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!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cundy's Harbor

Combining a few of my favorite things, I am on a quest to ride my Vespa to remarkable "dining rooms" up and down the great state of Maine.

After preparing a picnic lunch of tortilla wraps, a salad, some fresh blueberries, and several cans of the world's greatest soft drink (and the official soft drink of Maine), diet Moxie, I set out this day for Cundy's Harbor.

Located on the tip of Great Sebascodegan Island - locally simply "Great" - Cundy's sits on one of three islands that comprise the town of Harpswell. The others, Orr and Bailey, are next on my list for a visit. The town also has some 200 other, smaller islands. In fact, with 216 miles of coastline, Harpswell has more of that precious property than anyone municipality in Maine.

One might think that a picnic behind a library overlooking a highway doesn't sound particularly appealing. Below is the library - the Cundy's Harbor Library.

And here is the highway: the New Meadows River.

Cundy's is the oldest working fisherman's harbor in Maine, the oldest lobstering community in the state. Purchased from Native Americans in 1659, Europeans began to settle and to fish. Although just two settlers remained by 1714, driven off by Indian raids, the town of Harpswell was incorporated in 1758.

Parking the Vespa, and unloading my lunch, I settled in for a very long, pleasant meal.

In the center of the picture is open ocean, just a mile or so down the New Meadows River.

I doubt if anyone dining anywhere in Maine - or across the country - had a more relaxing, pleasant experience on this perfect afternoon.

Remember this hard-working lobsterman the next time you chomp down on a lobster. Getting the ugly little taste delights from sea to dining room is back-breaking work. 

This photo was taken in the back yard of a Cundy's Harbor fisherman.

This is another back yard, at low tide.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Sunrise - because I can

I had trouble sleeping last night, and since I was still awake at 4 AM, I decided to visit Fort Allen Park in Portland to watch the sunrise. I've rarely had the opportunity to see a summer sunrise; most of my life, I've worked afternoons and nights.

But last October, the manager of the gas station where I pumped gas part time decided to shoot me in the face with a pellet gun. I quit on the spot and haven't worked since. It's a long story, but far from boring, if I do say so myself. (Prospective employers frown on heavy-set older gentlemen walking with a cane.)

SO - at 4:30 AM, I was able to simply ride out to the coast. No one was expecting me anywhere - maybe good things come in small, pellet-sized packages.

When I rode up to the Eastern Promenade, a field of gulls was waiting for the sunrise. Good thing I ride a Vespa - a Harley would have sent them all to Kittery.

The seagulls and I didn't have to wait long. Sunrise was at 5:07 AM.

I felt like Seth, the angel played by Nickolas Cage in "City of Angels." Angels gathered by the hundreds on the beach to watch the sun rise everyday, just to see a master artist at work. Maybe that's what kept the gulls grounded. The beauty of the sight kept me riveted.

At the west end of the Eastern Prom is the Major Charles J. Loring, Jr.Memorial Park. Dedicated to Major Loring as "a place to take some time to remember our fallen heroes – who sacrificed their lives for mankind everywhere," the park overlooks Back Cove and Baxter Boulevard.

Major Loring, a Portland native, was a pilot in both World War II and in Korea. Shot down in WWII, he spent time as a POW. He died in a bombing mission over Korea; Major Loring was awarded the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk at his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy.”

A view toward Portland from Loring Park.

Part of the Deering neighborhood of Portland.

Looking back on downtown Portland from Baxter Boulevard, named for six-time Portland Mayor James Phinney Baxter. 

Another view of Baxter Boulevard, a four-mile long road and walking path around Back Cove.

The sun is up, the air is brisk, and I think I can sleep now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The water is still COLD!

People still think that because the air is very hot (nearly 90 degrees today), the ocean must be at least warm.

As this young man learned very quickly, the sea is never warm in these parts.

If I had a really good close-up lens, you could see that no one is genuinely smiling. Oh, sure, they've got something like a smile on their faces, but it's one of those, "Gee Whiz, this isn't so bad, is it" smiles.

Here's what the wise people do: build a shallow little pool, wait for the sun to heat it up, then slide in. Then, you can honestly say, "Sure, I went in the water at the beach!"

A familiar and comforting and lovely site at Maine's State Parks - lifeguards.

I didn't hear this conversation between father and daughter, but I imagine that Dad asked his little girl if she'd like to go out into the surf.

Well. she seems to be thinking, this isn't too bad. Let me ponder this a moment.

This wave nearly knocked her off her feet, and she declined an adventure in the surf.

Dad waited for a decent wave, and "rode" it to the beach. I'm not sure what happened next to Dad. I know that I resolved to stay ashore.

This pair of sisters from far, far away were visiting New England with their parents. They wisely chose to enjoy the beauty of Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth at a sensible depth.

The younger of the sisters is holding a sea thing up for her mother to photograph. In the spirit of Down East humor, I asked, "Do you know what that is?" "No" was the reply, sensing that I must know the answer.

"It's a shell," I said with authority. (It's odd that I'm the only one who thought that was funny. My dear wife always says, "It's not them, sweetie - it's you." She says it very nicely, though.)

Here stand the sea gulls ...

...and there they go.

I'm not sure what this adventure is called. Para-sailing? I call it "something I'll never do." It looks like fun, but I suspect it's rather dangerous. I'll stick with my sedate, old-man-style scootering.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Way It Was In 1492

"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," on a ship just like this!

Last week, replicas of the Nina and the Pinta docked in Portland Harbor, and were open for tours. Follow this link for everything you need to know, including the ships' schedule:

Signs like this explained just about everything about the ships, and very knowledgeable crew members were on the spot for anything visitors wanted to know.

Most people took photos, and most were pleased to be photographed on such historic ships. This young lady was the exception. "Smile like Daddy" made no impression; however, when Dad put her down, a huge smile erupted. Those of you with children have been there, done that.

This photo-op was more successful.

When a visitor said, "Well, these are pretty impressive boats," I quoted Conchscooter of Key West Diary, who provided the answer to my question, in an earlier post, about ships and boats: "A ship carries a boat. If it cannot then it itself is a boat."

Thanks, Conchscooter!

This may look like a calm, posed picture of kids looking out at the rudder, but the scrum before the photo was intense. 

From the quarterdeck of the Pinta

Portland Harbor from the Nina ...

...and from the Pinta.

Sailing is a favorite pastime, although one without a boat wonders why so many are simply sitting there!

Ah, there goes one now. I wonder if there's room for a scooter? Just drop me off on any island with road.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lunch with a View

Parking my Vespa in the parking lot at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth, I took a photo and climbed the stairs to find a nice place to eat.

This is the only pic of the GTS in this post - Two Lights is mostly far too rocky for a scooter. Or even, as you'll see, for pedestrians.

A family has lit a fire in one of the many grills provided at many Maine State Parks. Soon, the wonderful aroma of BBQ will float around me; not for long, for the sea breeze that cools on the steamiest of days also sends the scent inland. Someone walking along a road miles away will stop and sniff, and think: "Ahhh - grilled burgers ..."

 Quickly I set up my table, anxious to eat and explore. Here is a feast fit for a, well, for me. Diet Moxie, chicken and cheese tortilla wrap, tomatoes, cukes, lettuce with Caesar dressing, a netbook loaded with unread news articles, and a MP3 player stuffed with Bach and Beethoven, Scott Joplin and Sousa.

And all this with an unbeatable view. I am continuously thankful that I live in this glorious place, and have the freedom to visit every inch, as I choose.

After lunch, I settle on a comfortable bench overlooking the Atlantic. With Super-Vision, and an as-yet-uninvented Curvo-Scope to see over the horizon, I could see Europe, for nothing lies between me and the Old World in this view.

There's always something to do on a perfect June day, but like me, this lady has chosen to gaze and ponder.

And these folk's have found an ideal reading room

This guy must really love to eat fish, for he sat baiting his hook and casting into the surf for hours without dragging a living thing out of the sea. He was there when I arrived, and remained three hours later.

Another fisherman with apparently the same lack of success.

This crew may very well be hauling the trap that contains a lobster dinner for some hungry visitor at one of the endless seafood restaurants along the coast of Maine.

More fishermen, and again, I saw nothing edible brought up from the deep. I never tell anyone in my family what a waste of time I think fishing is, for I am truly the only man in the extended family who doesn't fish.

I once told a relative who'd invited me on a fishing trip that I was going to a baseball game - a much better use of my time, I suggested. "You'd rather just watch people do something you could never do, than provide food for your family, like a real man ..."

Hence my reluctance to share my opinions on fishing.

Yet another fisherman. He may have entered the park to find a place to fish, or he might be fishing in his backyard! Some folk's actually live right here. Expensive, but more than worth the price.

One thing Two Lights has in abundance is picnic tables. And you have the choice of being practically in the ocean, or just off the paths and trails ...

... or even in the woods - still with a view of the sea.

One final photo and it's back inland a  bit. Tonight is a Portland Sea Dogs baseball game (Boston Red Sox Double A team) and I will be there, as I usually am. For the past ten years, I've covered the team for various newpapers and magazines. 

I am a most fortunate man.