Inspired by Stephen King Country – Maine

Stephen King and Maine inspired me when visiting two weeks ago, but probably not the way that you think. It’s the perfect state for King to live in and produce books. A certain kind of books. Horror. Sometimes vacations aren’t at all what we expect.

Our first stop on the tour of Maine.

After flying into Bangor for our 30th wedding anniversary, Danny and I rented a car and drove right to his house. Okay. That sounds super creepy and stalkerish, but it’s a town landmark. Go ahead. Google, Bangor Landmarks. It’s on the list along with Paul Bunyan’s statue, (Dang, missed that one), and the Bangor Historical Society, with Chipotle Mexican Grill at the top of the list. Bangor has a population of 32,000.

As I drove up West Broadway, there were several cars parked along the wide avenue. Some voyeurs took pictures through the glass of their vehicles. Not us. We walked up to King’s gate. The wrought iron contained a spider and web, a dragon, and a capital K, just in case you weren’t sure if you had the right address. Exposed to the street, the home seemed to invite onlookers, as opposed to the house next door which hid behind a thicket of bushes and trees. The weather was perfect. Drizzling with a touch of fog.

Stephen King's House

Then we ate lunch in downtown Bangor. An advertisement for a play at the Penobscot Theater hung in the window. My favorite of all of Stephen King’s work, MISERY would open on Thursday night! We bought tickets for a mere twenty-seven dollars. I wondered if The Man himself would be in the audience.

In the meantime, we explored Bar Harbor, Bucksport, Camden, and Rockland and found a few bookstores. Each had a section set aside for Stephen King’s books. Some were like shrines.

A storefront in Bangor advertising Stephen King Tours.

IT displayed in Bangor store window

“He’s prolific,” said a young waiter. “He writes every day and sticks to a routine.”

Curious, I looked it up. According to an article written for Open Culture, King ritualizes writing time like some prepare for bedtime.

He’s quoted as saying in Lisa Rogak’s Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King:

“I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning,” he explained. “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.”

Maine is a summer vacation destination.

We arrived in October! Somehow, we didn’t get the memo.

Some shops and restaurants had already shuttered. We stayed at the gorgeous West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor and discovered nearly the entire island including the hotel would close in another week or two.

Until then, cruise ships deposited eight to ten thousand people on shore EVERY DAY! Older people filled the sidewalks, gift shops and restaurants in the quaint downtown. Sometimes I led Danny into the street to pass them.

Because of the older median age of the tourists, warning signs lined the trail in Acadia National Park.

What steep grade and sharp curve?

Quaint meaning super dinky.

After leaving Acadia, I looked up towns to visit. A blog post with Prettiest Towns in Maine came up at the top of the feed. I perused the list. Portland was too far away and so was Kennebunkport. Blue Hill was sort of on our way back to Bangor. We arrived and drove past a gas station, a co-op, a gift shop, cafe, and beautiful harbor surrounded by nicely tended homes and yards. We drove back and asked a customer coming out of the store with a bag of groceries. “Where’s the downtown?” I asked.

“This is it,” he said.

Most of the towns were like that. We rarely saw fishermen on the lakes or active boats in the harbor. I had always dreamed of going to Maine to embody Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote and ride my bike. We only saw one biker since the hills were killer.

Every town seemed to hold its collective breath.

I thought fall color would be at its peak.

Because of warm and dry weather, most leaves were still green and many had already dropped. That happened in the Colorado mountains last fall. We arrived on their first rainy day.

We found colorful landscapes in Acadia.

Fall in Acadia

We encountered more cemeteries than people.

We could drive for miles and never see another vehicle or police car. The entire population of the state is around 1.3 million.

One of many cemeteries in Maine

Between the ghostly quiet towns and the huge expanse of undeveloped forested areas, goosebumps rose on my arms more than once.

I described the isolation to my son who said, “Maybe it will inspire you to write a book. It sounds like a great place for serial killers.” Right after his comment, I noticed Patterson’s new book, HAUNTED, about this particular variety of killer set in Maine. He must have traveled there in October.

 

Winters are tough. The state depends on summer tourism. We ran into an enthusiastic local in Acadia National Park who raved about wintering among the shuttered towns. “We sled and cross country ski. It’s beautiful in the winter.” The Mainers were very friendly, positive people reminiscent of the Midwesterners I grew up with. We really enjoyed meeting them.

MISERY in Bangor.

On Thursday night, the Penobscot Theater filled and the lights dimmed. After the first few lines, the words, “I’m your biggest fan,” were uttered by the character, Annie Wilkes played by AJ Moonie while grateful and drugged out Paul Sheldon, played by James Konicek, groaned in pain. Moonie nailed Kathy Bates’ portrayal of the deranged nurse and I could almost see James Caan in Konicek’s pained expressions as the crippled victim.

Here’s what surprised me.

In the super intense parts of the play where Annie became brutally violent, the crowd tittered, giggled, and a couple guffawed. Every time someone made a bodily sound it woke me from MISERY’s spell.

When I mentioned it to my son, he remarked that sometimes people react inappropriately when fearful. The scenes were super realistic. I cringed several times, so that could be true.

I’ve been to children’s productions where the audience showed more respect to a cast by not talking. Maybe Mainers don’t get to the theaters very often where we are all instructed to sit quietly. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.

It didn’t throw off the actors. They never missed a beat. Maybe they’ve witnessed this many times before. The small ensemble cast of three would make Stephen King proud.

We scanned the audience but King didn’t make it to that night’s performance. I’m sure he will take a stroll to the theater sometime between now and November 5th. I bet he’ll love it. We did!

Inspired by vacationing.

The irony of the setting hit me afterward. King chose Colorado for MISERY, even though I found Maine a better location in many ways. I could imagine super fan, Annie Wilkes, lurking in a clapboard house under the canopy of gnarled oaks just waiting for her chance. Both places endure winters with lots of snow.

Stephen King and I almost physically ran into each other many years ago in a fitness club. We both said, “Oops, sorry,” and kept walking. At the time, he consulted on the mini-series, THE SHINING which took place at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. THE STAND took place in Boulder. He must have been inspired by his trips to Colorado. His latest release, SLEEPING BEAUTIES, co-written with his son, Owen, takes place in a poor Appalachian town. Perfect.

Danny and I almost left Maine a day early. Instead, we drove to Camden, one of the highlights of our trip. I took this photo as we headed out of town.

The harbor in Camden, Maine

Life being ironic, as usual, we got stuck at the airport due to thunderstorms in Chicago and a stubborn baggage door. We had to stay an extra day!

Instead of flying through Chicago that Sunday, we traveled through New York. I remembered my son’s words when starting the four-hour trip home from JFK. “Maybe Maine will inspire you…”

I pulled out my cell phone and began to write.

Maine highway

~~~

Have you ever gone on vacation with completely different expectations? What’s your favorite King novel? Have you seen IT in the theater?

Related posts:

Invaded and Homeless in Paris: Photo Essay

21 Thrilling Movies for Halloween!

Haunted in Bruges! Photo Essay

Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

 

It’s Not too Late for a Weekend Getaway Like This One!

It's not too late for an end of summer getawayThink summer is slipping away? It is. Mental lists of activities planned for the summer will fade as days shorten and cooler air rolls in. It can be stressful to think about fall if you haven’t enjoyed your summer. You might think it’s too late for a weekend getaway.

I stressed out about two weeks ago. I had made a list of everything I wanted to do this summer and then conquered less than half of it. The list was written on a note. It must have gotten tossed out with the morning paper. Been there?

One activity stuck in my mind. I wondered if it could recapture summer. There was only one way to find out.

My son, Kelly, moved to Burbank, California and has been attending Icon Music Production School since July. He’s heading home between quarters, but I thought a beach trip might be just what I need to get my end of summer fix.

With less than two weeks before leaving, I wondered if the flights would be astronomical. I booked roundtrip flights to LAX for $140 through Southwest. Whoa! My daughter, Courtney, joined me.

I used VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) and booked a place in Venice Beach. I’ve rented many through the years, but poor location, lack of air-conditioning, hard beds and pillows can add up to a not-so-great experience. I’m usually pretty lucky.

This one was the bomb. Super modern and a few blocks from Abbot Kinney, I wanted to move in permanently. We were more than pleased.

We spent a lot of time on the beach. Being landlocked, I appreciate the rhythmic thrum of the waves breaking on shore, the sandy beaches and am always awed by the ocean.

I had seen The Easy Lay on The List and bought one on the beach two days later!

Plan a Weekend Getaway

It’s as comfortable as it looks.

We ate like Kings and Queens at Killer ShrimpWater Grill and brunch at The Tasting Kitchen. It was hard not to overeat.

Killer Shrimp

It’s a good thing we visited. I walked into Kelly’s apartment and it looked the same as when I left. He and his roommates hadn’t bought any furniture for the living room or kitchen. There was no place to eat or sit down.

A trip to IKEA was in order. For just under $500, we bought a sleeper couch, table and four chairs, a side chair and a coffee table. Thank you IKEA!

Two guys and a woman in front of IKEA with furniture boxes

I hope everything is out of boxes and put together by the time I need another summer fix around November. UPDATE: Three more chairs to go. Yes!

The best part of my end of summer getaway? Hanging out with my kids!

Collage of Lindau family on vacation in Santa Monica

Yes, I recaptured summer and just in time. It’s not too late for you. Check something off your list.

What’s on your end of summer list? Where would you go to getaway? Have you used VRBO or AirBnB?

The Epic Road Trip Continues

DSC00349

We were on an epic road trip. The gap between our car and our son’s began to close. He and his posse had an earlier start and were a couple hours ahead, but pulling a trailer has its way of slowing a car down. They were only 25 miles ahead.

We could catch up.

We watched for Uhauls while driving 85 MPH. Then I made a call. We had passed Kelly’s girlfriend! She had pulled over at mile marker 91 and filled up at an Arco station. We were already in the 70s. Whoa! We couldn’t believe it. Kelly and his friend, who would be his roommate in Burbank, had flown down the road, ahead of us by thirty minutes.

We missed them.

Dang.

Then we learned they would take a pit stop before heading to California. There was still a chance.

We hoped to meet them….

Viva la road trip

in a truly Wild place.

the strip

A place where all kinds of epic adventures happen.

cool architecture

Las Vegas.

We wound our way through a casino. They were in another building.

The Hard Rock Cafe

We headed back into the 112 degree heat and ducked inside the Paris.

We found him!

image

Vegas is crazy. I made a list of my sensory overload, but it was waaaaaay too long. After a night at The Luxor, we hit the road again.

I had forgotten about Area 51 and its proximity to Las Vegas… That would explain everything.

There’s a lot more to come on our epic road trip. It has just begun…

The Moose is Loose!

I have always wanted to shoot a moose… with my camera. They are huge animals which can be aggressive and dangerous. They are also majestic and fearless, qualities I have always admired.

A few years ago, I freaked out and fumbled with my phone as a cow and her calf pranced by the liftline in Breckenridge. By the time I pulled off my mittens to take the shot, they had dashed into the forest.

Last Friday night, Danny and I walked the Pearl Street in Boulder after dinner. We stopped in a shop and I overheard a conversation about a moose encounter. The man and his wife had dropped off their daughter at CU and then hiked Brainard Lake, about forty-five minutes away in the mountains.

“I want to see a moose,” I whined like a two-year-old.

He pulled out his phone and showed me the extraordinary photos of a bull moose whose antlers were in velvet. Can you imagine stumbling over them in the spring? Whoa…

I Jonesed for a moose encounter, but Danny planned to play golf on Saturday afternoon. He doesn’t doesn’t have the opportunity very often. He had a meeting on Sunday. Hiking would have to wait.

With rising temperatures Saturday morning along with smoke from Western fires, he hoped to finish some yard work in the morning while I hosted a Drop and Hop Party on my blog.

Then divine intervention occurred.

He cut his right hand with the hedge trimmer. I sent him to Urgent Care and then found out how it happened. I won’t laugh because the last time, this happened…

After four stitches (only a flesh wound between his index finger and thumb) he was told to skip tennis and golf for the next ten days.

Now the afternoon was WIDE OPEN!

“You want to hike Brainard Lake?” he asked.

“Yes!” I abandoned my party. We packed water and snacks in one backpack and then stuffed jackets into another. We drove up Lefthand Canyon.

Like we had expected, the temperature was in the low 70’s. There were others hiking, but it wasn’t crowded like Rocky Mountain National Park. That place is a zoo in the summer.

We hiked on a trail through the aspen and evergreen forest up a thousand feet to another small lake in the high alpine environment.

moose munch

It was ablaze with wildflowers.

We avoided loud conversationalists and listened for breaking branches. A dude with a boom box passed us with his posse. Okay. This is a wilderness area and the third time this year someone has blared music while hiking. What are they thinking?

I had to say something this time.

“Dude. Although I appreciate that your music is turned down to a reasonable level, this is a place where people go for peace and quiet. You should turn it off.”

The group kept walking. He yelled something back at me. I think he said, “Thanks! Have a nice day.” Pshh.

The temperature dropped and the wind picked up. I didn’t want to get caught in a storm. It was hard to tell what kind of weather was afoot with all the smoke. We turned around. Continue reading

Creepy or What?

haunted house

A couple of weeks ago my husband Danny and I drove up to the Mount Grays and Torreys trailhead. My SUV wound up the steep dirt road so slow a granny with a walker could have passed us at times. While struggling over rocks and pot holes in the comfort of my Toyota Highlander, I thought of the hope and courage miners carried in their hearts while traveling up this same treacherous road more than a century ago.

We came upon a miner’s boarding house. Situated along a stream and within view of Mt. Torreys, it appeared ready to tip over. When placing my hand on the weathered boards to take a few photographs, I expected it to lean with me. Continue reading

Surrounded by Vivid Color

Last week, I biked outside for the first time since knee surgery. Surrounded by vivid color, I had to stop and take a few photographs. I had looked forward to riding to Hygiene, about ten miles away, but the skies threatened.

bike hike in Boulder County

It has been stormy here in Boulder County. When I rode again yesterday, I made it to the tiny town. I returned home as the skies opened up. After going out for dinner, tornadoes, torrential rain, and a lightning show like no other, made driving a challenge.

Stormy skies above Niwot

Thunderstorms rolled in early today and the landscape is muted. When the skies clear, mountain vistas will once again burst with vivid color.

Have you been spending time outside? Has the weather been stormy in your neck of the woods?

This week’s photo challenge is “Vivid.

Help Solve The Mystery!

While vacationing in Santa Barbara, California, my husband, Danny, and I walked to the farmers’ market. I spied something enveloped in a garden bed. I took a double take. Yep. It appears someone partied hard Friday night and trounced home naked or in their boxers or thong. I left the pair of jeans in their new habitat and didn’t investigate for size or gender. I didn’t want to find *gulp* underwear.

Where

The de-pantsing (unpantsing?), took place around the corner from the main drag, State Street, and one mile from the ocean. Continue reading