A lobster cruise: The luckiest catch in Maine | CNN Travel

cnn travel story
Portland, Maine (CNN) — Captain Tom Martin turns the handle that draws up the lobster trap sitting on the ocean floor 45 feet below the surface to see what he can see.

It’s a guessing game every time: Will it be big enough — but not too big — to keep? Will it be a pregnant female, which he can’t keep?

“It’s easy to get hooked on it,” Martin says. “I’ve been doing this for 33 years, and I still enjoy going out to pick up the traps and seeing what’s inside. It’s like playing a slot machine — you never know what’s going come up in the trap.”

Martin, the owner of Lucky Catch Cruises of out of Portland, Maine, will only catch a few lobsters on this fall day at traps he and his crew have lowered into Casco Bay after passing by the 1890s-era Spring Point Ledge Light and Fort Gorges, a Civil War-era fort. His traps are within view of Portland Head Light, a working lighthouse first lit in 1791.

When many people think of Maine, those iconic lobsters he’s pulling up in traps immediately come to mind.

There are endless ways to enjoy Maine’s favorite crustacean on a visit to the Pine Tree State, whether it’s the Lobster Shack at Two Lights, lobster done fancy at Eventide Oyster Co. or any of the dozens of lobster shacks along the coastline.

But it all comes back to the lobstermen and women who catch lobsters year-round, harvesting a record 130 million pounds of lobster worth $533 million in 2016, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

Read the rest of this story and for video and more photos.

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Our View: President Trump’s anti-opioid proposal falls far short of need | Portland Press Herald

Easing the grip of opioid addiction on our state and our country will take commitment, time, compassion, science-based policymaking and a lot of new federal money. President Trump’s declaration this week that the crisis is a public health emergency fails to bring these resources to bear against an epidemic that’s taking 142 American lives every day.

Trump has long promised to make the addiction crisis his focus. His pledge to take action is credited with helping put him over the top during the New Hampshire presidential primary, and he pressed the issue in Maine, too, telling a Bangor crowd just weeks before the election that “we will not only stop the drugs from pouring in, but we will help all of those people so seriously addicted get the assistance they need to unchain themselves.”

But although he vowed Thursday “to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” the fine print in his plan doesn’t back up his promises.

The public health emergency is in effect for only 90 days. It unlocks an emergency fund currently worth only $57,000. And it will allow the federal government to waive some regulations, shift some existing grant money from HIV patients to those fighting addiction, and expand the use of telemedicine treatment.

So while the plan to fight an ongoing epidemic that killed over 64,000 Americans last year does take some commendable – if small – steps, it has a built-in expiration date. More importantly, and tellingly, it’s getting no new federal money – and the long-term funding forecast for federal anti-opioid efforts is similarly bleak.

Read the rest of this editorial.

82-year-old man becomes oldest person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail | The Washington Post via the Bangor Daily News

There was a moment back in August when Dale “Grey Beard” Sanders considered giving up.

In the middle of the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine, far from help, he was bleeding internally and having heart palpitations – not surprising considering that he was 50 or 60 years older than most of the people he had met on the Appalachian Trail.

Sanders called his wife in Bartlett, Tennessee, and she urged him to keep going. With a go-ahead from his doctors, he did, and on Thursday, Sanders, 82, officially became the oldest person to hike the entire 2,190-mile trail in a year.

He walked much of it alone, but for the last mile, ending at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Sanders was joined by friends, family and hikers – including a pair of dogs – he had met along the trail.

At the end of it, he danced a jig.

“I feel euphoric!” he said. “I keep thinking, is someone going to come out of the woodwork and say, ‘Uh-uh, I hiked it last year . . . and I was 83′ – but no one has stepped up and said that.”

“Someone said to me, ‘You can’t do it, the only way an old person’s going to be able to hike the Appalachian Trail is if they’ve hiked it before.’ That challenged me.”

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Your tiny house dream could be a scratch ticket away thanks to the Maine Lottery | Bangor Daily News

As the phenomena of tiny houses gains popularity, they seem to be popping up everywhere, including on the newest Maine State Lottery’s scratch ticket game.

Now through Dec. 9, for $5 anyone can buy a chance at winning their very own custom-built tiny house prize valued at $87,143 including state and federal taxes as part of the lottery’s “Tiny Homes, Big Wins” game.

Not a bad return on a $5 home investment. If you win, that is.

“The Maine Lottery is always looking for ways to make our games fun and exciting for players,” said Michael Boardman, director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations lottery division. “We were looking for something different that would be fun and relevant in today’s culture and we thought that a tiny home was a perfect fit.”

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Hiking in the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge

San Joaquin NWR 2.5

I went for a hike last weekend at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge near Vernalis west of Modesto. It’s part of the San Luis NWR Complex, which includes the San Luis NWR, Merced NWR, San Joaquin River NWR, and Grasslands Wildlife Management Area. The “trail” is bit banal – very wide, very flat and appears to also serve as the utility road for refuge maintenance.

The trail is only 4 miles long and not much of a challenge or particularly interesting. Consumnes River Preserve north of Lodi is more interesting. Then again, the track at San Joaquin River NWR is a nature trail built with the average person in mind. Families with children might like it and the terrain won’t stress people who aren’t at peak fitness.

I did see some nature on the nature trail – egrets, herons, wood ducks of some kind (could have been the Aleutian Cackling geese, actually), small birds of various types, potato patch butterflies, dragonflies and other small creatures. I’ll probably return in the spring when things are a bit greener; the fall has made everything brown and dull green.

From the San Joaquin River website:

Established in 1987, the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge is 7,000 acres in size and located in California’s Stanislaus County. The Refuge is situated where three major rivers (Tuolumne, Stanislaus and San Joaquin) join in the San Joaquin Valley, creating a mix of habitats that provide ideal conditions for high wildlife and plant diversity. The Refuge was initially established primarily to protect and manage habitat for the Aleutian cackling goose – a federally listed endangered species at that time. Today, the Refuge is managed with a focus on migratory birds and endangered species. The Refuge is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System which consists of over 500 refuges and forms the largest network of public lands in the world managed principally for fish and wildlife.

#hike #gooutside #getoutdoors #getupandmove #hiking #outdoors#fitnesswalking #fitnessing #SanJoaquinRiverNWR

Here are a few more photos from the hike:

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Susan Collins says Trump’s move to end Obamacare subsidies hurts ‘vulnerable people’ | Bangor Daily News

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday that she is “very concerned” about President Donald Trump’s decision to stop payments to health insurers used to hold down insurance costs for low- and middle-income Americans.

“What the president is doing is affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care right now,” Collins, the senior senator from Maine, said during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trump announced Friday that he would “immediately” halt payments to insurers, known as “ cost sharing reductions,” under the Affordable Care Act, a move hailed by many conservative groups but criticized by health care and consumer groups.

Before his Friday announcement, Trump took to Twitter to blast the paymentsas “subsidies” to insurers: “The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!”

Collins challenged the president’s characterization of the payments as a “windfall” to insurers.

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Our View: Collins’ presence needed to contain Trump’s chaos | Portland Press Herald

Sen. Susan Collins could not have picked a better moment to announce her decision to forgo a race for governor and continue serving in the United States Senate.

Just as she was walking the members of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rockport through her analysis of the problems in our health care system, President Trump was in Washington trying to make that system fail.

The contrast was stark. Collins was talking about ways to make the system better while Trump was looking for leverage, no matter who gets hurt along the way. It should be obvious to everyone why Maine and the nation need an independent-minded Republican like Collins in Washington to block the administration’s dangerous excesses and, when possible, forge pragmatic deals that keep the country moving forward.

Trump’s moves on health care last week expose his approach to policy-making and a shocking disregard for the millions of people who stand to lose health coverage because of his desire to put pressure on his opponents.

In an executive order signed Thursday, Trump opened the door to insurance companies to sell low-cost plans across state lines. While that might sound good, it’s not. The premiums are less expensive because the plans don’t cover much. A young, healthy person who doesn’t expect to get sick or injured might be willing to take the risk, but these are exactly the people needed in the insurance pool to spread costs. If the only people who buy state-regulated health insurance are the ones who are most likely to make a claim, the premiums will go sky high, and many people will be forced to drop coverage. And to make sure that happens sooner, rather than later, Trump announced with a tweet that he would unilaterally end subsidies that help insurance companies cover out-of-pocket costs for lower-income plan members. That will also drive premiums up, and force people to drop coverage.

Creating chaos in the health insurance markets might deliver some short-term political advantage for Trump, but it won’t get more people covered by decent comprehensive health insurance.

Read the rest of this editorial.

About 70,000 low-income Mainers await crucial state vote on expanding Medicaid | Portland Press Herald

By Joe Lawlor

LEWISTON — Donna Wall sprinted into the night, newspaper in hand and pointy elbows flapping at right angles from her sides. She made her way to the back porch of one of the 160 customers on her delivery route.

It was 2 a.m. on a weekday in October, but it could be any day of the year, as Wall’s only day off is Christmas.

She slipped back into her red Nissan Versa – Sly and the Family Stone playing on the car radio – and laughed ruefully. She wore a blue and white football jersey that said “Meet Me in the Tropics.” Did she get her shirt on a cruise?

“Ha! I wish,” Wall said as she put her car in park, grabbed another Sun Journal and ran into an apartment complex.

Wall is one of about 70,000 Mainers who stand to benefit from Medicaid expansion, which is on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Conservatives like Republican Gov. Paul LePage are steadfastly against Medicaid expansion, while liberals and all major health care groups, such as groups representing hospitals, doctors and nurses, are arguing in favor of expansion.

The vote matters personally for people in Wall’s circumstances.

Wall, 60, is uninsured, and she worries about how long she can keep doing what she’s doing before she falls ill.

“I work nonstop. That’s all I do. I don’t have a life. I don’t hardly even have adult conversations,” said Wall, who lives nearby in a modest apartment.

Read the rest of this story.

Collins says Trump is keeping vulnerable Americans from getting health care | Portland Press Herald

Fresh from her announcement Friday that she intends to stay in the Senate and forgo a run for governor, Sen. Collins went on national television Sunday morning to continue to push her moderate stance on health care reform and advise President Trump to mind his words.

Collins made apperances on CNN’s “State of the Nation” news show  with host Jake Tapper and ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

Seeming to take new relish in her role as the voice of the Republican moderate, Collins used her appearances to advise President Trump to be careful with his language and lend support for Trump’s decision not to re-certify the Iran nuclear agreement while tip toeing around other questions.

The CNN show focused on Trump’s attempts last week to undo two cornerstone policies of the Obama years, the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal. She followed an appearance by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who defended Trump’s decision not to certify the Iran agreement over nuclear arms development and throw the issue to Congress.

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Stop LePage from ripping up Maine’s job training system | Bangor Daily News

By The Bangor Daily News Editorial Board

On Friday, Sept. 8, Joanna Russell’s cell phone rang while she was on vacation in New York. It was a courtesy call from the Maine Department of Labor that the state would no longer be participating in an approximately $9-million-per-year program that helps people get the skills they need for work that’s available in their area.

As the executive director of the board in Bangor that convenes all the different organizations and businesses necessary to make workforce development actually work in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Hancock, Aroostook and Washington counties, the word that Russell kept returning to was “crisis.”

If Maine withdrew from the program, which is entirely funded with federal money, it would have an immediate effect. Unemployed people would have to stop their job training programs in the coming weeks, as money for tuition ran out. A couple thousand low-income adults, laid-off workers and struggling youth each year would no longer receive free, personalized help with learning a marketable skill. Education providers would lose funding and students. The infrastructure supporting the programs would collapse.

Rob Moreau, 33, is one of the hundreds of people currently receiving services who would lose them. He is attending college to become an X-ray technician after he was laid off from Home Depot. The workforce program pays for his tuition and child care for his 1-year-old daughter. If the funding goes away, he and his wife, Shelby, who works full time, will be left scrambling to find ways to pay for Moreau’s training, while also paying their many other bills.

“This is a crisis. It’s a crisis for our job seekers and businesses in the state right now,” Russell said soon after receiving the news that Gov. Paul LePage had alerted the federal government that Maine was willing to lose millions of dollars that flow through the Maine Department of Labor to three regional workforce development boards, which are led by local businesses.

It is also an unnecessary crisis. LePage has tried twice in his tenure to eliminate the regional boards in favor of one statewide board. When the federal government denied his most recent request — based on the reason that he didn’t have the local boards’ support — he responded with this scheme to simply not fund them.

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Acadia National Park considering purchase of iconic MDI lighthouse | Bangor Daily News

Ownership of the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island could be changing hands if officials at Acadia National Park choose to accept the picturesque landmark from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Christie Anastasia, public affairs specialist at Acadia, said many visitors to the lighthouse already assume it’s part of the park since it is surrounded by federal land and frequently pictured in advertisements featuring the park.

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Maine Archaeologists Find Evidence of Historic English Fort | Assocated Press

BRISTOL, Maine (AP) — Archaeologists in Maine say they have uncovered possible evidence of the first fort at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site.

The Portland Press Herald reports archaeologists concluded a two-week dig at the site on Friday. Archaeologists were searching for evidence of England’s Fort Charles. The fort was built in 1677 and later destroyed by French and Native American forces.

The group says they found potential “post holes,” flint and musket balls in the area.

Read the rest of the story.

Read the longer version in the Portland Press Herald.

 

 

A Perfect Weekend Away in Southern Maine | Vogue

Ellen Leduc

When most people think of Maine, the first things that come to mind are the foods with which the state is practically synonymous: lobster and blueberries. Then the mind might wander a bit to visions of quaint coastal towns, rolling Atlantic waves, and dense forests with their heady scent of pine mixed with fresh sea air. And while Maine is certainly these things, it has so much more to offer, especially in Portland and its surrounding towns. Portland was once thought to simply be a small, weather-worn costal city playing second fiddle to big shots like Boston, but this has thankfully changed. This gem of a city is now a major destination for those looking for incredible food, small-batch breweries with cult followings, and amazing independent shops that will tempt you to blow your weekend budget in a ten-minute period. And if Portland isn’t enough, the rest of southern Maine presents ample attractions like cute costal towns and hikes offering vistas that make breaking a sweat very worthwhile.

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Bangor to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day | Bangor Daily News

The city of Bangor on Monday night became the second city in Maine and among a few dozens of U.S. cities to vote to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day on the second Monday in October.

The resolve to that end, which was approved in a unanimous vote, came at the request from members of the Penobscot Nation, whose Tribal Council member Maulian Dana Smith led the effort.

Supporters of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Maine and other parts of the nation have said that honoring Columbus essentially glorifies colonization, racism and genocide.

“We are so excited for the work and the communication and the unity it has taken to get up to this point,” Smith said after the vote.

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Stalking Stephen King in Bangor, the world capital of horror | Independent

[Note: Can tell Mr. MacLeacheran must be “from away,” because he writes in the third paragraph the “northern Maine town of Bangor.” I was born and raised in The County. That’s northern Maine! I suppose we can all let it pass this time.]

By Mike MacLeacheran

“That’s where they found the eyeball in the fortune cookie,” says Stu Tinker, turning to point out a suburban Chinese restaurant from the window of his tour van. “Steve used to go with his wife Tabby to the Oriental Jade and it’s the inspiration for the scene in It. But you know he renamed it the Jade of the Orient, right?”

Stu Tinker is undeniably America’s biggest Stephen King fanboy, having owned a book shop for nine years that only sold titles by the horror author, and he’s once again stepped through the looking glass to chew over his favourite scene. It’s 9am on a dreary Saturday and we are sat in his van, the windscreen wipers adding a syncopated Psycho-like stab, while Stu obsesses over the devilish plot lines of It that lurk on the streets he grew up on.

The northern Maine town of Bangor is justifiably famous for its association with King, an author with more than 60 novels and close to 200 short stories, and it’s getting in the mood for two new film adaptations this summer. The first, The Dark Tower, starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, arrived last week while an updated version of his cult classic It (famous for Pennywise the clown, whose chuckling, rotten voice still scares the bejesus out of plenty of adults) is out next month. “The producers wanted to film the new It here,” says Stu, noticeably irritated. “But they couldn’t get the money together, so they shot in Ottawa instead. Still, Bangor is Derry.”

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Higgins Beach, Maine: Surfer’s Paradise In New England | offMetro.com

[NOTE: I’ve lived in California longer than I’ve lived in Maine, but the Pine Tree State runs like pine sap in my veins. And in all that time living in California, I’ve never learned to surf. Scared of the sharks, I suppose, or being driven into the ocean floor by a wave. But there’s surfing in Maine, too.]

Higgins Beach is just a few miles from Portland, but the surfer vibe is straight out of a Beach Boys song. Welcome to a laid-back coastal community loaded with yesteryear charm. Kids ride their bikes around town, surfers catch waves until night falls and the tides are a constant source of conversation. It’s an easy-breezy, ocean-studded getaway and an idyllic spot for a last summer hurrah or an autumn weekend by the Atlantic. This pocket-sized town is perfect for carefree, car-free travels.

Read the rest of the story and view a video.

LePage said 7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy. It was maybe 30. | Bangor Daily News’ State and Capitol blog

By Michael Shepherd

Calling himself “a history buff,” Gov. Paul LePage revised Civil War history as we know it in a Tuesday radio interview when discussing the racially charged violence in Virginia and saying “7,600 Mainers fought for the Confederacy.”

There is just a kernel of truth: Maine State Archivist David Cheever said that approximately 30 people are confirmed to have gone from Maine to the Confederacy, including students who left Bowdoin College in Brunswick and what is now Colby College in Waterville to fight, but they could have been from other parts of the country.

Maine’s history as one of the proudest Union states is well-documented. It sent about 73,000 people to war — a higher proportion than any other state — and more than 9,000 died, though there were some pockets of Southern sympathizers.

A few men with Maine ties became Confederate generals, including the Leeds-born Danville Leadbetterthe Avon-born Zebulon York and Josiah Gorgas, who controlled the Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta from 1856 to 1858.

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Maine jobless rate stays at a historic low as more look for work | Bangor Daily News

Dashboard of unemployment

Maine’s jobless rate remained below 4 percent in July, marking the second longest period at that level in more than four decades.

The Maine Department of Labor reported the preliminary estimate of Maine’s unemployment rate was 3.7 percent in July, up slightly from June and down from 4 percent one year earlier.

The slight uptick in Maine’s unemployment rate comes from a new diversion in the estimate of people looking for work and those with jobs, changes that could be due to the way those estimates are made and adjusted.

The latest figures estimate a dip in the number of employed people, while the estimate of the people looking for work has continued to grow. The unemployment rate is the share of those active job seekers who haven’t found work.

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The U.S. was formed around ideals, not a race or religion | Bangor Daily News

By George Mitchell

The statements by President Donald Trump regarding the events in Charlottesville were unwise and unfortunate, and represented a failure of leadership.

Most of the world’s nations were formed around homogeneous groups of people, in race or religion. The United States was formed around ideals. Set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they’re not easy to summarize. But surely they include:

The sovereignty of the people; the primacy of individual liberty; an independent judicial system under the rule of law; opportunity for every member of society; and equal rights and equal justice for all.

It is our commitment to these ideals that make us Americans, not our race, our religion, or our heritage.

When the United States was established, it had a small population clinging to the Atlantic coast. For most of our history we have received people from around the world to fill a vast continent where we created a new and free system of governance. Obviously we cannot now return to the days of open immigration. But we should and must respect all of our people, whatever their race, their religion, their background.

The angry, violent and supremacist views of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists must be categorically and unequivocally rejected by all Americans.

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LePage: Removing Confederate statues is like taking down 9/11 memorial | The Hill

[Note: LePage has been nearly as big an embarrassment as Trump. This proves it … again.]

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Thursday defended President Trump’s claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, comparing Confederate memorials to those put up to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

In an interview on WGAN radio in Portland, LePage accused counterdemonstrators of “trying to erase history” by calling for the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“I think what they are standing for is equally as bad. They are trying to erase history,” said LePage, a Republican and staunch Trump ally who has garnered a reputation for making controversial and inflammatory statements. “How can future generations learn if we’re going to erase history? That’s disgusting.

“Listen, whether we like it or not, this is what our history is,” he added. “And to me, it’s just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11. It will come to that.”

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