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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just read singlecross' post about the hard side of life in "gritty Downeast ME." I am not writing this as a rebuttal but simply as a combination affirmation and reminder that his observations not only exist universally, but exist because his life choices force him into a vantage point where he can not help but to see.
I rode for many years as a commuter on the very roads he chronicles. 36 to 54 miles a day, (depending on season and/or the "Explorer" bus schedules) at least three seasons a year. Riding those roads it is impossible not to recognize the vast disparity between rich and poor. It is hard to ignore the vast numbers of for sale signs popping up on everything from cars, animals, homemade foods/crafts/services/etc, as people grasp tenaciously onto their tiny island footholds. All the while it is equally hard to ignore 100,000 sq/ft homes with nothing but waterfront and fleets of the people providing the aforementioned ride entertainment buffing the landscape of the latter. Many of these properties are many minutes in your brain before you get another glimpse of the spectacle that is your ride, upon which to ponder. In a fifty mile ride one can see the greatest examples of affluence as well as the greatest examples that people are suffering hard in the greatest country on earth. Poor and suffering with amazing scenery is still poor and suffering.
The numbers of people who have been priced off the island are staggering. Hopefully things level out again and those who perform the service tasks for the year around population will be able to regain footing and afford a decent life..ie without a trust-fund or lottery victory. Decent being reasonable rent or an affordable home payment where the home has a reasonable assessment of it's value and is taxed appropriately.
The true and gritty side too Maine however is simply Maine. Read the book Liberty Men and Great Proprietors, or any of the reports that got to Roosevelt during the depression if you do not believe me, Mainers have struggled to make ends meet on the shortcomings of in-payments to the local economies, and of having to adhere to a non-local economy for centuries. Here I also say that Mainers have also survived with divine dignity living outside of that non-local economy for centuries. Communities help their members.
I feel that it is a privilege to say that I am a Mainer and my previous 16 generations were as well. I also feel that it is my responsibility to express my, and my families observations, about what it means to be a Mainer as well. When vacationing in "Vacationland" do not forget to see the glimpses of reality. Remember the ad-hoc smatterings of rich and poor, new and old, from away and never going away. Appreciate for me all the treasures of authenticity and the legacy those who fight to keep it. Please respect the diversity in what I like to call my home and unofficially dub the "Ireland of New England." Maine and Ireland share a lot when it comes to the shared misconceptions by those that govern them from away.
Enjoy your lobster and remember it was the crap in the ocean from all those year-roundahs and their ancestry who help flavor them...yeah, "it" flows downstream. Sorry for ramblin'....Klug

Congrats to singlecross for the excellent photos of Bass Harbor and Tremont.
 

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I hope the Mainers can keep their places. I would be a shame if they had to spread their cultural quirks outside their own habitat. They are hard workers and that is their one very admirable trait! Nice place to visit but I'll be hanged if i'd live there amongst them.
 

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The problems you describe occur all over the country. I grew up in the mountains of N. Georgia, and retirees and rich folks from Atlanta and Florida have caused property values to skyrocket there. Within short distances, you will see million-dollar mansions and log cabins with tin roofs. My parents lived in a lake house they bought for $17,000 back in the 60s. Now rich people are buying up little fishing cabins (for hundreds of thousands of dollars), tearing them down and building McMansions. Instead of going to the lake to fish and live the simple life, they've got huge homes with security systems, entertainment centers, lawns with sprinkler systems, and boat houses nicer than the homes most local live in. The mansions sit empty most of the time. I don't know how the rich people maintain them because they are miles away from the towns and it certainly must take a lot of labor, but that's their problem. It won't bother me a bit to see that sort of real estate boom take a hit.

The same issues occur on the barrier islands along the coasts of NC, SC and Georgia. Locals are literally priced right off their property. Their children cannot afford to live where their parents lived unless they inherit property and can afford the taxes.
 

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"Spartina" by John Casey is a good fictional case study of this if anyone's looking for a good read.

Closer to home, I worry about losing my family's place on Lake Fairlee in Vermont. We want to keep it rustic, but renters want more amenities and more luxury. If we don't upgrade we can't justify raising the rent, but meanwhile taxes keep going up so more and more we have to rent. On the other hand, if we do upgrade it loses the character we so value. Rock and a hard place.
 

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I have friends that grew up in Aroostook County, and their neighborhood is definitely not "vacationland".
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This was not meant to be political, simply reactionary and reminiscent of the thoughts I had as I rode those roads. From the bike you are forced to allow a little more detail to sink in due to the length of your exposure to each image. Those roads were among my favorite in the world to ride. Again, just ramblin' about rides long one by.
I have ridden bikes in North Florida, Georgia Islands/ Mountains, Colorado, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Mass., Rhode Island, New York(mostly upstate,) California, Utah, and Alaska. I would be the first to agree that the situation is basically the same everywhere, but those are the roads that I call home and hit me the hardest. Thanks for reading ...klug
 
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