RVing In Maine For Two Months!
So we finally made it to Maine, and it’s a significant moment! As soon as we crossed that state line we knew we were nearing the northernmost point of our travels this year. This was as far as we would go in 2017 and it was where we’d see the end of summer and the beginning of fall, including the magical transition that happens in-between the two.
It’s a place we’ve both wanted to explore for years. I’ve followed numerous blogger friends who’ve traveled this way in the past and their pics always had me drooling. Plus this summer was going to be extra special. Not were we going to cross off a bucket list location, but we were going to do it with family, traveling with my dad (in our rig) and Paul’s dad and stepmom (in their rig). It doesn’t get much better than that!
SO Much Coastline
The thing that’s always attracted me most about Maine has been the coastline.
Yes, I know Maine is not ALL coast (there’s lots of inland beauty here too) but we’re both huge fans of the water, and anytime we can get close to it we do. It’s not really because we swim (unless it’s warm) or kayak (not really our thing) or even go boating much (thanks to my sea sickness), but we love it simply because it brings us peace.
There’s something so incredibly soothing about watching water flow and the natural tides rise and ebb. It’s a visual connection to the physical forces that shape this world, the movement of time and the planets. It’s just so….grounding!
And here in Maine that connection is everywhere.
Maine has 3,478 miles of coastline (5,000 miles if you include all the Islands!) which is more than almost any other state (only AK, FL and LA boast more). The coastline curves and flows like crystal dendrites (= that’s a Materials Science thing, if you’ve never seen one click HERE) presenting no end of interesting coves and inlets to explore. You could literally spend months driving into all the intricate fingers and boating out to the islands. It’s quite the thing.
Our experience so far? We’ve been loving the crazy Maine coastline and totally digging the water vibe, but we’ve been driving (for sightseeing) way more than we originally thought we would! Many of the inlets here are SO big that what looks like a short drive on the map (say, 5 miles as the crow flies) can take longer than an hour to drive simply because of how far you have to drive back up (inland) to get from one cape onto the next one over. Driving distances are deceiving here!
And of course that’s not all. Thousands of miles of unfurling coastline mean lots of places for ships to get stuck or shipwrecked, which means…..you guessed it….lighthouses!
There are ~65 historical lighthouses (57 active) still standing in Maine, the oldest of which dates back to 1791. The lighthouses are famed for their beauty, positioned as they are along the spectacular winding coast, although many require off-shore excursions to get to. It’s not the state with the most lighthouses (that’s Michigan if you want to know), but it’s got an INTENSE concentration of them in very close quarters.
Our experience so far? Oh yeah, we’re going nuts on the lighthouses here! Get ready for more lighthouse pics than you might ever want to see….
Wild Blueberries & Lobstah Are EVERYwhere
The other thing Maine is known for is wild blueberries and lobster (or as the locals would say lobstah). Wild blueberries are native to the area and more are produced here than anywhere else in the world. The lobster production (~130 million pounds last year) is just as impressive. Those are no small numbers!
Blueberries are something we both love and enjoy, but unfortunately the red crustacean is something only one of us can tolerate (I’m horribly allergic to shellfish of all types, so much so that even the smell makes me nauseous). However BOTH are incredibly cheap, abundant and easy to find here. So for those who enjoy the fruits of the sea, Maine is the place to indulge!
Our experience so far? Yup, we’ve seen them everywhere. Blueberry stands/pie/jam/you-name-it in every town and lobster meals in every restaurant (lobster rolls are literally more common than burgers. Even McDonalds has one!).
It’s SUPER Dog Friendly
The other big thing that attracted us to Maine was that we’d heard it’s SUPER dog friendly!
Not only are dogs allowed pretty much everywhere humans are, including eating establishments (dogs are welcome in pretty much all outdoor patio/seating areas), but they are ALSO allowed on trails inside Acadia National Park. The latter is practically unheard of and one of the things that makes Maine truly unique. In fact there’s only one other National Park we know that allows dogs on the majority of their trails (Shenandoah Valley National Park) so it’s a true treat to visit another.
Our experience so far? YES, it’s true. Maine is crazy dog-friendly. We’ve taken Polly just about everywhere with us here including restaurants and trails. It’s been great!
But The Season Is Short (And Busy!)
Maine is way up north which means the weather here can be extreme. Winters are long and harsh whereas the summers are gorgeous, but incredibly short. That combined with the beauty of the coast means it’s a popular spot!
May is really too early to come here*, but June starts to get nice and then July is IT. The area crowds up with visitors both local & international and remains packed solid through Labor Day. Right after Labor Day there’s a slight lull (kiddies go back to school you know), but then the leaf peepers come in. So you get another rush right up through Columbus Day after which it finally, truly calms down. Then, winter sets in again for the long haul.
In summer the crowds can get really bad here, especially in the most popular areas.
We’ve had a lot of friends travel this way so we knew this which means we also knew to book ahead. It’s not that you can’t “do” Maine in an RV in the summer without bookings. We’ve known many people who’ve done it, knocking from site to site around the place as they were able to find openings. It’s just that if you’re “beastly” in size** and want the best sites (waterfront mostly) for an extended period of time you’ve got to plan ahead to get them.
So we pin-pointed where we wanted to stay, planning a slow(ish) itinerary up the coast, finishing with a month-long stay just outside of Acadia National Park. Then we booked up our sites -> 6 months ahead!
Our experience so far? For our purposes it was well worth the effort to book ahead. At the campgrounds we’ve stayed at so far we’ve definitely seen some open spots, but most week-ends have been packed and all the “prime” waterfront spots have been fully booked everywhere we’ve been. We’ve been VERY happy with our site selection. Also traveling with family it’s been a relief not to have to think about making last-minute bookings or looking for availability. We’ve just been able to show up, go straight to our site and get on with sightseeing.
*NOTE1/ In Maine, many campgrounds OPEN on Memorial Day and CLOSE on Columbus Day so beware of this if you decide to come early or stay longer up north in your rig.
**NOTE2/ Smaller rigs have more choices than big rigs with many public campgrounds offering a larger selection of smaller-rig sites as well as a mix of reservation and first-come-first-serve sites. Also, inland campgrounds have many more openings than coastal camps.
Summer Temps Are Awesome!
One of reasons why people flock here like migrating birds in summer is that the weather ROCKS! It’s mostly sunny, clear blue skies and the average temp is around 70. For all those folks escaping in-land (and southern) heat it’s like a breath of fresh air. Spring and fall are nippy, but can also be beautiful.
Our experience so far? We’ve been in Maine since around the third week of Aug and it’s actually been much warmer than we expected, but I guess that’s been true just about everywhere in the US this year. We’ve seen MANY days of mid-to-high 80’s with only a few dipping into the low 80’s. But it’s been beautiful and sunny just about everywhere we’ve been! We’re just now (mid-Sept) seeing the first signs of nippy fall, but it’s STILL warm and mostly sunny. It’s been great!
But Bugs “Can” Be An Issue
For folks traveling coastal areas, one of the first questions that always comes up is “what about the bugs?”.
Up here in Maine the two worst offenders are blackfies and mosquitoes and reports range from them being REALLY BAD to being OK, depending on the month and year. From what we’ve read and heard blackflies can be horrible from late spring into early summer, while mozzies can run through most of summer. Fall seems to be the BEST time bug-wise with very little of anything pesky to annoy you.
Our experience so far? We must have hit the timing just right because in the ~4 weeks we’ve been here we haven’t really experienced ANY bugs to speak of. It’s been wonderful! However we met some RV buddies who’ve been in Acadia since early June and they told us the mozzies earlier this summer were HORRIBLE (like, literally swatting at clouds of the nuisances).
We’re currently scheduled to stay in Maine through around the first week of October so we’ll see how it all turns out, but so far we are LOVING it. Lots of new blog posts coming up (I’ll try to crunch them out over the next week so we can catch the blog up to real-time), so stay tuned for tons more coastline gorgeousness. Next stop -> Boothbay Harbor. See you there!
Useful External Links:
- Maine Lighthouse Guide -> Click HERE for a list, and HERE for Google Map version
- Visit Maine -> Good online guides HERE and HERE
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