October 06, 2017

Day 3 Portland, ME

I wake before my alarm goes off at 6:00, shower and head to the buffet. It has just opened as is nearly empty. It is daylight out and the sun is just peeking above the horizon. The ship is still navigating towards our dock in Portland. The local forecast is for a high of about 60, what it will be on the top of Mt Washington is still a guess. I pack my jackets, camera, phone and a bottle of water and head to the theater, our gathering spot for the excursion. As soon as the ship is docked we head to our bus. I am the first passenger off the ship. The bus awaits several hundred yards away, it is nearly full and I settle in to a window seat on the driver side of the bus. I expect this will put the sun behind me for any pictures taken along our drive.

Mt Washington is over 2 ½ hours away. W run into heavy traffic due to a local county fair. The tour guide is getting very nervous as the train is unlikely to wait for us if we are late.

We arrive with less than 15 minutes to spare. Everyone is given a box lunch and we make our way to the waiting train car. Each engine hauls, or more accurately pushes, only one car up the mountain. Each car holds 75 passengers, there are no extra seats. Three trains travel together, one behind the other. About half way up, we switch to a siding to pass three similar one car trains coming down the mountain.

Once at the top we have about an hour for our lunch and to do our "tourist" thing. The temperature is in the forties, and the wind under 20 miles per hour, much more pleasant than it might have been. We hear that a few days ago the train couldn't run because sustained winds were in excess of 90 mph. Trains can only run providing the wind is under 70.

Visibility is about 90 miles. Unfortunately we are a little early and the fall foliage is just beginning to change color. There are hiking trails to the mountain top, and also a toll road for those that want to drive.

The cog railway is privately owned. They design and manufacture all their own equipment including coaches, engines and motorized turnouts, several of which are powered by solar panels. The engines are bio diesel powered diesel electric engines. The engines used are marine engines because the crankcase may be tilted as much as 37 degrees from horizontal. Not a problem for a marine engine, but disastrous for transportation engines.

After our 45 minute ride down the mountain, and time to view the museum we board our coach to return to the ship. We arrive about 10 minutes before our ship's scheduled departure time.

I am very happy to report that passenger behavior was very mature, and everyone was back to the bus and seated on time. The tour guide thanked everyone for being on time.

As we leave port, the captain announces that he will be rotating the ship 360 degrees to calibrate the compass. I experienced this manuver one other time, I think in Australia.

I get a drink in the Diamond Lounge and head to the dining room. Jackie and Michael were good company and we made plans to meet in the dining room for dinner. A few minutes after I arrive, Michael arrives and sits for a few minutes. They had stuffed themselves with lobster in Portland late in the afternoon and could not eat any more. He apologizes.

My service is very efficient tonight, and the entire dining room seems be be functioning as it should. I go to the concierge lounge for a club soda and conversation after dinner and then retire to my cabin.

Tomorrow is a tender day in Rockland, ME. I do not have an excursion but will get off the ship for a few hours.

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