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!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Green and Brown

"All in November's soaking mist
We stand and prune the naked tree,
While all our love and interest
Seem quenched in the blue-nosed misery."

         Ruth Pitter, 1897-1992, The Diehards, 1941

On this final day of November in Maine, there was no sign of "blue-nosed misery." Indeed, the temperature hit 65 degrees, and I took advantage of that fluke of weather to ride to Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach.

And while the weather was indeed marvelous, the scenery was dramatically different from that of July.

July's greenery

November's brownery

Deserted in the Fall

Busy in the summer

Canoeing in the water

Canoeing on land?



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blue and Gray

It was only a few months ago that my world was delightfully blue - bright blue skies, deep blue water...

Here, one boat sets out onto Sebago Lake in late April, while another is towed onto a trailer, surely to return another day.

But there's little blue at the same spot in late November. The dock is out of the water, not a boat in sight; all the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray. (I'm dreaming of summer in Maine - not California.) And before long, the ice fishing shacks will appear where all those boats once sailed.

On this hot July afternoon, I stopped on White's Bridge in Windham. To the north, most of the summer camps are hidden by trees, and are spaced rather far apart.

But to the south of the bridge, the camps are as close together as houses in the city.

That doesn't matter a bit - these little camps have a back yard that can't be topped!

Some camps, hidden in the woods, are actually a bit primitive; simple one-room-and-a-bath affairs, but again -what a view. Even my 60-year-old ranch seems like a palace, compared with the sparse living of the older summer getaways. But at home, I'm packed in between houses, streets, driveways, and one-car garage sized back yard. I'd live in a tent to have this view.

It takes more than a teaspoon full of brains to guide a boat under White's Bridge ...

...but at least one person took time to smile and wave for the camera.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Only a fool ...

No new photos from my Turkey Day ride, because my fingers, like every other piece and part of my large body, was frozen quite stiff. I was unable to open my camera case, much less push the button to take a picture.

But I’ve posted a photo of me in the coldest, most miserable condition I’ve ever experienced until yesterday.

On a day when the temperature topped out at 37 degrees, but hovered around 30 as I began my ride to Thanksgiving dinner at my youngest son’s mother-in-law’s home, I felt that being dressed in double, and even triple layers, would protect me.

You see, I rode my Yamaha C-3 50cc scooter all through last winter, without getting truly cold. But my longest trip was about 15 miles, at speeds under 40 mph. This Turkey Day ride was 120 miles round-trip, at speeds above 60 most of the way.

A dog approached me, eager to bite. “Be my guest,” I told him. “Joke’s on you – you’ll only break your teeth, and I’ll feel nothing.” Seeming to understand, the dog left, seeking more tender Thanksgiving fare.

I thought that I’d be seen as a devil-may-care adventurer; old and disabled, but really cool!

Let me sum up in the words of the Beatles’ Hey Jude:

“You know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Return to the Beach

With snow falling outside and my GTS in the garage, I'm going to dip into my newly-discovered stash of summer photos. This is a trip to Popham State Park, Phippsburg, back in August.

Looking north, the beach appears to be fairly crowded.

But to the south, there are more seabirds than sunbathers. 

Again, a closer look north.

And to the south. Here, there is no surf, and one must walk a bit farther to reach the beach.

There's something about a sandbar on deep water that seemingly demands jumping - either alone, just for the joy of it ..

...or as a competitive event. On this spot, each leap was judged and scored, nearly as technically as in the Olympics, although less politely. Instead of a series of cards with numbers, these guys shouted out semi-vulgar, often creative comments: "Jeez, Freddy, my grandmother does a better cannonball in her bathtub!" 

Not everyone comes to the beach to swim or dive ...

I enjoyed my picnic lunch in an unused lifeguard station.

My view from the station, at a comfortable distance from the noisy mob.

 Unfortunately, this gull objected to my presence, coming to the base of the station, then walking to the ocean. I'm fairly certain he was suggesting here that I should leave the lifeguard station and go jump in the water.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Final Warm Weather Ride?

With all signs pointing to the onset of typical Maine winter chilliness, Sunday's 65 degree weather, even though tempered by overcast skies, led me to believe that this would be the last time I could ride 80-plus miles without my ski-mobile suit. 

My first stop was at the Maine Big Native American (MBNA, in current politically correct terms).

Created by Ron Shutt in 1969, Mainers usually call it the "F.B.I." for Freeport Big Indian.

One does not need much imagination, nor a particularly dirty mind, to find a suitable substitute for "Freeport" in the acronym.

At about 50 feet in height, the Indian is indeed fabulously, fantastically, formidably tall.

Stuck for a substitute beginning with "F?"

Find a sailor, cook, mechanic, or Joe Biden, show him the picture of the F.B.I. and you'll have the answer.

With all the trees lacking leaves, it's easier to see the ocean. During the summer, one can ride right next to the sea without seeing a wave; Maine is the most heavily forested state in the nation, and a whole lot of the Atlantic is hidden from view when the trees are in bloom.

In his poem "Mending Walls," Robert Frost said that "Good fences make good neighbors." He might have added that stone walls are endlessly interesting to examine. This one in Freeport is truly magnificent, and its gate is unique.

I've seen many stone walls, but this is the first one I've seen with a mill stone for a gate.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lost and Found

I envy people who know where everything they own is located. If I make it through a day wasting no more than 15 precious minutes seeking that which is not lost, but merely hidden from my sight – I’ve had a good day.

Once I asked Kathy, my highly organized wife, “Where are those pictures I took when we went the lake before Danny was born, back in – what was it – 1976?”

After two seconds of pondering, Kathy answered, “You took three rolls of film. Two black and white, just one color – it cost three times as much as the black and white. Only 31 of the regulars came out, but all 24 of the color.”

She looks dreamily into the air, remembering the trip in perfect, complete detail.

“Marvelous,” I said, impatient and clueless. “But where are they?”

Pleased that her knowledge exceeded her husband’s – again – she said, “If I remember correctly – and I do – you’ll find them in the box labeled ‘Tom’s photos at Sebago.’ The box is on the top shelf in the basement, just past the boxes of ‘Skinny Pants’ you’re determined to fit into before you die.”

So, you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered dozens of digital photos taken last summer, without help of guidance from anyone.

Here’s what happened: When I started “Scooter by the Sea,” I put the text and photos in a computer folder named “SS.” But I discovered that I needed a home for my Social Security documents, so I started filing my pics in a new folder named “SbyS.”

Unfortunately, I left several folders of summer trip pics in the “SS” folder. By a lucky chance, I found them when I opened the “SS” folder, wondering what might be in it. So, all by myself, I found something I hadn’t even realized was lost!

This is my mid-July trip to Limington, to a recreation area on the banks of the Saco River.

Following a delightful lunch of chicken, salad, and a Diet Moxie, comfortably cool in the shady woods, I crossed this bridge to the river.

Actually, that's a lot of bridge for the string of puddles it crosses in the summer. But come spring, every inch of height and length will be needed. 

From the end of the bridge, the river is in view.

Interesting contrast between the rapids and the little pool.

Note the stairs leading from the river to a home hidden in the trees above. Ideal location, if one lacks the millions needed to live right on the coast. I have a foolish dream that one day, people will flee the rising waters of global warming, leaving prime coastal living to the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Working Waterfront

As I've ridden up and down the coast of Maine for the past few months, little more than finding a quiet spot for a picnic, and thoroughly enjoying every inch of my native state of Maine, has occupied my mind. As I gaze in wonder at the glorious and bountiful beauty of the ocean, it's easy to forget that a large but shrinking percentage of Maine people work very hard on the sea.

Here at the Falmouth Town Landing, few of the boats floating at anchor are purely for pleasure. This is a part of the working waterfront.

Here near the end of the dock, one can see the homes of those fortunate enough to live on the water; and who could ask for a more pleasant "back yard," even at low tide.

But as I enjoy the late afternoon sun, a pair of fishermen prepare to go to work. Unhooking the little rubber raft, they haul it to the boat ramp.

Then it's into the ocean for the short run to their fishing boat.

Boarding the boat, they quickly put to sea.

Father and child walk along the shore, heading up the bank to a home in just the right place - smack on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pity Party for One

When I was a little boy and I reacted badly to some real or imagined slight, I tended to remove myself from society – loudly enough to announce my bitterness – and seek solitude.

After what my mother considered “long enough,” she’d quickly find me, (I wasn’t a clever hider) and ask, in a very sweet and kind voice, “Is Tommy having a Pity Party? Would you like to invite some friends to the Party?”

I wish I could state that I’ve outgrown Pity Parties, but the truth is that I’ve just had a long one over the continuing rapid decline of my body. You’ve heard of organ rejection after a transplant; I believe that my entire body has rejected my mind and my plans. Arthritis, gall stones, hernia, gout, neuropathy, disabling back pain – too many days, I can’t get on my GTS, much less trust my legs to hold us up at a stop. I haven’t had a decent, pain-free ride in weeks. Poor, poor, pitiful Tommy!

Yes, Mom, I had a Pity Party, and no, I don’t want to invite my friends.

Well, I am glad that’s over.

Now, a short scoot from my home is one of the oldest parts of Portland, founded by the man for whom my hometown was named.

Located at the edge of Portland, this tidy little park is near the mouth of the Fore River.

Ducks rest on the calm water before heading south for the winter, just like an increasing number of Mainer's not fond of the shoveling and plowing of snow. Indeed, unless one is a winter sportsperson, snow is simply something that looks pretty for the first hour, then then brown and black and dangerous until March.

This photo illustrates the strange fall we've had up in Maine. Some trees lost their leaves seemingly overnight, without turning much more than brown. Others, like those on the opposite bank of the Fore River, while never turning the brilliant typical colors, haven't dropped so much as a single leaf!