On The Mailboat Run

IMG_4630Kish is a savvy traveler.  She does her homework, and finds bargains and options that other people just don’t know about.  I happily enjoy the fruits of her labors.

We wanted to get out on the water in Portland, and she suggested the mailboat run on the Casco Bay Lines.  You could take a private cruise, I suppose, but the mailboat run is a lot more interesting and probably cheaper, besides.

IMG_4600For only $13.50, you board an actual mailboat that takes mail and other supplies out to islands in the Casco Bay.  You sit up front with the locals while the crew works their tails off to the aft, offloading mail and pallets of supplies.  For more than two hours you steam along, stopping at Great Diamond Island, Long Island, Cliff Island, and finally Great Chebeague Island before the boat turns and heads back to Portland.

If you’re lucky enough to have good weather and sit next to a friendly native of Great Chebeague Island you can enjoy a lovely cruise and pick up some of the local lore, too — like how the Bay was outfitted during World War II, why the clouds tend to stay above the land while the sky above the sea is blue, how lobstermen guard their trapping territory, and why locals despise the ugly abandoned power plant smokestack that mars the view back toward the mainland — but also use the smokestack as a marker when they’re fishing.

Casco Bay is a lovely area, and the homes on the islands are stunning.  Kish and I came back with sunburns and a slightly deeper understanding of what it must be like to live on an island in the sea.IMG_4644

Fish-Eyed

IMG_4563Seriously, can’t you just smell this place from this photo of goggle-eyed fish, ready to be consumed by happy fish lovers?  Water on the floor, people walking around with heavy aprons and boots that come up to the knee, and the sharp, clean scent of fish — ridiculously fresh fish — everywhere you care to take a sniff.

And this is just the retail side of the Portland fish market.  Imagine what the wholesale side looks and smells like!

Real Seaside

IMG_4559We’re now in Portland, Maine, enduring some rainy weather but enjoying the “old port” section of town.

Portland has a well-preserved dockside area, where many old buildings are still standing.  Some of the huge brick warehouses have  been refurbished and house upscale shops, taverns, and ice cream emporiums, but some buildings, like the wooden fish market, appear to be pretty much like they have been for time immemorial.  Walking past the ramshackle structure, you can almost feel and smell the tons of haddock, cod, smelt, and other sea delicacies that have passed through its doors and the generations of salt-crusted fishermen who have hauled them in.

The refurbished buildings are pretty, but I prefer the unadorned — and presumably more authentic — fish market.

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.