Moose are synonymous to Maine as longhorns are to Texas. And like most visitors from the south, I anticipated seeing one on my first trip to the “Pine Tree State.”
|Photo taken August 25, 2012 in New Hampshire|
A visit to Mount Vernon, Maine, turned into an amazing five-week adventure as I took on the role of nanny to my twin nieces in 2011. After arriving on a rainy weekend in mid May, I awoke the next morning to a pristine view of Belgrade Stream flowing past my sister’s rental property. Adapting the mindset of being on an extended vacation, I waited patiently for a moose to meander by
Although the rain continued that Sunday, my sister took me to see Maine’s infamous Bar Harbor. During the drive, we spotted scorched blueberry barrens. My brother-in-law, a native Mainer, told me the barrens are burned intentionally to ensure a plentiful harvest. Hopefully the fires didn’t scare the moose into hiding.
Within my first few days in Mount Vernon, I was surprised to see two deer amble across my sister’s backyard. Hopefully a moose would mosey on by, too. However, I pondered if the honking geese in the cove nearby kept them away.
The geese grew quiet and the rain finally stopped the following week. However, pollen blanketed every square inch of the outdoors. The fine yellow dust, coupled with my severe head cold, kept me inside. I wondered where moose go to escape such outdoor elements.
I finally encountered one of the antlered beasts while sightseeing near the southern coast of Maine. Did I mention it was of the chocolate variety? Yes, that’s right. Not the pudding-kind of mousse, but a life-size moose carved out of chocolate at Len Libby’s candy store in Scarborough.
Memorial Day provided a three-day weekend to explore Canada’s Campobello Island. Before crossing the Canadian border, we stopped at a welcome sign touting Lubec, Maine, as the easternmost town in the United States. Wouldn’t it be something if moose roam that far east of their stomping grounds?
The scenic views of lobster boats rolling on the sea and ribbons of fog lacing through piney bluffs on the island were breathtaking and serene. I thought surely moose would enjoy the island way of life, but doubted they’d swim over from the mainland.
A couple weeks into my visit I still had not seen a moose, but scored big regarding the wildlife scene. Wild turkeys strutting across a country road caught my attention. As I inched my car through the bewildered birds, they skedaddled in all directions with wings flapping and neck wattles waggling. Their gobbles faded into the background as I eyed the disheveled flock in my rearview mirror. Adding to my wildlife encounters was the annual turtle migration taking place all over the state. One morning I discovered a large turtle digging a pit in my sister’s gravel driveway to lay eggs. Come to think of it, watching a moose giving birth on the driveway would have been a welcome surprise, too.
Shortly thereafter, my sister, nieces and I went on a whale-watching tour out of Boothbay Harbor. Two hours into the boat ride a whale breached, eliciting oohs and aahs from everyone on board. A moose frolicking on any of the islands we passed could have sent me into another frenzy of oohs and aahs as well.
A glimpse of the evasive creature would have made a sweet ending to my last full day in Maine as my nieces and I pedaled bikes around Portland’s Back Cove. However, such a sighting would not happen on this trip. Another 14 months would pass before I would actually see a real, live moose.
The picture posted at the beginning of this blog entry was taken this past Saturday. While visiting my sister for a third time in Maine, we decided to take a scenic drive through New Hampshire. She had just passed the entrance to the Wildcat Mountain Ski Resort on Route 16. As she rounded a bend in the highway, we came upon cars stopped in the middle of the road. A female moose trotted across the highway. Before I could focus my camera, the critter disappeared down an embankment and into the dense foliage. With the exception of a married couple in an SUV and us, all the other motorists drove away. As I ran across Route 16 toward the place where the moose was last seen, the SUV owner was rushing to the same point. We noticed a dirt road through the trees. He deduced that we could probably gain access by driving back to the ski resort. That is how we came upon the same moose munching on vegetation.
We were less than 15 miles from the Maine border when we spotted that moose in New Hampshire. On my sister’s bucket list was a desire to see a moose roaming free in Maine. Fifteen miles is not worth balking over in order for her to check that item off her list. I’m just happy I was privy to the event.
Maybe one day she’ll be a participant in an item I want to cross off my bucket list—a hot-air balloon ride.