The thing about the Great Maine Scavenger Hunt is that, in its first year, we never anticipated more than a handful of readers would try to complete it. It was mostly a fun device to liven up a stalwart summer-planner feature: check out these 40 Maine events and activities we love — can you imagine if you went and did all of them? Then, in 2017, a couple dozen readers actually went and did all of them, and we were blown away by their sense of adventure. Last summer, the number of Great Maine Scavenger Hunt completists nearly doubled. You can read a few of their stories from the hunt beginning on page 46.
The scavenger hunt’s mechanics involve the ubiquitous modern-day phenomenon of the selfie — which I’ve found myself taking plenty of as a dad. As the guidelines on page 68 explain, scavenger hunters upload selfies to our online portal to show us all the places they’ve been, trails they’ve hiked, lobsters they’ve eaten, vats of mashed potatoes in which they’ve wrestled, etc. Watching these selfies roll in is one of the highlights of summer at Down East HQ. A fair amount are accompanied by comments from scavenger hunters telling us they’d never have discovered this trail, ferried to that island, or attended this festival if they hadn’t had our participatory vacation planner egging them on.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to read that. Living in Maine often means navigating the tension between wanting to share as much of the state as possible and wanting to keep it to yourself. When you’re flipping through snapshots of happy face after happy face in front of stunning Maine backdrops, that choice — at least right then — feels remarkably easy.
Veep’s Timothy Simons on his favorite bookstore, Hello Hello Books in Rockland.
On the cover: Biscay Pond, Pemaquid Peninsula, by Cara Dolan.
South Portland photographer Cara Dolan shot this month’s cover photo a couple of summers back, at the family camp on Biscay Pond, on the Pemaquid Peninsula. It’s a tableau many readers will recognize, with Dolan’s then-11-year-old son, Sid, sitting alongside the family’s then-6-month-old English setter, Sunny, just drinking in the companionship and the summer day. “We found the entire experience of ‘puppydom’ to be pretty chaotic,” Dolan says, “but this kind of boy-and-his-dog moment was exactly what I had envisioned and hoped for when we first got her.” Two years later, Dolan says, the family still hasn’t convinced Sunny to jump off the dock. Follow Dolan on Instagram at instagram.com/caratheterror.
Additional photos: Andre Albert; Derek Bissonnette; Jamie Walter; Seth Gaffar.