Let's Take This One Slow and Easy

Saturday, May 22, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Day 22:  Portland, ME.  Another day in Portland, we spent the morning relaxing while getting laundry done (with the washer and dryer doing most of the work). By early afternoon, our batteries were recharged and we went out looking for—what else—lighthouses and letterboxes.

We found both right here in Portland.  Spring Point Lighthouse was our first stop.  When we arrived and Dianne got a look at the lighthouse, uh-oh!  It was a rematch.  Another lighthouse with a breakwater approach.  The good news:  this one was much shorter at 900 feet.  The bad news:  it was waaaaaay more treacherous and uneven than the Rockland breakwater.  (See photo above.)

No chance Dianne would be making this crossing.  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  Ken had no qualms, of course, and walked right across the breakwater to investigate the lighthouse and take some terrific photos.  Meanwhile, back on shore—can you find the chicken in this picture?  (Hint:  it's not the poultry kind.)
Dianne in window, hiding behind the wall
Enough about breakwaters, except to say that later at the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, we did find the kind of breakwater that everyone can love-- short, pretty level, the blocks of stone close together and evenly spaced, and best of all, a fence/handrail.  Woo hoo!  Dianne 2, Breakwaters 1.
Love a breakwater with a fallbreaker—and relatively smooth surface
Bug Light Park on Casco Bay, where we found this wonderful breakwater, is known as a great place for flying kites.  When we arrived around 5:30 p.m., we found what we would call a kitemaster at the park.  Though he never revealed his age, Hank told us his interst in kite flying had begun 68 years ago.  Growing up on the Massachusetts coast, he also spent lots of time sailing, so he knows the wind intimately.

Hank, the kite master
Hank flies kites at Bug Light Park often because there is a large empty field which is at sea level.  This prevents the winds from shifting in a way that would cause his kites to dip into the water.  He uses 2,000-lb. test line because he flies some very large kites.  Only one was still up when we arrived, though he had just brought in and packed up several larger ones.  "That one's just 9 or 10 feet wide," he said.

The largest of his sizable collection of custom-made kites is a 20-foot circle with a 90-foot attachment.  He also flies a kite stack with 25 kites, which is 100 feet long with a 1500-foot tail. 

Not surprisingly, Hank has a trailer full of kites and equipment. Several other kite flyers were around and it was clear that Hank is the alpha of the Portland kite group.
Hank's specially adapted trailer, filled with kite gear
He would have happily continued talking to us about kites and sailing for another 45 minutes, but the day was waning and we still had a couple of letterboxes to search for.  We also wanted to visit the park's shipbuilding memorial.
Bug Light Park is located on the site of the old Portland shipyard, overlooking Portland Harbor.  From 1940 to 1945, this shipyard built more than 250 cargo ships for military use, first for Britain and later for the U.S. as well. With more than 60 buildings, the shipyard covered 140 acres and had the capacity to build up to 13 ships simultaneously.  When the war ended, neither the ships nor the shipyard were needed any longer. 
Liberty Ship Memorial
When the shipyard property became a park, the Liberty Ship Memorial was built as a tribute to the thousands of men and women who worked at the South Portland Shipyards and the seaman who sailed on the Liberty ships.  The 65-ft-long steel sculpture replicates the actual size and shape of the ships built in this place.  It portrays how the bow section of the ship would have looked when under construction in the dry dock.

As we were leaving the park, we saw a beautiful schooner sailing into the bay. Hank told us that this 88-foot schooner Wendameen is available for day sails or overnight trips. She was built in East Boothbay, Maine, and launched in 1912, completely restored in the 1980s. Wendameen is certified for 14 overnight passengers plus crew or 49 day sail passengers.
Historic schooner Wendameen

  • Miles Driven: 20
  • Lighthouses: 2
  • Letterboxes: 4
  • High temp: 68° F
  • Laundry loads: 2
  • Kites in Hank's trailer:  265
  • Kite Line in Hank's trailer:  461 miles