Friday, October 2, 2015

Portland, Maine

We drove down to Portland, Maine, and stayed at an okay RV park called the Duck Pond RV Campground.  It was crowded with rigs so you felt as though you were right on top of each other. The people there were nice but it wasn't my favorite place to stay.

The RV park was appropriately named.

There must have been 40 ducks or geese around all the time.  They barely moved for the vehicles.

The RV park sat alongside a salt marsh south of Portland.  There were canals all over the area where the tide flows in and out each day.  Many people use these canals to kayak.

 Our first trip was to Old Orchard Beach not far from where we were staying to walk the beach area.  

The beach was cool but the pups still enjoyed the water and getting some exercise.    

The brave of heart were on the water in wet suits doing their thing. 

This fisherman caught a large fish while we were there.They said it was a sea bass.

Afterward we drove down to Portland to check out a local restaurant that advertised 72 types of beer.

We decided to eat there and the Captain tried something new on the menu called the BBQ Hot Mess.  It's mac & cheese, pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, and jalapeno popper in a mason jar.
It sounded strange but the Captain said it was quite good.

I took it a little easier with a portobello mushroom sandwich.  

Knowing the pups needed exercise we took them on a trail near Portland that runs along the Fore River which is the main river in the city.  Since it was a salt marsh it was different than what we expected and on several sections of the hike we had to walk across boardwalks.  
As we got further along the trail we noticed sections that had tents propped up and various other sundry items.  We wound up walking into a hobo camp with several gentlemen sitting there looking up at us.  They said 'hello' and were very cordial as they sat and drank their beer and the Captain chatted with them about the weather.  We continued our walk and wound up at a dead end so we had to turn around and walk back past the camp again.  The Captain chatted with them once more while I picked up the pace to get back to where we had started from!  Yikes !

Downtown Portland is a typical large, older city with a major waterfront area. Since the water is very deep in the harbor, cruise ships can come in and dock right at the port allowing the tourists easy access to the city.  The waterfront has trails for biking and walking and is a nice area to visit.

The large building in the center of the water is Fort Gorges on Hog Island in Portland Harbor.  It was built to protect the city but it took so long to get it built that it was never used as a fort.  During WWII they stored submarine ammo in it.

There were two cruise ships in port this day and we got to see them up close.

It always amazes me how large these vessels are.

The waterfront is full of local touring boats, restaurants, and shops of all types.

You could also tour the city in this old fire truck.

We saw large sections of downtown Portland that were still paved in cobblestones.

Portland has a large artist community covering many blocks.  Some of the old buildings were colorfully painted.

The Portland Museum of Art.

This triangular building was built in 1826 and is a rare local example of a Federal-style commercial building.  It is one of the oldest commercial buildings in the city.

Many of the older buildings were well maintained. 

First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church was built in 1825.  It is Portland's oldest place of worship.

 We drove down the coast to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport which are two towns connected to each other over a bridge.

It was definitely a tourist trap but there was much to see.

The homes in the area were expansive and beautiful.

The beaches allowed dogs this time of year so we took the pups out for a run before we explored the town.

People were in the ocean surfing even though it was cloudy and chilly.

This woman was wading in wearing a wet suit.

Many of the town shops are right on the water.

It was a neat town to explore and the shops carried some wonderful items.

The changing of the season brought out the fall decorations.  

But there were still many summer flowers and plants in bloom.

Local artwork at one of the shops.

While in Kennebunkport we had to take a drive out of town a few miles to catch a glimpse of the George H.W. Bush compound.  Along the way we saw more beautiful homes.  Several days later we talked to a woman who lives in Kennebunkport year round.  I mentioned to her how beautiful all the homes were and that there wasn't one house in need of painting or one yard without beautiful landscaping. She smiled and said that wasn't allowed in Kennebunkport.  She also told us the weekend before she and her husband were having dinner in town and saw George and Barbara Bush walk into the restaurant.  She said they often dine in town and stay in the area until October when they move south to Texas for the winter.

This is the Bush compound, the closest any of us could get.   

The Bush home is to the far right but the other homes you can see in the background are also part of the compound  enclosed and protected by a guard station.

We also saw St Anns Episcopal Church near the Bush home.  It was built of large sea washed stones that were hoisted and dragged to the church site during the winter of 1886-1887.

During our stay in the Portland area we visited the Tate House which was constructed for Captain George Tate (1700-1794) and his family (wife Mary and four sons) who had arrived in the Colonies around 1750 from London.  Tate served as the Senior Mast Agent for the British Royal Navy, overseeing the cutting and shipping of white pines from Maine to England.  The mast industry was important to ensure England's supremacy on the seas and Tate's home and furnishings reflected his wealth in the area.

The house was in built in 1755 of white pine and it has never been painted.  I'm not sure why the wood is still preserved after all these years and no one could give us an answer.

By law all white pine trees over twenty four inches in diameter were the property of the King and were marked with the sign of a 'broad arrow' (three axe slashes).  George Tate was responsible for the overseeing or the marking and removal to the Fore River so they could be transported to England to make the great masts.  Like the tax on tea, the broad arrow mark came to symbolize the tyranny of the Crown and helped to foment the Revolution in the Province of Maine.

The main dining area for the Tates.

These were called courting candles.  When a man came courting, the father of the young lady would light a candle.  When the candle went out the man knew he had to leave. If the father did not like the young man he extinguished the candle early.  If he did like the young man he would light a second candle right before the first one went out.  

The large fireplace in the kitchen of the Tate House.  The upper left had a built in area for slow baking much like a pizza oven looks today.  The two main causes of death for women in this era were from childbirth or by fire because their petticoats got too close to the flames.  

The kitchen table where the children and the servants dined.  Children were not allowed in the main dining room.

The main entry floor is made of wood painted black and white.

Fancy molding to make the rooms seem taller.

The entryway and staircase.  Although this home was considered elegant we were really surprised at how small it was.

The Tate's bedroom.

Mary Tate had to entertain her lady friends in the bedroom.

This large tablet, The Chronological Tables of  English History, listed all the kings and queens of England and was used to educate the Tate children. 

The children had their own tutor who had a small room in the house.

His bed flipped up to the wall to give the room space when he wasn't sleeping.

The other interesting story about the Tates was that Mary thought someone was stealing food from their pantry so she came up with the brilliant idea to have one of her sons rig a gun so anyone who entered the pantry would be shot.  He did as she requested and that night Mary Tate asked the maid to get her something from the pantry. For some reason the maid refused so Mary went in there herself and was shot and killed.  Turns out someone was stealing from the pantry but they were tunneling in from the outside in order to steal.

Although the section of the city where the Tate Museum sits is filled with many newer homes in modern subdivisions, the street the house is on still has private residences that date back hundreds of years.  This home was built in 1814. 

And this one dates back to 1867.

This well preserved and beautiful home is circa 1795.

 Finally, throughout our New England trip the Captain said he wanted to dine one night on New England lobster.  We had narrowed it down to several restaurants in Portland but then a young man told us about a restaurant called J's Oysters.  It overlooks the harbor and although he said it looks like a 'hole in the wall' the lobster is fantastic.  So........we gave it a try.  What can I say. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Lobster, corn on the cob, and clams. 

After eating several clams he started on the lobster.

The concentration showing on his face as he cracked the shell.  

The meal is over and this is not a look of contentment.

The person who recommended the place wasn't lying when he called it a 'hole in the wall'.  The place has been there 35 years and it looked as though it hadn't been cleaned in all that time.  I ordered a haddock filet and it was disappointing, at best.  We should have walked out as soon as we saw the inside of the restaurant.  Now don't get me wrong, they do a booming business and one of their specialties is clams.  The Captain had a bunch on his plate with the lobster and he tried those, too.  I even tried a couple but didn't like them much.  That night the Captain felt poorly and slept little and even the next day his stomach was in a dither.  Either it was the food or his palate wasn't up to the challenge. Needless to say, I know he will not try these delicacies again.    

We should have opted for this truck vendor on the street in downtown Portland.  It states they sell Darn Good Sandwiches.  
The name alone would have been worth the stop! 

Our next stop is Cape Cod on the Massachusetts coast.  The weather has been wonderful this summer and we look forward to more idyllic days on the beach.  Peace !

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