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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Train in Maine

I had been going to write about our train excursion, but Gesa wrote a nice summary in an email to friends, so let's tell it in her words. Background - we saw the train going through Thomaston and found out it was a scenic trip from Rockland to Brunswick, so we thought we'd do it as a special treat......

We had a real full on day yesterday. As planned, we woke up early and caught the 745am Maine Eastern to Brunswick. We were all excited and thoroughly enjoyed the start of the trip. Click clacking through the back of people's yards, seeing the abundant flora along the track, which then opened up into marsh, ponds, bits of Atlantic. Even saw an osprey's nest and chicks! It was truly lovely.

But the journey was long, and the attention of a 4 and 6 year old dwindles. There were a couple of volunteers on the train who passed around colouring books and crayons, and one of the conductors came around with conductor hats for the kids. This was great. Issie especially took her job seriously. Checking everyone's tickets, turning off all the lights in the unoccupied seats, distributing magazines, and checking seat numbers. It was all rather cute.

As we came into Wiscasset, I suggested maybe getting off here, as it would give us about an hour before the train turned around. It looked rather picturesque along the river, picnic tables, lots of fishing/lobster boats, and a lobster riverside cafe. However, Nick decided not to and we stayed aboard, still in hope that we could have 20 minutes at the station in Brunswick to get a coffee etc.

Well, we carried on to Bath (a considered sailing stop on the way back south). Rather industrial, with a strong tidal currant running down/up the river. We decided we would save ourselves the trip up river. Although Bath may have a lot to offer, we were not keen to fight the tide.

The train carried on to Brunswick, where we found out from the conductor that there is nothing at the station and no time to even step out as they would be picking up 34 passengers (at least) and making a quick turn around as they were a little behind schedule. Ug, not only could I not get my most needed coffee, their diner cart was off being refurbished, so nothing even available on the train. We had pretty much ate up all the snacks we had brought (almonds, Goldfish, Ritz crackers!!!), wish I had remembered the apple!

So, the return journey, although still enjoyable, was a bit harder due to lack of 'treats' and no break (5 hours round trip). It also made me think the whole trip was over priced for what it was. Coming the other way from Brunswick, you get on the train at 1020am, arrive in Rockland at 1230pm, and then have three hours to explore the town, have lunch, visit a museum, etc. before getting back on three hours later. Works better that way. Well, overall still fun, but not sure worth the $100!

We headed into town to find lunch. We ended up at a tavern, where Nick was quite pleased to acquire a pint of something or the other. I indulged in a glass of white wine. Always tricky mid-day not to get too tired!! Food was OK, but still for $50, felt it was a lot of money for something just 'OK'. Nick then headed off to do the big grocery shop while the kids and I wandered down Main Street, spending a lot of time in the book store and toy shop.

This was followed by another stop at Dairy Queen for an ice cream, before our last stop at the pet store to look at the fish and animals. We had agreed to meet back at the dock at 430pm, by now it was closer to 5pm. I hoped Nick was in relaxed mode, so I didn't stress, and just slowly worked our way through our wish list of shops. While in the bookstore, Issie got into a series of fairy books, one totally about fairy houses! So of course, we had to build a fairy home before we left! We were so shattered by the time we got back to the boat.

Thankfully bedtime wasn't too strenuous, and I found myself falling asleep on the couch at 730pm!! Of course a piece of dark chocolate and a second wind, had me then reading in bed until the ripe old hour of 930pm!!! Different world out here.
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