With half the trip over, it was time to do the most on a Sunday. We had about seven hours for another drive. at the end of which we were to catch the flight back home. The Aroostook State park was very promising for a fall visit, however it was 154 miles away and a 2.5 hour drive each way without any delays would live us little room for a drive back and catch some lunch. I chose the Baxter State park located in the Piscataquis county in North-central Maine. The drive up seems to be mostly on 95 which should make a quick one. Google maps placed it at 67 miles, with 57 of those on 95. That bode well for our driving.
The drive up north meant fall colors would be richer than at Bangor. Yesterday’s drive gave us a glimpse of peak colors but not throughout the drive – it was patchy at the least. With 10 miles out of Bangor, the posted speed limit was 75 mph. It had been a long time since I drove amidst these limits; the last I remembered was in Arizona on the way to Crystal Meteor. The road was impeccable for a region that would experience severe snow. And there was hardly any traffic at all. We made the 57 miles to ME 157 near Millinocket in an hour. When you go off-road, the GPS is truly tested. After all we rely on it so much that I didn’t bother to double-check the route even on Google maps. We came to what is called Golden road and the GPS asked us to proceed. This is the point where the road forks onto Baxter Park road. The Golden road was one hell of a road. With just about a minute of driving, the Volvo was making all kinds of noises and its suspension was undergoing serious test. I could only see SUV driving in either direction and their wheels were jumping up and down in addition to rotating. I couldn’t see any paved section of the road after driving for another five minutes and got seriously concerned. The road was so slippery with stones that braking was causing the car to skid. I stopped and checked the tires and we decided to drive another few minutes and then decide whether to continue. It would be a great disappointment after driving so much and an even greater disappointment to end the tour on a whimper. We had already got a glimpse of true fall colors with many lakes bordered by colorful vegetation enough to be urged to keep going.
After another five minutes of driving at 5 mph, I saw remnants of paved road. The car found its grip better and soon the GPS navigated us to a turn and finally back onto the Baxter Park road. The turn opened up entry to the park with a beautiful stone painted with bears and mountains. A family had stopped to take pictures and I offered to take the family photo with them together. The man mentioned he drove all the way from 95 on paved road. The first thing we decided to do after going up to the park office was to make sure we could reach 95 on paved roads. The ranger mentioned that to visit the northern point of the park, the GPS would take one through a road that would end up in a gate not opened for over 20 years! At the same time, he mentioned that the park could only be explored on foot. That was it. We left our car parked on the visitor center and walked to the water’s edge on what is one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. Surprisingly it is called Togue Pond, but it had an unmatched quietness to it. A couple pointed out three moose in the water that were causing the only ripples. The body of water was so large that it took a few minutes for the ripples to reach us. We enjoyed the silence. The silence came to mind comparing the silence one can have at home and yet there difference is enormous. The crisp air adds to the difference. I was wondering we should make it a point to camp overnight at these park and it would be a great sight to watch the stars during the night far away from civilization. A half hour was all that we could spend at this beautiful creation of nature. Our drive back to Bangor and lunch was much easier as we stuck the Park road.