Phuc Tran of Portland is the author of “Sigh, Gone,” a 2020 memoir about growing up as the son of Vietnamese refugees. His children’s book “Cranky,” about a construction crane in a bad mood, came out in February. He’ll be the guest at the Press Herald’s Maine Voices Live event on Tuesday, March 26, at One Longfellow Square in Portland. 

Beatrice Buckley, a barista at The Proper Cup in Portland, pours an espresso shot into a cup to make an iced Americano. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

I was recently flying for work and fell asleep, dreaming about my perfect day in Maine. I wake up early for a daylong motorcycle trek. My wife, Sue, is on her motorcycle, and we each take one of our daughters.

First, we have to stop by Phoenix Cycle Shop (in Westbrook) because I need to change my oil. Steve is a great mechanic, and he chats with my wife about public radio. New filter, new oil, and we’re off with a wave.

The Proper Cup (in Portland) is our favorite coffee shop, and we stop there for coffees, mochas and lattes. I insist on the breakfast sandwich at Smalls in the West End before we really get going, because I need that fluffy, steamed egg sandwich.

We head up toward Deer Isle. I love riding across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, and my kids are whooping the whole way. The small, mint-green suspension bridge onto Deer Isle is equally thrilling, and we’re motoring our way to the Barred Island Preserve for our favorite hike. It’s a short jaunt through misty beds of moss and stands of old growth. At low tide, a sandbar emerges from the waters and bridges Barred Island to the coast.

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge: perfect view for a perfect day. Carey Kish photo

We head to Stonington for lunch at Fin and Fern, and they’re serving their amazing halibut.


After lunch, we take a different route home to visit Hallowell and stop into The Rusticators Emporium. We buy a large antique brass plant stand and set it aside so that we can come back in a car to get it later.

At the gas station, my kids are angling for a bookstore stop – it’s Tuesday, which is new release day. We stop at both Print: A Bookstore and Back Cove Books (in Portland) on our way back home. The girls also insist on a visit to Veranda Market for dark chocolate Pocky sticks and Ramune sodas, so we duck in there as well.

I look at my phone and see that it’s 4:55 p.m., and we have five minutes to rush over to Woodford Food & Beverage for the BEST fried chicken sandwich in town (it’s their early bird special, and if you get there after 5, you’re out of luck).

The dining room and bar at Woodford Food & Beverage in Portland. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

My wife and I drop the kids off at home, and we head into town for a show. We stop in at East Ender for a cocktail (perfect Manhattan, Bulleit rye, up), and their nightly karaoke has just started, so what the hell? I sing “Ziggy Stardust,” and she belts out “Back On The Chain Gang” before we head off to Space

At Space, somehow they’ve managed to book Henry Rollins and Ian McKaye doing covers of The Clash to raise money for the Portland Public Library. What’s more punk that the public library? Henry Rollins drags me up on stage to belt out “Train in Vain” with him, and then …

And then I wake up with a hard jolt as the plane lands at the Jetport. The pilot announces, “Welcome to Maine.”

“Welcome home,” I think.

A good cause for a perfect day: The Portland Public Library. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

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