Snow Day in Portland

Recently Chris and I decided we’d take a day trip up to Portland, ME. It’s about a 2 hour drive from where we are and Chris just got a new car so he’d been dying to drive it around a bit.

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Not including a slight detour for some lunch, it took us about 2.5 hours to get there because what we thought was a snow sprinkle turned out to be windy, freezing rain for most of the day. But that didn’t deter us!

The way I like to experience a new place is to plan a few things ahead of time, but leave lots of flex room for walking around and changing my mind.

Chris and I were both a bit sleepy after lunch (thanks, pasta) so our first stop in Portland was Bard Coffee.

I got a standard coffee and Chris got a fancier one that they gave to him on a tray. The interior had a sort of minimalist vibe with high ceilings and simple furniture, which was balanced out by a really cool wallpaper print.

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They also had non-dairy milk available for no extra charge, which is always a plus in my book. The weather outside was more severe than it was in Boston so a hot coffee was just what we needed.

Word for the wise: don’t wear heeled booties to Portland in the winter. I didn’t even think twice about it when I left the house because there wasn’t a speck of snow on the ground in Boston but Portland had whole streets shut down because of the snow and ice.

After finding to our dismay that we would not be doing a walking tour of Portland, we got in the car and headed over to a place called The Holy Donut, which we were told by friends we couldn’t miss out on. Luckily, by the time we got there there were still some donuts left.

The donuts, which are made with potatoes, were unlike any I had tried before. It was somewhat later in the afternoon so the donuts had been sitting out for a number of hours and I didn’t want to set my expectations too high.  They were still amazing. I expected them to be hard and stale but they were a magnificent combination of fluffy and crispy.

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There were also some interesting flavors that I had never tried on a donut before. We got one of everything they had left: Churro, Maple, Lemon, Pomegranate, Chocolate, and Wild Berry. My favorite was the lemon. It didn’t have that super sweet lemon-like flavor, but more of a mouth puckering meringue taste.

The shop’s interior was very much no-frills with old coolers and furniture but it almost gave it an authentic old school feeling.

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Note my poor shoe choice

Our next stop was slightly outside Portland but was one Chris had been excited about all day: The Maine Beer Company. We were worried the tasting room would be closed because of the storm, like so many other places but we called ahead to make sure.

Maine Beer Co.’s Peeper Ale is a beer that I’ve only noticed in the Boston area in the last 8 months or so but it, along with other MBC beers have really become popular. Aside from having good, sustainable beer, Maine Beer Co. also donates a portion of its profits to environmental and animal charities, hence its slogan: “Do What’s Right”. A beer after my own heart, I tell ya.

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Chris and I wanted to try all of the beers so we decided to split their $18.00 variety flight. They had a few board games available to guests so Chris taught me Texas Hold Em while we sampled and read about the beer. Side note: You’ll never find me at a table in Vegas.

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We started to get hungry so we finished up and made a quick stop before heading to dinner at the LL Bean Store. I always knew LL Bean was from Maine so I was expecting a pretty big store. I was wrong. It was an entire LL Bean campus. There was every LL Bean product you could think of. Fortunately for my wallet, neither of us felt much like shopping so Chris snagged a quick picture with the boot and we headed out.

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Our last stop of the day was a highly recommended spot called Duckfat. It was a cozy little restaurant with craft sodas and awesome food. Chris and I shared an order of poutine (the small was big enough for 2 to share) and a cup of their lentil soup for starters.

For an entree I got a roasted delicato squash panini with pickled cauliflower, turnip & leak slaw, boursin, and brown butter-sage mayo. It was refreshing to see a more interesting vegetarian option than the standard veggie burger or caprese sandwich that you usually find in restaurants. Chris got the house smoked turkey panini wit buttermilk fried shallots, swiss, frisee, and herb mayo. His was good but we both like the squash sandwich best.

Satisfied and full, we wrapped up our left overs and headed home. For a cold, wet day it was still a pretty successful trip. I’d love to see the city again in the summer.

 

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Chelsea vs. Mountain

Yesterday I climbed a mountain.

I actually am surprised as I write this that my fingers are fully functioning and not as sore and tired as every other fiber of my body is.

I am proud to report, however, that it was the first mountain I ever summitted and despite the sorry state of my muscles, it was a thrilling experience. And it was especially satisfying because Chris and I had tried this trail previously and didn’t even make it a quarter of the way through. (That was a snowy, injurious trip to say the least.)

But that’s not to say it was an easy go this time. No, certainly not.

We woke up at 4:30 yesterday morning and we were on the road by 5:30 a.m. The ride to Franconia Notch (White Mountains in NH, where we hiked,) is about 2-2.5 hours from Boston but there was little traffic at the time (only crazies are up before sunrise on a Saturday,) so we started on the trail around 7:45.

It was grueling.

But worth it.

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We originally thought that our loop was only hitting 2 peaks, but we actually made it to three before descending. It was freezing up there but the view was amazing. By the time we got to the third peak, a cloud had engulfed it and it reminded me of being on a ship  in the middle of the ocean. It was just gray in every direction.

Coolest view of the cloud coming in from the ridge.
Coolest view of the cloud coming in from the ridge.

We did get to see a flag raising though. Trumpet and all.

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We had the misfortune of taking the wrong trail back down, however, and ended up in the middle of a rain storm, three miles from where the car was parked. Let me tell you, I’ve never been so tired in my life.

A view of the progressing cloud on our way down
A view of the progressing cloud on our way down
Chris and I, finally back in the car after 10ish hours of hiking. I look like Voldemort and he is a death eater hahaha
Chris and I, finally back in the car after 10ish hours of hiking. I look like Voldemort and he is a death eater hahaha

Despite what mishaps we may have encountered, I’m psyched we did it. Now on to the next! Kidding, so kidding. I can barely walk down stairs right now. I’m really diggin’ sea level stuff. Like sitting and beds and naps. But I’ll get back out (up?) there eventually. Let me stop wishing I had a walker to help me get around first.