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, March 28, 2012

The Monster of Winter Present

One week ago, I was riding in 80 degrees; I took the winter lining out of my Joe Rocket jacket and packed away my winter gloves.

Just a few minutes ago, I snapped this picture of my wife's car. Oh ha-ha-ha. Pessimists are saying, "I told you so." Optimists are saying, "I quit!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

One Year on my Vespa

Here I am, standing proudly with my one-year-old Vespa GTS 250 i.e. Super, on the day the marvelous machine and I celebrated one year as a team.

In that year, riding nearly every day, in every month, we shared 8704 miles on Maine's highways and backroads. I am 63 years old, and have made a lot of poor decisions in that time - but buying this scooter was without question the best purchase I've ever made (Best overall decision was asking Kathy to marry me 37 years ago).

I intend to ride until I can't move a muscle - then I'm going to have a rig like this made for me:


Mike T. of is using a real camera, with actual film, to record the beauty of Cundy's Harbor. Cool as the new digital stuff is, there's nothing like film. It's like the difference between vinyl and a CD or mp3: close, maybe - but a tad too different for my taste.

This is Cundy's Harbor

 Everything is ready for the summer tourists, including the picnic tables. We like to keep them stacked up so the summer people will go away, but most of them figure out how to get them down.

Summer pest: "Room Service? Please send up a towel."

Mainer: "You'll have to wait - someone else is using it."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ghost of Winter Past

As I set out for a ride this St. Patrick's Day morning, I am thankful that the temperature is closing in on 50 degrees, and the only white on the ground is the picket fence of my neighbor!

This gentleman lives close to me, and he rides in any condition. I've never spoken to him - he rides head down and mouth closed. I'm afraid that if I were to engage in conversation, his Spartan attitude might rub off on me, and the headline would read: "Idiotic aging Vespa rider lost in blizzard - rescue workers give up search for 'that damned fool'"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It won't be long now

Although the weather is warmer, the days longer, the rides less bracing, it won't be spring until the green begins to appear.

This photo was taken from nearly the same spot as the current header pic. But there's no sense of romance in early March here at Higgin's Beach in Scarborough, Maine.

And there is still some snow left in southern Maine - but I'm not complaining about this little pile!

The sea isn't inviting in March, but there is always beauty in the rugged coast.

The tidal flats on Prout's Neck lack the color that's just around the corner in April.

No one walked this beach today.

Next time I ride out here, the beaches will be full and the pines won't be the only tree with "foliage." 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

O Happy (Hot) Day!

O glorious Spring! O marvelous beach! O how wonderful to pack away the long underwear, the double-thick gloves, the extra pair of socks under the heavy winter boots, the headache-inducing balaclava!

Today's forecast was for warm, windy weather, and Portland broke the record for the warmest March 8 in the long history of the city. Sixty degrees! And the weather expert for the National Weather Service said: "This is probably it for winter." Good enough for me. The snow-blower, shovels, ice melt, antifreeze - out of sight and mind in the far corner of the cellar.

Look closely - that is a 60 in the upper right of the GTS display. Mike T. of and I rode to Old Orchard Beach to take in the joy of the best day so far in 2012 for riding. And it was a terrific day at the beach:

For feeding seagulls...

For walking on the sand and sitting on a bench...

For contemplating the sea and the surf...

For cuddling on the sand - there are really two people on that blanket, close together for warmth - or love. I didn't ask - I just took the picture...

For relaxing with tunes and a large, friendly dog...

For walking the little dog...

And for running perilously close to the sea, which is still - and always will be - very, very cold!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Scooter v. Yacht

There are many reasons why I own a scooter, not a yacht, not least of  which is the cost disparity. For example, I can ride my Vespa for about a month on what it costs a yacht owner to pull out of harbor. 

Another reason: I don't need to put my GTS in a cocoon from September to May. I can ride all winter while big boat owners dream of the summer day they can fill up the yacht with hundreds of dollars worth of fuel. (Note to boat owners: you're welcome to disagree and invite me for a July cruise to change my mind.)

Still, it's sad to have to bundle up the boat for all those months. On the other hand, there aren't enough layers of long undies, nor thick enough gloves, to make an run through icy water a pleasant ride.

While on the subject of summer pleasures that don't draw people outdoors in winter: this is why I tend to eat indoors during the snowy months in Maine

Saturday, March 3, 2012

AARP calls Portland, Maine, Number One Vacation Destination in USA

Who can argue with the organization of the elderly and the near-old? Here, in part, is what AARP's monthly magazine said in putting Portland above New York City, among other cities:

"Modern-day Portland is the state’s largest city, a commercial hub where glass-and-steel high-rises house multinational corporations. But it’s the revitalized, working Old Port that makes the city so appealing. Lobstermen still commandeer wooden fishing boats, and the air rings with the music of ship bells and foghorns. Stroll the wooden wharfs and cobblestoned streets. Dine on fresh seafood, including lobster, at spots like Portland Lobster Company and hip Fore Street. In fact, in 2009, Bon Appetit named Portland the Foodiest Small Town in America for its roster of award-winning restaurants and top chefs."

In this post, you'll see no photos of the highly recommended "Old Port." Formerly a rough but real neighborhood, rich newcomers decided to make it cute and nice - and too expensive for most Mainers.

My recommended sites include:

Longfellow Square

Monument Square 

Tate House of 1755 (under repair)

The Victoria Mansion, finished in 1860

The West End, with some of the oldest homes in Portland

The Waterfront, where you can dock your yacht at your doorstep. And if you can afford to live here - you've got a yacht!

Finally, you've got to love a city where a headless manikin is used to advertise a hair salon!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Time to pay the piper

When this photo was taken, four years ago, I could get aboard the bike fairly easily. Within a year, arthritis made it impossible to climb on. I had to lay the bike down, straddle it, and lift it up under me with my cane.

Except for my 63rd birthday on the sixth, the month of February, 2012, was been full of frustration, anxiety, and anger (While I don’t enjoy the annual reminder of aging, I do like to receive presents).

Frankly, I haven’t felt completely well for quite some time; I cut back to part-time work several years ago, before retiring completely, because of decreasing mobility, a general lack of wellness and stamina, and a rather sour attitude.

Currently, I take nine medications daily, five of which warn of “dizziness and drowsiness,” with the admonition not to “drive or operate machinery.” The warnings are highly accurate; the admonitions more than prudent.

On far too many days, I can’t handle my Vespa GTS 250 safely – hence the sour attitude and the anger.

I visited my doctor to find out what I could do to get off the medications.

“You should watch your diet more closely, exercise, and lose weight,” said my doctor.

“Well, I do exercise,” I replied, not convincingly, for I was truly stretching the concept of exercise.

“Well, it’s not working,” said the doctor, knowingly. “It’s time to pay the piper.”

So, there it is. Eat wisely, exercise properly, lose weight reasonably. Or forget about riding the GTS, because if it’s dangerous to drive a car with my current medications, riding a scooter is, well, about a mile past insanity.

Time to pay the piper – I hope he takes VISA.