By Jelane A. Kennedy
The sun was bright and the air was warm with a hint of fall coolness. It was the best weather day of the whole weekend. We were staying at the KOA in Saco visiting our friends Ruth and Curt. That day we planned to bike the other leg of the Eastern Trail bikeway in South Portland that was off road called the Greenbelt Walkway it was 5.7 miles starting in Scarborough. Last year we had done two other sections of the Eastern Trail bike path so this was the last nearby piece that was off road.
It’s always a bit tricky using the map of the bike trail to find the parking area and trailhead. Overall this trail was fairly well marked but there are always some turns and roads the locals know about that they forget us non-local types don’t know. Plus the map was lacking a lot of detail so that adds to the challenge. We actually did quite well on our getting to the parking lot, the trail was accessed from the Wainwright Athletic Complex, which was a set of recreational ball fields that included soccer and baseball. That day there was a soccer tournament going on. Which meant it was busy but also the bathrooms were open so that worked to our favor.
After parking we walked over to check out where I thought I’d seen the trailhead. Then we unloaded the bikes and finished our prep: helmets, gloves, shoes, snack, first aid kit and water bottles. We were set to roll.
This particular section of the trail was a lot more urban than we expected. Our favorite section was near the campground with the large canopy of tree cover and quietness as we traveled through the marsh and wetlands. This section took us through the South Portland area. We had a couple of major roadway crossings that required walking our bikes. We had our lunch/snack in Mill Creek Park. The bike trail runs through the middle this nice city park. As we made our way toward the waterfront and port area the bikeway became more industrialized.
Up ahead of me was Eileen buzzing along. She always leads the way. I might walk faster but she always bikes faster! Anyway, as we hit the park entrance to Bug Light Park (a lighthouse park) and the end of this section of the trail, she looks back grinning and yells, “Wait until you see this!” And as I turned the corner the sky was full of brightly colored kites! It was One Sky One World International Kite Fly for Peace day. It was the 30th anniversary of this event that has happened the second Sunday in October since 1985. And there were lovely dancing kites in the air! It was a sight to see. I wish I had mine with me!
As we bike further into the park we come across the Liberty Ship Memorial. The memorial was an open steel structure of the Liberty war ships that were built on this location during WWII and inside are display boards discussing the history of the ships built there during the war and the people building the ships. Until spending time reading the boards I had not heard of women welders: “Wendy’s”. Wendy the welders, worked on the ships as Rosie the Riveter worked on riveting fighter planes. We spent quite a bit of time reading the history and imagining in our minds what this area would have looked like.
At the end of the park sitting out in the harbor was the most elaborate lighthouse I had ever seen. It has two names, Portland Breakwater Lighthouse or Bug Light. The lighthouse was built in 1875. The exterior decor was created with fancy columns and touches you might see on a Greek revival house. It was built of cast iron and looks like an ancient Greek monument. There was a breakaway with a walking path out to the light, it was a bit uneven and I had to watch my step, but it was worth the walk out to take the 360 view in. The lighthouse was not open to climb the stairs up to the top of the light.
As we were leaving the park I saw a building off to the right, which was the South Portland Historical Society and Museum. By that time in the day we were ready to head back and had been so saturated by the sights and sounds of the kites, monument and lighthouse that the museum would have to wait for a return trip along with Spring Point Ledge lighthouse, that looked on the map to be nearby and we could see off the right of Bug Light. The ride back was uneventful and we were reminded again of how such a simple day of fun can be so rejuvenating.
© 2015 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran