Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I [heart] New England

It's absolutely true. I love it here. 1) Everyone is so friendly. Helpful. Courteous. Minnesota nice, transplanted. 2) The architecture really appeals to me. The clapboard, colonial- and saltbox- style homes. The steeples and cupolas. 3) The water. The boats. ... I feel very comfortable here. I am missing my peeps at home, but I will also be sad to leave tomorrow (Thursday) as well. It's been a great getaway.

A little this 'n that before I dive back into my travelogue: 1) Byron Team R.E.D. will be running at 7 PM on Thursday at the Bear's Den. I've not heard if there is a group running Thursday in Rochester. 2) I had 243 hits on my blog on Monday. I do believe that might be a new hits P.R. 3) I am going to be doing a Clear Channel radio spot for the Med-City Marathon when I get home. 4) I plan to run some mileage on Saturday and am hoping that I can get a group to go to Brothers afterwards. I MISS YOU GUYS!!! And I wanna show u all my pix. :-)


There's much more to tell about the marathon itself. And I have a few treats from ME to share with you all. :-)

These are my official marathon pix:

Me and Tim

The finish

Jessica Feda and I

Thank you to everyone who's sent an email, posted a comment on my blog, or put something on my wall on Facebook since the marathon. Each comment is very much appreciated!

So let's get back to my travelogue. When I left you yesterday, I was on my way to Portland, Maine. I got a few winks on the train, and the scenery out the window wasn't really photo-worthy and I arrived in Portland without incident.

When I got to the train station, I called for a shuttle ride to the hotel ... 

and decided to chat with the (very friendly) driver and get some scoop on the city. I wanted to know: 1) where I should go to eat lobster (J's Oyster Bar), 2) where the L.L.Bean Outlet was (fortuitously, just a couple blocks from the hotel), and 3) where I should spend my day tomorrow (exploring the shoppes in Old Portland). He even drove me downtown on the way to the hotel to show me where everything was. So nice!! When I got to the hotel, I was very pleasantly surprised. The gal who checked me in gave me the discounted rate (the Sun-Thurs rate) rather than the price I'd gotten with my online booking. I told her that she absolutely made my day! (She saved me $32/night. Rooms are quite expensive out here.). I could have hugged her. And I signed up for their free Priority Club and that gave me a bag full of freebie stuff and some coupons for free drinks in the lounge each day, free drycleaning, free coffee/tea, etc. It was my lucky day. And when I got to the room, I was very pleased. It was very nice, and clean.

I could have stayed in a cheaper room near the airport, but that wasn't where I wanted to be. I wanted to be able to get around easily (without having to take a bus) and be close to the water. So I chose this hotel ... and it was the perfect choice. I'd checked on the forecast for Portland before leaving Boston, and it called for rain. Well, the driver said today was supposed to be just like yesterday ... partly sunny and relatively warm.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay 
My, oh my, what a wonderful day 
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way 
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!!
I was psyched!! Nice weather, a new city to explore, ... a whole day to do as I pleased. I was ready to hit the town running. And I did this morning. Literally. (OK, all you nay-sayers ... I HEAR YOU!!) When I'm out of town, I like to eat where the locals eat if possible. I think it's far more interesting, it's generally cheaper, and that's the way to get the real feel for someplace. You don't get that when you go to a chain. The diner was about a mile away. I knew I could walk for a mile. So I headed out. It was 52 degrees and sunny. Perfect!
One of the first things I'd noticed was the brick sidewalks and even some cobblestone streets. Very charming. Some of the sidwalks were really lumpy and bumpy however after many seasons of weather extremes. But charming nonetheless. This is one of the nicest.

The diner I'd picked out seemed to be in a location that might be too busy to get to on foot, so when I was toodling around, I asked a guy who looked like he was walking to work whether he knew the area. (Affirmative.) I asked if there was a place nearby to get a bowl of oatmeal (I was craving it!). He said Becky's Diner was 1/4 to 1/2 mile down the road and he was sure they'd have oatmeal. Perfect!

It was just the kind of  place I was looking for.

I ordered my bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and skim milk, and it was HUGE. I couldn't finish it. But it totally hit the spot and was just exactly what I wanted.

Another thing I almost always try to do is explore the local grocery stores. Weird? I suppose. But I'm a foodie, you know. It's cheap entertainment for me. And I find it very interesting, actually. The things I scope out are the ethnic foods, the bakery, the baking aisle, the natural foods and whatever else strikes my fancy. So I asked the housekeepers where the closest grocery stores were. There were two. Paul's Food Center on Congress, just a couple blocks from the hotel. It's a small, independent store. And Hanneford, a chain.

I asked an employee about Whoopie Pies. I'd seen them all over the place. Apparently they're an east coast oddity (?). It's like a giant cookie sandwich. The original is chocolate with white filling, but all kinds of different flavors are now available (chocolate mint/chocolate peanut-butter/oatmeal/chocolate raspberry/orange). The employee gave me the lowdown (they were featured on Oprah as one of her Favorite Things), and I decided to get one, purchasing the one that he recommended and which is their best seller. (Chocolate with white filling--it's pretty big and I don't want to eat the whole thing, so I'm bringing it home to share--hopefully it survives the trip.)

Then it was off to find Hanneford, which proved to be on the other side of the Interstate.

Things of interest: One can purchase my favorite flour (King Arthur) in 25 pound bags here.

This locally made butter has such charming packaging.

Friendly's appears to be the ice cream of choice.

The selection of local beers was very impressive!!

 By the time I got back to the hotel, this is what I'd accumulated (plus an apple for the trip home tomorrow):

The two bags of candy are locally made and are chocolate covered cashews and toffee cashews (again, to share with my running buddies!) After getting cleaned up (it was late morning by now), I did some more Googling and Mapquesting and headed out again. After sampling a rather thick slice of bread at a co-op downtown, I skipped lunch. Really wasn't hungry. So I just toodled around town for the afternoon. So many unique, interesting shops.

Do you remember some of these candies? Pop Rocks? Candy cigarettes? Clark bars? Necco wafers? Valomilk? Oh Henry bars? Wax lips? Atomic fireballs?

Just bought a few little souvenir gifts for friends and a cookbook for myself (Cooking with Wild Berries of Down East Maine , from the Bar Harbor Jam Company). Nothing of interest at the L.L. Bean outlet store.

After exploring for much of the afternoon,

I had an early dinner at J's Oyster Bar.
I had a lobster roll. It was OK, but I probably should have had a whole steamed lobster instead. Well ... I think I'm going to turn in and end this post rather abruptly. It's already past 11 PM.
Quote for the day: “Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower”.

Good night.


Jean said...

What a fantastic trip. Excellent photos, and all the food looks and sounds excellent! They have quite a food scene there.

By the way, it is great to see the Luther sweatshirt. I am a graduate of that fine school. Go Norse! :)

Buy Diablo 3 gold said...

Such a nice post, I appreciated the idea a whole lot! I like your sense of style! Great pictures!