Record setting temperatures in New England reached 98 degrees this week and though Bangor’s high today was only mid 80s, it still felt like a 100 degrees in the blacktop. I was in Maine after all, known for its rocky coastline and cold water lobsters. So I found a local swimming hole in Orono called Stillwater beckoning me to take a dip.
Just like the name suggest, the river is tranquil and calm. The fresh water is as clear as the pine tree forest air and with a maximum depth of 12 feet, I could easily reach the bottom to find interesting artifacts.
Didn’t have to worry about motorboats racing down the Potomac River or invasion of the jellyfish in Sandy Point State Park or toxins and algae bloom spewing in Lake Erie. The last time I went swimming from my paddle board in DC, the airport Fire & Rescue called the police on me (thinking I was in trouble).
I wouldn’t be in trouble here. The river is only just over 1,000 feet wide. If you launched an aircraft carrier in these banks, it would reach from one shore to the other. So I definitely swam the length of an aircraft carrier a couple of times, and it was the most invigorating swim in a while.
After the first lap, I was resting near the banks ready to make one more crossing when I heard a voice ripple from the water.
“Water feels great doesn’t it?”
“Sure does – it’s so cool and refreshing here. I’m from DC and the water temps in the Potomac these days is a steamy 90. You can get a heat stroke just from been in the river.”
“Oh I hate that – it’s just like been in a sauna. I’m a winter girl and I love cold water swimming”
“Yeah, me too, cold water surely boosts your immune system and spirits.”
“So what brings you to small town Orono?”
“I’m a trucker and just dropped a load off down the road. My backhaul doesn’t leave Lincoln until tomorrow, so I got the day off to explore. Are you from here?”
“Yes, I’ve lived in Maine most of my life. I chose to swim here over the pool, so I can maintain social distancing.”
“That’s great. What kind of work do you do?”
“I work at the Maine Federation of Farmer’s Markets.”
“That’s awesome. I visited a farmers’ market in Easton, PA last weekend. They have a strong, sustainable organic community there.”
“Yeah, outdoor markets can be a safer alternative to grocery stores for shoppers trying to social distance during the summer.”
“I’m all about supporting the local farmer.”
The Stillwater River is an 11.5-mile-long side channel of the Penobscot River. You can enter from Brownie’s Point, but there’s limited parking. I recommend parking on top of the hill near the University Credit Union. Many of the spaces say “Reserved”, but you can take those spots after working hours or park in the general public spots that are available throughout the day.
Now that I worked up an appetite with my swim, I was ready to grab some mouth-watering New England dishes nearby