Last month, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods property was designated the first International Dark Sky Park in New England. Appalachian Mountain Club Photo

Bag Lady has been savoring every additional minute of daylight that June brings, but enjoying some regionally celebrated pristine darkness, gazing at the stars and potentially encountering a Tote Road Shagamaw* sounds pretty lovely, too, right about now.

So let’s trek.

*What now, you say? It’s a bipedal moose/bear/thing that I’m not even making up! I found it by Googling “creatures that live in the North Maine Woods” and discovered it in Emily Burnham’s story on William Cox’s “Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods,” printed in 1910. Also, there’s probably snowshoe hare, weasels and otter up there, according to Wikipedia, but let’s not get distracted by that.

So, anyway, we trek! And where are we trekking to?

All the way up to Monson. That’s the start of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s newly designated Maine Woods International Dark Sky Park, so recognized by the International Dark Sky Association for being “one of the darkest places remaining on the U.S. East Coast,” according to a May press release.

It’s the first one in New England, which, very cool. The hope is for it to be a draw for astronomy-based tourism and light pollution-free enjoyment.

The dark, and maybe a couple creatures, awaits!

“Astronomy: A Visual Guide” by DK books, Books-A-Million, $30

Let’s start by knowing what the heck we’re looking at. Bag Lady doesn’t know her Canis Minor from her Capricornus and DK seems like a solid place to start. These have limited availability at the Auburn Mall BAM!, according to the website.

Dark chocolate Kit Kat, 1.5 oz., Walgreens, 88-cents

Sitting in the dark, dark chocolate, it all just works together.

That said, Monson’s a two-hour drive up by Greenville. We’re going to need more snacks.

Chocolate Chunk Coconola grain-free granola, 9 oz., GrandyOats, $8.99

Nuts. Seeds. Coconut chips. And, in keeping with the lights-out theme, dark chocolate.

Coghlan’s six-function safety whistle, Cabella’s, $10.99

One of the functions is, good news, whistling, and another is a small LED light. I don’t know that the Tote Road Shagamaw is real, but I don’t know that it’s not real, so, prudence.

Best find: Starbound Astronomy Viewing Chair, Amazon, $179.95

First, Bag Lady’s far too old for sitting on the ground to stargaze, thank you. Second, portable and adjustable with the requisite tilt, this seat made the list of Planet Guide’s 5 Best Astronomy Observing Chairs in 2021, and, third, if we could pause for a minute . . .


That is honestly almost more wild to Bag Lady than the Shagamaw.

Think twice: About not enjoying the splendor of our uniquely dark dark.

Bag Lady’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who bark in the dark often, but only at Bigfoots) and the customer service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]

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