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Tim Blagg

Blagg: Maine made for summer

For years, we’ve been managing to spend at least a week or two on a lake in Maine.

Up until last year, that included a stay at my in-laws’ rented camp on China Lake, just east of Augusta and not far from that fabled “you can’t get there from here” town of East Vassalboro.

Now the situation has changed — my father-in-law died recently — and now we’re trying to figure out a substitute venue. This year, we rented our own camp, just around the lake and up north, near the tiny town of China, and hosted my daughter and her kids, who live in Ohio.

My youngest son joined us, and our oldest, who has kids of his own, bunked in with his in-laws, who own a camp over west on Belgrade Lake — the original “Golden Pond.”

Summer camps are a tradition in Maine, both for Mainers and those “from away.”

In fact, there’s a neat little industry in the summer where local residents move out to their camps for the summer and rent their homes to visitors. A summer series of medical seminars at Colby College in Waterville, for example, draws doctors from all over the world, who live in town while the year-round residents enjoy camp life.

Since there are so many lakes around central Maine (a gift of the glaciers that covered the area during the last Ice Age), there are thousands of camps — some elaborate, some pretty primitive. Fire roads, carved out by the state to provide access in case of forest fires, provide access.

Our kids learned to fish at camp, practiced their swimming skills, paddled around in old truck inner tubes, explored in the canoe and sometimes got to swing out over the water on a rope and drop in.

Our rented camp this summer was on Fire Road 25, China, Maine.

I used to be the editor of the newspaper in Waterville, The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, and for a few years I owned a wooden sailboat, “Swan,” which I had restored. I moored it summers at my in-laws’ camp and my father-in-law sailed it practically every day.

After a few years, we belatedly realized that he was sailing it while I maintained it ... and decided to make a change. He bought it and I got to sail it on weekends — a much more sensible arrangement.

He also owned what we called “The Barge,” which was a Rube Goldberg contraption more like a motorized swim float than a boat. But powered by a tiny outboard motor (housed in a central well) and decked out with flowers, resin chairs and a radio, it was transformed into a delightful party venue.

Evenings, we’d motor out into the lake equipped with the proper assortment of snacks and beverages and often simply drift down the lake, enjoying the loon calls, an occasional eagle or osprey sighting and lots of idle conversation.

Sheer bliss.

Of course, everyone has their own favorite summer vacation traditions. Some love to spend time at the beach, others hike, ride ATVs, or trek off to Fenway Park and watch the Sox. Some own camping trailers or RVs and emulate the turtle by hauling their vacation home with them wherever they roam.

Whatever, as they say, floats your boat.

While you’re engaged in your own personal brand of summer fun, just be sure to be safe, avoid the trap of excess alcohol and be safe.

Above all, enjoy yourself.

Blagg has been Editor of The Recorder since 1986. He lives in Greenfield and is a military historian with an interest in local history. He can be reached at: tblagg@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 250.

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