Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mainly in Maine, but a little in New Hampshire

Early morning Friday, I left the sticky humidity of Virginia behind and flew up to Maine where Margie and I were staying at Emily's house in Maine. Just over the border from New Hampshire in a little cove lined with rocks, overhanging trees, and small jetties loaded with lobster pots was her little cottage, perched up on a hill, surrounded with perennials and shrubs.
It was as cute inside as out, with creaky uneven wooden floors, a narrow staircase, with small cupboards and shelved tucked in tiny spaces loaded with books and knickknacks. Plenty of comfy seating begged to be curled up in with a book or magazine, an invite both Margie and I took up during our short stay. I walked around 'oohing' and 'aahing', dropped my bags on a bed in a cozy pine walled bedroom then followed Emily to the car, promptly setting off to explore new surroundings, and of course, new breweries.
Our first port of call was Portsmouth, NH, where we popped into The Thirsty Moose and supped a fine ale along with a superb clam chowder which tasted just like the sea, delicious.. I was transfixed by the above poster on one of the walls, used by Smuttynose Brewing to promote one of their beers. We wandered around the town afterwards, stopping to photograph anything unusual that caught our eye.
The Moran tugboats which assist with river traffic are moored here, only operating about an hour twice a day during slack tides as the Piscataqua is the third-fastest tidal river in North America and extremely narrow by shipping standards.
We were fortunate enough to see the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge in action, smoothly and speedily lifting its bridge to allow a boat with a tall mast to pass underneath.
We spotted a few of these eagles around town and research showed that they're part of a movement to support military veterans who need help in emergency situations. There are 46 of them scattered along the coastline which will be auctioned off on Veteran's Day. Large companies donated funds to adopt them and place them at their businesses until they find permanent homes.
With a late sun casting a golden glow we sauntered around Prescott Park, over 10 acres of open space with beautifully laid out gardens filled with perennials and annuals. The Shaw warehouse built in 1806 has been restored, once the home and storehouse of legendary "Cappy" Stewart.
We walked around the formal gardens, with established crab apple trees with branches bending and twisting over walkways and beds filled with flowering plants and ornamental foliage. The trial gardens were also flourishing, the hosta names particularly catching my attention, Little Mouse Ears,
Gaucemole, Stitch in Time and Chartreuse Wiggles, to name a few,  There were many varieties of impatiens, once a signature plant of the gardens, but which had to be torn up and not planted for a few years due to disease. But that hurdle appears to have been overcome since today they looked very healthy.
We ambled back through town to the car and then drove to our last port of call that day, to a brewery that I would learn stocked my soon to be favorite beer, Squeeze. Brewed by Great Rhythm, it's a citrusy fruity fresh and crisp IPA which is almost sour, with an incredibly amazing zingy aroma that blasts out of the can as soon as the ring pull is tugged. I couldn't get enough of it and my world bombed when they told us they had no cans for purchase. Until the next day. So Emily promised we'd come back to stock up.I just had to work out how I was getting it home without spending a fortune since I had only brought a carry on bag.
On Saturday morning we relaxed a little. As soon as I'd had my shower I grabbed a book and walked down to the water's edge where some chairs were placed. Feet up, I leaned back and read while the others got ready or did their thing. The air was a little crisp but the sun was already casting warm rays down on the cove. Seagulls screeched and cawed as they circled above and the air smelled of salty sea water. I could have sat there all day if someone had brought me munchies and beer but we had places to be, so once everyone was ready we set off.
And surprise, surprise, another very fine brewery was on the way. Bearing in mind that Maine has about 71 of these auspicious establishments, it's not difficult to come across one or two or three on one's travels. And of course, we would deviate a little to ensure that occurred. This one was called Maine Beer Company. We purchased a flight of their 8 beers on tap and headed outside to sonsume our liquid lunch to a shady tent where we chatted with a couple of guys, Matt and Grant, who were from DC! We are hoping they'll volunteer and work with us at the upcoming Snallygaster Beer Festival. A couple of the beers here were very good so I bought a couple each of the Lunch IPA and the Peeper American Ale. (Still hadn't worked out how to get them home...)
We continued on our journey, planning to visit a quirky tourist spot, the Umbrella Cover Museum. A cool beer mural above was spotted on the way. Reaching the museum involved a ferry trip to Peaks Island but once we were in line for the ferry we discovered that we wouldn't get a ride until after 3pm since there was a rush of folks going to see a Don Campbell concert, also on the island. Who? So that scuppered our plans but Emily quickly diverted us to the fabulous Dyer Point at Cape Elizabeth, an area known as Two Lights, from when there used to be 2 lighthouses in operation.
The coastline is comprised of metamorphic rock ledges. Over millions of years sediment from the ocean was compressed and then folded by the earth's plate movement with intense heat and pressure resulting into a rock formation that resembles the texture of wood. Minerals in the rock crystallized creating seams of quartzite. I could have happily stayed here for hours and hours, it was so interesting to clamber over and explore. The waves crashed on the rocks then retreated exposing millions of tiny periwinkle shells clinging to the crevices, rock pools filled with green seaweed and mussels, and thousands of tiny colored crab shells were scattered, remnants of seagull and cormorant meals.
From the rocks we could see Cape Elizabeth lighthouse across the cove which started operating in 1828. We then headed up to Fort Williams Park and walked along the cliff path.
This lighthouse is Portland Head Light, opened in 1791, and is Maine's oldest lighthouse. Standing 80ft above the ground it's visible from 24 miles away. This area was a fort operating as a coastal defense from 1872 to 1964. Ruins still stand along the cliff tops,
Cormorants enjoying the cool breeze from the sea.
Goddard Mansion was lived in until the late 1800's and along with the rest of the park seems to be a popular venue for weddings. We saw this one about to take place as well as a rehearsal with a guy playing an excellent rendition on Somewhere over the Rainbow on a ukulele.
We left the park to drive back south again, wanting, (me especially) to return to Great Rhythm and purchase that delectable Squeeze. On the way, we scouted around Biddeford to see what abandonments were accessible.
We found the old Notre Dame Hospital, closed in 1970 and a building apparently haunted. Nearly every window and entry point was boarded up, with new notices pinned to the fence prohibiting entry. We didn't have tripods so weren't prepared to try and enter, it would be very dark inside.
In the town itself was a large complex of old mill buildings. There used to be multiple saw mills and textile mills here. Granite was quarried here and carved by craftsmen from all over the world as well as bricks made here from the deep clay beds.
Most of the buildings have now been restored for commercial and industrial use with the huge Lincoln Mill still empty but earmarked for a new hotel and apartment venture.
We came across the old cupola and clock that used to sit on top of the mill. It's supposed to be restored and replaced to its original position but looked as though a lot of work and determination would be required to achieve that. I found this article from 2 years ago implying that restoration was imminent, but time hasn't stood still for this antique, it needs to be saved soon before it crumbles to pieces.
And so with the last of the sun's rays draping the old weathered clock face with a golden glow we clambered back into the car. We had a brewery to race to reach before it closed, and we made it with 10 minutes to spare and left with me clutching 12 cans of Squeeze!

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