Monday, August 18, 2008

Visiting the Mainers

Last year our close friends John and Bonnie moved from Idaho to Maine. John has family in the area and found a good job which instigated their abandoning of Idaho. We have missed them over the year so we decided to head out for a visit.

The trip was originally planned for four full days in Maine, but was shortened to two and a half days. Still it was a great time. It was Karyn and I's first time to visit "the Pine Tree State".

After a full day traveling on "Screw 'U' Airlines", we arrived just after work on Friday. Bonnie took us on a quick walk along the Portland waterfront to work off some of the jetlag. Sailboats in the harbor, lots of birds I didn't recognize, the cool salt air, it was beautiful. Our first evening was spent with a home cooked meal catching up with our friends.

The next morning we headed out for some sea kayaking in Casco Bay with Maine Island Kayak Company. The weather varied between partly foggy and mostly foggy, but good enough for a great time. We first caught the ferry across to Peaks Island. Here we met up with our guides, received our safety briefing, and headed out on the water. Karyn is in the white boat, Bonnie in the orange, and Johnny closest in.

We headed South around the tip of Peaks Island before crossing the channel to Cushing Island. It was a little foggy crossing the channel so we had to stay close together to decrease the chance of being hit by a boat or ship. No problems. When we reached the outside of Cushing Island the water and wind started to make it a bit more difficult. We chose to retreat back to the inner islands. We circled around House Island (not pictured on the map) where one of the old forts in the bay is located. We then crossed over to Little Diamond Island and circled it. In all it was about a three to three and a half hour paddle. There were tons of birds and beautiful sights. The fog moving in and out added to the experience. The red line on the map highlights our route.

Here is a picture of the fort on House Island.

The kind folks at Cycle Mania, whom we have never met, loaned us a tandem bicycle for the weekend. We planned a quick ride in the afternoon, but the "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" changed our plans. That night we traveled over to Johnny's brother's house for wood fired pizza. I had been hearing about this homemade pizza oven for more than a year. Tony had built a brick pizza oven in his back yard and apparently gets lots of practice. He fired it up at 1 pm, so it was fully ready when we arrived at 7. We made our own pizzas, handed it to Tony, and he expertly cooked it. The crust was perfect! I once read that the Esposito's (John and Tony's relatives?)invented pizza in Naples in the 1800's. I believe it after eating Pizza out of Tony's homemade oven. Johnny's parents came over as well making it a family affair.

The next day greeted us with beautiful sunshine. John and Bonnie led us on a 50 mile bike ride. The borrowed tandem worked great. We left their house, headed through the Portland waterfront and South to Black Point, then back around Cape Elizabeth to Portland Head (lighthouse photo above). We stopped for bunch on our way back through Portland. It was a beautiful ride, perfect temperature, crystal clear air, it couldn;t be better.

To finish the weekend we had dinner at Cinque Terre an Italian restaurant rated by Epicurious as one of the top 10 farm-to-table restaurants in the USA. It was spectacular. We spoiled ourselves by ordering the 6 course Chef's Tasting Menu. I highly recommend it. What a way to finish the weekend. Early Monday morning Karyn and I flew back to Boise.

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