I could roll the dice and wait until I die to go to heaven (the jury is still out on that one, in oh so many ways), or I could hop in my car and drive there. Though I live in the heavenly hamlet of Cambridge-Narrows, coastal Maine is just four hours away and it is my personal nirvana.
I'm not completely sure why I feel this way, but I certainly do. In the past twenty-five years, there has only been one year that my annual pilgrimage was impeded, probably because I lost my driving privileges in Maine (the Ellsworth McDonald's fiasco). I'm off to my beloved Maine today (my license was reinstated years ago) and I can already taste the salt in the air, and the donuts from the Colonel's Bakery in Northeast Harbor. I can see the hills of Mount Desert Island before they come into view. I can see them before I leave my driveway. I know this place.
Sometimes I think it odd that I keep going back to the same locale over and over. There's a great big giant world out there to discover yet I yearn to return to coastal Maine. For me it's comforting like a wood fire in the Canadian summer (which is what appeals to me on this frigid June 24 morning). I guess it's also like finding a favourite restaurant that never lets you down...you just keep returning for another hit of the double-double. Coastal Maine isn't cream and sugar, far from it. It's rocks and water. Pink granite and an ink blue ocean.
Acadia National Park occupies much of Mount Desert Island. Each year the park attracts between three and four million visitors...like the Oromocto Tim Horton's drive-thru on a slow morning. I was in Oromocto the other day and there must have been at least twenty cars, trucks and tanks in line for their morning mug. The cars spilled back onto the road. What a gold mine, I thought to myself. If there was ever a Canadian institution that's under our collective skins, other than eTalk Daily with Ben Mulroney, then it's Tim Horton's.
There isn't a Tim Horton's, Burger King, McDonald's or Mulroney on Mount Desert Island, hence part of the appeal. That's not to say that it isn't free from modern day trappings. The island's main town of Bar Harbor is host to a number of horrible little gift shops. These are the kind of shops that attract trailer park trash and inspire arsonists. They sell t-shirts featuring 'lobstah' doing unnatural things, brightly coloured lawn ornaments that twirl in the wind, and local keepsakes (shot glasses, mini lighthouses, Samurai swords) that were all made in China.
I brought you home a shot glass that says 'I'm a Mainiac'. Look, it's got a picture of a lobstah on it!
The town of Bar Harbor used to be called Eden. Not a bad name for the hometown of heaven. The name was changed to Bar Harbor in 1918, no doubt coinciding with the introduction of mass produced, printed lobstah t-shirts. Bar Harbor is what it is, but the island it calls home is still my idea of heaven.
Have you found a place on earth that is heavenly for your senses (i.e. Bora Bora, British Virgin Islands, Minto)? I'm lucky to have found my place. Someday I want to come back as a stone, freckled with pink granite and hugged by green lichens. I want to sit up high on a hill and gaze across the glacier cut valleys to the raw Atlantic below. That would be my kind of paradise. What could possibly be better? Oh sure, a little less fog perhaps, but let's be realistic about this idea of heaven.