MAINE: my final frontier. These are the voyages of the Scooter Vespa 250 i.e. Super. Its continuing mission - to explore America's most heavily forested state - to roam the vast coastline, numberless lakes, and mighty mountains. To boldly go where no scooter has gone before!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Moose for Steve

Steve, of Scooter in the Sticks, commented that he was looking forward to a photo of a moose - the official animal of the State of Maine, on this site. Well, I'm afraid that this is the closest thing I can offer.

Located in front of Cabela's in Scarborough, it's life-size and intimidating. My only encounter with a real moose came when my family - Mom and Dad, brother and sister, and I were vacationing near Baxter State Park, way back in the late 1950s.

Dad was driving on a "tote road," a dirt road used by lumber companies to haul wood out of the forest. I am the oldest of the Keene kids, and I was about eight or nine years old at the time.

Suddenly, a monstrous beast ambled out of the woods in front of our car. "A moose!" said my Dad. "Turn around," ordered my mother.

"Can we pet it?" I asked.

As the moose stood there, blocking our path, and with no room to turn around, Dad ordered all window rolled up, even though this was a typically toasty July day.

"But we'll roast to death," I moaned.

"Better than being stomped to death," said my sister.

Just then, the moose, not fearing the puny-by-comparison vehicle, turned and walked down the road, away from us.

Well, this wasn't acceptable to me, so I asked my father to get closer. He didn't answer. But his scowl indicated that he was willing to just sit in the car, windows up, as his whole family cooked in their own sweat.

In a split second, I made the decision to get a better view of the moose. And since my timid Dad wasn't going to drive closer, I knew I had to bring the beast back.

Leaping from my place in the back seat, I pounded on the horn ring on the steering wheel. (For a timid man, Dad had an impressive grip, which nearly wrenched my arm from my shoulder.

The lecture he was about to deliver was interrupted by the sound of the huge hoof of the moose as it landed angrily on the bumper of our car. I had certainly gotten his attention, and the five of us were most assuredly focused on the obviously upset animal.

"Well, Tommy, do you still want to pet the moose," asked my mother.

I did not.

After a half hour of demonstrating his displeasure both vocally and physically, the moose returned to the forest, and we returned home.

So, Steve, if I'm ever close enough to another moose to take a picture, and if a picture is taken, it will be shot by someone else. And it's likely to be a photo of a fat old man with a cane, running away and screaming like a little girl.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


South of Brunswick, Maine, is Harpswell, a town of about 6,000 people. The town of 24 square miles has a North Harpswell, a Center, West, and North, as well as Orr’s and Bailey Islands, and Cundy’s Harbor.

During my ride down Route 123 from Brunswick to Potts Point at the end of Harpswell Neck, I experienced what can only be described as a prelude to a boat ride on a choppy sea. Yes, it’s pothole season in Maine.

Last week in Augusta, a 15-foot long, 2-foot-wide, and 8-inch-deep pot hole caused a five-car pileup. No injuries, but plenty of business for mechanics; it’s roads like this that give pot holes the nickname “chiropractor's dream.”

This was my first long (110 miles roundtrip) on my new Vespa 250, and the weather was far superior to a typical mid-March day in southern Maine. With just a few clouds in the sky, and a high temperature of nearly 60 degrees, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

This photo shows just how much land is exposed at low tide. Note on the left the small docks left high and partly dry – a good 8-to-10 feet of water will flood this little cove in about six hours.

Several of the islands of Casco Bay can be seen is this photo from Potts Point at the tip of Harpswell Neck. Since the 1700s, these off-shore havens have been called the “Calendar Islands,” based on the legend that there are 365 island in the Bay. According to the United States Coastal Pilot, there are 136 islands; former Maine State Historian Robert York claimed that the Bay has “a little more than two hundred islands.”

Until roads are built to each and every island, I’m satisfied to say that there are a whole big bunch of islands in Casco Bay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Wise folks have said that "Patience is the greatest of all virtues," and that "Patience is the companion of wisdom." But I'm more of a Margret Thatcher man regarding patience.The former prime minister of Great Britain said that "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end."

I knew when I bought a Yamaha C3, a 50 cc scooter, late last summer, that I'd move up to something bigger once I learned to ride. And when I bought a Vespa GTS 250 in January, I knew that once I got my motorcycle permit in March, I'd be able to keep up with traffic, and venture onto roads with speed limits above 30 mph.

And now, the day has come to launch into my retirement adventure. Tomorrow, I begin to explore Maine's  3,478 miles of coast. Tomorrow, I will scoot down to Harpswell, and over to Bailey Island.

My plan is to ride, take photos, soak up some history, and talk with the natives. (Forgive my provincialism - either one was born here, or one is an implant.)

I waited nearly two months to ride my new Vespa home - one of the greatest feats of patience of my life. Sorely tempted to ride without the required motorcycle permit, I weighed the highly unlikely possibility of  being stopped by a cop sans permit against my unlucky history with the authorities.

Most certainly, as I rode blissfully past a trooper, a call would go out: "Calling all cars - there is a $500 bonus for ticketing any rider of a scooter who lacks a permit. There is an additional $100 if the rider is over 60 years old, and $100 more if he has a scraggly beard." Oh, yes - I waited until I was legal.

And I waited for most of the snow to melt. Here, I am slipping down my driveway on a day when patience was just another word to ignore, as my dear wife updated my life insurance policy.

But Monday I got my permit, Tuesday I practiced keeping the shiny side up, Wednesday it poured. Tomorrow, my retirement adventure begins for real. I am getting my own way