oddly promising.  (It isn’t.)

3:29: Entered TWP 9RS.  

3:52: Enter Mt. Chase.  Listening to The Turtles.  Sleepy.

3:54: Bigass hill.

3:55: Enter Patton.  When you put your hand in pile of goo that used to be face etc.

3:59: Patton very rustic.  General store actually looks like it’s made out of dirt.

4:08: Now in Sherman.  Going to get on I-95 in a bit and that will be that for our relaxing day of deserted townships.

So, in essence, we drove four hundred and seventy-six miles to look at a tree covered in shoes and a street of abandoned storefronts, then buy hot dogs and a sudoku book.  Doesn’t look like much on paper, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves throughout.    

Get in the car and go somewhere sometime!  Places are cool and fun!




  1. oh MY! Your two posts of Aroostook County brought me back a million years (or so it would seem, in any case!). I’m originally from “The Crown of Maine” or “The County” as we called it. And I can’t tell you how many times I made that Rt. 1 trip…and you’ve aptly described every stinkin’ bit of that road.

    Your pictures of Madawaska brought back a million and one memories, as well. Did you know that Roland’s Rendez-vous used to be a hopping joint? My dad’s band was the house band there for at least 10 years. It was a popular hangout for the over 40 crowd, and a lot of Canadians came to hang out, too. Never DID see a room there, though.

    Daigles Furniture has been there for as long as I’d lived there. I was there from 1967 (thought I don’t remember, as I was still a baby) to 1985 (hasta la vista, Madtown!), and from as far back as I can remember, Daigles was there…and we never bought a damned thing from that store, either! Pierrette’s has been there that long too, and in the same building, and with the same sign out front too. Unfortunately, we did buy much from there, as she was the only game in town for a LONG time when it came to flowers. I think she was secretly happy when people died, she got a lot more business that way.

    Many of the other businesses have changed so much. My favorite is fairly close to Pierrette’s, a bright orange building that is (or was, in 2005) a church. Why is it my favorite? Because my growing up years were spent there; it was where my mom worked, and it was called the Horseshoe Bar. Yeah…a bar is now a church. At one time, Madawaska laid claim to having the most bars in the county! Now they have the most churches…what’s up with that.

    Your choice between Rock’s and BeeJay’s….well, *I* think you made the right choice. My favorite saying, “ey…on vas tu manger des hotdogs su Rock’s?” (hey, wanna go eat hotdogs at Rocks”). Better food by far…so if you didn’t like it, just IMAGINE the BeeJay’s food repeating on you!

    And then the drive down Rt. 11…you skipped Winterville somewhere between Eagle Lake and Portage. Yeah…lived that corridor for a few years too.

    Thanks for the wonderful trip down memory lane. Mind if I link this on my FB? Lots of my friends who’ve gone “away” would get a kick out of these two posts!

  2. butthorn Says:

    Linda, I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate this comment. It’s so nice to have some background on these hidden little towns with their funky stores and potentially sketchy restaurants. I get a lot of mileage out of making fun of places like this, but truth be told I grew up in a town with less than 80 people in it (Maxfield, ME) and I’ll take a backwoods, one-horse town over a city any day of the week, so needless to say my wife and I enjoyed our trip to and through “the county” very much, in spite and even because of the frequent lack of anything terribly exciting to look at or do.

    Madawaska was the high point of the trip for me, for its interesting appearance and vibe alone. After reading your description, I really wish I could have gone there in its heyday. It would have been great to experience these buildings as they were originally intended (especially Roland’s Rendez-vous…what was the name of your dad’s band???) instead of the vacant rooms and law offices they seem to have become.

    I’m glad to hear we made the right choice as far as restaurants go. We experienced no negative aftereffects from the Rock’s dogs, and really what more can you ask of a diner wiener? If we ever do go down that way again (and we most likely will), however, I think we’re going to have to check out Bee-Jays, just to say that we did.

    As for FB, please feel free to link away, and I hope your pals get some entertainment out of it and that they don’t mind my frequent grossness and insistence on relaying my bathroom habits. It’s kind of part of my thing, I barely understand it myself.

    Thank you so much for chiming in! You made my day!

  3. Damn. I shouldn’ta had two glasses of wine before I read this entry! Annie alerted me to it today and I was trying to put it off to the right time of day!!! So first of all: I will give you this precious information about Madawaska (and its hinterlands)
    yes, I am a proud “Broyonne”

    Next:You saw the solar system and I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT BONANZA IS CLOSED. It was one of the last remaining Bonanzas in the world, I swear! My parents used to take us there on super, duper occasions for “Steak… …and all the shrimp you can eat!!!”

    Did you see Burger Boy? That is still there and probably still amazing. They used to have a Ms. Pacman table there back in the day and I trashed that place the day Pook was born (soda spilled, ketchup thrown, tears over losing my lives to fast on whatever incarnation of pacman I played….)

    The Good Samaritan used to be the “Good Shepard” and I still have clothes from that place.

    BeeJays is a place I never dared go. You were wise to chose Rocks, I think. Chez Roch’s! I was in the same class as this very nice boy whose dad used to own the place. We used to get those hot dogs after church, if you can believe it. Fort Kent has this phenomenon called “church traffic” when mass gets out and it is really impossible to drive through town at a useful pace.

    You shoulda got some ‘potato’. Seriously. Support those farmers while you are up there.

    AND you should have gone to the convenience store in Portage (Lake).

    You missed the craziest spot of all, but I was telling Annie about it today and Joe and I might create an occasion that necessitates you being there.

    Nice trip!! We are going in three weeks, but it won’t be quite so leisurely.

  4. oh yeah-
    Masardis has some haunted empty store front I hear- the story varies–
    I got arrested at Millers. Go Renys!!!

  5. …arrested as a young and misguided person. Don’t judge.

  6. butthorn Says:

    I hope this “Burger Boy” place of which you speak is still there, because we didn’t see it, and that’s the kind of thing that would have definitely caught our eye. Maybe we didn’t drive by it? I hope that’s the case. As for Bonanza, it’s slightly possible that we just didn’t see the restaurant itself, as it seems weird that they would leave the sign up, but then again “weird” isn’t really an issue out there, and maybe it just closed down recently, or maybe it made them too sad to get rid of the sign. Anyway, we squinted really hard at the general area around the Bonanza sign, and it certainly looked like it was a Chinese place now. Believe me, we tried really hard to get a handle on the situation with the scant time allotted us in that moment.

    I would have thought for sure you would have patronized “Bee-Jay’s” at least once in your youth, but then again there are places in my hometown vicinity that I certainly never dared to go into, so I guess it makes sense.

    Annie showed me the website for the “craziest spot” of which you speak. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. So you can just go there and stay in cabins? Do those people on the website hang out with you?

    So what did you shoplift or whom did you assault at Millers? Or what else happened? I was expecting better bargains from Miller’s, frankly. Fort Kent needs a Mardens. Actually, they probably have one somewhere up there, I’m guessing.

  7. Marden’s is in Madawaska. As for Miller’s…. sad sorry about a $00.39 craft item. I will tell you the sad story someday outside of a public forum.

    Bars within home-towns are often avoided maybe. I went to 10 N. Main with Joe, once so he has no issue with that sort of thing, maybe.

    I think we should all go to that place I showed Annie. Joe and I need to have some sort of very secret and crazy new-agey ceremony that makes no sense. I think that is the only way to top having someone sign our paperwork while in line to rent ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm”. You and the like five other guests can enjoy the hospitality of strangers we will never meet. I think it would be a good time. Maybe August or something.

  8. “10:18: Mutual decision reached to don sunglasses. Should write story with protagonist named “Don Sunglasses”. Wocka x 3.”

    I quote the immortal Billy Doughty, “seizure.”

  9. “9:18: Enter Houlton: Where the Action Is. Woman stumbling around driveway in a Raggedy Ann sweatshirt.”


    My best friend Marie and her kids and I are driving from Portland down to the Redwood Forest, down the California coast to Monterey, LA (Knott’s Berry Farm) and all the freaking way to San Diego! We are taking the famous HWY 1 scenic biway for part of the trip. Awesome! Can’t wait.

  10. thanks for your comments, butthorn! My dad’s band had several reincarnations…he was Neil and the Wildcats (way back when, and he played at the Ft. Kent Hotel…you didn’t mention that place (across from Reny’s, lol)…and the last name of his band was The Keys. I spent many a summer vacation sitting in Roland’s drinking beer with my dad, and getting up to sing or play my trumpet with his band.

    I’m curious about the “craziest spot of all” mentioned by Sarah…do share a link!!

  11. geekusa Says:

    Alyssa and I did something similar recently, except it was Vermont. The whole purpose of it was really because I’d remembered Burlington being a cool place to go, and we happened to both have the same two consecutive days off for the first time in forever. While we did all the stuff you’re supposed to do (Ben & Jerry’s tour – only $5 – and the Magic Hat brewery – free, with unlimited free beer samples) the highlight of the damn trip was sitting in our Days Inn at the end of the day, drinking cheap wine, and watching “The Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo. Also: the Flavor Graveyard is worth seeing, if for no other reason than to pay your respects to the late, lamented Bovinity Divinity.

  12. Tammy - Presque Isle local Says:

    The Bonanza is still open ~ the sign in an odd place above where the restaurant actually is. When you see the sign look DOWN to your left when heading north through Presque Isle and you will see it. And Yes, Burger Boy is still there and open. The views from Winterville to Portage are second to none.

  13. butthorn Says:

    Wow, thank you! We will definitely seek it out if we ever find ourselves out that way again. Man, I want steak and salad really bad now.

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