Coffeeneuring with Addie – Sinful Kitchen

Trip Number: 8
Where: The Sinful Kitchen, Portland, ME
Date: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Katie: Nitro Cold Brew
Addie: Hot Chocolate (and lemonade)
Mileage: 3.58 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Nope.  Nowhere to lock up.  To be fair, it’s on a busy street near a tricky intersection, so the restaurant probably isn’t really expecting a lot of bike traffic.

After our lackluster last two Coffeeneuring trips, I thought we’d better go big for our last one.  Addie was feeling really unmotivated for a long ride and could barely even be bribed for any ride with the idea of a delicious breakfast.  Luckily Sinful Kitchen is really close to us, and I was finally able to convince her (by promising she won’t have to do it again next year – I know she’ll change her mind by then).

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It was really quite serendipitous that we ended up there.  During the week I was trying to figure out where we would go.  On top of that I’ve really been wanting to try Nitro Cold Brew.  I just happened to see a Facebook post from Sinful Kitchen that they had this cold brew, so I realized that would be our perfect last destination.

The cold brew was interesting.  For some reason, I expected it to be slightly carbonated.  It was strong and bitter and frothy and interesting.  I think I liked it, but I’ll have to try it once or twice more to be sure.

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We had fun coloring while we waited for our food.  We thought about trying to copy the graffiti wall we saw on our trip #4.

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We finally arrived at the sinful part of the trip.  Addie ordered the chocolate and peanut better cup waffle featured on their website photo.  It was amazing!  The chocolate ganache part was the best.

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Addie doesn’t eat meat, so she was able to sub a fruit cup which i think may have been her favorite.

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Lately I’ve been more into the savory breakfasts and was tempted by their benedicts, (which I’ve had before), huevos, and their pulled pork sandwich, but I thought celebrating a successful Coffeeneuring season deserved something, well, sinful.  I ended up getting their last order of chocolate caramel stuffed French toast.  It was delicious and rich, and I only managed to eat about 1/4 of it.  My only complaint was that the chocolate overpowered the caramel.  The staff was super friendly, and we headed home with another few days worth of breakfasts.

We did manage to lock up somewhat insecurely to their light post.

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Addie always helps me unlock because she knows how frustrated I get with our silly lock.

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We took a celebratory photo when we got home.  Such a great experience.  Thanks Chasing Mailboxes for the idea and the coordination.

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Right now we’re enjoying a few days off at a cabin in Rangeley.  It’s gloriously relaxing.  We’re doing pretty much nothing and watching the snow fall.

Coffeeneuring with Addie – Trips 6 & 7

Trip Number: 6
Where: Cumberland Farms, Portland, ME
Date: Sunday, November 6, 2016
Katie: Decaf
Addie: Hot Chocolate
Mileage: 3.99 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Not great. Nowhere to really lock your bike, and the parking lot gets pretty crazy with cars pulling in and out and getting gas.

Trip Number: 7
Where: Dunkin Donuts, Portland, ME
Date: Sunday, November 13, 2016
Katie: Decaf
Addie: Hot Chocolate
Mileage: 2.73 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Okay.  There’s a bike post near a much cooler bakery/coffee shop around the corner where you can leave your bike.

Our past two Coffeeneuring trips have been quite uninspired.  For trip #6, we had planned to go the the Diamond St. Coffee by Design, but it started raining (actually even hailing) when we were only about a mile away from home.  It wasn’t supposed to rain, so we weren’t really prepared for it.  I wanted to continue on, but Addie wasn’t very motivated and riding super slowly, so it didn’t take much convincing for me to change my mind.  We decided to go to the Cumberland Farms near our house, so we could at least still count it as a Coffeeneuring adventure.

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Not much photo-worthy at our local convenience store, but it is convenient.  You can see that this is the best we could do for a lock up option.  It would be pretty easy for someone to lift the bikes right off that post.  It’s quite busy there, so we weren’t too worried.

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We got to try out our new cups and hung out on our porch for a bit instead of the Cumby’s parking lot.

Addie wanted to pick our destination for trip #7, so she checked out the Yelp app on my phone and landed on Mr. Bagel.  I think more for the proximity to our house than for the Yelp ratings.  I had to take us on a very indirect route to make sure it would be at least two miles.

Mike and I had done a breakfast run that morning, so we were quite late getting started on our Coffeeneuring – probably around noon-ish.  Turns out Mr. Bagel closes at 11:00 on Sunday mornings now, so we had to come up with an alternate plan.  Addie suggested Dunkin Donuts.  Not my first choice, but it was close to where we were, so good enough.

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We were able to lock up between Big Sky Bread (which I tried to convince Addie to go to instead of DD) and Artist & Craftsman right around the corner from DD.

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Addie was happy with her selections.

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And we did hit up Artist & Craftsman and each picked up a cool pen, so I didn’t feel quite so corporate.

Technically, I’m done with my Coffeeneuring goals, but I did one solo trip, so I’m hoping to go one last time tomorrow with Addie, so she can get in her seven trips.  I have to make sure to finish up on a better note as far as a destination.

Solo Coffeeneuring – Tandem

Trip Number: 5
Where: Tandem Coffee + Bakery, Portland, ME
Date: Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Katie: Cappuccino
Mileage: 6.62 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Good.  No visible bike posts to lock up to, but I did find a street sign.  I originally was going to lock up to Tandem’s cool tandem sculpture, but then I thought if it really is art, they probably don’t want bikes and locks all over it.  After I locked up to the street sign and was sitting drinking my coffee, I saw another biker ride ride up to it and lock up to it like he did it all the time.  So, if in fact, this is a bike rack, it’s the first coffee shop we’ve been to that has it’s own bike rack – so the most friendly relatively.

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Actually I suppose I should rank them even higher, since how many coffee shops are so bike friendly, they actually have a bike theme?  Isn’t their logo great?

I work from home on Wednesdays, so I decided to trade my morning run in for a bike ride and took the long way over to Tandem.  Don’t tell Addie, but I thought it would be nice to get in at least one more Coffeeneuring adventure just in case we’re not able to make it out together for our three remaining adventures.

I also have a bit of a dilemma as far as getting Addie into town.  We live in the Deering part of Portland which used to actually be a different town, and no matter how hard I try, there’s really no way to get to the downtown (where most of the coffee shops are) without tackling a huge hill and a fair amount of traffic.  You can add a few extra miles and take some trails part of the way there, but I haven’t figured out how to do that without being in a lot of traffic after we get off the trails.  Maybe we’ll just walk up the hill one of these days.

Because of the bike theme, I just HAD to include Tandem, so it seemed like a good candidate for a solo adventure.

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They remodeled an old gas station which is pretty cool.  You can imagine where the gas pumps were in the photo above and in the top photo, and if you look carefully in the photo above, you can see where it still says “Brakes & Shocks” behind the glass.

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I’m still all about the baked goods, and Tandem has some of the best in town.  You can catch a glimpse to the right in the photo above.  I’ve heard their sandwiches are also really good, but I’ve never been able to pass up my current favorites to try one.  They serve beer and wine later on in the day.  (Well, I assume later, I suppose you could have one for breakfast.)

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I’m still not much of a coffee connoisseur, but their set up looks pretty fancy, and I’m sure they probably roast their own beans.  I branched out and tried a cappuccino this time.  It was delicious.  I want to learn how to do that latte art. I think it’s so cool.  I tried it this morning on my son’s coffee and only managed to make white blobs.

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I tried to make it look like I was being productive while I was sipping my coffee, but all I managed to do was review a to do list I had made earlier in the week.  This was my view from my stool at the window.  Nice light, huh?

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No way I’d be able to resist a few goodies.  Another fun thing for my bike basket.  Next time, I need to remember to turn the box around, so the wind doesn’t blow the flap open like it did on my way home.  My poor little cheddar-jalapeno biscuits were bouncing around in the open air until I stopped to rearrange the box.

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Aren’t you jealous of these beauties?  I highly recommend the cinnamon bun and the cheddar-jalapeno biscuits.  Plan to share though – they are so rich.  I think the cinnamon buns might have one stick of butter each.  Something new to me was the hazelnut blondie which was also very good.

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Happy Coffeeneuring!

Coffeeneuring with Addie – Coffee Truck Rally

Trip Number: 4
Where: Coffee Truck Rally at The Eastern Prom, Portland, ME
Date: Sunday, October 30, 2016
Katie: Triple Chocolate Spiced Mocha
Addie: Hot Chocolate
Mileage: 8.23 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Good enough.  Eastern Prom is like a park, so it’s not like you need to lock up your bike and go into a shop or something.  There are plenty of signs and fences and benches to lock up to.

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Here’s our pile o’ bikes locked up to the fence/sign post.

This was such a fun event!  I had read about it here about a week prior and thought it would be the perfect thing for Coffeeneuring.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and as we got close to the expected location, I didn’t really see much.  I was pretty worried, since this was Addie’s longest bike ride yet, and I’d even gotten Mike to come.  I was going to feel pretty bad if there was nothing there after all that.  But sure enough, after a few more pedal strokes, a fleet of coffee trucks came into view.

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Actually there were three coffee trucks and two food trucks which was just about right – and quite a crowd of people!

We had heard that Urban Sugar would be there.  We’d only managed to catch this donut truck one other time, but we were already big fans.

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We waited in line for about 15 minutes just to get our order in then had to wait about another 15-20 minutes to actually get our donuts, but we enjoyed the views while we waited.

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Quite a few boats still in.

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You can kind of make out Fort Gorges on the horizon.  We love to get Otto’s takeout from their Munjoy Hill location and eat it on the Prom in the summertime.

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I don’t think Mike was too thrilled with the scene.  He’s more of a Cumby’s Coffee kind of guy, but he was a good sport.  The theme of the day was for the trucks to offer some unusual coffee drinks which didn’t help, but he found plain old coffee at Maker’s Mug and I tried out the Triple Chocolate Spiced Mocha.  I liked mine, but Mike wasn’t too impressed.  Both of us thought the coffee could have been hotter.

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Addie got her hot chocolate at Urban Sugar, and we all thought it was quite good.  Addie has it tied for first with Black Cat’s.  (I’m ordering reusable cups – now!)

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It was nice to have Mike a long to take some photos of us Coffeeneuring buddies, since I’m not so great with the selfie.

Still waiting for our donuts, Mike decided to check out The Salt Box Cafe.

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Their amazing pesto egg sandwich turned his day around!

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We might even be able to take him Coffeeneuring with us again.

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Finally our reward!  So so good!  Crunchy and warm and sweet.  Surprisingly, we were able to stop ourselves from eating all of them and nervously moved them from bike basket to bike basket to try to find the most stable location.

After enjoying a donut, Mike went his own way to pick up some groceries, and Addie and I headed down to East End Beach to hit the port-o-potty.

Addie got to see the train go by while I was in there which she thought was pretty cool.  I only managed snap a far away shot.  This is the train they use for The Polar Express around Christmastime.  Not sure what was going on that day.

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I did finally manage to capture a photo of Addie in action.

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We managed to stay on trails most of the way home which is so much more relaxing.  I don’t mind riding in traffic myself, but it’s a little scarier being responsible for someone else – someone little, especially.

One of my favorite parts of the trail is the graffiti wall.  It changes all the time, and it was the most colorful I’d ever seen it.

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I don’t think Addie had ever seen it before, and she got quite a kick out of it.

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We stopped on a less scenic part of the trail to take a break.  In spite of the lack of scenery, there was a nice new stone wall to sit on while we thought about Mike probably being in the Trader Joe’s that was in our sight.

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The donuts were jumping around quite a bit in Addie’s basket, so we thought we’d better eat a couple more.

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Joe, the only kid downstairs when we got home, managed to devour the last three before anyone else even knew they were there.

This ended up being a super-long Coffeeneuring expedition (time-wise) but definitely my favorite one yet.  I’m happy to know that Addie can go some longer distances as long as we have all the time in the world (we got passed by quite a few runners and one walker) and take some breaks.  That pace is actually quite enjoyable as long as we have nowhere else to be.

Coffeeneuring with Addie – The Holy Donut

Trip Number: 3
Where: The Holy Donut, Portland, ME
Date: Sunday, October 23, 2016
Katie: Regular Coffee
Addie: Hot Chocolate
Mileage: 3.33 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Great.  There is one bike “post” right out front and several street signs you can lock up to.  They also advertise this program where you can pay $5 for a sticker and get discounts at hundreds of businesses if you bike there.  Addie and I haven’t joined yet, but we would have gotten a free donut if we had.

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This place is quite famous.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?  It shows up on my Facebook feed quite frequently among the top 10 or 24 donuts in the country and has made the news in Bon Appetit, New York Times, Boston Globe, etc., so we had to include it in our Coffeeneuring escapades.

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Check out the drool-worthy display.  I’m lucky enough that my place of work brings in Holy Donuts every Wednesday.  I’m really quite spoiled.  Addie and I visited the Park Avenue location because it’s closest to our house and not to mention the original location.  If you’re not already aware, Scarborough residents are about to get their own.

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The line was pretty long, but it moved fast, and I’ve seen it way worse.  I run by the Exchange Street location quite frequently, and even in early hours (in the summer), the line is out the door and up the street.  My coffee was fine – nothing to write home about – but they’re really more about the donuts than the coffee.  So am I for that matter.  Addie thought her hot chocolate had a distinct coffee flavor.  I tasted it and thought it just might have been made with a less sweet chocolate.

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Far be it from me to say anything against a Portland institution, but the texture of the vanilla-based donuts is just a bit too – rubbery is a bit too strong of a word – chewy maybe? for me, but the chocolate sea salt are perfect. We went with three of a sure thing and also tried the coffee cake which was really good, good old fashioned vanilla-glazed, and triple berry.

The funniest donut they have is Allen’s Coffee Brandy.  For some reason, this is the Maine state drink.  Chances are good if you’re in the supermarket on Friday after work, the person in line in front of you will be buying Allen’s Coffee Brandy and milk.  It’s kind of the poor man’s Sombrero or Black Russian.

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We decided to try for a less hilly ride home and continued down Park Street past the Expo and Sea Dogs stadium.  That did turn out to be a better route, but the wind was blowing like crazy from our left to right and almost pushed us into each other.  Once we turned onto a not-so-scenic St. John St., the wind was at our backs, and the rest of the ride was quite pleasant.  Addie was having trouble changing her gears on our last big hill, so she held my bike while I pedaled her tiny bike and put it in her easiest gear.  After that, she just crushed the hill.  I think I will try to buy her a nicer bike in the spring.  Any recommendations?

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I love putting cool things in my bike basket.  I’m sure many people who passed us on the way home were quite jealous of my cargo.  The donuts are so rich that Addie and I hardly made a dent in them which the rest of the kids appreciated when we got home.

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This was the first time I used my bike basket.  We were on a cauliflower roasting kick, and it was my work from home day, so I grabbed a sandwich from Rosemont.  I have this basket which is great now, but all the reviews are right that the hardware that comes with it is absolute crap.  Almost all the screws fell out on mine after just a few rides.  My friendly local Aubuchon store helped me replace them, and it’s been great ever since.

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This was the coolest cargo my basket has carried.  We were doing a beer tasting party at my house of local Pale Ales.  We threw a Miller Lite in there to throw people off, but no one was fooled.

Anyway, we are loving our Coffeeneuring experience.  Thanks to Chasing Mailboxes for linking to us.  Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves as well!

Coffeeneuring with Addie – Tiqa Cafe & Bakery

Trip Number: 2
Where: Tiqa Cafe & Bakery, Portland, ME
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2016
Katie: Latte
Addie: Hot Chocolate
Mileage: 3.74 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Good.  There is one bike “post” right out front.  You can also keep an eye on your bike from the outdoor patio.  One guy we saw while we were eating didn’t seem to feel the need to lock his bike at all – guess it doesn’t get much bike friendlier than that.  There’s also a larger bike rack on the other side of the park.

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This was our best Coffeeneuring experience so far.  It was hard to get going because the temperature was in the 30’s, but we bundled up in all of our wool base layers, down jackets, hats, and mittens.  It didn’t end up being too bad cold-wise, but I knew Tiqa didn’t have much indoor seating, so I wasn’t quite sure how it would work out to actually consume our coffee.

Addie did great on the bigger downhills than what we’ve done so far in our neighborhood, and we both appreciated the bike lane along Deering Ave.  We enjoyed our ride through Deering Oaks park, but because it was also Farmer’s Market Saturday, we had to keep a close eye on cars pulling in and out of parking spaces.

I was surprised to see that Tiqa had moved much of their operation outside, possibly in anticipation of the Farmer’s Market crowd.  I was a little confused about whether to order outside or in, but I think it would have worked out either way.  I decided to try to use my Coffeeneuring experience to try something other than plain old coffee, so I went inside.

My plan B for if it was too cold to drink our coffee on the patio was to walk around the farmer’s market while we drank it, but we were excited to see space heaters and a roaring fire on the patio.   Untitled
It was so comfortable!  We’ve been freezing in our house the last few days or so since the weather’s turned cold, so we parked ourselves as close to the big fire pit as possible.  It was glorious.  The first time I’ve felt my body fully relax in days.
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After a few minutes we actually had to move to a table farther away because we were too hot! I will definitely go back on a cold day with Mike for lunch and a glass of wine or two.  You almost feel like you could be in Europe when you’re there.

I ended up getting a Latte, and it was delicious!  Addie cannot be convinced to try anything other than hot chocolate, so she went with that.  Neither one of us could pass up the beautiful and sinful looking Cinnamon Babka, so Addie had that, and I had a Za’tar bagel with cream cheese which I had had before and enjoyed.
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Their breakfast sandwiches are also delicious, but I skipped that for today.  I loved my bagel and latte, but Addie kind of struck out.  The frosting on the babka was great, reminded Addie of the base for a Gelato Fiasco gelato, but the rest of the babka was a bit dry.  Her hot chocolate was also a little watery, but I’m not sure that hot chocolate is a specialty at very many places.

Honestly, the atmosphere was so great, that nothing else really mattered.  I was tempted to take a baguette home but opted for some veggies at the Farmer’s Market instead.

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Such a great vibe there.  I really love the drummer that often plays there.  Addie dropped some money in his basket.

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We powered up all the hills that we’d ridden down on they way there and still managed to go apple picking.  What a perfect fall day!

Coffeeneuring with Addie – Black Cat Coffee

Trip Number: 1
Where: Black Cat Coffee, Portland, ME
Date: Monday, October 10, 2016
Katie: Decaf with Cream and Sugar
Addie: Hot Chocolate
Mileage: 3.35 miles
Bike Friendliness:  Decent.  There are a couple of street signs out front you can lock to, but there’s almost always another bike there.  A very short distance down the street are a couple of actual bike racks.

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So I got a new bike back in June and quickly became obsessed with biking.  Not racing, just riding my bike places.  But give it time.

Usually when I get obsessed about a new thing, I try to find as much to read about it as possible – not so much technical reading as reading about other’s experiences with my new obsession.  I love reading blogs for that reason.  One blog that I stumbled across, Chasing Mailboxes, has this great idea of going Coffeeneuring.  You’ll have to check out the blog post yourself.  I’ve tried to explain it to my entire family, and no one gets it.  I guess they get it, they just don’t understand why it has “neuring” at the end.  The gist of it is that you bike to a different coffee shop 7 times in a period of 7 weeks.

I’m hoping to actually get close to 14 visits; one set of 7 with my 9-year old daughter, Addie and another set a bit farther afield with my husband.  Addie is my constant companion and not as busy as Mike, so I’m a little more confident in accomplishing the first set.
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Even though we had a four day weekend this weekend (3 for me), we struggled to fit it in.  We had a big party on Saturday, so we were getting ready for that then it rained ALL day on Sunday, and we’re just not that hard core (yet).  I decided to work from home on Monday, so that we could squeeze it in on a work break.

We decided on Black Cat Coffee since it’s the closest to us in The Deering Neighborhood’s cute little “downtown”.  The Coffeeneuring rules call for a minimum of a two mile bike ride, so we took a “longcut” through Evergreen Cemetery.  The cemetery is one of my favorite places in town.  It’s where I run all winter when the roads are too messy everywhere else.  It’s where Addie learned how to ride her bike.  And it’s beautiful this time of year.

There’s a little loop that goes from one of the entrances to the chapel and back.
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Addie and I often race that loop together.  Her rules – I have to do 5 loops to her 4 AND count 5-Mississippi’s before I start.  I haven’t beaten her yet.  Yesterday we did four loops and just chatted it was nice.  She talks to me non-stop when we’re biking, and I can hardly ever hear her.  It’s frustrating.  In the cemetery, it’s great though because there are no cars and we can ride side-by-side, so I actually can hear her.

We ventured down to the duck ponds, so she could practice going down some bigger hills before we expand our biking into downtown Portland.  She did great.
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We finally made our way to Black Cat and were pretty hungry by then.

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We each ordered bagels.  One of my favorite things about Black Cat is that they bring in bagels from Union Bagel and toast and butter them perfectly.  My favorite is the sesame.  Addie went for a plain with cream cheese and a hot chocolate.  In spite of being very excited about Coffeeneuring, I’m really not much of a coffee connoisseur, so I just got a plain old coffee.

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Black Cat has a lot of interesting looking options though.
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Looking forward to our next adventure!  Thanks for reading!