Monday, July 18, 2011


I feel as if this story should begin "It was a dark and stormy night"...but it actually began on a peaceful summer afternoon.  After packing up for our long-awaited week-long camping trip, DH and I literally got lost for three hours on the top of a mountain in Middle of Nowhere, Maine. Bad enough to be lost...but we just happened to be dragging a 17 foot camper, a 16 foot canoe, half a cord of firewood, a case of wine, and four Trader Joe's bags full  of  "Weight Watchers" food through the wilderness with us.
The first two hours of our trip went smoothly and we arrived in the tiny town of Andover, Maine at 1:00 p.m. To give you an idea of how small this town is, here is the only vehicle we saw at the gas pump the whole time we were there.

We were told that the campground was in South Arm, 12 miles from Andover, on a dirt road.  No problem...we had a GPS, a cell phone, and, if all else failed, a car door loaded with maps. So after lunch at the Andover Country Store and Diner, we were back on our way and excited to start setting up camp  at the 2:00 p.m. check-in time.

The GPS led us past the Andover Hook & Ladder Company to a left turn down a narrow paved road that soon turned to a narrow gravel road.  "We must be almost there", I excitedly said to DH, "here's the dirt road we heard about".

I have to admit that the excitement about the dirt road waned by the mile as the camper slid over the gravel, swerved around the occasional rock, and began to vibrate as we started up a hill. It was at about that time that we were passed by two ATVs whose operators looked at us a little strangely, hesitated, shrugged and finally waved. Nice of them to welcome us to South Arm, we thought. We noticed that the GPS now showed no roads, just a little triangle (that would be us) creeping across a blank blue screen.

When we turned at a fork and the hill became the side of a mountain, we finally  began to realize that we were in big trouble. There was no place to turn the camper and no way to go but up. Whistling in the dark, I cheerfully said to DH, "We're OK, just put the truck into first gear". He did and we made it about 50 more feet before the weight of the camper (and the canoe, the firewood, the wine and the Trader Joe's bags ) started pulling our truck down the side of the mountain...backwards. While DH fought to keep us from crashing into a ditch, I helped out by covering my eyes and screaming until we miraculously got to the bottom in one piece. After a running start and a second attempt in first gear, we made it up to the top and found ourselves a clear cut lumbering area...where the road ended completely.

Needing a break to catch our breaths, we got out of the truck to figure out what the he** we were going to do now. That was when I remembered my trusty cell phone. Opening it frantically, I read the  reassuring message on the screen..."No Service". If the cell phone could talk, it probably would have said, "Dear Cheryl...are you a total idiot? You are on the top of a mountain in Middle of Nowhere, Maine with a 17 foot camper, a 16 foot canoe, et al and you expect me to get you out of it? No way!" The truck and camper didn't appear damaged so we did the only thing we could do...turn around to face the steep hill again, only this time we were at least going to do it in a forward direction.

Here we go!

After three hours on the mountain, we found our way back to the right road, arriving at camp at 5:30 p.m. for our 2:00 p.m. check-in. Distance covered : twelve miles; elapsed time of trip: three and a half hours (Thank you, GPS, for the update!).

Relieved to finally be safely at our campsite, DH said, "Why don't you set up the inside of the camper and I'll do the outside".  So I opened the door to the Casita to start putting things away and saw this...

and this...

and this!  I finally began to realize how Dorothy must have felt after her house spun around a few times.

Since the purpose of our "wilderness getaway" was to relax and leave the cares of the "outside world" behind for a whole week, we were not off to exactly the kind of start we had hoped for.

But then, I stepped out of the camper and saw this...
and it made the whole crazy day worthwhile.


Esther is not-quite-perfect said...

Oh my word!! This "I helped out by covering my eyes and screaming " has me laughing so hard my dog has left the room!!!!
Glad you finally made it to that beautiful spot!!!

AuntLou said...

Wow! Yes, I would say that beautiful sunset made it all worth it, as well. Was there a distinguishable difference at the beginning of the dirt road you were looking for and the woods road you detoured on?

We headed up a road that was closed on our honeymoon. I saw the sign, but DH did not.
The snowmobile-rs and 4WD truck driver gave us that exact once over. We were in a tiny Mazda. :)

Anonymous said...

"LMAO" from your sister in Londonderry ! You know Nancy certainly would be too ! I know you said it was bad but that interior spoke volumes !!!

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

Did you need firewood to keep warm? WOW...that must be nice.

I've always wanted a camper, but my husand is not crazy about the idea. Getting lost like you did would be his excuse to never go again. If I had gotten out to take a picure he would have kept going and I bet there are bears there! That picture was gorgeous and I'm sure the view helped you relax and enjoy your vacation. That was quite an ordeal.