From NYC to Portland Maine, Gritty McDuffs!

My last day in New York City wrapped things up nicely. First was a trip to the sushi sake spot where "wasake" was invented, a shot of hot sake with a chunk of wasabi mixed in. Mark went to work after this, I headed to the apartment to gather my things and get a shower in, as well a half way decent attempt to buzz some of my hair off.

I met Mark at work and grabbed a beer from his smiling coworker, they let him get off early and I finished up a second drink that was poured for me. We had a train to catch eventually, but a one last trip to the Ginger Man was in order. We had a couple new beers each and caught up with the girl working there we'd met the first time around. We got one last beer, Kwak, and handed the bartender and empty growler for her to fill up, soon we were off to Grand Central.

We enjoyed our beer on the train, sharing some with the women next to us. One of them women particularly enjoyed the beer, and quizzed Mark on different drinks, she also told me she could publish a book for me. She gave us a business card that we later read to discover she had about eight different professions. Sean picked us up at the train station in Connecticut and we headed to their folks' place and shortly passed out while watching a movie.

We were up early with Portland on our minds, some goodbyes to the folks and the three of us were on the road. We made the all important stop for McDonalds breakfast and continued up I-95. After about 5 hours and some coffee breaks we arrived in Portland Maine, in search for Gritty McDuffs, a place I'd been hearing of for years, known for good beer and food.

We found our way and got a pitcher straight away of their bitter beer. We had some great food and more beer, finally deciding to take a walk down to the pier. At this, Mark and Sean were ready to get on the road again back to Connecticut. Three hundred miles to have a few beers, then three hundred miles back. I planned on sticking around though, I got in touch with my couchsurfing host and the guys dropped me off at the place and said their goodbyes.

Jamie was my host, her boyfriend and mom were at her place shooting zombies on the TV screen and drinking a couple beers. Her mom disappeared and her dad showed up shortly after ready to take her out to dinner. I opted to go walk around the city a bit.

I first went to the nearby park, it had an overlook that was high above the city where everything was visible. There was a few guys on a bench working on some bud lights, soon another group of people came and sat down too. I went over and got to talking with them all about what was going on in the city and in general. One mentioned an observatory nearby, they also told me about the tripping tree across town where people climbed up into a sort of natural tree house where people smoked and whatnot.

Half of them took off and I did the same, walking down the hill towards town to see what would happen. I saw the observatory one had mentioned and climbed the steps into it, there was a young guy sitting behind a table counting up money. He told me it was closed, but if I waited a minute for him to finish that he would take me up to the top. We went up several flights of spiraling steps until we reached the deck above that overlooked everything, it was originally built to see ships coming in and alert the town and docks by hanging certain flags.

The guy was nice and seemed somewhat bored, not with the moment perhaps, but with things in general. He gave me a map and pointed downtown to where I might find some good times. I got to walking in that direction, the one I was headed for anyhow. Ten of fifteen blocks later he rolled up next to me in his car saying he'd forgotten to give me another pamphlet or some such and handed it to me. He asked if I wanted to check out the lighthouse he'd pointed out to me earlier, apparently the second oldest in the country. I said sure and hopped in the car and we cruised across town.

When we got there a sign said the park was closed, he drove right by it saying that it was probably just closing now and they wouldn't notice, they didn't. After seeing the old light, we headed back to his car where he continued to give me an impromptu tour of the city. Things like old forts and the mansions in Cape Elizabeth. After all of this he dropped me off back in the thick of things downtown.

I wandered for a bit popping in and out of places and following the sound of live music when I heard it, then decided to head back to Jamie's place. She was with her boyfriend, talking of a couple small get togethers that may be going on. One of their friends came by and the four of us headed to Kennebunk, south of Portland.

We arrived at a farm house far off in the back roads, one of their friends waived us is. There were just three people there, lounging in a loft area of the old farm house that was clearly laced with memories of good times past and accepting of the good times at hand. With beers in hand we got to talking, mostly them catching up, I don't think they'd seen each other in a while.

Soon a bit of jam session broke out. Mike was a tall skinny guy who'd apparently been the type to wear tight snake skin pants and surround himself self with fake breasted rocker blondes. He played the guitar as did his friend, his girlfriend smiled in the devilish and loving way one does when they're on acid, chiming in lyrics as they came to her, laughing on the inside if not forthright.

In between jamming and playing songs from a scrap book and memory, discussion of somewhat philosophical things would break out. From the meaning of the stars to saving the earth, the night went on. Eventually we were on our way, the girl gave us each a cherry from a bowl in the kitchen. In the car driving away they laughed about the whole situation, saying that the group had changed quite a bit since they'd last seen each other, but all and all everyone was pleased with the experience of the night.

In the morning I was ready to leave Portland and move on to Canada. I was glad to have finally made it to Portland in the style in which I did, and also happy I'd got to share a chunk of it with Mark and Sean. Next stop, Quebec City!

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