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.