After leaving the Roadtrek factory last week, we headed east down the St Lawrence, crossed southern Quebec, and entered Maine through a one-man border crossing far up in the hills on Highway 27. We came down the valleys through beautiful fall foliage, heading for the coast, because we wanted to go back to Pleasant River RV Park in Addison, Maine, our favorite place around here.
I wrote the story of how we found this place back in 2008 when I was still working, and how we came back in 2010 after I had retired and we had first started fulltiming. It’s a six-spot campground on a tidal river owned by Ward and Harriet Perry. Ward runs lobster traps and has a few other things going – up here there aren’t many employment opportunities, so people make their own.
Above a certain size RV park, all these regulations kick in, and nobody is fond of regulations, so it’s just six huge campsites spread out over a sloping hillside overlooking the river. The Perrys have loyal customers who come up here year after year, and some spend the whole summer here. When you visit you aren’t just blowing through, you’re fitting into a community. Everyone is very friendly, and it’s fascinating to talk to the locals who have been here for generations.
For some reason I always seem to be here in October, at the tail end of the camping season. It’s still above freezing at night, but 60 degrees is a warm day this far north on the coast. There are many day trip opportunities nearby to see the blueberry patches, glacial terrain, and the rugged Maine coast in Acadia National Park just down the road. Growing up in the south I had only read about these things, and it was very enjoyable to meander around and explore. You get a good feeling for how people made a livelihood out of this unique landscape, where farming isn’t as easy as it is further south. The sea is where people go to feed their families.
Early every morning when the weather is tolerable, you can see the lobster boats going down the river and out to sea as people do what their fathers and grandfathers did before them – harvest the bounty of the ocean. It’s cold, hard, dangerous work, but they are very, very good at it. You have to be to make it back home safely.
Ward has his grandfather’s lobster permit – number 24. On the roof of his boat (which was also his father’s boat) is a hand-carved cedar lobster trap float his grandfather made, with his initials and the permit number carved into it. The only major change in lobster fishing technology in the last hundred years is that the boats are motorized now – everything else is still the same. It’s a matter of knowing the sea and where the lobster are.
If the lobster cooperate, you can pick up fresh-off-the boat lobster right here at the campground – Harriet will cook them for you. It was an amazing treat – they taste like no lobster I have ever had before. We are way down at the end of the lobster supply chain where I grew up down south, and what we get is hardshell lobster who have been sitting in a lobster pen or tank for weeks or months. Up here they eat peelers – lobsters that have recently molted, and don’t require power tools to get into, but that also don’t ship well. You can break the shell with you hands and easily pick out big chunks of delicious lobster meat that tastes like the ocean, not some lobster pen, because a few hours ago it was in the ocean.
It’s chilly, but we’re all snug in our Roadtrek with the radiant Alde heating system, sitting here looking out over the river. That heated floor sure comes in handy in this weather. Deer wander through the campground, the trees are full of apples, and the lobster boats go out at dawn, just as they always have up here. We have always talked about coming down the East coast in the fall, but usually ended up staying out west until it was almost Thanksgiving and time to head back to Florida for holidays with our families. It took us eight years to get back to Maine, but we made it, and we’ll be back again, now that I know what real lobster tastes like.