Portland, Maine (September 23-24, 2022)

Good news: Fiona was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm yesterday.

Bad news: Parts of three Canadian provinces where we are scheduled to stop experienced torrential rain and winds of up to 99 mph with trees and powerlines down and houses washed into the ocean.

More bad news: Before going ashore this morning, the captain announced that Saint John, hometown of Donald Sutherland, was no longer part of our itinerary. I was looking forward to this port for two reasons. It is in the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world (28 feet) and is one of the seven wonders of North America. Add to that it’s on the banks of the Saint John River which flows into the Bay of Fundy through a narrow gorge in the center of the town. At every high tide, ocean water is pushed through this narrow gorge forcing the Saint John River to flow upstream for several miles. Say what? This phenomenon is called reversing rapids and lasts for several hours. Another time perhaps.

I digress.

Anyway, we anticipated being in Portland at the end of the trip, so reversing the order of our visit was really not an issue. This beautiful waterside city, hometown of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Steven King, is located on a peninsula in Casco Bay which is dotted with dozens of small islands. It is home to the tallest (16 whopping stories) building in the state as well as a third of the state’s population. We spent time exploring and shopping in the old port district.

We also went a short way out of town to check out the small, quaint, colorful towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. Historically shipbuilding and fishing villages, they are now popular summer colonies and seaside tourist destinations. We enjoyed a guided ride around the picturesque area and could easily see the attraction of this collection of low-lying wooden buildings clustered along the shore. Halloween decoration were out along with loads of flowers in full bloom and, hip hip hurrah, the sun!

We drove past the summer home of former presidents George H. W. and George W. Bush. It was built on Walkers Point by Bush’s maternal grandfather, a Walker, in the early 1980s and has hosted the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, and Nicolas Sarkozy. The compound takes up the whole point and offers what must be spectacular views of the ocean on three sides. A flag was flying indicating that one Bush or another was in town. We saw the church where the Bush daughters were married, went through the single traffic light installed after H. W. was elected president and saw the spot where he skydived in celebration of his 90th birthday. 

We learned that Maine does not permit billboards and that it has a state soft drink named Moxie. Maine is the most forested state in the country with 75%-85% of the land covered in trees. It produces the most itty bitty wild blueberries in the country and has a highly regulated, well respected lobster industry. We assumed that paper, lumber, blueberries, or lobster would surely be the state’s top industry but no. Seaweed agriculture is coming on strong, but it also does not come out on top. Healthcare beats them all. 

Both evenings we met for cocktails, dinner, and entertainment and enjoyed hearing about what everyone had seen, done, and purchased. We’re headed to bed now looking forward to the two relaxing sea days ahead. 

… For what it’s worth …

Almost all of the other New England states would fit inside Maine. 

Portland is a stone’s throw from Freeport, home to L.L.Bean which is a destination in and of itself.
It’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Portland boasts the first factory ever built specifically to manufacture chewing gum.
Think 1850.

In 2009, Portlanders assembled what was then the world’s biggest lobster roll.
At 61-feet, 9 1/2-inches it contained 4 gallons of Miracle Whip and 48 pounds of lobster meat. 

(The other six wonders of North America are the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone,
Niagara Falls, Yosemite National Park, The Everglades, and Mount McKinley.)


2 thoughts on “Portland, Maine (September 23-24, 2022)

  1. I’m sorry you missed some of the places you’d been looking forward to seeing. I hope you can go to those places another time! Thank you for all the interesting facts! ________________________________


  2. Hoping you get to visit Saint John another time. I’ll look forward to hearing about it. Thanks for sharing your travels!


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