The ideal writing trip — quiet, long roads, Reese’s cups and the great state of Maine

West Quoddy Head in Lubec, as far east as you can get in the U.S.

The last week of October/first week of November, I took a writing vacation to Lubec. And to forestall the inevitable question, NO, I did NOT go to Campobello.

Well, first I went to Murder by the Book at the Jesup Library in Bar Harbor, which is always a fun event (check it out next year).

The entrance to Jesup Library, decorated for Murder by the Book. Or IS IT??

It’s always great to meet fans and to schmooze with other writers, and the people at the library are great. And so’s the food.

Mystery writer Steve Pickering reads during the Friday night special program at Murder by the Book. That’s the food in the middle there.

And, I figured heck, if I’m already partway up the state, might as well head even farther and get some writing done.

There are some writers who can fit their writing in with all the other noise of the day, but I’m not one of them. I do it because I have to — I don’t have the luxury of only writing my books for a living, or even living by myself right now. So when I needed that final push, going away to one of the farthest, quietest parts of the state was a great option.

The reading nook at my airbnb in Lubec.

I found the absolute best airbnb house that was perfect, and even had a little reading nook where I could satisfy my true crime reading obsession, which always takes over when I’m in the thick of working on a book — can’t read fiction at all.

The house is on Horror Hill Road. And I was there on Halloween. I am not making this up.

And the house was on Horror Hill Road! If I told you I greeted trick-or-treaters, though, I lied. I turned off all the downstairs lights, took my book and a nice big bag or Reese cups, and went upstairs to the back bedroom to ride it out. When I say I don’t want to talk to anyone when I’m really immersed in my writing, I mean it.

And by immersed and final push — that’s probably something that’s different with every author, too — I don’t mean “yay! the book’s done!” but something even bigger — I’m getting the whole story figured out. Since I don’t outline and don’t know everything that’s going to happen in my books until I start writing, it’s always a relief when the entire story comes together.

And I guess there was some kind of big storm or something down here in southern Maine? Ha ha, kidding! I read all about it in the paper. So I got an extra day out of the trip. Power out down there? No problem, I’ll stay up here.

Route 1 going to Van Buren, in Cyr Plantation. That’s the St. John River Valley and Canada off in the distance.

I took the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to — drive to the end of Route 1 in Fort Kent, then drop like a set of keys through the middle of the state on Route 11. Didn’t matter that it was raining, that was fine with me.

I spent the night in a nice little independently owned motel in Washburn, right outside of Presque Isle, and got some writing done. Also ate more Reese’s cups and read more true crime. Then I drove up Route 1 — after I took a little side trip to see the church in New Sweden where someone slipped poison into the coffee in 2003.

Gustavus Adloph Lutheran Church in New Sweden, where one person died and another 29 sickened when someone put arsenic in the coffee urn in 2003.

 

I saw a lot of really cool things. Like the church in Grand Isle that, according to the owner of the Aroostook Hospitality Inn (and who am I to argue?) that was once the seat of the Diocese of Maine. It’s now a museum. The Musee Culterel du Mont-Carmel.

This church in Grand Isle is now a museum. Pretty cool.

I also stopped in Madawaska and tried to take some photos, but it was raining too hard. So I had a coffee and doughnut at a Tim Horton’s. Then I went along to Fort Kent and the end of Route 1. Cool!

End of Route 1. Or the beginning. Depends on where you’re going, I guess. Bridge to Canada in the background.

Then I went south on Route 11. Equally cool, and great scenery despite the rain.

Sound like a long car trip? I guess it was. But that’s part of writing, too. Being by myself, with nothing but the music on my iPod, helped the book continue to jell. It definitely wasn’t wasted time.

The East Branch of the Penobscot in Medway was hopping. Took Route 11 from Fort Kent to Newport before I finally gave in and got on I-95.

But even if you’re not working on a book, I highly recommend getting out your Maine Atlas and Gazeteer — you know you have one and if not, go get one — and picking a spot you’ve never been in the state, and going.

The orange line is my trip. With the highlights marked, of course! Woodland up around and back to South Portland took about 12 hours, including stops in Caribou for breakfast, Patten for lunch, and a bunch of places to take photos.

 

About Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is the author of the Bernie O’Dea mystery series. Follow her on Twitter at @mmilliken47 and like her Facebook page at Maureen Milliken mysteries. Sign up for email updates at maureenmilliken.com. She hosts the podcast Notes from a Cranky Editor all by herself, as well Crime&Stuff with her sister Rebecca Milliken.
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5 Responses to The ideal writing trip — quiet, long roads, Reese’s cups and the great state of Maine

  1. Neat trip. We love Lubec and in a perfect world, we’d live in that area. The trip up One is also a great ride. Beth and I did it the year before we got married, so that was 41 years ago.

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  2. Lea Wait says:

    Sounds like a great trip! Ands you timed it well to avoid all the outages ….

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  3. Barbara Ross says:

    Sounds wonderful. Imagine being alone in a house on Halloween on Horror Hill Road. Sounds like a short story if ever there was one.

    Since I pass Mile Marker 0 on Route One several times a week when I am in Key West, I have always wanted to go to the other end. But then I look at a map, and…

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  4. I love me a good road trip, and this one sounds terrific. Great photos, too! Thanks for bringing us along for the right, Maureen.

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  5. Brenda Buchanan says:

    That’s “the ride.” A righteous ride . . .

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