Monday, August 17, 2009

West Quoddy

Today we left the stunning peaks of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and made our way across the piedmont (today's vocab word - look it up) to the Down East shore of Maine. We left this morning at our usual 8:00(ish) but started off behind because we had to stop for breakfast, as the Top Notch Inn didn't have the donuts and bagels that we're used to by now. The place was really nice and all, clean and well-kept, but that's not how they roll around here, I guess. Another culture shock is the hospitality we're quickly getting used to. It's amazing. Where we come from, trying to cross a busy street from between intersections is jaywalking, and will get you an earful of horn or verbal abuse for being such an idiot. Here, drivers see you waiting patiently, and stop right in the middle of the street to wave you across. Damn!

The flip side of that is that we've eaten 3 or 4 sit-down meals since we got to Vermont, and it's like being in the South in a heatwave. We've lost at least 6 hours of vacation time trying to eat 3 meals. Breakfast this morning took over an hour. Leaving Coopersburg on Saturday morning, we were back on the bikes after our bacon and eggs in under 20 minutes. And the restaurants here were practically empty! I know it happens, but it seems to be the rule and not the exception on this trip.

With that, I cut out about 40 miles of today's route before we even turned out of the parking lot, but it didn't really get us off the bikes any earlier. We spent all day in Maine, about 300 miles, and will spend most of the day tomorrow too. The state line was only about 7 miles from our hotel, but by the time we got there, we had passed the third flagman regulating traffic down Route 2. At one point, they had both lanes of a US highway graded down to a dirt road! We'd go 3 miles, then another construction zone with traffic in either direction alternating use of the only open lane. Just as we were getting used to sitting in line behind waiting to proceed, we were stopped this time behind a temporary sign marked 'accident scene'.

If you've spent any significant amount of time on the road, you know that most US highways (the ones with the white shield markers like US 1, US 22, etc.) run right alongside rivers or railroad lines, and often both. This is because water cuts the easiest path for roads of any type, rail or other, along irregular terrain, and railroads preceded highways in connecting destinations via direct routes over friendly terrain.

So this morning, we're waiting at front of the line at the accident scene, and looking around, we see that the accident was not a fender bender, but an *actual train wreck*. Just when you thought you've seen it all. Frightening to see 100-ton railroad cars scattered about like toys.
Anyway, it was lunchtime till we covered any considerable distance. We're working with an aggressive itinerary this time, and we have almost 1,000 miles in already. We've been getting in late every night so far, and today was the latest yet. We rode about 300 miles from the sky-touching peaks of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire, across the piedmont (today's vocab word - look it up) to the shores of the Atlantic. Proper tourists, we had a lobster dinner to die for, with a dessert of fresh blueberry pie before setting off in the late evening for today's final leg. We rode the last 8 miles of bad road in the dark, and got off the bikes around 8:00. We are in the middle of nowhere, and aside from the one little streetlight bolted to the side of the hotel here, it's pitch black. There are 20 rooms here and the office closed at 9:00. Lights out.
We are in Lubec, Maine - the easternmost town in the United States, and Donna and I are planning to get up before the birds so that we can be the first people in the country to see the sun's first light. Mom and Dad told us to take pictures...

The plan for tomorrow is another agressive 300+ miles, ending in Canada on the banks of the St. Lawrence. Barring more road construction, the sparseness of the territory here should let us run off a lot of mileage at 60 mph, even on secondary roads. There's only 1 interstate highway in Maine, and it ends a few miles up the road. The rest is 2-lane US 1 all the way to the end in Fort Kent.

No comments:

Post a Comment