Monday, December 9, 2013
I JUST READ THE newspaper's article about Chris Harnish ("Augusta man plans 5-month RV trek for perfect retirement home," Sept. 28). I was amused with his comment, "Nobody retires to Maine." He's wrong; we just did in April.
My husband, Doug, and I have traveled all over the United States. Having a home in California and a summer home in Portland, we made two cross-country treks a year by car. We did this for seven years, always taking different routes.
We walked from New York City to Santa Monica, Calif., about seven years ago. As we entered tiny towns we'd look at them with the eye of, "Could we live here?"
My husband rode an ElliptiGO (a combination bicycle/elliptical exercise device) from Canada to the Mexican border. Again, we wondered, might Washington, Oregon or somewhere else in California be better suited for us?
I served as his SAG (support and gear) team, hauling a tiny teardrop camper that served as home/diner for the six-week adventure. This ride took place during summer's peak time, but the camping gods were with us. We had to wing it, since we didn't know exactly where we would end up at the end of each day. But we always lucked out getting into a park because of a cancellation or early departure.
We first visited Maine about 37 years ago when my husband had two weeks of leave from his ship in Norfolk, Va. We loved the state, and went all the way to Fort Kent.
We purchased land years later in Machias thinking that would be a great place to be. I think perhaps I had inhaled too much fresh cedar scent; the romance of the fog and scenery took hold of my senses. But I was still lured by Maine's beauty and real sense of seasons, something that is hard to see and feel in a southern California coastal desert community 10 miles north of the Mexican border.
While living outside Philadelphia in 1993, my husband happened upon an ad in the Wall Street Journal for a position with Martin's Point. Why not throw your hat into the mix, he asked? What are the chances? Months later, however, our family relocated to Cumberland.
Four years later, a job opportunity took us to San Diego. We lived in an idyllic community where everything -- schools, community center, police station, public works, animal care center -- was new. We also had a beautiful movie theater that cannot be beaten, a lovely theater company and three lovely resorts.
Our island, however, also was home to three naval installations -- high density and lots of noise. Solitude was a hard commodity to find, and we wished for glimpses of natural beauty outside our windows, rather than the stucco walls of our neighbors' homes.
We spent a month in Freeport two years ago hoping to find something, but nothing materialized. So we explored Vermont. Doug's family goes back generations in the Green Mountain State, and his father, mother and younger brother's family all live there. We bought land, but it didn't feeling right.
We came back to Maine one weekend after contacting our favorite Realtor, and she introduced us to our property in Freeport.
The renovation to our retirement home is done. We are in it for the long haul. We have loved our road trips, but my favorite road now brings me "home" to Maine.
I hope Chris Harnish finds what he is looking for. His search undoubtedly will provide clarity about what he really wants or needs.
Sally Leland and her husband, Doug, retired to their home in Freeport after living in many places throughout the United States.