Portland Delights

Who could not love a city that boasts miles of bicycle lanes, a scenic harbor, a couple of microbreweries, miles of ridiculously beautiful coastal byways, AND a cemetery chartered in 1668? Portland, Maine – we have hardly touched these beautiful sights, but we are hooked.

We decided to explore the city from our (somewhat) nearby campsite at Bradbury Mountain SP by bicycle. We drove about 10 miles toward the city, then parked the truck in a Forest Preserve trailhead about 6 miles outside the city. The bicycling roads from that point into the city were fantastic – wide bicycle lanes and fairly low-traffic roads. Even a construction zone had its own bicycle lane! If you’re not a regular cyclist, you can’t imagine how wonderful this was to find.

Our first stop in the city was (of course) a bicycle shop. We perused all the shiny new bikes (wishful thinking), and purchased a local bicycling map. Armed with this, and the helpful advice of one of the bike shop guys on what sights we should see, we headed off to the harbor area. 20131009_132508 So much going on here, that it’s hard to imagine – my favorite remembrance will be the loud woman announcing, “here we ahr – pahrk the cahr.” I LOVE these Maine accents.

The Eastern Cemetery, chartered in 1668 is on the National Historic Register – it’s a treasure.20131009_122540 Over 3000 graves tell the stories of 350 years of life in this area. So many of the graves mark the final resting place for babies, toddlers, and those barely old enough to have come into their own in their early 20s. It’s hard to imagine such an inhospitable life. I always wish that I had equipped myself with tracing paper and a pencil or chalk when I visit such a place.20131009_12394520131009_12403520131009_12410420131009_123550

We cycled around the city to the Liberty Ship monument – these were supply ships built in Portland, as quick and easy freight/supply haulers for WWII needs.. They were not glamorous – just war horses to haul goods.20131009_14334520131009_14305520131009_143118 You are all familiar with Rosie the Riveter – Portland celebrates Wendy the Welder. Near the Monument is the Bug Light Lighthouse – one of the most ornate lighthouses I have ever seen. 20131009_145201 The park for this area is green and clean – we had bought a wonderful rosemary foccacia and some smoked salmon tartare to enjoy while taking in the sights. Can’t imagine a more wonderful setting to enjoy an impromptu picnic lunch.

Back at camp, we were delighted to discover that another T@B trailer had landed! It’s a breath of air in a jungle of RVs and noisy generators. We shared a campfire with our new friends Dave and Sheila from Newport News, VA.20131009_203559They’re using their furlough from government jobs to explore territory north of their home. Of course, we exchanged tips on favorite campsites, and the awesomeness of being T@Bbers (we include ourselves in this elite group).

Tomorrow, we’re moving onto Lake Sebago SP for one last night in Maine woods.

10 thoughts on “Portland Delights

  1. Did you happen to see any of the old churches? There’s something strong and enduring about the way they stand through the ages. Same thing with the homes and businesses along the sea coast. They were built to last. I think this was one of the places we did a whale watch ride. An amazing blue fin whale surfaced next to the ship and stayed there for at least 10 – 15 minutes. We were so close we were sprayed by the whale’s spout. The boat operator said that it was sleeping. When they sleep only half their brain goes to sleep. It was many feet longer than the boat we were in – at least 40 feet long. It was such a powerful, peaceful, overwhelming experience of nature. Just loved Portland. Those old cemeteries tell so much history about the disease and shipwrecks and wars, etc. that cut their lives short. The average lifespan during those years was only in the low thirties. Such amazing people to endure such hardship. Did you notice how short the grave area was. They were much shorter than our average heights today. Thanks for sharing.


    • We’ve remarked on how sturdy the churches are. Haven’t been inside any of them, but many are short, squat no-nonense buildings. Wandering around the old cemeteries is one of my favorite things to do in a new place – especially where many of them are so wrapped in history as they are out east here. We barely scratched the surface here – can’t wait to come back.


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