September 1, 2013

Deirdre Fleming: Maine should be Vacationland for residents, too

Last month, Travel & Leisure magazine listed Mount Desert Island 25th among the "World's Best Islands." Pretty great accolades. But the funny thing is, the home of Acadia National Park is merely one of Maine's best coastal hiking and paddling spots.

Really, our state is blessed with such places. And if you stop to think about it, the reality is everyone knows that.

Consider that two of the past four years, Outside magazine named Portland one of the nation's most livable outdoor cities. And two years ago, Maine was ranked No. 2 in the nation among "bike friendly" states in an assessment done by the League of American Bicyclists.

See a trend?

For a state with just 1.3 million people and not a ton of industry, we do outdoor fun right in Vacationland. That's why when it comes to the outdoors, we often make the list.

Field & Stream recently rated northern Maine one of the wildest places in the U.S. And last year, Lonely Planet seconded that notion, with a nod to Aroostook County's gorgeous open, big-sky country.

Why does Maine make so many top outdoor lists at so many national magazines and outdoor organizations?

Think about it.

We have more wild brook trout than anywhere else in the country; more moose than any other state in the Lower 48. We are among the top three states for black bear with more than 30,000. We are chockablock with bald eagles and have more loons than any other New England state. Certainly, we have more water to recreate on ...

Maine is home to the longest protected wilderness waterway east of the Mississippi. And our jagged coastline that is a paddler's dream is so vast that it would reach from Maine to Oregon if stretched end-to-end.

Sure our ocean is cold, but you can surf it. Even in winter. Plus we have mountains to ski.

You get the point.

And yet there are those among us who leave all this and vacation elsewhere, and I'm starting to wonder why.

Last year was the first in five that I left Maine to vacation, and after a summer of fun from the mountain trails to the island beaches, I'm rethinking that choice.

Maybe the grass, as well as the woods and pure lake water, is not always greener somewhere else.

And if you needed just one reason to stay here and explore 6,000 miles of lakes, 32,000 miles of rivers and a number of 4,000-foot peaks, here it is: There isn't one wild animal in Maine that will eat you.

I think that's a pretty compelling reason, myself.

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

 

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