Last Full Day in Portland, ME

Got up, showered and made it to breakfast, ugh. One of the all time worst hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had; very overcooked, very cold scrambled eggs and very cold, soggy potatoes, the muffin was great and the coffee was weak. Happily that was the worst part of the day and the rest of the day was awesome!

We spent the whole day walking around Portland. What a wonderful town.

To the left out of our hotel, looking down the street. On the left in the photo is the Lobster Shack where we had our chowders last night.

Original cobblestones on the street.

U.S. Customs House

There is a walking path that runs along the waterfront so we took that to explore the city. Not far along the path we came upon the Portland Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. Very cool place where volunteers are restoring the old train cars and engines, they also give train rides. We didn’t choose to go on a train ride but we did go through the museum.

We continued walking along the path into the Eastern Promenade Park shared by lots of walkers, joggers, dog walkers and bicyclists.

Next we headed on up to the Eastern Promenade to look at all the restored historic old homes there. They are just gorgeous.

One in particular stood out from the rest and we happened to get lucky enough to speak with the owner for awhile.

She and her husband had lived there for 25 years and were the third family to live in the house, it had always been a single family home. Her yard was stunning and she took care of it all herself.

After looking at a number of these wonderful old homes we headed to the Portland Observatory, built in 1807. The Portland Observatory is the only known signal tower of it’s type left in the United States. We had a wonderful conversation with the docent inside, she told us the history of the observatory as well as the area. Very interesting.

View from the top of the Portland Observatory.

We were beginning to get hungry so we headed back in the direction of Old Port. On the way we took pictures of the Eastern Cemetery, an artistically painted old house, St. Vincent de’Paul, The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and the City Hall.

The weather vane at the top of City Hall.

We had lunch at a great little pub off of Monument called Shay’s Grill Pub. We each had a beer and a Cranberry Walnut Salad, I had beautifully cooked Blackened Salmon on mine.

Now we are back in our room chilling until dinner.

Oh my goodness! At about 5:30 PM we began looking at dinner options. I remembered a place I’d seen while walking back to our hotel after lunch at Shay’s called Walter’s. We decided to take a chance and go there. It had good reviews, just not very many total reviews. Well, it was delicious!

I had the Brick Chicken and Chris had the Ahi Tuna.

First Full Day in Maine

Woke up at 8:00 this morning after getting an amazing nights sleep. Chris was still asleep so I made myself some coffee and tried to be quiet.

It was lightly raining outside and the weather widget said it was probably going to be a pretty nice day.

Chris woke up about 8:45 and we began showering and getting dressed in preparation for the day. By the time we were finished the hotel’s breakfast buffet was over.

The waiter downstairs offered to try and find us something if we liked or he could recommend a place. We chose the recommendation, which was Becky’s, a place I had noticed on our way into Portland. At that time I had mentioned that it looked like a good place to eat.

Not only was it a good place to eat, it was packed, the service was top notch and the prices were unbelievably reasonable. Our whole breakfast bill including coffee and tip was under $20.

After a great breakfast we decided to walk down to the Portland Fish Pier. It’s a real working fishing pier and I really enjoyed watching all of the activity.

After that we went back to the hotel and got a shuttle to the airport car rental to pick up our rental car, a Nissan Versa.

From there we drove out to the Portland Head Lighthouse and explored the area. It’s really a beautiful lighthouse and the surrounding coastline is gorgeous. This is the first time I’ve had much of a chance to enjoy the Atlantic coast and it is very different from the California coast.

Ram Island Ledge Light Station.

Portland Head Lighthouse with the Ram Island Ledge Light Station in the distance.

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

Lobster tank at the Lobster Shack where we ate lunch.

The Lobster Shack at Two Lighthouses State Park where we had lunch.

Lobster Roll with Fries and Coleslaw (not in picture).

We then headed off to Allagash Brewery for some beer tasting. We has some very good beer there one of which we both loved called James Bean. Unfortunately they don’t bottle it. We were told that they may begin distributing it next year but it will be under a different name so we should look for it by searching on it’s qualities; Bourbon barrel aged tripel blended with cold brewed coffee. Wow! One of my newly found favorites!

Headed back to our hotel and after a bit of a rest we set off down the street to find something light for dinner. We found some yummy Lobster Bisque and a glass of Pinot Noir for me and Chicken and Corn Chowder with a beer for Chris.

Now we are happily relaxing in our room.

Headed for Maine

Didn’t sleep last night between restless legs and thinking about the early flight.

Got up at 4:00am, got dressed and finished last minute packing. I had a couple of pulls from my Nespresso. We said goodbye to our kitty and headed for the airport.

There is virtually no traffic at 4:45 in the morning. We breezed into the airport and parked the car in the airport lot. Next time we’ll take a “Lyft”, much less expensive.

Going through security in our small regional airport was pretty fast and painless. I think it would have been even without TSA Pre.

They announced that they were checking all carryons with wheels. I was afraid I might have to Gate Check my carryon with all my electronics, cameras and prescriptions. Fortunately for me my international carryon was small enough to fit under the seat.

Our plane was a Canadian Bombardier 900 from San Luis Obispo to Phoenix. The flight was pleasant and after debarking we went in search of breakfast.

Our flight to Chicago was on one of the new air buses with varying seat pitches. Our seats were the least expensive and had the lowest pitch. I am 5′ tall and had barely enough room. Getting my carryon under the seat in front or out again was very difficult because of the lack of room between my seat and the seat in front of me. Other than that it was a very nice flight with included free wifi.

Having a meal and beers at the Chicago Airport.

On our last flight of the day from Chicago to Portland, ME we flew over Lake Michigan, my first time ever to see a Great Lake! We were seated over the wing so I couldn’t really get any photos but I can see a trip to Chicago in our future and not just to the airport.

We arrived in Portland, ME about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. It was pouring rain as expected. Great flight by the way on a Canadian Bombardier 700.

After collecting our luggage we called a Lyft and within minutes were being whisked to our hotel The Hyatt Place Portland – Old Port in the older section of Portland.

After a wonderful checkin experience by Kia and with a large glass of red in my hand and bottle of beer in Chris’s we retired to our room overlooking a very wet and beautiful city.

Packing Day

Got in a nice little bike ride this morning on our tandem. The mornings are so cool and beautiful even though the afternoons have been unbearably hot. We won’t be riding bikes for 2 weeks, just hiking, walking and maybe some swimming.

Did something I’m always saying I should do and end up not doing. I made a checklist of what I thought I’d need to bring, got it all out and packed it into my packing cubes. It made packing so much easier. It also helped me weed out the unneeded or mismatched articles. Then took it all out again and took pictures so I’d know what I had if my luggage gets lost.

There are plenty of rain and thunderstorms predicted for our first few days so it sounds like indoor activities will be in order. I’m sure we will still manage to do plenty of sightseeing in spite of the weather. We get so little rain here in California these days that it’s a real treat to spend some time in it.

Just a Few More Days

In three days we will board an American Airlines flight to Portland, ME. Since I started planning this trip about a year ago, I can hardly believe it’s here.

We have been watching the weather reports for the Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick areas and have come to the conclusion we need to bring clothing for every single eventuality that weather can provide! In other words; I have no idea what to bring! Whatever I bring will have to fit into one 25″ suitcase and a small carryon because I don’t like dragging bunches of luggage everywhere.

We will be hiking, walking, sightseeing, road tripping and eating lobster as much as possible.

We have been reading travel books to learn more about the areas we will be visiting as well as researching on the internet for interesting places to visit.

meNSNBbooks

Tandem Rally 2018 – Day 4

This was officially our last day of the NWTR, we will be heading down to Eugene tomorrow to spend some time with my family.

Today started out a little different. Last night when we went to bed we said we would decide in the morning whether or not to do any riding today.

As it turned out there was a huge power outage that encompassed our hotel. We let that drive our decision not to ride but to go back across the ferry and take pictures and enjoy the scenery we had ridden through yesterday.

We drove toward downtown until we ran into working stop lights and began hunting for a place for breakfast and coffee. We were surprised to find that many of the breakfast places are closed on Monday.

Just as we were walking back to the car to search somewhere else we noticed a little cafe on a side street called Little Wuesten German Food. We were able to get homemade seeded rye bread toasted with butter and jam, and scrambled eggs and a cappuccino for Chris and a double espresso for me. It was delicious, reasonably priced and the service was wonderful and very cheery.

After breakfast we headed for the Buena Vista Ferry. It was very windy and cloudy today which made it a bit chilly so it was a great day for sightseeing and taking photos.

Ferrying across the Willamette River.

Just across the river if you look up you can see an Osprey nest. We were lucky enough to see both mom, dad and a couple glimpses of the babies.

After watching the Ospreys nurture their young for a very long time we set off down the road to enjoy the beauty.

We ended up at the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge and decided to take a walk out on the paths. You are not allowed to talk, run or bike on the paths in order to not scare the wildlife.

We took lots of photos and I will share a few here.

We spent about 2 hours walking around and taking photos then went off to find some lunch and maybe a beer.

We found a place in Jefferson called Tommy’s Welcome Inn. They had both food and beer. The food was pretty good the beer was okay.

The town of Jefferson.

Now we’re back in our room getting ready to head out for dinner at a place called Frankie’s in downtown Albany.

Just got back from Frankie’s and dinner was terrific!

We will be spending Independence Day with family.

Our next trip is to Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in September! See you then!

Tandem Rally 2018 – Day 3

We decided to go for the longer ride today. At 100k it was a stretch for us as we haven’t done any long rides this year.

We got up at 6:00 and went downstairs for breakfast.

After breakfast a bunch of us decided to wait for the large tandem group from the mass start to pass our hotel and join them then. Great idea except for the the fact that the tandem organizers had changed the beginning of the route at the last minute and the route no longer went by our hotel.

We figured that out fairly quickly and took off to connect to the route.

It was cloudy, breezy and about 60°F and as we rode the clouds began breaking up and revealed a brilliant blue sky. I wish I had been able to take some photos yesterday but my phone battery was threatening to die. Fortunately Chris’s phone was behaving and he took a few photos.

I did get a photo of the line to get on the ferry.

We were directed onto the ferry 25 tandems at a time. This was at the 15.5 mile point in our ride and across the the Willamette was where we would ride a 30 mile loop before returning to the ferry and the rest of the 64.5 miles and back to the hotel.

This was also where we had decided to make our decision as to whether we were going to go for the 64.5 or just do a little over 30 miles.

I’m so happy we decided to do the longer ride, it was just beautiful and we really had no trouble. We just stuck to a spinning pace and kept going through fields and forests and wildflowers. We spent most of the ride by ourselves just humming along.

We made a stop for food in a cute little town called Monmouth and split a delicious panini. The lunch stop was just a little too far for me and I was afraid of “bonking”.

We then made our way to the actual lunch stop that was in a large beautiful park and had a bit more food before continuing on with the ride.

Well we did it! Sixty-five miles and we felt great! I can’t believe it! It was so much fun and such a beautiful area.

We rode back to the hotel with another couple we’d met at the event.

We arranged to meet up for dinner and beers later.

We had a wonderful dinner at a place called Caves Bier and Kitchen. They have a huge beer list as well as good food.

NWTR Albany day 2

Today after a great nights sleep, we went downstairs to have breakfast and get ready to do our first day of tandem riding with 400 of our closest friends.

Downstairs breakfast was an absolute zoo of tandem teams all grabbing breakfast at the same time! I felt sorry for the one overworked woman who was tasked with keeping breakfast items cooked and replaced and coffee pots full. They serve scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and biscuits as well as the normal grab and go and waffles.

We had decided to start the first day with the shorter 35 mile ride. It took us through beautiful flat to rolling farm land and through 2 old covered bridges. The day was just beautiful, we were on the bike by 8:00 and it was mid-50s with sunny skies.

This is the first of 2 covered bridges.

This is the second covered bridge.

After the ride we rode back the hotel and got cleaned up.

We found a well reviewed place in downtown Albany called Brick and Mortar and decided to try them for lunch. It was great both service and food and the place was packed!

I had a salmon melt and Chris had a crab cake burger.

Downtown Albany is being restored and is just beautiful. As you can see in the photo of the Flint Bldg above they are restoring all the old downtown. We spent about 2 hours wandering around town.

We also made another visit to the Historic Carousel and Museum to watch the carvers as they worked on the carousel animals. It takes the painters a year or more to paint a carousel animal and can take 8 or more years to carve one.

One of the painters at work on a Unicorn.

When we left the Carousel we walked down the river path to enjoy the Willamette River.

Northwest Tandem Rally – Redding to Albany

Today we got up at 6:00 got showered and had some breakfast. We were on the road before 8:00. It’s slightly less than 6 hours to Albany, OR from Redding, CA according to Waze and traffic turned out to be light.

We had an early lunch at a place called Heaven on Earth Restaurant and Bakery in Azalea, OR. Wonderful food and service, highly recommended. Plus they have amazing cinnamon rolls, I’ve been told. I can attest to the fact that they look delicious and they are huge.

We are now sitting in our room thinking about driving over to the Tandem Rally registration to get our packets.

After getting our packets we went over to The Historic Carousel and Museum in downtown Albany. It is well worth the visit. All of the carousel animals are hand carved by volunteers. They are absolutely incredible. We took a tour of the carving area as well as a ride on the carousel.

Northwest Tandem Rally 2018

We’re off! It took a bit to wrap our heads around what to bring but we are finally packed and out the door.

Love, love, love the packing cubes from EBags! All my cycling clothes for 4 days in one large one and all my regular clothes in another with underwear and socks in a medium. Perfect!

It took us about 7 hours to get to our hotel in Redding. We ran into a couple of accidents. Waze routed us around the first one but couldn’t route us around the second.

On the way to Redding we stopped for lunch at Carl’s Junior in Soledad. Won’t do that again! The people working were great but the bathrooms were filthy and the french fries tasted of rancid grease.

Made it to our hotel and after checking in went to C. R. Gibbs. Had a glass of wine for me and a beer for Chris along with Cajun Chicken Caesars for dinner. The food is always good and so is the service.