We're on the fifth day of our remote canoe trip. Plans have us reaching our destination tomorrow morning - a boat landing where one of our two vehicles is parked. Unfortunately, we're near the end of our trip and Gabrielle left the keys for that vehicle at our launching point, 40 miles North. A moment of panic sets in as those words leave her lips. We can't paddle back up river and we're nearly out of food. I know that 15 miles away, on Chesuncook Lake, is a small inn. It's been around forever and used to house loggers during the logging boom a century ago. It's our only real chance to get out of here.
We pack our gear into the canoe and begin paddling against the wind, hoping for a lucky break and a ride back to where we first launched (and to a vehicle we have keys to). Hours later we round a cove with a full view of the lake house and it's grassy banks. This small village is home to 13 residents, mostly seasonal. It used to be, a couple years back, that you could only get here by boat or seaplane. Now there is a very rough trail that can sneak 4-wheel drive trucks in - during the right time of year.
I knock on the open screen door and take a step inside. I'm taking in the smell of bacon, as a lady enters the room. I give her the abbreviated version of our canoeing misfortune. Tilting her head to the side, in a sense of understanding, she asks if we've had breakfast. "I don't want to inconvenience anyone here, and I appreciate that, but I'm just here to see if I could grab a ride back up to Lobster Lake, where I left my pickup. Keys to both our vehicles are inside and that's my only way to get outta here.", I explain.
"My husband will be back shortly and he'll be willing to take you...", she says. My feet nearly leave the floor. "Now won't you join us for breakfast?", she asks a second time. "Sure!", was my only answer.
Before long, I'm shaking hands and greeting David, her husband. When he hears our story, he asks if we'd like to simply stay the nite. Apparently he has to leave for town tomorrow anyhow. He explains that the Inn is vacant and there is plenty of pot roast for dinner tonight. The last part was the doozy - it would all be at no cost. I couldn't believe my ears. A beautiful canoe trip through the last remote wilderness in Maine that almost came to a poor ending actually ended up better than ever anticipated - a comfortable bed, ice cold beer and exquisite food. Refusing to accept any cash, I snuck back up to the bedroom before we drove away stuck a few folded bills under the pillow.
If you're looking for a vacation, get-a-way, or a back-to-basics trip in the wilderness - you need to look up the good folks at the Chesuncook Lake House. They treat you like family - and that's a rarity you have to appreciate this day in age. Cheers!