Friday, September 5, 2014


Or, There and Back Again (with apologies to JRR Tolkien)...

As I mentioned previously, my Mom had "suggested" that The Missus Herself and I should go up to Maine. Me, being the dutiful (yet typical) son had considered the prospect of the long drive up to Maine and was somewhat hesitant.

After all, to get there, we had to go through the Boston area. While it ain't Mordor, the traffic is much worse. The way I look at things (and granted, I look at things from a very odd viewpoint) there are three ways to get to Maine from Chez Sarge. Really, it's three ways of dealing with Boston traffic.

The first way is via the Mines of Moria...

Er, no. Perhaps a map would help -

"A" is Chez Sarge, "B" is our destination, Wells in the great state of Maine.

Route 1 is the direct route, straight through the heart of Mount Doom Boston. It is the shortest distance.

Route 2 runs along the Mountains of Shadow, I mean, follows the Yankee Division Highway which is the same as Massachusetts Route 128 or Interstate 95. Whichever you prefer. This route used to be known as the Circumferential Highway, sort of a partial beltway to take you around Boston, rather than through it.

This is not a bad route, although traffic along that stretch of highway can be brutal at times, nearly as brutal as through Boston itself. A number of companies (mine is one) have their headquarters or other major facilities along that stretch of road. This route is the one we took to return home. That would be the back again part of the trip. Oddly enough, while stopped at a rest area I managed to avoid this one unpleasant chap and in doing so found this ring. I simply must show it to Gandalf...

Um. Sorry, bit of a fanciful digression there.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the trip to Maine.

As you may gather, we did decide to go to Maine. Not just for the day, but for an overnight!

Mom was pleased. Very pleased.

As we had decided to leave early on Thursday, but not too early mind you, I felt brave enough to take Route 1, straight through old Beantown. (Said nickname is not a favorite with some Bostonians of my acquaintance. Why? As Buck might say, "I have no ideer.")

"What about Route 3?" you ask. 'Tis the longest of the three and runs far enough away from Boston as to make the traffic problem almost non-existent. Note that I said "almost." Back in my days of exile I drove most of that route twice a week. North on Monday, south on Thursday. There were days in the summer when walking might have been faster. (How about the winter? Don't ask, then the traffic is not your enemy. The snow is.)

So off, to Boston. Straight through. Traffic was not that bad until just short of Dorchester. There it slowed to a crawl. Molasses-like speed. (There is a tie in there. Go do the research and tell me why. Suldog, you probably know already so hang back.)

But it was only a momentary glitch. Didn't cost us but about ten minutes of travel time.

I-93 to US Route 1
After the maelstrom of Dorchester, we managed to get to where there is this weird loop where Route 1 breaks off from I-93.

Kind of freaked me out it did. Wasn't expecting that!
Now we're not on the interstate highway anymore. No restricted access, a real freaking free-for-all it was. One lady was determined to use most of four lanes while gabbing on her cell phone, bobbing and weaving she was. When she tried to weave into us, I laid on the horn and she veered off as if I'd just given her a full broadside!

Het Kanonschot by Willem van de Velde the Younger
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
(Public Domain)
Yeah, summat like that it was. But no loud booms and no billowing powder smoke.

But I would not be surprised if Veering-Cellphone-Lady had to change her britches afterwards.

Inattentive she was no more!

Eventually, we reached the point shown below -

Welcome to Maine!
The bridge over the Piscataqua River, which separates Portsmouth (New Hampshire) from Kittery (Maine) has always been a demarcation line for me, separating the regular world (where you go to work, etc.) and the vacation world which is (to me anyway) Maine.

After another long stretch of interstate, we paid a toll in New Hampshire ($2) and then another in Maine ($3). I had forgotten that there was a cover charge to get into vacation world. No problemo (as Bart might say), we got to Wells and met up with my Mom and her buddy Gloria. From her motel we headed out to Mike's Clam Shack for lunch.

Ahem, I did eat something. It wasn't all "beer and skittles."

I had a nice bowl of clam chowder (pronounced "chowda") to go with my Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. Which our waitress suggested I have à la mode, which means with the rim of the glass lined with cinnamon and sugar. Very festive it was. Kind of like wet pumpkin pie, with a kick.

We didn't pig out at lunch as we were saving ourselves for dinner. So my Mom suggested we head down towards Kittery to visit an Elk's Club which my Dad had liked to frequent back in his day.

Out in the woods, fast by Route 1

Of course, I'm wearing my USS RONALD REAGAN polo and ball cap and I immediately run into this old salt yclept "Irish." Because he was, he still had a lot of the Olde Sod in his voice even though he'd spent his life in the US Navy. He liked my ballcap, said he'd been on the Ike, back in the day. Also, the FORRESTAL, MIDWAY and I think he mentioned the Connie as well.

I said that my daughter was in the REAGAN's Air Wing. He immediately suspected me of being Air Force. (I believe he pronounced that last bit with an "ah" sound rather than an "oh" sound. Not a Maine thing, think about it. Yup. "Air Farce.")

Was I offended? Not at all. (We in the mighty Air Force take great pity on our lesser brethren and sisters. Poor folks, no decent golf courses on their bases, are there?) I got back at him by calling his aircraft carrier a "boat," which anyone who was ever in ship's company on a bird farm will be immediately offended by. (Aviators call it a boat. That's it. 'Nuff said. Kinda like TOPGUN. It's an aviator thing, you wouldn't understand.)

We had a good time, I had two halves of two Black and Tans as the Elks were sans Guinness at the time. Not a problem.

The view out the back of the Elks. That's a very nice stone wall!

After bidding Irish farewell, with a hearty handshake and some last minute inter-service rivalry type shenanigans, it was back to the motel.

Nothing fancy. A mile from Wells Beach, inexpensive and clean. Two of my favorite things. (Cue Julie Andrews in Sound of Music, without the Nazis.)

Just across the street, mini-golf (yay!) with a waterfall (yay!). Which they shut off at 9:00 PM (boo).

The view from our piece of the balcony, looking north.

Our room, where we slept the sleep of the just.
(Or something like that...)

We paid the obligatory visit to Wells Harbor, where we would hang out with Mom and Dad in the old days. Took a few photos. We actually saw a harbor seal swimming around, just taking it easy.

Can you see the seal?

Does that help?

The Biplane is easier to spot. (Kinda tiny Sarge...)

Looking towards the opening to the sea, where the Webhannet River meets the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
Some of these guys do deep sea fishing charters. If you're ever up that way...
Obligatory Selfie.
(Pinch inspires me. Heh.)

We had a fantastic overnight in lovely Maine. For dinner we hit Hobb's Harborside which operates where Lord's Harborside used to be. (Kinda weird, they painted over the word "Lord's" with the word "Hobb's". What, they couldn't find a razor blade to scrape that off?) The food was good. Not drive 300 miles round trip just to have lunch good (which Lord's most certainly was) but good enough. The seafood platter has enough food for two. (Yes, of course I ate all of it. Well, I skipped a few fries.)

Another bummer was they didn't have any Shipyard. Not a one. I mean c'mon, Portland (where they brew it) is just up the coast. It's almost like not having lobster (pronounced lobstah) on the menu (which they did). Like I said, tasty, not bad, but not spectacular. The view from the dining room? See the picture just after the biplane. Ain't a bad seat in the house.

Friday morning we headed to a popular spot which has been around forever. They are kinda famous for their donuts and other pastries. Their regular breakfast stuff is pretty good too. The chef is a pretty fair hand at the fine art of omelet making.

You can also get chocolate-dipped bacon. ISYN. A bit pricey, but it's there.

Seriously. I was checking that out with the old Mark 1 Mod 0 eyeball when The Missus Herself spotted me. She looked deep into my eyes and said...

"You're an idiot."

Does that answer any questions regarding the purchase and consumption of bacon dipped in chocolate? (No joy!)

Why yes, we did have breakfast here! (Source)

I saw a sign hanging where you buy donuts and such at Congdon's. Made me want to re-enlist on the spot.

"Active duty military deserve a free donut."

Why yes, yes they do!


  1. LOL, nice post and 'I' consider Boston fly over country... I'll fly straight over that craptastic POS and land in Maine. Boston traffic sucks, and that is on a GOOD day!

  2. I saw a sign hanging where you buy donuts and such at Congdon's. Made me want to re-enlist on the spot.

    "Active duty military deserve a free donut."

    It would take one whole helluva lot more than a free donut to get me to re-enlist. You may read that as "There's not enough money in the entire WORLD to make that happen." Once was enough, thank you very much. (Full disclosure: there are days when I miss the AF, but those days are when I'm not in my right mind.)

    Sounds like a good trip. I may get back up to Maine some day; SN2 still owns a house in Brunswick and he's made noises in the past about retiring there. But the way things are goin' I'll prolly die before he retires.

  3. We likes Maine but we go to Pemaquid because .... Well, there's no internet for miles and miles and miles. There's bookstores and bars and boats and ocean and lobster rolls. Last trip, we left Newport at 0715 and were through Boston by 0815. I only had to slow down for some of those turns such as the one shown in your map where you dart left to go right. The thing we were driving doesn't corner all that well at 85 mph. It was enough to make me a Sunday driver! It's the only time and day to drive through bean town.

    1. Pemaquid is way up there. Looks like lovely country, so I did a Google Street View "walk around" on Pemaquid Point. Breathtaking!

      And you're right about early Sunday morning being a good time to go through Boston. Another good time is early New Year's Day, around 0600. I did that a while back when The WSO flew out of Logan back to Virginia at oh-dark-thirty.

  4. I'll see your Boston traffic and raise you a Portland, Oregon, where there is no drive-around.
    The worst of that is there's still Seattle to look forward to... even if you're only going as far as Tacoma.
    Why is those folks in cities think they have to drive like they're five minutes late?

    1. No drive around? Why that's just barbaric!

      All city people seem to drive like they are humanity's last hope and they need to get somewhere. Fast.

  5. Nice story, nice pics, too. Lived in maine until 2nd grade and then again for 20+ years after high school. Your blog let me reminisce, the photo of the bridge over the Piscataqua River reminded me of a political cartoon back along. It seems there was quite a debate over the evacuation route for people living near the Nuclear Power Plant (Pilgrim I think it was named) Folks living to the north of Boston were to travel up Int 95 into Maine. Well, of course the 'natives' were up in arms over the prospect of people pouring into Maine 'from away'. The cartoon showed 2 loyal Mainers dressed in LL Bean plaid hunting shirts shouting "Good Luck" from the Maine across the river to the drivers trying to cross over. The 2 Maine fellers were hunched over, about to drop the plunger to detonate TNT they had affixed to the bridge ( a la Wylie Coyote). Ahhhh, nothing like good neighbors.
    Tim Sample, Maine comedian from back in 70's and 80's explains about Maine natives here: Hope this ain't no copyright violation, you've had enough trouble with the interweb police.....


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