August 26, 2010

Et cetera: Only in MAINE

Human ingenuity and natural processes have left weird and entertaining marks on our state.


Scoff at peculiarities in fine china if you must. But oddities in life -- those should be revered.

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Freeport’s Desert of Maine

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Maine has plenty of curiosities in residential yards, town squares and museum halls. Even the environment has developed some natural quirks of its own, like Bubble Rock in Acadia, where a massive boulder sits precariously at the edge of a high rock wall like a hesitant base jumper.

Or the Blowing Cave off Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport, where at high tide the waves are pressed between craggy rocks, creating tall explosions of water that shoot into the air like water from a whale's blowhole or a busted kitchen pipe.

And who can forget one of nature's more ironic practical jokes -- the Desert of Maine in Freeport -- where dunes of glacial silt took over 40 acres of former farmland? A Sahara two miles from the sea (with a well-stocked gift shop to boot).

Some of Maine's uniqueness comes naturally. But most of Maine's "weird" comes straight from the courageous, crafty -- dare I say, kooky -- minds of our fair locals. If you can dream it, a Mainer can build it -- with a little elbow grease, some scrap metal and a blowtorch.


Near the corner of routes 25 and 113 in Standish, an all-season snowman keeps watch over passing motorists from a safe harbor in a grassy front yard. Made of three large rocks stacked atop each other, the sturdy sculpture revels in its permanency by donning holiday-appropriate attire year-round, like the patriotic red, white and blue bikini it's sporting currently, along with a sign that reads "God Bless America."

A van-sized pig grazes in a yard on Route 5 in Limerick. In fact, it's not just van-sized, it is a van. The old Volkswagen has been painted a Pepto pink, along with a "family" of smaller pigs fashioned from toy cars.

There's a traffic jam of those same kid cars (not painted pink) on Beach Road on Long Island, with ducks and dolls behind the wheels. It's a sight that captures a passerby's attention as he's heading off to the beach on the island's eastern shore, but visitors shouldn't forget to look up, where bicycles have racked themselves in the trees.

Of course, solitary sculptures crafted from old wheelbarrows and shredded bike tires are swell for random roadside spottings. But to be a true yard-art destination, it's a matter of quantity.

Jerry Cardone has several acres covered in towering sculptures, including Santa, Bigfoot and a host of other fantastic creatures, as well as a rooftop gazebo in the shape of a flying saucer. His recycled-material menagerie, which he calls Seven Wonders of God Creatures in Houlton, is visible to visitors, and all of it is hand-crafted by Cardone with love.

If you're looking to bring some weird into your own home, but lack a soldering iron and several cans of spray paint, you can browse and buy at Elmer's Barn of Junk and Dead Things in Coopers Mills. Owner Elmer Wilson has spent three decades filling three floors with antiques and odd collections -- and for the right price, you can take some of it home.


Everything's bigger in Texas? P'shaw! Apparently, those Southern folks never saw the 14-foot-tall crank telephone in Bryant Pond. The "World's Largest Telephone" stands as a tribute to those cranky days of yore. It's also rumored to be the phone that Bangor's 31-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan uses to drunk-dial his ex-girlfriends.

For folks who love blueberries -- and I mean really love them, as in "I want to get inside their heads and know their innermost thoughts and dreams" -- Columbia Falls has a blueberry big enough to literally get inside. Wild Blueberry Land boasts an array of blueberry-centric items, edible and otherwise. And if you listen closely while inside, you can almost hear the blueberry whisper, "I always wanted to be a ballerina."

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Additional Photos

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Bangor’s Bunyan

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Portland’s Bigfoot, right, and owner

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Freeport’s Eartha

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Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls

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