Keep calm and tour on



By Debbie Kane

I have been lucky enough (some would call it unmotivated) to live in the Pine Tree State all my life. Most of it I have spent right here on Mount Desert Island, home to the largest part of Acadia National Park and magnet to just oodles of summer visitors.

While we truly appreciate the economic boost they provide, we are finding that some visitors (by no means all) could use some friendly advice to make their stay more pleasant for them and less stressful for us.

As it is far too nice to be indoors waging war on actual work, dirty laundry and angry dust bunnies, I am basking in the sunshine on the deck, compiling pointers, hints and guidelines for tourists. It is my most sincere hope that this, my opus, will be distributed to the masses or at least delivered to the Trenton Bridge to be passed out to inbound cars sometime before Columbus Day.

Just because the politicians in Augusta require that all our license plates bear the slogan “Vacationland,” please understand we are not all on vacation here.

Many of us are trying to get to work on time so we can mix you a cocktail, check you into the emergency room after you have fallen off your flip-flops while simultaneously eating an $8 ice cream concoction or being hypnotized by a dazzling ship window display of all things blueberry.

If you want to travel the main roads at 20 mph under the speed limit, head swiveling like a dashboard hula girl, marveling at the graceful beauty of sail boats gliding up Somes Sound or the natural wonders of a crow prying the remnants of a road-killed porcupine off the tarmac, please find a safe place to pull all the way off the road. Let the traffic (and tension) building up behind you pass.

When you do, some less-patient motorists may call out helpful “advice” as they pass. Ignore it. Some of it is not even humanly possible.

Most modern vehicles now come equipped with a handy device intended to indicate to traffic behind you and in the opposite lane your intention to turn. It has two very clear and logical options – right and left.

If you are not certain how to operate it, kindly refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual. The device may be called a “turn signal,” “directional indicator,” “blinker” and, in the newer high end autos, “alternating ruby and diamond driver’s intention specification system” by Vera Wang.

It does not magically communicate any of the following:

I’m going to make a U-turn.

I am going to turn somewhere soon, sort of.

I am going to make a right-ish turn with a quick mid-turn snap back into the travel lane.

I’m thinking I should go left, but I am going to pause in the middle of the intersection while my copilot and I discuss it.

Oops, I’ve clearly chosen to activate the left-turn signal, but I am going right.

Most villages on the island provide a variety of sidewalks to allow people to conveniently walk safely out of the street (hence the name). They are not made from hot lava and are perfectly safe to use.

When strolling through town, please use the sidewalk. If travelling as part of a large family, herd or cult, try to stay together, and leave a little passing room for people who are not, as I mentioned above, on vacation.

Crosswalks are meant for walking across the streets. Most of the villages on the island have them at regular intervals. We applaud the folks who do use them properly. But many seem to be slightly befuddled as to their purpose.

If you are part of a group, please discuss and formulate a plan before you commence the crossing procedure. Once in the crosswalk, move smartly and cohesively from one side of the street to the other. Pedestrians do have the right of way; but please use some common sense. The speed with which you dart out from between two behemoth RVs taking up six parking spots is not directly proportional to the speed with which traffic comes to a complete immediate stop. As a side note, by the second week of August, I am far more inclined to lock the brakes up for an indecisive squirrel (the gray ones, not those nasty red buggers) than for someone who has suddenly sprinted from between two cars.

Please rethink that ploy to shove grandma’s wheelchair into the street to stop traffic while you discuss a plan. The paperwork involved should I hit her could put a damper on your vacation and make me late for one of my four jobs.

Although society celebrates those who think outside the box, sometimes conformity is good. Please take note of how all the other cars are parked on the street and position yours the accordingly. If there are no cars parked on a particular side of the street, it’s a good sign you shouldn’t either.

If someone is mowing, watering or raking the spot you are considering parking on, it is probably a lawn. If all other vehicles are parked parallel to the curb, don’t try to impress us by parking at a 45 degree angle.

If you park a gigando dual-axle truck in a handicapped spot, hop out and keep looking nervously over your shoulder while extending your fully loaded bike rack even further, you probably shouldn’t be parking there.

And, actually, there is a state law that requires those annoying extended side mirrors that are oh so perfect for hitting other out-of-town vehicles parked too far from the curve to be retracted when not actually towing something.

Remember, one-way signs apply to everyone. While we may secretly applaud your ability to “just go a short ways” and see it through, nobody buys that ‘whoopsie’ wave while they back up to let you out.

Be sure to look for my next submission, ‘Tipping – Its Not Just a Fun Thing To Do to Cows,’ coming the next time the lure of a sunny deck and laptop win out over spending time balancing checkbooks, doing laundry and vacuuming.

Or maybe I will dish on the real story about crazy cottage renters. The vacation rental inquiries are flooding in like water in a john that you had no idea your kid had flushed a whole basket of pine cones and sea glass down.

Yeah, renters it is.

Debbie Kane of Mount Desert is a year-round resident of the island.

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