Well, with 1000 km’s under my belt as a warm-up for this year’s driving season (yes, it was a late start for me), it was time to step up to the big-leagues and head over to Maine. What prompted me to go? Well it wasn’t the seafood, that was for sure – I’m allergic to pretty much anything that comes from the water. I was purely in this trip for the drive and to see the sights! (Warning: Another very long read!)
So into a surprisingly spacious VW Jetta I went, together with my girlfriend and her sister and husband. Leaving at 2:30 in the morning was a chore, considering how late into the night we had all slept. Our route brought us up the north shore of Lake Ontario (using the 401) and into Quebec, just south of Montreal, before crossing the border at Vermont. We had a stopover at a highway pitstop near Magog, Quebec for breakfast. Rolling hills had me looking for my camera.
Rain had greeted us shortly after getting into Quebec and continued on and off throughout the drive. As we crossed Vermont into New Hampshire, it was my turn to take the wheel. We were running well behind schedule, so I decided to motor it instead of stopping over to enjoy the scenery (and take photos!)
It was a decision I did not regret. As my passengers enjoyed the passing scenery, I was taken in by the sweeping curves and elevation changes of the route that cut through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest. My urge to drive faster than the posted speed limit was also fed by healthy doses of torque from the Jetta’s turbo-charged engine. We were still late to arrive at our first stop in Maine – The Allagash Brewing Company, but we still decided to go in and sample the beer.
Ah, this golden elixir called beer…I’ll be seeing and drinking more during the trip! After sampling the 4 different varieties in front of us, the majority decided that the Fluxus was a great beer to take home and we ended up taking a couple bottles back to the car.
Our next stop brought us across town to the Portland Headlight, Maine’s oldest lighthouse. My travel mates enjoyed their lobster rolls from the local food truck called Bite Into Maine. I’ll confess, even with my allergies to all things seafood, this looked so delicious that I wanted to try it!
Despite the fear of rain, which continued to come down during the day, we still ventured around the grounds of the park surrounding the Headlight. The landscape, coupled with the stormy looking clouds made the Headlight more fun to get on camera.
Shortly after I took the photo above, the clouds decided to drop a heavier package on us…a nice downpour soaked me to the bone as I grabbed this snappy and went to put my feet into the cold waters of the Maine coastline.
After a quick check into our hotel to dry off, we returned into downtown Portland to take a look around and search for a place to grab dinner.
Portland is a very touristy city. Plenty of old buildings, or new buildings made to look old. The friendly residents are very proud of their city and aren’t afraid to show it off. The streets are refreshingly clean and well kept. Anyways, back to food – our stroll around town brought us to the local Portland Lobster Co.
My party got to try fresh cooked lobster and local beer, while I enjoyed a hamburger and cautiously picked at (but could not eat) the french fries served on a separate tray (note for people with seafood allergies: Portland Lobster Co, cooks their fries in the same oil used to deep fry the seafood…).
You can eat outdoors, and it is highly recommended. The place has a small indoor eating area, which we quickly retreated to when the skies opened up again. The high tops with the standard height tables made for awkward eating, but we still had a good time. After our dinner was finished, we returned to the hotel for the night. The next morning we strolled along Commercial Street.
We had hoped to go to Becky’s, a restaurant known for its breakfasts and brunches, but with a one-hour wait, we decided to grab a quick bite instead at Bam Bam Bakery, a place known for its Whoopie Cakes. We didn’t get one, but the slice of scone my girlfriend got was HUGE!
Off to the Victoria Mansion for a tour. As I said earlier in this post, I went to this place for the driving and the history. This place had more history than I had bargained for.
Portland is very lucky to have such a historic building. I was not allowed to take photos inside the place, but a lot of the original furnishings inside the mansion was intact. It is definitely a place worth visiting for those coming to the city.
What’s a visit to a city without a foodie tour? Bri (like Brie cheese without the e) brought us around to several places to sample food and talk about her town. Although we brought our appetites, we didn’t have enough space in our stomachs to handle all the delicious food!
After the foodie tour, we went to Sweetgrass Winery and Distillery Old Port Tasting Room to try some of their wares…
Done with the food and drink? Nope. Not really. We went for a bit of shopping first in Freeport for the afternoon and I snuck in a bit of sight seeing…
…before landing in The Lobster Cooker for dinner. My girlfriend and the others in our group were in bliss eating their lobsters. After taking a couple allergy pills, I decided to take a chance with a few fries that came with my grilled chicken sandwich. YUM!
For our last day in Maine, we visited the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and went to Peaks Island. We had a 1/2 hour ferry trip across the harbour, rented a golf cart and spent an hour or so checking out the island. Again, amazing landscapes.
While we were there, an extreme race, called the Casco Bay SwimRun, was underway. Teams of two run around islands in Casco Bay, and swim from certain points on each island to get to the next island. The endurance that people need to participate in this race is unbelieveable.
More from Peaks Island…St. Christopher Parish.
And a couple snappy’s during our ferry ride back to the mainland.
Our final stop before heading home…Shipyard Brewing Company.
The visit to Shipyard wrapped up our visit to Portland, Maine. We headed back home using the interstate and arrived at 1:30 in the morning, Monday. So another 2000+ km and 20+ hours worth of driving under my belt this season. Oh yeah! Will I visit Maine again? YES!
Note for the photographers: While I did take plenty of photos with my trusty SLR, all the photos in this post (except for the maps) were taken straight from my Samsung Galaxy S6 with any adjustments noted. It has an awesome camera and for my snappy’s, this phone proved to be an indispensable companion.