As we continued our journey down Route 1, we decided to stop for the night in the town of Madawaska, even though we couldn’t tour the Twin Rivers Paper plant. It was here that we learned a little more about the way of life in far northern Maine. We met friendly but interesting locals.
Madawaska has a unique place in the geography of the United States. Besides having a major border crossing into Canada, it is the northernmost town in New England. This gives it a special honor. It is considered by many to be one of the four corners of the United States. (The other corners being Key West, Florida; San Ysidro, California; and Blaine, Washington.) Among motorcycle enthusiasts you have accomplished the “Four Corners Tour” if you hit all four cities within 21 days. Madawaska has a “Four Corners Park” in honor of this tour.
As we pulled into town, one of the first things we saw was Martin’s Motel. The outside looked clean and well maintained, so Cheryl and I decided to give it a try. Since we saw no cars on the road, and only two in the motel parking lot, our hopes were high. Ahhh, but we are not on our home turf. We entered the motel office and were greeted by a welcoming face.
“Hi, we were looking to see if you have any rooms available.”
Her expression saddened, “No, we are all full up – no rooms at all.”
She then took a glance at the parking lot, “Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to put the No Vacancy sign out.”
Needless to say, we got back in our car, which was parked in the empty parking lot of the motel with no vacancy, and headed off once more. Heading down the main street, we saw diners, restaurants, and a pizza place. On the other side of town we found what we believe is the only other motel in town – the Gateway Motel. It didn’t look like much on the outside. But, upon entering, we found that it was a very pretty place. It had a restaurant at one time, which is now closed. The woman at the front desk was friendly and helpful, and best of all, she had a room available. Better still, it was a few dollars less than Martin’s.
When we entered our room we were pleasantly surprised. It looked like it had recently been remodeled. It was bright and comfortable. We were, however, greeted by some very disconcerting news. As we rested in our room, my smart phone suddenly came to life. It beeped urgently and flashed this message across the screen, “Please be advised that if you use your data plan, international rates and surcharges will apply.” Apparently, even though technically and physically we were in the USA, the only 3G network available came from Canada – that’s how close Route 1 runs to the border.
At the motel, even though it was mid-afternoon, we laid down for a brief nap. This was because there was an ulterior motive for stopping in Madawaska. Cheryl and I love drive-in movie theaters. The problem is that where we live now has none within close driving distance. Well, we found out that Madawaska has one of the only drive-in’s in Maine that is still in existence.
We were looking forward to a great night of movies and drive-in goodies. We had called the telephone number listed, and found out that Cars 2 was playing. The start time was around 9:00 pm. We didn’t eat supper, not wanting to spoil out appetite for movie food. Everything was “go for launch.” We arrived at the Skylite Drive-in at around ten past eight, so we could get a choice spot.
Okay, have I told you yet that we were not in familiar territory? This is how it works in northern Maine. As I have said, we arrived around 8:10. The booth was empty. The drive-in was empty. Well, not really, there was a young man riding up and down the area on a dirt bike. I pulled the car over near the booth and told my wife I would wait until 8:30 to see what would happen. Dirt bike kid kept riding up, down, and around the place. At about 8:15 another car pulled in behind ours – it was beginning to look promising.
Then at about 8:25 dirt bike kid drove past us for the umpteenth time. This time we made eye contact. He quickly turned his bike toward us and looked like he wanted to talk to us so I rolled down my window.
“Hi, are you here for the movies tonight?”
“Oh, sorry, there’s not going to be any movies tonight. The weather is saying that there’s a chance of thunderstorms so we’re closed for the night. We’ve been hit before and don’t want to chance it.”
What a disappointment, especially since we hadn’t eaten yet – we were looking forward to the culinary delights afforded by drive-ins. Not to worry, we had seen a few eating establishments on the way here. We’ll just go there for a meal.
Right, you get it already, this is a different area. We didn’t realize until then that the town closed down around sunset. Pizza place – closed. Diners – closed. Restaurants – closed. Jerry T’s Chug-A-Mug – Cheryl said “no way” to that. The only food places in town were McDonald’s, Subway, and Tastee-Freez. Tastee-Freez!!?? What on earth is a Tastee-Freez?
From what we observed, it was the local late-night hangout, so to Tastee-Freez we went. And that was one of our best decisions. They have a one-half pound burger, crinkle cut French fries, and onion rings that will make you forget all of your drive-in blues. We were set for the night! So our stay in Madawaska had some really great memories.