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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Big Ride - Day4 part 2

The Old Iron Inn, Caribou
And God said it was good...the fourth day

To finish off the Day 4 ride report, after we had lunch at the Jordan Pond House In Acadia National Park, we stopped at the Visitor Center (which we had previously missed each and every time we went around the park loop) on our way out to shop for some trinkets to bring home. Alas, this visitor center didn't really have a big gift shop, when I asked if they did have a gift shop on the island, they said "yes, the biggest one is at the Jordan Pond House". Aaaaaa! We just came from there. Not really wanting to backtrack several miles, we resigned ourselves to pushing ahead to Caribou.

After gassing up in Bangor, we wound thru town looking to hook up to rt2 heading north. Buzzing along the 2 as it opened up north of Bangor, we kept a vigil eye out for the so far elusive Moose, as 2 cuts thru some pretty woodsy areas. Just when we thought 2 was desolate and lonely, we switched onto rt2a at Macwahoc (never saw a town or even a house, just a little white sign on a post, "macwahoc" that showed the split from 2 and 2a.

2A quickly delved into what looked like prime Moose country - a fairly straight and narrow highway bordered by deep woods and tall pines to either side, with limited sight beyond the road.

By the time we reached Houlton to rejoin US1, we decided we should eat here instead of wait till Caribou, as it was close to 5:30pm, and we had been warned that placed close around 6 in most parts north of Houlton. All we saw in Houlton was the I-95 exit fare: Micky Dee's, Pizza Hole, and the ubiquitous Tim Horton's. We thought we'd hold out for a local diner, which was sure to appear soon.

What soon appeared was the horizon, as US1 stretched out before us into Potato farm country. Potatoes as far as you could see out to the horizon on either side. Quite a change from the North Woods we had been in since leaving Bangor.

It wasn't till we reached Mars Hill, about 30 miles north of Houlton, that we came across a place to eat, "Al's Diner and Pizza". Al's didn't look like much from the outside. In fact, we wouldn't have even seen it, as we had pulled over further up the block, if an elderly couple on walkers weren't attempting to enter. In fact I think they were still trying to get up the curb in the time it took us to move the bikes down the block. Hey, old people always means good food, so in we went (not that we had much choice, as it was the first place we saw in 30 miles and might well have been the last open place we saw)

Al's in Mars Hill

Carb loading at its best
We each ordered one of their signature personal pizza's - very good. Bro went over the top by also adding some chicken gravy fries for good measure, which we shared. Everything was very good, either due to the food, the great service (they really took care of us), the length of the day, or the fact that we just needed to carb load (okay, so maybe "need" isn't the right word)

In short order, we were in Caribou. Unfortunately for me, Caribou has 7 exits off of US1. Easy, says I. I know all I'm looking for is 89 onto High St and I'm there. So, much to the worry of Dad and Bro, I smugly sail past the first "To caribou" turnoff. Then the 2nd, and so on, confident that I know where I'm going, and they more confident that I don't. Then before I know it, yet again we're turning around past Caribou, having run out of exits and still no 89.

Turns out, what my map (again) says is 89, is signed as "161/223" instead. So back we go yet again. We're really good now at doubling back and making awkward U-turns all over god's creation - sand, gravel, alley's, sidewalks, just anywhere except a good, clean, wide paved drive. Yeah, we've gotten really good at it, and I hate it. But we always get to where we need to go, and its good to learn new skills (hey look ma, I can make those other two guys make a u-turn, in traffic, uphill, through a ditch of gravel).

All gets better once we arrive at the Old Iron Inn. Kate and Kevin are great hosts, and instantly make us feel at home in their home. Our bedrooms are very lovely, and Dad even gets his own room.

Mine and Bro's room at Old Iron Inn

The upstairs foyer

Some of the hundreds of irons around the house

Exterior on High Street, Caribou

Kevin is a professor of Geology at the local University, and avid aircraft enthusiast, and collector of many things, most notably old irons from which their inn gets its name. Kate gets us oriented to the local layout, and after a short walk towards a far away ice cream stand (ie - we didn't make it there), we returned with beer for a lazy evening of shooting the breeze surrounded by fascinating antiques, quarter-sawn oak furniture, and record cylinder players. Kevin introduced us to Shocktop's pumpkin wheat beer that honestly tastes just like pumpkin pie. Not just a bit, mind you, but just like you're eating a slice of pie. It's actually quite good, even though you only really ever want one.

Vowing to wait till the next morning to do any ride reports, as its late and I really need sleep as I've been staying up till 4am writing these and downloading photos, we all turn in for the soundest sleep I'd gotten in awhile.

late night chat in the living room

The ambiance is just really, really neat

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