Monday, December 30, 2013

Surfing, York Harbor, and the Nubble

Just north of us, there are still people sitting in the dark tonight.  We are counting our blessings here in the Midcoast, knowing how lucky we are to be warm and with lights.  There was some ice here, and walking the dog was a bit tricky, but we strapped on the Yaktrax and suffered through.

Once it looked like we weren't going to lose power, we were off.  On Christmas Eve we headed down to Ipswich to spend the holiday with some friends.  Stopping in southern Maine was half the fun!  Our main goal was to find a dog-friendly beach for Dory, and we were up for some exploration.  Going south is fun because there are so many beaches to choose from -- York, Ogunquit, OOB, and on, and on.  There aren't too many sand beaches in Casco Bay; the glacier carried our sand away, leaving it to the south of here.  Time to go enjoy some of the glacier's leavings.
Rocks on Harbor Beach

I love this pic.  You can see the curved waves coming ashore.  Science!
Sea colander; Agarum nodosum.
Our first stop was Harbor Beach, a fine sand beach protected by offshore ledges.  The waves curved in from the Atlantic and broke gently on the beach.  Dory had a terrific time here -- not only is the beach dog-friendly; it's an off-leash beach, as long as your dog is under voice control and stays away from walkers.  We had a good chat with a local, who said the dog-police will come and actually ask you if you have a bag, and issue a ticket if you don't carry bags.  I'm thinking that's overkill, but if that's what it takes to let my dog have a little run, so be it.  (Also, I always have a giant roll of bags anyways, so bring it, dog-doo cops.)  Unfortunately parking at the beach is limited to town residents only, but there's plenty of parking up on 1A. 

An icy temptation.
We thought to check out the Cliff Walk, which has been a source of controversy lately in York.  You may know I'm a huge fan of organizations that protect public access to our coastline, and I recently visited Marginal Way in Ogunquit and Giant Steps in Harpswell; both amazing resources for the community.  The Cliff Walk, despite hundreds of years of use by residents and what appears to be notices on deeds regarding the Walk's public use, is under threat by a couple of waterfront home owners.  It will be interesting to see what happens; a group called the Friends of the Cliff Walk has raised $50,000 for possible legal action by the town of York, and it looks like the case of Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, currently under review, will greatly influence the future of York's Cliff Walk.

However, the Cliff Walk was pretty icy, and we had no proper foot wear for the situation.  So off we went to the Nubble.  I've just finished reading The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife, by Constance Small.  She served alongside her husband at lights from Eastport to Portsmouth, and occasionally they filled in for the vacationing keeper at the Nubble.  They were often photographed as part of the scenery, and she said she felt like a goldfish in a bowl.  Understandable; even on a cold December day, there were plenty of tourists photographing the light from Sohier Park.

Nubble light.  I'll be back.
 On our way south we stopped for a moment at Long Sands Beach.  When I used to teach middle school in coastal North Carolina, I learned how devoted surfers are.  Many of my students would get up at five in the morning to surf before class.  The surfers were out in force on Christmas Eve; suited up in wetsuits and making due with some pretty minimal waves.  But it was heartening to see them; in this time when so many Americans are couch potatoes, here were a group of people enjoying the ocean even under a grey winter sky.
Surfing is a year-round sport in Maine.
York Harbor history.
Where are we?
Clearing skies after the ice storm.
This is a bad photo, but those are Metridium senile anemones.
Our final stop was York Harbor, and the town docks.  These clearly stay in the water year round; a quick peek over the side revealed huge anemones -- Metridium senile -- lining the dock floats.  (Mental note; return in summer to see if there are nudibranchs.)  The docks are exceptionally well maintained, the result of the community's commitment to its fishermen.  It's really nice to see a place like this.  We also got a good look at the Fishermen's Walk and the Wiggly Bridge trail to Steedman Woods.  We'll save that for another day; this one had been full and we needed to make our way south.

To get there:  To get to Harbor Beach:  Take exit 7 and go south on US1.  Turn east on York Rd (US1A) and go 1.75; turn right on Harbor Beach Road.  The Nubble (Cape Neddick Light) and Long Sands Beach are north on 1A.  York Harbor can be accessed by turning south on Rt 103 from 1A.

1 comment :

  1. Excellent post Janet. I'm keeping tabs of the dog friendly beaches that you mention and tabs on the pending legal action regarding beach access. Sounding more and more like California..god..I hope not.. The book looks awesome..Happy New Year!