By Kevin Hom
While thousands of runners prepared to race in the rain the night before Marathon Monday, I was on a journey to Portland, Maine. There were plenty of people who asked me what I doing in Portland, and to be honest, there probably is no good reason to be traveling up to Portland on a normal day. I salute you for joining me on this less-than-spectacular trip.
I planned on going to Portland approximately two months in advance, and I made sure to buy an early ticket because I assumed I would go take a bunch of pictures and sightsee at Casco Bay and Old Port. Little did I know I’d be stepping off the bus to a snow/hail mix, severely underdressed — I was wearing a white Team USA Olympic windbreaker, a gray hoodie with a long sleeve T-shirt underneath, black jeans and a pair of running shoes.
Virtually stuck at Portland Transportation Center, the only visible dwelling nearby aside from a couple houses, I contemplated sitting out my misery for seven-ish hours. But I was growing hungry, so I decided to catch the next bus (buses ran once an hour) downtown to see what was available to me. A quick peek using Google Maps showed me that virtually nothing was open until 1 p.m., except for the Portland Museum of Art. So despite not being an “art” person, the Museum of Art would become my home for three hours. I swear the art wasn’t very nice. Ninety-nine percent of the artists there were American, for starters. Need to see it to believe it? I spent a long while staring at a most hideous Richard Tuttle painting.
I don’t know whether to thank or loathe Groupon for presenting me with a half-off coupon to go to the museum. I guess an $8.50 donation to a museum is better than hanging out at a bus station all day.
Once the clock struck 1 p.m., I walked down the block to a gastropub called Little Tap House.
After I was seated, the manager asked me if I was in the Olympics, which I should’ve replied:
It probably could’ve gotten me a free meal and a picture on their “wall of fame.” I could tell my children that a restaurant in middle-of-nowhere Maine had believed that I was an Olympian.
Having to tell the manager that I wasn’t at Pyeongchang, nor was I part of the Olympic team was quite humorous. I had to stifle my laughter to avoid being impolite.
I had the French onion soup, the poutine and the Canadian eggs. They were pretty good. I wish I had the sense to take pictures, but it was cold, and I was hungry. I didn’t realize my faux-pas until I was halfway done with my meal.
The manager’s question didn’t really surprise me. She was probably aware of the Stars on Ice show, which — taadaa! — was the reason why I was there. Stars on Ice had shows in Boston and Providence that would’ve been more convenient for me to go to. However, the meet-and-greet tickets were sold out for those shows. So, being the autograph and picture seeker I am, I trekked out three hours via Concord bus to Portland!
The meet-and-greet was pretty cool too. I guess it’s just me bragging at this point.
Granted, they were so incredibly nice to everyone, but they took forever. As in, I bought a ticket to go back to Boston at 8 p.m., and well…
Let’s just say I missed that bus badly. I took an Uber back to Portland Transportation Center, only to find out that the next bus wouldn’t come until 3 a.m., and the station would close at 11 p.m. To make matters even worse, I had to stay overnight in arguably the emptiest city of all-time. And it was freezing (remember, I was already underdressed earlier). In other words, I ended up here trying to find a place to stay for the night.
It took me 15 minutes to come across a place called the Inn at St. John, and it was… accommodating.
There was free water and cookies and a free breakfast (consisting of muffins and Nature Valley Granola Bars). But the rooms were incredibly small.
I had to pay an extra $4 for a private bath or share one with a bunch of strangers dorm style. I opted to splurge a little bit today given the circumstances.
I did make it back to Boston on Marathon Monday morning — just in time to face-plant on my bed and fall asleep.