Down East 2013 ©
For my birthday a few months ago, my wife bought me an iPhone. Like more than a few Mainers I had been slow to embrace the idea of the cellular telephone, not out of any Luddite impulses, but for the simple reason that the coverage in so much of our big state was so abysmal. I had tried making do with a cheap, pre-paid phone I kept for roadside emergencies, but it had all been for naught. I kept forgetting how to retrieve voicemail, and anywhere I most needed a signal — when my car was stuck on a logging road in the Boundary Mountains, southwest of Jackman — seemed to be a place I couldn’t get reception.
Over the years, cell phone coverage improved in Maine until, finally, I no longer had an excuse but to join the twentieth, let alone the twenty-first, century and shackle myself to a two-year Verizon contract. Like an addict given his first hit of a narcotic, I quickly became hooked and can no longer contemplate existence without Steve Jobs’ infernal creation.
I justify my addiction in all sorts of absurd ways. “What if I get an idea for Down East’s ‘Best of Maine’ issue?” is the one I use most often on my wife (who has come to regret her birthday gift). “But I’m serious,” I explain. I travel around Maine a lot — all the Down East editors do — and I need a place to record that great piece of chocolate cake I just ate or those awesome waterfalls along Route 4. Notebooks are so passé, I tell her. “And with my Evernote app, my information synchs across all my computers!”
My wife remains unconvinced, but the truth is that putting together our annual “Best of Maine” issue takes lots of work. In some cases, we’ve been collecting ideas for months, even years, searching for that day trip we can personally recommend without equivocation (Mount Kineo) or the fried clams that make our mouths water (Bob’s).
Inevitably, there’s a mad dash at the finish because our state is blessed with exciting places to explore, and there are always creative people inventing brilliant new things. So we race to eat more, to shop more, and to play more. Then we press our colleagues, our family members, and our readers to spill the goods on their favorite Maine things.
You’ll find the fruits of our labors in this issue. As always, I’m eager to hear what you think of our choices, pro or con. I’ll be checking my iPhone hourly waiting for your emails.