The Portland of the East

Writers Note:  This is the sixth part and final part in a multi-part series detailing a 3 day trip to Mt. Washington, Acadia National Park, and Portland, Maine.  If you want the rest, here’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Slow, steady rain.  The kind that evokes no emotion or panic, it’s just there.  A well-worn pooch naps peacefully on the porch as the calm, beaten down crow of Bog Seger’s “Down on Main Street” completes the grey, somber scene.  Draped in dirty hiking pants and ensconced in an unmistakable post-camping stench, I wander into Gilbert’s Chowder House hoping to get a taste of the revered chowder and quickly hit the road.


Bob Seger puts me to sleep too

I wait, still a bit on the impatient side for this sleepy section of the Coast, and eventually am greeted by a haggard, old waitress.  “What can I get for you, honey?”.  She insists on hovering close to my smelly beard and face, even slightly brushing my hand.  I scramble to pick something, the pressure mounts.  Her close physical proximity and labored breathing is not entirely unlike those inquisitive animals sniffing my tent the night before.  I settle on a clam chowder bread bowl.  Not the most original choice but a litmus test for seafood quality, no doubt.


A nap would be kind of nice right about now

My appetite grows.  I take a quick panoramic view.  Weathered, old wooden buildings on my left.  To my center, a sleepy harbor, the source of boat horns periodically piercing the damp, coastal fog.  To my right, two short-haired lesbians casually chat as their attentive terrier stares longingly at their juicy, fried platter.  All of this complemented by the distinctive aroma of seaweed and salt emanating from the bay.


The mural says it all

Finally, the moment arrives.  A steaming pool of clam chowder wrapped in a soft, sourdough bread bowl.  The food is no disappointment.  I eagerly devour the soup and most of the bread bowl, ready to get back on the road.  I pay and head out the swinging doors, fully intending to get in my car and drive south to Hartford.

To my right, I spot rusting railroad tracks leading through a cluster of industrial, red-brick buildings.  Wanderlust takes hold, even still I promise myself that I will walk for a few minutes then turn back.


We’ll just walk for a few minutes, right?

A few minutes turns into a few hours as I stumble upon an eclectic yet predictable cluster of shops and restaurants.  Hipster vibes abound as I walk through shops with everything from wood-carved Buddha statues to organic hemp sweaters.  Indian food, Mexi-Cali food.  Everything so uniformly different.  Grey-bearded old men and tattooed young free-spirits dot the cobble-stoned streets.  I leave entirely confused.  Portland, Maine has every bit as many hippies per capita1as Portland, Oregon.  Add to the mix that Portland, Oregon was actually named for Portland, Maine and we now have a legitimate debate.  Who should carry the flag of righteous separation from societal conventions, man?


There’s no Waldo but I do spot a “Freak Street Smoke Shop”

1  Every blogger has to include at least one completely unsubstantiated statistic, right?