If you know Downeast Maine, you've probably driven The Airline, which is that long, lonesome stretch of backwoods highway from Bangor to Calais, Maine and the Canadian border. There isn't much to see along the way, except spruce and birch and--if you're unlucky--moose. Some desolate villages and once-were-motels. To people from the Maritime Provinces, the Airline has always been a gateway to the US, and an unlikely introduction it is to the most powerful and richest nation on earth. Because power and riches are not what you see along The Airline. The road is cut through Hancock and Washington Counties. Washington one of the poorest counties of the state. Watch out for moose. And turkeys. I have never found a great place to stop, even for coffee; the Airline is really all about getting there fast. If you're heading to Canada, wait for the Tim Horton's at St Stephen or St George, New Brunswick, always full of cheerful, talkative Maritimers--Tim Hortons in Canada have a neighbourly vibe, I think because of the lingering small-town-Canada tradition of people going out for morning coffee or afternoon tea.
No one seems to know why Maine Route 9 from Bangor to Calais is called The Airline. It is significantly straighter and faster than US 1, and one theory is that back in the day (before airlines, as in the O'Hare and Logan and LaGuardia variety), plainspoken routes that were obvious shortcuts, like this 90-mile-through-the-backwoods stretch of Maine 9, were often called "airlines".
Saw this sign along the road.
Not much to say, is there? Hope that he or she finds one.
- Brooklin, Maine, United States
- We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine, and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 24 years--we're recyclers. I've published a book of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS, which came out in the US (Pantheon) and Canada (House of Anansi) in 2012. A book of stories TRAVELLING LIGHT comes out in May 2013. More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I'm a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13.