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I don't think it was Einstein but someone once said: “Everything is relative. From an airplane an uncle looks like an ant.”
Like I said I don't know who first said that, but I've always assumed that they were immediately taken to the woodshed and soundly thrashed for such a play on words. Don't ask me why, but I thought of that quote after reading in the newspaper recently that Route 3 between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor has been designated - by some self-appointed band of free-lance list-makers - as one of the worst bottlenecks in the country.
Forget for a minute that there must have been something more important that these people could have been doing. Also forget for the time being that Acadia National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the nation and roads to popular places do occasionally get crowded. While you're forgetting those things forget this, too: Most people heading to a wildly popular destination understand that other people might be going there as well, and therefore there may be delays.
Now that I've asked you to forget all that stuff I can't remember why I asked. Sorry. Forget I asked and let's get back to important things like: What did bottles ever do to get their name attached to something called a “bottleneck study?” According to a recent study by researchers dressed in lab coats and safety glasses, the road that connects the mainland to Mount Desert Island is among the top 25 most congested tourist destinations in the United States.
The classification left some local officials and summer visitors scratching their heads, and prompted a number of diverse reactions. Proving that bottlenecks are all relative, one tourist said: "What traffic? We're from Southern California. This is beautiful compared to what we're used to.”
A local official expressed concern that the route's status on the list might scare away some tourists. Following that comment, officials and residents of other Maine towns demanded to know why their local bottlenecks DIDN'T make the cut. A resident of Skowhegan said: “Have these list makers, these researchers ever tried to get through hectic downtown Skowhegan in summer when people are heading to camp or to the lake? It's chaos down there. I'm a little miffed that we weren't mentioned.” Someone who identified themselves as some kind of town official said that Naples' Causeway, otherwise known as Western Maine's Manic Mile, has to be one of the worst bottlenecks that any group of traffic engineers ever devised. “Can you believe we only got 'honorable mention?' ” If you ask my opinion Route 302, otherwise known as known as Western Maine's Hysterical Highway, could beat any stretch of Route 3 in a fair and unbiased study.
The bottleneck status came as no shock to Fred Michaud who designs roads for the state Department of Transportation. Eventually his plans become cast in sand, gravel and blacktop. "Frankly, I was surprised that there weren't a couple more Maine towns" on the list, he said, almost sounding miffed.
He then mentioned Camden, Rockland and Freeport. He omitted Meddybemps, though. A Meddybemps resident, asked if he was miffed at not making the list, replied. “We're not miffed by much in Meddybemps.”
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is mainestoryteller@yahoo.com.
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