Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Maine?

Growing up in northern New Hampshire, I spent a lot of time exploring parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.  From the time I bought my first car, I started visiting all of the local-ish hotspots - North Conway, St. Johnsbury, Mt. Washington, Clark's Trading Post, Old Orchard Beach.

Some of my fondest memories are of trips to Portland, ME, for concerts and shopping at the Maine Mall.  I also really enjoyed my trips to Bethel, ME.  Bethel was really not much bigger than my hometown, but it had a movie theater, and a good one at that - the Casablanca.  There was also Pat's Pizza, the Big Adventure Center (with laser tag!), and occasional concerts at Sunday River.

Being the punk kid that I was, what I didn't fully appreciate at the time was the natural beauty of the area.  Grafton Notch State Park is right down the road, and I completely ignored it.  The one bit of nature that I did appreciate was the water.  I used to go fishing in nearby Locke's Mills with my dad.  He told me all kinds of stories about growing up on North Pond, where his father had a camp.  He always regretted not buying that camp when he had the chance.

Shortly after I graduated from college, my parents bought a small camp on North Pond.  It's not the one my dad grew up in, but it's right down the road.  It required a lot of work, since it was a true one (maybe two) season fishing camp with no amenities.  My dad, in true dad fashion, gutted the place and made it into a home.  My parents ended up living there full-time for a year or two before becoming snow birds, splitting their time between Maine and down south near me.

Every summer since then, I have made it a point to go visit while they're in Maine.  I'd go kayaking, play in Bethel, visit friends in NH, etc.  Each time I went it was harder to leave.  I fell in love with the place.

So a couple of years ago, when my parents told me that they feel like they're getting too old to go up there for much longer, and offered to sell me the camp in order to "keep it in the family" I jumped at the opportunity.  At that point in my life I was a couple of years removed from a divorce and already had it in my head that I wanted to retire early to somewhere in the north country.  This made those plans that much more real.

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