Overland Expo to TBEX: The Rain in Maine
When I last left you in the Overland Expo to TBEX saga, we were leaving Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire a couple nights earlier than expected. The combination of the iPhone debacle and worsening weather led us to the conclusion it was time to take our chances elsewhere.
And with few Apple stores in the area, we had to reroute to the south instead of sticking to our original plan of scooting across northern Maine to catch places like Screw Auger Falls and Baxter State Park. I hadn’t given up on those locations, I thought we would simply loop north after Acadia National Park and Fundy National Park instead of before.
Soggy, soggy, soggy…
Packing up camp in the rain is miserable. The tent is just a heavy mess and not nearly as cooperative as when it’s dry. Plus, trying to pack it in the car and still keep important gear dry (think sleeping bags and clothes) is a frustrating challenge. Nonetheless, it happens and you have to deal with it. And so we did.
Now navigating by good, old-fashioned map power, we made our way towards Portland, Maine and the nearest Apple store. Along the way, I was dismayed by leaving behind the stunning New Hampshire scenery so soon. Did I stop to take pictures to show you the New Hampshire grooviness? Nope. I had an appointment to keep at the Apple store and I didn’t want to lose it.
While waiting for the kind folks at Apple to get me back up and running with a phone, I used their wifi to frantically consult maps and identify a new route. I was eyeing an Acadia-to-Fundy route and searching for camping accommodations in both locations. It was during this research that I discovered we were stuck in no ordinary rain but, what was in fact, the torrents of Tropical Storm Andrea which was not predicted to clear anytime soon.
I don’t remember the details of the weather maps and forecasts but somehow I landed on the decision of driving through to Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, i.e. skipping Acadia, in order to minimize the impact of the weather. My logic at the time was that if the weather was not going to cooperate, we might as well just drive and try to get around it rather than sit around a campsite in the pouring rain. We’d just have to do our Maine stops on the way back and hope Andrea would wear herself out by then.
With this new, unexpected route came the need to push yet again because we suddenly had a lot more ground to cover. New phone in hand, I tossed some mall food-court pizza at Fred and George and we drove as far as we could get that night. The catch was that we would take the scenic route along U.S. 1. A slower route, yes, but more scenic one that would set us up for the eastern-most geocache in the U.S. in Quoddy Head.
So we scooted along the Maine coast with a stop on the Schoodic Peninsula for dinner… because when in Maine you stop for seafood, no? I was all excited to find a lovely restaurant in a town that seemed barely alive. In fact, when I reviewed my Foursquare check-ins to see what town it was in, it didn’t list one. It just said “Maine.”
The stop paid off though. Dinner was fabulous. Mind you, that in spite of my best efforts to convince Fred and George that they should eat seafood in Maine, they ordered a hot dog and chicken fingers. I am not kidding.
After dinner, we forged our way along the coast in the dark and I was beginning to feel the fatigue of our very long day. Towns and lodging options were few and far between and I was concerned about getting myself in the middle of nowhere, exhausted, and with no place to sleep for the night. So as we approached the next town, we happened on a cute motel with cabin-type rooms. They had vacancies, the price was excellent, the owner was extraordinarily friendly… it was a no-brainer and one of the few things that seems to fall into place on this expedition so far.
As much as breaking down a wet tent sucks, putting up a wet tent is infinitely worse. So while Fred and George settled in to sleep, I set to draping and spreading out the tent in every spare spot of our room, the tiny front porch, and the bathroom. It didn’t completely dry in our short time there but it was close enough.
That night, I spent what little fumes I had remaining in my tank to sort through the next day’s push into Fundy. Only I didn’t quite cover all my bases, as you’ll see.
We had an ambitious day of travel ahead of us. Even in good weather it was a lot to take on and our weather was abysmal so when we woke to an early alarm, I got right to packing up the tent and getting us back on the road.
Our first stop was Quoddy Head State Park for the eastern-most U.S. geocache. It was a slight detour from heading straight to Fundy but it was a high priority for us. We thought we’d combine it with a trip to Roosevelt Campobello Roosevelt International Park to make it worth our while but Tropical Storm Andrea had other ideas.
We arrived at Quoddy Head during one of the surges of torrential downpour. We tried to wait it out but I couldn’t get reasonable enough signal to pull weather maps and see if it was worth it. After a little while, I told George we were just going to have to go for it or we wouldn’t make camp that night. Fred wasn’t at all interested in securing a geocache under these conditions.
George was initially gung-ho… until he got out of the car at the lighthouse. We thought we’d step into the park office like we normally would when visiting a new park. I always like to grab a map and just see what it’s about even if we’re not going to spend a lot of time there. I figured once we got inside and out of the rain we’d be golden. We didn’t make it 20 feet from Blubaru before George balked. He was overwhelmed by the rain and I couldn’t talk him through it. Back to the car and Plan B.
Plan B consisted of just going straight for the geocache. I drove us down a spur to the trailhead and pulled up the geocache on my phone. With little signal (and bouncing between U.S. and Canadian cell-phone towers) it turned out to be an ordeal but I eventually got the geocache downloaded to my phone so I didn’t need a cell signal anymore. I feverishly read the details of the geocache more fully so I had every bit of information at my disposal. We were going to have to cache more efficiently than we ever had before in order to claim this one.
And then I read the recent logs. You know that defeated feeling you get when you’ve busted your butt to do something and you fail spectacularly because you made the most basic of mistakes? Yep, that was the feeling that swept over me. I sat in stunned silence at what I’d gone through to get us to this cache only to find that it has been DNFed for months. The cache wasn’t there.
In an ideal world, the geocaching powers-that-be would have archived this one so it wouldn’t show up as active. That didn’t happen and I’d made the most rookie of geocacher mistakes by not planning my caches carefully and checking that one basic resource in advance.
With frustration being the reigning (or raining!?!) emotion in the car, we left Quoddy Head thinking we’d try to grab another geocache. It would still be one of the eastern-most, if not the eastern-most, and we had yet to collect a smiley for Maine.
But it was still pouring, of course. With that in mind, we attempted the easiest geocache on the list in Lubec, just before we crossed into Canada to head to Campobello. We searched and searched in vain… in the rain. It should have been an easy geocache. It had been found recently and often. But under the conditions of fatigue, horrendous rain, almost no GPS signal, and frustration, we failed miserably. It was time to move on.
On that winning note, I think I’ll leave you until next time…