5 Things I Learned During My Visit to Aroostook County
Aroostook County is a part of Maine that many residents to the south have never visited. Sure, they know it's the largest county in the state by area, they grow potatoes there and Susan Collins hails from somewhere up there, but do they really know Aroostook County?
I took a trip up to St. Agatha and Madawaska Maine for a surprise 50th anniversary party for my friend's parents who camp with us in the summer. You can't get any further north in the entire country than Madawaska as it's the northern most point in the United States with Canada just on the other side of the river. Here are five other facts I learned about "The County" while I was there.
1. They have a LOT of snow
Madawaska unofficially had 50 inches of snow pack as measured with a measuring stick on a snow shoe trail. And the snowdrifts!
The wind plied snow up against windows and snowbanks were well above our heads. People from the County laugh at us in Southern Maine when we get 6 to 12 inches of snow.
2. People don't lock their doors
While southern Maine residents have need to worry about locking their doors, people in the County don't. 9 of the top 10 safest cities or towns in Maine are in Aroostook County. We happened to be staying in the fourth safest town in all of Maine. You're in the middle of nowhere so it's unlikely anyone is going to bother entering your home especially with all the snow you have in your door yard.
3. There's a to scale model of our Solar System that covers miles
Along Route 1 from the University of Maine at Presque Isle to Houlton, every so often you'll see a model of a planet in our solar system. It's the world's largest to scale model of the solar system in the world created by local technical and high schools and funded by local service organizations. UMPI serves as the sun and the planets appear all along Route 1 at a scale distance of 1:93,000,000. Pluto is the only one inside because it's scale causes it to be only one inch in diameter. You'll find it at the the Houlton Information Center at the end of I-95. Keep in mind, this was put up in 2003, before Pluto was officially declassified as a planet.
4. There are still full service gas stations
I pulled up to this gas station just off I-95 in Houlton and started to pump my gas when a gentleman came over and said "How can I help you sir?" I told him I didn't realize this was a full service pump. He said "They're all full service for no extra charge." He pointed to the gas station down the street that was not full service selling gas for $2.35, same as they were. So, I let him have at it and he filled the tank, washed the windows and even offered to check the oil for me. Now, before you say there's a full service station near you, I'm sure there is. But how many do you know that don't charge extra and wash the windows and check your oil? I'm guessing not many, and I've heard this isn't the only one up north.
5. LED house numbers are all the rage
There are two things you'll see a lot of on the houses up in the County. Stars and LED street signs. Apparently both these things became popular a while back and everyone wanted to get one. Maybe it makes it easier to see the house numbers through all that snow? Who knows? At least if for some crazy reason your address should ever change, you only have to reprogram the sign.