Did you know that there is a desert in Maine? You know, sand dunes, camels, an oasis, etc. Well if you didn’t, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Alex Trebek didn’t either, and when someone on Jeopardy answered “What is the Desert of Maine” to the answer “This is the eastern-most desert in the US,” Alex sent him home empty-handed. Until irate Maine-iacs called in to the show and yelled at him, prompting Mr. Trebek to call the contestant at home to apologize, inviting him back onto the show where the guy won tons of money. At least that’s what our desert tour guide said, and she should know.
The desert used to be a farm, actually, until a couple of lazy idiots decided to ruin it using only potatoes and sheep, thus unleashing the power of a sleeping sand glacier that had been hiding under the surface of Maine since the last ice age. Or something like that. The point is, there is a desert in the middle of Maine, and it is pretty cool. There weren’t any real camels, because they were removed after some heavy spitting incidents, but we did see a few pretend camels, which was almost 5% as good.
The best part of the desert, by far, was listening to the interesting story of how it came to be while standing on almost 100 feet of mysterious sand. It really is quite fascinating. The worst part of the desert, by far, was right after the tour guide finished telling the story when my son said “You’re boring,” and tried to jump out of the vehicle to touch the sand. Although my children have different ideas of what the best parts were. My daughter thought the best part was searching through the sand for gemstones, 3 of which she got to keep and take home with her. And my son’s favorite part was right after the tour guide finished telling the story when he said “You’re boring,” to the guide and then got to touch the sand.
There were also walking trails, frisbee golf courses, and other exciting activities that we did not do, but we did take the time to prospect for fossils, using the $9 bags of pre-fossiled dirt from the gift shop. Amazingly enough, they each found several fossils, although the process of sifting and prospecting was confusing to them. Ruby tried to shove her screened tray right up into the water spout, which knocked it sideways and created a flowing river of mud creation all around her feet, while Edward just banged his tray violently against the bottom of the trough until all of the dirt and fossils flew out all over the place. Luckily I fixed the water spout, but not before the proprietor had come out to find out why the water was leaking everywhere. You’d think that in a desert they would be glad for a little extra water, but apparently not.
All in all, I would highly recommend a visit to the strangest place in Maine (and that’s saying something). The kids loved it, my Dad and I loved it (albeit for different reasons), and nobody was sucked into a Sarlacc pit, although I do recommend that when you go, you choose a day that is slightly less windy that the day that we chose. Although on the plus side, now I don’t have to have my face sand-blasted for another six months. And, as always, whenever you leave the desert, make sure you shake your children upside down before letting them into your vehicle, unless you are planning to vacuum it in the next few hours.