Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mutiny on the (tourist entrance) to the Bounty

We tried to be tourists yesterday for a few hours but it didn't work out.

I had heard on the five o'clock local news that the tall ship Bounty was to visit Belfast town. This isn't the original ship, HMS Bounty, but a slightly larger replica built for the great 1960 movie Mutiny on the Bounty.

Interestingly, the organization that now owns the replica calls it HMS Bounty on all their marketing, not perhaps realizing that since they don't actually belong to the Royal Navy, they shouldn't use the term. Or maybe they just want to be drafted. I'm sure Her Majesty can find a use for the ship if they really mean it.

I dragged Aimee down there yesterday to see it, and we even lined up with the tourists to go on board, but were easily dissuaded by the $10/head entrance price. I wanted to see the between decks area, to see how the sailors might have lived, and I'm sure it's a very interesting experience, but $20 was more than that was worth to me, so wifie and I pulled a u-turn right there on the dock, and went for dinner and drinks instead at the pub, a much better use of our spare cash.

It must be hard to be a tourist. Having lived much of my life in the kinds of places most folk go to for vacation, I wouldn't know. I never really take one myself, and neither does Aimee.

Our particular Maine grockles show up in May and stay until August. They wear the kind of clothing sold by LL Bean -- pastel tops and Bermuda shorts and sandals, and they clog the coastal roads and wear out the parking lots in towns like Camden and Rockland. They are probably a nicer class of grockle than you see, say, on the Costa Brava, but they do get in the way.

Aimee drives herself quite spare sometimes trying to get the shopping done, while I make a point of going to inland towns like Waterville, Newport, or Bangor for things like building supplies and hardware. We both much prefer Belfast in the fall and winter when it is again a sleepy Maine town.

One thing you notice about the way that tourism changes a town -- the stuff they sell in the shops! It's just useless tat. Belfast only has a few useful kinds of shops left on Main Street. The rest sell touristy junk. A lot of the Belfast shops simply close up in the winter, a kind of seasonal blight for the locals.

While just fifteen miles away in Brooks, far enough away from Highway 1, we can't even keep our grocery and hardware stores in business.

Amazing, really, how disconnected urban people can be from the world of sensible, productive endeavor, that they are willing to accept this ersatz Maine of tourist shops and fake boats instead of seeking out the real Maine of windy country roads, bee-filled hayfields, and quiet, deep woods. The real Maine is easily found within a mile or two of the coast, but most of the visitors never get there.

I expect the vacation evolved as a counter to the dirt, overcrowding and pollution of the cities.

The pity is, all that happens is that a little place like Belfast becomes dirty, overcrowded, and polluted.

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