Angry August and Bloodthirsty Pests
Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Maine
There’s nothing better than summer in Maine. Unless, of course, you’re a Mainer working in the service industry.
While most of the U.S. deals with oppressive heat and smoky air, Maine remains a clear, cool, and breezy haven. I understand why people flock here in massive hordes every summer.
If you’re a resident of Massachusetts, chances are you’re already here and probably have been for a while. In this case, please, for the love of dog, swap out your license plates. Nothing — I mean nothing — makes a Mainer’s blood pressure rise faster than the sight of a vehicle bearing the mark of the Masshole.
For those of you who have yet to visit Maine in the summertime, I have some tips to help you survive.
August Is Maine’s Busiest Month
The sudden increase in traffic and crowds may seem like nothing to someone from Boston or NYC. But to year-round Mainers, it’s like waking up to a plague of locusts.
Angry August is a term Jason taught me during our first year here when he worked as a chef at a local brewery. Since then, I’ve heard it echoed among restaurant owners and employees.
Not only is it hot, — it’s also buggy, but we’ll get to that later — but many tourists give off an aura of entitlement. It’s like they expect the same level of customer service and convenience they get at home. But you’re not at home. You’re in Maine.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you visit:
Maine Is the End of the U.S. Supply Chain
It can be difficult to find certain things at any time of year here. There’s no Costco or Trader Joe’s in the state. Jason and I often have to visit more than one grocery store to get everything we need.
This is especially true during peak tourist season. In the last two weeks, we’ve had 20% success when shopping for a bag of ice. Supermarket shelves are picked clean and there’s no such thing as rush delivery here.
If you want to visit Maine, you'd better pack some MREs and plenty of bottled water. Maine well water often contains high levels of arsenic, so don’t drink from the tap!
Mainers Do Things Their Own Way
Hustle? We don’t know the meaning of the word.
Talk to a Maine business owner and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to hire employees who actually want to work. It’s a year-round problem.
During Angry August, even a happy, hard-working Mainer is probably going to be so-over tourists they simply do not care. They know they’ll probably never see you again, and that they just have to stick it out a few more weeks before getting laid off for the season, at which point they can pad their home with the cash they stacked up over the summer in preparation for a long winter of hibernation.
Because of this, our local burrito joint doesn’t have enough staff to stay open on weekends.
I repeat: The burrito place. Is closed. On weekends.
We have a problem.
Maine Is Stuck in the 90s
Normally, I’d say that’s a great thing. But my livelihood depends on an internet connection. Maine is actually a top-secret government experiment time warp, but you didn’t hear that from me. Most of the area has not, and never will, progress past 1995.
If you’re planning to work remotely while traveling here, you’d better book a stay near a library with fast WiFi. Not only is high-speed internet scarce, but good luck finding cell reception.
The most reliable way to communicate in Maine is via snail mail. But be mindful that the post office will be closed for six hours every day around lunchtime.
August Is When All the Rich People Come to Maine
You know how everything is more expensive when it’s for a wedding? Same goes for August in Maine.
There are enough super-rich visitors and part-time residents here over the summer to keep the entire economy going. Unfortunately, some of them are also entitled arseholes.
I’m reminded of a local legend depicting a Martha Stewart vs. David Rockefeller showdown. It flared up when one party felt entitled to use a local store’s landline, declaring, “Do you know who I am?” And the other party shut it down with, “Do you know who I am?”
That brings me to my next, and final section…
Don’t Forget the Biting Beasties
Yes, friends, Maine is a safe haven for every breed of blood-sucking insect and arthropod. Gosh, where to begin? We have so many!
Depending on the time of summer, you may encounter one or more of the following:
Ticks — Both deer ticks and dog ticks abound in great numbers. Lyme disease is a very real concern for humans and pets. Make sure your dog is on flea and tick meds before visiting. Ours are also vaccinated against Lyme.
Black flies — These pesky bloodsuckers arrive in late spring and early summer, but due to the rainy, cool weather, they stuck around much longer this year. Hooray! If you’re lucky (like me) their bites will leave you with silver-dollar-sized itchy welts. Who doesn’t love a free souvenir?
Mosquitoes — We have these, too.
Brown-tail moth caterpillars — These fuzzy buggers don’t drink your blood, but they do send out toxic hairs that will make your skin bubble up in painful blisters, and possibly send you to the ER. You don’t even have to come in direct contact with them. God help you if you inhale the toxic hairs…
Deer flies — I call these “dive-bomber bugs” because they’re arrow-shaped and out to kill. They can guzzle an impressive amount of blood, and make a satisfying popping noise when you squish them.
Man-of-war jellyfish — This is not a bug, but it will try to sting/kill you.
Porcupine — The worst for dog pawrents. The worst. I’m aware I’ve veered way off the bug trail and I’m stopping here.
That’s all I got for now, friends. If this article inspires you to make a trip to Maine, I hope you consider staying with me and Jason at our farm campsite! All jokes aside, it’s been a great honor to host folks from NYC and provide a peaceful, private area for them to relax in nature. And I’m happy to offer local advice offline 😉
Thanks so much for reading, and please share this with anyone you know who might be visiting this area!
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