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Down the Road

A indoor camping we will go
By Milt Gross
Aug 25, 2010 - 12:20:18 AM

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Ah, camping, the great outdoors! Summer, balmy weather, gorgeous sunsets, fluffy white clouds, mosquitoes...

....wait, mosquitoes?

Oh yeah, the joys of camping, mosquitoes. Especially in Maine, where the mosquitoes are only a little bigger than the moose.

Which could explain why Dolores and I prefer to camp indoors.

Such as up at Medway at the cabins* along the East Branch, where we're looking forward to a brief fall getaway -- without the mosquitoes. (Of course, by fall, all mosquitoes should have gone the way of mosquitoes gone. But we're going to one of these cabins anyway, even though there will be no mosquitoes from which to get away by camping indoors.)

Last time we were at Pinegrove Campground and Cottages, there was a goat -- nearly as large as the smaller mosquitoes. And there was the black cat, not the kind that crosses your path and brings you bad luck, but the kind that comes into the cabin with you and sleeps on the foot of your bed.

Cats aren't dumb. They know the best camping places.

We're hoping to head up there again.

Which is happening, because we first checked the website of another place where we could camp indoors, a bed-and-breakfast, actually the oldest house in the town in which it is located. The price of $160 per night wasn't what stopped us, although at Pinegrove Campground and Cottages we'll pay $50. It was the price of the meals, which began at $40 per meal. I don't know if that included the food, or if that would have been extra. But in Medway, we can either take our own grub -- which we won't -- or sneak down to the Irving station for breakfast and somewhere else for our supper -- somewhere where they charge a lot less than $40. Dinner, the noon meal, if you've been around Maine long enough to know that dinner is the noon meal, will likely be the health food bars we take with us almost everywhere.

While there, we'll wander some of the trails in Baxter State Park, the less strenuous ones, that is, as we plan to relax during this indoor camping trip.

About the only more serious walking I'll do this fall will be checking on my Appalachian Trail section, where I monitor the survey lines on both sides of the trail corridor and hope to not meet Bullwinkle while he's in love.

We've also stayed over in Roxbury at the cabins on Roxbury Pond, which name I can't recall. I do recall the "office" is at the store right up the road from it. At that store, we bought our take-out breakfasts and suppers. They also have canoes you can use at no charge, which we didn't because we were there doing more AT volunteering.

Maybe next time we'll use their canoes.

Roxbury Pond is great because it's surrounded by mountains, the part of the Longfellow Range the AT follows getting from somewhere to somewhere else.

The Blue Iris Inn at Rumford Center is also nice, because it is located on the banks of the Androscoggin River, in which river I haven't put a canoe for many years -- the years I did were while it was filthy with pollution from a paper mill upstream after which it took a year for the grit to disappear from the canoe's hull. But the river is beautiful now and clean and from the "back yard" of the Blue Iris you get a nice view of a white church steeple in the distance featuring a low mountain as its background.

Oh yeah, there's a nice good-old-boys (and girls) restaurant about 100 yards up Route 2.

Camping indoors means you have to find these great little eating places. I also enjoyed the Chicken in the Basket or whatever its real name is in Mexico, just east of Rumford.

That indoor campground offers access to lots of mountain and lake country, as far distant as the Maine part of the White Mountain National Forest south of Gilead.

One Rumford motel we have never returned to, because the domestic disturbance in a nearby room kept us awake and the manager that night didn't seem to hear it.

"That's all right," I assured him, "I'll call the police myself."

The police came, removed the not-very-domestic disturber of our peace, and the owner also showed up to apologize. The apology didn't go as far as refunding our money or offering us a free stay the next time. There won't be a next time.

Mosquitoes outdoors offer a better night's sleep than a disturber of our indoor peace, but we prefer camping indoors.

We were up by 4 a.m., without having to extinguish a campfire at that indoor camping spot, and off for home, where we arrived by 8 a.m. We got a great nap at home.

We also stayed once at a chain motel in Lewiston, where the domestic disturbers of our peace turned out to be a bunch of school kids. Hey, I raised four and taught a whole bunch more. But I was mostly awake for those ordeals. We had planned to sleep at the Lewiston motel. We haven't returned there again.

Mosquitoes outdoors offer a better night's sleep than that motel too.

Years ago my first wife and I took a bunch of youth group kids to a great cabin on the shores of Moose Pond west of Bridgton. We really liked that place with the view of the pond right out the windows. We probably had taken with us the disturbers of someone's peace, but we were younger than and even more foolish so didn't realize.

Hey, we -- or they -- are trying to camp indoors here. Let's have a little less disturbance of the peace.

A motel on the mid-coast provided Dolores and I with a fairly loud humming noise, coming through some kind of ducts in the hallway outside the room. The manager didn't hear the humming. The next day we changed to another indoor camping spot nearby with a view of the same ocean the first one offered but a motel with a better chance of sleeping.

Mosquitoes outdoors, disturbers of the peace indoors. Sometimes camping is tough.

Rangeley Manor's name sticks to my failing memory even after all these year, about 30, when my first wife and I went there a couple of times.

This one was modern before its time. It had electric heat and a fireplace for which the management had provided sufficient wood. The picture window was located about 20 feet from the shore of Rangeley Lake. No mosquitoes by the fireplace or picture window.

Camping at its finest.

Dolores and I found camping with humor but still without mosquitoes at a bed-and-breakfast in Andover about six miles from what was then our AT corridor-monitoring section. Its major drawback was that the private bathroom adjoining our room also adjoined the public hallway via a locked wooden door. We found it a bit disconcerting while concentrating on using the facilities to hear someone banging on the other side of the locked door to the hallway.

"You can't come in," we had to shout. "This is our private bathroom."

Above all, while camping indoors, we wanted a private bathroom.

Without mosquitoes or disturbers of our peace. While camping indoors, you need quiet and peace in your bathroom.

*Anyone who has been in Maine long enough, understands that no one stays in "cabins" in Maine, since in the Pine Tree State cabins are known as "camps." So I'm here using "cabins" in case you aren't reading this in Maine or haven't been here long enough to understand this grammatical technicality.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@midmaine.com.

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2010


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