Our route eschewed I-95 and followed Thoreau's trip by stagecoach along the Penobscot River. We travelled in slightly more comfort. At Lincoln we parted ways with the sage and drove east to catch Route 1. I'm pleased to report that those 50 miles of Route 1 between Topsfield and Houlton are bucolic: rolling land, thick woods, small farms and so little traffic that in the whole stretch we neither overtook, nor were passed by, a single car. It was an extra hour well spent.
Quite frankly Houlton isn't much to look at, especially on a Sunday afternoon. The downtown was deserted, except for a few teens hanging out. The bridge over the Meduxnekeag River, however, was quite handsome and, although we didn't realize it at the time, deserves the name Gateway Crossing, for the land to the north becomes truly different.
I also like the fact that the wood comprising the bridge has been left rough and unfinished, a tribute to the great forests that have meant so much to this area.
We stayed the night in the lovely Rum Rapids Inn on the Aroostook River just north of Presque Isle. Our walk for the day was a trek along a snowmobile/ATV track, complete with several ATVs belching noise and exhaust. Well, at least, the operators are getting outside. The track also crossed the river via an ATV bridge, recently re-constructed using, as our innkeeper said, Obama money. If any place in the country needed stimulus, it's the County, although I'm not sure how a trail trumped a road. Of course it's really Bush money, which seems more appropriate for this land of hunters and farmers. We tried to describe our perceptions of Aroostook thus far - the farms large and small, the hills and mountains, the friendly people - to our innkeeper, who said, "Yes, this is actually Canada."