Saturday, September 13, 2014

Two Lakes in Southern Maine

For eight weeks we have been doing tidewater canoeing in the Mid-Coast area of Maine.  That was about to change but first, due to a large rainstorm rolling in from the west, we had to scoot two days early to Portland, getting there just hours ahead of the storm, which was a doozy.  It rained for 36 hours, some of those with a light drizzle, some with a good imitation of a tropical downpour.  We caught up on sleep and a few novels. 

When the sun re-emerged, we headed down to the waterfront for one last saltwater trip, this time by kayak.  We paddled past downtown and two miles beyond, then stopped for lunch at a marina, where we pulled our kayak right up on the dock.  Portland is Maine's largest city, but that's not saying much -- it's pretty small by most people's standards.  That's a large chunk of downtown behind the osprey nest in the second photo.

The other highlight of Portland was a return visit to the Portland Art Museum, to see the Richard Estes retrospective.  We were blown away by one of his works that we ran into 2 years ago, and this was a chance to see 70+ of his oil paintings, his largest show ever.  Estes is considered the father of Photorealism in painting -- works that are as precise as photographs, but carefully constructed to show more than any one photograph might capture.  He is the master of glass windows, weaving together images of the surface of a window, what is visible through the window, and what is reflected in the window.

He also is terrific at catching the complexity of city life with images that are sharply focused, as no eye or camera lens could be, at wide angles or at widely different distances.  The show was so terrific, we are planning to see it again when it moves on Oct. 10 into the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.  If we can get there on Opening Night, we might even catch a presentation which will include a live interview with the artist.  Stay tuned to see if we pull it off.

Next up were the two lakes we promised to tell you about.  They were quite different.  The first was Lake Arrowhead, about 30 miles WSW from Portland.  It's actually a drowned (i.e. dammed-up) river, and it is very narrow and twisty, with many little coves and bays to explore, and landings/pocket parks every half mile or so,complete with picnic tables and port-a-potties.  This map of part of the lake gives you the idea. 

Our cabin was a mile from the dam which created it, and we could go three miles the other way up one branch, plus five to six miles up two more branches.  By the end of the week we had indeed covered every mile of lakefront.

For three days and four nights, however, we ramped down the canoeing to focus on visiting with Louise's daughter Lisa, our son-in-law Ray, and grandkids Elise and Issei.  Water sports were a part of the fun, for sure.  The cabin came with a paddle boat and two kayaks, as well as the canoe, and we used them all. 

9-year old Elise started with the kayak tethered behind the canoe, but quickly realized that she could handle it on her own and off she went, solo.  Indeed, the whole family loved kayaking so much that they went kayaking a week later, when they got back home to Ithaca!

There was also an unusual hot tub.  Each week the owners drain it, scrub it out and refill it with plain water.  To heat it, you start a wood fire in a stove-like firebox that sits in the hot tub, surrounded by the water.  Feed it a log every 30-45 minutes and it will heat up the hot tub about 10 degrees per hour.  We got it up to a respectable 105 three evenings in a row.  It was a big hit.

Lisa is renowned for her overstuffed fridge at home, and she managed to fill almost every cranny of this one as well.  Granted, we assisted in the abundance when we all went to a nearby farm and were seduced by the ease of picking into harvesting a good many raspberries, blueberries and plums.  But with some memorable meals and activity-stoked appetites, it actually disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived.

It was an active three days, though Grandpa did get to read one whole book with the kids, Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle.  All too soon, we were waving goodbye to the family and readjusting to the quiet of just the two of us.  That night, our cabin on the lake seemed like it was almost alone.

On Saturday it was off to the second of our two lake houses, 35 miles south along the ME/NH border.  The houses were as different as the lakes.  For our visit with the family we had selected, of course, a rather large place that was also fairly new and modern.  Our next house was about as old (and un-modern) as we are, a cute little place that would almost fit inside the living room of the prior cottage. 

The queen bed seemed a bit firm and those twin beds in the front room were softer, and closer still to the lake.  We each took one and were rewarded several nights with the far-off plaint of loons calling to each other over the water.  If you've never had the experience, here's a Cornell ornithologist's introduction to the cry of the loon:

We were now on Milton Pond, often called Milton Three Ponds since a dam built ages ago merged three adjacent ponds into one long, curved body of water that is 8 miles long, bulging out to 1 - 1 1/2 miles wide in three places.  With that much open water, people started stocking their cabins with 250 hp boats to pull water skiers, then with those abominations known as jet skis.  It's a wonder the loons haven't left in disgust.  Luckily, these noise machines were only a nuisance Saturday and Sunday. 

At Arrowhead Lake, houses were largely separated by trees, and spaced a ways apart.  Here they were sometimes plunked down one after another after another. This is a well-used lake -- the question is, is it too well-used?

By canoeing to the far north end of the lake, however, just beyond the lighthouse with Ken and Barbie, we were able to reach an area that has been left undeveloped.  Better yet, we were also able to paddle over a mile up the major inlet, Branch River, all but the first 200 yards in deep woods with no houses in sight.  It's a twisty river with a little current in places -- a fun break from lake canoeing where you tend to go in fairly straight lines at a fairly constant speed.

Our next and final week-long cottage stay will be in Wells Beach, after which we get serious about biking down to Washington DC.  We'll tell you all about that in our next blog post.


1 comment:

JJ Doel said...

Fantastic photos!