Impressions from “Away”

Masks or no masks, that is the question

I come from MA and have been coming to Rangeley in the summers for a week or two for at least 25 years, staying at Loon Lake in various cottages.  I love Rangeley , Loon Lake and the people of Rangeley.

This year seemed a bit of a challenge  because of the pandemic.   I had heard that  Rangeley had had no cases of covid19., that everyone here was very careful.  And that  I should quarantine  for 2 weeks before arriving, make  sure I had been tested 72 hours before I arrived, and that shop owners would be concerned about those from “away”.     Out of state  residents would have to provide documents stating that they had quarantined for 2 weeks and had been tested.

I imagined border police at each Maine border randomly checking cars from out of state but that Vermont and  NH where exempt.   I’ve also  heard that Mass tourists, people from “away” , are not particularly favored by Mainers, even though we provide  a large part of the state’s income from Tourism and that Rangeley’s economy  depends upon that tourism.  I’m not sure if this is true but it has been perceived.   I even thought of parking my car way uptown toward Oquossoc  so that my MA plate would not be noticed too much.

I crossed the border without incident, no stones were throne at my car, no one asked where I was from and I was free to go into shops and restaurants with or without a mask even though there were signs outside of most establishments in town imploring all patrons  to wear a mask. Some even provided masks at the door.   I was dismayed that these precautions were not being enforced by some shops.  Many of the people I encountered were not wearing masks or keeping social distance especially young people. I asked a local restaurant employee if the mask-less people were residents or tourists .  He said “sadly both”.  I was however impressed to recognized that all shop/restaurant employees were Mask users.  And that businesses   were courteous and helpful as usual.

In a seaside town where I live  in MA, “townies” and out of townies  are  very careful.  Most everyone wears a mask and is aware of social distancing. It’s very uncommon to see anyone without a mask.  We step aside when passing one another.   However we have had cases of covid perhaps because we are near Boston and have many commuters. I ask myself,  how is it that Maine has had relatively fewer cases than other states?  Perhaps because much of the state is rural, away from large cities. However,  I predict the  surge of tourism this summer may change all this in Rangeley and other tourist attractions.   Hopefully not.

I still love Rangeley and will continue to visit as long as I possibly can. I implore downtown businesses to enforce the use of precautions.  “No mask, no entry”. But I understand that the concern  is that Rangeley will loose tourists if they are forced to wear a mask.  This infringes on their civil rights.  I can say a whole lot about that but will hold my tongue.

Please love  your neighbor by  protecting them with your mask and keeping social distancing in mind.

Mary  Blaquiere, from Away

Lover of Rangeley

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To The Editor:

We just spent a week in Rangeley, despite every effort by Janet Mills to keep vacationers out of Maine.  We didn’t know what to expect when we crossed the border.  Would we be stopped by the State Police, and forced to turn around?  When we went to the Kittery Trading Post (to purchase a rifle), would we be asked to show identification, and be turned away?  Would the same thing happen at Whole Foods in Portland?  Would
things be hostile in Rangeley?      Well, none of that happened!

Considering the miniscule virus percentages in Maine, and especially Rangeley, we were delighted to find that many of our friends who own restaurants in Rangeley were effectively telling the governor what she could do with her industry crushing regulations!  Of course, we respected the wishes of the owners of all the establishments we frequented, with regard to masks and social distancing.

Mills, Baker, and many other governors are trashing our constitutional rights.  It is NOT about the virus! States and even countries employing minimal precautions have experienced no more- and often less- outbreaks than those devastated by totalitarian decrees. It should all be about personal responsibility. If you are afraid of the virus, then stay home; but don’t demand that everyone conform to your paranoia!  Thanks to the sane merchants and people of Rangeley, we had a superb time- as always!  Our rental house was perfectly sanitized, and we felt safe wherever we went- including drinking “elbow to elbow” at our favorite watering holes.  God bless this little valley town!

Keevin and Cynthia Geller
Sharon, MA


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