My friend Peter invited me to join him, his wife Meagan and son Noah at a cottage they were renting on Long Island. It had been a few years since I was on a real vacation and now, with Covid restrictions lifting and each of us vaccinated, It was time for some fun in the sun with friends.
I’ve driven to Maine many times but this time, as I was traveling alone, I decide to take Amtrak. From 30th St. Station I caught a 12:09 am train thinking I’d be able to sleep much of the way. As I found out sleeping in coach is not so easy to do. After switching trains in Boston, I got into Portland at noon.
No, not THAT Long Island.
Long Island, Maine is one of many islands in the Casco Bay just off Portland. There is still some controversy as to just how many islands are in the bay, some say there are 136 while others say there are just over 200. The debate is understandable as many are little more that rocks jutting out of the water. Long Island, at three miles long and one mile wide, is one a dozen major islands in the bay and is home to about 200 year round residents.
To get to the islands from Portland you can catch one of the ferries operated by the Casco Bay Lines. The trip from Portland to Long Island can take between thirty minutes to an hour depending on how much cargo needs to be loaded or unloaded. No matter how long it takes I don’t think you’ll mind as you take in the scenery. The Wabinaki, the Maquoit and Aucocisco ferries were named after Native American tribes that inhabited the area before European settlers arrived in the 17th century.
Getting off the ferry at Mariners landing we made our way to Wharf Street where a red Ford pick up truck had been left for us. A hand written note on the dash warned us that the manual transmission could be stubborn and to take care that we were indeed in reverse as the parking lot was at the waters edge.
Having successfully negotiated the parking lot we drove down Wharf street to Island Ave. where we stopped at Byers & Sons Bakehouse for sandwiches and donuts. Continuing down Island Ave then making a left on Fowler Road we arrived at our cottage.
After calling dibs on bedrooms and unpacking suitcases it was time to hit the beach! It was just a short walk from the cottage to Fowler Beach. Even in mid August, ocean water in Maine is cold, that’s why lobsters like it there, best to wade out slowly then dive in head first. Being more concerned with packing photographic gear I neglected to pack sunscreen or hat and I got a sunburn on the first day.
Later that evening, back at the cottage while digging through a draw of jigsaw puzzles and board games I found a box of watercolors and arches paper. I had always wanted to try watercolors and frankly I needed a break from taking photographs. When I travel some place new the visual stimulation and desire to photograph every scene can become overwhelming and lead to burn out. I think my travel companions needed a brake from it too.
If you’re a beginner like me, I doubt there is any better subject matter to try watercolors than a beach scene. Just add water, sand, rocks, sky and clouds. While I’m not going to give up photography for painting I did enjoy it and plan on doing more. I also believe that it’s good to work in other visual mediums than the one you’re use to.
Other beaches on the island include South Beach, Andrews Beach and East End Beach all easily accessable by bicycle. There is just one of about everything you might expect on an island including; general store, library , ice cream stand, gift shop, bakery, post office, fire house and elementary school.
Not only was Meagan enjoying time off from work she was celebrating a birthday too. Aside from spending time on the beach she could found reading Virgil Wander by Leif Enger or woking on a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. All while keeping an eye on their 14 year old son, Noah.
Noah has an encyclopedic knowledge of wild animals and spent most of his time observing the plentiful wildlife on the island. With binoculars in hand he could be seen chasing gulls, cormorants, ducks or white tale deer. He’s an avid cyclist and always led the way on excursions especially if we were going for ice cream.
One thing you can count on is that wherever Peter goes there will be music. We swapped songs taking turns on his acoustic Washburn. We even played on the beach one night under the Sturgeon Moon.
Peter and Meagan’s eldest son Dae, had a summer job and couldn’t take a week off work but he and his girlfriend Orlane, did join us for the weekend.
On our last day on the island we watched the annual lobster boat races as we waited for the ferry back to the mainland. Pete, Meagan and Noah would be returning to life as usual but I still had a week of vacation left. My next post will be about my time in and around Bath, Maine.
Thank you Pete, Meagan and Noah for sharing this special place and time with me.
Other links to posts about my time in Maine:
I borrowed the title of this post from the John Prine song Summer’s End from his final album Tree of Forgiveness. Thanks for all the great music Mr. Prine!
“Summer’s end is around the bend just flying
The swimming suits are on the line just drying
I’ll meet you there per our conversation
I hope I didn’t ruin your whole vacation…”