Through work travel, I have been to over 40 states in the US. Thus, when I start planning my more epic escapes, I usually don’t even bother to look in my home country. Except this time. Maine has always been on a list of places I’d like to visit – land of lighthouses, boats, accents, and salt water taffy? Sold. I’m a fairly nervous driver in a new place, and so I usually look for spots I can explore largely on foot. Portland, Maine seemed to fit that bill nicely. Work chaos meant that the daily itinerary is a little more unclear than usual, but I am confident in my ability to let the combination of exploration and impulse decide my course.
Arrived late on a Wednesday night to a world bathed in fog.
So foggy my phone camera wouldn’t even focus on the world around me. Uber ride to the AirBNB (sharing economy for the win!) was super easy, and everyone I spoke to was incredibly friendly and welcoming. I didn’t form much of an impression on the ride as it was pitch dark, and again, foggy, but I was pretty happy to be here and for the Grand Adventure to begin!
In the morning, I realized that the ocean was literally across the street from my little apartment – still fog obscured but the morning was bright and it was lifting fast. I headed off down the Eastern Promenade in search of that critical life-giving substance, coffee.
Score! Hilltop Coffee (um, Portland has MASSIVE hills. I was unprepared) had Jamaican Coffee and ham and brie sandwiches, among other things that looked and smelled like heaven. 40s classics and ceiling fans meant that I’d found my work spot for the morning. Pure bliss. I also needed to start spending some time thinking about the next two phases of the Grand Adventure, and this was the ideal opportunity.
After my hour spent settling into vacation mindset, I needed a destination. With rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, and the heat and humidity mounting quickly, I set my course for Peaks Island.
Beautiful details on the homes in my temporary East End neighborhood. Me on the ferry to Peaks with the Portland skyline in the background (my selfie face has two settings – intense concentration and “don’t drop your phone off a boat”) Also show, the approach to the boat landing at Peaks.
It was about to be the second-hottest day of the year in Portland, and I was about to discover that air conditioning is not really a thing here (be careful what you wish for, I guess) especially in the rustic atmosphere of the Island. My first impulse was to walk the paths and explore the Island on foot, and I made it about 3/4 of a mile before I turned back and rented a bike for a few hours. The air was moving on the windward side, so that’s where I headed.
Breathtaking ocean views. Rock formations that look like wood, but are actually ancient seafloor thrown up by a massive earthquake, and gorgeous cabins tucked away from the world. This is pure paradise. Also, this house – looks like a lighthouse, has massive windows and looks out on the ocean. Add this to the list of places to look if I ever run away from home. (It’s nearly 3,000 per week to rent, though, so…)
I also stopped by the 5th Maine Regiment museum to enjoy their shaded patio and watch the tide roll in. I got into conversation with the two docent ladies and may or may not have agreed to write a book about the Civil War (it was a long and interesting conversation). I realized that the bike was due back soon, so I headed back around the way. Peaks Island is only 4 miles around so it was no problem. Dropped off the bike, missed the ferry back, got some ice cream and settled on the pier to watch the water taxis come and go. Also to watch crazy local kids dive into the frigid water from the end of the pier. Grand Adventure nonwithstanding, there’s just some stuff I’d never do.
Stay tuned for Part 2!