Hilary Nangle answered your questions about vacationing in Maine on June 1, 2004
Haverhill, MA: Driving on I-95 to and from Maine last summer on vacation was a nightmare. The traffic south of Portland was gridlocked. Has anything been done to alleviate the traffic problems?
Hilary Nangle: The Maine Turnpike is in the final year of a five-year widening project. The result will be worthwhile, but until it's completed, delays are inevitable. While there are plenty of backroads get yourself a current copy of DeLorme's Maine Gazeteer map and guidebook it does take time, and even those can be crowded at peak times.
Best strategy is to avoid peak times and to check the Maine Turnpike ' web site (wineturnpike.com) or 511maine.gov before hitting the road or dialing 511 on a cellular phone, when on the road, for current reports.
Oh, and if you haven t'already heard, all the exits have been renumbered to reflect mileage from the border. More info on eturnpike.com.
Washington, DC: I'd like to travel to Aroostook County to take advantage of white water rafting and the wilderness. What do you recommend? Where should we go and stay?
Hilary Nangle: Aroostook County is big, beautiful, remote and undeveloped, but it's not whitewater rafting country. (whitewater canoeing, yes: Allagash, St. Croix and St. John Rivers).
Maine has three dam-controlled whitewater rivers that provide Class III-V rafting from May through September, all are in west/central Maine. The Kennebec and the Dead meet in The Forks (follow Route 207 north from Augusta on a map), where numerous outfitters are based and have lodging facilities (campgrounds, B&Bs, lodges, etc.). The Penobscot flows in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin on the edge of Baxter State Park, near Millinocket (north of Bangor). Again, most of the major companies also have bases with full facilities here. (raftmaine.com).
Greenville is smack in the middle, about an hour-plus drive from either over back roads. You can get to the Kennebec from Greenville via paved roads, but getting to the Penob requires traveling over often rough, dirt roads. If you v' got an SUV or any rugged vehicle (our Suburu Outback handles it just fine). In any case, you l' want a car with good road clearance, and you l' want to drive slowly to avoid potholes as well as wildlife and also logging trucks this road is privately owned, and these rigs have the right of way.
Now here s 'nother idea, if wilderness is your goal. Consider staying at a traditional Maine sporting camp. These usually comprise lakeside log cabins and a central lodge, where all meals are provided. Cabins are usually rustic, but comfortable heated by woods, oil lanterns for light, bathrooms with running hot and cold water, flush and shower or tub. No TV, no phones (and cell phones usually don t 'ork). Fabulous star-gazing, wildlife watching, canoeing, hiking and fishing. Do these on your own or hire a Registered Maine Guide for a photo or wildlife safari, whitewater canoeing or fishing. Two favorites are Libby Camps, liamps.com and Bradford Camps, bradfordcamps.com. Neither is easy to get to, but well worth the effort.
Lumberton, NJ: We're trying do decide where to go in August. Where is there more to do for kids: Bar Harbor or the Mid-Coast?
Hilary Nangle: I'd probably lean toward Bar Harbor, if only because it's a defined spot. The Mid-Coast stretches from Brunswick through Bucksport, and while there's plenty to do, it is spread out (although the Bath area, with the Maine Maritime Museum, Popham Beach one of Maine's finest and Fort Popham has potential, as does Rockland, with its museums and ferry service to Vinalhaven for a day trip).
Depending upon your kids 'ages, here are a few ideas in Bar Harbor:
- Of course, begin with the park. Start at the Visitor Center and pick up a copy of the Beaver Log, the weekly newspaper detailing all the activities. You ll find guided hikes, nature walks, presentations, etc., many geared to kids. Get into and enjoy the park, bike the carriage roads, go hiking, etc.
- Consider visiting one of the islands off Mt. Desert. Ferries service Cranberry and Swans.
- Go out on a whale watch
- Go out with Diver Ed s Dive In Theater (a real winner, ask any local; divered.com)