Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Season is (unfortunately) Winding Down

As the weather turns chilly and the trees turn bright, some of the best riding days will appear. The cool air and bright sun, when you can get it, make for the most spectacular rides! 

For me, it also means that I am running out of the luxury of taking off for an all day ride. Being a self employed gift shop owner, the 4th quarter keeps me busy as I hope it carries me through the slower months of summer sales, a rather double edged sword that I wield, because I do love the time to ride but lament the slow business of the dog days of summer. As mid-October loomed ahead of me, I decided to take one last jaunt for the weekend. It serves two purposes, one being a fantastic ride, the other purpose is to renew my energies to face the soon to be 7 days a week work schedule until after Christmas.  This weekend trip headed to my favorite landscape, the seaside of Maine.

The weekend started on the tail of a NorEaster of the rainy cold variety. Saturday dawned extremely windy and hovering in the low 40s- no rain though, and this was a blessing!  I can take cold and windy, but rain would have made it a bear of a day. My plan was to be quick about getting to Boothbay Harbor that day, and settle in my motel room for the night and get warm. Sunday and Monday were promised to be sunny and warmer, so I did not worry so much about sightseeing on Saturday as I set out on the highway north, with my FastPass strapped to my arm.  Departure time was 8am.

I realized that I had not eaten breakfast or even had a cup of coffee yet...but I was on the road and told myself that I would stop when I needed to warm up.  When I crossed into Maine, the memory of a diner in Portland where my friends and I stopped the year before came back to me. It is Becky's Diner on the water in the old port part of the city.  The website is delightful and the food is hearty.

Be prepared for a wait, but it is worth it. I got a seat right away because I was alone and could slide right into a stool at the counter. 
Peeling off my multiple layers of clothing, holding them awkwardly in my lap while sitting at the stool, I enjoyed nice hot coffee, light and sweet because I was on a mini-vacation, and raisin bread French toast.  I would have taken a photo of it, but the place was so crowded and I was already the topic of many people's interest with my neon colored riding jacket, that I got really shy about taking a photo of my breakfast!

The roads into Maine were in full color, 

as were some of the residents- this was in Wiscassett.  :) 

I did make one more stop on the way to Boothbay Harbor...in the wind that was howling today, the waves at "my" rock at Reid State Park in Georgetown would be putting on a great show for me. I pointed my bike out to the end of the peninsula after going over the bridge at the Bath Iron Works. I love the road going to the park... it is windy and tree lined, then suddenly opening up to a causeway that always makes me smile in a peaceful sort of "I have arrived" way.  

I parked Dirty Girl and started walking toward the water, not even removing my gear because of the chill, and taking the left pathway up the stone stairs.

 I was alone today...there are generally people here year round, but not today. I was alone on the top of my rock...the wind was so strong that I was afraid of perching the camera on the rocks for a self portrait, lest it fall into the water.  I did grab one shot, not terrific, but it shows the kind of day it was. I love this place, it has so much energy and renewal for me. On another kind of day, I would curl up in a nook of a rock and take a nap in the sun. 

Today is a short visit though... Boothbay Harbor is still a few miles away and the weather is challenging. I wanted to get there in time enough to enjoy a stroll around town.  I have a lot of childhood memories with Boothbay Harbor.  

My grandparents kept an antique 36' sloop at the yacht club during my childhood.  It was always a big treat when it was my turn to be on the boat with them.  We would drive up in their little yellow VW convertible bug, always stopping in Portland for sandwiches made with homemade oatmeal bread, and then I always got to visit my favorite store when we would get to Boothbay, The Smiling Cow.  When I was a little girl, this store was the most magical place, I would get to choose some little trinket to bring onto the boat with me.  I often chose a simple little wooden doll, with stumpy feet and yarn hair, elastic made it so that the arms and legs would bend. I think they came from Germany.  Invariably, my dog would get a hold of it and chew it up when I got home. I wish I had them today! 

To my delight, the Smiling Cow is still here...not quite so magical as I look around and see the ceramic lobstermen and lighthouses emblazoned with "Maine."  But, it still makes me wax nostalgic and smile when I see it! 

I stayed at the MidTown Motel. "A true 1950s experience" it says on their sign.

  And yes, it does live up to this promise!  No internet, no phone in the room, no coffee, no shampoo, a tiny TV and a small box heater on the wall with a browned strip of paper scotch taped there, typed with a true typewriter warning, "please be aware of items that might be placed in front of the heater."   It was clean and cozy, so aside from no internet, I had no complaints. 

I checked my gear into the room, which also means that I unceremoniously explode into it, which is attested by anyone who has traveled with me, then went for shopping and supper. Boothbay Harbor is quaint, right off a postcard. 

I poked in and out of little stores, finding stocking stuffers for my family and chatting with shop owners. Then I wandered into the Ebb Tide restaurant.  Another true 50s experience!  The booths are old fashioned pine boards, a chalk board has the daily specials and a sign states 'over 5 million served'.  The food was fresh and delicious, I had fried haddock, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and a roll.  It was served on a simple diner plate, meaning one of those heavy white diner dishes. Although the Ebb Tide's dishes did have a pretty scalloped edge with a gold color in it, I giggled out loud when it arrived and thought to myself that this should just be called the White Dinner Plate- all my food was white. :) 

The next morning dawned with sunshine, not even 40 degrees when I woke up and went in search of coffee. The town coffeeshop was not open on a Sunday morning, which I thought unusual, so the quest continued.  I ended up at the Ebb Tide again of all places. I asked for a coffee to go and then noticed on the chalk board: cinnamon rolls. "I'll take one of those too," popped out of my mouth.  Walked back to my room and opened the container to a baked confection that if I had seen it first, I would never have ordered it... Oh goodness, it had enough sweet frosting in this thing to cover a whole cake- it was a little embarrassing and I was alone!  I ate as much of it as I could, thinking that the day was going to be shot to hell now, starting it with such sweets!

I pushed off at about 9am, and 41 degrees, taking a leisurely ride south toward my next destination, Ogunquit.  I made a stop at LLBean in Freeport, to see what kinds of things I might find and need there.My hopes were to find flannel lined jeans, but they did not work out.  Wandered through there for a bit, bought a couple of little things and continued south, taking some side roads that I had not been on before. One being through the town of Kennebunkport.  This little town is so quaint, small shops and restaurants, full of people shopping on a Sunday morning.  Definitely on my list to return to at some point.  Ogunquit was not a far ride, I wanted to park my bike for the afternoon and enjoy the town, the shopping and the oceanside.  

Meanwhile, I am watching my odometer, as I approach the 50,000 mile mark, my heart starts to beat as I play a little game, wondering where I will be when it flips over to this monumental number!  As luck had it, it flipped all the zeros as I pulled into my next hotel. 

 I thought that was pretty amazing, one of life's simple pleasures.  My rest stop for this night is the Meadowmere Resort.  I generally do not stay in hotels that end with the word 'resort', thinking that they are out of my affordable range.

 But I was encouraged to check them out and joyfully, the Sunday night rate for a king room with a fireplace was within my means.  This was going to be the perfect end of season ride for me... ocean side meditating and then an old good book by a fireplace that night.  Life is good!  

Ogunquit did not disappoint.  Again, Maine has delivered a small town center with nice little shops and food. I spent a few hours and then sat out on a big rock by the ocean for a while. The view was lovely, the waves were nice and loud and I was in heaven. I sat out far enough so that all the other people were behind me and I felt wonderfully alone with the sea. 

At around 4pm, a shower sent me scurrying back to my bike and back to my room.  A supper of cheese and crackers and glass of Bailey's Irish Creme finished off the day.  I settled into the peacefulness of the room and the fire and my book. It was lovely! 

(gotta love the timers on cameras, it is the only way I get into pictures on solo rides!)

Monday arrived, and it was time to head home. The day was bright as I jumped on the highway... just in that 'zone' that motorcyclists often talk about, thinking about the last couple of days, and the day ahead. I was making one more stop, in Marlboro MA at a trade show for my store.  I had to laugh in that sort 'hands in the air' was when I came out of the show 2 hours later to my bike with a very dead battery.  (click... click... ugh!) Thankfully, my husband works not too far away and thankfully my friend Gary had gifted a set of motorcycle jumper cables to me for my cross country trip (just in case), AND thankfully this did not happen when I was up in Maine!

Mo came and rescued me, and I rode the bike directly to my mechanic's garage, here in my own town.  A pretty easy end to a fabulous weekend away. A new battery now energizes Dirty Girl.  Now I feel as though I can face the 4th quarter holiday shopping swell at my store, as I soon will be working 7 days a week until the end of the year. Riding from now til then will be only as I can steal a few hours here and there.  

....today, as I write this, it is one of those most spectacular days!  I hear motorcycles rumbling by, guessing that they are taking hooky rides.  I am envious a bit, but not green with jealousy. I am glad someone is out in it if I have to work! 

So there you have it, another adventure albeit a little quiet one to round out a very good year. My next blog entry may just be about washing this sweet bike of mine. It is going to be an epic challenge!  She is wicked wicked dirty. Lots of great miles to her that way :) 

Thanks for reading!  
love, bee

Monday, September 27, 2010

In a Parade!

Probably one of the lowest mileage rides I have been on, but certainly one of the most fun ones!  

Holliston MA throws a town fair each September to celebrate all that goes on and to honor the citizens of the year. The kickoff is a parade to the park where you will find booths with fun, information, and food. A good time is had by all.  

This year I decided to put my business into the parade!  So I brainstormed as to what could be done with my bike.  I doubt you will find anyone that will argue that it ended up being a reflection of the hippie chick flower child that I am :) 

Parade lineup was at the elementary school and kickstands up at 9am. I mean, start walking and driving at 9am. :)  There were a couple of other bikes at the front, but I had many exclaim that a bike float was a first for them.  

It was  a pretty well loaded parade for a small town, you just have to love the fire engines, antique cars and farm equipment. We also had the National Lancers, a ceremonial cavalry unit as our Color Guard. 

I had my support team with me to toss candy and hand out fliers to the crowds.  None of us knew what to expect, so we were all excited!  I was a little unsure about just how hot the bike would get at parade speeds, but it was fine.... it was a little less than a mile long, so my bike was hot but not too unhappy when I parked her at the end. 

I decided to be really daring and ride without my jacket. Those that know me have teased me, because I think in my five years of riding, I have not ever gone without my riding jacket.  I figured that 5mph was a safe enough speed to risk going without the protective gear.  Today was all about fashion.  :) 

My husband was stationed on the parade route, instructed to grab a photo or two and he did a fine job :)  I had a couple of requests for videos, but I didn't have enough time to locate a camera.  There is always next year! 

All in all, a really fun morning!  I had great feedback from the event, lots of cheers from women who might have missed my message of shopping locally though, I got the distinct feeling they were cheering for the chick on the bike :) 

Back at the shop, all the flowers took on their next job, to fill the flower box in the front of the store. I was off to my next destination for the weekend, a relaxing time by the ocean in Maine.  I mistakenly had double booked myself for this day, my husband and I had this cottage on the calendar for a few months, and I had blindly been thinking that Celebrate Holliston was the following weekend.  Where is cloning technology when you really need it? :)
So, I sent my husband to Maine to hang with our friends and I promised I would buzz up there as soon as I could.  At about 3pm, I jumped on the bike for a quick 110 mile ride. At the fuel stop, I realized that I had not completely undecorated my bike...

Surprisingly, these little flowers stood the test of highway speeds for two hours!  I arrived in Maine and took off my footwear... once again realizing that I am often not like everyone else. This vignette really cracked me up! I don't own footwear that even remotely resembles the other ones at the cottage this weekend. :)

 I made it in time for cocktails on the porch overlooking a fantastic seascape. It took me about 30 seconds to get into relax mode.

  This is the view off the porch, about 30 feet away... I was in heaven! The waves were gently rolling in, speaking in a calm voice as the water splashed on the rocks.
The weather overnight turned windy and cold..the next day dawned with waves that were breaking well up onto the rock wall.  I grabbed a gorgeous handmade comforter (that I coveted very much), poured my coffee and went out into the cool morning air. 

Later in the morning, we all went to Old Orchard Beach to walk around, it was pretty well closed up for the season. I did see one thing that I just had to try... no, not the Fried Twinkie. I tried one of those delicacies this summer. This time it had to be the Deep Fried Oreo.

If it had been more than a buck, I think I would have been disappointed.  But all in all, not a bad little taste treat.  Mine was underdone though, with uncooked batter.... another 30 seconds in the fryolator and I bet the Oreo creme middle would have gotten melty. :)

 So, I have a deep fried Twinkie (back in July in WV) and an Oreo under my belt (literally).  Can't promise that I will try things like fried pickles or other strange things I hear about though, but you never know. It might be my new calling to taste and review them.  However, I might not have to have my arm twisted too hard to try a deep friend Milky Way bar.  Not sure where I would have to ride to in order to locate one, I think maybe Texas... 
We decided to call it a weekend when the weather continued to deteriorate, as we were not really prepared for the cold. My raingear was taken off the bike for the parade and the skies were looking very threatening, reinforced by the choppy waves now pounding on the retaining wall, it was a very different view from the day before.  It was gorgeous, my kind of ocean! 

So at about 2pm, I layered on all my clothing and headed homeward.  The skies were drizzling on me pretty much the whole way, but I did not get wet wet.  Toes were pretty chilled when I got home, it took a few hours to completely warm up.
All in all, a great weekend, full of new adventures, all within 100 miles of home.  :) 

Ride Safely everyone and thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coastal Maine... my favorite landscape

This ride was supposed to have been last week, but the weather intervened and it was rescheduled. The temps yesterday were probably the most perfect for a motorcyclist...cool enough to be comfortable in gear and warm enough to keep fingers and toes just right. 
I met my friend Gar at the Shell station in Berlin MA. For a ride heading north, it is equidistant from both of us and an easy rendezvous point. 

I may have to rethink this rendezvous point though... it's bad enough that I am pretty much color coordinated head to toe, but when I start matching the gas stations, well enough already!  :)

Kickstands up at 8:30am, the first leg was highway, heading toward the coast.  After 45 minutes or so, there is the motorcyclists' obligatory stop...no ride in New England starts without this place:
Refueled, we headed toward Salisbury Beach, to route 1A, the seacoast route north.  It was a Monday and still early, so it was a delightful run up this local road, winding by cottages and little business centers, lots of clam shacks and early morning beach goers, which as I looked closely, were mostly surfers today. The waves were active and exciting this day... a huge gift for me! 
Salisbury beach is a busy tourist mecca in the summertime, we motored down the retail strip toward the beach and Gar followed the U-turn in the road. He had to pull over though because I stopped following him. I HAD to investigate this outrageously fabulous bike set up...
It was a GoldWing with every bell and whistle and farkle that a bike can hold. PLUS, check out the trailer! 
The cutest thing I ever saw... 

But then wait a second... owners of the bike came strolling back and I have to say that THIS quite possibly is the cutest thing I have ever seen.  Her name is Abby, a rescue who started riding with her new mom and dad last March.  Dad says that Abby loves riding as much as they do. 
She gave me a couple of sweet kisses, I gave mom, dad and Abby guardian angel coins and we were on our way.  Abby's dad said he was going to drill a hole in her coin to hang it on her collar. :)

I have mentioned before how much I love the ocean. It is such a powerful feeling for me to be there... someday maybe I will have a little hermitage by the waves just to sit and listen and be quiet. Meanwhile, I will visit and ride to find the waves and the energy. 
We are still poking our way northbound on 1A, heading toward Hampton Beach, another stretch of pretty commercial beach.  I think it might be one of the longest stretches of beach in New England. We don't have many wide open beaches.  The waves today were very satisfying to watch. We pulled over at one point, where I saw that the waves were breaching the seawall...a thick cement barrier built to protect the houses across the street.  I loved riding along and seeing the crashing water up and over the wall and dousing the sidewalk and pedestrians.  So Gar pulled into the parking lot and we stopped along the wall.  
And the answer is yes... before too long I was rolling with laughter when a wave crashed over the wall.  I got wet too, but I had the camera.  haha!
There were lots of characters out today!  Of course, I mean all the OTHER characters. haha...  at this stop on the strip at Hampton, a fellow came up and started talking about my bike. He was asking about the color and model and so forth. I don't think he was really so much interested in those details, I think he wanted the company more.  You know the kind... a conversation happens and winds up and you start to walk away and then suddenly you hear a voice behind you. Oops, I didn't realize we were still talking!  It was a fun half hour or so with this guy, talking about bikes and the beach and biker bars, of which I do not go to.  But, it was colorful, for certain and we were not in a hurry.  How can you not love no teeth and an eye patch, talking about motorcycling?
I have no idea what time it was at that point... it was moving slowly along, as we were. The next few miles wound around some of the most beautiful coastline and homes in New England. This stretch is famous for the magnificent mansions that are on one side of the road and the rocks and waves on the other.  
I love this photo and the clouds in my mirror :) 

This is the other view I generally have when riding with Gar... his red GoldWing with 3 flags flying off the back. The POW flag is curled a bit, on the right.  It's kinda cool :)
We are making our way to Nubble Lighthouse.... as I understand, one of the most photographed lighthouses on the eastcoast. How I have never seen it, I don't know.  It took a little while to get there, because I kept stopping to sit by the ocean :)
This stop, took me a while, there were some great rocks to climb down on.... I could spend hours here!
I was reluctant to go back to the bike... but finally I did and we were on our way again, up 1A into Rye NH. Then Gar turned down 1B... a small road that I have never been before. It went into the sweetest little town center, so old fashioned and cozy. I would love a home here!  Rt 1B eventually wound its way back to 1A, and at one point, crossed a causeway, passing this giant old building on my right. Now looking quite abandoned... I have to find out what it used to be. 
The road then took us into Portsmouth, one of the prettiest old towns on the seacoast. It is a great place to go and park, and just walk around for a few hours. There are quirky stores, galleries, lots of food, harbor frontage and history.  Worth a trip to see if you have never been there!
We still have not made it to Nubble light, but look in this photo...you can see it off in the distance!  Just ignore that giant yellow helmet in the foreground. :) 

Finally...we made it to Nubble Lighthouse.  I will have to come back to this place, it is so wild and rocky!  The lighthouse sits on an isolated little island, the supplies get brought across via a basket on a wire. I am not sure if the lightkeepers go across in this manner also. While we were there, a woman approached me and we ended up chatting for a while... she is a rider also. When I told her that I did my cross country ride this summer and said it was mostly solo, she gave me a big "You Go Girl" hug.  We were excitedly talking until her husband dragged her away, saying something about a schedule. Didn't he realize how busy we were?  :) 
You can see the white basket in this picture...can you imagine traveling across the water in this?  It is not far, but still pretty precarious for my tastes!  
It was lunch time and my belly was talking now, all the salt air really makes a girl hungry.  Our route was pointed at Perkin's Cove, yet another quintessential New England coastal town that I have never seen.  Another adorable tiny town perched on the water's edge. Gar and I had lunch at a place that sits right on the water.  I had a lobster roll and it was yummy.  To think that all these years, I insisted I hated lobster.  Oh well, my waistline has probably been the better for it. 
Perkin's Cove has a walkway along the coast, called the Marginal Way, which ends in Ogunquit. This teeny lighthouse is at the entrance to the walkway. I had to get a photo here!  The start and finish points are fun shopping and eating places, with benches to rest on while on the walkway.  We did not walk the Marginal Way yesterday, but I think I will return to it someday to do it. Maybe in the off season so that the ocean is active and there are not many people.  

A nice slow ride, gorgeous weather and even prettier scenery makes for a perfect ride.
It was not many miles, not a fast pace, lots of people to chat with, and home for supper... just perfect! 

Until next ride...
Bee safe!

By the way, 
September 21st, is the United Nations International Day of Peace
Peace to you all