I just got back from a weeklong New England roadtrip:
1. People in Maine are really nice. No, really, really nice. You think they're putting you on, because why would anyone bother being that genial? In New York, we pay people to be, but you can always sense the tension underneath, that perpetual, low-grade resentment. I looked for this with the salesguy at L.L. Bean, the sharply turned out—but sweet(!)—woman at the Burberry outlet, the guy selling Maine State prison goods at his woodworks shop, the woman slinging haddock 'n' chips and pints of bitter beer, without bitterness, at the brew pub. They want to talk to you at length about how Shawshank was not a real place but the film was set in Maine and how people come in all the time asking for directions to it and isn't that a laugh, and where are you from? Well, New York City of all places, amazing so many people on that little island. People in Maine just love their lot. Which is impressive because it's f-ing cold there.
2. Boston is unnavigable. Try it. Just try to get from your brother's place on the North Shore to your friend's apartment in Somerville. (Okay, that's not quite Boston, but it bumps up against the city and they use the same braindead civic planning.) Cross reference Mapquest, Google Maps, and the directions dictated to you by folks at both ends of your trip. You will still find yourself stopping seven times to ask how to find completely unmarked streets, and you will witness heated debates at the delis, coffee shops, and gas stations you pull into over on Highland Ave. and how to get there on the countless one-way, no-left-turn mini-highways, surrounded by maniacal Boston drivers who, in spite of your New York plates, hate you for not knowing that you're in the right-turn-only lane. I'm from New England and I love the Red Sox. But, man, do I hate Boston.
3. I say this without irony: A good lobster roll is worth $15, even if it comes on a paper plate at a roadside shack.