Thursday, August 19, 2010

Maine Lighthouse Tour
Day 6

We start our day at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland. This is a must see for anyone doing a lighthouse tour. We were amazed at the things we learned from type of lights, to fog horns and bells. We also learned of lighthouse ships, which I had never known about. These ships are no longer in service. By the time I left the museum I had a better appreciation for the work our New England Rider pal Pat P (Mortis) and his wife and family must have experienced in their 12 years tending a lighthouse on Cape Cod.

(Not a picture of the museum, just a cool looking lobster.)

Our first lighthouse of the day is Owl’s Head. Owl’s head is so named because the native Indians thought the cliff, when viewed from below, looks like an Owl’s head. From the photos we’ve seen it still does today. If you visit Owl’s Head be ready to climb some steps; 51 in all. The residence here is private, so keep to the path. The road leading to this light is decent, (a state park nearby) but the parking lot is not paved and the gravel is loose, so that the kickstand sinks in quite a bit. With the back issue, Andy had to help me bring the bike back upright. A blow to the pride for any rider!

Off we go to our next light, Marshall Point. The interesting thing about hunting down lighthouses is that it’s not so much that you can see them on approach, because you just can’t. It’s that the air becomes noticeably cooler. This is the definitely the case as we approach Marshall Point. The road narrows, we pass through a tiny village, typically quant, and then the road narrows to barely wide enough for one vehicle. The lighthouse is a surprise as it is not on the point itself, but just off and on the rocky shore. A long boardwalk leads to the lighthouse out over the rocky shore below. The grounds here are beautiful and a black marble memorial has been erected to remember the local fishermen who died at sea.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is our next destination. While the day is absolutely beautiful with plenty of sun and blue sky, we know we are near our destination because the air cools, and fog rolls in. We are surprised to see a gate at the entrance and a fee for parking. However, when we approach the gate the woman tells us that for $2.00 each we get to park, visit all the grounds, climb the lighthouse tower…
“…wait? Climb the lighthouse itself?”

That is what she said, and I couldn’t get my two bucks out fast enough. I made a bee line for the lighthouse, and waited my turn to climb the spiral steps to the top. There I stood and examined the light, the view (what could be seen through the fog) feel the mist and listen to distant fog horns. The oil house stands open to visitors as well as the bell tower. Until know we could only “see” what these were like on the inside by the descriptions and diagrams provided. The keeper’s house is now a fisherman’s museum on the first floor. An art gallery is across the way with paintings by local artists. One of the features of this spot is the expanse of rocky cliff and bluff, the most we’ve seen of all the lighthouses we’ve visited. Looking at what the ocean has carved for itself over the centuries is awe inspiring.

Pemaquid locals are very proud of this particular lighthouse, and if any of you are coin collectors you know what I’m talking about. This lighthouse is featured on the Maine State Quarter. It was unveiled in a special ceremony right there on site, and the die used to mint this coin is on view in the base of the lighthouse tower.

Our final lighthouse this day is also the hardest to find. We head south on US 1 to Bath Maine. Here the GPS seems to be confused. We take a loop and end up back on US 1. Then it indicates we have to cross the Bath Bridge over the Kennebec River. Once across, it’s looping us again. Since there is a visitor’s center right at the south side of the bridge we pull in there and ask. We are giving written directions that will send us back over the bridge.
“It’s the closest I can get you on wheels” the guy tells us.

That should have been our first clue. Andy puts me ahead as the GPS seems to have regained its bearings. Yet, it seems to want to send us down what looks like a residential driveway. Then we see the street sign and it’s a dirt road. We continue to follow the GPS but we soon pass the spot. I turn us around again and stop as soon as the GPS says we’ve arrived. Andy is shouting about me stopping again. “We are here,” I tell him, but all we can see are trees. I decide to believe the global positioning system and get off the bike and head down what looks like someone’s driveway.

Sure enough, as we approach the last house, there is a small sign pointing the way. Here on the banks of the Kennebec River at Doubling Point are two lights that are used together and accessible by wooden walkway; a long wooden walkway. This has to be the strangest of all experiences; to be lost in the woods, on dirt roads, with mosquitoes buzzing; finding and inspecting a lighthouse at the mouth of the river. If you go, mount your knobby tires.


Unknown said...

Best collection of Light houses so far. I love the location of the last one. You guys are really serious about tracking these down to go down a dirt road and walk that far. I might do that for a good piece of pizza but for a light house? Ummmmm, not so much.

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

Lighthouses...they were one of the NER Treasure Hunt items in 2008, or was it 2007. Think I got most of them from Portsmouth down, but Maine you guys are the Kings. Did you know there is a Lighthouse Passport Book. Great reports !! said...

Bill, I always learn of these things (Lighthouse Passport Book) too late. I was halfway through the lighthouses before I figured it out.