Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Magical "History" Tour Continues...

We continued the cruise up the coast on the land yacht, stopping next at Freeport, ME. World famous outdoor outfitter LL BEAN has been here darn near forever and continues to grow in this thriving community. Like any "port" that has a great "anchor", all kinds of activity springs up around it- so the shopping here is excellent. Plenty of fine dining establishments are within an easy walk of Beans and the town has placed so much emphasis on managing the growth in a constructive way that even the local McDonald's is a classy looking piece of architecture that fits right into the character of the town. The classic boot, perhaps the most recognized icon in the outfitting world marks your arrival to their store. It's a big sucker! Think maybe the old woman who lived in a shoe must have lived in this neighborhood somewhere...

Marilyn's sister Julie and husband Jay drove up from PA and we joined them for dinner at one of the Inns in Freeport. Then a few days later we all traveled up to Belgrade Lakes where we met her other sister Elisabeth and her husband David for first in a long time get together of all the sisters for some fun together. Village Inn is THE place to go for a duck dinner. They sell more duck than any other restaurant in the country and have done so for many many years. It so happened that it was Jimmy Buffet night at the outdoor lounge at the Village Inn, and the live band playing on the banks of the river attracted a large (and loud) crowd of land-lubbers and also a host of boaters who pulled up and dropped the hook to take a swim and groove on the tunes. Go Parrot Heads! I really enjoyed the image that presented itself in this picture. In Maine, we don't have swimming pools! Well, maybe a few- but it's unusual; we swim in the rivers and the lakes. You can bring the kids and the dog. No rules. This is typical Maine/summertime activity.

Back at Bet's house, the sisters laughed it up with a computerized version of the distorting mirror you might have seen in the fun house at the Fair when you were a kid. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I'm thinking they'll beat me up if I don't offer up a more presentable memento of the occasion so here it is...

Boothbay Harbor is a beautiful coastal town and home to some of Marilyn's nearest and dearest friends. Ron is a director at the Boothbay Railroad Museum where he currently is masterminding and directing the construction of a miniature train exhibit that will fill an entire building at the museum. Having seen his set up at his house, I know this exhibit will be world class when it is finished. It's already a fascinating study of the time and work that goes into such an exhibit and is a must see if you are in town.
The museum has a lot of steam trains to climb aboard and take a close look at, and this one you can take a ride on all around the museum - getting off and on to see the various displays, which actually reproduces an entire village along the old railway system.
Below, Marilyn looks on as the engineers take on coal and water at the old station. The train refuels three or four times a day depending on the number of cars it pulls to handle the crowd visiting the museum. The old steam whistle is a nice sound and can be heard for a long distance.

The "gut" where the swing bridge crossing takes you from Boothbay to Southport where Ron and Nancy live is a most beautiful spot.

It's loaded with lobster pot markers which makes navigating the waters in the swift tidal current more challenging, but the deal is this: in Maine, the more challenging the passage, the more spectacular the scenery. The pleasure boaters occasionally grumble that there are too many pots and too close to the channel. The lobstermen occasionally grumble that the pleasure boaters are tangling or cutting their gear. But in the end, the pleasure boaters help provide a healthy market for the catch of the day- lobster- and once it gets dipped in butter and slides across the tongue, all the tension goes away and everyone winds up happy. A cold beer or a chilled glass of white wine at the end of the day doesn't hurt either.

Originally , lobster pots, or "traps" were made of wooden slats. Nowadays most of them are made of wire. They last longer, fish with less weight in them, have less resistance to the strong currents, and are faster to build and get ready for fishing.
They don't have quite as much eye appeal, but they still make a pretty picture sitting on the shore, waiting to hit the water.

It wouldn't be Maine without boats. And because most boats are kept on moorings to keep them off the rocky and rough coast line, there wouldn't be boating without dingys which ferry you back and forth from shore to boat. Often, as I've pointed out before, they are every bit as picturesque as the boats they tend- maybe more so.

In this next series of shots, enjoy the beauty that happens where land meets sea, man meets boat....

Floats! Some mark lobster pots. But take a close look at the floating seaweed. Tiny air pockets along the "tentacles" of the vegetation cause the seaweed to float and wash back and worth with the wind, the current, and the tide. It's beautiful- and a handful of this type, thrown into the pot that you boil your lobster in adds tons of flavor to the finished product.
Some sail. Some power boat. In Maine, they do both. Everyone has a preference. Perhaps it says something about those on board. You be the judge. In a hurry? Or no? Want to go in a straight line or an indirect path to reach your goal. Hate diesel; love wind? Hate heeling (the way a sail boat leans over in order to move forward in the wind) or prefer to stand upright? have all day...or just an hour? Sailing for pleasure? Working for a living? There's something that works for everyone.

The pot marker, or buoy, is distinctly colored (and numbered) for each fisherman. Collectively they sure do make a nice wall hanging. especially against the side of a naturally grayed and wood shingled building.

Some wooden traps are still used. Some are piled as a reminder of what went before, and some are used as an architectural point of interest along the coast.

Ron, Marilyn, David, Susan, Nancy ( and me too) enjoy a night of dining and reminiscing at David and Susan's new house on the water. The dock above is their dock. It's a beautiful home and they are all great friends and it has really been good to spend time with them again. The bunch of them go way back together. School. Work. Boating. Socializing. Great crew!
Well that's it for this post. All aboard for the next leg of the trip? It's the moose's caboose. The end! See you next time....Off we go!

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