The Maine Outcome!

What a wonderful evening we had on the Islander Casco Bay cruise! Spectacular views. Scrumptious food. Perfect weather.

Thanks so much to Leslie and the planning committee for a great conference from stem to stern! My pix are below. I was excited to get a photo with Margaret and so glad she is with us to enjoy this year’s conference.

A number of you may be wondering about the outcome of my Maine dilemma. Well, despite the photo below of me and a lobstah (a total fake!) I ate chicken. Just couldn’t do it. But you will see that I found an acceptable substitute. And, no problem chowing down this morning’s blueberry pancakes. ūüôā

As we close, my husband, Longfellow and Marley, and I are off to spend a few days in Camden and then hike in Acadia. I hope to see everyone in Las Vegas!  Jackie

Enjoying our narrated cruise

Enjoying our narrated cruise

Portland Head Lighthouse from the bay

Portland Head Lighthouse from the bay

Our boat

Our boat

The lobster bake

The lobster bake

Starting out with chowder and cornbread

Starting out with chowder and cornbread

Enjoying lobster and the view

Enjoying lobster and the view

Did she really eat any of this lobster?

Did she really eat any of this lobster?

I can't wait to dig in!

I can’t wait to dig in!

Here's how to do it.

Here’s how to do it.

Now HERE'S a lobster dinner I can live with!

Now HERE’S a lobster dinner I can live with!

Friends enjoying the boat trip

Friends enjoying the boat trip

My pic with Margaret

My pic with Margaret

Maine blueberries - what's not to love??

Maine blueberries – what’s not to love??

A few photos from today!

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Here are some pix from today’s activities at INANE in Maine. I hope YOU were able to join us!

Photos from the trolley tour and our evening presentation. Also, my husband and I took a walk after the evening events. Found some tasty ice cream and checked out the pier – also found our boat for tomorrow evening.

Good night! Jackie

A scoop of Maine cream and one of butterbeer. Delicious!

A scoop of Maine cream and one of butterbeer. Delicious!

Leslie Nicoll introduces  her sister Jessica.

Leslie Nicoll introduces her sister Jessica.

Our boat for tomorrow evening!

Our boat for tomorrow evening!

The Islander

The Islander

Marley and Longfellow at the lighthouse, learning  bit of trivia about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Marley and Longfellow at the lighthouse, learning bit of trivia about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Marley moose - is that our trolley leaving without me?

Marley moose – is that our trolley leaving without me?

Our trolley

Our trolley

Trolley tour #1 with our guide Scott

Trolley tour #1 with our guide Scott

Longfellow lobster on the trolley tour - checking out the house of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow!

Longfellow lobster on the trolley tour – checking out the house of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow!

Jessica Nicoll's wonderful presentation on art and Maine.

Jessica Nicoll’s wonderful presentation on art and Maine.

Portland Head LIghthouse - beautiful even in fog.

Portland Head LIghthouse – beautiful even in fog.

Sightseeing with Maine Day Trip!

I have mentioned before that we have partnered with Maine Day Trip to offer INANE guests the opportunity for sightseeing beyond Portland without the necessity to rent a car. Now that we are getting closer to the date, it’s time to start thinking about putting plans into place! Owner Norm Forgey has some great offerings for us.

  • Sunday, August 3: An excursion to the Boothbay Harbor region and the Maine Botanical Gardens is planned. We have two INANE attendees (Deborah Finfgeld-Connett and her husband Dave) who are tentatively booked for this trip; Norm can accommodate a total of 10 guests. Cost is $90/person. Boothbay Harbor is about an hour from Portland–very scenic, with a lovely harbor and lots of sailboats. If you read my earlier post on Maine movies, you might remember that portions of Carousel were filmed here. The Maine Botanical Gardens are beautiful. This will be a great trip! Contact Norm at¬†(207) 838-5275¬†or by email at Norm@MaineDayTrip.com to register. Departure time is at 10 am–Norm will pick up guests at the Regency, the Marriott Residence Hotel, the Hampton Inn, and the Portland Harbor Hotel. Just let him know where you are staying.
  • Monday, August 4 or Friday, August 8: Fine art and painting spots on the southern Maine coast which includes a visit to the Winslow Homer Studio on Prout’s Neck. Trust me when I say, this will be an amazing trip! The Portland image001homerMuseum of Art purchased the Homer Studio in 2006 and it has been completely renovated back its true historical significance. Because it is in a very well-to-do residential area, opportunities to visit the studio are limited which makes this an extra-special excursion. For this tour, Norm will pick up guests at their hotel (see above) and provide transportation to the Portland Museum of Art, where you will then travel with Museum staff on their bus to the studio. Visit the studio for about 90 minutes and then back to Portland, where you will rejoin Norm for a tour of lighthouses and other scenic areas where artists such as Edward Hopper painted. Cost is $125/person with a maximum of 10. Departure from the area hotels will be at 9:30-9:45 am for the 10:30 studio tour. Total trip time: ~6 hours. To reserve your spot, contact Norm at¬†(207) 838-5275¬†or by email at Norm@MaineDayTrip.com. NOTE: If you join this tour on Monday, August 4, you will be back at the Regency in time to join the 4 pm Portland Discovery Tour. It will be a day of fabulous sightseeing and art!

Norm is also holding other days open for INANE attendees (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) so if you have ideas of things you’d like to see and places to visit, get in touch with him today!

There’s a New Ship in Town!

A bit of excitement in Portland yesterday, when the Nova Star arrived in Portland Harbor. The ship will be offering round-trip service between Portland, ME and Yarmouth, NS beginning on May 15th. If you are attending INANE, you will very likely see the ship–the dock is just a few blocks from the Regency Hotel. It will leave at 9 pm at night and arrive in Yarmouth, NS at 8 am, then turn around and do the same trip in reverse.

You can read more about the Nova Star, along with viewing some nice pictures by clicking here.

Venturing Around Town and Beyond – Maine Day Trips!

Greetings!

Being the good nurses that we are, I suspect that when most of us attend a conference, we dutifully attend all the conference sessions that we can manage, meet up with a few friends and acquaintances (there is never time to see everyone), and then leave just in time to make it home for the next event on our busy calendars–all without seeing anything beyond the four walls of the hotel and the sights to and from the airport from the windows of the hotel shuttle!

c1624But this year’s INANE conference in August could be different! ¬†Here is the perfect opportunity for a blend of work and fun…a lovely New England setting at the peak of ideal summer weather (not too hot, not too cold–just right!) and a host of things to see and do, many of them off the beaten track. To heighten the fun, Leslie and the Planning Committee have arranged a special opportunity for INANE attendees¬†with Norm Forgey of Maine Day Trip: personalized guided tours for you and your traveling companions. Your trip can take any direction at any pace you wish! Norm is reserving the dates from Saturday, August 2nd, through Thursday, August 7th exclusively for us. Whether you are flying to Portland, or taking the bus or train–here’s your chance to forego a rental car and see a bit more of this beautiful state beyond the environs of the city of Portland. Make a reservation and Norm will meet you at the entrance of the Regency Hotel for a total day of fun, sightseeing, and relaxation!

Norm Forgey, founder and owner of Maine Day Trip

Norm Forgey, founder and owner of Maine Day Trip

You may notice that Norm’s trips are available before and after INANE as well as throughout the time that our exciting and irresistible conference will be happening. For conference participants, I am sure you will not be inclined to take off for a day trip during this time (see paragraph one if you don’t believe me!). But if you have others traveling with you who are not attending the conference, this is a perfect opportunity for them to get out and about. Norm will schedule trips for groups of one to ten people and create the itinerary based on folks’ interests.

The challenge is that our companions often do not know anyone else, but might appreciate connecting with others to share a day of adventure. And, you might be interested in connecting with other INANE folks for a day trip before or after our conference. You can contact Norm and tell him: 1) day you want to tour; 2) number of people; and 3) what you’d like to see. He’ll create tours based on the input he receives and confirm directly with you when the planning is finalized.

Note that this is a little different from the way Norm usually schedules his trips, but he is willing to be flexible to offer the maximum number of attendees and friends a great day trip. For another way to connect with others about planning and gauge interest about dates and itineraries, consider leaving a comment on this post. Either way, remember that your perfect off-site adventure awaits! Visit our Traveling Further Afield page now to start planning!

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A journalist’s hotel room in Sochi

I’ve been watching the Olympics and had a good laugh at some of the horror stories about hotel accommodations for journalists. I haven’t been to the Regency (yet) but Leslie assures me that all the hotel rooms have desks big enough for computers and the water that comes out of the tap is clear, fresh, and safe for bathing, drinking, and brushing your teeth! If you haven’t do so yet, take this as a reminder to register for the conference, reserve your hotel room, and make your travel plans to Portland. The regular registration rate is in effect for another ten weeks so don’t delay. It will go up by $100 on May 1st. I suspect by that time the Casco Bay Cruise and Lobster Bake will be sold out and the best hotel rooms will be reserved. Don’t wait too long and be disappointed!

I look forward to seeing my colleagues in Portland in August. It’s going to be a terrific conference!

Peggy

For the Planning Committee: Leslie Nicoll, Margaret Comerford Freda, Shawn Kennedy, Lisa Marshall and Jean Proehl

Made in Maine: Movies

Maine is not a great movie making destination but we have had a few films made here that show of the beauty of the state. If you have a few free minutes, consider adding one of this to your “must watch” list in the next few months.

main_postpremiereEmpire Falls (2005). A made-for-TV miniseries that was good, not great (as is so often the case, the book was better). It was filmed primarily in Waterville. There was lots of excitement when Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Helen Hunt and the rest of the cast came to town. Aidan Quinn was arrested for drunk driving, which, given the extent of things to do in Waterville (ie, not much) is not too surprising.

The Preacher’s Wife¬†(1996). This remake of the 1947 The Bishop’s Wife¬†was primarily filmed in New Jersey–but the ice skating scene was shot in Deering Oaks Park in Portland. The cast and crew arrived in mid-February, man_without_a_facenormally ideal ice skating weather but Portland was having an unusual warm spell so no snow or ice anywhere in sight! They improvised but the scene ended up being much shorter than originally intended.

The Man Without a Face¬†(1993). Mel Gibson’s directorial debut was filmed on Deer Isle with additional scenes in Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, and on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick. This movie gives very nice views of he state and the story isn’t bad, either.

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The Pitkin Cottage on the Bluffs, Cliff Island

The Whales of August (1987). This film was notable for bringing together a number of famous stars for a final reunion: Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern, and Harry Carey, Jr. It was notable in my book for being a little…tedious, but maybe if I re-watched it today I would appreciate it more. It was filmed entirely on Cliff Island in the Pitkin House. You can visit Cliff Island and the Pitkin House (view it from the outside, not go in) from Portland. Take the Casco Bay Ferry to Cliff Island (1.5 hours one way) and walk about 30 minutes to the Bluffs. There is a general store on the island which makes sandwiches and serves ice cream, if you wanted to pack a picnic or have a snack.

Scene from Mt. Battie, looking over Camden Harbor with Penobscot Bay in the distance

Scene from Peyton Place on Mt. Battie, looking over Camden Harbor with Penobscot Bay in the distance

Peyton Place¬†(1957). This steamy pot-boiler (although not as steamy as the book) was filmed primarily in Camden with additional scenes shot in Belfast and Rockland. Lana Turner did not come to Maine for filming (who knows why? I don’t) so her scenes were shot on a sound stage at 20th Century-Fox, creating some continuity glitches in the movie. Interestingly, in the book, the fictional town of Peyton Place was based on Gilmanton, NH but the movie was made in Maine. Another movie with a New England flip-flop was¬†On Golden Pond¬†(1981) with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. In the book, Golden Pond was in Maine but the movie was filmed on Squam Lake in New Hampshire.

Carousel¬†(1956). In the original plan, most of Carousel was supposed to be filmed in Boothbay Harbor but in the end, only bit and pieces of the original on-location scenes remain. Various theories are offered for why this is although it seems that lighting was a major problem (all the evening and night scenes came out too dark and had to be re-shot on a sound stage) and well as technical difficulties related to the type of film (Cinemascope 55 mm vs. traditional 35 mm film). The famous scene where Gordon MacRae (Billy Bigelow) sings¬†“Soliloquy” was filmed on a beach in Malibu, California. This drives me bananas since beaches in California look nothing like beaches in Maine! Personally, I find watching¬†Carousel to be a bit of a slog (right up there with the original¬†Oklahoma!¬†starring [surprise!] Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones). This video of “June is Busting Out All Over” gives some nice views of Boothbay Harbor as well as some terrific choreography–and it’s 120 minutes shorter than the movie, which means you can do something else with the 2 hours of time you saved not watching the whole movie!

2723907894_c084ffe295Don’t be confused by A¬†Summer Place¬†(1959). This is another pot- boiler and I will admit, one of my guilty pleasures. The story takes place on fictional Pine Island, Maine but the entire movie was filmed in California–Monterey, Carmel, and various sound stages on the Warner Brothers lot. The house at the end, where Ken and Sylvia are living, is the Della summer place posterWalker house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is still extant and can be see at 26333 Scenic Road, Carmel Point. Googling I note that it was open a few years ago as part of a fundraising house tour! I would love to see it someday.

Lighthouses in Greater Portland

Today is an interesting anniversary: 222 years ago, on January 10, 1791, the light at Portland Head Light was lit for the first time. It is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and was commissioned by President George Washington. He never slept there, though–I read that on a travel blog once and had a good chuckle! Portland Head Light is a rubble stone lighthouse.

Everyone attending INANE 2014 will have a visit to Portland Head Light as part of the Discover Portland Trolley Tour on Monday August 4th. I was determined that everyone have a chance to see the lighthouse. I consider it an essential sight for any trip to Maine.

Here’s an interesting video–it shows a visit to the inside of the lighthouse. I’ve never been inside and to the top–it certainly is a nice view. However I hope August 4th is a little sunnier than the day this guy visited.

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2nd Order Fresnel Lens

In the video, he misspeaks–he says the rotating light is a Fresnel (pronounced “fray-nel”) lens but it is not. The light is an¬†aero beacon which replaced the 2nd order Fresnel lens in 1958. (The present aero beacon was installed in 1991.) The old Fresnel lens is on display in the lighthouse museum.

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Portland Breakwater Light in 1855–this is the wooden structure

In the video he looks north towards Spring Point Ledge Light, although I can’t see it. This caisson lighthouse was built 106 years later–it went into operation in 1897. You can read the history of Spring Point Ledge Light here. At little further south, at the entrance to Portland Harbor is the Portland Breakwater Light, more commonly known by its nickname, Bug Light. Portland Breakwater Light was first built as a wooden lighthouse in 1855; the present structure (also a caisson lighthouse, sometimes called a sparkplug light) was built in 1875. Bug Light is visible from Portland; those going to the lobster bake will get a nice view of it en route to Peaks Island.

Cape Elizabeth Light

Cape Elizabeth Light

After looking north, the videographer looks in the other direction (south) towards Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth but again, I can’t see the lighthouse in the video. The official name is Cape Elizabeth Light but everyone calls it Two Lights which is a misnomer as there is only one active light at present. Two cast iron towers were built in 1874, replacing two rubble stone towers that were built in 1828. The west tower was de-activated in 1924 and is now part of a private residence. The east tower is still active. Cape Elizabeth Light marks the entrance to Casco Bay. Cape Elizabeth Light also had a 2nd order Fresnel lens which was replaced in 1994. The original lens is on display in the Cape Elizabeth Town Hall.

Ram Island Ledge Light

Ram Island Ledge Light

At the very end of the video you get a quick glimpse of the Ram Island Ledge Light. It is made of granite that was quarried on Vinalhaven. As lighthouses go, I don’t think it’s all that attractive–my preference is for white, or striped. Ram Island Ledge Light is privately owned by a neurosurgeon from Windham, who paid $190,000 for it at auction in 2010. Ram Island Ledge Light is a “twin” of the Graves Light at the entrance to Boston Harbor. Graves Light is also privately owned and came with a higher price tag: $933,888, the most ever paid for a US lighthouse. It was bought by a Massachusetts couple in 2013. Here’s a bit of trivia: in the 1948 movie, Portrait of Jennie, the climactic storm and tidal wave scene was filmed at Graves Light. As far as I can tell, no movies were ever filmed at any of the other lighthouses I have discussed in this post.

Maine Travel: Acadia Park

Inspired by Vicki Conn’s question, I thought I would occasionally post on visiting and traveling in Maine. Years ago, one of our governors (I think it might have been Angus King, our current senator) said that we should all “live in Maine and vacation in Maine.” I took his words to heart and have seen quite a bit of my adopted state–although I have never been to Baxter State Park or Rangeley Lake, nor have I climbed Mt. Katadhin. But I’ve done plenty of other traveling and I am happy to share travel hints in anticipation of INANE 2014.

A few caveats: Maine is a large, rural state. If you want to see sights beyond what is feasible in a taxi in and around Portland, you’ll probably need to rent a car. Public transportation to get out and about is not a realistic option. Second, INANE 2014 is scheduled at the height of the summer season so it would be wise to plan an itinerary and make reservations (for rental car, hotel, etc) so you are not disappointed.

Acadia_national_park_mapSo…on to the sightseeing! Vicki asked about Acadia National Park. I would guess that Acadia is the most popular travel destination in Maine and with good reason–it’s beautiful. In August, it’s also crowded but with some planning you can still have an enjoyable visit.

Acadia Park is actually in three parts. The largest and most well known section is on Mt. Desert Island. The most remote part, requiring a boat trip from Stonington is on Isle Au Haut. Schoodic Penisula is the only part of the park on the mainland. Note that even though Mt. Desert Island is an island, you don’t need to take a boat to get there–there is a causeway that connects the island to the mainland.

The Mt. Desert Island part of the park is where the “famous” sights are: Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Jordan Pond House (serving very popular popovers–reservations are essential), and the carriage roads which are ideal for hiking and biking. There is a 26 mile loop road that will take you through the park and past all the popular spots. The Island Explorer is a free bus service that has itineraries in and through the park and is highly recommended. I’ve never ridden the bus but I have heard that it is very popular and is helping to cut down on traffic and overcrowded parking lots in the park.

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Schoodic Point, looking at the Gulf of Maine

Personally, I like the Schoodic Peninsula section of the park. It’s about an hour further east beyond Mt. Desert. It’s beautiful, unspoiled, and not crowded. When you are at the tip of the peninsula you are actually looking out at the North Atlantic (as opposed to viewing Frenchman’s Bay which is what you see on Mt. Desert). It’s a bit further to get to and you will definitely need a car, but I think it is worth it.

I’ve never been to Isle Au Haut but I’ve heard it’s beautiful. That is a destination that is ideal for hikers–no cars on the island and no way to get around except by foot. Coincidentally, it is the home of Linda Greenlaw, the swordfishing captain (and Colby College graduate) who became famous in the book, The Perfect Storm¬†(and her own re-telling of that storm in the book, The Hungry Ocean).

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Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Travel: From Portland to Bar Harbor is about 3 to 4 hours (driving) depending on what route you take. My preferred route is to take I295 (from Portland) to Augusta, then Route 3 to Belfast, then Rt 1/Rt 3 to Bucksport, Ellsworth, and then to Mt. Desert. This gives you a nice fast interstate start but also includes some pretty views, plus a drive over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge (a stop at the Observatory is recommended!).

Planning a Trip: If you are going to make the trek to Acadia from Portland (or visit before INANE) you should probably plan on spending at least 2 nights in the area. Acadia Park is big–even if you only visit the Mt. Desert Island section. I think you need to give yourself enough time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

There is camping in the park (and campgrounds near the park) but somehow I don’t think INANE attendees will be traveling with tents and sleeping bags! Accommodations on Mt. Desert run the gamut from chain motels (Best Western) to B&Bs to swanky hotels. There are several towns on the island. Bar Harbor is the most well known and many people think Bar Harbor/Acadia Park are synonymous but Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor are also beautiful and have a variety of accommodations. ¬†I recommend using TripAdvisor to do research about where to stay.

If you are a “hub and spoke” traveler (that would be me) you might want to investigate hotels/motels in Ellsworth. You won’t have a view and you won’t be right in downtown Bar Harbor but it is a good jumping off point if you want to see more than Acadia on Mt. Desert such as Schoodic Point and maybe heading to Deer Isle (I’ll write more about that location in a future post).

Last–there is a good airport in Bangor. Depending on how you configure your trip, it might be realistic to fly to Portland before INANE, spend some time after the conference exploring downeast Maine, and then fly home from Bangor. Of course, this itinerary could be reversed.

Comments and questions are invited. I look forward to welcoming everyone to Maine next summer!