2017 Running Trip – Day 7 – Portland, Maine

Day 7 is always a bit of celebration day. A week on the running trip is a grind, so I like to take it easier on the final day. We woke up in Boston at the Poppe’s house, had a wonderful breakfast to fuel us up, said our goodbyes, and jumped in the rental car for the two hour drive north to Portland, Maine.

I’ve been to Portland a few times. The city continues to get better and better. Simply being in Maine is fun. The state that calls itself “Vacationland” knows why people love it so much. My exposure to the state has always been Portland, so I have a LOT more of the state to explore at some point during my life. Fun fact – 40% of Maine’s population lives in the Greater Portland area.

Our first stop upon arriving in Portland was the Eastern Promenade, a beautiful area of the city with sweeping views of the water. The Promenade was filled with runners, cyclists and families with children. I took the opportunity to thank Jeremy Sale again before we began our run.

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And of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to look into a cannon. The tradition continues! I thanked Ben Fleming for his donation. Ben is a Fraternity brother from Iowa State who lives in Paris. Tillie and I met up with him a few years back when we were visiting the city. I’ll never forget the falafel we had with him. Thanks Ben!

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Our next stop was the Portland Museum of Art, the largest and oldest public art institution in Maine. I thanked Jamison Arends again for his donation. 

A funny story about my shirt for the day – Tillie and I took the kids to a STEM fair at Iowa State a few weeks back, and I spotted a guy wearing an Iowa State Running Club t-shirt. My first thought was, “I have to get one of those things.” I asked Matt Ryan, the individual wearing the shirt, if I could buy two. He connected me with Wes Graham, the president of the Running Club, and a few days later, I met Wes to make the transaction! When we were in Providence, a man walked up to me to ask if I was in the club. His son is a sophomore member of the club! I received a few other encouraging comments about Iowa State football while wearing the shirt. Count that as a first for the running trip!

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Portland’s West End neighborhood is quite beautiful. It’s quiet, filled with old architecture, diverse, has a number of pockets for eating and nightlife, and just feels like what you would expect Portland to be.

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More fun architecture in the West End.

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We also stopped at the Victoria Mansion in the West End. The building is recognized as one of the finest, and least-altered examples of a large Italianate brick/brownstone home in the United States. I thanked David & April one last time for their donation and was apparently trolled by the shadow of a stop sign.

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Midway through our run for the day, we ended up checking in to our Airbnb for the evening. This year’s running trip has mostly been filled with hotels, definitely a change from past years. I had one other Airbnb booked (Providence), but an unexpected house fire a few weeks back changed those plans. Our Airbnb in Portland was an absolutely gem, and I want to thank Ralph for his amazing hospitality while we were in town.

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Ralph is an absolute pro of an Airbnb host. He knows how to take care of people, and he has designed and equipped his 19th century apartment with subtle details that make any stay enjoyable. We met Ralph upon arrival, and he gave us the rundown of the apartment and Portland. We mentioned that we wanted to brewery hop a bit, and we hit a passion point of his. He provided great recommendations, and it was fun to communicate with him throughout the day as we were experiencing them.

The apartment itself was amazing and is generally full throughout the year.

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So comfortable.

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After dropping off our bags and chatting with Ralph, we ran down to Commercial Street, the main street in the Old Port District of Portland. Old Port is known for its cobblestone streets, 19th century brick buildings and fishing piers. The district is filled with boutiques, restaurants and bars, and it was jam packed with visitors on a beautiful and sunny Saturday.

We stopped at Liquid Riot Bottling Company for a picture to thank Joe & Sarah Wechsler again and for a beer.

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We walked down Commercial Street to admire the crowd and sites, and I did my best to find a scene that captures the old port as much as possible to thank Rob & Julie Waltz again.

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Our next stop was for lunch at Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Company where we enjoyed fish & chips, a lobster roll and some clam chowdah. Day 7’s run is always more of an endurance race for the stomach vs. the legs. I thanked Brent Rauch at Gritty’s. Brent recently completed an Ironman competition in Madison, Wisconsin, an amazing accomplishment! In the process, Brent blogged about his experience. One day, he encouraged his readers to support my trip, and it was a pleasant surprise to read his kind words. Thanks Brent, you’re always a class act.

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I also thanked Brent at the next stop, Portland City Hall, as we ran towards an area of the city filled with breweries.

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And one more time at Rising Tide Brewing Company enjoying the pours, beautiful weather and friendly brewery dogs.

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Our next stop was one of our favorites of the day. Portland’s beer culture is wild, and it has the most breweries per capita of any U.S. city.  One of the hottest breweries in town at the moment is Lone Pine Brewing Company. Earlier that day, our Airbnb host Ralph had recommended this place as a must-see. He was spot on.

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Besides the beer, I really enjoyed Lone Tree’s logo. So simple, so great.

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Tom, a co-founder and head brewer of Lone Tree, allowed us to step behind the rope for a quick picture to thank Joe Dan Beavers one last time for his donation. Lone Pine’s demand has skyrocketed, keeping Tom very busy.

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Lone Tree also gave me a subtle reminder of home and my daughter Tess. 🙂 We made some friends from Boston at the brewery who kept us entertained for an hour or so. You give me the Boston accent, and I’ll talk to you for hours upon hours. Love that accent.

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Just down the road was probably the most interesting brewery I have ever visited – Urban Farm Fermentory. Wow, this place was cool. Before we entered, I thanked my friends Brian & Kristin Pates for their donation. Bryan and Kristin live around the corner from us in Ames, and our kids love playing with their son Connor. Besides the simple backyard BBQ, we enjoy a number of activities with the Pates, namely biking to Alluvial Brewery for a picnic, hikes at Ledges Park and co-ed volleyball leagues (Tillie).

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Inside of the brewery left us in awe. Somebody with some serious interior design skills made this place their playground. As you can see by the sign, so much is offered here – Beer, mead, cider, jun and kombucha. Ross’ exact words after taking a sip of his OctoberFest beer was, “Steve, I think this is the best OctoberFest beer I have ever had.”  We enjoyed a conversation with a young couple from Charleston, and then we began our journey to find dinner.

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Following a recommendation from one of the bartenders we befriended during the day, we ran to Longfellow Square to search for a restaurant. Ross identified a popular spot via Yelp called Hot Suppa. How do you not enter those doors with that name and a 4.5 star rating on Yelp? It was a wonderful decision. Ross had cajun duck meatloaf and I had a burger with delightful poutine on the side. Soooooo good!

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Following dinner, we walked home to take a load off and watch the Astros/Yankees game. The next morning, we ventured out again for a 3-mile run. I’m 70 days from completing the toughest athletic challenge of my life – running at least 3 miles every day in 2017. The streak has been a really fun challenge (mostly mental and time management), and I’ll be writing a separate post about the experience come January. My point of brining it up is that running 3 miles on the second Sunday of the running trip is not normal. Nonetheless, Ross was game and I had a few more people to thank. The run put us over 100 miles by foot for the week!

On Congress Street, I thanked Stephen Bloomer one last time.

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We went back to Commercial Street in the Old Port to thank Tyler Cronk again.

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And then we rewarded ourselves with great view of the Port…

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and out-of-this-world Maine potato donuts from Holy Donut.

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We walked back to the apartment, showered and packed, bid adieu to Ralph and headed to a final destination to put the cherry on top of the trip. You can’t visit New England without a lighthouse sighting, and we found the winner – Portland Head Light. In South Portland, this area is flooded with tourists for a good reason. How awesome is this?

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We jumped in the car to head to Manchester, New Hampshire, where we would be catching a flight home to Iowa.

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There are a few other people who I want to thank before I wrap up the 2017 running trip. Both B.J. Nelson and Kevin Marks made donations to my effort after I had signs produced. Thank you to both of you guys for your support, and sorry I wasn’t able to make it a visual thank you.

To my parents, thank you for helping Tillie throughout the week with the kids. With one kid in Kindergarten and one at daycare, logistics are a nightmare for two working parents, and leaving for a week is not simple. They stepped in graciously and helped where they could. I love you both and am proud to be your son.

To Megan Roti (Ross’ wife), thank you for letting Ross accompany me on this trip. I know it was a hectic week for you as well. You’re awesome, and Ross is lucky to have you. I know that the two of you have many travel plans for the future, and you’re lucky to have a husband who is such an easy guy with whom to travel! Seriously, I think we probably could have gone a few weeks without getting at each others’ throats.

To my wife Tillie, you are the absolute best. Thank you for letting me keep the running trip alive and sharing it with others. FaceTiming with you and the kids during the week provides great energy and is a constant reminder that I’m a lucky guy. This trip is something I hope to share with our kids at some point, and heck, if I can convince you, you’re going to be by my side at some point on one of these things! I love you.

To my travel companion Ross, thank you for saying yes to this experience. I take great pride in investing in the relationships that I have, and I know that this trip will provide lifelong memories. 100 miles in one week was nuts (and totally unexpected), but you complained a whole lot less than I did! I truly appreciate your patience, humor, good taste in food/beer, and ability to travel for a week with two small backpacks! Cheers pal.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. ralph c baldwin says:

    Steve, you have no idea how impressed I am by your ability to hit so much of Portland in such a short time. You are clearly a seasoned and organized traveler who knows how to find the essence of a place on your own. Great planning! And thanks for the review and link and comments about my apartment. Hope your life brings you back to Portland sometime.

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