October 13, 2018, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
I’ve officially given up intending to get up early on a Saturday when there isn’t a requirement to be at work every day in a timely manner. But nevertheless, I was out the door in twenty wearing layers, a pullover sweater from Salem, with thick socks and boots. Good thing I did, because I came into instant contact with cold air of New England Autumn. And it’s been long overdue as we’re halfway through October. Also, I freaking love the fall.
I went through the drive-thru of Starbucks, got a venti latte and bacon, egg and gouda sandwich. As the initial stop before going straight to Maine, I tried to incorporate it as I was typing in the destination in the app Waze. But the damn thing wouldn’t work for that particular location due inability to communicate with the service router. So the alternative I decided would be to use Google Maps. And at first, I thought the drive was going well in spite of the rain. The whole time I was bracketed by the red, orange, yellow, and green shades of the landscape. Only in New England, right? I can only validate this from my experience.
But Google Maps decided to have toll roads be included when I distinctively tapped for avoiding on all GPS apps. This led me to give all my change minus $0.80 for a three-dollar toll to which I had no other choice. As I was about to give a personal check with three measly dollars as the amount, the car behind me hollered to the toll lady that they would cover my remaining balance. In a nutshell, I was incredibly grateful yet frustrated.
To avoid more debacles like that and any more delays on getting to Cape Elizabeth, I went to a nearby train station ATM. I took a toll, pun intended, to take the lesser mile to Vacationland.
For the duration of the trip from coffee to the cove–well, the majority of it anyways–I listened to some of the early episodes of the Lore Podcast. Just so anyone reading this is aware, the creator, writer, producer and narrator, Aaron Mahnke, of the podcast is also the inspiration, and producer, of the Amazon Prime original Lore. I only made the connection last week when he narrated The Beast Within and the logo was extremely familiar.
Every episode is about twenty minutes or so each, and since the drive was two and a half hours there and back, I listened to quite a few: The Jersey Devil, Bridget Cleary, the Black Mausoleum, Half-Hanged Mary (Webster, whose descendant is actually Margaret Atwood and dedicated a poem to her hence the nickname) and others. If you want to know more about them, go on Apple Podcast or the smartphone equivalent for Android.
When I arrived at Kettle Cove in the town of Cape Elizabeth, it was cold, wet, and windy. No rain as soon as I crossed the Maine state line and in fact the whole afternoon. The cove is simply a beach with lots of sand, darkened by the foaming waves.
The only sounds I heard were the water crashing against broken but smooth rocks and the distant signal from what I believe to be the lighthouse a few miles further down. Draped over the beach were red seaweed, shells, and my footprints. Merged with the sidewalk by the parking area was a little crescent-framed bridge. Ten yards later was a wooden platform balcony adjacent to a pathway which led to multiple park trails. Finally, in the center of Kettle Cove, two patches of grassy land framed a small shore where a boat laid upside down.
Most people would just see a desolated beach on a wet Autumn day but, like me, two couples were there, who arrived shortly after me, to appreciate elemental beauty; they decided on what appeared to be a picnic while enjoying the coastline and some candid selfies.
After my own fair share of photos, I drove four miles over to my next destination of the day, Fort Williams Park. Home to a bunker formerly used during World Wars I and II with its namesake, Fort Williams had some additions on the expanded grounds: a stone mansion left to actual ruins after the prior owner, Colonel John Goddard, passed and the fort no longer used it as quarters for non-active officers; Maine’s oldest lighthouse (built in 1791), the Porthead Light, and an expanded shoreline with a cliff path.
Immediately, the Portland Head Lighthouse was in full view as I followed the curved road to one of three, slim parking lots. I marched uphill to the rubblestone lighthouse, and to the best of my ability, I experimented with different angles with my iPhone. Overall, I try not to take the typical photos like everyone else. The souvenir has to match the memory otherwise what’s the point of reflection?
Standing at 78 feet tall, the Porthead had a museum tour to which you could climb to the top and see the coastline. So naturally, I ran back to my car for some cash and then to empty my bladder. Unfortunately, the last tour started as I came back. They closed and locked the door to the museum. Even the gift shop closed when not more than ten minutes ago I was in there debating on buying an artist’s depiction of the stone giant. The only thing that I got to witness was the series of foghorn signals.
Then again, I should be grateful they did close when they did so I wouldn’t spend any money as I’m in London t-minus six days. Meanwhile, it gave me the early opportunities to graze the muddy sand, climb on an old warning horn trio, and find the perfect photogenic spots.
Once I had my fill, I bought some limoncello gelato from one of the food trucks as it seemed the cheapest. I headed down towards the bunker only to see in the distance it had enough graffiti to where I didn’t want to bother with pictures. A complete travesty if you ask me. Even if the place was left to abandonment or nature, there’s no need for desecration. Especially in a public, family-oriented park.
With that being said, I skipped the bunker and made a beeline for the Goddard Mansion ruins peeking out through the trees. Coming into better focus, the massive stone structure was fenced in various places. It seemed once to be three stories high with at least two brick fireplaces. From what local sources told, the mansion was constructed for Colonel Goddard between 1853-59. He was a businessman who commanded the 1st Maine Volunteer Cavalry Regiment for three months during the Civil War. Up until 1898, he resided there, then it was sold twice to a judge and shortly after to the federal government. The property had a trail linked to the bunker and shoreline.
Oh, and also like the last trip to Gillette Castle, I chimed in Ma on Facetime. When I heard Dad nearby as I was talking to her, I gave him a quick virtual tour around the former Civil War leader’s home and told him an overview of what I was doing. He responded that he’s heading to Portland on Thursday. Dad rarely shows much enthusiasm but I know he enjoys hearing and seeing stuff like this. Especially since he’s a Vietnam war veteran and travels around the East Coast often in the truck (he’s retired but he sold half his trucking business to his partner and good friend) five days a week just to keep himself occupied.
Despite the few figurative bumps along the road to the Pine Tree State, I had fun exploring on my own, listening along to the eerie yet intriguing tales and mentally drifting. The ride went smoother than the first time around. No delays, no issues, no dumbasses on the road (well, no more than the usual).
Most likely, to whoever may be reading this–if at all–you’ll hear from me when I take a six-hour time leap, flying from Beantown to London Town. Till then.