Two Brothers, Two Coasts: Driving Vancouver to New York

Catching Up With Old Friends in Maine, USA

Lewis had given me some pretty vague directions: The address of the summer camp he was working at and the name of a bar where he would be drinking that night. The rest, it seemed, was up to us.

Large portions of Maine are just gorgeous. You’ll be driving along a heavily wooded road when out of nowhere you are cutting through the middle of a pristine blue lake, lined by summer houses with docks leading out to the water. There are other portions though, like the 179 road, that make you realise that this is Stephen King country, and that you wouldn’t want to break down at night. These roads are lined by deep forest on either side and small rough houses are set back off the road. Where stray dogs roam the roadside and you can drive for miles without seeing another car.

We hadn’t realised quite how in the middle of nowhere we were until we started searching for campsites. It really hit home when we eventually did though. “Can we get a cab number to take us to a bar tonight?”, “Unfortunately not, you’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere out here.” Ah. So we set off again in search of a motel, eventually landing on the Fireside Inn, a highway-side motel straight out of a horror movie.

We dropped our bags and ordered a cab to take us to Shooters, and found a bar straight out of the Wild West. The sound of karaoke came spilling out of the door and pitchers of lager cost $12. There was a guy eyeing me from the end of the bar who looked like Walter White, wearing an I Am Heisenberg t-shirt and a pork pie hat. Where the hell where we?

Luckily Lewis emerged as soon as we walked through the door, bringing a bear hug and a demand to “get to the bar, we’re playing beer pong.” That’s pretty much how the whole night went, slowly blurring into country song requests, games of pool against local homeless people and a lot of nostalgic chat with a friend I had known for over 20 years.

I was woken up the next morning by a very angry maid wanting to get rid of the two hungover Brits that had already missed checkout by an hour.

Once we had gathered ourselves we drove to the nearby coastal town of Portland for a much needed McDonalds. Portland is the largest town in Maine, which in reality seems to mean it is a magnet for all the homeless people in the state. It isn’t until you get to the harbour-side that the picturesque Maine comes back into view, with lobster rolls being sold along the piers as boats come and go all day long.

The next day we were back in Portland for an early ferry to the nearby Peaks Island for a morning of sea kayaking with Maine Island Kayak Co. Our guide was the ever perky, every chatty Den, who couldn’t get enough of picking on the “two Brits” and loved a bad joke. Den guided us around the island, taking in old coastal forts, Osprey nests and lighthouses along the ruggedly beautiful Maine coastline. It felt great to be on the water after a long couple of weeks of constant driving and boozy city stops. I took a deep breath and watched as an Osprey flew overhead and dove into the ocean, before paddling silently back into the bay.

Next Stop: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.

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