The End is Finally Here... It's the End Already?
That about sums up my conflicting emotions. Part of me has been ready for the trip to come to an end for the last couple of weeks. Staying in hotels every night, eating all my meals in restaurants, going weeks at a time with out seeing a face that I know, scouring the weather report for signs of coming discomfort are all things I am happy to have end. Another part of me can't believe the end is already here. The weeks went by quickly and I will miss the lure of something new around each corner, meeting characters that make a lasting impression, and the freedom of being on the road without any responsibilities.
The last week of the trip was along the 'downeast' coast of Maine. I'm not exactly sure at what point Mainers consider downeast to begin, but it's somewhere northeast of Portland and extends to the border with Canada. The coast is a jagged line with many bays, harbors, and inlets between points, peninsulas and heads. I crossed waterways such as the Kennebunk, the Kennebec, the Sheepscot and the Penobscot. I saw beautiful fishing and shipbuilding villages like Bath, Belfast, Camden and Damariscotta. There were endless towns with 'port' in their name - Freeport, Rockport, Searsport, Bucksport. In Wiscasset, I had a lobster roll at Red's Eats - a mecca for lobster roll lovers that's nothing more than a takeout shack along Hwy 1 with a line around the corner. In summer, the line can take more than an hour and a half, but my wait was 'only' 45 minutes. I had classic clam 'chowdah' at Cappy's in Camden that came in a coffee cup. And every day a few more trees changed color. The vibrant reds, oranges, golds and yellows are turning the landscape into a patchwork Thanksgiving tablecloth that's not to be missed.
Bar Harbor sits at the NE corner of Mount Desert Island. Most of the island is part of Acadia National Park. This park is the only one in the national park system that was formed from private land. Bar Harbor has long been a summer retreat for the rich and famous, but around 1900 a group of residents recognized that without an effort to preserve the island, only an elite few would be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the shore and mountains. These people organized and began buying as much of the island as possible and eventually it was turned over to the park system and became Acadia National Park, the eastern-most park in the country and one that many consider to be the most beautiful.
The end of the trip and a few days relaxing in Bar Harbor were wonderful. Good friends from Arizona met me here for a little celebration and sightseeing. While here, we managed to visit a brewpub, a winery, sail in a four-masted schooner, eat lobster, shop, see Acadia's rugged shoreline and pristine mountain lakes, and watch the trees change color almost before our eyes. We also had a chance to see how quickly the weather can change on the Maine coast. After a few hours driving and hiking in Acadia under clear blue skies, we wanted to go to the top of Cadillac Mountain for the view of Frenchman Bay and Bar Harbor. While Cadillac is only 1500 ft high, it is one of the tallest peaks on the Atlantic shore. Because of its height, it is the first place in the US where the sun's rays hit each morning. As we began to drive up the winding road to the top, the clouds started to come in off the Atlantic. In the 10 minutes it took to drive the road, the sky went from clear blue to 100-ft visibility as the clouds enveloped the peak. So our stay at the top lasted about 2 minutes before we started heading down. Luckily, once we got below the cloud level we could still get a good view of the bay.
So, the end is here. The final statistics of the trip:
4609 miles of riding
161344 feet of climbing (and 161344 feet of descending!)
11312 ft - highest elevation (Monarch Pass, Colorado)
95 riding days
19 states and 1 foreign country
85 different hotels, motels and B&B stays
4 flat tires
6 rides in the rain
1812 pictures taken
This will likely be the end of my travel blog, at least for awhile. Many thanks to everyone that read it, looked at the pictures, left messages or sent me e-mails. You helped make the lonely days more bearable and your encouragement made the hills more manageable. Now, it's back to reality. If anyone out there wants to hire an engineering consultant with a little bit of medical device experience, drop me a line! :-)