A Tangible Sign Of Friendship

-1As everyone who reads the Webner House blog knows, we recently spent time on Peaks Island, Maine.  I was on this beautiful island four days before Bob and Russell joined me, so I had lots of ‘alone’ time, mostly spent walking, biking, reading and eating more lobster rolls than I care to admit.

On one of my trips walking the periphery of Peaks, I found this granite bench on the far, more remote back side of the island.  I was touched to think of the friendship that inspired this gesture — a lone bench, with this simple but moving message, with a beautiful and breathtaking view out toward the Casco Bay Islands and the Atlantic beyond.  I found myself thinking of the acts of friendship and loyalty that surely inspired this gesture, and how fortunate any one individual is to have made such a dear friend, or to have been the friend who inspired this special gift.

Here’s to Ric Rhodes, whoever you were, and to your friend who remembers you in such a special way.  May we all be fortunate enough to have such friendships of our own.

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Post-Apocalyptic

IMG_4345On a pretty little island off the coast of Maine, you would not expect to find a graffiti-scarred, overgrown and abandoned concrete edifice — but on Peaks Island you will find Battery Steele.

It’s there because of World War II.  It’s a huge, sprawling gun battery site, pointed out to the open sea, apparently to be used if German U-boats or the Nazi fleet threatened the Portland, Maine harbor.  It is a massive concrete installation with a long tunnel that probably stored ammunition and other supplies.  At one time it must have been powered with overhead lighting and been bustling with activity.

IMG_4334The war ended almost 70 years ago, and the threat of Nazi attack was fleeting.  The government long ago abandoned Battery Steele. Owned by the Peaks Island Land Preserve, you find the installation by walking down a meandering path through a bog, ultimately to reach this grotesque, gray intrusion into the natural landscape.

It is a very creepy place with a strong post-apocalyptic feel to it, like a setting from The Road Warrior.  The sweeping gray concrete walls have proven irresistible to graffiti artists.  Without lighting, the long central tunnel is pitch black and looks like the pathway to hell.  The resulting, unsettling sense of lawlessness has you looking over your shoulder, half-expecting to see the Humongous and his gang of psychopaths come charging out of one of the concrete doors.

On our visit yesterday, there were no rampaging gangs, and the birds chirped and the insects buzzed.  Still, we couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.IMG_4341

Rockin’ Roll

If you come to Maine, you are obligated by custom, and possibly state law, to consume at least one lobster roll.  If you are a visitor with any taste and decency, you’ll have at least one a day until your visit ends.

IMG_4305What makes a good lobster roll?  Well, lobster, of course.  Because you’re in Maine, the lobster meat must be absolutely fresh and just plucked out of the shell, and claws, and tail.  And not little shards of lobster, either.  I’m talking large, hulking chunks of dripping sea-scented goodness.

I like a lobster roll that doesn’t go overboard on the mayonnaise, too.  Mayo is mayo.  You need a little to bind the concoction together, but no rational person is going to prefer the taste of mayo to the succulence of lobster.  Add some arugula and put it in a freshly baked slit-top bun with a very generous portion of lobster meat spilling out of the top, and voila!  You’ve got your classic lobster roll.

Here on Peaks Island you can get a lobster roll prepared in precise conformity with these specifications just about anywhere that serves food.  They rock, and I’m thinking I might have one for breakfast.

It’s All Good On Peaks Island

IMG_4297The pace here on Peaks Island is slow, and therefore delightful.  A bike ride around the perimeter of the island exposes the relaxed traveler to some beautiful scenes and some whimsical ones, too.  You ride your rental bike, stand on the pedals to get up the bigger inclines, feel like a kid again in doing so, and feel the tension melt away.

This is a good place to relax.  I’ll be posting a few photos of this lovely place over the next few days, in hopes of conveying a little bit about what it feels like to be here.

Made It, Worth It

IMG_4259After a mad travel day that featured a canceled flight, rerouting to Boston, a rental car drive through the strip mall area around Logan Airport and then up the east coast to Portland, Maine, and a mad dash to try to catch the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Peaks Island, I finally met up with Russell for the ferry ride and we were greeted by Kish at the Peaks Island dock.

Sometimes travel days can suck; it’s just the world we live in.  But when your ultimate destination is a good one, with family members and a lobster dinner waiting and sunsets like this to awe you at the end of the day’s journey, it’s worth it.