Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Portland ME - The "Getting There" Part

4:00 AM comes way too soon when you don't fall asleep until nearly midnight!  And then it was a long day getting to Portland, with a 7 AM flight from Houston and a connecting flight in Dulles. But excitement fueled me throughout the day!  This is going to be a very special weekend and a very special race for me....it is the last of the 50 states needed to complete my quest of half marathons in all 50 states!  My brain is crackling with those thoughts!

A special bib, ordered from an online race accessory shop.  They
enclosed a little note with my order, congratulating me on this milestone!
All flights and connections went smoothly.  I admit to nodding off repeatedly on the leg from Houston to Dulles, but by 3:00 PM I was in Portland, Maine and I was wide awake with excitement.

Portland is a small airport, with easy rental car pickup and a short, five mile drive to the hotel in downtown along the waterfront. I made a quick stop at a Shaw's grocery store right on my route to pick up some fruit and a small box of Cheerios - and a small stash of chocolate - and next thing I knew, I was at the corner of Franklin St. and Commercial St and the Hilton Garden Inn.  It was easy to find, easy to pull in and oh-so-easy to turn the car over to the valet and get checked in. My room is gorgeous!  Big corner room full of windows and a view of the water.  A wonderfully comfortable place to spend the next few days!


Big, spacious corner room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

My beautiful, spacious room for the next several days!

Now to get out into the fresh air filled with the dockside smells of ocean and fish and salt!

Seafood - Fresh off the docks!

Local "color"

With a couple of hours to explore before my friend Sandy arrived from California, I walked along Commercial Street, poking my head into shops and checking out various restaurant menus for future reference.  Well, and to find the Starbucks, too!  It had been a very long day, and with no caffeine...what can I say!

Well....okay.  It's been a very long day for me.


There...is this better?  A local micro brew:
Allagash White

An excellent local craft beer and small seafood tapas plate at Boone's Fish House and I was revitalized!  From the second story deck I had a nice view of one of the many wharves that line the waterfront.

Sitting on second story deck at Boones Fish House.  View down the dock
Lots of little fish houses and restaurants lining the dock.

Sandy got in around dinner time, hungry and more than ready for dinner.  The hotel staff recommended Walter's, a very nice restaurant up a side street and a pretty walk to get there along ancient cobblestone streets.
Neat old building...too bad about the crane though

Old, historic cobblestone streets.  Quaint, but
very hard to walk on them.

The next day I met Sandy after her morning run at Starbucks and we made plans for the day.   While she showered and cleaned up, I called a tour company and made reservations for the two of us for that afternoon.

So off we went, back to Boone's for lunch, and then we took a tour of the city on a cool, converted fire truck!  It was perfect! Much of the tour route was on roads that we'd be running in the race the next day so not only did we get a nice hour long history lesson about the city, but we also got a good feel for the roads we'd be running the next day.

How fun is this?!  Old fire engine, converted to a tour bus.

Historic mansions - home to sea captains and wealthy merchants, sitting up on a bluff, overlooking Casco Bay:

Some gorgeous mansions along the waterfront bluffs.

View of the harbor and Casco Bay from Fort Allen Park: Mast of the USS Portland is permanently on display (visible in photo).  This ship is the only U.S. ship to participate in all four WWII Pacific battles in 1942.

Fort Allen Park:  mast of the USS Portland resides here.  View out to the abandoned
fortification, Fort Gorges, sitting in the middle of the bay.

Portland Observatory, built in 1807 by Captain Lemuel Moody, today it is the only known remaining signal tower in the United States:

Portland Observatory
Before returning to the hotel, we took a detour to our previously scouted cup cake store, East End Cupcakes, and bought a dozen to bring back to the room for a post-race treat.  I had purchased a bottle of champagne the afternoon before at a very nice wine shop near the hotel.  Then it was over to Portland Ocean Gateway to get our race packets.

Packet Pickup for the race.  Maps of the route and runner information board
Nicely organized packet pickup.
It was too late for Sandy to buy a ticket for the Lobster Bake, so she headed off into town to find dinner and I gorged myself on boiled lobster, steamed clams, corn on the cob, pineapple salsa, and a big slice of Maine blueberry pie.

Standing in line, hungrily anticipating my first of,
hopefully many, lobster meals of the trip.

A very good-size lobster polished off, along with corn on the cob,
and then the finishing touch:  Maine blueberry pie!

As I walked back to the hotel, I texted Sandy: "Where are you?"
"At the Black Dog store," she replied.

Sandy, trying to show me how to take a "selfie."
I am really pathetic!  I think my arms are too short!
So we met back up, did a little shopping, then made plans to meet up at the hotel lobby at 6:30 AM the next morning and walk to the race start.

Tomorrow:  Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and my final state....my 50th state! [insert squeal of excitement here].

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