The positive buzz I achieved through my European adventure was squelched upon arriving home in Orlando. I awakened on June 12 to the horrifying news that 49 people had been killed at Pulse nightclub. Many others had been badly injured and even more forever tattooed with the disgusting mark of terror. This event was preceded by the senseless shooting of a young singer and followed by a startling and fatal alligator attack. My hometown was weeping. The world was as well. With all of this, I considered canceling the great American road trip I had planned. Thankfully, I reconsidered because the beauty and strength of the United States of America has renewed my spirit and faith in human goodness. On to the trip.
I loaded up my whip with the essentials: snacks, wine, and my rescue mutt and headed for Philly. I made a necessary pit stop for sleep in North Carolina and ventured on to the Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia. I like the Kimpton chain because they allow my nearly 100 pound Pit Bull-Great Dane mix to join in the fun. It goes beyond that though. They actually welcome him – often with treats, doggy essentials and name-recognition on the pet chalkboard. I like Kimpton for many other reasons too. They are usually pretty swanky and sometimes very, very swanky. This Philly location exceeded the mark with its great location and trendy decor. I got my boy settled before heading out on foot to eat.
Jim’s Steaks came highly recommended by friends from Philly. It was a few blocks from the hotel. I got the mushroom steak. It is a traditional cheesesteak with provolone and mushrooms (canned to my chagrin). I ate it with mustard. It was good. Truthfully though, I was disappointed. I have heard about Philly cheesesteaks my whole life. “Delicious”, they said. “The best thing you’ll ever eat”, I heard. Again, it was good. Would I eat it again? Probably. However, I will not dream of this sandwich as I do so many others. Maybe I went to the wrong place? If so, let me know and I’ll happily give it another go.
I toured the major historical attractions of Philly, all of which were conveniently located within blocks of my hotel. The constitution and liberty bell stood out. The history in this city is profoundly moving and makes one realize and forever appreciate the incredible sacrifices made by the founding fathers. God bless America! I happened upon Franklin Fountain on Market Street for some ice cream before heading back to the hotel. The next day I awoke early to run the Rocky steps before hitting the road. Cheesy, I know, but it had to be done. I Ubered to the Philadelphia Museum of Art which was not yet open, ran the steps, placed my feet in the Rocky footprints and gazed upon the statue. The thing that surprised me most was the sheer number of museums in Philadelphia. I will most certainly return to enjoy them. On to Maine.
After eight hours of heavy traffic, I arrived in Ogunquit, Maine with tired eyes and a frazzled spirit. Nothing a little sea air and the Ogunquit Lobster Pound couldn’t cure though. Two and a half pounds of lobstah and a few glasses of Malbec later, I was feeling satisfied. I had checked in at the Footbridge Beach Motel upon arrival and headed back there to relieve my puppy. This is an affordable, tidy and friendly spot. The rooms are rather utilitarian though and my spoiled pooch let me know that this was not up to his standards each time he jolted in the night with the noises of neighboring rooms.
I woke up and met friends at Barnacle Bill’s for a bite. The lobster salad was just okay. The weather, however, was amazing and we soaked it in with an outside table. After lunch, I walked the beautiful Marginal Way Walk back to the Footbridge. I then drove for Kennebunkport. It was here that I found the hotel to which I had tried and failed to procure a reservation. I was ignorant to the fact that Colony Hotel fills up half a year in advance. It is dog-friendly and perfectly Maine. I enjoyed a nice midday snack and rosé by the pool, which overlooks the ocean, before dining at the neighboring Mabel’s Lobster Claw. I went with the lobster melanaise at this popular old school spot and washed it down with a house red. The meal was beautifully presented and was really tasty albeit a bit dry. The Ogunquit Lobster Pound won this round in terms of taste and value, for sure. I shopped a bit in Kennebunkport and hit up a cute pet store where I bought a new toy for my pooch before being lured in by Rococo Ice Cream. I went with the raspberry red wine sorbet. IT WAS AMAZING! It was tart and refreshing with a unique boozy bite. Go there if you come to town. I made it back to the Footbridge and prepped for the short jaunt to Boston. In short, coastal Maine is breathtakingly scenic and warrants much more than two days. I’ll be back. Soon.