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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Secret Jewel of the Seas

I woke up this morning to the sound of an unfamiliar foghorn, a deep one singly sounded, unlike the Owls Head Light horn that is higher in tone and occurs in doublets. It took a few fuzzy minutes to realize what it must have been. Rockland would be graced today, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, by a visit from a Caribbean-style cruise ship, 962 feet in length and 5,000 feet in passengers.
I looked out the window to see if it was out there, cruising up the bay from Portland and Boston - could barely see the water, let alone a fantasy.
Calmly, I went about my morning routine, even though this was the biggest THING TO HAPPEN IN ROCKLAND IN YEARS. After lunch (since I was going to town anyway for books and food), I thought I'd just see what's what. The fog had lifted slightly in OH but it turned out to be worse in Rockland, an occurrence itself worth a press release. No large white thing anchored near the breakwater could be seen. Good - I wasn't sure I was ready for Rockland's future. But of course it was there, just secreted away in the fog, and the town was full of its passengers.

Random observations, overheard conversations, and sights from walking through town:
  • A brass band greeted the cruisers as the shuttles landed, to scattered applause.
  • Lots of people and conveyances in Harbor Park, tour buses, the town trolleys from the Lobster Festival, taxis, Chamber of Commerce folks, all flocking together to provide interesting ways to relieve the tourists of their money.
  • The Rockland Cafe must have been well-written up in the hand-outs - customers were lined down the street for lunch.
  • Lots of couples, lots of older couples.
  • Overheard:"The biggest sales opportunity of the year and I haven't sold a picture yet. But I'm not discouraged."
  • Overheard: lots of southern accents.
  • Overseen: lots of sweatshirts from Texas and Michigan.
  • A fair sprinkling of orange stickers signifying the purchase of an ticket to the Farnsworth, so not all shopping and eating (my vision of cruises).
  • Judging by the number of colorful plastic bags being carried around, the local merchants did well. There were as many as 2,500 opportunities, after all.
  • Watched the disembarking of a shuttle from the ship (very fancy shuttle, could have been an Amsterdam canal boat). The load looked like a bunch of normal Americans, coupled up, of course, and quite white, and a little older than your average mall crowd, but a surprising number of young folks and people of color, and even a few kids. Several wheelchairs brought up the rear.
A half hour of this was enough and I went to the library.
TJOTS supposed to be back next year. Did Rockland make grade? Did the stores make enough money? Was the fog to be judged quaint? Or yucky?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the fog was probably judged to be "quaint." After all, what's coastal Maine to tourists without some fog? And Bar Harbor already ordered the sun. So maybe Rockland will stand out. Who'da thunk it?