Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wild Duck, Lobster Rolls, and The Old Orchard

When I was a little tyke, wild duck was what floated around in the bathtub or the inflatable vinyl swimming pool in the back yard. When I was a young man, wild duck was what Dave Allen and I used to go hunting for in Maine on the weekends, wearing camouflage rain gear. When I was able to afford it quite a few years later, Wild Duck was a good, but not a "budget busting,"champagne. Come to think of it, I guess that was Cold Duck, but it was probably Cold WILD Duck- so that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. And now that I'm doing what I'm doing, regardless of age (mind your own business please) Wild Duck is a campground on the Salt Marsh at Scarborough, Maine. Besides the marsh, we have a lovely little pond which stays full of ducks of one kind or another pretty much constantly (hence the name) and instead of asking us not to feed the ducks, the owner actually encourages it and even provides a giant trash can full of help-yourself crushed corn for that purpose. Neato! There are no kids here; it's an adults only park. Also neato. Not that I (we) have anything against kids, but once and a while it is nice to have nothing but quiet reign supreme. And it does that here. This is perhaps the most hassle free camp I think we have ever stayed at. First class! Quiet. Pastoral scenery. Close to the beach. How can you beat that?

So our most recent excursion found us heading for the beach. There are lots of beaches in Maine; but this really is THE beach. Old Orchard Beach is the biggest, baddest, stretch of white sand (no rock here) that Maine has to offer. Part of the atmosphere is very Maine. But some is very Florida! So I thought I might use a bunch of photos to provide a glimpse of what makes Old Orchard Beach both very different from....and very similar to... popular beaches everywhere. I'm shooting with a new camera so I got carried away and took a whole lot of "test" shots. Actually, I was just having fun snapping pictures, so deciding what to use and what to save for another day was a bit of a chore, but fun none-the-less.

At the northernmost extension of the beach you still find a lot of boats on moorings, tidal marshes, fishing piers- that sort of thing. But the more you work your way south on the beach, the more populated of a beach it becomes and the more the scenery shifts from "fully dressed" water activities to those that necessitate being a bit more scantily clad.

Clam digging is hard, backbreaking work, but someone's gotta do it! I did it summers for years when I was a teacher in Rockland, part because it was fun and in part because I could make more money clamming than I could teaching and "the ends had to meet!" These diggers were across the channel and even the telephoto couldn't reach them for a proper photo, but I am reasonably certain there will be better opportunities for that later.

No! It's not a sailboat. And no it isn't a shark with a feathered fin! This little shore bird was diving into a school of small fish and coming up with a bit of a taste treat on nearly every dive. I thought the pose was unique, so here it is....

Not a particularly great sand beach where it starts off, kids still love to come here to catch hermit crabs and other small creatures that are easy prey at low tide. And skipping stones or shells is still as popular as ever.

Fishing is good at the boat ramp and restaurant pier. It was the wrong tide, but the right time, for the Stripers to be running.

Old Orchard has a little bit of everything, and cool cars are no exception. Lots of motorcycles, too, but they didn't make the cut. Yea, this is what I do- drive my Mercedes to the beach...

where a bunch of seagulls sit waiting for flyover bombing exercises at the fish market (not that I have had or ever did have or ever will have a Mercedes.) They'll just have to dive bomb the Honda for now!

Sandy beaches have long provided a special way of bringing advertising messages to sunbathers who are working up a thirst or an appetite or a special hankering of some type or another while they are basking in the sun and wind, and the "little plane who could" was out towing messages up and down the beach this day.

NOT typical of Maine in any sense of the word, high rise buildings have found their way to portions of the main beach at Old Orchard. When real estate becomes as valuable as it has become here, buildings go UP and not OUT, so a touch of the Florida thing going on here.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee? Maybe. But this young man has buried the knee itself and left the heart above ground to fend for itself.
The "Always Running" amusement park at Old Orchard has drawn locals and tourists for as long as I can remember, and then some. Nothing too big or too scary, but "colorful and fun" seems to keep them coming back year after year.

Nice, soft, smooth sand. Good surf most of the time and really good surf on occasion. It's a big stretch of beach good for exercising or strutting your stuff...

or just "taking it all in and taking a chill.

Boogie boards and surf skimmers are the surf board of choice here.

That water sure looks inviting to the young ones, but not all of them are so sure they should venture too far from mom or dad- and this is a family type beach town. Besides, being in the water in Maine, while it may LOOK the same as being in the water in Florida or even New Jersey for that matter, is a whole different matter. Can you say COLD?

End of year school trips to the park seem like a great way to welcome summer at the beach.

" Hey, pass me that machine gun for the Vintage photo shoot, would ya?" Quick! Like a blur!

Near the end of the big pier, kids stand on their tippy-toes and bob up and down with the passing waves...

while up on the pier, older brother reloads his marshmallow shooter at the arcade as little brother takes another shot. If you eat a few in the process, "No problem," says the owner, "They're low carb mallows."

All that salt air made us pretty hungry so we stopped at the end of the pier for one of the world famous lobster rolls they offer. Served on a platter with chips and accompanied by either a big Coke or a cold beer, and consumed at a seaside table with a view miles and miles down the beach made for a fantastic lunch. The service was every bit as good as the surroundings!

On Main Street, plenty of beach shops to find whatever you need for that day or week or summer at the beach. There are rental cottages, B&B's, hotels, motels, everywhere.

And tattoos! And piercings. If you need it, this just may be the place to get it! The "Master Piercer" (I didn't even know there was such a title) at Professional Piercers of Maine volunteered to have his picture taken. Personally, I'm thinkin' that's got to hurt!

Ice cream sounds a whole lot better to me and that stand was close by. Maybe if you don't cry when you get a piercing, they buy you an ice cream???

And as we so often do, we found an interesting sign- this one outside one of the sidewalk lounges. In a town where parking is the toughest chore of the day, I thought this seemed only reasonable:

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