Every March I try to make it to Maine, enjoying one of my favorite destinations in the United States, Portland. With its beautiful scenery and locally owned shops and restaurants, it’s like entering a world of the past. Due to Covid though, this year’s trip was postponed until May, to coincide with my birthday. The normal visit to Portland was also changed, traveling more north to the home of Stephen King, Bangor.
In researching things to do in Bangor, we found a tour of all things Stephen King and immediately signed up. We had no idea what we were in for with SK Tours of Maine but we were willing to take a chance, and boy are we glad we did.
The three-hour tour started at 8 AM and the bus picked us up in a run-down parking lot of the Movie Rocket Entertainment Center. The day was grey and dreary, perfect for a tour of this nature. Jamie Tinker, our tour guide, arrived shortly after we did in an awesome bus illustrated with famous Stephen King images. We all introduced ourselves and were on our way.
When it comes to storytelling, Jamie is amazing. To say he knows about Stephen King is an absolute understatement. His family are no strangers to Mr. King, as they owned Betts Bookstore for twenty years, specializing in Stephen King books and memorabilia. He shared stories of how Stephen would do exclusive autograph signings for them and that once in awhile he would just show up with a box of signed books to be sold in the store.
This tour is as much about Stephen King the storyteller as it is about Stephen King the man. We visited many movie locales as well as inspirations for many of the places in his books, with Bangor, Maine being the inspiration for Derry. We also learned of many of the character name inspirations and how Stephen King created a multi-verse in his story-telling, much like Marvel is doing now with their blockbuster films.
My favorite part of SK Tours of Maine though was learning about King’s generosity in town. From helping to finance the repair of the town library to building a baseball field for the kids in town, Stephen and his wife Tabitha are true inspirations. They did not always have money and struggled for quite some time before making it big as an author. When they did make it though, they gave back to the community that they loved so much.
In addition to visiting all of the great locations and places of inspiration in Bangor, we also learned that Stephen King owns a rock radio station, 100.3 WKIT (as in IT!). After the tour ended and we went on our way, we tuned into this station. If you like rock music, then this station is for you. I have never heard such a wide variety of rock music, past and present, and it continued to surprise us all weekend with songs we had not heard in years. The format of this station brought me back to my teen years when radio was fun, and not conglomerated owned by iHeart Radio. What’s missing on most stations now, personality and originality, can be found on WKIT and thankfully, the station has an app so that it can be streamed anywhere (and is now the only station I listen to).
This tour was the perfect start to our visit to Bangor and it is one that I hope to do again and again. Jamie was so entertaining and his comedic timing was perfect. He knows how to tell a story and I was in awe at what he shares with his guests. SK Tours of Maine is highly recommended, not only for the great stories, but for the ability to see so many locations made famous by Stephen King up close and personal.