True, before heading to my room at First Settler's Lodge, I had agreed to try my hand (feet?) at snowshoeing the following morning--provided I could bunk in until 9. So why was someone thumping on my door at half-past dawn?
I opened it and there stood innkeepers Judy and Elbridge Cleaves, beaming and pointing to a mother moose and her calf on the lawn, about 30 yards away.
"You asked to see a moose," Elbridge said, "but we decided that one just wasn't good enough."
How typical. Reader C.M. Donovan had kept it deceptively simple on the postcard recommending First Settler's: "Beautiful views--God's country. Offers personalized outdoor recreation--All seasons." Omitted was the fact that the lodge, 30 minutes south of I-95 in tiny Weston, may be the closest you can get to the real Maine without actually moving there.
The Cleaveses, who built the lodge with another couple, have been in business for only a couple of months, and they're still working on the grounds (first settled by Elbridge's ancestors). Inside, though, comfy furniture huddles enticingly around a big fireplace in the common room, while mammoth windows frame Mount Katahdin to the east. There's a library in the loft, a weight room in the lower level. Bedrooms are huge and have pull-out sofas; two have kitchen facilities.
But this lodge on the edge of the States (my room had a nice view of a snowmobile, pine trees and Canada) is merely a place to sleep; it's the countryside that the Cleaveses want their guests to enjoy, either by snowshoeing or fishing or snowmobiling or kayaking. They can, for a modest fee, set you up in just about any activity.
Rooms at the First Settler's Lodge (207-448-3000, www.northwoods tours.com) start at $65 and include a continental breakfast; cabins are available seasonally. Take Exit 62 to Route 1 south and don't fret about the distance--it's worth it.