Looking for accommodation in Maine over summer is one of those ‘three things, pick any two’ sort of activities. Except it’s price, time and proximity that are your trade-offs. I didn’t decide to get to all of the ‘day trip’ Red Sox affiliates until quite late in my stay in Boston and only left myself with 3 weeks to try and find accommodation in Portland (or within a 30 minute drive of Portland) for no more than ~$100 night, where I could reasonably arrive after a baseball game.
Yeah, nah, as we say in Perth when we mean we understand what you want, but it’s not going to happen. My original plan to drive up to Portland, see the Sea Dogs and then wend my way down Pawtucket to see the PawSox a week later sank without a trace when confronted with the reality of accommodation prices over summer. The price of an extra couple of tanks of petrol and $11/night/6 nights to garage the car at NorthEastern University would have got me 1 night in the Portland Motel 6 and no time anywhere in Vermont. Lots of driving and not going to Vermont became the preferred option.
I can see why Portland is so very popular, though. Along with being very pretty, it is also a very relaxed and hippy seaside holiday town (she says, writing from Sayulita on the Riviera Nayarit – which is a very pretty, relaxed and hippy seaside holiday town).
I think one of my favourite community signs was this one offering raw vegan treats or free reiki treatment for the return of a stolen bicycle. Oh, Portland!
This was also a town full of sneaky art and sneaky public participation art.
I was particularly fond of the teenage girl who wrote “Before I die I want to marry Mike Trout”, especially as it seemed the rest of her family were “Who’s the guy with the fish name? Is he in your class? Do I need to give him the talk?” Go, young baseball lover. May Mike Trout’s charms light the way into more baseball fannishness.
What also struck me about these were how wonderfully whimsical, witty and charming so many of these were. There were also so many that are eminently achievable. I would love to know whether these people follow through and do it. I love a good achievement. They were such fun to read – take a moment to click and get the larger images, it’s worth it.
I also went for a wander out along the Promenade, which made me itch for healthy achilles tendons as it looked like so much fun to run. Narrow paths, not too much up or down and the occasional spectacular view out over the bay to the islands and the bridges.
I stumped along pretty cheerfully and was very pleased to come across a fenced off water treatment plant where they had taken the time to put interpretive signage up to cover a whole range of “What is it? Why is it here? What does it do? What’s that bit for?” questions.
Eventually I got back to the car and headed up to see the Portland Sea Dogs. They were recently rated as one of the top-20 minor league parks to attend (my lovely Lowell came in at 57). I do not know who these people are or the criteria they used for their rankings, but it is certainly a convenient list to have for my next USA trip.
I did really have a good time at Hadlock Field and it definitely has its own distinct seaside holiday-town summer feeling. My two favourite non-game memories of the evening were the lobster tossing game, and how ridiculously excited the crowd got about the possibility of winning an inflatable cow.
I can’t even tell you which company sponsored the lobster-toss game, or what the prize was – I was completely fixated on my SeaDog Biscuit, which was a vanilla ice-cream slice sandwiched between two soft salty biscuits and is pretty much the best ‘sweet’ snack I’ve had at a baseball field. The inflatable cow thing was just… I guess it has history? Because I cannot figure out why it was so popular. And I had a hard time imagining a scenario in which one could give away a small inflatable cow and not have it turn into the kind of thing not fit to be seen by children. Or perhaps I’ve just been in too many cricket crowds.
And yet again, the company in my section was just delightful. I continue to really like baseball people where-ever I go.
Eventually I headed back to Boston. My original plan of just finding a nook on a side-road to curl up and sleep in the car just didn’t work with the number of people still out and about at 11.30pm. So I drove into Boston from the north very late and got to go over my favourite bits of bridge spaghetti and down the luge-lane into North Station and pick my way home through the buzzing one-way streets of Back Bay.
I swear, half the fun of leaving Boston is coming home again, especially from parts north.