Bath, Maine and Fort Popham

October 3, 2016

Dear Friend,

After visiting Acadia National Park and the Campobello-Roosevelt International Park, we ventured to Bath, Maine, where we stayed for close to a week. Bath is a ship building town that keeps their maritime history alive. They even have students take a mandatory course on wooden boat building before they are allowed to graduate from high school. This legacy continues on as Bath Iron Works currently is a subcontractor that builds Navy destroyers. Beyond the ship building, the area has several little fishing villages complete with the barnacle-covered wharfs. Sea gulls squawk as they circle one of the many lobster boil shacks along the peninsulas. Every restaurant advertises lobster, clam chowder, or Haddock. Often the fishermen next door simply walk their catch of the day over to these eateries. Estuaries show their mud bottoms whenever the tide is out, revealing the clams and seaweed-covered boulders. The air is filled with a briny, fish scent all along the Atlantic Ocean.

My men visited the Maine Maritime Museum, the main attraction that brought us to the area, as my youngest describes later. He came back and had to tell me all the details of his day trip. For the next couple of hours stories kept pouring out of him. I suppose only the remaining stories that didn’t “pour” out of him yet remained in his mind for writing about later. He wrote:

“At this museum, there were a lot of boat models and a guy showed us how they made and launched the boats. We also went on a tour about the ships. We saw the owner’s house where they built the ships right in the backyard. They could see the ships being built from the kitchen. It had to be very noisy outside with all the hammering. At the museum we saw a model ship where they tested it and it was faster than a row boat so they had to get a motorboat to chase it.”

We encountered some colder, rainy days that were advantageous to home schooling and work. As a reward on Saturday, we told the boys we’d do something special after they finished homework. We ended up traveling to Fort Popham because we had no intention on paying $20 to walk a cold and rainy sand beach at a state park. This decision proved to be one of my favorite afternoons yet.

Fort Popham is unique in its structure. Unlike other forts I have visited, this ruin is built out of stone with a series of two stories of independent archways for cannon defenses as the picture shows. Even though construction began in 1858 and they used it during the Civil War, Spanish-American, and World War I, it was never completed. Over time the fort fell into disrepair. A gate remains unlocked to enter the fort during the daytime only, however it is self-guided.

The fort was interesting to see, but I really enjoyed the grounds more. We happened to visit when the tide was receding. A line of ocean birds took their turn gliding downstream in the fast current almost like an amusement ride. Down under the water they dove and several feet downstream they’d pop up again. I even saw a seal taking advantage of the fish feast that must have been underneath.

Downstream near the fort, the path took us to a small cove where they kids ran around trying to create the deepest footprint in the sand. After traversing a grouping of rocks, the shoreline spread itself out to a long sandy beach. The rain had stopped for the time being so the family took a long walk along the mouth of the river towards the ocean. My youngest was tempting each wave as he darted back and forth as each one receded. It’s a wonder he didn’t soak his shoes, though some came close. My older boy was intrigued with the firmness of the sand. He’d run along and pounce in spots where the sand would give way, sinking his shoes around 5 inches. After some time, he noticed a few living clams half buried in the damp sand. Excited about this find, both of them started on a clam hunt. Soon all four boy hands were full of heavy clams. With faces smiling, they announced that they wanted to bring them back as souvenirs.

Nothing like enjoying some downtime with the family. After being closed in with the rain, they needed to run and explore. I am starting to believe the simplest, free activities are the most rewarding. No expectations, no crowds, no “conquer the attraction” agenda, just my family happily being together.

Until we meet again,
Regina

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