It’s Mainly About Maine – In 3 parts

For the first time in two years, I got on an airplane. It was for a vacation and we went to Maine. Why Maine? you may ask. Well, Maine, other than being a very pretty state is the 50th one I have visited. I have now completed the entire set of 50 states, plus Puerto Rico.  

I flew into Bangor, Maine and rented a car to drive to Bar Harbor. If you haven’t seen car rental prices lately, you may want to consider buying a car when you get to your destination and selling it when you leave.

While in Bangor, I decided to visit Steven King. King lives in Bangor and his house isn’t had to find. It’s big, scary looking, and the wrought iron gates to the house look like spider webs. Since I couldn’t get past the gate to ring the bell, I just called out for the author. “Oh Ste-ven” but when I did, other people took pictures of me in case there was trouble.

From there it was on to Bar Harbor, recently voted the #1 Tourist Trap in America. Bar Harbor is a small town with narrow streets and very limited  parking. It is also home to dozens of restaurants and bars who offer food and drinks, but not parking lots. So people cruise around town until they find a parking place, creating nasty traffic. I live in a big city with lots of traffic and did not necessarily want any on vacation, so live and learn.

One of the highlights of Bar Harbor is Bar Island, about half a mile away. At low tide, the ocean recedes to reveal a walkway between the mainland and the island. I wanted to explore this so we got to the embarkation point as the tide started to ebb and noticed at least 50 other tourists there for the same experience. As they all stood staring at the receding

sea, I grabbed my walking stick, went in front of them, held up my stick and said, “Let my people go!” Then when the walkway completely opened up I shouted “Hurry, the chariots are coming.” Good crowd.

Maine is known for several specialty foods and I tried several. First and foremost is the lobster. Lobster fresh from the sea is served at all local restaurants at extravagant prices. I asked why lobster, caught a quarter mile away, costs more than the same lobster costs in Nebraska. The server looked at me and said “You’re not from here are you?”

The lobster was good but there are other fish in the sea and I tried the tuna. It was delicious and was fresh out of the can. Sorry Charlie, but you were tasty.

The highlight of Bar Harbor is the proximity to Acadia National Park. Acadia in the second most visited national park after Yellowstone, and most of the visitors were there the same time I was. At least I didn’t have to worry about parking in the park, because all of the spaces were already taken. Another speciality food is available in the park in the form of at the popover. It’s served at Jordan House and when we arrived, there was a 45 minute wait for a popover, so on to my next speciality food.

Moxie is a local soft drink that started in Maine and was sold to Coca Cola but still only available in Maine. Moxie has been around since 1870 and is said to have curative powers. I tried a can and found it to taste like root beer with a hint of battery acid. Perhaps it would be better with vodka.

PART 2 – The story continues

Acadia National Park is the second most visited park in the National Park system. Unfortunately it’s also the smallest park, which means that all of the visitors are crowded into a smaller space resulting in lines, traffic, and lack of parking. The views are nice and it’s a good place to hike, but there are no geysers, mud pits, or wildlife to speak of. Other than that, it’s a nice place.

I drove along the Park Loop Road and took in all of the sights including Seal Beach, which had no seals, and Otter Bay which had no otters. Locals told me that they had already left for the season.

Within the park is a restaurant called the Jordan House which is famous for its popovers. People were standing in line for  popovers, even though they didn’t know want a popover was. It’s basically a bun with jelly so I didn’t wait in line.

The locals told me I was visiting in the lull period between the end of summer vacation and the arrival of the leaf peepers but I cannot imagine how much more crowded it could get. So much for a relaxing time.

Another culinary treat in Maine is blueberry pie. The blueberries that grow wild here are perfect for pies and everybody sells them.  I tried to consume a slice a day and must say that they were all delicious. the other speciality I never saw before is Lazy Man’s Lobster. It’s a lobster taken out of its shell and presented as a pile of meat. No fighting with your food, just enjoy the cholesterol. 

The next stop was Ft. Knox, no not the one where all of the gold is allegedly kept, this one was billed as the Original Ft. Knox and was built on the Penobscot River to guard against attacks on a valuable shipping port. It was built entirely out of granite, sourced locally. Massive blocks were hauled up a hill and placed by hand to create the structure. It was backbreaking labor and could only be done in the summer, because of the weather. That’s why they started the fort in 1844 and didn’t finish construction until 1869, Even more amazing is that Ft. Knox was never used. No shots were ever fired in combat from the fort. They were only used a couple of times for celebrations. The cost to build the fort was about one million dollars in 1844, which I think would be a about kazillion dollars today. Expensive and never used, another government project.

After a day of wandering around and passing at least 300 antique stores, I wound up in Rockland, Maine, home of Virginia Oliver, a 102-year-old lobster woman who goes out lobstering every day with her 78-year-old son. She has even become a local celebrity by starring in a commercial. In the spot she is asked when she plans to retire. Her answer was, “When I die.” 

 The next stop after Rockland was the Marshal Point lighthouse. This particular lighthouse is famous in that it was featured in the film Forrest Gump. Forrest ended his cross country run at this lighthouse, and then I guess went directly into the gift shop.

The adventure concludes in part 3.






PART 3 – The thrilling conclusion

My final port of call on this trip is Portland, Maine’s largest city, but on the way there I found two interesting stops. The first is in Bath, a maritime center of olde. The Maine Maritime Museum is huge and one could spend the day there and never get seasick. Many ships were built here between including the largest wooden ship ever built.



Built in 1909, the Wyoming was 450 feet long and had six masts. It was huge and undoubtedly had a showroom that could fit a circus and  14 shuffleboard courts on deck.

From the museum I headed to the mecca of outdoor living, the headquarters of L.L. Bean. It was a huge store filled with lots of overpriced sweaters but across the street was a store that sold Whoopie Pies, another Maine delicacy.
A Whoopie pie is slightly larger than a hockey puck and twice as delicious. The pie is made of two circles of cake, bound together by frosting in the middle. It looks like an Oreo on steroids and tastes like cake and frosting.

In Portland I went to eat in the Old Port section, a street full of bars, restaurants, and no parking. It’s called the hip part of town, evidenced by the loads of tour busses filled with people who need new hips.

The final adventure from Portland was a visit to several more lighthouses, including the Portland Head Light, the most photographed of all the lighthouses, and therefore the one with the best gift shop. Then I was off to Kennebunkport, summer home of the Bush family. I cruised around the downtown area to see if George or Laura were shopping for popovers but I found no one of celebrity status. I also found no parking.

All in all I had a good time exploring Maine and if you ever plan to visit, here is the most important thing I learned. When you look at a restaurant menu and the lobster is listed as “market price” check how much money you have in the stock market because you’re going to need it to pay for the lobster. 

So I bid farewell to the Granite State with one last idea for the few McDonalds restaurants I saw. If you want to see lines out the door, start serving Mc Popovers.



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A Viral Editorial

By now, you may have heard that we are in the middle of a pandemic. A pandemic is worse than an epidemic, or an academic, in that anybody, anywhere can catch it. It’s like CNN. You can go anyplace in the world, turn on the TV, and find CNN. Like we need to be constantly reminded that it’s bad out there.

A reader asked me what my thoughts are about the COVID-19 / CNN virus, and quite honestly, I don’t have any. I am not allowed to leave my house, and if I do I have to wear a mask while constantly washing my hands. That is a lot to think about and leaves me little time for other, more purifying thoughts. Like toilet paper. Since it is now more valuable than oil, people are hoarding as much as they can get their hands on, and I want to know if there are other uses for toilet paper that I don’t know about. 

I know the first reasons, number one and number two but beyond that I don’t know why anyone would need so much TP. Then I read about people putting on weight during this crises because they are bored and have nothing else to do but eat. Well, find something to do chubby because you’re using up our paper. Think about it, the more you eat, the more occasions there will be to use toilet paper. By doing simple math, I came to the conclusion that the less you eat, the less paper you are going to need.

I also want to know what’s up with face touching. Authorities tell us not to touch our faces but that’s easy for them to say because it’s not  their face. It’s your face and you have a right to touch it. The problem exists in that the virus can exist on your recently washed hands and enter your body through your head openings, being ears, nose, mouth and eyes. Therefore, the way I see it, if I deny access to those openings, I should be able to touch my face with my newly washed hands. So if you are a face-toucher like me, all you have to do is use goggles to cover your eyes, ear plugs in your ears, cotton your nostrils, so you can breathe, and a strip of duct tape across your mouth. Then feel free to feel away.

And I would like to know why, in this time of home confinement, the television networks insist on giving us the crappiest programs they have. Personally, I don’t give a rat’s ass who the Bachelor picks, what game Ellen is playing, or who claims to be a Mental Samurai. It’s all mindless pap that doesn’t deserve our attention. What we need are more shows like The Tiger King. It opens our eyes to another world, and opens our throats when we gag. But, in this time of need, where is the Tiger King? He’s sitting in prison waiting for COVID-19 or a presidential pardon, which ever come first. 

So I guess my thoughts about the coronavirus are that it is bad, and you should stay away from it. #useyourbrain #washyourhands #hashtag.

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This Virus Has Gone Viral

The coronavirus now known as COVID-19, has come to be a royal pain in the ass, and I mean that in a metaphorical way, although judging from the lines at the stores, some people take literally. This brings me to my first peeve, why in hell are you people hoarding toilet paper? This isn’t even the kind of virus that causes the trots. It makes you cough, which is why I hoarded lozenges.

We are being told to wash our hands at every available opportunity or whenever we touch something. My hands have never been cleaner to the point that I have rubbed away an entire epidermal layer.

We are also told not to touch our faces, but nothing has been said about touching other people’s faces. If you do happen to touch another person’s face, wash your hands immediately afterwards.

In several states, including mine, all of the bars and restaurants are closed for at least two weeks. It’s a time of crisis and they close the bars? Where is the average guy supposed to seek solace? If he goes home, he’s not allowed to get within 6 feet of other humans, which I am fine with.

All sporting events have been curtailed, and theaters have suspended productions. Any place that attracts large crowds is being shut down, which leaves us with the entertainment options of curling or improv.

Instead, I thought I’d just watch TV but every program was either a warning that we were all going to die, or a documentary on how to wash our hands while singing. I watched everything there is on Netflix, even the rom-coms, and now I’m working on watching the 87 DVDs I collected over the years.

As far as being in the crosshairs of this virus attack are concerned, why are seniors deemed to be the most vulnerable? What the hell did we do to deserve this? We made it through swine flu, bird flu, Hong Kong flu, and ebola, but apparently this coronavirus feeds on old people. This is influenza age-discrimination, and somebody should be sued.

The one bright spot in this pandemic is that people 65 and over have been told, begged even, to stay in their homes and not go anywhere. I think I can handle that. Now that the bars are closed, I have nowhere to go anyhow, so this warning pretty much fits my lifestyle. Stay home, mail is delivered, newspaper is delivered, pizza is delivered, liquor is delivered, and anything from Amazon is delivered FREE. I think I’m good.

Let me know when it’s safe to go outside again.

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A View Of Christmas Past

At this writing, we are only two days away from Christmas, a time of joy, family, and gifts that need to be returned. Over the years, Christmas hasn’t changed, but all of the accompanying traditions have, and as a card carrying member of the Boomer Generation – Yes, I carry a card, it’s Medicare – I get nostalgic about Christmas. I started to compare the differences between Christmas 1959, and Christmas 2019. When I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, Christmas was something special. If you ever saw “A Christmas Story” you saw where I lived. The Christmas Story house is open to the public (for a fee of course) and is about 5 miles from where I grew up. In fact, my nephew currently lives in the house I grew up in, and it is also open to the public…for a fee.

Back then we decorated our homes with strings of lights that had bulbs the size of eggs. We hung our lights from the eaves.  Some people went to the extent of outlining their whole house in lights. That seemed like a lot of work. We hung our lights from the eaves, and perhaps had a wreath on the door. 

But alas, the power consuming lights of old have been replaced by green options like background projectors and inflatables. The giant inflatables are always snowmen, or Santa, or Olaf. I have never seen an inflatable nativity scene, but perhaps that’s a market I should look into. 

As far as I’m concerned, if you are going to have inflatables in your yard, it is your responsibility to keep them inflated 24/7 during the season. If you pull the plug in the morning, the inflatables collapse, and your property is littered with limp plastic that looks like Santa’s  been shot and Frosty melted. Try explaining that to a small child.

Back in the boomer years, our Christmas trees came in two varieties. You had either a live tree, which was an ironic term considering the tree died when it was cut. You got it from the neighborhood lot. The other option was an aluminum tree that you got from Sears. 

Live trees were decorated with lights and ornaments and tinsel. The aluminum trees were illuminated with a spotlight that had rotating colors. They lacked ornaments, and tinsel would just be redundant.

The tree I have now looks very real and is made of some sort of polymer substance developed in China. The lights are pre-strung on the tree and they operate with a remote control. I have to salute technology on this advancement.

Back in 1959, every major department store had a Santa that you could visit, for free. Today, there is one Santa per mall and there’s usually a charge. The thing I could never understand as a kid, was how Santa could be at every store at the same time. I asked my dad, a Teamster, and he said, “It’s a union thing.”Then it made sense. 

I remember spending a lot of time in church at Christmas when I was a kid. There were services on Christmas Eve, and Christmas. And if Christmas fell on a Tuesday or a Saturday, you’d be in church three days in a row! As a kid, that’s a lot of church. 

The best part about Christmas as  kids was the presents. If you believed in Santa, he would bring you presents. Your parents would also give you presents. It was a perfect double dip. I told my parents that I believed in Santa until I was 15.

All things considered, Christmas hasn’t changed much, because in 1959 as well as 2019, we all know that when Christmas is over, everything is going to be on sale.

These are my Christmas memories from the boomer years. I’d love to hear yours.

Merry Christmas.

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Dale Does Dixie – A Southern Adventure

I recently returned from an adventure into America. Five intrepid adventurers on four motorcycles, traveled from the big city to the rural south and we learned a lot along the way.

The purpose of the trip was to motorcycle down the Natchez Trace, a 444 mile National Park byway through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Trace has been in use since the 1600’s when it was an Indian trail. Then it was used by rafters who floated their goods down the Mississippi to Natchez. They sold their goods and their rafts and walked home on the Trace. It went from a trail to a road before the Civil War, and in 1930 it was built as a scenic byway. 

The Trace is the perfect road for bikes because there are no stoplights, no potholes, no commercial traffic, and a speed limit of 50 mph. It is basically a well maintained road through the woods. The only problem with riding the Trace was that we had to first ride 600 miles to get to it.

We left Chicago and headed south along backroads and saw nothing but soybeans and corn for miles and miles. That’s it, just soy beans and corn, which sounds like a rural AM radio team. “Hey, it’s Soybeans and Corn in the mornin’”. Eventually we came to the town of Casey, Illinois, the home of really big stuff. 

Casey prides itself on having the world’s largest rocking chair, the largest pencil, the largest mailbox, the largest wind chime, and loads of other really big stuff. I had no problem sitting in the world’s largest bird cage but was told to keep out of the world’s largest wooden shoes. The Guinness World Record giants are the work of Jim Bolin, a Casey native who apparently had too much time on his hands. What I found most interesting is that the giant objects all had relevant Bible verses written on them. For instance, the world’s largest yardstick bore the inscription, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:2. I was so impressed that I put a Biblical verse on my motorcycle. It read, “Thou shalt not steal” Exodus 20:15. 

The next day we rode through the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois and stopped by the Garden of the Gods. It is an impressive rock canyon that was once under water, thus the rocks have unusually and stunning designs. From there we rode to Metropolis, which we all know is the home of Superman. 

In the comic books, Metropolis was the fictional setting for the man of steel, but the Illinois city of Metropolis had the name long before the comics and decided to cash in on it. So they have a giant statue of Superman who looks like he would be right at home in Casey. Right next to the statue is the gift shop filled with more Superman paraphernalia that one could ever use. I liked the bag of stones that were spray painted green and being sold as Kryptonite. I guess P.T. Barnum was right.

It was time to leave Illinois.


Across the Ohio River from Metropolis is Paducah, Kentucky. This is where I first started to notice confederate flags flying from pick up trucks. We zipped through Kentucky and spent the Night in Nashville, Tennessee, but we were too tired to enjoy it.

The next morning, we finally got to  the Natchez Trace. No more soybeans and corn, we were looking at fields of cotton that looked like giant popcorn blossoms. I think this was the first place Eli Whitney distilled cotton to make cotton gin.

By lunch time, we were in Alabama and had lunch in Muscle Shoals at a little cafe right off the Trace. It was a place visited by the locals who seemed to come in two sizes. The “big boys” averaged 300 pounds, wore overalls, and sported Z.Z. Top beards. The other type weighed about 100 pounds, wore t-shirts, and cooked meth. They all spoke a language that was very similar to English and stared at us like we were from the government.

We departed Alabama and plunged right into Mississippi. This is where I started to hear banjo music The major Mississippi tourist attraction is in Tupelo. It’s Elvis Presley’s birthplace. A large museum / gift shop abuts the modest three room house in which Elvis was born. If you want to take a look inside, it’s a $19 ticket, or $6.33 per room. 

Next to the house was the outhouse Elvis used. Many ElvisHeads were gathered around the one hole when I said, “Isn’t it ironic that he also died on the toilet?” Nobody laughed. Nobody laughed in the gift shop either when I asked if they had any Elvis pill boxes.

We also visited the hardware store in Tupelo where Elvis’ mom bought him his first guitar. There is even a mark on the floor where Elvis stood when he was handed the instrument. I was underwhelmed at the sight.

After spending the night in Tupelo, I couldn’t wait to get back on the road so we headed down the Trace to the cypress swamp. The swamp had a boardwalk over it and signs warning to watch for alligators. Good thing I was wearing the alligator repellant they sold me at the gift shop because we didn’t see any. But as we left the swamp, a gator was spotted in the water along the side of the road. He knew to keep his distance.

Once we got to Natchez, we wanted to see the infamous area called Under the Hill. In the days of the rafters, the Under the Hill area was the notorious gathering place for hookers, thugs, and gamblers. My kind of town

Since we decided to visit the Under The Hill Saloon, the oldest bar in Mississippi, we took a cab. I tried Uber but they don’t exist down there. Our cabbie was named John, and he owned Rock N Roll Cabs. John was in his 70’s and ran his business from the seven cell phones he carried. When he temporarily lost one, he used another to call the number so we could find it. John drove slowly, which was good because he refused to wear a seatbelt which made the seatbelt alarm constantly ringing. John also ignored many traffic signals because he was answering one of his phones, by saying “Rock N Roll.” After hearing him answer the phone like that 15 or 16 times, we adopted it as our adventure catch phrase.

Miraculously, John got us to the bar and back home again and our visit to Mississippi was officially over. The next day we crossed the river into Louisiana.


I have visited Dixie many times and I have always been a fan of their cups, but I have only been to the larger cities that I flew into. Louisiana was my first eye opening exposure to the rural south. By now, the accent had gotten so thick that you need an English/Southern dictionary. This, when accented with a Louisiana/Cajun touch, makes the locals sound to me like they are speaking Klingon.

The main mode of transportation down here is the pick-em-up truck Not a Tesla in sight. The average home has 3.5 pick-em-up trucks parked in the front yard. One works, one doesn’t, one is just for parts, and the rusted out shell of the last one is sometimes used as a planter. In addition to the trucks, you will also see old laundry appliances, refrigerators, tires (pronounced “tars”) and a mattress or two in the yard. Yard art takes on a whole different meaning down here.

Many of the houses looked badly in need of repair to the point that the TV show “Fix This House” has never been here. Too much of a challenge. And even though the roof of the house may sag, it still supports three to four satellite dishes.

Outside of acquiring indoor plumbing and libraries in this part of Louisiana, the biggest problem is kudzu. Kudzu is an invasive vine that was illegally imported from Japan. ICE officers should be deporting it. This stuff grows fast in warm climates and surrounds and smothers anything it comes across. Kudzu vines cover entire trees, killing them. Kudzu will climb on fences, houses, and eventually the vehicles in the front yard. 

After a short romp through Louisiana, we entered Arkansas, the birthplace of President Bill Clinton. Bill was born in Hope, Arkansas, but we didn’t go there. We had already seen Elvis’ outhouse and didn’t need to see another. We also bypassed Little Rock, home of the Clinton Presidential Library. It’s the only presidential library to have books with centerfolds. I also found it interesting that the state motto of Arkansas, which is printed on their license plates is “The Natural State”, just like Bill Clinton liked his women.

Once in Arkansas, I began to notice more and more churches to the point that every town had a church on every block. No synagogs or mosques, but lots of churches. And outside every church was a sign, the illuminated kind with movable letters. And every sign had a different weekly saying. Some of my favorites were; “Need a lifeguard? Ours walks on water”, “Just love everyone. I’ll sort them out later. -God; and “Now serving pumpkin spice communion.”

Our terminus point for the day was Hot Springs, Arkansas, where Central Ave. is Bath House Row and is lined with houses offering baths in the regenerative hot springs water. I did not check out any of the houses so I don’t know if the baths are self serve or if someone else washed you. Either way I hope they change the water between customers.

One surplus that Arkansas has is snakes. These slithering demons are everywhere, even in the middle of the road, where we turned more than one of them into a snakeskin belt.

Continuing in Arkansas, we ascended Magazine Mountain, the highest point in the state. I don’t know how it got its name because when we got to the top, there was nothing to read. There was no Life, People, or Time. Plus, the mountain was completely fogged in on the day we visited. We saw nothing but fog for thousands of miles, but it was nice “natural” fog.

At the bottom of the mountain, we ran into a large group of bikers at a gas station. They were on their way to Fayetteville for a huge biker rally of up to 500,000 bikes. It’s called Bikes, Blues, and BBQ, and definitely sounds like an event t-shirt I have to buy on the internet so I can tell people I was there.

The next day was all about the riding through beautiful Arkansas roads, then a foray into Missouri, past the St. Louis arch, back across the Mississippi and into our home state of Illinois, where the state motto is, “We got a tax for that.”


Upon entering Illinois, we visited one of the highlights of the trip for me. The Cahokia Mounds  are giant prehistoric earthworks built by native Americans from 800 to 1100 AD. It took 300 years to build Monk’s Mound, one basket of dirt at a time. It stands over 100 feet tall and it is estimated that it took 15 million baskets of dirt to accomplish the build. No body knows for sure why the natives built these mounds but think the larger ones were built for ceremonial purposes. I think they built the mounds because they didn’t have amusement parks back then. A 100 foot mound makes for a good slide using a cafeteria tray for a sled, and if it snows, they had birch bark toboggans.

Rain accompanied us along old Rt. 66  but that just made the nostalgia seem more real. Route 66 was the only convenient way to travel from Chicago to California in the 50’s and 60’s. They even made a TV show about it. A lot of it has changed over the years but not the Palm Cafe in Atlanta, Illinois. It’s right on Rt. 66 and when you walk in, you walk into the 1950’s. The counter is original, the furniture is original, but the food is fresh and quite tasty.

Across the street from the restaurant was a giant statue of PaulBunyan. I don’t  know if Paul was ever in Atlanta, but the original statue featured him holding an ax. City officials felt that was too threatening so they replaced the ax with a giant hot dog, and if a giant hot dog isn’t threatening, I don’t know what is. I think they should put the ax back in his hand, seat him in the giant chair from Casey, and put it on top of Monks Mound. Now you have a sight to see.

The total math on this trip was 5 friends x 9 days, to the power of 2,400 miles equals a fantastic experience. Thanks for coming along. Rock N Roll!

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