Just an hour north of Bangor is a beautiful lake and mountain region, with secluded villages and towns along the way that seem to have defied time. They have kept their unique heritage while the cities have moved on. Greenville is slightly northwest of Bangor, while Millinocket and Baxter State Park are northeast, but the mountains connect within the valleys, if not by road, then by rivers, lakes, streams and forest trails. The cluster of mountains is sometimes referred to as The Highlands of Maine, especially by other romantics like myself.
My husband and I took an afternoon drive yesterday up through Greenville and into Kokadjo. We have never taken this route by car, only by snowmobile. We learned that our car’s GPS system didn’t recognize Kokadjo as a town—that’s how isolated it is. To snowmobilers it is a central hub for gas, and it is right in the center of all those beautiful forests and mountains. Winter thaw has begun. Snowmobilers are expecting just one more weekend before mud season is upon us.
I love this area of Maine, so much so that I set my first book here. While I have made up my own fictitious village, the environment is very real and just as isolated as I have portrayed in my series. Whilst this can be relaxing, it could also be quite scary and lonely. Having a house out in the middle of nowhere would frighten some people, especially because of the lack of neighbors and other people. In the event of any house break-ins, people would be very secluded and almost a prime target. It wouldn’t be surprising if the few residents of this area all had an alarm system fitted to their houses in order to make themselves feel safer. There are definitely pros and cons to living in an isolated area like this.
Wolves could easily hide for centuries in one of these villages in the valley of mountains, where modern devices can’t even locate. Mine have! Many of the people living in this area have to decide between things like whether or not to opt for the survival axe or hatchet? This tool can be used for gathering wood and even for defending against some of the not so friendly creatures dwelling in the forest and mountains.
I have learned on my travels that most people outside of Maine are familiar with our coastal towns, which are also stunning, but go inland and you will find Baxter State Park, the forest area around Katahdin, which is mandated not to allow any unnatural construction. There’s an occasional outhouse, and a few outer buildings, but for the most part it has remained untouched by modern development; it is also the end of the Appalachian Trail. Henry Thoreau wrote quite a few poetic verses on the Katahdin region. I love this one, perhaps even more so because the forest is still wild, and the moose still thrive…
The moose will perhaps one day become extinct; but how naturally then, when it exists only as a fossil relic, and unseen as that, may the poet or sculptor invent a fabulous animal with similar branching and leafy horns, – a sort of fucus or lichen in bone, – to be the inhabitant of such a forest as this!
~Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods
The environment of Katahdin is perfect for many wild creatures. There are rumors that gray wolves have been sighted but for now they are just rumors—our own local urban legend. Wolves are in the woods of our Canadian neighbors to the north, it is not a stretch of logic that they would migrate south if the environment supports their habitat. Wolves, I suspect, don’t recognize state or country lines on human maps, only forests and food. Perhaps one day that legend will be revealed as truth. I have not seen them in my woodland adventures, but I have seen many a deer and moose.
I don’t have any book news I can share just yet, other than I have seen the first draft of my cover and it is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! I have printed it out and taped copies all over my house—and can’t wait to share it with you!
Until then, I have posted a few pictures below that I took yesterday on our drive, and you can see why this area inspired more than one author over the years.
(post transferred from original blog)