Denise Goldberg's blog

Red-clad feet on a purple bike
Wandering on two (bicycle) wheels in Downeast Maine

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Driving home

...with a stop for a mid-day mystery ride

Much as I would like to spend some more time with my bike in Downeast Maine, today was the day that I needed to head home again. I woke once again to a very foggy and somewhat cool morning. The pavement was dry, but the air was full of that gray stuff.

My hopes for the morning included a wander once again (with my bike, of course) around Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. After breakfast, I started to drive south from Ellsworth. Within a couple of miles the fog got even thicker, and I needed to use the windshield wipers to maintain visibility. Somehow that didn't seem like ideal riding conditions to me, so I switched directions and started to head towards home. I still hoped to get in a short ride somewhere today; I just didn't know where that would be.

Instead of driving back to Bangor to pick up I-95, I started west and south on route 1. I figured that some set of towns or one of the spits (or penninsulas) of land jutting out into the Atlantic would appeal to me for a short ride. Then I saw a sign warning of road construction and probable delays in the Camden area. That really didn't appeal, so I consulted my road map and changed my heading once again. (See, I change plans in a car too - it's not just a bike touring habit of mine!) I saw that route 173 eventually intersected with route 3, which would take me to I-95 in Augusta, so I turned onto 173. It turned out to be a beautiful and rather hilly road. In fact, it could provide some interesting riding. I can't say that it was a straight route since it did a bit of twisting around. It didn't seem to be alone in that habit (the twisting and turning, that is) because at one point I was on a road that was labeled as 173 North / 131 South. Tell me, how can I be heading both north and south at the same time?

Tell me, how can I be heading north and south at the same time?

My purple bicycle finally decided to stop riding along silently - she started asking when and where we were going to ride. (What? Your bikes don't talk to you?) I guess she figured I had forgotten about riding today, but I didn't. I stopped in Freeport and headed out with my bike on somewhat of a mystery ride. It was only a mystery because I only had a state road map, and not a detailed map of the Freeport area. I had parked near the town's information kiosk, and there was a very detailed map of where all the stores in Freeport were located - but there was nothing showing the roads in the area. I really didn't want to ride on route 1, so I found a numbered but narrow road and headed out on an out-and-back ride. It was a rolling road, a nice setting for a ride. The sky was gray when I started, but a light gray that didn't appear to be threatening at all. And the winds were fairly calm. Neither of those conditions lasted though. A short while after I turned around the sky started to get very dark. No thunder this time, just dark clouds. And a little bit after that the wind really whipped up. Of course it was a headwind, so I was a little worried that my attempt to get back to the car while the bike and I were still clean and dry was not going to succeed. The wind was pretty strong, the temperature felt like it was dropping, and my speed was dropping too. I did stop for a second to put my camera in my waterproof pannier (and yes, I really was riding with a single pannier so I could carry things like my rain jacket with me). I was lucky today; the rain held off and I was able to finish my ride while I was still dry.

Of course since I was in Freeport I had to wander into LLBean. I didn't need anything, it was a "just because" type of stop. It still amazes me that the store is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And there aren't any locks on the front doors to the store!

One of my goals as I drove home today was to watch the Maine license plates to see if there were any that I was missing. It seems that most states have a single plate design, but there are sometimes special designs for special purposes. Most of the cars I saw had the standard picture of a chickadee and a pine cone along the left side of the plate. I occasionally saw two other designs though - a loon, and a lobster. The lobster really surprised me because that was an old license plate design, and I thought I remembered there being a controversy over that particular plate relative to lobster being a pricey item. When I mentioned seeing the lobster plates to Maureen (my hostess at the B&B in Jonesport), she said that there was another argument against the lobster plate - and that was that Maine was the only state that had a picture of a dead animal on their license plate, one that was not only dead but was also cooked! I never would have thought of that! It appears that the three designs that I saw are the current set of plates.

Most of the cars I saw were sporting the chickadee & pinecone plate, but occasionally a loon or a lobster would pop up.

Home again... It's good to be home again - even though I could have happily stayed out on the road with my bicycle for a while longer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Communing with our fine-feathered friends

Puffins, terns, razorbills, and...

I woke to find another gray and foggy morning. I figured there was a good chance that I'd have the entire day to wander on my bike, but I quickly dressed for a chilly boat ride, loaded up the car, and headed down to breakfast. I wanted to be ready just in case.

And just in case turned into a yes, the boat is heading to Machias Seal Island this morning. And even better, it turns out that the number of people who can visit the island from each boat is 13. I was number 14, and with one over, they just look the other way - so I was able to take the tour that I was hoping for. Time to commune with the birds...

It turns out that Machias Seal Island - the summer home of some amazing birds - is disputed territory, claimed by both the United States and Canada. The Canadian Wildlife Service and park rangers maintain a presence on the island, but apparently a few years back there was a real to do over the ownership of the island. At one point, Barna Norton (the father of the captain of our boat today) was told he could no longer land there. He got the government involved, and now both countries are claiming the island. At least the confrontation is at a government level and not a people level. Everyone was friendly, so it appears that the conflict is not (currently) at a human level. We had a chance to talk with some of the people staffing this island. It turns out that they work on the island for 28 days and then have 28 days off. Of course the crew we spoke with this morning had been there for 32 days. Their transportation to and from the island is a helicopter that requires visual contact with the land. It's been a foggy week, and it looks like the fog will be continuing.

Back to my day... The boat left promptly at 7am, heading through the protected Jonesport harbor area and then moving out into open ocean waters. It was cool, gray, and very foggy. The waves were a bit rough on the way out, and even rougher on the way back. It turns out that the cancellation of yesterday's tour was only partially due to the fog. It sounds like today's rough water was calm in comparison with yesterday's. The fog prevented us from seeing much on the way out, but as we got close to the island (which was 21 nautical miles from Jonesport) we started seeing swarms of birds.

When we landed on the island, we were given "tern sticks". They were slats of wood that were probably between 3 and 4 feet long. We were told to hold the sticks over our heads, holding them still and not waving them around. Why? Rather than building a nest in a safe spot, the terns drop their eggs wherever they happen to be - so there were tern eggs sitting all over. The ones we could see were on the (cut) grass, but there may have been some hidden in the taller grass too. The wildlife folks had marked most of the locations with bright colored (but small) flags. Anytime those of the human species started walking, the terns took to the air, dive bombing to protect their yet-to-hatch babies. And along the way they also left their precious bird poop on some of the visitors. I believe the purpose of the sticks was to keep the angry birds away from our heads.

The terns were definitely aware of our arrival, although these had calmed down and landed.

I really regret that I didn't have my camera in hand when we set foot on the island. We were told to pick up a stick (looked like a long paint stirrer) from the bucket at the dock and to hold it up in the air. The idea was that the terns would dive bomb the sticks and not our heads - and it did seem to work (although some of the group did get hit with some tern (bird) shit).

Next we headed down to the blinds, small wood shacks with small square windows that basically were holes in the walls with a piece of wood that slides over the opening. Up to 4 people can fit in a blind. I shared mine with a couple from Kingston, NY. We were warned not to open windows on two sides of the blind at the same time. With opposite windows open, sometimes the birds decide they can and should fly through the blinds.When we first arrived, some of the birds made a quick exit, but once all human presence was hidden, they returned. There were two kinds of birds that were outside of our blind - puffins, and razorbills. The razorbills reminded me of penguins. And the puffins? They are truly amazing looking. Not only were they sitting, and walking, and flying, and wandering outside of our blind, they were also scrambling around on the roof of the blind. Their feet were bright orange, and their beaks were multi-colored. Beautiful. I'm hoping that some of the pictures I took with my baby camera (a Canon S40) are reasonable images. This would have been the right trip to be carrying a camera with a significant telesphoto lens.

A glimpse of the puffins from the blind. The birds moved away from the blinds (really little shacks) when we arrived, but as you'll see from the later pictures they came back. They even came back to prance across the tin roof of the blind while we were in it.

The sounds the birds made were amazing too, although I'm not sure which birds made which noises. If you want to hear what I heard, go to the (Norton of Jonesport, Maine) Puffin Tours of Machias Seal Island page. There is an audio clip that you can click on, and I can tell you that the sounds you'll hear there definitely match the sounds we heard on the island.

The sun finally made an appearance on the trip back. Most of us were inside the boat by that time after being warned that it was likely to get pretty wet in the back of the boat as we sped through the waves. There were two more visual treats as we got closer to Jonesport - a bald eagle, and a seal. What a nice addition to our bird viewing day.

It was low tide when we returned, and what was a shallow ramp from the top of the dock down to the boat was now at a very steep angle. Our captain told us that in the Jonesport harbor area (of the Bay of Fundy) that there is a 14-foot difference in water level between low and high tide. Amazing.

It was warmer under a blue sky when we got back. I had considered driving back to the eastern edge of the state to do a loop ride out of Pembroke that I found in the Maine cycle tours puublication. I didn't really want to spend that much time in the car though, and it was already one in the afternoon, so I just randomly chose a road on the map for an out and back ride. I drove a short way to the east, and left my car in Machias. I then headed down the road leading to Jasper Beach. Funny thing about flat paper maps - they unfortunately give ne no clues as to the riding conditions. The road I chose was hilly but beautiful. I passed some folks working in a yard, and they told me (in what I think of as an old Maine accent) that the road up ahead was very beautiful but very hilly. They went on to say that if I didn't come back out in two hours that they would come and get me! They were just kidding, but I really believe that they would have been happy to drive down the road in thieir pickup to give me a ride back.And they were right about the hills. They had an interesting difference of opinion of the road up ahead. The woman in the group told me that I should ride as far as Fort Henry, that it was hilly after that. One of her companions said "what are you, crazy? There's a steep hill leading down to Fort Henry, and she'll have to ride back up the hill.". I chose to ignore their well-meaning description of the road up ahead, and I kept on riding. And I'm glad I did...

It was a very pleaant road for riding. Unfortunately soon after I turned back I noticed a dark, dark section of sky, and I started hearing thunder. I was hoping that I'd make it back without getting wet, but it just wasn't to be. I rode through sprinkles, and then as I pulled into the center of Machias the skies just opened up. Luckily, I was right next to a gas station, so I pulled in and stood under the canopy over the pumps until the deluge let up. There was still water streaming down the sides of the road and there was still light rain falling when I got back on my bike to finish the remaining mile back to my car. All things considered I was very, very lucky. I could have easily been a lot wetter than I was.

Tomorrow it's time to head home. Before I head home I'm planning to ride in the morning, but that will depend on whether the rain has moved on by then. Where? I honestly don't know. I'm in Ellsworth tonight, and right now I'm considering heading back to Acadia and doing the Park Loop Road once more. Or I might decide to ride a bit further to the south and west, maybe in the Camden / Rockport / Rockland area. I know it probably makes more sense to ride somewhere new tomorrow, but my riding decision for the day doesn't need to make sense - it only needs to make me happy!

Look closer - the rocks in the background are totally covered with birds!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

End to end down the spine of Campobello Island

Apparently the puffins didn't want company today!

This trip seems to be a planned trip of unplanned days. While I did see a little bit of blue sky before the sun set last night, the fog gathered on the coast by the end of the evening, and it stayed. It appeared that the puffins put in an order for fog so they could have a day without visitors. After calling someone on the island - I think someone from a Canada department of natural resources - and finding that the fog was so thick that the edges of the island weren't visible, the captain of the puffin cruise cancelled for today. I rebooked for tomorrow, but there weren't any spots available that will allow me to actually set foot on the island. As it turns out, there are 3 boats that run tours out to the island, and they work together to minimize the impact of the visitors on the birds. I believe each boat is only allowed 8 humans on the island each day, and the other people on the boat stay on the boat for a tour around the island from the water. I find it interesting that the set foot on the island tour costs $65, and the tour around the island is $100 - it seems to me that the get off the boat option is the more interesting of the two. Since they cancelled the tour, I'm not being charged the difference to switch to the only available spot for tomorrow. Of course I'm sitting here Tuesday evening looking through my window at fog - a bit lighter than yesterday since I can still see the dock - so it's entirely possible that tomorrow's tour will be cancelled too. If that happens I suppose I have a built-in reason for another trip out here. I really like this B&B, and I 'd love to have a chance to see these crazy birds.

Water? Where is it? Do you wonder why the hour and a half boat ride to Machias Seal Island was cancelled? The boat captain called out to the island, and was told they couldn't see the shoreline at all.

Breakfast was wonderful again. Maureen offers a choice of cereals (cold, or oatmeal) or her choice of breakfast entree. Today's entree was blueberry waffles - so that's what I had, along with fresh fruit. The fruit included Maine blueberries; knowing they aren't in season yet, I asked Maureen about them. She said that she takes blueberries from the August harvest, spreads them on a cookie sheet, and freezes them. Then she puts them in a plastic freezer bag. If I have access to good Maine blueberries this season, maybe I'll buy some extra and try that freezing trick. (If you've never had Maine blueberries, they are absolutely wonderful and far better than any other blueberries that I've had. I highly recommend trying them if you get a chance.) Breakfast is a favorite meal for me, and It could be very easy to get spoiled by these breakfasts. No complaints here!

No puffin tour meant it was time to pick a biking destination. With the cancelled tour I'm really glad I changed my plans yesterday and retrieved my 4-wheeled fossil-fuel-powered vehicle to supplement my self-powered bicycle! When I headed out this morning I was thinking it might be reasonable to ride in two different areas, but as it turned out I only had time for one ride. I headed to Campobello Island - a good hour and a half drive from here - then across the water and just across the border in New Brunswick. I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull off that visit to Canada because I don't have my passport with me, but I was able to confirm (based on Maureen's experience) that a driver's license would work, so off I went. One of Campobello's claims to fame is that it was the vacation destination of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the time he was a child through his presidency. And he was actually in his summer home on Campobello Island when he came down with polio. So I spent a bit of my time there wandering through the 34-room "cottage" that he and his wife & children used as their summer home.

I rode the all of the main paved roads on the island, not too much from a mileage standpoint, but a very enjoyable time. The ride out was easier because unbeknownst to me I had a tail wind pushing me along. I should have guessed based on the speed I was able to maintain. It still amazes me that a tailwind can be a secret, but I always know when there is a headwind. It would have been easy to think that the roads belonged to me as a cyclist because there was very little car traffic on the island. I suspect that most short-time visitors get to the Roosevelt Cottage and then head back off of the island. That's not a complaint by any means; it was very nice to ride on limited traffic roads.

Even though I intended to bring my sandals with me, somehow I left them in the car. Not a smart move when it came time to wander over to East Quoddy Light. I decided to enjoy the light from afar rather than traipse across seaweed-covered unstable rocks in my cycling shoes. The light is on a small piece of land that is off-shore from the end of Campobello Island, and there is a prominent warning sign before the very steep stairs leading down to the rocky "beach" connecting the two islands. The warning? That as the tide is coming in, the water level increases at the rate of 5 feet per hour, and that it would be very easy to get stranded on the lighthouse island. The warning went on to state that you could be stuck on that island for at least 8 hours. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

Hmmm... do I really want (or need) to stand next to the East Quoddy Light?

After I finished my ride, I headed back across the bridge to Maine. I was considering riding my bike over the bridge instead of driving, but I'm glad that I didn't. The bridge consisted on only 2 narrow lanes with no shoulder, so I was a lot happier in the car than I would have been on my bike. (Even though it's amazing to hear myself say something like that!)

Back in Maine, I headed out to West Quoddy Head Light, whose claim to fame is that it is on the easternmost piece of land in the United States. While there were actually some spots of patchy sun and blue skies when I was on Campobello Island, the area around West Quoddy Light was totally socked in. Heavy fog, accompanied by the constant sounding of the fog horn. Finally today I was in view of the Bay of Fundy... and according to the state park brochure "Strong tidal currents between West Quoddy Head and Campobello Island drive what is said to be the largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere." I wonder if that is visible on a better (clearer) day.

Pictures, pictures, and more pictures, but I suspect that what I was trying to capture for a good part of the day probably eluded both me and my camera. It was just amazing how the foggy areas were hanging over the land.The fog banks were visible to the human eye, but they didn't appear to be visible in my pictures. I could be wrong about that because the only way I have of viewing the pictures now is on the camera. I guess I'll have to wait until I get home and can view the pictures on a bigger screen to see how much the lighting conditions fooled the camera (or should I say that the conditions let my camera get the better of me?).

Dinner tonight was at Tall Barney's again. There are two restaurants right in the center of town - a pizza place, and Tall Barney's. And there is supposed to be another family-style restaurant a mile or two past Tall Barney's. Since I do have my car here now, I could have driven to another town, but I'd much rather just walk to dinner. Another good dinner - this time I had what they called a haddock burger. It was really the same fish I had yesterday, but served as a sandwich on a hamburger roll. I also had cole slaw, and of course I needed dessert, so I ordered a chocolate chocolate chip cookie to take with me for later. My dinner cost all of $7.49! I remember getting meals at this kind of price in the small town I passed through on my cross -country trip, but that's not a price that I ever see around home. Amazing. This restaurant appears to be the gathering place for all of the people of Jonesport. I sat in the front room - in one of the booths. There is a very long table down the middle of the room, and people seem to congregate there. While I was eating, and older couple walked in and sat there. They were soon joined by someone waiting for a (called-in) takeout order, and 2 more folks who appeared to be the owners of the restaurant. A very friendly place, with reasonably priced good food...

I'm really hoping that the weather cooperates tomorrow so I can go meet some puffins. I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't, but only the morning sun (or lack of sun) will tell.

The roads I was riding all come to a somewhat abrupt end at the edges of the island. I have to admit I've never seen a sign like this before, a traffic circle at the end of the road and the edge of the land.

Really foggy! All things considered, I think the decision to cancel the puffin tour today was the right one.

East Quoddy Lighthouse is on the northen end of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, but is actually closer to Maine than it is to the main part of New Brunswick.

Hey - can I drive back to Jonesport? Back across the bridge? Wow, I've never been to Canada before!

Well Rover, you can watch out of the window, but since you can't reach the gas & brake pedals I'm going to have to drive. It really would be more of a help if you would do some pedaling on the bike... And actually, you have been to Canada. Don't you remember Niagara Falls?

Oh, but this is a different province!

Monday, June 27, 2005

What happens when Denise rides scenic highways?

Prospect Harbor to Ellsworth, and then on to Jonesport

I should know by now that the roads designated as scenic highways are often lined with trees - so lined with trees that you can't see beyond them. The contrasting sections of road yesterday really made me think. Don't get me wrong, yesterday's ride was fabulous - I wish I could repeat the sections like the Acadia NP section of the Schoodic Penninsula (or something like it) every day. I remember staying on the non-scenic part of the road riding into Jasper, Alberta many years ago; the scenic road was in the trees, and the non-scenic road had a view of the moutnains. Why am I telling you this? Because after thinking through the rest of my plans, I changed them. Instead of riding to Jonesport today and then having a 55-mile "in the trees ride" back to Ellsworth, I decided to ride back to Ellsworth today, and then drive east to Jonesport. Tomorrow morning I'll be on a boat on my way to visit the puffins, and then I plan to wander on my bike for a while in the afternoon, probably staying in the general vicinity of Jonesport. On Wednesday I'll use the car to allow me to do a day ride further east, as in as far east as I can go in Maine. It took me a while to make the decision to change my plans. And while I do realize that I could still end up cycling in the trees, I'm happy with the change. So now I have a tour that is 4 days as a self-supported tour and 2 (or possibly 3) days of day trips. I guess plans are made to be changed!

Breakfast this morning was a multi-course affair. The first course was mango-lime soup. It had an interesting flavor, but it was a bit too sweet for me for a good breakfast food. Next came a small slice of very moist zuchinni walnut bread. And the main course was waffles topped with slices of spiced pears, Maine blueberries, and maple syrup. Very nice.

It was a good conversation breakfast too, starting with Edith who was serving breakfast and continuing with the family of 3 who came in soon after I did. The inn asks guests to choose a breakfast time of 7:30, 8, 8:30, or (I think) 9. Of couse I chose the early slot, so I found it interesting that anyone else was there. The other guests were a couple from Seattle and their son who is currenly living in Raleigh-Durham, NC. This was their first trip to Maine, triggered by a conference the woman attended in Portland. They managed a long weekend, split between the main section of Acadia and the Schoodic Penninsula. And you know the problems I was having sandwiching my trip into a long weekend? The four days I've ridden so far would have worked for a shorter trip up here.

When I first woke up this morning I thought I saw blue skies, but by the time I walked over to breakfast the sun and blue skies were hiding in fog. It wasn't soupy in that there was plenty of visibility on the road. There just wasn't any visibility up into the sky. It was a much cooler day today too, cool enough that I started riding wearing an extra layer - my wind vest. That only lasted about a mile, and then I switched back to my normal summer riding attire - a sleeveless jersey and shorts. I was plenty warm as long as I kept moving.

I headed back to Ellsworth, adding an extra loop through some very rolling territory. This morning's ride started with a new section of road for me, but there really wasn't any way to ride back without repeating a good number of miles on route 1. Luckily the scenery does look a bit different when you're focusing in a different direction. I did manage to add an an extra loop, heading north on route 200, and then picking up 182 heading to the west (and back to route 1). I had no idea of how many miles it would be before route 200 hit 182. At one point I was beginning to think that the roads didn't really connect, in spite of the state road map that I consulted. They did connect though, as promised by the map. It was a beautiful road with rolling hills that never seemed to stop, and beautiful views including - surprise, surprise - the water! Riding east on route 1 (as I did yesterday), there is a bridge between Crabtree Neck & West Sullivan. As it turns out, the water that flows under that bridge goes up into Hog Bay, Taunton Bay, and Egypt Bay - which I could actually see from the road today. It was low tide when I went by, so what I saw was tidal flats. It was a nice change of scenery. I also met my first logging truck of the trip on the very narrow route 182, nicely heading in the other direction.

Time to switch modes of transportation with a drive to Jonesport. I really noticed the changes in road characteristics in the car. A good part of the road was nicely paved with paved shoulders, but it occasionally degraded to sections of rougher road with no shoulders at all, and then it went back to nice pavement with shoulders. It wasn't obvious where the changes occurred - it wasn't on county lines because I only crossed one of those, and the road surface didn't change. It also wasn't obviously on town lines. The drive for the most part was on either route 1 or 1A, and I found them both similar as to quality. While I wouldn't classify either of these roads as back roads, I did find them to be acceptable roads for cycling.

Since it wouldn't take any muscle effort, and since there was still a foggy feel to the area, I decided to loop around the Schoodic Penninsula once more to see and feel it in different conditions. It was a different kind of beautiful today, very enjoyable.

The road down to Jonesport was beautiful. It had a more open feeling, with cropped fields or low-growing plants rather than trees. The fog started lifting, then it dropped back down again. Then there was blue sky, and then there was more fog. I finally arrived at the harbor and found my B&B. Harbor House on Sawyer Cove. The original section of the building was built around 1880. The current owners bought it in 1995, restored the building, and converted the 3rd floor "storage hall" into two guest suites. It's another beautiful place to stay. My room has a king sized bed plus a sitting area and a table & chairs in a bay window overlooking the harbor. Jonesport is a small town, with just a couple of choices of restaurants - a pizza place, and 2 family-style restaurants. Dinner tonight was at Tall Barney's - fried haddock was a nice change of pace for me.

Tomorrow, an early start... the puffin tour luckily leaves from right outside of my B&B. I say luckily because the boat leaves at 7AM - it's nice to know I can just walk outside. Because guests here often go on this early morning tour, Maureen offers breakfast at 6. That was a nice surprise since I was figuring I would need to get myself something like instant oatmeal for the morning. Not this time - I'll be able to have a nice breakfast before boarding the boat. Here's hoping tomorrow is a good picture day!

These wonderful characters were selling blueberry rakes at the Hubbard Rake Company, on the road in to Jonesport.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A wonderful wander, awesome!

Ellsworth to Prospect Harbor via the Schoodic Penninsula

What an awesome day! It started on Route 1, and finished with an unbelieveable ride around the Schoodic Penninsula. The two times I visited Acadia National Park before I only saw the part of the park on Mt. Desert Island. I suspect that's true of most visitors to that park; it was really hard to believe how few people I saw out on the Schoodic Penninsula part of the park. But let's start the day at the beginning.

I headed out of Ellsworth, riding toward the east. For some reason I've been thinking north, but the coast of Maine in this area heads more to the east than to the north. I thought it was me losing my sense of direction, but I had a long conversation with someone who lives here, and he expressed the same confusion. (I don't believe he was a Maine native, but a transplant.) I remember on my first day on Mt. Desert Island I was on route 3 west, and I thought I was heading north at the time. I wasn't... And they do call this area of the state Downeast.

At one point - not too long after I left Ellsworth - a car pulled to the side of the road in front of me, hoping to get directions. The license plate and the occupants of the car were from Nova Scotia, and they were (hoping to be) heading to Portland. I was able to tell them they were heading towards New Brunswick, and that they needed to turn around to head towards Portland. Lucky for them that they asked me a pretty basic direction question since I'm not too familiar with the roads in this state other than the ones I am planning to use myself. Of course we could have consulted the state highway map that's riding along in my panniers.

Route 1 was decent for cycling even though it is a pretty major road in this area of the state. I did discover something interesting though, and that is that I don't agree with the scenic route designations. The portion of route 1 that skirts Sullivan Harbor and Frenchman Bay is designated as both a National Scenic Byway and a State Scenic Highway. From that designation I expected to be able to see more than trees, and while there were a couple of sections from which the water was visible, most of the time the scenery was trees. The road started with good smooth pavement, and had paved shoulders too, but that stopped once I crossed the bridge from Crabtree Neck to West Sullivan. Funny, that's exactly when the National Scenic Byway designation started. The road surface degraded and the shoulders disappeared. At some point it improved again though. And while it's nice to have paved shoulders, I'm used to riding on narrow 2-lane roads with no shoulder, so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary for me. But scenic byway? When I hear something like that, I think of the road up Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park - and this really didn't compare. OK, OK, I'm a bit fussy! It was still a good ride...

Yes, there actually are some water views along this section of Route 1. I was pulled in by the National Scenic Byway & Maine Scenic Highway designation and expected many more water views than I had. But then again, the road around the Schoodic Penninsula (pics later on this page) made up for this one!

An interesting (miniature) building at the entrance to a cemetery. Building? Maybe I should call it a large dollhouse, considering that I was taller than this structure!

The National Scenic Byway designation did continue around all of Schoodic Penninsula, so I guess you could say that the designation was partially correct.

Knowing that I needed to pick up food for dinner, I made a quick stop in Winter Harbor to check out the shops. Just as I pulled into town, the noon fire whistle started shrieking. Do you know how hard it is (as in impossible) to cover both of your ears when riding a loaded bike? My ears seem to have survived though. I went into J.M. Gerrish Provisions, and the choices there looked good. It was about noon, and they were open until 4. I talked with the folks there about how long it usually takes to wander around the Schoodic Penninsula. I really just wanted to verify the distance. I preferred to loop back to Winter Harbor to pick up food instead of letting it heat up in my panniers. It turned out that I had plenty of time for a good-paced ride and for time to just absorb the beauty, so my bike and I headed out again.

The loop from Winter Harbor, around the Schoodic Penninsula, and back to Winter Harbor turned out to be twelve miles. And as it turns out it's a loop that I would happily do multiple times (just for exercise) if I lived in the area. There were sections in the trees, but there were many sections along the water. I stopped at Schoodic Point, swapped my bike shoes for my Chaco sandals, and spent some time wandering around the rocks and trying to capture pictures of crashing waves. It's anyone's bet whether any of the shots I took did the job! The area was rocky, not sandy. In addition to the crashing surf, there were sections of the rock where grasses were growing, and sections with clumps of beautiful purple iris - both of which looked like they were growing in crevices in the rock. And there were pools of standing water too, far enough back from the ocean that I don't think they would be covered at high tide. Very interesting, and very beautiful.

I'm staying at the Oceanside Meadows Inn, in Prospect Harbor. When I called for the reservation, the innkeeper told me he was putting me in an oceanfront room on the second floor. The four windows in my room are open, and as I write my journal entry I am sitting in a rocking chair in front of one of the windows listening to the waves crash on the shore. This inn is made up of 3 old buildings - 2 houses with sleeping rooms, and a barn that has been renovated for use for functions. The houses are lovely, and there are plenty of sitting rooms scattered throughout the houses, a fireplace in each house that apparently are burning fires most nights (probably not needed tonight!), and access to coffee, tea, and ginger snaps (!) whenever desired.

I knew that I needed to bring food with me for dinner, and I also knew that I would have access to a kitchen. I stocked up at J.M. Gerrish Provisions in Winter Harbor - the second time I passed through WInter Harbor, that is. Dinner tonight? I had an amazing hummus and veggie sandwich, some curried cous cous, a wonderful fresh kiwi, and of course chocolate - a brownie - for dessert. I guess you could say I've had no trouble sticking with my preferred diet of veggies & seafood on this trip!

It was a great riding day today, and I'm ending the day in a very nice place. Those two things together make me a happy cyclist...