Although it was August it was a damp, chilly day as we set off for Maine. I can close my eyes and place myself in the back seat of the station wagon driven by Wayne’s father. We had a canoe on the roof and we were setting off on a 10-day trip to Maine. To be honest I am not sure how this trip came to be. I was a friend with this family from church and I worked with Mr. W at W.T. Grant in Poughkeepsie.
They were a wonderful family, and it seemed to me the model for what a family should be. They had a nice home in Staatsburg, raised Siberian Huskies, and seemed never to argue. Almost the polar opposite of what I experienced at home.
We drove through the night and arrived in Greenville, at the South end of Moosehead Lake early in the morning. We stopped at an outfitter and rented a second canoe, and loaded our supplies aboard the two craft. As we held the boats at the landing while the car was parked and pushed off around 8 am. We paddled steadily for what seemed like four hours, finally pulling up to a small island to have lunch.
I was in awe of the beauty of the lake, and vastness and the wonderful privacy of the islands we passed. We saw Loons, Geese and Ducks of all kinds. The sun was warm, the air cool and fresh, and the activity steady for a couple of hours at a stretch. After lunch we headed off to the next island and then the next. Coming up on about 6 pm we pulled into a quiet little state park site on one of the islands, and made camp.
As we gathered sticks for the fire, and set up our tents a loon called in the distance. It was hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand with so much beauty around, the setting sun lit the lake with gem-like sparkles, and fish would leap from the pristine water after the gnats that had swarmed a few minutes earlier. It was the end of a perfect day.
The next day was much the same, as was the next. Finally we came to the final island in your northern paddle. We camped there for two days, and for the first time I saw a Bald Eagle, in flight and free. It swooped down snatching a fish from the lake and headed to its aerie, or nest. The spot the family had chosen was secluded and serene. We swam, fished, and explored, and then the weather began to turn.
The trip home, back to Greenville, was a challenge as storms rolled through the next couple of days. The mornings would be rainy, with thunderstorms in the afternoon. When the thunderstorms hit we would find the nearest island and seek shelter until it passed. One of the nights was especially memorable as we made camp in a driving rain with gusty winds. We secured the boats, but during the night something woke us and Mr. W got to the boats just in time to see one break free of its mooring. This was a fortunate thing, for it would have been a very bad ending to a wonderful trip.
Now, as a father with a lifetime of experience behind me I realize I never worried at all during the trip. I had placed my faith in Mr. and Mrs. W and knew all would be well. It is a very different experience when others place their faith in you.
The next day was our last on the lake; it remained overcast, misty, and wet. Much as it had been when we set out from New York. We arrived back in Greenville, secured our cargo, loaded the boat on the car, and turned in the boat we had rented. Before we headed back to our homes we took an excursion to the coast for an evening and a lobster dinner. It was my first experience with lobster, and I’ve got to say there is nothing better when you are sitting on a New England shore, watching the sunset.