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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

The Rugged Coast

~Sunday, September 19, 2021~

Day 462

Jeff was really in the mood to make it a lighthouse day. So off we went to Fort Williams Park/Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Interesting enough, there isn’t a more direct way to get to the lighthouse other than going through the city of Portland. The city of Portland has a population of only 66,000, yet, is the largest city in all of Maine (smaller than our hometown of Napa). It seems to be a city that is growing commercially based on the construction we saw, but has a great mixture of old and new. You couldn’t ask for a more stunning day as the rain and weather front that came our way last night must have blown out any hint of haze and humidity. Simply beautiful. Along the way to Cape Elizabeth, we noticed the stunning array of cape style homes (I mean mansions), along Casco Bay.

Portland Head Lighthouse is one of the most striking lighthouses we’ve visited. As New England Coast historian, Edward Rowe Snow sums it up perfectly…….

“Portland Head and its light seem to symbolize the state of Maine---rocky coast, breaking waves, sparkling water and clear, pure salt air.”

One thing that is particularly noticeable is its combination of stone on the bottom and brick at the top, all painted white.

I wonder why they decided to use two types of masonry? The lighthouse was completed in 1791, with its first lightkeeper, Captain Joseph Greenleaf, appointed by President George Washington. It stands 101 feet above the water and its beacon is visible up to 24 miles away. Today, the grounds and keeper’s house are owned by the city of Cape Elizabeth, while the beacon and fog signal are owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

From the lighthouse, we took the paved “Cliff Walk” trail, set above the ocean where the rocky cliffs look like petrified rocks. This led us to another section of the park that contains ruins from the former maritime/military days which operated from 1872 to 1964. Not much remains. We also saw the old abandoned Goddard Mansion sitting on a bluff with what would have been stunning views of the Bay. An abundance of trees has since blocked those views. Designed by Portland architect Charles Alexander, the stone mansion was built from 1853 to 1859 and one of the first grand homes built along Cape Elizabeth’s shores. The Goddard family occupied the home until the late 1800’s when it was later acquired by the U.S. Army. It was here that they housed their married, enlisted men and their families stationed at Fort Williams.

Fire destroyed portions of the home several times leaving the exterior fairly intact. We wondered why such a beautiful home couldn’t have been more preserved and converted into a tourist destination?

After our lighthouse tour, we decided to check out the “Old Port” section of Portland which is a historic, charming district with its cobblestone streets and lively boutiques, restaurants and souvenir shops. Our goal was to have a beer at The Thirsty Pig. But, once we got into the heart of town with its narrow, congested streets, we decided it wasn’t the ideal setting for Sadie, nor would we find parking for our behemoth vehicle. We definitely want to come back another day when we can get around the city on our bikes. So on to Plan B: Go back to Freeport to the Maine Beer Company. Their facility is huge with a very cavernous dining/beer tasting area, and an inviting outdoor patio. With the weather as beautiful as it was and because we had Sadie, we decided the outdoor seating was ideal. Jeff gave his Wolfe’s Neck IPA an 8 out of 10. I had the Prince Percy Pilsner which was also delicious. I continue to surprise my husband with enjoying these brewery visits. As long as I keep things pilsner like, I’m in. Seriously though, I would go no matter what because there’s nothing better than chilling outside with our pups, on a beautiful sunny day. And it’s a great way to cap off a great afternoon. And even better is when you mix in tuning into a little football or baseball. Our Bay Area teams are kicking butt right now! The Niner’s are 2-0 and the Giant’s are still in first place!!

While we enjoyed our beers and the weather, we rehashed how the trip’s been going overall. We’re both still enjoying this semi-retirement phase, and that we don’t mind having a home base, at least for now. We haven’t gotten to the point of “oh no, not another place.”, which we thought might happen by now. Thank goodness we’re still enjoying it because it is still not the optimal time to buy a new home. Because we’re extending our time, we thought we’d grow tired of being on the move and living out of a “tin box”. And what a change it’s been for Jeff especially, from those 50-hour work weeks and the responsibilities of owning a home. We even think about how this all affects Sadie too. We sure wish we could read her mind. We’ve definitely noticed her being more clingy than she was when we were home, wanting to keep her “pack” intact. Maybe it’s a comfort thing since we’re moving around so much. If we’re out somewhere especially, and one of us goes to the restroom or to the car to get something, she will just stand there and wait until we’re all back together, then relax. But she’s adapted very well from her 2-story home and big backyard to a home on wheels with an evolving backyard. Things are still G-R-E-A-T as we go with the flow.

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