Saturday, July 12, 2008

More Blissful Summer Days: A Mini-Travelogue with Nostalgia, Too

Thursday was a delightful day! The weather was perfect New England summer: dry air, 80 degree temps, clear sky and bright sun.

For us, this was a little one-day, get-away and its 'purpose', if we needed one, was the current exhibit at the Museum of Art in Portland: "Georgia O'Keefe and The Camera".

Of course, we also expected to wander around neighborhoods of the Old Port and waterfront with its ever increasingly upscale bistros and shops. Expensive play things, baubles and bangles; window shopping is fun. We also planned to eat fresh fish for lunch and dinner before we embarked on the little journey back to the train station in Wells. A great plan, we thought!

We boarded the Amtrak Downeaster in Wells Maine at 11 AM on its northward journey from Boston to Portland. The train is comfortable; the seats spacious with lots of leg room; there is a snack bar for food and beverages. We'd do this trip by train even without the value-added views for the sheer comfort of not dealing with city traffic, parking and of course the price of gasoline!

The trip for us from Wells to Portland is only about 40 minutes and hugs the coastline. Makes two stops on its way to Portland, in Saco and Old Orchard. The trip through Saco was interesting with river views. Train tracks go right through the old manufacturing district now mostly empty and abandoned. Great space for development! I can see shops and space for artists; and mixed residential areas, too. I wonder why this doesn't happen.

This area has deep, ancient connections for me. During World War II, my dad was stationed at Camp Edwards before he was sent overseas. It was 1943; he knew he'd soon be gone to war. My mom was in Massachusetts; she had an apartment there and a job; she was close to family and friends. She said she'd been able to save some money by living carefully. So when dad asked to make an uncharacteristic leap: quit her job, leave her apartment and come to Maine for the summer, she said, emphatically, "No". He persisted. She relented and found a room in Saco and a defense job nearby. They had as carefree a summer of fun and love as was possible during those horrible times. I remember seeing photographic memories of that summer -- my mom and dad, he in uniform with other GIs and other wives and girlfriends. And, of course, there is also one very real and quite human result: me, I was born within the year and after my dad had gone overseas in April 1944.

Whenever I have traveled this area, I have felt a tingling, quivering in my DNA.
This is, afterall, the home of my conception!

Our train stops smack in the middle of Old Orchard Beach just a short step or two from the ocean beaches, the amusements, restaurants, hotels, motels, and ticky tacky too. One could easily pack for a day at the beach returning on the late train around 8:30 or so. I think I may return with Victoria for just such a day!

After stopping in Old Orchard, the train travels through salt marshes on its way to Portland; the natural views are quite nice.
We've made this trip by car many times over the years: when I had consultancy work for the state of Maine or various non-profit organizations, when we vacationed with or without grandchildren in York or Pine Point, or when we drove up Route 1 to get lobsters for steaming at the Alewife farm in Cape Elizabeth.

Maine memories abound; living here is rich for us -- great day-to-day and layered with lovely nostalgia.

From Old Orchard, it is just a hop, skip and jump to the Amtrak/Concord Trailways station on the edge of Portland.

We'd planned to take the Metro #5 bus into the city and straight to the Museum which is in an area that boasts two museums as well as the Maine College of Art. And lots of restaurants.

We were hungry and decided to have a light lunch before seeing the exhibit: got great fresh Maine fish at the Dogfish Cafe -- fresh crab for me and mussels for Larry. The Dogfish is new to us and on the sight of a favorite Greek restaurant from years past. Although we were disappointed at first to see a favorite restaurant gone, we like the new quite a lot.

Dinner was on the water on a dock with cruise ships and fishing boats beside us. Delightful early evening. Nice dinner of haddock and steamers to share. A taxi whisked us back to the train station and back to Wells and the short drive home to York.

Days like this one are so important for us ---- the planned and unplannedalike. Larry's nearly-93 year old dad lives with us and it is difficult to get away for more than a day or two at a time.
So we look for BIG JOYS that come in little packages.

A day like this one carries over into the next and the next.

A day like this one colors all days to come with joy.

It has smiles that keep on smiling.

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