September 23-24, Boston – Portland

Good morning! I’m putting these two days together because there wasn’t much happening; at least, I didn’t think much would be happening. For my final morning in Boston, Erik walked me around the waterfront. It has changed a lot over the years, and urban renewal has converted a lot of old warehouses to condos and apartments. Housing prices are horrific. I definitely want to go back–there much more to see, but it was time to hop on the train and head north. Free coffee and newspaper for business class, which was an additional treat.

The train tracks that used to go into downtown Portland had been ripped out after WWII, in a mistaken conversion to all auto transportation. So I was dropped off a ways out of town, and soon found a couple more members of the group who had already called the hotel for pickup, and I just joined them. They’re a delightful couple from California, Tom and Augusta, and have a son who lives in Portland, Oregon, so we instantly were simpatico.

The hotel wasn’t ready for us, but took our luggage and sent us on our way, which was to the Wadsworth-Longfellow house. I’d forgotten what a major literary figure Henry W L had been in the Nineteenth Century; the guide was able to quote some of his poetry; we didn’t have much to contribute. I did get a couple photos of the house–it’s as interesting as a period piece as the home of a celebrity. P1010757 P1010756 P1010755

The very pretty woman in the portrait in the last photo lived in the house until I think the early 20th Century, and then gave it to the Maine Historical Society. They’ve done a lot of restoration work on the house, and the garden was very nice. It didn’t have running water until early in the 20th Century.

The group than gathered for a lecture given by a local expert named Jim. It was interesting but discouraging, having a lot to do with the various centuries of overfishing that have decimated the fish stocks in this area of the Atlantic. Basically, the only thing left to catch are the lobsters. I was thinking we should become vegans for the trip. But instead, they had planned a lavish lobster dinner for us. The thought of wrestling with a lobster, which I’ve never done, totally intimidated me, so I asked for something else, and got a nice piece of salmon. yum. There’s a lobster dinner later in the tour, which I’ll need to work around, again.

There’s more Oregon connections, including a couple from Lake Oswego, and a woman whose daughter recently moved to Eugene. As with all Road Scholar trips, I suspect my fellow travelers will be curious, intelligent, well-behaved, and excellent company. I’m still searching to discover if there are birders in the group, as I hope to receive enlightenment from them.

Jim gave us another lecture in the morning, which, alas, still dealt with overfishing. But there was also some interesting bits about the history of Maine and Portland in particular. With the fishing gone and much of the manufacturing and shipping disappearing, Maine’s economy has become increasingly dependent on tourism, which has some seasonal issues (though skiing is popular.)

Jim then led us on a walking tour of the waterfront. I saw some interesting houses on the way:P1010758  P1010760

We also learned about methods of fishing, the percentage (tiny) of lobsters that are actually caught in lobster traps, and how what was a junk fish ended up being very popular in the Midwest and sells for a lot of money there. Look at the name and illustration of this boat: P1010761

There were a lot of street vendors around, primarily waiting the arrival of the cruise ship passengers–we were small fry to them. But I loved the mascot of the booth that sold goat’s milk soap:P1010764Yes. I bought some soap, too.  And then there was this ad for a charter boat. What an unfortunate name: P1010765

For lunch, we ended up on the waterfront, at the Ri Ra Irish pub.

We had had to choose our lunch fare the day before, and most of us couldn’t remember what we’d chosen, or wanted something else. But I had a marvelous hard cider and cottage pie:

P1010767    P1010766

Someone else had the cottage pie, and we both wished we had the recipe for the delicious bread served with it.

The afternoon was unscheduled, so I decided to visit the Portland Art Museum, just a couple blocks from the hotel. I was kind of museumed out from the S-G search, but they had some lovely pieces, including this one by John Singer Sargent:P1010768

And here’s a few more that caught my eye:

P1010769  P1010773

P1010774   P1010775

Notice the tail of whatever that reptile is on the blue pitcher becomes the handle.

This really caught my eye. I’ve been a fan of Argand lamps for a long time, and frequently encouraged my authors to give them to their characters for illumination, but I’d never seen one before today. Here it is: P1010772 Apparently, one wick of the lamp produces as much illumination as seven candles. I have no idea why.

Some beautiful Wedgewood pieces in the signature blue and white were worth a photo:P1010770  P1010771

That’s all the museum stuff, and indeed, all the photos. For now.

After the museum, I washed a load of clothes and worked on this interminable post. Then Linda, the tour leader contacted me to go out to dinner, and we were joined by Phyllis and Dick, two other tour members. We ended up at a quirky pizza place with a very unusual menu. I don’t remember what the name was, and I’m not even sure what I ate. But the company was delightful. We had a wonderful time getting to know each other. Then back to the hotel, and early bed. Good night.


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