Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

MAINE "LAKES REGION"

For the last 3 months we have been slowly driving along the Atlantic coast making our way from New Orleans to Maine. We recently veered inland to see Maine’s “Lakes Region.” The Lakes Region centers on Sebago Lake which sits about 30 miles outside of Portland. Any place with water is an attraction to us since it allows us to kayak and Otter (our Labrador retriever) a place to swim.

Long Lake with the
White Mountains of NH in the
background.
The Lakes Region is a water enthusiast’s paradise. There are lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. Small towns are scattered throughout the region and the quaint little downtowns’ house nothing more than a couple of shops, restaurant, and a church. The shorelines are dotted with houses, boat docks, and rope swings. The lakes are lined with mature trees that slope steeply into the water. Brown sandy beaches are located about and quickly become crowded on warm days. While we were there, the mercury topped 90° and the 55 degree water provided a refuge from the heat (not for us we went to the campground pool).


Downtown Naples - home to really good ice cream.
We stayed in the small town of Naples which has a very picturesque downtown located on a small strip of land between Long Lake and Brandy Pond (just north of Sebago Lake). Naples is one of the larger towns in the area and the downtown has three shops, two restaurants, four ice cream stands and a put-put golf (I couldn’t find the church, but admittedly I didn’t look). We frequented the downtown often for the simple reason that we found an ice cream stand we really liked and got to know the two women who owned it. They had great flavors like Maine black bear, cotton candy, and Kahlua Oreo. And the best reason to go was that they offered free ice cream to dogs. Since Otter has a “sick pass,” she got all she wanted – even if it did mean that I would have to get up at 3a.m. to take her to the bathroom. (“Sick pass” is a term my nephew Garrett coined when we found out Otter had cancer. While at my sister’s house, Otter was allowed to run amuck while her beagle had to mind the house rules.)
Sebago Lake State Park is a beautiful 1,400-acre park nestled on the north side of the lake. A small park but definitely a jewel for the area and a place we frequented daily. From the park’s boat launch we paddled into Sebago Lake and along the shoreline to view the houses. The following day we paddled up the Songo River, a 6-mile long meandering river that runs through the park and takes you up to the Songo Lock. Songo Lock is the last of 28 locks remaining along a 22-mile long canal system connecting Portland with interior Maine towns like Harrison and Bridgton. The canal system grew during the early 1800’s when the “Golden Age of Canals” when canal construction across the country was booming. Canals were used to move goods (especially timber) throughout the state.
Lake Sebago - the deepest and second largest lake in Maine.
Despite her cancer, Otter is a trooper and loves being on (and in) the water.  As long as
she doesn't dive in the water after Canada geese we are o.k.
Houses along Lake Sebago.
Today the Songo Lock is still in use. It is manually operated and used primarily by pleasure boaters traveling from Brandy Pond to Sebago Lake. We were looking for something to do on a rainy, cold day so we bought two tickets on the Songo River Queen II paddle wheeler which takes passengers on a leisurely voyage through Brandy Pond and lock. (The Songo River Queen I burned and sank.) The snack shack on board served lobster rolls as an added plus. One of the highlights came we the captain let the passengers drive the boat. Since I had a beer (or two) earlier, I refrained but Betsy took her turn at the wheel. I’m happy to say the Songo River Queen II is still afloat after our voyage and the trip was well worth it.
The Songo River Queen II. 
Heading through a swing bridge entering into Brandy Pond. 
Heading into the Songo River.  It was a very tight fit in the narrow river.
We went through another hand-operated swing bridge before entering the lock.
It was a very tight squeeze through the lock.

How did she get up on the bridge?  Man the lifeboats!
There are a couple of items on the menu that interested us. (For me, it was the last
three at the bottom; for Betsy it was the top item highlighted in red).)






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