Tour NE-2022-Day 43: Home!

  • Wednesday, July 27, 2022
  • Bedford, MA
  • Lodging: Home
  • Miles:  52.9 @ 10.5
  • Cumulative miles: 1,182.7
  • Vertical:  1,486 (per Strava)
  • Start time:  9:42 am  (after breakfast)
  • Arrival time: 5:25pm
  • Elapsed time: 7:43 (includes lunch and walking last 2 blocks with flat tire)

I’m home! Despite getting a flat tire two blocks from home (and walking the rest of the way), it was a really great trip!

The trip totaled 1,183 miles with luggage, plus 57 miles on 3 day trips, for a total of 1,240 miles. Look for all the trip details in the ride report, which I hope to get out in a more timely fashion this year.

I awoke this morning with the intention of having breakfast at the McDonald’s directly across the three lane busy street from the Hampton Village Inn. So I turned left to walk 20 yards to the crosswalk, when I saw there was a diner tucked in right next to the hotel, Hoaty’s Breakfast & Lunch. In I went.

Hoaty’s Breakfast & Lunch in Hampton, NH.

It was another classic small town diner. There were two waitresses, both very pretty 20-somethings, one of whom was very pregnant (not the one in the photo). She took care of me, and told me she was due in 3 weeks!

Instead of my usual omelette, I had a Texas breakfast, which was two eggs (I had mine scrambled), two sausages, baked beans, potatoes, and Texas toast. Texas toast, for those who don’t know, is just plain old white bread, cut real thick and toasted on the buttered grill. If the bread is good, which this was, it’s really good!

Then back to the room, where I packed up my now-dry tent (remember the wet tent, draped all over the furniture?), and all my other stuff. I didn’t start riding until 9:40, much later than I wanted. In the end it didn’t matter.

It turns out that the Hampton Village Inn was actually north of the casino, which is to say, out of the way. My route home backtracked to the casino and continued on south. So my plan was to stop at the casino. At this point, I’m playing with house money.

The ride back to the casino was really nice! It was pleasantly cool, sunny, blue skies, very little wind, and flat. The ocean was on the left. Once again I got to ride the length of the Hampton Beach tourist Mecca. I loved it!

Hampton Beach strip.

When I got to the casino, at 10:20 AM, I found, to my dismay, that it was closed. What is this? Casinos don’t close. But I googled it, and this casino did not open until noon. So I got back on my bike and headed on south along the coast on Rt. 1A.

It’s closed!
The beach at 10:30 AM.

I rode through Seabrook to Salisbury, Mass. I think I passed the nuclear reactor on my right.

Is that the Seabrook nuclear reactor?

When I entered New Hampshire yesterday, there was no state line marker on the bridge that I was on. Now today, as I ride into Massachusetts, there was a sign that identified the Salisbury town line, but nothing to indicate I was now in Massachusetts. So no photos of that.

Salisbury historical marker.

At Salisbury, I made a right turn away from the ocean. It’s interesting on bike tours how you follow one geographic type for a long time, whether it’s the Rocky mountains or the North Atlantic Coast, and then boom! You’re out of it!

When I rode across the country, I came out of the Rockies in like 2 hours. I went from 8,500 ft down to 5,000 ft, and just like that, I was in the Plains. Nothing gradual. It was the same thing today, turning away from the ocean today.

Since I was no longer following Rt. 1 or 1A, I had to pay more attention to navigation. But Google Maps did a good job taking me across northeastern Massachusetts to Bedford.

It was a really pretty ride! Farmers were working in the fields, everything was green (although we clearly need rain), most of the roads were pleasant, and there were frequent opportunities to get food and drink.

Lunch was at a sub shop in Georgetown, called Nicolini, where I had a gyro in pita. It was good! However, when I walked out of the restaurant into the oven-like afternoon, I didn’t feel so well. I worried briefly that maybe the food hadn’t sat well, but I think it was just the heat. I felt better after I got some cold Gatorade in me.

Nicolini House of Pizza in Georgetown, MA.
Gyro (pronounced “hero”).

An hour and a half later, I stopped to take a break along the Shawsheen River. I never would have guessed this was the Shawsheen, which is the same river that goes through Bedford. We used to live next to it. But it must wind its way somehow from here to there. It was tiny here.

The Shawsheen River in Andover, MA.

It was really warm. I’m guessing low 90s. A half hour later, I was out of Gatorade and on the verge of suffering, when I got to a convenience store and got my last bottle of Gatorade Zero for the trip. I sat there in the shade for 15 minutes, enjoying the cold Gatorade and eating a half melted Snickers bar left over from yesterday. It helped a lot.

From there, it was a relatively easy dozen miles home, on roads that I was very familiar with. Billerica was the high point, elevation-wise, but from Billerica on, it was all downhill! I love when a day ends downhill.

But the bicycle gods weren’t done with me just yet. Two blocks from home, just before reaching the Northside convenience store (formerly known as Gammy’s), my rear tire went flat, again.

I decided to try and pump it up, just to get me home. So I wasted a CO2 cartridge, but when I removed the inflator from the valve, all the air came out of the tube. So it may be a defective valve, not a puncture in the tube. I will figure that out tomorrow.

In any event, I walked home. It took 5 minutes. Fixing the flat would have taken anywhere from a half an hour to an hour.

Jennifer, Ernie, and our neighbor Lisa, who happened to be outside working in her garden, were there to greet me.

It’s great to be home.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 42 (the penultimate day): Hampton, ME

Hampton Beach, ME.
  • Tuesday, July 26, 2022
  • Hampton, ME
  • Lodging: Hampton Village Inn
  • Miles:  44.8
  • Cumulative miles: 1130
  • Vertical:  n.a.
  • Start time:  8:17 am  (no breakfast)
  • Arrival time – casino: 4:51pm
  • Arrival time – motel: 6:51pm
  • Elapsed time: 10:34 (includes breakfast, lunch with friends, and an hour at the casino)

Today, the penultimate (I love that word!) day of my tour of New England, was another very good day. It was punctuated by a very pleasant lunch with some old friends who used to be next door neighbors, and then a stop at the Hampton Beach casino, where I walked out with more money than I walked in with. Also, no flats and no mechanicals. I’d call that a winning day!

That is $32.50 more than I started with.

I sort of dawdled packing up camp this morning because the tent was so wet. I shook it and hung it up and got as much water off as possible, but it still went into the stuff sack wet. It was probably a waste of time by trying to dry it, because it didn’t make any difference in the end. (One of the first things I did when I got to my hotel room tonight was unpack the tent.  I now have the three tent components (footprint, inner tent, rainfly) draped all over furniture and coat racks. I don’t want the tent to get moldy or musty smelling.)

But I did not cook breakfast. Instead, I started riding, and came to the Maine Diner in 4/10 of a mile. It was classic.

The Maine Diner in Wells, Maine.
Inside the Maine Diner.
Veggie omelette.

After breakfast, when I came out to my bike, there was a guy about my age, maybe a bit older, sitting on a little motorcycle, a Honda 150, examining my bike. We chatted at least 10 minutes, about both of our bikes. He was an ex-bicycle tourist as well.

His motorcycle probably had the same engine as my friend Mark’s Honda 150 did back in high school. But the bike wrapped around that old-school air-cooled 4-cycle was ultra modern, very cool.

The weather was super nice – sunny, warm but not too hot, no rain whatsoever. I rode along the ocean, through Ogunquit to Cape Neddick in York.

The Ogunquit library.

There I went to the home of Mary and Charlie, who used to be our next door neighbors in Bedford. I haven’t seen them for several years, so it was great to catch up. They had some house guests, who were delightful as well. We had lunch, and I rode on.

With Charlie and Mary.

After leaving Mary and Charlie’s, I followed Google Maps through Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It did a pretty good job of navigating me around the limited access stuff, taking me off of Rt. 1, onto local streets, and then back on track when I was past the tough stuff.

Below Portsmouth, it was all along the ocean until Hampton Beach. It was incredibly beautiful! Blue skies, little wind, flat riding! And the ocean! (Sorry I did not stop for any photos.) Some of the houses were pretty impressive as well!

I found my way to the casino on Hampton Beach, called Ocean Gaming, where I spent an hour. What a pleasant change from the large resort casinos in Massachusetts and everywhere else. It felt like a local bar, uncrowded, comfortably populated. And the dealer shuffled by hand! There were less than a dozen tables, with different flavors of blackjack. As always, I just played the straight game.

I walked in with a $100 budget, but only laid down $60 to start. The tables had a $5 minimum, a very welcome change from the big casinos, where you’re lucky to find a $10 table. Within a half an hour I was down to my last chip from the $60, when I won a few hands in a row. My luck had swung back and soon I was up $32.50, so I quit while I was ahead. (Also, it was time to finish the day and check into a motel.) This was the second time I visited a casino on this trip, and I came out ahead both times. I wonder if that means anything? (Nah.)

It was an easy 5 mile ride on fairly flat terrain to the Hampton Village Inn, where I had made a reservation earlier in the day. Once more, I will rant about Google. I passed many motels in this area with Vacancy signs, that I did not see on Google. It is frustrating.

Dinner was at the Old Salt Restaurant at Lamies Inn, a 5-minute walk down the road. I had an exquisite grilled haddock au gratin. The cheese sauce was delicious, and the fish was, as the waitress said, probably swimming this morning. Haddock on the Maine coast!

Haddock au gratin at the Old Salt Restaurant at Lamies Inn, with garlic mashed and green beans.

At the next table over was a heavy-set, middle-aged couple. Her back was to me, and I could not see him, but I could hear him. He was bellowing “These are fucking incredible! These are fucking amazing!”, over and over!

When the waitress came over, he went on and on about how good his clams were. He said he was a professional chef with 35 years experience and these were the best clams he had ever eaten! Personally, I don’t like clams. But judging from my haddock and his clams and the people eating lobster at the next table over, if you like seafood, this is a good place to go.

Tomorrow is the last day of this ride! It looks to be about a 50 mile day to home. I can’t wait to be home and see Jennifer and Ernie.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 41: Wells, ME

  • Monday, July 25, 2022
  • Wells, ME
  • Lodging: Stadig Campground
  • Miles:  43.5 @ 10.8 mph
  • Cumulative miles: 1,084.5
  • Vertical:   1,147 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:35 am (after breakfast with Lew)
  • Arrival time: 4:39 pm
  • Elapsed time: 7:04 (includes lunch, and ice cream stop in Kennebunkport)
Old Orchard Beach.

The weather was kind of pissy. It was chilly and overcast and sprinkled quite a bit. But it never poured, until I was safely in my tent at a campground south of Kennebunkport.

After eating a bowl of Raisin Bran (one of my standard breakfasts at home) with Lew, I was sitting on the toilet when I heard water. I thought to myself “I hope that is the shower in the next room, not rain outside.” Alas, it was pouring out. It stopped a few minutes later, but all day was damp, spitting, and intermittently chilly and humid warm.

I stopped for an early lunch at Blast From the Past Too diner. It hit the spot. I even had real coffee, which helped tremendously.

Blast From the Past Too diner.
Inside the Blast From the Past Too diner.
Early lunch.

Then, getting off of Rt. 1, I stopped at a wildlife sanctuary on the way to the shoreline.

The route then took me through the classic tourist town of Old Orchard Beach, where i actually stopped and walked over to the beach. I did not go near the water. I did shoot and post a video postcard on Facebook. For some reason, I am unable to insert that video into this blog.

Riding on, I came to Kennebunkport, another insanely cute coastal tourist town, where I stopped for ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.

Ben & Jerry’s Butter pecan in Kennebunkport. Yum yum!

My destination for the day was at the Stadig Campground, just south of Kennebunkport in Wells. I was camped in a big open field with about a dozen tent sites around the perimeter. I was the only person in the field. My tent spot was the softest spot ever for a tent, with thick, soft grass. The campground had great statuary all around. The water stations each had a little work surface for setting stuff down. How convenient!

Stadig Campground office.
My camp.
Great water stations!

Dinner was spaghetti in meat sauce. It was actually fairly good.

After finishing dinner, I walked to the camp office and ate two ice cream sandwiches.

Tomorrow, I hope to meet with some friends at York Beach. Then I will ride on, hopefully getting within one day’s ride from home. I will let you know where I end up.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 40: Scarborough, ME

  • Sunday, July 24, 2022
  • Scarborough, ME
  • Lodging: Home of Lew and Mayumi Lear
  • Miles:  24.4 @ 8.7mph
  • Cumulative miles: 1,041.0
  • Vertical:   713 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 6:30 am (no breakfast)
  • Arrival time: 3:11 pm
  • Elapsed time: 8:41 (includes breakfast, lunch, several hours of dawdling, & 2 lighthouses)
At Portland Head Light, South Portland, ME.

Today was a great day of bicycle touring! I knew it would be a short day, 15 miles or less, if I went direct. So I didn’t go direct.

RideWithGPS screenshot.

The weather was beautiful, if hot (mid-90s). I meandered all along the coastline in Portland and South Portland, almost all of which was on bike paths right along the water’s edge. It was really fun and interesting!

I woke up this morning at my stealth campsite behind Sullivan’s Tire, packed, and was gone by 6:30am. There was nothing open for breakfast except McDonald’s, but even that was closed to everything except drive-thru. I don’t do drive-thru on a loaded bike.

So I rode to Bernie’s Foreside Eats for breakfast. I had to wait 20 minutes for it to open, but worth it.

Waiting for breakfast place to open.

It was then a leisurely ride along a bike path through Portland. Around 9:30, I found a nice bench in the shade, overlooking the water. I sat there for an hour and a half, writing yesterday’s blog. Very pleasant. Lot’s of pedestrian and cycle traffic, and several nice conversations.

Around Portland, ME.
Photo taken at 8:45 am. Dogs forbidden from beach 9 to 5.
Portland harbor.

Then I noodled around the wharves of S. Portland.

Working boats in S. Portland, ME.

There are several lighthouses along the coast from Portland on south. The first, and the first that I rode to, is the Bug Light, a small lighthouse at the entrance to Portland harbor.

The Bug Light, at the entrance to Portland harbor.

Then I rode about 5 miles south along the coast to the Portland Head Light. It was incredibly scenic. But it was hot, with lots and lots of people.

Portland Head Light.

From there it was 7 miles to the new home of my cousin’s Lew and Mayumi, in Scarborough, ME, where I spent the night. It was lovely visiting with them!

Mayumi, Lew & me.

Along the way, I stopped at Red’s Dairy to have a soft ice cream cone. I prefer scooped to soft, but this really hit the spot!

Soft ice cream cone! Vanilla/chocolate swirl.

Tomorrow, I am planning on getting to the northern vicinity of York Beach, because I hope to visit some friends there the next day when I ride through. I’ll let you know where I end up. Hopefully not stealth.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 39: Falmouth, ME

  • Saturday, July 23, 2022
  • Falmouth, ME
  • Lodging: stealth camp behind Sullivan Tire
  • Miles:  47.2 @ 9.6 mph
  • Cumulative miles: 1,016.6
  • Vertical:   1,624 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:05 am (breakfast at hotel)
  • Arrival time: 5:00 pm / 8:10 pm
  • Elapsed time:
    • 7:55 – to Walmart, including lunch
    • 11:05 – to final spot, including lunch, dinner, and riding around looking for spot
Photo of the scene of the camp, taken the next morning. I swear I did not see that sign when I picked the spot.

This was a good, hot, long day, capped with a stealth camp behind a Sullivan’s Tire in Falmouth, Maine.

The day began with a surprisingly good breakfast at the Wiscasset Woods Lodge. Although it was buffet style, it was actual fresh cooked, real eggs, bacon, and potatoes, with excellent blueberry muffins. I ate well, then packed up and started riding. It was another beautiful and hot day.

Breakfast at Wiscasset Woods Lodge.
Bath Iron Works.
Along the Androscoggin River Bike Path, heading to Brunswick, ME.

Lunch was at the Big Top Deli in Brunswick, ME. It was a surprisingly good turkey pastrami Reuben, which I ate outside sitting at a little table in the shade.

Turkey pastrami Reuben.

Just as I was finishing my lunch, a guy and his wife pulled up in a bright red 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi. We commenced to talking for about 20 minutes. He showed me the engine, and the interior, and talked about the mods he had made. Both of them were wearing Ferrari baseball caps. It was a beautiful car!

Then comes the business about where to sleep tonight. There were very few options in the way of motels, campgrounds, or other legitimate places. However, there was a Walmart in Falmouth, and as I have said before, I’ve always wanted to camp in a Walmart parking lot. The guy with the Ferrari, who lives in the area, told me he has seen RVs parked in that Walmart parking lot. So that is where I headed, arriving at 5:00.

Sure enough, there were a number of RVs parked around the perimeter. There were also two guys with a little travel trailer, with a tarp and a charcoal grill. They did not look like they had only been there overnight. In fact, they told me they had been there for 3 weeks, and did not know how long they were staying. It was at that point that one of the guys told me that the reason he was living there was “this” , and he lifted his pant leg to show me a GPS bracelet around his ankle.

One of the RVs parked there was actually a bus, a full size bus. All the shades were drawn, and the engine was running, no doubt to power the air conditioner and the TV. About the only place for me to put up my tent was right near the tail of that bus. So between the sketchy campsite with diesel fumes running all night, and two slightly scary guys as neighbors, I decided camping at Walmart tonight was not for me.

My new buddies told me about a spot a mile or so back up the road, a grassy knoll where they thought they had seen other bike tourists camping previously. So I rode back up there, but didn’t really see anything suitable. There was a shopping center across the road, which I rode around halfway, just taking inventory. Nothing leaped out, but it had potential.

Then I went back to a convenience store close by and stocked up on liquids. I was very thirsty as it was, and it looked like I was going to be camping. I bought a 16 oz lemonade (which I drank immediately), a 28 oz Gatorade Zero, and a 50 oz. water. I did not buy a Diet Coke because I still had half a bottle from this morning.

It occurred to me to check out either the fire department or the police department, to see if I could camp in their yard. Then the idea of a library hit me, so I checked it in Google Maps with satellite view. Sure enough the Falmouth library was a half a mile away and looked to have an open yard in the corner of the building.

I rode over there, but it didn’t look very suitable. However I noticed there were a lot of ball fields all around me with a paved path around the perimeter. I rode that and came to the Fire department headquarters, strangely enough. There I did find a good spot to camp, so that became my top option.

It was still too early to make camp. Also, I wanted to eat dinner in a restaurant. So I rode to the Foreside Tavern for dinner. Before going in, I sat outside and talked to Jennifer on the phone. I tried to assure her I was going to be okay for the night.

In a brazen tempting of fate, I once again had grilled haddock for dinner, this time the dinner and not a sandwich. Although I would not say it was better than last night’s meal, it was really, really good! It was grilled with salty capers, and the garlic mashed once again was real garlicky and real buttery! The string beans were a little bit tough, but I’ll take them.

Haddock grilled with capers, green beans, and garlic mashed.

After dinner, it was time to make camp. Before heading over to the fire station, I decided to go around that shopping center one more time. 3/4 of the way around I saw the spot. It was behind a large patch of shrubs in a paved corner with nice grass (pictured at the top). When I pitched my tent (sorry I did not take a photo), it was not visible from a car driving through the parking lot in either direction. There was enough light inside the tent from the parking lot lights that I did not need to use any lights at all inside my tent, so I was totally invisible. It was a very stealthy campsite!

It was still hot when I got into the tent at around 9:00, about 80°. I sat on my air mattress in just my shorts, and the sweat was pouring off. But as I sat there and relaxed, the air cooled and so did I, and I slept well. I didn’t really get into my sleeping bag, so much as lay on top of the air mattress and use the bag as sort of a cover.

Tomorrow is a very short day, about 15 miles to Scarborough, to stay with my cousin’s Lew and Mayumi. I’m planning on taking the long way, and riding around Portland on the way there. That’s it for now.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 38: Wiscasset, ME

  • Friday, July 22, 2022
  • Wiscasset, ME
  • Lodging: Wiscasset Woods Lodge
  • Miles:  42.5 @ 9.5 mph
  • Cumulative miles: 969.4
  • Vertical:  2,409 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 7:42 am (without eating anything)
  • Arrival time: 4:50 pm
  • Elapsed time: 9:08 (including breakfast, lunch, and 1 hour for a flat tire)
The view this morning.

I woke early, around 5:00, which is sort of normal for me. Immediately, I put on some clothes and hustled over to the bathroom, which is a good 5 minute walk away. It was close, but I made it in time.

Then I walked over to the ocean for the morning view, pictured above. It was spectacular! I sat there at least 30 minutes, stretching, working on my blog, and just enjoying the view. A few working boats passed by, including a couple of lobster boats pulling traps. It was 6:00 AM.

Going to work.

After breaking camp, I rode less than a mile to breakfast at the Offshore Restaurant, for my typical veggie omelette.

Inside the Offshore Restaurant.

Forty minutes after breakfast, I had another flat rear tire. Although it was hot (low 90’s according to a few billboards I passed), at least I had a good spot to change the flat: in the shade, grassy, some big granite blocks to use as a table. (Sorry, no photo.)

As soon as I stopped, the mosquitos swarmed. So my first step was to spray some bug spray on my legs. That problem was solved.

As always with a flat, I tried to find the source. I carefully examined the tire before I took it apart. I carefully examined the inside of the tire after I took it apart. I carefully searched the tube, pumping it up. I could not find any leak. (I did find the pinhole leak in the tube that evening, filling the sink with water to find it. Good idea about the sink, Jennifer.)

This has happened to me before, where I have actually put the same tube back in the tire and it lasted forever. Who knows what caused the slow leak? Maybe a speck of dust in the valve.

So I put the tube back in the tire, used a CO2 cartridge, and pumped it up to 65 psi. Then I waited. 10 minutes. The tire was down to 52 psi. So out comes the old tube, in goes the new. I did not want to spend another CO2 cartridge, so I pumped it up manually. That took about 10 minutes. An hour after I flatted, I was on my way.

Lunch was at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro. This was an old timey diner, next to Moody’s Motel, both of which have apparently been there forever. I ordered fish and chips. When it arrived, it looked underwhelming. The fish was outstanding! That seems to be the key around here, get fresh haddock.

I rode through Damariscotta, but didn’t get to enjoy it. That was a shame, because I was really looking forward to it. It was really busy traffic, a lot of pedestrians, very narrow street with a steep hill, and I just had to focus on getting through this block safely. Next thing I knew, the town was behind me, down a hill I had just struggled up. I’ll have to come visit again.

My goal had been to get to Damariscotta. But I still did not know where I was going to stay, and nothing had turned up. Most places either had No Vacancy signs, or did not look appropriate for me.

The prospect of having to stealth camp seemed real. Finally, I stopped and made a phone call, getting a room on my first try. So I am staying at Wiscasset Woods Lodge in Wiscasset, ME. It’s a good motel, with little cabins.

My room at Wiscasset Woods Lodge.

I did load of laundry, while showering and walking to a nearby convenience store to get some drinks: Naked Green Machine, Diet Coke (for tomorrow morning), and Gatorade Zero. Laundry costs $8, which includes a soap pod and a dryer sheet, pay at the front desk.

Dinner was a 10 minute walk up the road at the Barn House Grill. I had a grilled haddock sandwich, the best meal I’ve had on this trip so far! I know I said that yesterday but this surpasses!

Grilled haddock sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce, a side of garlic mashed (to die for), and lemonade at the Barn House Grill in Wiscasset, Maine.

The bun was a hamburger bun. But the haddock, grilled to perfection with just the right amount of spices, was more suitable to a footlong Subway sub roll, and hung out on both sides. The lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce was perfect! And the fish was even perfecter! The garlic mashed was so garlicky, and so buttery, and so large, I couldn’t finish the last several bites, but I wanted to. Fresh haddock and potatoes is definitely the thing to eat on the coast of Maine.

I’m not sure of my exact plan for tomorrow. Freeport I think. I’ll let you know.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 37: Rockport, ME

  • Thursday, July 21, 2022
  • Rockport, ME
  • Lodging: Megunticook Campground By the Sea
  • Miles:  42.8 @ 9.5 mph
  • Cumulative miles: 926.9
  • Vertical:  2,414 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 8:30 am
  • Arrival time:  4:30 pm
  • Elapsed time: 8:00
Welcome to Megunticook Campground!

Today was a good day, relatively uneventful, but very interesting. Best of all, when I got to my destination after 42 miles, I gave serious thought to going another 12, to a Walmart in the next town.

RideWithGPS screenshot.

Some Walmarts allow people to camp overnight in their parking lot. I’ve always thought it would be fun. However, I’m not sure they would allow a tent, or a bicycle tourist. I felt up to the 12 miles, but a late afternoon summer thunderstorm was threatening, so it seemed the wiser course of action was to stay here. I’m glad I did.

I left the motel this morning without eating anything, and rode an hour to Just Barb’s. You may recall that I had breakfast there last Saturday, when riding north up to Bar Harbor. Then, it was jammed, and the service was slow, but the veggie omelet was excellent, as was the ambiance. This morning, it was empty, but the omelette and ambiance were still excellent.

Just Barb’s.

When I rode through Belfast northbound last Saturday, I navigated over city streets, until I stumbled upon the footbridge across the river. Today, southbound, I started from the footbridge, then found a wonderful path right along the edge of the water, through the working port. Incredibly interesting!

This 110′ mast was being removed from a sailboat.

In Belfast, I stopped at CG Bikes, partly on the recommendation of Noah, on Facebook, the last time I came through. There, I resupplyed with a new tube, two CO2 cartridges, and a new CO2 dispenser, to replace the one that was destroyed yesterday.

I asked the guy what the story was with these removable valve stems. Turns out it’s not just me. He said everyone has been having that problem this summer. For some reason, a lot of the tubes are coming from the factory with loose valve stems. He got out his tool and tightened the valve stem on the tube I had just bought. That should not be a problem now.

Lunch was at The Bayside Store, a general store, sitting at a picnic table outside in the hot sun. Wasn’t too bad with my sun shirt. I had a Waldo County Reuben, mainly because the sauerkraut was locally made. It was very good, both the sandwich and the sauerkraut, although I could only eat half of it.

An hour or so after I resumed riding, I noticed that it was now overcast, the treetops were in the clouds, and the temperature had dropped about 10°, down to 76°. A summer thunderstorm felt imminent. After consulting with Weather Underground, I decided it would be best if I was done with my day by 5:00. It was now 2:20, and I did not know where the end of my day was.

At about Mile 35, I came to a commercial campground. I considered stopping, or at least checking for availability, but it just felt too soon. I wasn’t that tired, and the rain was not that imminent.

So instead, before going past this first place, I called Megunticook. They had a space, so I took it. Best of all, it was only four or five miles ahead. It put me in the town I had been aiming for, with about the distance I had been aiming for.

On arrival, I quickly set up my tent. I was still fearful of a thunderstorm, which never came. Then I immediately cooked my dinner, Lasagna with Meat Sauce. It was actually very good!

After dinner, I walked around the campground a bit. First I went down to the ocean overlook. It was lovely! There were picnic tables, benches, a two-person wooden swing, a fire burning in a stone fireplace, and the water crashing into the rocks about 20 feet below. In front was the ocean with some islands off in the distance.

Then I walked around the interior of the campground, marveling, as usual, at some of the rigs that are parked here. To be honest, I was also reconnoitering the shortest route to the bathroom.

Tomorrow, I was planning on going to Damariscotta. But that may be a bit too short, so I may go on to Bath, or even points south. I will figure it out in real time. Stay tuned.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 36: Bucksport, ME

  • Wednesday, July 20, 2022
  • Bucksport, ME
  • Lodging: Bucksport Inn
  • Miles:  35.8 @ 9.3 mph
  • Cumulative miles: 884.1
  • Vertical:   1,812 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time
    • Leave campsite: 10:30 am (breakfast at camp)
    • Leave campground: 10:51 am
  • Arrival time:  5:40 pm
  • Elapsed time: 7:10
RideWithGPS screenshot.

Today was a surprisingly tough day. It was hot, mid to upper 80s, with a lot of ups and downs. Then, late afternoon, without yet knowing where I was going to stay for the night, I got another flat rear tire. It was sort of dispiriting, especially since the flat took an hour to fix, involving two wasted CO2 cartridges. More on that later.

While packing the bike this morning at the Bar Harbor Campground, the squeak from the front wheel was driving me crazy. There was nothing I could do about the hub, but I examined the front brake for about the fifth time. Perhaps the outside brake pad was a touch too close. I adjusted the screw 1/4 turn. Amazing! The squeak has stopped! It wasn’t the hub, it was the brake!

Remember that hill I told you about on Saturday, the very last one before arriving at the Bar Harbor Campground? First thing this morning, I rode down that hill. Kinetic energy bought and paid for. 36.1 mph, my fastest speed of the day.

It was a beautiful day!

A tidal pool.
Sea level!
Some random field. It was much more impressive in real life.

Part of the reason the day was so tough was because I misjudged my convenience store stops, and I was riding without Gatorade and a little bit low on water. I did not stop at the last convenience store after lunch, because it was on the wrong side of a busy street, and I thought there would be others up ahead. Not so, for another 17 miles.

Lunch was at a classic family restaurant in Ellsworth, ME, called Helen’s. I had really excellent fish and chips, plus a side salad.

Helen’s Restaurant in Ellsworth, ME.

As the afternoon rolled on, I was contemplating where and how much water I was going to get at the first opportunity. Specifically, was I buying to get me to a hotel or campground, or was I stocking for a stealth camp?

Then my rear tire went flat. Ironically, it was right in front of a barbecue place, although it was closed. I wasn’t interested in eating, but I sure would have liked to have bought a cold drink if it was open. Also on the same parking lot was an empty bottle return place. Also somewhat ironic, considering my need for drink.

Fortunately, it was a good safe spot to fix a flat. The only shade, however, was provided by a utility pole, which I carefully sat in.

On examining the tire, I found the penetrating object, a very tiny piece of something. I could not tell what exactly, and I dropped it before I could determine for sure. Probably glass, or a sharp sliver of stone.

The penetrating object.

So I replaced the tube with the new one I bought the other day, a Specialized. It turns out that this tube, like many tubes, has a removable valve stem. This is now the second or third Specialized I’ve used on this trip where that removable valve stem was loose, and caused all the air to shoot out of the tire. At first, I thought it was a defective tube. It was only after the second time it happened that I realized it was a loose valve stem. There is a tool for tightening that, which I don’t have, because I have never had to deal with valve stems before. (I will not digress into a rant against the use of removable valve stems, and Stans Goo.) Fortunately, I was able to use the pliers in my mini Leatherman to tighten the valve stem.

So I pumped it up a little bit with my pump, then filled it the rest of the way with the CO2 cartridge. However, that failed violently! That’s when I realized the valve stem was loose, so I tightened it and tried again. However when the first CO2 cartridge didn’t work properly, it broke the CO2 dispenser, although that was not immediately apparent to me. So I tried the second CO2 cartridge, which was wasted because I couldn’t even get the gas into the tire. Aargh! So I had to pump the tire up by hand, which took about 15 minutes. All in all, it was a very hot hour from the time I got the flat until I was once again riding.

Losing this hour really put the pressure on figuring out where I was going to stay tonight. Fortunately, I came to a convenience store about 10 minutes after I resumed riding. I bought a 12 oz. lemonade and a Gatorade Zero, and downed the lemonade immediately. Then, as I worked on the Gatorade, I looked for a hotel up ahead. The first one I called, the Bucksport Inn in Bucksport, ME, had a vacancy. Only 160 bucks! I’ll take it! And best of all, only 4 miles ahead.

Dinner was at MacLeod’s Restaurant in downtown Bucksport, right across the Penobscot River from the cable-stayed Penobscot Narrows Bridge I crossed last Saturday, and which I will cross again tomorrow.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge from Bucksport.
Inside MacLeod’s Restaurant.
Broiled haddock, string beans, mashed potatoes and Allagash White. Already eaten is the salad and bread. Perhaps the best meal of the trip so far!

It is worth noting that the entire day today was a backtrack from last Saturday. I will continue backtracking until I get to Belfast tomorrow, at which point I will continue heading south on Rt. 1.

The plan for tomorrow is to get to Rockport, a distance of 38 miles. It looks like a beautiful ride!

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Tour NE-2022-Days 33 – 35: Bar Harbor, ME

  • Sunday thru Tuesday, July 17 – 19, 2022
  • Bar Harbor, ME
  • Lodging: Bar Harbor Campground
  • Miles:  0
  • Cumulative miles: 848.3
  • Day trip to Acadia National Park – Cadillac Mt. (Day 35)
    • Miles: 20.5
    • Vertical:   2,140 ft (per Strava)
    • Start time: 10:54 am (breakfast at campsite)
    • Completion time:  3:10 pm
    • Elapsed time: 4:16
Bar Harbor Campground on arrival.

After four big days in a row, I really needed a break. Bar Harbor Campground proved just the thing! I am here 4 nights and 3 full days.

It is a fairly typical, large, relatively dense packed commercial campground. One thing that is unusual, which I may have mentioned before, is that they take neither reservations nor credit cards. It certainly simplifies their life.

I also think it is the reason that even on a prime summer week, it is not sold out. People want a reservation. Also, most campgrounds, reservation or not, they assign to you which site to use. Here, they give you a range of possibilities, instruct you to go check them out and pick one, leave something at the site so it is clearly taken, then come back to the office and tell them which site you have chosen, and pay. I suspect that for many people, especially those towing a trailer, that is a lot of friction. On the other hand, this place is somewhat less expensive than many commercial campgrounds, and a small fraction of any hotel. My tent site cost me $36 per night. State & national campgrounds are somewhat less expensive, with better spacing although fewer amenities.

I’m in an area with all tent sites, each site surrounded by 10 or 20 feet of trees. (Not nearly enough privacy to pee discreetly in the daytime.) There are other large areas for the RVs, with fewer trees. From some parts of the property, there’s a view of the ocean. A large, scrub-covered hillside is loaded with wild blueberries. I sat there the first morning, stretched out, worked on my blog, and ate blueberries.

Morning snack.

Obviously, there are a ton of tourists around here! But they make it easy for us. There is an excellent free shuttle bus system running all over the area, paid for by L.L. Bean. The buses even have a bike rack on the front. If I had wanted to, I could have put my bike on the front of the bus and shortened the ride to Acadia today.

On Sunday, the first full day here, after spending the morning getting caught up with stuff, I walked over to the barbecue place next door to the campground, called Mainely Meat, for lunch. I will end up eating dinner there as well on Monday evening.

Mainely Meat has an attached business called Udder Heaven Ice Cream Retreat, where I have also indulged. Both of these places are about a 2-minute walk from my campsite.

I then took the shuttle bus to the entrance of Acadia National Park, without my bike. (I was ready to not ride the bike for a little bit.) I walked around the Information Center, and determined that my Senior Pass gets me in for free. Excellent!

Then I got back on the shuttle and rode to Bar Harbor village. It is reminiscent of Cape Cod or Gloucester, very cute and very nautical. I just walked around a bunch, got the lay of the land, sat in a shady spot on the rocks next to the ocean (there is a long and beautiful walking path along the edge of the ocean) and talked on the phone, and checked out the bicycle shop and hardware store situation. (More on that later.)

Dinner was fish and chips at Stewman’s, right on the harbor, washed down with an Allagash White. It was pricey, but the haddock was really good!

The view from my table at Stewman’s.

My friend Jerry recommended a Windjammer sailboat ride as a fun thing to do. I checked that out on the first day but I had missed the afternoon sailing, and did not want to do the evening.

So the next day, I took the shuttle back to Bar Harbor. First thing I did was get lunch, at a great breakfast place a few blocks from the water, called Jordan’s. I had a Maine omelette – it had the potatoes inside. It was very good. (Although I must say I first saw a similar omelette when I was traveling in Greece 50 years ago, and have since made something similar many times myself.)

The next thing was to find the hardware store, and buy the two hex keys I needed, a 5 mm and a 6. It ended up being a set of keys, with a large plastic handle, but it had the 5 & 6, plus the 8, which fits my pedal (not that I hope to use it before I get home). They did not sell loose hex keys, so I am carrying home my new set.

I used the 6 mm to snug the end cap on the left pedal, i.e. the new one.

The Windjammer cruise was aboard a four masted schooner called the Margaret Todd. This is a 30-year-old steel hulled ship, based on a hundred year old design. I didn’t count, but there were about 40 or 50 passengers on board, all sitting on the upper deck. It was a beautiful day and it was a really gorgeous, interesting, and fun ride.

Talk about a small world. There is a group of women camping right next to me. There are seven of them: five campers and two guides. It is run by an outfit called She Summits. It is sort of like Outward Bound for adult women. One of the guides, Maddy, used to work for Outward Bound. (You can see where this is going, right?) Turns out she knows daughter Addie well!

Dinner was at Mainely Meat. I had to wait 25 minutes to get a table. Worth it! Delish! They gave me the biggest half a rack I’ve ever had, and I could not finish. There were 6 ribs left over. (I also ate a salad, baked beans, cornbread, and coleslaw. Most of the restaurants I’ve eaten at around here also have Allagash White beer on tap, a Belgian wheat. It’s become my favorite.)

Dinner at Mainely Meat. Salad (already eaten), half rack of St. Louis ribs, coleslaw, baked beans, cornbread, & Allagash White.

Normally I don’t take leftover food home from restaurants on this trip, because there’s nothing I can do with it. But it seemed a shame to throw away 6 ribs, and I figured maybe the She Summits women might want some ribs. So I walked back to the campsite and offered the leftovers to the group. One of the women went crazy! She had been talking about going over to get ribs, but no one wanted to go with her. So she was overjoyed, and devoured all six. Her mates all encouraged her! It may have been the high point of her trip!

It poured rain all night the night of the second day. The next morning, the water was over an inch deep in my mug, left outside. I was cozy and dry in my tent, although I did get a little wet when I got up to pee in the middle of the night. Not bad.

Today, the third full day here, the weather cleared, as forecast, by 10:00. I borrowed some soap from the women next door, and did a thorough scrubbing on my water bottles, using boiling water for the job. They are finally good and clean!

Have bottle brush, will travel

Then I had breakfast and read the Globe. Oh, I forgot to mention that yesterday afternoon, I used my new hex key and tried to adjust the front hub to eliminate the squeak. I was not able to make any difference whatsoever. I’m hoping I can make it home without any further difficulty.

After chatting with some neighbors, and talking on the phone with some friends, I finally started riding around 11:00, without luggage, towards Acadia and Cadillac Mountain.

It was a great day for a ride – warm, maybe mid-80s, and sunny. It was about 3 miles to the entrance to the park, then another 7 to the summit. It was a stiff climb but nothing terrible. I didn’t have to walk, although I stopped frequently to take photos. The scenery was breathtaking! (It was also very crowded with both people and cars at the top.)

On top of Cadillac Mountain.
View from the top of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park.
RideWithGPS screenshot. Wonderfully symmetrical.

Then back to the campsite to conclude a lovely 20 mile day.

The first order of business was to take a shower, and put on my “laundry clothes” once I was clean. The next order of business was to do laundry, everything except what I was wearing, which I accomplished at the laundromat here. (That is one of the amenities.)

Dinner was beef pasta marinara, which tasted good, although kind of like cardboard. Call it good tasting cardboard.

Dessert is going to be ice cream at Udder Heaven, as soon as I finish writing this post. Small (actually pretty huge) butter pecan in a cup. Almost as good as Bedford Farms!

Tomorrow, I leave here and start to head back home. I figure it’s about 7 or 8 days of riding, if I don’t insert any more days, which I’m not planning on doing. I do hope to visit with some people on the way home. I will keep you up to date.

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Tour NE-2022-Day 32: Bar Harbor, ME

  • Saturday, July 16, 2022
  • Bar Harbor, ME
  • Lodging: Bar Harbor Campground
  • Miles:  52.0 @ 10.3 mph
  • Cumulative miles: 848.3
  • Vertical:   2,701 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 8:44 am (breakfast at hotel)
  • Arrival time:  4:44 pm
  • Elapsed time: 8:00

It was a long day, but very successful. I made it 52 miles to Bar Harbor Campground, overlooking the ocean in Bar Harbor, Maine. I was very tired at the end, but not cooked.

A clean bottle to start the day!

This being my fourth 50+ mile day in a row, I gave myself permission from the outset to stop early, if I felt bad. In the last 15 miles, there were a ton of places to stay: motels, hotels, and campgrounds. Many had “No Vacancy” signs, but many did not. However, despite the heat (sunny mid-80s) and the hills, I felt okay, and never really seriously considered stopping. It is such a good feeling to close out a long day like that.

It is hard to put the elevation profile above into context. It looks much steeper in the graph than it feels in real life, because the vertical scale has no relationship to the horizontal. That said, that last half mile climb up to the campground was killer. I did not walk, but I stopped several times to catch my breath. Yet, on the graph, it shows as less than 200 vertical feet. Hardly a blip. Sure did not feel that way.

When riding near the ocean, you are never more than a few hundred feet above sea level. But the ups and downs from 0 to 400 are not only steep, they are relentless. I walked twice today. At one point, at the top of a big hill, I stopped and googled my current elevation. It was 92 ft above sea level. It is deflating sometimes.

Maine roads certainly have wide shoulders, at least in my experience on this trip. Today, I took US Rt. 1 north from Belfast, until turning right onto ME Rt. 3, which went right past my campground (and continues on into Bar Harbor village). The entire way had a good wide smooth paved shoulder, rarely less than 3 ft wide. The one exception was going through the town of Ellsworth, which was a little sketchy. I may try and avoid that going back.

The Bar Harbor Campground that I currently call home does not take reservations (nor credit cards), so I did not know for sure that I would have a spot. I talked to them a few days ago, and was assured it would not be a problem. Nonetheless, especially the last 10 miles, I looked it every motel and campground and whatever for lodging, just in case I got turned away. I don’t think I would have had to stealth-camp if I got turned away, but I am very glad to have a nice tent site. My plan is to stay here three nights, and really explore Acadia National Park.

My campsite upon arrival.

Breakfast at the hotel this morning was a frozen, microwaved breakfast sandwich, plus a bowl of mixed Raisin Bran and Cheerios. Not terribly satisfying. So the entire morning, I was looking for a place to stop for brunch. There was nothing for the first hour out of Belfast.

Then I came to Just Barb’s. It was perfect, if slow! I sat alone at the counter. The place was hopping. The two waitresses were going to be tired at the end of this shift.

Brunch at Just Barb’s (Mile 7.7)

Dinner at the campsite was Mountain House beef stew. It was especially good tonight, especially when I added a bunch of Ritz crackers to the overly soupy end. Sorry, no picture.

Here some more photos from the day:

One of many marine businesses.
One of many interesting old cemeteries.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge, US Rt. 1, Stockton Springs, ME

The Penobscot River, which I was riding along and then crossed over on this spectacular cable-stayed suspension bridge, was particularly interesting. The river current would normally flow from left to right in this photo, down towards the ocean. However the tide was coming in, and you could see a strong current going to the left, upriver. (It was the same experience Cousin Barry and I had in his sailboat a few months ago on the Potomac.)

As mentioned previously, my current plan is to stay here three nights. However, plotting out the rest of the trip, I have a few days to spare, and it looks like 3 days from now it may be raining. So maybe I’ll stay here four nights. We’ll see.

I’ll try and blog at least once while here, but no promises. This is a much needed break.

Until the next time…

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