The Aroostook County, Portland, Boston down and back quick trip.
Interstate 95 starts in Houlton, connects Maine with the Atlantic Canadian provinces and makes for easy traveling. This weekend Meg and I headed south to visit the oldest daughter and her husband in Boston MA. Had to check out some hardwood flooring along the way for a cottage winter rehab project. Quick swerve across the newest Twin City bridge to cross the Penobscot River without getting wet. Squeezing in the look see and the park then run in at the Brewer Mardens. To see how exactly the white oak looked all wired brushed and up close. Before ordering the flooring to be shipped to the Houlton store for the home town shopping credit. Snapped the cell phone image to relay to our local salesman Rich on just what to order from the warehouse.
Then throw it back into drive. Dart back across the third Bangor Brewer Maine bridge to merge with I-95 traffic and continue south to Boston, MA.
On the road again. We stayed in Portland at La Quinta Inn And Suites. The hotel staff friendly, the surroundings neat, clean, modern. Used the Uber app to flag down Jeffrey who appeared lightening fast outside the lobby to whisk us to the Old Port.
Our Uber driver carting us around the Old Port, from a small Maine town named South Baldwin. Claims he loves his job. Maybe because he is behind the wheel in Maine. Unlike many polled NYC Uber drivers that did not share Jeffrey’s passion for 10 and 2 carting folks from point A to point B. Not a one in the big apple on a recent trip said they loved their job. Half empty thinking about their employment as a personal taxi driver.
When the Boston Red Sox games are on, Jeffrey enjoys picking up and delivering his taxi fares. Providing the helpful local insider tips on what to do and where to eat suggestions. For someone brand new to Portland Maine who is traveling, the local taxi driver, your hotel desk clerk are huge valuable resources for the what is fun, where to have it suggestions. Jeffrey listed off a bunch of options of where to eat without reservations. The night before Jeffrey made 28 similar runs for passengers hitching a ride into the Old Port dining scene.
We decided spur of the moment quickly “how about an Irish pub setting” for refueling in the Old Port restaurant neighborhood.
Seems like that dining theme location is pretty popular. Because predictably made the same Irish Pub food in Bangor decision selection not too long ago covered in an earlier Penobscot Theatre blog post. So Ri Ra Pub Portland Maine the location for a delicious meal. Low lights, cozy warm fireplace, large window with the Old Port showcasing the colder side of the glass. We deep six-ed the original plan for Central Provisions on Fore Street to have dinner Friday night.
Evidently there was a fire last July that closed the Flatbread Co next door and the Ri Ra Irish Pub and Restaurant for three weeks or so. Tough time of the tourist season to have the pots cold, the door closed and lights off during damage renovations. But if you want to avoid the crowds, hit Maine in the winter. Or the shoulder season of going in or coming out of the hectic summer months to really enhance the experience.
Samantha from Augusta Maine our Ri Ra server working her way through college. Waiting tables in the Old Port restaurant expertly.
She was helpful, patient, attentive. Nothing mechanical or artificial and a real natural. For starters, the seafood chowder in the large bowl loaded with top to bottom, side to side fresh caught fish. Piping hot and big bowled for a perfect satisfaction. The boneless BBQ wings Jamison honey lathered and glazed. The perfect companion appetizer. One entree of haddock for me please. Make it salmon and asparagus with heavy lemon sauce for Meg.
While the fireplace finally made us move in one chair at the four place table from the outside to the inside. It became time for desert, are you crazy? “F” registered on the gauge for both of us so we settled the tab, added the tip. Bundled up to head outside. Fresh air, night stars, the harbor sights and sounds in Portland’s Old Port more enjoyable because not so many had the same idea. It’s like can you imagine the Magic Kingdom with just you, your family and only the Disney characters and no endless attraction lines on vacation? No parent upset because Jimmy or Suzie has to hit the bathroom because it is taking so long to inch along in the back and forth lines. Maine is like that when you need the all to yourself peace and quiet spacing.
Walking up, then down Commercial Street in the Maine’s Old Port is more enjoyable when the sidewalk is not shoulder to shoulder marching in step with other tourists.
It’s quiet, less traffic on the street too. No so dangerous to cross to see what you missed on the other side as you stroll. Maine vacation hot spots become more personal, the business owners available to talk and share when the temperature drops. The tourist traps suddenly are returned to smaller numbers to serve that is more sane, less hubbub. You get more attention and I think the servers are happier in winter. Not pushed so hard.
If you have only come to Maine in the summer months, Vacationland has three other seasons to sample. It only requires just a slight adjustment in your wardrobe. The shoulder seasons and winter especially makes your trip to Maine more personal with your servers no so rushed for time. No one staring in the lobby with sharp dagger icy glances aimed at you to say would you please hurry it up BUB? Because they want your table bad.
Meg and I had to get up early to continue the southern trek across the big green bridge. Heading south into New Hampshire Granite state, then the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to arrive in Boston MA.
We stopped just in time for Karaoke at the Commercial Street Pub. No, no singing of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire for me or Walking After Midnight or Crazy like Patsy Cline for Meg on the open mike. But interesting conversation from a lady about
to turn 60 who’s daughter was the bar keep. The next to the oldest of thirteen kids who grew up and remained in Portland Maine had an interesting and hard life. Meg the social worker felt right at home.
Hit the Uber app again for Stephen this time on the back haul return run to the La Quinta Inn And Suites hotel.
Nice price, no valet tips and parking fees and only 2.3 miles from the Old Port. When you are just passing through and not spending the extra money to be camped out in the Old Port, this place for the lay your head in the bed works well. Super hot and varied items at breakfast the next morning. It save timed and got us back on the turnpike after gassing up and snaking through a car wash to remove “The County” road salt. Arrived in Boston around noon time all rested and anxious to see the oldest child.
Let’s eat… so the four of us drove to a Mexican restaurant in Jamaica Plain MA called Chilacates Centre St.
All the walking around during the day prior to that works up an appetite. You always sample the local food too much when traveling right?
All the walking around during the day prior to that works up an appetite.
That night we eat at an Indian food restaurant called Tikki Masala. The food at both superb, served by the staff from the country the cuisine originated each session. You felt like you stepped into Mexico for lunch, India for dinner. Not bacon burgers or onion rings or chicken nuggets but real McCoy Mexican and Indian cuisine. Ordered in Spanish for lunch with a buzz of Spanish chatter and laughter in the busy kitchen above. The Indian food restaurant owner of where we ate dinner after sunset took us by both hands to thank us for eating at his establishment. Nice touch when you can meet the owner and express your gratitude.
The trip down and back over a weekend from Maine to Portland then Boston was not just about eating.
Plenty of grazing did happen this past weekend. Diets put on hold. But we had a mission at IKEA out in Stoughton MA too. That place is huge and don’t plan to drop in and race out like a pit stop at Wally World. The cafeteria tells you a big part if not all of your day is going to be spent following the floor arrows. To slowly move with the customers through each department like immigrants. Not planning to buy much but you always do.
The tramping has to be broken up and pace yourself like it’s a marathon run. Most we saw at IKEA were young couples with low to the ground, pint size families in tow.
Looking for furniture, the kind you have to have the patience to build. Or the extra dough to hire it done if you do not feel like the assembly DIY exercise. Trying out bunk beds, opening and shutting kitchen demo displays, sitting in chairs eyes glassing over from too much shopping. You find what you want then head to the warehouse which can chew up a considerable amount of time too. Great expanse to walk and walk some more leaning on a cart. The dollar ice cream and large hot dogs the same price are a crowd and hunger pleaser at IKEA while you shop til you drop for furniture, bedding, rugs, lighting, plumbing, anything.
Also got some exercise earlier walking around the Aboretum of Harvard University.
The size of nearly 300 acres in one section, an old farm donated to be kept forever wild like Maine’s Mt Katahdin at Baxter Park is neat. Lots of flowers, trees and the level to rolling terrain lets you go over hill and dale. Up gravel paths, down granite steps like . Water running in the streams, lots of display information on where you are now in the walking tour. Signage to explain what exactly this vegetation is, what country it originates from on the globe.
You can spend the good part of the day walking and enjoying incredible open space where you can take a break. Forgetting you live in or are just visiting the Boston area. In Maine, we don’t have to create the open space. She is vast and sparsely populated, under developed. But in populated urban areas space is limited and even more precious.
Here are some images below from the walk around the Arnold Aboretum that is open every day of the year and no charge but donations gladly accepted.
Young families, joggers, bench sitters who are reading or talking… you don’t see a lot of people but there sure is plenty of plant life to study. If I lived in the Jamaica Plain MA area, I would use the Arnold Aboretum with daily visits for exercise and the mental health sense of natural space which recharges.
The quick Aroostook County, Portland, Boston down and back quick trip.
Don’t ever think we are isolated or removed from the rest of the World living in rural Maine.
It is nice to take short trips into Canada or down into other parts of the Maine or into New England states. To hit a sports team game or musical concert event. Or maybe a historical event in Boston MA or let’s go to a show, the aquarium or museum, a book store. But it’s always a big glad sign of relief. To cross the big green bridge crossing the Piscataquis River to be back in Maine. We hit Augusta for an Applebee’s snack on the trip driving north on Sunday.
Also stopped into the Maine Tourist Information Center in Hampden for a nature call. And to mix work and pleasure to do some detective work on some marketing material.
Making sure out Maine real estate brochures were in place and well stocked in the display case.
They were front and center and ready for pick up by traveling tourists. Making the same Interstate 95 and 295 road trip. Lots of snow sled trailers headed north because there sure was no snow in Boston, very little in Portland Maine. And the forecast this week for fifty degrees and sunshine spring like conditions. Until Thursday when five to eight inches of snow is predicted in Maine.
When your kids live local in Maine you see them a lot.
When the zip code is a lot different than the one you use, you travel to stay connected. In Boston you quickly notice how tightly nestled the housing is. The lack of space means fencing everything in around you is a popular survival skill. And the open space there is becomes so treasured to offset the high priced real estate and lack of land wrapped around the housing units.
Next up is a trip to Colorado to see son number one who is high up in Leadville. Will get lots of ski and dog sled team photography.
Stay tuned for future blog posts about that trip with words and imagery. As always, thank you for following our Me In Maine blog posts.
Just thought sharing what we did this weekend might be interesting to read.
Down to a Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots game or some other sporting or music event trips happen when you live way up here in Maine. Six hours from Bean Town. We do travel. We don’t want to leave Maine but we are not parked here all the time either. This time it was the Aroostook County, Portland, Boston down and back quick trip that filled the blog post hunt and peck writing exercise. I am sure if you live in Lewiston Auburn, in York or Cumberland Counties in Maine the trips to bright lights, big city of Boston where the tea party was occur more than central or northern residents take. But where I live hitting Baxter state park, accessing the Allagash Wilderness Waterway can happen easily and often. Venturing to Quebec City, Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia is easier when you develop the travel bug and feel antsy. Always thinking of something interesting to share and post about life in Maine, Canada, New England.
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