Travel to Bangor Maine
Out of bounds, inconsequent, wholesome are three adjectives by which I describe Maine.
Thus being, Maine is an easy place to daydream. I have found that the places that I enjoy best are the ones where there is no reason to ever go. I like Maine. There is no rushing there, as you can really just walk slow, smoke your pipe, and watch the days pass. The people who live there know a little secret that they are not telling: they have made a little no-worry paradise on the nowhere fringe of a work-stressed land.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- December 15, 2008
Travelogue — Travel Photos
The people of Maine seem fiercely proud of their out-of-bounds homeland, and it is only with great folly that one would attach a negative adjective to their beloved state in their presence. I have seldom witnessed such regional sense of being anywhere in the world.
Maine sits on the northeastern stretch of a great continent, with the fishing coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia rising above and the whole mess of the USA falling below. Maine is a borderland, a nerve ending on the skin of a great body, the crusty and grotty fingernail on the outstretched hand of the United States. Maine is a noman’s land, a testament to the good a place can inherently have if it is just left alone. Maine is not of the USA, Maine is not of Canada, Maine is just Maine.
I descended into the Penobscot Valley late one night around three weeks ago. The Abenaki Indians called this village the “place of rocks,” but I knew it from maps simply as Bangor. I once thought of this little city back in my back-wood days of 2003, and thought that I may have made a good lumberjack here. I ended up in the Adirondacks instead at a bar called Watering Hole #3 with a bunch of wild eyed mountain and forest kids who like to ski. I just read books about Buddhism for a couple of months and then went to Asia. I must say that my lumberjack stint did not last too long.
The winter streets of Bangor are wide and virtually without car, person, or the movements of anything. Bangor is still, quite, as subtle as a sleepy time thought. The people there are hidden . . . somewhere, perhaps behind closed doors, tucked under heavy knit blankets in front of a fireplace reading old books and listening to National Public Radio. It almost goes without saying that Bangor is the literary capital of the United States.
The city of Bangor was once a logger town. Three to four hundred sawmills were strewn about the city and the surrounding valley. Large portions of Boston and New York City were constructed from lumber that was chopped and saw milled out of the forest surrounding this area. The California Gold Rush was also propped up by the lumber of Maine, before logging and sawmill operations could be constructed in the West. The towns of Bangor, Washington; Bangor, California; and Little Bangor, Nevada are odes to the eastern city’s lumber prowess.
Paul Bunyan is said to be from Bangor, but I would not recommend repeating this to someone from Minnesota.
“That area was called the devil’s half-acre,” a friend told me as she pointed to pack of closely packed together bars as we walked through the downtown district, “because this was the first stop for the loggers when they came back to civilization after months of being in the woods.” It is not difficult to imagine what the loggers wanted when they stomped out of their forest solitude, and Bangor gave it to them. Prostitute houses and beer gardens once lined these streets, and I was told that this was once a wild and wicked place where prohibition laws could not be enforced.
“There use to be look outs on each street corner who would yell to the bars when the prohibition inspectors would come near,” my friend continued, “this way the bars would have a chance to close and all the people could escape to the next bar.”
I looked at a couple little kids bundled in puff ball winter gear and knit caps walking hand in hand with their mother upon the frost glistening streets of Bangor, I looked around at the quaint antique bookstores and the coffee houses, and had difficulty imagining the place packed with horny lumber jacks, drunken out of their minds, long bearded, and going mad with the excitement that comes to men who descend from long bouts of mountain solitude to find civilization fresh again. I got the sense that Bangor had changed in the past hundred years, but then I looked into the rolling hills beyond, into the forests that still surround the city, into the gray winter sky, and I knew that this place tucked into the belly button of Maine still had the same old feel.
Links to previous travelogue entries:
Patriotism Around the World Survey
Tibetan Nomad Arunachal Pradesh Senior Thesis