We had a great day leading up to our first visit to Portland since we moved away more than four years ago. We woke to heavy rain in Watertown, New York and had terrible fears of driving all day in a downpour. Fortunately, it didn’t exactly work out that way. We made a quick stop at the grocery store to replenish our supplies (and our stomachs) and headed East toward the Adirondacks.
In spite of the gloom, the Adirondacks glowed with the vivid reds and oranges of fall. We passed Lake Placid and got to see the ski jump used in the 1980 winter Olympics. By the time we crossed Lake Champlain into Vermont, the sky had turned light grey; we were outrunning the rain. Just into Vermont, we stopped to take a gander at a large field full of migrating Canadian and snow geese. Back in Seattle, most of the geese have forgotten about migrating and have become pests. It’s nice to see flocks of the birds that still remember the whole south-in-the-winter thing. The rest of the drive through Vermont was one quaint town after the other, separated by fields of holsteins and brilliantly colored hills. Migrating geese, red sugar maples, white steepled churches… we had arrived in New England.
Crossing the Connecticut River into New Hampshire, we passed through Hanover, home of Dartmouth and author Bill Bryson, whose book of essays “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” kept us company across much of the midwest. We didn’t spot Mr. Bryson among the throngs of students in town, but it was interesting to see many of the places he’d described in his essays.
We drove across New Hampshire eyeing a very pink sunset in the rear view mirrors. Even though we arrived in Maine after dark, we took a drive around Portland after eating dinner at our old favorite pizza joint, Ricetta’s. Seeing Portland again after four years was at once familiar and very strange. It’s like re-reading a classic novel only to find that someone has subtly rewritten it, leaving most of it the same, but changing just enough to make the whole thing unsettling. Much of downtown Portland seems to be looking better than it did when we left, but then the economy as a whole is doing better than it was then. We’ll be staying in Portland for three nights, so we will have plenty of time to check out the changes in town.