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.


  1. Thanks for taking us with you :)

  2. As always such a treat to travel along, I can smell the salt air just reading your words!

  3. Great post, looks like you had an awesome adventure

  4. Really interesting, your travels really sound freeing and just like an awesome time..