A Journey for Miss Ruby, Chapter Four: Tall Ships on Casco Bay


Miss Ruby on board The Wendameen, July 5, 2018

After a busy morning seeing all the lighthouses, Ruby and her family rushed back to the hotel just in time to catch the shuttle bus to downtown Portland. The bus was definitely the way to get there because there would be nowhere to park the Salsa Red Pearl van. The bus driver was from Boston Massachusettes and now lives in Portland Maine. Miss Jennie told him the story about the coin flip to name the new (in 1845) Oregon town Boston or Portland. Then he said, “That is a fabulous story! I’m going to tell it to my friends!”


“What do you mean I have to share!”

Once they were in Portland, there was plenty of time to have lunch at Flatbread Company, right beside the dock where the big ferry boats chugged in and out of the bay. The oven fired pizza was delicious, but Ruby liked her bottle of Maine Root Blueberry soda best of all.


One of the ferry boats on Casco Bay


Then they went out to the dock where the schooners were moored to get their boarding passes. Ruby was so excited about going on the ship, she could hardly be still in line. “I thought a schooner was a wagon that took people on the Oregon Trail to Oregon and California,” she said. Miss Jennie told her that she was right; Prairie Schooners did roll across the prairies on the Oregon Trail. Those wagons were smaller than the great Conestoga wagons, and with their white canvas covers or bonnets, they looked, from a distance, like smaller tall masted schooner ships, sailing across a sea of grasses.


Timberwind (1931) in Casco Bay as seen from Wendameen, July 5, 2018

The Portland Schooner Company sails three tall masted schooners for two hour tours and charter trips. Ruby and her family would sail on Wendameen, the oldest of the three ships. “Goody, goody, I like old things,” said Ruby. Wendameen is a two-masted schooner, built in 1912 by the noted naval architect John G. Alden, and is 67 feet in length. She is the 21st recreational schooner built by Alden, and is one of the oldest to have survived. She sailed on the Great Lakes for 20 years, then languished on land until 1985 when she was fully restored and began her life of “windjamming” cruises in Maine. Wendameen¬†was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.


Wendameen (Stock Photo)


Miss Ruby at the helm of Wendameen

When Ruby leaped on board Wendameen from the dock, she went right to the helm. “Can I steer?” Then the captain came aboard and said to her, “What kind of voodoo is this?” Ruby just looked at him with big eyes and said, “No voodoo, sir. I’m just Miss Jennie’s travel companion.” That seemed to satisfy the captain, and he paid her no more mind on the cruise.

They followed Bagheera as Wendameen’s motor pushed them away from the dock. Then they were in the bay and the sails were unfurled by the two-woman crew. What a lovely evening to be out on the water on a tall masted ship!


Portland skyline from Wendameen on Casco Bay


Miss Jennie especially loved being on this historic tall ship, and sailing! (Photo by Dave Stewart)

There were lots of things to see out on the bay. There was a Civil War fort named “Fort Gorges” that is on an island, and they could see the other two schooners, Timberwind and Bagheera, sailing around the bay. Ruby looked and looked at the varnished wood, tall masts, sails, and rigging, on the ship she was on. She was amazed at how the crew members climbed right onto the mast to adjust the sail! “I want to do that!” she said. “Can I have a schooner for my birthday?”


Octagonal shaped Fort Gorges, finished in 1864. No troops were ever stationed there because it was obsolete before it was completed, being replaced by iron clad ships and long-range guns.


Bagheera (1924), as seen from Wendameen


Spring Point Ledge Light as seen from Wendameen


The captain and one of two crew members aboard Wendameen, July 5, 2018 (Photo by Dave Stewart)


Mast and rigging, Wendameen

Ruby was sad as the sun sank lower and Wendameen followed Bagheera back toward the dock. She thought she could sail aboard a tall ship for days and days. This had certainly been an experience that she would remember for all of her life.


When Ruby was home again, she took out her copy of Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, which is a Newbery Honor high adventure story about a tall masted ship and a 19th century girl who sailed on her. This helped keep Ruby’s sailing adventure alive for her.

This beautiful Thursday evening had been the perfect time for Ruby’s sailing adventure. Now it was time for dinner (grilled scallops! Yum!) and another cozy night at the hotel. The morning would bring rain–the perfect day for shopping!

To be continued . . .

Nautical girl antique print

So much to sea!


A Journey for Miss Ruby, Chapter Three: Four Lovely Lighthouses


Miss Ruby at Portland Headlight Lighthouse, Cape Elizabeth, Maine on July 5th, 2018

The hotel room had a soft bed with lots of pillows for resting on. Everyone woke up in time to have a delicious and nourishing breakfast, including custom-made omelets made by Max, the professional omelet chef. Most of Ruby’s family appreciated coffee to start the morning, but Ruby declined.


Ruby liked the stack of soft pillows, too.

This would be a full day of touring, including visiting three lighthouses in Portland, and a schooner cruise! The first thing that Ruby noticed along the seacoast was the wild beach roses. Unlike the cultivated roses in Portland Oregon, the petals of these roses grew in a single layer around the flower. They were bright and beautiful with the sun on them.


Beach roses at Portland Lighthouse

A little way down the path, though, the roses were all but forgotten as the most iconic lighthouse in the world came into view!


Such a clear, sunny, day, the sailboats don’t need the light right now.

Portland Head Light was first lit on January 10, 1791. It is taller now than it was then, and no longer burns whale oil as did the original 16 lamps in its tower. Ruby had to look up and up and up to see the top.

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Miss Jennie enjoyed walking all around the lighthouse park just as much as Ruby did.


Miss Jennie at Portland Headlight, July 5, 2018

After looking at seaglass earrings and a whale shaped mirror in the gift shop, it was just a short drive to the next lighthouse, the Springlight.


Spring Point Ledge Light in South Portland Maine, constructed in 1897


This is what the breakwater looks like with the gaps between the stones. (Photo by Dave Stewart)

Spring Point Ledge Light in South Portland Maine,¬†constructed in 1897, is listed on the national register of historic places. It is called a sparkplug lighthouse because it’s structure rests on a concrete or metal caisson. People can walk out to it on the breakwater made up of very large stones with big gaps between them. Ruby decided to just look from the shore.


Portland Breakwater Lighthouse with Corinthian columns

The third lighthouse that Ruby visited that morning was the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, which is also called The Buglight. Built in 1875 of curved cast iron plates, it is decorated with six Corinthian columns. Its design was inspired by the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens, Greece.

Ruby was quiet and thoughtful in the van after visiting these lighthouses and learning about their history. Before leaving Maine on saturday, she visited one more lighthouse with Miss Jennie.


The Cape Neddick Light or the “Nubble” at York, Maine

Driving south to return to Connecticut was more summertime splendor as they meandered past Old Orchard Beach and Wells Beach. The sun was beginning its late descent in the summer sky as they pulled into the lot at Cape Neddick. They felt fortunate to find a parking spot. The nearby ice cream shop was just as popular as the lighthouse on this day! Cape Neddick Light, also known as the “Nubble,” was built in 1879 at York, Maine, and is still in use today. It is on an island which can be reached by boat or by cable car.


Miss Ruby’s artwork of “Portland Headlight” by Kris Kristiansen

Lighthouses, as Ruby learned, have a very important purpose to protect ships by warning them to stay far enough away from the coastline, which can be dangerous for them. She would have much to contemplate and share with the other dolls when she returned home. Yet the adventures of this vacation Thursday were just beginning, for Ruby had booked passage on The Wendameen, a 1912 schooner with tall masts and sails!

To be continued . . .

Blake Henry Lighthouse Keeper nantucket museum

Blake Henry, Lighthouse Keeper. Nantucket Museum

A Journey for Miss Ruby, Chapter Two: Independence Day at Ogunquit, Maine



Miss Ruby at Perkins Cove, Maine

At the airport, Ruby was excited to see the jet planes from the big airport windows. She watched as the plane she would board was fueled with a long hose and had luggage loaded. Once on the plane, she asked for a window seat so that she could see all that was happening.


During the hours of the flight, Ruby asked Miss Jennie about where they were going and what they would do there. She thought it was rather funny that they were leaving Portland Oregon on the West Coast, then would be at Portland Maine on the East Coast. Miss Jennie told her a story about the founding of Portland Oregon, which was named in 1845: One man (Asa Lovejoy) who founded this new town was from Boston Massachusetts, and the other founder (Francis Pettygrove) was from Portland Maine. Each man wanted to name the new town after his home town. They flipped a coin to decide, and “Portland” was the winning name. So, Portland Oregon is named after Portland Maine.


Perkins Cove looking out to sea

The plane landed in Connecticut late at night, and Ruby was glad to find a bed ready for her at Uncle David and Aunt Lynn’s house. When she woke up the next morning, it was Independence Day! That day they drove in the Salsa Red Pearl van to Ogunquit Maine and Perkins Cove. The cove was beautiful with many pristine boats, and a drawbridge to let the boats in and out of the bay.


The open drawbridge at Perkins cove with sun setting behind it (Photo by Dave Stewart)


Miss Ruby on The Marginal Way, Perkins Cove

After looking in some of the shops at seashell art, mugs with lobsters and mermaids on them, and sweatshirts in pretty colors that were way too big for Ruby, they walked on The Marginal Way along the Atlantic Ocean. Ruby took a rest to contemplate the beautiful landscape around her while she waited for twilight. Then, the fireworks took Ruby’s breath away!

Fireworks as seen from The Marginal Way

Fireworks from The Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine (borrowed image)

When all was quiet again and all the people walked back along The Marginal Way to their cars, Ruby and her family left, too. They drove to Portland, Maine where they had a very late dinner, and had a snuggly bed waiting for them in a hotel there. It had been a most satisfying day. Time for a good sleep in preparation for more fun on the morrow.

. . . To be continued

Pictorial Map Perkins Cove




A Journey for Miss Ruby, Chapter One: Preparations


“Hooray!” Ruby shouted, and clapped her hands. She was going on a journey! And this was to be a very special journey, all the way from the Pacific Northwest where she lives, to Connecticut in New England, which is the land of her birth. She tried on so many outfits deciding what to pack, that she hurt her arm and had to have stitches! She was a brave girl. It didn’t hurt much and all was well again.


Miss Ruby is a great girl now, almost five years old. Her friend, Miss Jennie, has helped her find many pretty dresses, bonnets, and coats that are her size. She couldn’t take them all! She is packing play dresses for the beach, pretty dresses for outings and visiting, bonnets to protect her from summer sun, and of course a teddy bear, a rag doll, and a book for long hours travelling. She is a little nervous about riding in an airplane, and has lots of questions. “Did you ride in an airplane when you were five?” she asks Miss Jennie. “Not a jet plane,” Jennie replies, “But my Daddy did take me flying in a little two-seater plane when I was six. Our car below, and the people, looked like toys from up in the air!”


Then, one morning, it was time to go. Ruby put on her travel coat, shawl, and straw hat. She said goodbye to all the dolls in her room who would stay behind. Then, rag doll and suitcase in hand, she was on her way!

This story that Miss Ruby would like to share with you about her travels this summer will come in chapters. She appreciates your patience in waiting for the “serial” chapters because Miss Jennie is not taking a computer along. May you enjoy summer adventures of your own until Miss Ruby adds more chapters to her story.


This is an antique family photo taken by my grandmother in 1926. The man is my grandfather, who I never met because he died when my father was young. The little boy is my father.