By Jelane A. Kennedy
It’s embarrassing but I didn’t realize that there were islands off the coast of Portland, Maine and they aren’t just deserted! There are actual houses with neighborhoods! The following day we headed to Portland to take a mail boat to some of the islands (by the generosity of Ruth and Curt). Our first big challenge the next morning was parking. I thought we had left in enough time to get there and didn’t figure parking would be a big deal, but we should have left earlier than 10 AM to catch the 11 AM boat. While I was picking up the tickets, Eileen found a guy to ask and he sent her to a parking lot a few blocks down. It was a squeeze but we did after some scampering around find a parking spot. With only 15 minutes to find a parking spot and walk back we cut it close (since my injury last year, I can’t really run or walk as fast as I use to so it was a challenge.) Alas we were not the last one’s on the mail boat!
The trip was great; we pulled on our raincoat/ windbreakers to start and stayed up on the top deck taking in the sun and sights. We stopped at four islands to drop off people and supplies while picking up the mail. The boat we were on would make the round trip three times that day. It was fun to see people coming and going, along with cargo. It was a bit like the old days at the airport arrival gates when family and friends greeted travelers; hugs, kisses and some tears.
Walking back to Abbey after disembarking the mail boat, it looked like a bike path near where we were parked, an unexpected bonus for our day! I was so glad we packed the bikes since I almost left them at the campsite! The nearby Visitor Center offered restrooms and volunteers to answer travel questions. With a map in hand we were off.
The bike path near Abbey was called the Eastern Promenade. It was part of a 68.2-acre public park. The trail is 2.1 miles in length, most of the path rides along the water. The park was first created in 1836; the landscape architect was Olmstead whose work we enjoyed on another trip in Asheville, North Carolina at the Biltmore Estates. Along one section of the trail there was a narrow gauge rail line with a train still running, and it looked like a museum but we weren’t sure where that was. Plus there were other attractions that are part of the park, which we have yet to fully explore, including Fort Allen Park and 1812 Cemetery. That will be another time. On this trip we were most interest in the bike path.
Connecting to the Eastern Promenade bike path was Back Cove Trail, which is 3.5 miles in length. The cove trail circles the Back Cove that was an estuary basin. By biking the two together the path made a nice 7.2-mile loop.
After munching on a basket of freshly made popcorn and a lunch of burgers and sweet potatoes fries on Commercial Street at Three Dollar Deweys pub. It was time to change into bike shorts. The one of the advantages of a camper van was that once Abbey was packed it’s like always having your suitcase with you. In no time it was shorts and helmets and on the bikes. With in no time we were out on the two trails, soaking up the sun and the breeze off the ocean while pedaling around the area. It was a contrast to the tree covered marsh the day before but it had it’s own charm seeing the boasts large and small. As always biking brings out the happy kid in both of us as we just smiled along as we rode. The most nerve racking part of the ride was the segue between the two trails which takes the rider along side of I-295, there was a cement barrier between the bikes and the cars but still it felt very intense having the cars whiz by at about 60 miles per hour!
After the ride it was time to find some ice cream to top off the day. We found the most amazing froze yogurt at Go Berry. Eileen had one of their berry flavors and I had chocolate with fresh raspberries on top. Wow, if we had one of these places nearby I’d be a daily customer. The yogurt was made from local dairy farms and had a wonderful texture and great flavors that lasted in your mouth. I liked that they show you the portions and the prices are fair, unlike the self-serve yogurt stores that are popping up all over where it is difficult to know how much or even how to properly use the machines and I never know how much it’s going to weigh (we won’t even go into those places anymore.)
Go Boat, Go Bike, Go Berry, Great Day!
(c)2014 Jelane A. Kennedy