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!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another way to see the sea

My preferred mode of transportation along the coast is my Vespa 250, followed by my Yamaha C3. But there is another, and more romantic, way to visit the glorious coast of Maine.

Imagine sailing just a few hundred yards off the rocky coast in the twilight of a perfect summer day. You and your wife, husband, lover (pick just one - let's not get carried away) have just finished a meal of very fresh fish hauled aboard just as the grill was ready for broiling.

Now, in the orange gleam of the setting sun, you guide your craft to its mooring, and the real fun begins as you ride home on your scooter.

Below is one place to begin such a journey - Yarmouth Boat Yard, on the Royal River in Yarmouth, Maine.

Owner Steve Arnold said that the Pursuit 375 Offshore which dwarfs my Vespa in both size and price, sells for $550,000. For that, one could buy about 91 250 i.e. Supers. And while the Pursuit gulps 38 gallons of gas at a cruising speed of just over 33 mph, my 250 sips 2 gallons as it travels 125 miles at about 45 mph.

On the other hand, I can't fish, sleep, cook, entertain guests, stretch my old muscles, sunbathe, or dive from the Vespa.

Below is a comparison of power units. The 250 pumps out about 22 horsepower and weighs 325 pounds. Each of the three Yamaha outboard V-8 motors weighs 804 pounds and produces 350 horsepower.

You can visit the Pursuit and a marina of very nice boats (I've never understood when a boat becomes a ship, but the huge, nearly 40-foot-long Pursuit 375 has got to be close to shipdom) at

Vespas can be found at I'm not pushing either product, but if a reader buys a ocean-going boat from Steve Arnold, remember me with an invitation to sail!

After leaving the boat yard, I rode a few miles south to Cousins Island, several views of which are seen below. Normally, one would see a lot more of the sea from this spot, but the heavy haze which replaced the rain of the past  two weeks limits visibility.

My wife took nine days off this month to plant her garden. With 36 hours left before her return to work, the sun actually appeared, frightening livestock and small children. With the glare in the sky, many of us wondered if that southern preacher might be right about the end of the world, so unusual was the sight.

But clouds quickly hid the sun. I knew it was too good to be true!

Yarmouth is behind the scooter; a bridge connects the island with the town.

The forecast is for some sun in June, and if a pair of days in a row look likely, I'm going to ride down to the Rockland area.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Lights

Although I've never been past Rockport, with many miles of coast left to see, I'll be surprised if another spot on the Maine seacoast tops Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth as my place to visit to lift me up, settle me down, or bring back memories of great events in my life.

It was here that my future wife and I visited on our first date, on August 2, 1974. After dinner and a movie, Kathy Roberts and I determined that we didn't want the night - by now, early morning - to end, so to the Lights we drove. We were married exactly three months later, and have remained happily hitched for 37 years.

Below is the single remaining lighthouse, the East light -the West light was shut off in 1924. I took this photo in a dense fog, not uncommon on the coast.

From the small public parking lot, it's a short walk, or a rather rattling ride, to the rocks. This is a place to sit and think, to walk cautiously, to let the sound of the sea breaking on the rocks pound away any troubles you may have.

Just down from where I parked my Vespa is a hundreds-of-yards long stretch of incredible rocky coast. The surf here can grow so loud that way back in the 1800s, the sailors using the lights for direction to Portland Harbor complained that they couldn't hear the fog signal, which was then was a bell.

This young couple apparently weren't in a meditative mood. They parked their car, walked to the rocks, took a picture of themselves, and, jointly approving of the photo, hurried back to the car and drove away. The whole visit took all of three minutes.

My visit lasted an hour - short for me. Maybe I had more to mull over than the kids, or perhaps my old bones weren't ready for the road again.

Just look at this view! On my next visit, I'm going to make a video from as close to the water as I dare get. But only a trip to Maine will settle in your heart that breakers on ancient rocks is nearly perfect therapy.

This sign is posted on the fence surrounding the fog horn at Two Lights. Visitors ignore it only once.

And here is the horn itself. At just under 120 decibels, the horn is louder than sandblasting or a rock concert; a gunshot or jet engine at 100 feet register 140 dB. Pain is felt at 125 dB.

Obviously this video doesn't capture the volume of the fog horn, but I hope it will give you an idea of the sound. Many people hate the noise, but when heard from a comfortable distance, a fog horn can be as lonely but comforting as the whistle of a train.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Around the lake to the bay

While the best known coast of Maine is along the ocean, the 105 miles of shoreline around Sebago Lake provides another "coast" that, while not nearly so long, is much more hospitable and accessible than the rocky seacoast.

Below, one boat pulls away from the dock, while another is about to be hauled out, at the Sebago Station public boat launch in Sebago Village.

A few miles to the west is Long Beach, pictured here before the campgrounds open and the visitors arrive. But by Memorial Day, the fence will be removed and the picnic tables cleaned and made ready for the crowds.

Around the lake to the east is Chadborne's Landing, site of a Portland Water District demonstration project.

Frankly, I don't really understand the significance of this project yet, but I include it here because my late father would have been fascinated.

This is the actual demonstration project.

In this enlarged photo, the White Mountains of New Hampshire can be seen beyond the lake.

On another day, closer to the sea, I enjoyed a high school softball game between Gorham and Cheverus, played within a long fly ball of Portland's Back Bay. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Maine is a genuinely gratifying place to live, and Portland is a true gem of a city.

Watching the game, and dangerously close to my Vespa with a bottle of water, is my younger brother David. When I once taunted him about his baldness, he replied: "Yes, but I'll always be younger and better looking than you."

Obviously, sibling rivalry never ends. By the way, the right fielder, seen behind Dave's back, is my niece Leaha, Dave's youngest daughter, who had three hits in Gorham's 10-3 victory over Cheverus.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Forsythia on the way to the sea

About a week ago, I had the idea of taking pictures of the brilliant yellow forsythia bushes that embellish yards and roads on the way to the ocean. Finally I remembered to bring my camera on my daily ride, and discovered that my dear wife - an avid and creative gardener - was correct when she warned me that "Forsythia only flower for 10 days to two weeks."

What you'll see below aren't the brightest, fullest forsythia in Maine this spring. Those were enjoyed by photographers who remembered their cameras about a week ago.

This little bush, with the flock of flamingos inexplicably populating the grass, is outside the office of a law firm. Frankly, I would hesitate to use the services of anyone with this many pink plastic tropical birds polluting the front yard, but I'm probably just too picky.

On one of the many back roads winding through the outskirts of Portland, this patch of forsythia bushes is just  part of the yellow beauty of spring. All around this former farm are old stands of forsythia, some pruned and trimmed, others huge and untamed. This place is a mile from my house, but until I started riding last summer, I don't remember seeing it.

Next spring, I vow to remember to bring my camera on a long ride through forsythia-land at the first sign of yellow.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Motorcycle License

Yesterday I passed my motorcycle road test, meaning that I can now ride at night. Of course, my 62-year-old eyes aren't pleased, since they no longer bounce back after seeing oncoming headlights as quickly as they once did.

But I can stay out later now. I don't have to worry that some cop will wonder why that old man on the Vespa is out after dark: "Shouldn't that fogey be home taking care of his great-grandchildren? I'd better stop him and find out."

When I took the picture below last week, I knew I had only a quarter of an hour to scoot home. Now, I can stay out past my bedtime - if my dear wife lets me.

Here is another moose photo for Steve of "Scooter in the Sticks," along with a chart clearly illustrating why this frightened scooterist/photographer will never provide a picture of a real moose.

But Maine is full of them, Steve, and you are welcome to flush a moose out of the woods and ask him to pose! I'll watch from a distance - a really long distance.

This particular moose can be found guarding the entrance to the Fairfield Hotel in Freeport, Maine. I call this photo "Moose looks askance at Vespa."

And here is a comparison of a man, a moose, and a car. There is no scooter, because scooter people are too wise to visit moose up close, even for a drawing like this.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mackworth Island

On the border between Falmouth and Portland, and just off the coast, is Mackworth Island. It's the home of the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, as well as a popular hiking trail that circles the 100-acre island.

I parked my Vespa on the causeway that connects the island to the mainland.

Note the man with the dog: He is training it to retrieve ducks, sending rubber ducks into the water with a lacrosse stick. It's pretty cold out there, but if someone was flinging cheeseburgers into the sea, I'd most certainly be retrieving a bunch of them.

The sun is going to set soon over Portland, and until I pass my motorcycle road test, I must be off the road by sunset or I turn into something much worse than the fairy tale pumpkin- I become a grounded Vespa rider!

Actually, I take that test tomorrow at 10 am. I'll let you know if you should expect nighttime photos any time soon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Eastern Promenade

The marvelous little city of Portland, Maine, has numerous virtues, one of which is the Eastern Promenade, seen on the left side of the map below.

With about 68 acres, it's rather long, narrow park, but it hugs the shore of Casco Bay and offers visitors a wide variety of things to do. For example, this gentleman has just sent his dog, Elizabeth, on a quest for a tennis ball.

Elizabeth returns with the ball and dries off in the way of dogs. I watched enviously, thinking of the weight I could lose if I could duplicate that feat. That's a lot of exercise!

Just up the road from the boat and dog water access is one of several well-equipped playgrounds of the Eastern Prom. Even on this rather chilly early morning in late April, a fair number of kids, always with attentive parents, makes use of the slides and swings and jungle gyms, all with a fantastic view of the Bay.

I'll be frank here - I am now and always have been thrilled and grateful to live in this particularly spectacular part of the world. And this end of the city by the sea is calm, peaceful, and serene. Even when the summer warmth fills the beaches and benches, ball fields and tennis courts, the Eastern Prom is a great place to unwind and enjoy the view.