One day it’s snowing, another day it’s raining and just to keep things interesting, a warm day is thrown into the mix. That’s what March in Maine is all about, which makes planning an outdoor adventure a lesson in weather watching and taking advantage of every condition when family time is available. With flexibility in mind, we managed two fun urban trail adventures this month on Portland trails.
We tossed our cross-country skis in the car after a snowstorm to see if we could squeeze in an hour at Riverside Golf Course in Portland before dark. The trails there are typically groomed for skiing and with both kids at a Portland school in the afternoon, it’s a convenient place for a quick stop when I can sneak out of the office early.
Our friend, Shannon, joined us on this adventure. It was as much about getting on our skis as it was about exercising for all of us.
We had an hour before dark and thought we could cover a mile or two in that time. That turned out to be a conservative estimate because we managed to cover 3.5 miles despite Shannon and I doing quite a bit of chatting and skiing at a leisurely pace.
And I have to say, watching a winter sunset while cross-country skiing is awfully darn nice.
A week later the snow was melting and we felt a hint of spring in the air. I consulted Shannon, who joined the girls and I again, and we decided we were not in the mood for skiing. So we decided to go on a hiking loop that included the Eastern Prom and Bayside trails in Portland.
We parked at the Top of the Old Port parking lot and headed down to Commercial Street to catch the Eastern Prom Trail. I don’t always have the kind of karma that has me running into friends randomly on Portland streets but I did on this day. We stopped to chat a couple of times so it took a little longer than planned to get to the Eastern Prom trail. But it was a nice way to get rolling.
A little way into that trail the kids and I commented on the fact that we are usually on wheels of some kind — bikes or rollerblades — on this particular path. No matter our speed, we like walking here because there are always some interesting sites, beyond the great view of Casco Bay and the waterfront happenings. The waste treatment plant’s bubbling brown water is always a fascination. And the graffiti wall seems to always require a moment to interpret what the letters created by the artists actually are. All those flowing bubble letter-type drawings need a bit of code-breaking.
We found another wall of graffiti on the Bayside trail with an unfortunate spelling error but (by some stroke of luck?) the grammar use of “you’re” was correct. When words are your business, these sorts of things jump out at you. You don’t want to care but you can’t help but ponder the unfortunate physical evidence of a law-breaking individual’s intelligence.
When we looped back to the parking lot, we were surprised to discover that my smartphone mapping application recorded we had covered 4.6 miles. That’s some solid exercising mileage and a nice bonus after a pleasant walk chatting with my teenagers and friends.
In the spring it’s always best to keep outdoor adventures simple and flexible. It’s just nice to be outdoors knowing a new season is right around the corner. Portland trails has a lot to offer for busy families who want to enjoy some time together while getting outdoors during a stormy season. And the sights — scenic and otherwise — are always entertaining.
Wendy Almeida can be contacted at 791-6334 or at: