Sunday, August 12, 2012

At Water's Edge, Coastal Maine

Forgive me, readers of this blog, it has been far too long since my last entry! 

With only one week carved out for a small bike trip this year, and the heat index really high this summer all over, I decided to stay close to where my heart lives... at the Ocean: Coastal Maine specifically.  There is something about it that is unlike any other, maybe it is the combination of knowing that the Ocean is vast once you get past the cozy rocky shoreline, past the harbors and islands. One can ride straight through Maine in 6 hours or so, or one can take days to do it by riding along the water, and this was the gift I gave myself- keeping the mileage each day low in order to truly enjoy the flower sniffing ride, the shopping and the down time sitting at Water's Edge. 

Saturday 6:30AM. When I start a trip, there are always a few moments of unsurety as I let out the clutch with my bike so heavily laden. It has been a long time and the only way to get sea legs for the added top weight and shifted center of gravity is to just do it.  There is always some clumsy parking in the beginning of any trip as I get used to the elephant on the back seat... but clumsy is okay- keeping her on two wheels is what counts.  :)

Day One:  If you have followed my blog at all, you might probably guess what I did... I seem to always find my way to Becky's Diner, Portland, for a hearty breakfast, cinnamon french toast is my go-to  yummm choice. It is noisy, there is always a wait, but the food is good and I have fun people watching.

 From Becky's, it's Reid State Park or as I refer to it, "My Rock." It is where I go to find a niche in the giant boulders, close my eyes and sit with the ocean, the wind and the birds.  Hours usually pass as the weight of any worries begin to fall away. Vacation really begins once I am nestled in this moment, all is right.
 Looking backwards toward the top of the rock at the slope.
Classic view of Reid, down close to the water.  Today is a very good day.

Day Two: 5AM, a painful hour for most people, is when I wake up. (Always a peek outside the door to make sure DG is still there )

 There is time each morning to read and write, something I was really looking forward to and one of the reasons my bike is so heavy...I have a pack of books that is as heavy as a small child. Amazing just how much books weigh! I cut down on other things in order to bring all my spiritual work with me...I didn't really need to bring a bike cover. :)

9AM Breakfast at my other favorite diner, The Ebb Tide in Boothbay Harbor.

 "A million served, fives times over" is a proud sign inside. I love the glow of the bright awnings as I sit in the old fashioned wood booth. 

 A simple bagel with egg, tomato and cream cheese is a most delicious combination, but one must be willing to sacrifice grace when eating it...down the arms, across the face, squishing out all over the plate...the melted cream cheese add that element of a Slip 'n Slide to breakfast today. I decided to spare you all a photo of this mess.

Boothbay is as quaint as ever, I smiled at The Smiling Cow, strolled out to the wooden walkway in the harbor, and answered good morning to a whole lot of friendly folks.

Next stop today, Bristol/Pemaquid Point. I had heard of the light house here, but was not prepared for the gut wrenching beauty of the rocks and crashing waves....'which is probably why the need for a lighthouse in the first place', she thinks brilliantly.  What a gift, on day two, I had another few hours of sitting on niche in a rock with my journal and camera and the warm sun.

There is a sweet little gift shop and restaurant right there too. Pemaquid Point is worth a visit if you have not seen it.

Day two ended with landing in Rockland, including an adventure having these two, Margaret and Neil

 pull up beside me and chat for about 45 minutes,  followed by about 10 miles of dirt road. Riding is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.  When I encounter dirt, there is always that first impulse to wonder if this is going to be a good idea... 'but there are houses along the way, how bad can it get?' she about that point, it gets too late to turn around and so I commit to it. Aside from snapping to attention for the duration, the road was in pretty good shape, but I was clearly relieved when pavement appeared again.  A close encounter of the pick up truck kind made the back road adventure a little too tight and bumpy for my liking. The inner dialog of wishing I had learned to ride a dirt bike replayed from my ride out west and the countless dirt roadways that found me on that trip. I realize that I am learning to ride the dirt on my big cruiser anyway, like it or not. 

 Landed at the Tradewinds in Rockland, old fashioned inn, but clean. 
Supper at the Rockland Cafe,

super fresh food, always delicious. The waitress called me Sweetie. :)

A sweet little winding road to Rockland....the kind that makes bikers smile.

Day three dawned beautifully, wheels still pointed north.  The best thing about this trip is that I have allowed for as much down time during the day as I want, I generally don't operate like this. First stop was breakfast in Camden; a simple bowl of yogurt, fruit and homemade granola at The Marriner's Grill, and we all know that food always tastes better when sitting by running water!  This restaurant was over the famous double waterfalls in Camden:, I ate on the deck that appears in this video above the falls.

 Camden is full of adorable little shops. Because I own one, it is always nice to see what other stores have to offer and had success in finding treasures...I planned for this and genius that I am, had a half full saddlebag all prepared for packages.

Days Inn on the fringe of Bar Harbor let me check in early (1pm) and drop my luggage so that I could go play in town...very nice people! An older building, the windows actually open to fresh air. The room was clean and my favorite thing... lots of pillows on the bed :)

Bar Harbor Maine, if you have never visited should be on your list.  I would recommend a less than height of the season visit, but if you like shops and quaint towns squares then you probably can deal with the people too. By a miracle I found a great parking spot, loudly disrupting the lunches of the people at the sidewalk cafe next to it.... sorry!  (she says with a sheepish grin)  Happily, I did more poking in shops and found more treasures with the one for her, one for me method.  The day was bright and not too hot, just perfect!
Journal in hand, found a spot on the grassy common overlooking the Harbor for a while.

 Boats of all kinds, cruise ships, little sail boats, my favorite four masted Windjammer with pink sails was in full sail, showing off.

For some reason, amidst all the fresh seafood, what I was craving was spaghetti of all things.  Now, I probably don't need to remind you all of the LAST time I craved spaghetti on a road trip..Oh,that very bad day in Oregon! But I was brave (or stupid) enough to risk food poisoning again for the quest.  In a small very Italian pizza place, Rosalie's, I had a nice plate of fat spaghetti and garlic bread to finish off the day..the only time I ever get fat spaghetti is in an Italian restaurant. Fat and happy, I mean, full and happy, I went back to my room and tucked myself in with my books and many pillows for the night.

ohhhhh....Day four had a dubious dawning.

 My bike was wet, the sky was dark and moody.  Today's plans are to ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, then take the park loop road around before heading north.  I should have known I was in for some sort of adventure today when Jack's signal was blocked for a while, it showed my route to be riding straight through the water much of the time.  Good thing most of the roads are one way...well sort of a good thing.  I did it last year and somehow, again this year, happily riding along and suddenly I am back at the entry gate.  I could not believe my eyes when this happened AGAIN this year!  I felt like Charlie on the MTA. This park looks easy on the map, how difficult can a loop road be around a park?  How can I possibly have missed the road I was supposed to be on? I don't know. Arrrrrgh.  Next time to Acadia, I vowed to follow, not lead.
 Park Loop Road: I like how the corner of this is blurry.

I was ready to bag trying to see Southwest Harbor, the sky was threatening to open up at any moment and I was clearly not happy after my Never Ending Park Loop Road fiasco.  But... this is the thing.  Jack was insistent on my going to the lighthouse in Southwest Harbor and would not have let me by pass it and make it out alive.  In order to shut up his 'recalculating' comments, I rode south into the rain.  Glad I did actually... Sargent Drive, along Somes Sound is one of the sweetest little roads ever- winding and well paved and water right off the side of the road. Put that on your list too.  Got the lighthouse checked off Jack's list and pointed north to Machias.
The view at the lighthouse:

One thing for certain, there is not much happening on the roads north of Bar Harbor. Telltale signs of civilization fade away, you know the ones....those mega multipurpose service stations- they gave way to the smaller family owned stations that threw me back in time. The destination today was the small town of Machias, 30 miles south of the Canadian border. On the map, it looked as good as any place to stop and even had choices for motels and eateries. This was promising!  One little address argument with Jack, he was clearly upset because the motel was not where he wanted it to be, I went around the block a few times just to make sure and then went looking, finding it down the road a little ways, Jack muttering all the while about making a U-turn. A mile discrepancy is a lot! When I mentioned it to the motel clerk, she said it happens a lot, the town was renumbered not too long ago. So Jack was off the hook of being told he was stubborn and dumb (this time). haha.  Poor Jack, he gets blamed for all sorts of travel glitches. 

At the Machias Inn, I had a little balcony on the Machias River, feeling delighted to have booked here for two nights. The river is tidal, and so its banks ebb and flow. The birds feed on the minnows in a delightful dance through the afternoon.  

Across the river I can hear the Maine Wild Blueberry Co, where I read that 95% of Maine's wild blueberry crop gets processed over there.  I rode by it and the air was very blueberry... you just don't get to taste blueberry air when traveling in a car! 

After settling in, supper was at Helen's, the restaurant right outside my door, hearty home cooked and fresh. I really really wanted the baked four cheese macaroni casserole, but opted for a tad more healthy plate of salad, broccoli quiche and sweet potato fries, and the lemonade tasted far more lemony and refreshing after a day of riding.

While looking at what to do around town, I saw a little blurb about a place called Jasper Beach. Without a second thought, I changed my mind for tomorrow plans. Instead of going to Quoddy Head Lighthouse, I would find Jasper Beach.

Jasper Beach, Machiasport Maine is clearly the reason for my riding this far north. In one instant, my soul's well was filled and refreshed when I realized what this place was.  I found the little cove, and parked on the dirt road leading to it... the "dune" was a tall wall of rocks-

 not a grain of sand to be found... climbing up and over this, was an amazing sight.  The beach was was layers of smooth ocean worn rocks...

from what I read, the number is something like a billion billion stones of rhyolite, also called rainforest jasper.  I thought this was going to be a quick walk on a little beach and when I looked at the time next, 4 hours had gone by!
  One of the most amazing little coves I have ever been, the sound of the water hisses through the stones, the sound of the stones as I walked on them was a hollow clacky sound... and to sink into smooth little stones as if it was sand was a trip.

 Sensory overload all around!  I sat on the beach, and got my nose down into the rocks, picking out some perfect little colorful beauties to take with me.

 One must be at home with spiders though...thousands of  little black spiders some approaching the size of a nickel. They were running up and over my legs, but clearly were not interested in me and they just climbed on over me.  all good... all magic in fact.  I was so happy, like giddy stupidly happy, playing in those stones!

The prize heart stone

This most perfect day was finished by a simple supper of a fresh raisin bagel, organic strawberries and peach Greek yogurt.  I got back to my sweet little room on the river, spread out my journals and books and tucked myself in for the night, watching the sun set over the little sailboat on the river.

Let's see... Day Six, Thursday.  120 miles back to Rockland to the ferry boat to the Island of Vinalhaven.  I am a bit nervous about this. DG has been on wee little ferries before, but this was a pretty big commitment. These are the gates...(gulp and a little eeek tossed in for good measure)

It was pushing toward low tide, and so the metal grates and steel plates were steep.  No other way on or off  and I had visions of spilling off my bike at the bottom.  Self coaching... "Hang on and go."  Once again, it was fairly needless worry, but the visual obstacles really set the anxieties up!  The ride through the water was lovely...DG was well behaved.

I spent the next two days on a sweet little fishing island, visiting friends.  It is one of those quintessential Small Places, where everyone waves as they drive past each other: only one grocer, a coffee shop and a hidden away place where the locals eat (fantastic fish cakes by the way). 

The air was fresh, the food was amazing, the old houses beautiful and fishing shacks quaint, lobster boats abound and evidence of past eras of granite quarrying along the roads. 

I got DG back onto the ferry on Saturday morning, ('thankfully the tide was higher,' she thought as she rode the ramp again). I was ready to be home, this was the last leg of a great week of solo time with my Ocean, my Source, my Mother Earth. 

Landing back in Rockland, I set my wheels toward home... happily refreshed and spent at the same time.  Five and a half hours of straight gas and go riding to home, I pulled a very Dirty Girl into the garage only minutes before one of the MOST blinding scary thunderstorms that I can remember let loose.

I was glad to be home safely and soundly, once again.

Thanks for coming along for the ride and reading.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

3 Hot Days around New England

I was toying with other names of this ride, one being "Guardian Angels Do Exist", but decided against that, as that was only a few seconds in the few days.  I will get into that story in a bit. And then it could have been named "Jack went on Vacation", as my gps decided to black out on me this week.  Having bad luck with electronics! The title I chose has something to do with how plans can change from one minute to the next. This ride was originally supposed to take me to Wisconsin, (I hope to see my photo at the HD museum some day!) but with dangerously high heat out there this week, it became Plan B, then Plan C...D etc.  It was not until just 48 hours before I got on my bike did I finalize this trip. The second idea was to meet a bunch of riders in Pennsylvania, but the high heat was coming there too...then it made its way to New England, and the one place where it was promising to be a little bit cooler was north. I had not been in Vermont yet this year, so this was a fine idea to go chasing lower temps.

My friend Bob was also going to ride to PA, so I offered up the alternate idea and he was good to go north. Kick stands up around 8am, and we were off through the lovely back roads of north-central MA, heading towards VT.  It was cloudy, looking like it might want to rain, but the clouds held onto their water for the most part as we rode around the north side of the Quabbin Reservoir.  The road had been paved in the last year, so it was delightful!  I had the directions for the 3 days all written in big letters in my map case so that I could read them easily.  I was not overly concerned about getting lost, Bob's gps had my route in it.  He was giving me directions from in back. Most of the time it worked, between my hand written directions and his turning on his blinker in plenty of time for me to see.  The one time I missed the turn (in both directions no less), getting back to the route took us on a gravel road for a while.
A nice change from the paved road, I always enjoy gravel.
haha :)

My Shame On You Award goes to the town of Conway, MA, a little town in northwest MA. This is a new award, made up just for the occasion, but I can think of a couple of candidates for it, one being Dragonfly Cycle Concepts and the defective stereo deck they sold me with my fairing. This trip was a test ride for a new Kenwood marine stereo, that I had to buy because the last one died. Dragonfly Cycle, in my opinion, should have recalled it as they knew the decks were failing, and stopped selling them almost immediately after I bought mine.
That is just bad business! But I digress...
Anyway, back to Conway, MA... a long descending hill approaches the town center on Rt 116, nearing the bottom is a 20mph speed limit sign giving this indication, but that was all. I don't ride my brakes, preferring to downshift as I approach traffic or situations like this. It makes for smooth riding, most of the time.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a car was suddenly in front of me, entering the road from my right without stopping. The cross road was blind.  I pulled hard on my brakes, and instinctively veered to the right, toward the back of the car.  My back tire locked up, and my bike went into a full skid, the back tire was swinging out to my left.  I was about to smash into that car and told  myself to get ready for a crash, but in the next split second, decided I did not want to crash.  Released the brakes and somehow rode the bike around the car, with only 2 feet of clearance. Then a swerve to the left to keep from going up the granite curbing and launching into a short wall surrounding a garden.  I don't know how I pulled this off, most surely my Guardian Angel was with me.  I parked the bike, shook a bit and then got really angry.  I mean, really really angry... the car did not stop, for one. And the cross road did not have any sort of stop or yield sign! 

The town hall just happened to be sitting at that intersection, so I went in there and passionately (putting it mildly) asked them if they knew that this intersection had no stop sign.  (of course they know, but they claimed to be unaware) They did however hear my tires skid and were trying to sit the hysterical motorcyclist down on a chair. I wonder just how many skids they hear during a work day?  I am still incensed that due to this town's negligence, my life was put into danger, as well as any other drivers coming down that hill.  This is the intersection,looking back on it, where the road behind the triangle meets South Deerfield Rd, I came down that hill.
The brick building is the town hall.
No signs at all.
For the rest of the weekend, Bob would occasionally shake his head and say that he was amazed I didn't crash. I think it was on a continuous replay in his mind's eye.

This made for the perfect time to look for a place to break for food.  What I soon found was Shelburne Falls and their Flower Bridge. Rather than tearing down an old trolly bridge, they have made it into a gorgeous oasis over the river. This little town is worth finding!

It was time to turn north, to Route 100 in Vermont, one of my favorites. It winds north/south through the whole state through small towns, along rivers and up and down mountains. You don't ride route 100 if you are in a hurry. Not a lot of stop signs, but slow speed limits.  
One place we had to stop, was Vermont Country Store in Weston.  A good old fashioned place, fun to poke around- clothing, penny candy, jellies, toys, and beauty products from 'the old days' perfumes that you cannot find anymore. Vermont Country Store reminds me of what LLBean used to be before it went global.

We stopped in White River Junction for the night, made for a good 300+ mile day of back roads, and the day was made complete with overeating at a Chinese buffet. I set my room AC on super cold and promptly conked out. It was a hot day, well up into the 90s. 

One thing that made the heat a little more bearable was my HyperKewl vest.  It gets soaked in water and then the evaporation keeps your core quite a bit cooler.  I was the height of motorcycle fashion with this sexy number! Especially when you take into account that I always had a wet butt in my jeans.

Day 2 started with a quick jaunt back to Quechee Gorge (kwee-chee). The high heat has the river running pretty low...but still an impressive sight from the bridge! 
 The road this morning took us by way of the Moosilauke Highway (118), in Warren NH, which has potential for a favorite road if it is ever repaved- I was glad to see the end of it because of the countless cracks and frost heaves that made the bike chatter and bounce.  The next turn was onto the famous Kancamagus Highway, running through the White Mountains.

Some beautiful views and I am disappointed to report that I missed the one moose sighting.  I was in Motorcycle Nirvana and sailed right past it... Bob tried to make me feel better by saying it was a just little moose, but I was still pouting for a while!

Crossing into Maine and tucked away on a winding back road, this little mom and pop place was a welcome ice cream stop and a resoaking of my vest (and my butt) from their garden hose.
 Not much later, I saw a sign for a road stating that is closed in the winter: Route 113, between Stow and Gilead.  Past the gate, this section is now my most favorite New England road! It falls into my category of what I describe as 'story book roads,'  those kinds of roads that are forested, dappled with sunshine, usually winding along a river. I found a few of them on my travels last summer out west. With no traffic to speak of, it was serene and cool, a much welcomed change from the intense heat blanketing the area- look how narrow it is!  It is the kind you wish went on forever.

Back out to the main roads, we decided to change the route a bit, make a bee line (haha) for a motel in Brunswick, unload the bikes, cool off a bit and head back to Boothbay Harbor for dinner. But not before seeing this sign:

Who knew Maine had its own United Nations thing going on? :)

It was a brilliant plan, the air had cooled down quite a lot. A haddock fish fry and peach shortcake were on the menu at the Ebb Tide, one of my favorite places to eat, small, old fashioned and really proud of their business.  Fresh and delicious!! 

The peach shortcake was to die for. :)

An early morning sit by the ocean at Reid State Park, (I don't need to remind you all about how I love to be here, right?)  

It was time to head home, with the temps predicted to go to 99 degrees later, a direct shot was the best plan rather than back roads. But first, a quick stop at my other favorite eatery in Portland Maine for lunch, Becky's Diner. I had a nice spicy scrambled egg and veggie sandwich, Bob had a giant bowl of gorgeous fresh fruit, granola and yogurt. I was envious, but got to have some for my dessert :)
We jumped on the interstate, fought a bit of hot heavy traffic, but made pretty good time.  I waved bye to my friend and I arrived home around 4pm with over 800 miles on Dirty Girl's trip meter. 
A fall into the swimming pool was the perfect end to a nice trip. :)

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Lovely Trip to Acadia Maine

I am a member of a  motorcycle forum called The New England Riders, an eclectic group of accomplished riders that just love to ride and eat.  Of course, this is what bikers live for!  The NER often has organized events, that once there, one can ride an assortment of lovely day tours, then gathering for a group dinner with good food and lots of laughter.  This trip proved to be just that, a long weekend in Ellsworth, Maine, with roads and views to delight the senses.
Anyone that knows me, knows that this landscape is where I am happiest, it holds a deep sense of the spiritual world for me. I will find a niche in a big rock by the ocean and just sit and be quiet for a while. It is worth a few hundred miles just to do this.
Friday morning, I left home at 5:30am, meeting Mannie for the ride north. Excitement was in the air, for me, a couple of days on the road to the ocean and for Mannie, his brand new to him Goldwing.

This was to be his first trip on it.  I swear I could hear his giggling behind me the whole way there.
Great time was made, stopping in Portland, Maine for breakfast at my favorite place, Becky's Diner for my requisite cinnamon raisin french toast and hot coffee.  (their website has fun sound effects-click around)

It tasted heavenly after a couple of hours on the road!  Mannie had a very handsome omelet,  I think he was pleased too. The plates were all but licked clean. :)

As you are riding through Bath, Maine, and you start over the large bridge, be sure to look off to your right and look at the Bath Iron Works. Still a very active ship building yard and impressive to see.  As recently as May 2011, a new ship was christened. The next stop was to my most favorite place in the world, Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine. My grandparents had a sailboat in these waters when I was a little girl, this land and seascape are very dear to me.

Reid is a small park on the ocean, with a famous long sandy beach and a big pile of rocks to climb and sit on. This is where I find my peace. When I see this stairway, I immediately begin to relax...

The tide was out, and the water quiet... it was peaceful and beautiful.  The boulders are marbled with quartz crystals, little chunks jutting out of the bigger rocks as one stone erodes faster than the other.

It is most alive in inclement weather, with wild ocean waves crashing on the rocks, but I also find tremendous beauty in the calmness of today.  I sat for a while... talked to God, said some prayers for friends and family. Time feels like it stops but before I know it, it is time to roll northbound again.

June in Maine means that the lupines are in bloom...gorgeous spikes of purple, pink and white blossoms crowd along side the roadway for miles and they are absolutely beautiful!

I am hoping to find a patch of them to park Dirty Girl in front of for a photo op.  Riding and scanning, riding and scanning, the highway is too busy. It will have to be on a local roadway and I hope they are also in bloom up in Acadia Park, still another hundred miles or so north...

The next stop is Camden.  What a sweet little town this is!  My first reaction is that I would love to live here. The downtown is built over a river that spills down a double waterfall into the bay. We had a delicious lunch at a deli that sits atop the waterfall, looking out at all the boats in the harbor, the ducks, seagulls and cormorants bobbing around the water. The edge that this seagull is perched on, is the top of the waterfall, shown in the following photo:

  The shops are quaint and creative. Being an owner of a gift shop myself, I love to find treasures in other shops in my travels. Christmas shopping has officially begun! ho ho ho!

We arrived in Ellsworth late afternoon, most the other riders were still out. There were only a couple of motorcycles in the lot. I was glad for the chance to have some quiet time in my room and unwind. I love it when the hotel I am staying in makes up the beds in fluffy white linens with lots of pillows! It really makes me feel like I am at luxurious spa... (I also think that camera timers are one of the best inventions ever!)

I spread out with all my comforts of sketch book, summer reading, and ipod. And if I have plan ahead, some sort of junk food like Twizzlers, which regretfully, I forgot on this trip...boohoo.

 Not directly related to motorcycling, this is one book I am reading and journaling about. The last chapter is this week's assignment, 'Recovering a Sense of Faith'...perfectly timed with this ride along the coastline that feeds that part of me the most.  It was a lovely way to relax from today's ride and be quiet for a little while.

A scrumptious supper was had at Galyn's in Bar Harbor, which looks out over the park and the harbor.  It is still early in the season, school has not let out yet, so we all had the comfort of not having to beat lots of crowds through the weekend.  For some reason, I liked this boat...

I made notes where I wanted to come back the next day to go shopping. This little town has so many offerings of the retail kind that it is irresistible to someone like me. Bar Harbor did not disappoint!  My favorite shop is called Spruce and Gussy, an eclectic shop of home dec, and hand crafted fiber arts. I spent a lot of time in here chatting with the owner- and leaving with a large bag that suddenly made me wonder how I was going to transport it home. It took a little rearranging of bike bags, I was starting to hope that I had a spare bungee cord somewhere, just in case!

Happy Girl, buying lots of stuff :)

Saturday morning dawned beautiful, cool and bright. We had SO lucked out with the weather for this weekend. Ed planned this trip way back in January. The fact that we got such glorious weather was an incredible stroke of luck. Or maybe someone actually was making offerings to the weather gods, I don't know!  Ed helped me transfer the route to my gps, as I had somehow overlooked uploading it myself. I thought I had done it, but mid-day Friday, it suddenly occurred to me like a knock on the head that I had not seen 'Acadia' in my ride menu.  Sure enough, when we landed, I checked and argggh!!! It was not there. But there is a reason that this riding group is called the NERds.  In not too long, I had someone who had the information and the know how to upload it by using the memory sticks.  *phew*  (thank you Ed, again!)

Acadia park lived up to its famous beauty. It is the second most visited national park in our country.

And to think it is so close to me and at age 51, I am seeing it for the first time. (shame shame) This is a most perfect road for motorcycling!  Rolling, twisting one way roads that weave in and out of semi-forested patches to wide open ocean views that take my heart away are the definition of this park. It was still early in the morning, and not a lot of traffic yet as the road looped around the park. Pure delight!!

The road up to Cadillac Mountain at the heart of the park was also sweet as can be. I loved the 'guard rail'... squared off chunks of granite, like little Stonehenge walls. 

The elevation is not high, only about 1500 feet. But the mountain is essentially a bald with lovely views of the rugged Maine coastline. Lots of photo ops at the top:

One of the information boards named the little hills at the base of the mountain, one being "The Beehive."
Of course, a photo HAD to be taken. See?  I'm pointing it out for you.   :)

Somehow at the base of the mountain road, I took a wrong turn, even with the gps trying to get me on track. Remember how I mentioned the one way road...a big loop?  Imagine how happy I was to find that we were again riding up this road to the park gate. I started singing 'Charlie on the MTA' , thinking that I might have to circumnavigate the whole park again...pretty, but I had other places to go. But the helpful park ranger let me turn around at the booth and go down an access road to the town.  The timing was just right to park the bikes and find those shops I had made mental notes about the night before.  And eat again. That other thing that bikers love.

Oh, and yes, I DID get that photo that I was hoping for! It was in Acadia, actually passing it a second time clued me in that I had made a wrong turn.... first, here's two bikes and lupines...  

Here's DG all by herself, because she's demanding like that... 

And then finally, to complete the series... here's the picture of me taking her picture, haha!

Lunch, shopping, a huge home made ice cream cone at Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium (Irish Mudslide...Bailey's ice cream with brownie bits), watching the boats in the harbor, people watching and feeling the salt air on my face made for a perfect afternoon. I  love it when there is no agenda. We lazily watched a 4 masted schooner slowly raise her pink sails...

I made notes that I would like my husband to come up there with me. I think he would really enjoy it too.  I don't think he's seen Acadia either. (shame shame...native of New Hampshire!) I was even rewarded with a 'plen aire' painter with his easel set up on the was delightful!

We got back to the hotel to meet up with the 50 or 60 other riders for a festive night out at the Bangkok Thai restaurant nearby. The owners graciously closed their little place to the public for us. We filled the dining room up and just had a ball! 

The food was amazing!  So many vegetarian choices for me, it was difficult to pick, but I settled on a spicy sweet and sour veggie plate with deep fried tofu over rice. Check out the garnish, made from a carrot. All the plates had something festive decorating them! 

My mouth is watering at the memory of it....  I think it might just be worth a 6 hour ride to go there again!!
(My husband just told me that he is retaking the rider safety course this weekend to refresh his skills and who knows, maybe a bike in the future...Bangkok Thai, here we come!)

Sunday dawned wet and... well, wet.  It was not supposed to do this! But of course, it was a guarantee that at some point I would be riding in the rain because I had chosen to leave my full faced helmet at home. (the forecast was THAT beautiful)  All us NERds enjoyed a leisurely hotel breakfast, many opting to wait out the rain for a bit.  The radar was promising that it was not going to be a total downpour the whole way, so we set out for home after breakfast.  It was not actually raining at that moment, so ever hopeful, I decided to only wear my rain pants. Of course, again, this was the guarantee that in not too long, the sky would open up.    

(WHEN will I ever learn?)  A quick stop so that I could finish gearing up (Dan and Mannie were already set), another one later for fuel, and finally, south of Portland, we pulled into a very nice, very busy rest area.  To our delight, we bumped into about a dozen other NERds, and enjoyed a nice hot beverage and snack before the last leg home.  This is Ed and Debbie, our lovely trip coordinators extraordinaire.

I finally stopped shivering... it was just one of those days that once I got chilled to my core, warming up was a big challenge. And for those who have the question on the tip of your, I did not pack my heated gear, it was June for heaven's sake!  hahaha.  It is amazing just how much difference it makes to have even the tiniest bit of solar warming! 

Even with the ride home in the rain, this weekend was just about as perfect as a riding weekend could possibly be.  Beautiful scenery, the ocean, great friends, delicious food, and good riding. It's what makes the heart of a motorcyclist race!

And on behalf of my blog and all my fans that like to read it, I want to thank my good friend, Mannie for his maniacal picture taking skills! His photos have added a lot of depth to this story. thank you thank you! 
and of course, here is HIS photo, next to the lupines :) 
Thanks for reading! 
love, kate