Sadly, it was time to leave Quebec. We got up early on Jeudi, asked at the front desk for the car, and walked over to Starbucks for coffee and a scone for the road. The car was waiting when we got back.
We got on the highway out of QC and took a huge bridge over the St Lawrence. The speed limits were much slower than we would have liked. We passed through a long series of small Quebecois towns with moose crossing signs everywhere.
We reached the middle-of-nowhere border at CA173/US201 around 11:30. The only other person there was a lady on foot, which was incredibly perplexing since as far as we knew, there was nothing around for miles. The border agent looked in the car, but we didn’t have to pull over for the full inspection like we had entering Canada. USA!
We crossed into Maine and continued on through dense forest and hilly terrain. The first town was Jackman, so we stopped there to use the bathroom and get beverages. It looked like a northern-Wisconsin stop, all camo and gun supplies.
Eventually we met up with the Kennebec River, so at least we had something to look at.
FINALLY, we reached I-95. We stopped again right before getting on the freeway, and noticed some pretty sizeable storm clouds looming. Right around Augusta it started raining, then pouring, then something beyond pouring I haven’t really seen before. Visibility dropped to nothing on the interstate, and everyone pulled over to sit on the side of the road. I was worried it would hail and our tiny car would be pummeled to bits.
We sat there for about ten minutes, and then it let up. Everyone got back on the road again, and by the time we reached our exit at Freeport, it was sunny again (though the clouds were still hanging out behind us, waiting.)
Our first order of business in Maine was getting Matt a lobster roll. I’d spent some of the drive Googling to find out who had the best lobster roll in Freeport, and consensus was Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, on the marina in South Freeport.
The place was exactly what we wanted out of the Maine coast. I was thrilled they actually had some vegetarian options, too. A veggie burger isn’t exciting, but it’s something.
Matt ordered a lobster roll, and we shared a massive order of onion rings. The view was pretty good, too:
(This ended up being only the second-best lobster roll he had in Maine.)
By the time we finished eating, it was clear that the storm was coming our way. We decided to take shelter at Maine Beer Company.
They had a nice little taproom (which was quite new), and I was impressed with their commitment to being totally green. There were solar panels all over outside. The beers were awesome, too.
It started pouring, so we waited out the storm there. A guy came in with a guitar and started playing Bob Marley songs, so we considered living there. But we had farther to go, so we took a couple bottles to go, and got back on the road to Portland. It was rush hour time, so we ended up sitting in traffic on one of the many bridges in town. But since it’s a small town it wasn’t too bad, and we reached our hotel near the airport around 6pm. (It would have been easier to stay in downtown, but I wanted to be able to get back on the road early the next morning.)
After checking in, we got back in the car and headed downtown. We parked in a very expensive ramp, since street parking was nuts, and walked over to the Hunt & Alpine Club to have a pre-dinner cocktail. It was one of those stereotypical uber-hipster bars, but their drinks were really good, the staff was friendly, and they service Scandinavian food so we felt right at home.
Then it was time for the dinner reservation we’d made weeks in advance for Grace. It’s a restaurant in an old church in Portland.
We had a table on the rail overlooking the central bar and kitchen, and there was a huge church window behind us (and another bar). The host stand was a lector, and there were pews along the outside walls. The kitchen was up where the pulpit used to be. It was spectacular.
As was the food – we had mushroom and chevre ravioli as an appetizer, and my entree was marinated tempeh. Matt had pan-seared wahoo, farotto, and charred spring onions.
After dinner, we walked down to the port. It took us a while to get there even though it was a few blocks, because the lights NEVER changed for pedestrians to cross the large road along the port. It was really weird. We finally jaywalked and went into Liquid Riot, which was a combination brewery/distillery (called Infiniti). The crowd was very bro-ey.
One of their specialties was beer schnapps, so we sampled that and their white whiskey. We decided on beer rather than cocktails. They had a really excellent sour that I liked a lot.
Then it was time to go, so we paid our $21 parking fee (what the hell, Portland?) and went back to the hotel.