Thursday, September 5, 2013

Day 50: Woodstock to Portland, ME

269 miles, 4:5 hours

Woodstock, N.B. to Portland, ME.
After a month of being in a "foreign" country, it was time to return to the U.S. The experience evoked my dormant patriotism.

The U.S. border is 15-20 minutes from Woodstock, New Brunswick. Our wait at Customs was short and the questions we were asked were few, though delivered with gratifying sternness.

To my amazement, as soon as we got into our own country, everything seemed to improve. The heavy skies and anemic sun breaks of the past couple of weeks gave way to a clear blue backdrop for harmless white clouds. The freeway was larger and better marked, and there was little traffic. We sailed through the mixed forest, thinking that even the trees stand taller in the U.S. I played some music from our childhood, Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, from the iPod through the car speakers. Being home felt pretty good.

Except for the clouds, which put on a stunning display of changing forms throughout the day, the trip was uneventful. Clouds, I thought, are a good metaphor for the life force—restlessly seeking new forms, appearing to be stable while constantly changing.

We arrived at Best Western Merry Manor at 4 p.m. I might just mention that on July 20, nine weeks ago, we were in Portland, Oregon

In order to add some interest to the day, Captain Dan decided we should have dinner at DiMillo's on the Water, which is located on a converted car ferry in Portland's marina. There was a certain excitement to this. The hotel desk clerk had attested to its popularity. There was a huge sign advertising DiMillo's above the parking lot, which is also a public lot, and cars were streaming in. There was a gift shop and an information booth, and then the long covered gangway to the ship, which had been reconfigured into several nautical dining areas with large windows.

View of Portland Marina through the window at DiMillo's on the Water
DiMillo's is an exceedingly well-run business. The service was excellent, the food was outstanding, the prices were reasonable. This is pretty amazing considering how many meals they crank out per night. The waiter helped me make up a terrific salad. Dan and I shared the special, which was shrimp, scallops, and mussels—all fresh and local—in a marinara sauce over angel hair pasta, a delicate taste. While we ate, the sunset turned the clouds pink. The yachts in the harbor rose and fell in a lulling rhythm. After dinner, the waiter encouraged us to explore the ship, and I took some night shots of the harbor from the top deck. It was all quite romantic.

The Portland Marina at night