BigTrip Days 17 & 18

Two days in Portland, our former home! It’s a nice place to be a tourist. We’ve spent the time visiting former favorite restaurants, wandering around the old neighborhoods, checking out the lighthouses… Our first morning here was grey and windy, as we remembered Portland can be in the fall. After a bagel and some pretty decent coffee, we wandered around the Old Port, Portland’s oldest and coolest part of town. We lived in the Old Port for four of the six years we were in Portland.

We rarely spend time shopping when we’re traveling, but strangely, we found ourselves going from store to store. The Old Port’s brick buildings and cobblestone alleys make for nice wandering. At one of our old favorite bookstores, we were both very effectively trained by the resident dog to play fetch. Down the street from there, we browsed through a kitchen store we used to frequent. The smell of the place: coffee beans, candy, and old building brought back a wave of memories. Next in line was Green Design, a furniture gallery with some really amazing stuff we’ve been admiring for years. When we returned to our car after our nostalgic reverie, we found a parking ticket on the windshield. More nostalgia! As it was four years ago, the ticket was only $10. What’s more, the city gives you one freebie every six months, so we don’t have to pay. So, why did we leave Portland, anyway?

One of the statistics that Portland residents often bandy about in conversation is culinary: apparently, Portland is second only to San Francisco in the number of restaurants per capita. We took advantage of that little tidbit by visiting several of our old favorites: Gritty McDuff’s for chili and corn bread; Chowderheads for the best seafood chowder; Uncle Billy’s for fabulous barbecue and funky ambiance. Best of all, though, was dinner at Street & Company, the greatest seafood bistro on Earth.

The other culinary high point of Portland is the beer. New England and the Northwest both have thriving microbrew markets, but we’ve really missed a lot of the great Maine brews. Very hoppy and bitter, but wonderfully aromatic. Yum.

Speaking of Earth, our side trip up to Freeport took us past the new DeLorme headquarters, home of the world’s largest rotating globe. It was unexpectedly compelling. It rotates at one revolution per hour and is made up of the latest satellite and ocean-depth data. We weren’t the only people who were strangely mesmerized by the huge thing. Freeport is all about L.L. Bean, and it was strange to be back there. They’ve expanded yet again since we left, but it somehow felt just the same.

Of course, we also had to drive by our old workplaces. Strange. Finally, we were able to recall some reasons why we left… Portland is a wonderful place to visit, but our time here has also reminded us of the many things we love about Seattle. Our whole visit has been a little surreal. Everything is the same, yet different. It’s good to be back, but it’s no longer home. Home is 3000 miles west and after today, we will begin heading that direction. First, though, we have to go south!

Today’s Photos: