Posted by: norstarnewengland | October 4, 2009

Place: Portland, Maine General Area

During Labor Day weekend, I was in the Portland, Maine area. I have been in this are many times, mostly around Scarborough, Maine and points south. But this was only the third time that I spent time in the city itself for an extended time.

It was uncharacteristically sunny and warm in Portland. Usually, when I go to Maine, I encounter at least foggy and drizzly conditions for at least one of the days. Polaris and I made use of these conditions by walking much of the center of the city, taking train rides, and drives to the coast and later to Lake Sebago on the way back. I’m still impressed by the cleanliness of the city, and, this time, I learned quite a bit about its architecture and historical background. We did end up spending the night in South Portland – lucky to grab a room that just became available. There were many waymarks visited, but no new benchmarks or geocaches.



Waymarks (highlights):

Among the most cherished waymarks are the ones about the Portland Observatory. This is a unique structure that I have visited during each of those visits. In this visit, I was able to see unhindered by the weather. The tour is guided, and apparently strictly timed – it didn’t seem like we had a long time on the observation deck before we were called in. I was taking last minute shots (of the flag) when the guide said, “We really have to go, now.” Well it was great, anyway, and the tour is worth it!

Portland Cruise Ship Port from Portland Observatory

Portland Cruise Ship Port from Portland Observatory

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is an impressive structure, as the steeple is very tall, and the church stands on the ridge. This time, partly because of waymarking, I walked right to the base of the church and had a look inside. The church is as impressive inside as it is outside! While we were there, a television crew was present to do some filming in front of the entrance.

The Portland City Hall is an impressive structure. What I remembered most about the city hall in an earlier visit was how the gold weathervane had caught the sunlight at sundown. The weathervane is still on top – it is an old sailing ship. One of the stories that the Portland Observatory had told was about the Portland fires, and that the bird on the city seal is the Phoenix that symbolized how the city rose out of the ashes each time.

By the time and temperature display that I waymarked, there was a building that was the “Time and Temperature Building.” I didn’t see any displays on the building that I could see from the ground. So I wondered if a) there once was a big display that was now gone, or b) there was a company in this building that built time and temperature displays. It turns it that it was c) – there is a display, but it is on the top of the building and visible from afar, for instance, from I-295. So, I missed a BIG opportunity. I hope to get to Portland again and WM it before someone else does!

The former Portland Union Station Clock was interesting. It was once on a beautiful railroad station that was demolished, which sparked the preservation movement in Portland. The clock was relocated and installed at ground level so that you could see it work.

I have been to the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad all three times, as well. This time, however, I was able to ride when the steam engine was running! It’s a bit of a trip to be going along a pedestrian walkway. While, for the most part, we were going faster than the walkers and joggers, the bikers usually were beating us! The views of Casco Bay were fantastic!

On Saturday night, we visited Old Orchard Beach, which is where the last of the coastal amusement parks is located. I didn’t expect to see electric palm trees, but I found them on the pier. We decided to walk around rather than go on any rides. I was robbed of my money on one of the pinball machines (didn’t register the credit when I dropped in my quarter and I didn’t get it back – wrote a note and placed it on the machine).

The Cumberland and Oxford Canal turned out to be a pretty big adventure all its own. I wanted to find remnants that still existed of this former navigation waterway from Long Lake to Portland Harbor. The hardest part seemed to be finding the end point – I took perhaps the longest way to get there possible. It was a very scenic ride, which took us by fields, a covered bridge, a lake, and a stretch of the canal still existing.

After that, we went home via mostly U.S. 4, stopping at a good Italian restaurant in Dover, NH.



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