First RV Vacation in Maine: 'Take Wide Turns'
Chastened, we ease off the rock and drive slowly to our campsite. We hook up the lines, balance the rig, and soberly unpack our things. At the flick of a lever, the port-side bedroom wall slides out just enough to make the room feel downright spacious. The bed is so comfortable. We fall asleep within minutes and dream guilty dreams.
Morning, and my optimism returns. The sun is shining, the forest is quiet, the air smells of leaves and woodsmoke, and we can heat our coffee in a microwave. Sure, last night was a bit of a setback, but the damage is purely cosmetic. We begin to think that the crack might not be such a bad repair after all. I call the dealership to report the damage, and the agent kindly downplays his dismay. “Well,” he sighs, “I suppose that’s why they invented insurance.”
We walk around the clear lake for a while, collecting leaves and skipping stones. I manage to skip one of my rocks five times: plink! plink! plink! plink! plink! In a rush of confidence I make an announcement: Today, I’m going to drive.
Two hours later, I’m lying on the couch, elbows crooked over my eyes, felled by a tension headache so powerful that I had to pull over on a road outside Camden. It’s not that the driving was so difficult. It’s that my shoulders were up to my ears all the way from Sebago. “I tried, I really did,” I whimper. And that’s the end of my driving. Lesson number three: To drive a 33-foot RV, it helps to have nerves of steel.
We stop for ice cream in Camden, stroll the shops — and I can’t help but think how much more fun this trip would be if we could just, well, stay at a nice inn. Scott cheers me up with more talk of the open road, and we head out of town with just enough time to get to Belfast before dark. We’ve booked a site at the Moorings Oceanfront RV Resort, a friendly campground with a private beach and sweeping views of Penobscot Bay. We’ll spend two nights there, take a side trip over to Bar Harbor for a day of hiking, then head down through Freeport, and home.
But first we need provisions. Just north of town, a big-box grocery store welcomes us to its massive bosom. Such ease of parking! Such complementary scale! We stock up for a simple meal: shrimp, pasta, salad greens. You can eat very well from a half-size kitchen, but it’s silly to fuss. I think of the leftover bottle of wedding Champagne chilling in the refrigerator and toss some chocolate into our cart.
It’s dusk when we reach the campground, a cool evening, with the islands and the bay melding in shades of slate and blue. We circle the RV, checklists in hand, slowly hooking up water and power lines. We spend a cozy evening alone, watching DVDs on the center-mounted TV. Halfway through the show, Scott disappears for 15 minutes. When I step out to look for him, he’s standing proudly next to a blazing fire pit, marshmallows in hand. We wash down our s’mores with the rest of the Champagne, toasting the RV life.
Daylight reveals the sort of flinty October day that makes you want to get out and seize the last of the good weather. The bay is framed by flaming-orange trees, and the air is fresh and nippy. Scott makes quick work of the drive to Acadia, and as we pass into the park, it occurs to me that a detailed map might be a good idea. But our plan is so simple: park at the base of Cadillac Mountain and hike up, take in the views of hills and ocean, come back down for lunch. I can even see the mountain from the road.
“Do we know where we’re going?” Scott asks. “Over there,” I say, pointing. “Just look for signs.” Sure enough, a mile or so down the road, I see it: a brown sign with white letters reading “Cadillac Mountain,” and an arrow pointing left. So simple. “Here!” I say. “Go here.” Scott turns and I scan for the parking lot, wanting to give him plenty of time to brake and turn. I scan some more. Must be just around the next bend. Maybe the next bend? The road is gaining elevation, and the turns are getting tighter. The realization hits us simultaneously …
“We’re on the auto road,” Scott says. “We’re on the auto road to the top of a mountain in an RV.”