Presidents' Day Weekend brought the annual Maine Winter Romp, with over a hundred Land Rovers descending on Benton, Maine to wheel on the Sebasticook Millennium Green. This event, running constantly since the mid-1990s, is managed by long-time Land Rover enthusiast Bruce Fowler, who has -- with the help of a devoted group of volunteers -- turned "Romp" from a small gathering to one of North America's largest Land Rover events. This year, we're sharing the event from the perspective of Willow Riston, a 12-year-old off-road enthusiast who has been wheeling with her father, Atlantic British's Senior Retail Sales Representative Eric Riston, since she was ten months old.
Hello, I’m Willow the newest writer for Atlantic British. I was tasked with covering 2023 Maine Winter Romp from a kid's point of view. I’ve been attending Winter Romp since I was only ten months old, just a wee little one.
It all starts like this: you go to Big G’s Saturday morning, getting your breakfast and your overly large sandwich for the trail. Everyone chats for a long while then eventually everyone hits the road. Once you have devoured your huge breakfast, and have gotten your oversized sandwich, you’re ready to drive to Dickey Road. You’ll be driving for a while until you get to the staging area, where there’s a lot of socializing. Everyone always stops there, to get their tires aired down and get a group of their friends to go on trails with them.
That was your first easy task, but now you have to get to Habitat. Trails are slick like the feeling of mashed potatoes, trucks are slipping, and your only worry is not getting stuck. You can and will get stuck, but you just need a few buddies to give you a pull, a bungee, or a tug. Even if you're going through the not-so-easy icy, muddy, cold pools of water, you will still get through it. Even if you don’t get stuck or if you do, I would say sitting in the back seat of a truck is the worst place to be when you’re bouncing and slipping and sliding through the trails.
This year there are lots of new people and there are lots of oldies too! Everyone has to start somewhere, whether it’s in a deep pit of mud, or in a field, you all have to start somewhere! All newbies probably don’t know much about Romp, meaning they really don’t know what to expect. So we hook them up with an experienced Winter Romper, and before you complain about everything, just remember the number one rule: NO WHINING. Everyone will get stuck like I said before, so be prepared to be waiting and waiting, and waiting even more. I like getting out of the truck, to see who’s stuck, what’s up ahead, or who’s winching. Personally, I like taking photos of all the trucks and mud holes, to show off what I see out on the trails but sometimes I still get bored, or cold, like most kids do. That’s why you should always bring snacks, maybe a book, and even a card game, and an extra in case you get cold and need a nap.
Speaking of cold temperature, this Romp was very warm compared to past years, it got to 30° on Saturday and almost 40° on Sunday. In years past my parents told me about when they woke up to the temperature being negative 13°, and it never got above freezing that day. Then trucks had to be dragged around the parking lot, or needed a heater under the trucks and tied tarps around the whole truck to trap the heat in order for them to start, but thankfully none of that was needed this year.
Man, that went fast, Winter Romp is over and it’s Sunday night, we better get packing. But wait, my mom is one of the developers of Winter Romp, and since I’m so lucky I get to stay in Benton, Maine for a whole extra day! On that one last day, I wake up at Bruce’s and walk down his steep stairs that creak but thankfully don’t wake everyone up, walk to the kitchen where I’ll sit and talk to everyone that woke up before me until my friends awaken. We then go one last time outside in the fresh snow, slide on the ice and enjoy the cold snowy weather before we need to pack the car and have a long ride home.
Everyone enjoys Maine just as it is, the kids have so many new adventures in front of them and Winter Romp may lead the way, or open another mysterious door that leads to a magical adventure!
Get the ROVERLOG Newsletter Delivered to your inbox
Sign up and receive once every 2 weeks