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Eastern Travel, August 10-11: onto Portland, ME

After Montreal, our trip took a decidedly existential turn. Apart from needing to be in Washington, D.C. by August 17th, we had no specific plans. We knew we wanted to see Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, all the way to the Coast. We knew we wanted to visit the Ben and Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vermont. And we desired some time in the Adirondacks to get our nature on.

Leaving Montreal, we looked at our map, and said, “Let’s go to Maine.”

The journey proved more fun than the destination.

We re-entered the U.S. in Vermont, driving down through St. Johnsbury (known as “St. Jay” to locals). We stopped for a meal at the St. Jay Diner (good egg salad sandwich), and noticed in some local pamphlet that there was a “Dog party” happening on “Dog Mountain.” Stacy is a total suck for dogs, so we headed out there to see what was going on.

Dog Mountain is the creation of the artist Stephen Huneck. It’s main feature is the Dog Chapel, which honors canids both alive and dead. The Dog Party is a yearly event on Dog Mountain, where folks drive up, bring their dogs, and celebrate. It’s definitely a day of joy and play, even when the weather proves inclement (as it did this day).

That’s me in front of the Dog Chapel. You can also see my developing food baby.

The Dog Chapel features stained glass windows celebrating qualities of our canid friends.

A detail from a different window.

Climbing up the hill, you’re rewarded with a remarkable view of the countryside. It was raining, so we didn’t stand around for long.

Leaving Dog Mountain, we continued east. We stopped briefly at Maple Grove Farms, one of Vermont’s three thousand roadside maple purveyors. Sadly, there were no tours that day (being a Sunday), but the gift store was open, and many maple products were purchase. Mmmmm… pure maple candy…

My new best friend, a giant tin of maple syrup

St. Johnsbury also features perhaps the most pedestrian historical marker in the United States:

We then drove through New Hampshire and into Maine. Our timing was such that we simply headed straight for Portland.

It turns out that, at least in the summer, Portland is a very expensive place to stay. Our Motel 6 room cost $79, and it was among the shabbier Motel 6’s I’ve ever stayed in.

Portland is a fine enough town. The waterfront area, with the shops and restaurants, is a little over-touristy for me, but there are spots where the locals go.

It’s a remarkably food-oriented town. Lots of nice restaurants (we ate at Walter’s, and had a good cuisine-y meal), a foody grocery store (Portland Greengrocer), and a yuppie-friendly public market.

Apart from eating, though, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot for visitors to do. So we made our way back west…

  1. Pure maple candy? Eeeew. Syrup is great, but solidified is too much. (And is it “see-rup” or “sir-up”?)

  2. I was there just last week: VT, NH, ME. I’ve been lightly blogging about that trip over at There’s a little bit there now in response to your entry here. (I managed to develop a bit of a food baby too. How could you not, when everything up there is fried?)

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