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Monday, June 18, 2012

Big Ride - Day 3

Lighthouses, bridges and lobsters - Oh my...

We slept in a bit this morning as a treat, and had a slow and lazy breakfast at the Roundabout Diner - with the same waitress we had last night. Seems everyone here is afraid to leave and face the big roundabout outside.
It was past 9am before we pulled out, fueled up, and heeded up US1 north in the chilly air to our first planned stop: the Cape Neddick "Nubble" lighthouse outside of York Maine.

On the way up to the lighthouse, we rode past Long Sands Beach, a really long strand of sandy beach (most beaches we've seen are just very rocky). The deal was though, that it was barely into the mid-50s for temps this morning, yet the beach was full of people laying out in their shorts and bikini's. We felt like we were freezing in our gear, yet we were stopping at crosswalks full of bikini-clad women and bare-chested men headed to the beach. Riding along the beach, I managed to miss the turnoff to the light house, so we had to u-turn and go back (stupid bikini's).
Arriving at Nubble Light
Soon after arriving at the light, we ended up speaking with a couple from New Zealand, who were traveling North America over a several months period. They had started their tour with a 21 day cruise from New Zealand to our West Coast, and have been crossing Canada and the US since.

Backing into the lot, and trying to make enough room for us all to park, I had backed just a little close to the edge of the lot, which precipitously ends with a quick drop to the ocean, and just by chance (or by not looking) I ended up centering the rear tire directly between several rocks placed to keep you from dropping over the edge, which meant they wouldn't be stopping me from going over the edge. Just lucky I stopped backing up when I did, as I was maybe a foot or so from the point of no return. I don't know that you can really tell what this all looked like from the photo below, but maybe you get the idea:

See that stripe? See how it curves over the edge? See those rocks far below?

We were facing east when looking at the lighthouse, so it was severely backlit was some harsh light, so we struggled for some good photos. Hey, at least were there, enjoying the salt air, and having a nice conversation with our Kiwi couple.

Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick

On the way to the next lighthouse we planned to visit (Portland Head) we swung through Kennebunkport to visit the Bush compound (vacation spot of both President Bush's). Well, we stayed on the main road, missing the side road out to the compound (no bikini's this time) and took a nice, although about 40 miles out of the way, ride around Kennebunk and Kennebunkport.

Back on US1 again, we headed up to Cape Elizabeth towards Portland Head lighthouse. This park seemed to serve as the local state park for Mainers, as it was full of families having cookouts, flying kites and generally enjoying themselves. We spent a leisurely amount of time here

Portland Head Light, with a smaller light in the distance.

Coastline near Portland Head Light

Memorial to a shipwreck from 1886

Behind the lighthouse, in front of the light.

So with such a potentially nice scene, why do they have that drain pipe there?

Lighthouse scenic sans drainpipe

After a quick snack of clif bars and water, we headed on north to Freeport to visit the L.L. Bean store

Arriving at LL Bean in Freeport.
We perused the store, and I tried on various hikers to get the right fit to order later (no room on my bike for another pair of shoes). I was impressed with their aquarium full of trout and salmon, as they had designed it with a viewing dome that kids could get into so they felt like they were in the tank with the fishies. I wanted to try too, but couldn't get past all the kids wanting a go.

Kid in the LL Bean Aquarium bubble

I got some Coolmax socks, and Bro got some jeans and a fleece jacket that was on sale, as we've been quite cold all day so far. Its only barely broke 60 degrees by mid-day.

The obligatory tourist photo at LL Bean

As it was now almost 4pm, we decided to just make a beeline up US1 to try to get to Bar Harbor before dark, as it looked to be still about 4 hours away and we had no idea how slow US1 might get North of here (it varied between full-on 60mph at stretched to as slow as 25mph through towns)

And it kept getting colder. Windscreen all the way up now (I'm liking it much more today, as our speeds are low and there's little to no buffeting like days 1 and 2. Seems that under 70mph the windscreen is a mild mannered device that works as intended. Its only over 70 that the buffetting monster rears its head and makes me hate life)

As we were trying to make time, not much interesting happened from Freeport up to Bar Harbor, with a few notable exceptions...

Dropping down a decent hill into Camden Maine, we hit a pretty big bump at speed due to road construction. Now let me go back a bit and tell you that Dad has been bringing up the rear of our little three bike motorcade on this trip. And that his bike is equipped with a cup holder. A really nice cupholder, that swivels and has a thick rubber ring for holding your drink. Or in Dad's case, a red solo cup. Now, the eternal red solo cup that resides in the cup holder only holds one thing, as Dad chews tobacco as he rides. Well, that red solo cup, full of tobacco juicy goodness, left the safe confines of its comfortable and fancy cupholder as we hit that bump. Going airborne, and briefly happy to be free of any confines, it landed squarely on the windshield of the car directly behind (hey, he was obviously following too close anyways). This must have surprised the bejeezus outta that guy, as he pulled over immediately. We went a little faster after that, just to put a little distance between us and him, just in case. Truth is, he seemed just fine, although I don't envy him discovering what the gunk is on his car, or having to remove it. We do our best to bring new experiences to others.

At the crossing from Stockton Springs to Penobscot, we crossed the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. It was really neat to cross here, as the road bed was extremely narrow, and we were able to ride right along the suspension cables, that were'nt separated from us by fences or anything. You could have literally walked right up and access the cables, nothing was topping you. As we had a line of traffic behind us, I was unable to stop on the bridge to get a photo, which is sad cause it was really spectacular. Here's some pics so maybe you get an idea:

Approaching the Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Wide view of the bridge over Penobscot Narrows

I managed to get a quick shot off at the light before crossing the bridge. If you look closely you can see  that the cables come right to the roadbed. The view of being able to look right up them from their base up to the top of the towers as we were crossing was really cool.

We reached Ba Harbor by 7:30, not too bad of you look at the distance from Freeport. By arrival, the temps were in the low 50's again, we were all a bit chilly, and it was way past everyone's suppertime, only having had a half a clif bar since breakfast.
While I had visions of a nice upscale dinner at the harbor with lobster for Father's day, we were cold, hungry, road weary, a bit disheveled and a little ornery. We checked in (the hotel is smack downtown, which makes walking nice) and walked around Bar Harbor before settling on a place to eat that looked like they wouldn't kick us out. "Geddy's" was a family restaurant near the Harbor that was actually a nice blend of kick-back bar, seafood shack, and restaurant. The service from our waitstaff was impeccable, which helped soothe our frayed bits. We started with sharing a plate of "Sea Balls" (just had to order it based on the name alone) which were like hushpuppies but made from several types of seafood. There was also a large selection of local Maine micro-brews, which was a big plus.

While Dad tried baked scallops, Bro and I tried the "Lazy Lobster" - lobster someone else prepares for you so you don't have to deal with the shells and mess. Anyone that knows me knows I hate to touch my food. Not a decision, just how it is. So I ain't touchin' no buttery lobster in a mangled attempt to extract some small flesh from inside, but I was in Maine so really wanted one. The Lazy Lobster was a great compromise on price and access.

After dinner, Dad hit the sack, and Bro and I walked around town a bit for some night shots, and some more brews before hitting the sack. Tomorrow will prove to be both a short and long day - a short day in Acadia National Park, before heading up the long stretch to Caribou. Looking at the map, it looks a bit daunting to make such a long drive late in the day after hiking around Acadia (not wanting to meet any Moose on the road). So we aren't going to look at the map tomorrow, and just hike till we're tired, and drive till we get there.

After dinner, Bro and I had a few more...

Bar Harbor at night

Looking out to the Harbor, cruise ship in the background behind the fountain

Moose above the restaurant we all ate at

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are having a great trip. I love the pics of the lighthouses. And I have to say, I had tears in my eyes and was nearly on the floor laughing about the red solo cup full of tobacco juice! :) Those people must have wondered what kind of huge bug hit them!