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Chinese Troops Don’t Mass at Maine Border!

According to Military Times, a QAnon-backed Twitter handle reported that thousands of Chinese troops had massed on the Maine border.

Though the article didn’t specify, I presumed they meant the Maine-Canada border, not the Maine-New Hampshire border, and living only 122 miles from the Maine-Canada border, I thought I had better go check it out before invading Chinese troops complicated my upcoming ski trip to Sugarloaf.

I figured the Chinese probably spoke better English than French and would thus be more likely to mass on the New Brunswick-Maine border than the Quebec-Maine border, and in any event the New Brunswick border is six miles closer, so I might as well start there, what with carbon and global warming and all that.

Besides, what Chinese in his right mind would want to deal with Quebecois obstinance? If the Chinese were in Quebec more than a week, the Quebecois would surely start holding weekly referenda on separation from Beijing and that could make traffic a real bitch.

On the other hand, the Quebecois would likely be very helpful with any invasion of any English-speaking land mass.

I took Route 9, the Airline Road, which is shorter and faster than the more scenic Route 1, which can be clogged with migrant blueberry rakers from July till September and with migrant wreath makers from the August onslaught of Christmas until finally people tire of Christmas in mid-November.

Just last year Maine celebrated its bicentennial of independence from Massachusetts drivers, and we celebrated by doing what we do best, staying away from each other. And in 200 years of otherwise rather remarkable history, not one known person has ever figured out why Route 9 is called the Airline Road.

As I drew near to Calais, a Maine border town whose French name has been verbally mangled to Callous by famously recalcitrant Mainers, I marveled at the QAnonish tweeters’ ability to gather such impressive intel, what with the U.S.-Canada border having been closed for months, on account of a U.S. Covid-19 per capita death rate more than 2.5 as high as Canada’s.

As I entered the Calais suburbs, I stopped for gas at the Irving, owned by Arthur Irving, who owns half of New Brunswick and a veritable mansion in the exurbs of my former hometown of East Orland, Maine – which is just east of West Orland, Maine.

I figured I had better fill my tank in case invading Chinese requisitioned all Maine gas. I wasn’t sure my aging 40-below-rated Sorel winter boots would make the 122 miles back home were it to come to that.

Properly gassed, I continued on my way.

Given the 611-mile length of the Maine-Canada border, I figured I could use a little help in narrowing that down a bit, so I stopped at the King China restaurant and asked whether they had seen any Chinese soldiers. The very friendly man behind the plexiglas said he hadn’t seen any but that he had a very good special on the Pu Pu Platter. So I got one. With a possible 611 miles ahead of me, I figured I might get a little hungry. And indeed I did, though I came to regret having chosen the Pu Pu Platter.

I continued on.

Still determined to narrow my journey with a little intel of my own, I drove to the Visitor Center of the St. Croix Island National Historic Site, which commemorates another foreign invasion, the 1604-1605 expedition of one Pierre Dugua, a Frenchman who became the first of many Europeans to get horribly lost while searching for Quebec, to the profound detriment of 35 of his 79 men. That was well before Allegiant Air started offering a Bangor – St. Petersburg, Florida non-stop, albeit a flight scarcely more comfortable than Dugua’s ill-fated Calais winter.

The massed Chinese troops were said to have Howitzers, but it’s hard to imagine they would have had much effect on the Park Service hat worn by the park ranger behind the counter at the visitor center.

“No, I haven’t seen any Chinese,” the man said helpfully. “Well, except for the ones at the King China restaurant. By the way, they got a great special on the Pu Pu Platter. The missus loves it. But she never has it too close to bedtime.” I was to learn why.

The man suggested I step outside and take a look for myself. “You can see all the way to Canada from right outside this building,” he offered. “Just look across the river.” I did. But I didn’t see any tanks or anything.

On reflection, I figured it more likely they’d mass in a more rural locale. Well, unless they got hungry.

I checked my map and saw, to my dismay, that paved roads cover only a small portion of the Maine – Canada border. But Route 1 does hug the St. Croix River border for the 24 miles to Perry, Maine, population 889, not counting seriously lost migrants.

Remarkably few people know that Perry, Maine was the birthplace of Emma Nutt, the world’s first telephone operator. And her sister Ima. As I had come all that way, I wanted to visit the Nutt House museum, but it was closed for renovation.

Perry was named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Hazard indeed. Perry died of yellow fever while sailing down the Orinoco River after signing a landmark anti-piracy treaty with then (no longer) New Granada Vice President Francisco Antonio Zea because President Simon Bolivar was off fighting the Spanish after the Spanish doubled import duties on New Granada aguardiente. Like many Mainers who followed him, Perry tried desperately, but failed, to reach Trinidad before he died.

I saw no evidence of Chinese troops in the 24 miles to Perry, and having run out of paved road from which Canada is visible, I stopped in Washington County’s only shoe store to replace my now unraveling Sorels before I set out on foot. But they were sold out. “We usually run out of them toward the end of winter,” the burly store owner said. “You know, around late June.”

All out of options, I drove back home to order some new Sorels from ebay and check for any QAnon updates on the story. Fortunately I made it home before Chinese tanks worsened the already famous Route 1 potholes.

Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast, Maine, and can be reached at thedeftpen@gmail.com.

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