30 September 2006

Marching the Portland, Maine Marathon

The 15th annual Eastern Region Marathon Championship will take place tomorrow, October 1, 2006, in Portland, Maine. This is a marathon that has taken place every year for the past 15 and runners from all over the area have been training for the 26.2 mile run.

However, this year the marathon will have more than 120 participants who are not running to win the race or to beat their own time. This year, a group of soldiers from the Maine National Guard will march the 26.2 miles in full uniform - combat boots and fatigues - each with a 30-pound pack on his back. They are marching to honor their comrades who lost their lives in the line of duty. Many of the soldiers have spent their own time in Iraq or Afghanistan, but others have yet to be deployed.

Many of the soldiers will march the marathon in relay stages, but 23 plan to march the entire course. Some have trained by alternatively running and marching, while others are going into the march completely cold. Read more about the soldiers at Portland Press Herald - Marathoners.

If you would like to run or walk alongside these brave, honorable soldiers, the race is still accepting participants. Entry fees are $50.00 for the marathon and $35.00 for the half marathon. The starting line is at Baxter Boulevard, between Forest Avenue and Preble Street in Portland. Registration goes until 6 p.m. today and starts at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, at the University of Southern Maine Gym on 96 Falmouth Street. For a course map of either the marathon or half marathon, CLICK HERE.

The spectator-friendly course starts and finishes along the Back Cove. The first and last four miles are mostly flat. All three races are together for the first six miles before the half marathon heads back to Portland. In between, runners enjoy Mackworth Point in Falmouth (just north of Mackworth Island), a short detour off Route 1. The course then returns to Route 1 and turns onto Route 88, where runners pass many stately homes.

The half marathon course includes rolling hills between Miles 4 and 8. After that it is mostly flat on its return to Portland, again crossing the very scenic Martin's Point Bridge area. The marathon and relay continue along Route 88 to Yarmouth for a 2.5-mile loop around a rural neighborhood before rejoining Route 88 for the return trip to Portland. The marathon course features a mixture of rolling hills and flat sections between Miles 4 and 17, and is mostly flat or downhill for the final nine miles. There is a limit of 2,500 runners for the marathon and half marathon combined.

If you aren't up for the run, consider coming out to cheer on the members of our military who are honoring their own. Isn't it the least we can do?

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

28 September 2006

Maine Elections are Coming

Buy at Art.comWith Election Day now only weeks away, now is the time to register to vote and if you haven't already done so, to familiarize yourself with the candidates.

This year, Maine will vote in regard to its Governor, one of its Senators, and both of its Congressional Representatives. In addition, there are numerous state and local offices up for grabs, and many more than are being challenged. It is not only our right, as citizens of Maine, to vote in the elections, it is our duty.

Visit the Directory of Maine Candidates so you can get to know the candidates better and make an informed decision, come November.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

21 September 2006

Moose at Pemaquid Lighthouse

If you were one of the lucky people to be having breakfast at the little cafe next to the Pemaquid lighthouse on Monday morning, you might have caught a glimpse of a beautiful bull moose that was acting like one of the tourists.

It was early in the morning, just before the park was set to open, and suddenly, there was a moose with a full set of antlers, just wandering around the lighthouse, apparently enjoying the view. Although park authorities attempted to chase him away, he showed no signs of being ready to leave. You can read the rest of the story HERE.

Male moose can be very aggressive at any time of the year, but especially now, during mating season. If you encounter a moose, stay out of its way, and it will usually leave on its own. If the moose seems to be causing trouble or becomes a potential danger to itself or others, call the local authorities and they will drive it away safely.

To read more about moose and moose encounters visit The Elusive Moose.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

19 September 2006

Pine Trees on the Coast

When I was growing up in Colorado, the mountains were full of pine trees of all shapes and sizes. Whenever we visited our relatives in Texas, we went to the beach in Galveston and there wasn't a pine tree in site - only a few palm trees. Consequently, I always associated pine trees with the mountains only - never the ocean. They seemed like they always belonged worlds apart.

When I moved to Maine, I was shocked to drive through a thick pine forest and watch it open up to a stunning view of the Atlantic ocean. In many places, the pines grow right on the edge of the ocean inlets, providing a rich contrast of crystal clear water and dark green woodlands.

Over the weekend, we spent some time at the Sherwood Forest Campsites which was the perfect example of this whole pine tree/ocean paradox. Sherwood Forest is set in a serene forest of pines that makes visitors feel as though they are deep in the mountains; yet Pemaquid Beach is just a short walk away. A gentle trail through the woods takes walkers to the shores of the rocky Maine coast and the white sands of the beach without leaving the pines far behind.

The waters off the Maine coast are frigid, even in the summer, and as we're bordering on autumn, our feet became numb very quickly as we waded in the surf. Yet the sun and sand were warm, and the fall breezes hadn't yet taken hold.

Although part of me will always associate pine trees with mountains that are thousands of miles from the ocean shore, I've come to love the thick pine forests on the shores of Maine's coast. I guess you could say it's the best of both worlds.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

14 September 2006

Maine's Upcoming Foliage Show

My good friend Leanne lives in California, and like me, runs a website for her home state called All Info About California. We often enjoy comparing notes about our very different homes; sometimes it feels as though we live in different countries rather than states, what with the differences in weather, climate, lifestyle, pace, and even time on the clock.

This morning Leanne sent me an article on the upcoming fall foliage for which New England is famous. You can view the article HERE. The good news is that it seems our upcoming fall foliage show is going to be a doozy here in Maine.

According to Maine's official Fall Foliage Website, color is just officially beginning in the northern parts of the state, while along the coast, it is still only sporadic at best. I live only a few miles from the coast and I've seen a few leaves changing here and there; especially the maples right in town.

Now is definitely the time to visit Maine, or to enjoy an outdoor excursion if you're a local. Visit All Info About Maine Foliage for a bunch of ideas about fun things to do, places to go, and things to see.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

11 September 2006

Remembering September 11

On September 11, 2001, when we turned on our televisions and watched in horror as the World Trade Center Fell, as the Pentagon burned from a gaping hole in its side, and as a plane went down in Pennsylvania, we in Maine did not know the extent of what was going on. In our tiny, quiet towns, we wondered if the planes were going to come our way, if our water supply was safe, and if there were bombs in the schools.

Like everyone across the country that fateful morning, we in Maine suffered with all our fellow Americans. Most of us either lost someone in the attacks, or knew others who lost someone. Many of us turned to God during our time of fear and pain. We all put small American flags on the bumpers and antennae of our cars, we prayed together, and we were glued to the television, watching all the horror, the speculation, the updates, and the horror again... and again.

Today, five years later, in many ways, the country has moved on. The seasons still come and go, tourists visit Maine each year, traffic gets snarled, houses are built, new babies are born, and school starts on schedule every fall. Some of us still go to church, but many of us no longer feel the need. Yet, we all lost loved ones in the attacks, whether or not we knew them. We all lost fellow Americans - fellow mothers and fathers, fellow school children, fellow workers, and fellow heroes.

Today my prayer is that Americans, and the world, take pause to remember the lives lost that fateful day, and the God who gave us comfort in our time of need. September 11, 2001 brought us together as a nation, it changed our world forever, and we must not forget.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

07 September 2006

It's Fair Season in Maine

Recently at the Windsor Fair, Bill Clark, a Mainer from Bristol, took home the winning prize for pumpkin growing thanks to a 613 pounder he'd been painstakingly growing all summer.

Fans will be interested to know, however, that Bill Clark's pumpkin growing season isn't over yet. On September 24, the Cumberland County Fair will host the state pumpkin weigh-off and Mr. Clark has another pumpkin growing that could very well break the state record of 1114 pounds.

Stop by the Cumberland County Fair on the 24th to see who takes home the prize, and to see if the state record falls to Mr. Clark!

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

01 September 2006

Stephen King would be Proud

Perhaps many of you have been keeping tabs on the story about the "mystery beast" found dead near Turner, Maine, just north of Lewiston.

Apparently, for more than a decade, Androscoggin County residents have reported seeing and hearing a mysterious animal that screams in the night, frightens people with its glowing eyes, and attacks and kills pets. This mystery beast has been blamed for the death of a Doberman and a Rottweiler in recent years.

Many theories, both rational and outlandish, have been formed to try to explain the beast. From the possibility of a mixed-breed dog, a hyena, or a Tasmanian devil, to it being half cat and half dog, or even half rodent and half dog. Whatever it was, Mainers were freaked out, to say the least.

Then, in mid August, an unusual animal was found dead near some power lines along Route 4, apparently having been hit by a car. The beast that was found had a bushy tail, short ears and a short snout, blue eyes, fangs that hung out over its lips, and it weighed about 50 pounds. Residents and town officials were quite certain that this might be the mystery beast.

Now, DNA tests have proven that the animal found in Turner was, indeed, a canine. Feel free to read all about it at MaineToday.com.

Still, I have to say, I'm disappointed. I sort of like the idea of a mystery beast. Maine is known for being the setting for so many of Stephen King’s chilling tales, and this critter that was found on the roadside might not be what’s been wreaking havoc all these years.

Maybe the real beast is still out there… somewhere… Don't we owe it to Stephen King to at least keep it open as a possibility?

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes