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Down the Road

The Open Ocean
By Milt Gross
Aug 18, 2013 - 12:17:08 AM

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Schoodic Point in the eastern part of Acadia National Park on Schoodic Peninsula boats this "boomer", which keeps me a safe distance away. Thank the god of open ocean for zoom lenses. Milt Gross photo.
A few days ago Dolores' brother, John, and his wife, Linda (names not actual, but close), visited us from Oneonta, * NY.

John ** asked if we could steer us all in their GPS-equipped Camry to see some open ocean. (There's no ocean near Oneonta, no matter how you pronounce it -- although it's usually pronounced 'o' 'shun.')

The nearest open ocean is down in Acadia National Park, 20 some miles and 30 some million tourists away, or over on Schoodic Point about 30 some miles by crooked road.

So we took them where we take all our guests, who number about two every three years or so, Marlboro Beach. I didn't explain much about the lack of breakers in that cove, but when John asked which was the open ocean lay, I pointed that actually may be that way.

When you're from New York City or State, a lack of crowds is scary. When we arrived at the beach this Monday afternoon one car sat and waited for its lobsterman owner to arrive back from the open ocean. By the time we left, it got crowded, four cars.

We could see our relatives slowly relax from the quiet, which is why we take all our guests there in addition to seeing Acadia National Park off in the distance, far enough distant that the 30 million tourists are out of sight behind a wall of spruce on the other side of the cove. (At this point, we carefully watch for signs of insanity setting in from our guests being in a place with no other people. But we saw none.)

I mentioned my brother-in-law and his wife's GPS, because John set it to record our outward bound trip to Marlboro Beach. But -- here comes my fun -- tricking a GPS is indeed fun. We went back up to Route 1, where Dolores told them of an ice-cream stand, Jordans, if we turned right. Of course, the GPS was in her scratchy voice instructing John to turn left -- home, you New York tourists, you. Home in the woods west of Ellsworth is left.

"No, no," said Dolores to the scratchy-voice lady. "We want ice cream. We're going right."

We did. Had a bit of the waist-building stuff and then headed for the woods west of Ellsworth.

I asked Linda if she ever had to compete with the scratchy-voice lady for her husband's attention.

"Once," she replied, "he told me to be quiet so he could hear what she was saying."

Marlboro Beach lies just ashore from a quiet bay not too far from open ocean. We take all our guests there so they can see Acadia National Park across the way without being trampled to death by the hordes of tourists. Milt Gross photo.

Now open ocean, finding which was sort of the purpose for our venture, I'm not that familiar with except once as a guest on a 38-foot double-motor yacht from Connecticut, which is somewhere in the same general direction as one antah, only a bit more to the left. That was a pleasant five days, going up some canal, fighting a storm into some port where some Pilgrims landed awhile ago, and on up past Portland to Falmouth.

That's my sole experience on yonder open ocean. I've stood and looked out at it in places like Schoodic Peninsula and Seawall in Southwest Harbor, where I pointed out to the tourists that just over that horizon was a place called Great Britain.

We've seen huge waves come crashing in at Seawall in winter when only the insane stand there to watch, and we've watched regular ocean waves farther out from Acadia National Park and a couple of places up in Washington County, which is sort of the same direction as one antah, only a lot more to the left.

I've read the stories -- well, a few -- of shipwrecks somewhere between the open ocean and Maine's rocky coast. I used to stop in Wiscasset to view the two old freight (I believe, coal) schooners that had been slowly rotting away on the shore for a few hundred years. The schooners are now gone, but it doesn't matter much because there is so much traffic these day you'd be a bit nuts to try to peak sideways to where the schooners used to decay.

Those book-learned shipwrecks keep me off the open ocean.

Our canoe is fine. We took her out once or twice into bays, but the waves soon became higher than the canoe so we raced -- as in paddled as fast as you can paddle a canoe -- back to shore.

Last fall we took a boat cruise out to some island just one side of the open ocean. We didn't like the tourist-grabbing island, which, if I recall may be called Tourist-Grabbing Island. The boat ride was peaceful with fresh air from the open ocean cooling us. (The only problem was we met a fellow escapee from Acadia National Park, and we had to -- as you always do with a fellow escapee from Acadia National Park -- swap tales of mobs of tourists.

Tourists all like Acadia, and they all like lobster, of which I no longer partake after learning those critters make their living eating garbage off the ocean floor, open-ocean as well has harbor garbage. Some of those tourists make their way around the Park Loop Road through the woods and return to Bar Harbor or Southwest Harbor scared enough from all that wilderness to whet their appetites even whetter for lobster.

When the tourists ask me where my favorite lobster restaurant is, I generally reply, "I don't have one. We live here. We eat macaroni and cheese like the other Maineiacs, including the lobstermen who can't afford to eat the lobster they catch."

I don't have to explain that statement, because usually by the time I've gotten to the word 'Maineiacs' they're shying away, looking around, possibly for a rapid transit subway on which to escape.

But they keep coming back, probably to either gaze out at the open ocean or to eat lobster.

I love the Maine woods, where there is no scary open ocean nor are there lobsters.

* Oneonta is right down some turnpike south of Maine, pronounced wrongly by natives 'on' 'ee' 'antah' and correctly by me as 'one' 'antah.' What country, state, county, or town would go to all that trouble to name their town that and then mispronounce it? New York.

** When I was a kid in the Philadelphia suburbs, we had a neighbor named John Curry, whom we called Brother John for some unknown reason. He was from Eastport, Maine, took care of horses -- no horses in Eastport I know of -- on a horse farm literally on the other side of the suburban Philadelphia railroad tracks and out in the country a few miles, and drove a Ford, about a 1946. Each day he would back it out of the garage into the driveway that included the entire back yard, back it round in a neat five- or six-turn maneuver, riding the clutch and racing it out the driveway, and finally roared up the hill on which we lived.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013

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