According to the results of a comprehensive study conducted recently by the tourist industry (OK, it wasn't that exhaustive; they just spoke to a few people at an information center parking lot) most tourists come to Maine for three reasons: to visit a lighthouse, to eat a lobster and to photograph a moose.
It may sound simple to the rest of us, but those seemingly common things are the three "legs" that support the tourist industry's "milking stool."
Where was I?
Oh, yes, tourists. Try removing any one of those "legs" and Maine's entire billion-dollar tourist industry would come crashing down around our ears.
Fortunately, for the time being, Maine has more than enough lighthouses to go around. And because of enlightened policies on sustainability, there is no shortage of lobsters or moose.
In fact, depending on whom you ask, the number of moose in Maine has increased so rapidly over the years and the herd is so healthy that the state lets people enter a lottery to win a chance to shoot a moose.
"Is that any way to treat one of the foundations of the tourist industry?" I hear some asking. Considering all that moose have done for Maine, it doesn't seem fair to shoot them. But wildlife experts say the moose hunt is held – not for individual moose but for the good of the herd.
Anyway, if you find a tourist wandering along coastal Route 1 these days, it's a good bet they're looking for a place to get a perfect lobster roll. Others, along the same route, might be looking for a quaint lighthouse to photograph.
The reason Cape Elizabeth's famous Lobster Shack draws such crowds at this time of year is because tourists can experience two lighthouses while enjoying a great lobster roll at the same time.
Just be careful, because the experience can be overwhelming for some people.
Elsewhere, if you see tourist-types wandering around Maine with binoculars and a loaded camera, and they're more than 30 miles from the coast, it's not likely they're searching for lobsters or lighthouses. Chances are, he or she will be looking for moose. They may tell you they're going canoeing or bicycling or hiking or fishing, but don't believe any of it. They're using these activities as a thinly veiled excuse to go into the Maine wilderness to look for moose.
Why do these otherwise healthy, normal individuals use these pathetic excuses? Because they don't want to come right out and say: "The reason I burned over $100 in gas and drove all the way from Secaucus, N.J., the reason I'm willing to endure your black flies, your hordes of hungry mosquitoes and your seasonally adjusted prices is to see a live moose up close and try to get a picture of it to show my friends back home."
That's it. That's the reason — to see a Maine moose and get a good picture to show the folks back home.
It's pretty easy to figure out why people like to eat tasty lobster and why they seek out scenic lighthouses but why moose? Why are people attracted to this odd, ungainly mammal?
It's been said that if a camel is a horse designed by a committee, a moose must have been designed by a committee doing some heavy drinking.
That's one explanation for why the moose is considered the strangest looking member of the deer family. The other members — white tails, elk, reindeer — all look pretty normal. So what happened to the moose?
The moose looks so odd, so peculiar, that many people don't even know it's in the deer family. If they could talk, other deer wouldn't want to talk about it. But being tough old Mainers, moose endure the jokes and jibes and never complain. Did you ever hear a moose complain? No sir. And you never will.
Like I said, moose are tough. They have to be. They'll never ask for a "makeover" — as if it would help any — they just play the hand they were dealt and go on with their solitary lives. They pose for your pictures and move on.
I bring up the whole subject of moose because before long, the woods will be teeming with camera-toting tourists who'll be tramping around near our camp and everywhere else looking for the object of their affection — moose.
Maybe it's a good time to take a trip. They say Secaucus is nice this time of year.