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