Courageous Travels: Portland, Maine Trip!!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Day 1

Hello Camp Courageous!

This afternoon, Travel Team members Melissa McGill and Kody Gafkjen, met up with volunteer, Carolyn Rundle, at camp to begin our journey to Portland, Maine. Our first stop was in Marion, IA where we picked up travelers Chris Weir, Jennifer Donovan, Stephen Esker, and Ken Zeien. We then made our way to Coralville, IA where we picked up travelers Duane Jones and LuCasey Patton. We also met up with our final volunteer, Melanie Patton, there as well. Our group then made our way to Pizza Ranch in Bettendorf, IA where we greeted our final four travelers; Kathy Crowley, Annette Grimm, Lloyd Larkey, and Amy Nolan. By the time we reached Bettendorf, the sun was shining and everyone was in a great mood! The whole group then went inside and enjoyed a delicious pizza dinner.

After everyone was done eating, we loaded up the bus and started driving towards our hotel for the night, the SpringHill Suites in Boilingbrook, Illinois. The travelers were talking about how excited they all are to visit Maine for the first time!  This is also Courageous Travels’ first trip to Maine so everyone is very excited! With a movie playing during the drive, we arrived at the hotel in no time. Everyone got settled into our rooms and turned in early in preparation for our flight tomorrow morning.

-Travel Team


Day 2

Hello Courageous Travels!!

We got an early start to our day this morning!! We woke up around 5am to get ready for the day. We packed the bus and had a delicious breakfast at our hotel before heading to the Chicago Midway Airport. Even tho we woke up so early the group was excited and ready to get our journey to Maine started!!! Traveler Annette G., kept telling us how she couldn’t wait to see Maine! It was pretty rainy here in Chicago this morning but we made it to the airport around 7:30am and quickly got everyone checked in. We got to go through a VIP line in security so that process went really fast as well! We made it to our gate in no time and relaxed and watched the planes outside while we waited for our plane to arrive. While we waited we grabbed some chips and sandwiches to take on the plane for lunch. Our plane was a little delayed but we were in the air a little after 11am.

Once we were in the air and allowed to move around, we passed out lunch. The travelers enjoyed having lunch in the air! Before we knew it we were descending into the Manchester, NH airport! Once we deplaned we grabbed our luggage and headed outside where we were greeted by our own personal driver and transportation! Our driver Jack, was waiting for us next to a nice white coach bus!! He greeted our group and we climbed aboard while he loaded our luggage.

The weather in Manchester was beautiful!! The sun was shining and there was so much greenery!! Jack told us about Maine and his family along the way. He also shared with us the accent of people from Maine. He told us that words that end in  “er” are pronounced with an “a” sound and that words that end with “a” are pronounced “er”. For example, Baker would be pronounced “baka” and Linda would be pronounced “Linder”. The traveler loved hearing Jack’s stories. Everyone was chatting and enjoying the scenery on our drive up to Maine. Jack also shared with us that Maine is known as the Pine Tree State because Maine has so many pine trees!!

Once we crossed a big bridge we were officially in Maine!! The travelers cheered! As we drove we spotted the Atlantic Ocean!! We had a great view of the ocean and even spotted a few brave people braving the super cold water to surf and walk along the water’s edge. Traveler Chris W. was trying to convince Jack to go take a swim!

We made a stopped in York, Maine to visit Nubble Lighthouse! The Lighthouse was out on its own little island so we couldn’t get too close but we got some great pictures!! Afterwards, we walked down to Fox’s Lobster House for dinner! This restaurant had a great view of the ocean and delicious food!! Travelers Stephen E. and LuCasey P. decided to try lobster!! They sure enjoyed their meal! Jack was a big help in helping us learn the trick to cracking open lobsters!

After we ate we hopped back on the bus and continued the drive to Portland. We arrived at our hotel a little before 7pm. We thanked Jack and settled into our rooms. We are now resting up for our first day in Portland tomorrow!!

-Travel Team

Day 3

Hello Courageous Travels!!

We had a blast exploring Portland today!! We started off our day with a delicious breakfast at our hotel. After breakfast we were picked up right in front of our hotel by a trolley. Gary, our personal trolley driver greeted our group as we climbed aboard! Gary drove us all over Portland showing us all kinds of sites! He first took us down by the harbor and he pointed out a couple big murals, one with whales and dolphins and another mural was of old time ships. Gary was so great with our group and had us laughing the whole time. Traveler Duane J. thought Gary was so funny!

Gary told us Portland has a lot of parks and we drove by quite a few! Some of these parks had great views of the ocean and some parks had cannons and old towers from ships. We saw a lot of boats out on the water today! Gary told us that while there were a lot of people out on boats that you probably wouldn’t see anyone swimming because the water temperature this time of year is only 49 degrees! Brr!

Gary pointed out the oldest cemetery, the oldest church, the tallest building and the oldest house in Portland. It was so neat seeing all of the history of this city! We got to drive past the Portland Observatory Tower which used to be used to communicate. Gary said they would raise different flags for different meanings, for instance, when a boat was spotted a flag would be raised. Now the tower is a museum. Gary also pointed out a cannon ball that was stuck in the side of a building!

One of the famous people from Portland that Gary told us about was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was a poet. We saw a couple statues of him through out the city. The travelers, especially Kathy C, Stephen E and Jennifer D were asking Gary lots of great questions through out the tour. Gary took us through Portland, South Portland and then Cape Elizabeth. In Cape Elizabeth, we made a stop at Fort Williams Park where the Portland Head Light Light House is located. We got to get off of the trolley and explore for 30 minutes. We walked down to the Head Light and admired the ocean view and the light house. It was beautiful!! We got some great pictures!

We hopped back on the trolley and continued our tour. Gary told us that 100 million pounds of lobsters were caught in Maine last year!! Wow!! Gary then took us on a behind the scenes tour of where the lobster boats come into the harbor. We got to drive right down to the dock and got to see all of the lobster boats and cages! Before we knew it, the tour was over and we thanked Gary and said our goodbyes. We were dropped off right in front of the Portland Lobster Company, where we were having lunch. This restaurant had outdoor seating so we got to sit under a heated canopy and enjoy our lunch right by the water!

After lunch, our travelers decided to hit the Portland strip and go on a shopping spree. We visited many different shops that sold a number of souvenirs that the travelers liked. Almost everyone picked out a sweatshirt that they liked and almost instantly put them on because the ocean air was making it a little chillier than we were expecting. One traveler, LuCasey P., even decided to embrace the Portland culture so much that she bought a lobster hat and continued to wear it for the remainder of our day, it sure brought a smile to a lot of our faces.

Once our travelers were satisfied with all of the souvenirs they bought, we headed down to the docks to take a Harbor Lights and Sights Cruise from Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tours. Our group all settled in the cabin so that we could still see through all the windows but we would be protected from some of that harbor wind. Before the boat even started moving, the travelers were having a blast! They were chatting with one another, some were admiring the boat, and then there were a few who decided to play some cards. Duane J. was so into his new lighthouse playing cards that he was trying to teach volunteer Melanie P. and other travelers how to play certain card games like Black Jack.

Our tour boat left the dock and we were ready to learn some cool facts about Portland and see some amazing sights. While we were cruising through the water, we went past a few of Casco Bay’s 137 islands. Our guide talked about all of the different lighthouses in the area and we went past a few like the Portland Head Light, which is the oldest lighthouse in Maine. He also informed us that this was the last lighthouse to switch to an automatic system. Our guide also pointed out in the distance that we were able to see the southwestern entrance to Casco Bay, which is marked by a light house known as Two Lights. Lloyd L. thought that seeing all of the different lighthouses was the best part of the boat tour.

Our boat tour guide continued our tour by talking more about of few of the islands that we were passing. We even slowed down to see a bald eagle and it’s nest, the travelers thought it was so cool to see the bird in the wild. Seeing all of the different birds was one of Jenny D.’s favorite parts about the boat. Our tour was coming to a close while we started coming back into the harbor. We kept receiving interesting facts about a few of the buildings that we could see. From our boat we could see the tallest (17 stories) and the second tallest (15 stories) buildings in Maine. Farther back, we are able to see the top of the Portland Observatory, which is the last standing maritime lighthouse in Maine. We thanked the boat’s crew and tour guide for such an enjoyable time before we started to make our way to dinner at Gilbert’s Chowder House, which everyone agreed was delicious!

After dinner we walked back to the hotel, which was less than 10 minutes away! When we arrived, we learned that there were two jazz musicians playing in the hotel lounge so most groups decided to sit and enjoy the music for a little while. The musicians, Dylan and Sam, were father and son and played quite a few songs for us! They played really well! Traveler Lloyd L., really enjoyed the music and was tapping his feet and bobbing his head along with the music. After about an hour, the music ended and we headed upstairs to our rooms to get ready for bed. We have another fun filled day ahead of us tomorrow!

-Travel Team

Day 4

Hello Courageous Travels!!

We had a wonderful day in Portland! The sun came out and it was a beautiful day! Once again we had a delicious breakfast at our hotel before heading out to explore more of this city! Our first stop of the day was the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, which was only a short walk from our hotel. Once we arrived we snapped a group photo in front of the museum before splitting into our smaller groups and heading inside to check out the exhibits.

Inside we learned that this museum preserves and operates two foot gauge railroad equipment. We also learned that in the late 19th century, Maine a unique railroad system that rain on rails that were only two feet apart! Passengers and freight were transported on these railroad systems, which connected the less populated rural areas of Maine with the larger cities. There were three train cars that we could go inside and explore. There was a Caboose, a Parlor Car and a Combination Car. We could only go inside part way of the Parlor Car. Inside were fancy chairs that passengers would have sat on. The Combination Car was split in half. Half had benches for passengers to sit on and the other half was a storage area for freight. There was also an engine where we could look into and see the the many parts of the engine.
The museum had a lot of old photos and memorabilia from trains as well as different tools that were used to connect and repair the trains. There was a big map that showed all of the Narrow Gauge Railroad lines where you could push 8 different buttons. Each button lit up the section of the railroad it was talking about and you could hear the conductor shout “All aboard”. There was also a desk set up with morse code so the travelers could practice sending messages. That was pretty cool.
As part of our admission to the museum, we also got to go for a ride on a train!! It was an open air train car and today was the perfect day for a ride! The track ran along side the water and it was beautiful! We got to see many boats, islands and even a lighthouse off in the distance. The train went passed an area that was sort of like a “train graveyard”, where there were many old train cars and parts that were not in use anymore. The train tracks ended right before an old wooden rail bridge that had caught on fire. It was no longer safe for pedestrians or trains so our train stopped here and we were allowed to get off for a few minutes and take in the beautiful view before the train headed back in the direction that he came.
Once we arrived back at the museum, we finished looking around the museum and the gift shop before heading to lunch. We went to the Flatbread Company for lunch and it was so delicious! This restaurant served salads and flatbreads and used fresh, local and organic ingredients. We sure had our fill of pizza!
After we were done eating, we had some time to spare before the next ferry ride. So we went across to a shop and the travelers decided to buy a few more Portland souvenirs. We then made our way down to the ferry dock. It was time for us to hop on the ferry so we could travel to Peaks Island, one of the more populous islands of Casco Bay. After a short ride, we went to explore the island and found ourselves a beach.  Many of the travelers like LuCasey P., Stephen E. and Amy N. enjoyed finding different shells along the sandy shore. Chris W. was the bravest out of all of us and was the first one to take a few steps into the water. Once realizing that it wasn’t that cold he called out for the rest of us to join him. Ken Z. and Stephen E. also braved the cold water and put their feet in! Annette G, Jennifer D, Duane J., and Kathy C. enjoyed the beautiful view. Lloyd L, said visiting the beach was on of his favorite parts of the day.  We had a grand time on the beach then we decided to walk back across the island.
We arranged a pre-season tour of a unique museum on the island, the Umbrella Cover Musuem. It’s the only one of its kind in the world, and the founder, Nancy 3. Hoffman, said that it’s a place to appreciate the mundane things in life such as umbrella covers. Nancy started the museum 22 years ago. She also told us about the different themes of covers she has in the museum, such as kids covers and British covers, plaid covers, etc. She had covers of all sizes from all over the world! If you have any umbrella covers laying around, I’m sure she would appreciate them! She also likes to have the story behind the cover when people send them to her! The travelers were able to see many of her umbrella cover collection from all over the world, consisting of over 2,000 covers! She even owns the Guinness World Record for her collection. The travelers were so amazed and intrigued of the museum, they were even able to join Nancy in a song while she played the accordion and they used music shakers. Thank you Nancy for opening up your museum early for us and showing our group a good time!
We had dinner on Peaks Island at the Cockeyed Gull, which the group thought had delicious food. We got to sit outside on the deck overlooking the water.  After dinner, we had some time to spare before the next ferry ride back to Portland, so we decided to explore more of the island. Along our walk we found a scenic ocean view overlook so we had to stop to admire the view and take some pictures! The travelers were able to see such amazing views of different islands, the ocean, Portland, and even the start of the sunset. We then made our way back to the ferry dock. After a quick ferry ride back, and a walk back to the hotel, our travelers settled in bed in preparation for another fun filled day tomorrow.
-Travel Team

Day 5

Hello Courageous Travels!!

We had a fantastic last day in Portland!! We started off our day with a delicious breakfast at our hotel and a surprise! On our trolley tour earlier this week, our driver Gary, pointed out a local donut shop called Holy Donut. He told us that the donuts were made with a unique ingredient, Maine potatoes! That’s right, potatoes! Mashed potatoes are used in their donut recipe! The travelers couldn’t believe it! We had to try them so we surprised the travelers with these donuts at breakfast this morning! They sure enjoyed this treat! We had a variety of flavors including cinnamon sugar, very berry, lemon, toasted coconut, vanilla and dark chocolate sea salt. They were so good!!!
Traveler Jennifer D.’s mom, Nancy lives in Portland so Jennifer got to go out to breakfast with her mom and her Aunt Jo Ann. Jennifer had been looking forward to this visit with her family! We are so glad she was able to see her family while here in Portland.
After our whole group was back together we gathered in the lobby to wait for the hotel shuttle to take us to Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs. Fun fact about Hadlock Field, Camp’s Assistant Nursing Director Amanda Brenneman’s Uncle, Pete Gaworski, built the stadium! How cool is that?? The travelers were looking forward to the baseball game this morning!! The Portland Sea Dogs were playing the Hartford Yard Goats! The shuttle could only hold half of our group so the driver made two trips to get our whole group out to the field and we all arrived shortly after 10am. We made our way inside and found our seats. We had a great view of the field! We were just to the left of home plate! It was awesome! The sun was shining and the travelers were getting pumped for the game! It was Education Day at Hadlock Field so there were lots of schools and other groups like ours at the game today. They announced that there were a little over 5,000 people at today’s game!
The game started off with the Sea Dogs scoring 3 runs in the 1st inning! What an exciting way to start off the game! Just beyond the outfield way was a small lighthouse where they shot off fireworks after each run scored by the Sea Dogs! Shortly after the game started we grabbed some food for lunch and settled back in to watch the game. The Goats scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning but the Sea Dogs scored 4 runs in the 3rd! The travelers were cheering and dancing away! By the 5th inning the Sea Dogs were winning 12-2! Duane J. told us he was having a great time at the game! After a trip to the souvenir shop he came back with a new hat and a Sea Dogs jersey! Slugger, the Sea Dog was walking in the stands and he made his way over to our group! Some of the travelers got to take picture with him as well as other mascots (a lobster and a blueberry) from one of the on the field games.
The travelers sang along to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch and to “YMCA”!! We sure have a bunch who love to sing and dance! We were having a great time! During the 8th inning part of the group made their way out to the hotel shuttle which was going to take us to our next activity, a Duck tour!. The game ended shortly after with the Sea Dogs beating the Yard Goats 12-3! What a great game!
The hotel was very helpful by transporting us to our next destination, a Duck Tour. Once the second half of our group made it to our next activity we made our way to the meeting location. Our Duck was going to pick us up for a tour. If you have never been on a Duck tour, this special vehicle was able to give us a tour on land and in the water! Some of the travelers didn’t believe us when we told them that the Duck would take us on the water too!
Captain Mike and tour guide Dugan took us on an hour long tour exploring Portland by land and sea! We drove around downtown and the Dugan explained that the current street we were driving on used to be underwater in the 1800’s. He gave us lots of information about the five fires that Portland has endured and rebuilt from, the city has had so many fires that they named the Phoenix, the city bird. The duck started making it’s way to South Portland to travel into the water. The travelers all thought it was so cool that the vehicle was able to drive on land and float in the water. We were able to see the Bug Lighthouse and many ships out sailing. There were so many ships over in South Portland. We found out that during World War II they built over 236 ships for the navy. Dugan also told us about a couple famous people from Maine. The first was Neal Dow, who was known as the father of prohibition. We learned that Maine was the first “dry state”. Dugan also told us about John Ford who was a famous movie director who direction a lot of John Wayne westerns. Dugan also had the group laughing at all of his jokes! It was a great tour! 
After the Duck tour, we decided to head to the hotel and swim for a bit. The travelers had been looking forward to swimming and relaxing in the hot tub all week. So we made the short walk back to the hotel and changed into our swimwear. We went down to the hotel pool and relaxed for a bit. Ken Z. and Chris W. enjoyed swimming and splashing around in the big pool while Jenny D., LuCasey P., Steven E., and Lloyd L. lounged in the hot tub. Annette, Duane J., Kathy C., and Amy N. didn’t want to enter the water but they still went down to hangout with the rest of the group. After spending some time at the pool, we headed back upstairs to shower and pack. Meanwhile, we ordered pizza from a local place, Amato’s, which was right up the street from our hotel. We had a pizza party in the lobby. It was a great way to end our week! The travelers enjoyed the pizza so much, Jenny D. even claimed that it was the best pizza she had ever had.
After we ate, we were discussing what was everyone’s favorite part of the trip. Kathy and Annette said shopping was their highlight of the week. Jennifer said she really enjoyed the Duck and Trolley tours. Chris said his favorite part was meeting new people. Duane enjoyed the baseball game and shopping! Lloyd’s favorite part was the Railroad Museum. Stephen said he liked the baseball game and the Railroad Museum. Ken said he liked all of the boat rides and the baseball game. LuCasey’s favorite was shopping and the baseball game. Amy’s said her favorite part was visiting Peaks Island and shopping! What a fun week we had! After a long day, the travelers were ready to pack their bags and go to bed. Everyone is now resting up for our journey back to Iowa! 
-Travel Team

Day 6

Hello Courageous Travels!!

The Travel Group has returned from Maine! We had one more delicious breakfast at our hotel before saying our goodbyes to Portland. We had our very own coach bus pick us up from our hotel and take us to the Manchester airport. We arrived around 10:30am and quickly got checked in and through security. Our gate was ride across from the security check point so we didn’t have to walk very far! We grabbed some lunch from Burger King and waited for our plane to arrive.
Our plane arrived around 12:30pm and we got to board shortly after and before we knew it we were in the air! We were in the air for about two hours and landed in Chicago shortly after 2pm. We grabbed our luggage and hopped back onto our bus, good ole’ Henry and began our drive back to Iowa. Our first stop was Davenport, IA where were grabbed dinner to go and said goodbye to 4 travelers. Our next stop was Coralville, IA where we said goodbye to 2 travelers and a volunteer. We then made our way to Marion, IA where we said goodbye to the 3 remaining travelers. We arrived back at Camp around 9pm and said goodbye to our last volunteer.
It was such a wonderful week! The travelers had a blast and now we can cross Maine off of the list of states that Courageous Travels needs to visit!! That list is getting smaller!! Pretty soon we will have visited all 50 states!! Thanks to all of our fabulous travelers, Ken, Lloyd, Duane, Chris, Stephen, Jennifer, Annette, Kathy, LuCasey and Amy for joining us on this trip! Thank you to our wonderful volunteers Melanie and Carolyn. Thank you for all of your help this week!
Stay tuned! Courageous Travels will be back on the road tomorrow for another exciting trip!