I sat at breakfast on Tuesday with my map of the coast of Maine from Portland back to Kittery and the tourism booklets I had collected for each town along the way. As I mentioned, the plan was to work my way down the coast to York and then head back up to Alfred to pick up US Route 202 (202 used to adjoin my property and waterfall in Connecticut). As the day evolved I only achieved about half of what I planned, and even had to skip lunch to accomplish that – perfect shunpiking day. “The journey is the destination” not the destination as you may have heard, and I stop whenever intrigued – I have no need to “get somewhere.” In reading the booklets I saw the ad for the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport – forgot it was there. Back in 7th grade I became fascinated with travel by trolley, read what I could, and learned of this museum – I wanted to go there over 50 years ago. Ray said, “Ray, I am going by, so now is the time to stop,” – and I ended spending over 3 ½ hours.
My first stop heading down Route 9 was Ocean Park, the Chautauqua-by-the-Sea now in
its 132nd year. You know my affinity for the early summer resorts, church camp meeting grounds and Chautauquas which are all part of the development of the American summer experience. Ocean Park for me was a must see with its original buildings, cottages, and 100 year old ice cream parlour and store. From there (trust you have your maps out) I explored Camp Ellis, the sea side community part of Saco at the mouth of the Saco River, prior to looping back up the river to Saco itself.
Saco – WOW – the largest collection of bricks I have ever seen all assembled into the largest cotton mill complex in the country dating from the early 19th century, and an interesting (all brick) downtown. Many of the stores were vacant, but nicely did not appear that way. And the Palace Diner I found on a back street (actually the city is in Biddeford) is Maine’s oldest diner
(another fascination of mine – in 5thgrade I wanted to own I diner when I grew up – who knows, have not grown up yet, there still may be time). There are extensive restoration,
and rehabilitation plans which I hope include this clock tower that had been brought down from one of the mill buildings years ago. Leaving the city and diner behind I continued down Route 9 looking for the backroad cut-off (yes backroads have backroad cutoffs) to get me over to the Trolley museum.
Arriving shortly before 11:30 I was in time for my first trolley ride during my 3 ½ hour visit. The Seashore Trolley Museum was established in 1939 when a group wanted to save a Biddeford and Saco car built in 1900. It was acquired and the start of a collection of now over 250 trolleys and buses from around the world. The museum was able to acquire the right of way of a bankrupt rail line to run the trolleys on, and I was able to ride a car from Texas and one from New Zealand. I walked the grounds, viewed the restoration
barn, and several exhibition barns. With over 60 images and a movie riding the trolley I think as I start to expand my travel blog I will have to add a photo gallery that you can browse. Give me time. I highly recommend you spend some time here, it is off the beaten path (but close) and not marked on the main roads for a turn – you have to know it is there. Scott and Betty, on your next visit we are going there – for $60 you get an hour to drive the trolley yourself — now that will match dog sledding anyday.
Continuing on the unmarked back road to US Route 1 located on the corner was the Arundel Antique center. Well, it is close to 4, I am not going to make it to York, so I went in. Found a few books that once sold we cover most of my cost of the inn in Old Orchard Beach. After a few more shops heading down US 1 ending in Wells it was after 5 PM, and I decided to end the trip south at that time. Ogunquit and York are close to Portsmouth, and Portsmouth is “on the list” to visit again soon.
I picked up Route 109 to Route 4 to Alfred where I found there is nothing. Then started West on US 202 to Sanford to get something to eat. The choice of dining in the city itself was McD, which is not a choice so I continued on bypassing Rochester, NH, filing a mental note that I have now been on this route and do not need to repeat. In Northwood I picked up US Route 4 heading to Concord to then jog home, but everytime I am on US 4 through “antique alley” I think of the wonderful place Cathy and I had a dinner when we over-nighted at an 18th century B&B in the Epsom area. It has been 7 or 8 years, but I was sure I knew the intersection, and turned left on what is NH 107 towards Deerfield. The road goes and goes, I was sure I was correct but was about to turn around and give up when around the next bend (of course) there was the Lazy Lion Café just as I remembered it from that night. I was thinking about chicken and selected the Rosemary Lemon Crusted Chicken. I savored it, and told my server and chef that it was outstanding and perfection. As I left I checked the time and mileage via NH 101 home – just under two hours and 92 miles — probably worth the trip back for dinner. Bye for now, as always, yours, RAY
PS – remember you can “click” on the images to see the full size I uploaded
Video added on 18 September 2012