10am Friday morning on July 25 my wife Michelle & I are ready to leave. It all started several months ago, Michelle’s mom offered to take our 4 girls for the weekend of my 41st birthday. We planned a nice 4 days away in the Catskills with a bunch of other bikers. But after all the planning and scheduling we decide to cancel those plans and just get away alone. Its been a very busy year for work and with the kids so a little 1 on 1 time was sorely needed.
So back to the trip…..
Here we are in the driveway ready to head north
A couple of hrs on the slab…aka the highway got us out of MA, thru NH and into Maine. My first stop was gonna be a surprise to Michelle. See 19 years ago to the day I took Michelle for a ride on my Concours to this little spot we enjoyed visiting. Bidderford Pool Maine is where I proposed to Michelle. We found the spot that it most likely took place at.. or our best guess at least.
After a 10 minutes or so of sitting out on the rocks we saddled back up and headed north. We didnt have any concrete plans on places to go or where we would stay. All I knew is we needed to be as far north as Bucksport by the end of the day and to stop at a Harley Davidson dealer in Augusta.
We hopped back on the highway to get us past Portland then quickly got off once we could. Michelle & I lived in Maine for most of 1989 and spent many days riding our Concours around here. It was very nice being back up here together on a bike. The back roads thru Cumberland, Freeport and Yarmouth sure have changed in 19 years. Many more houses built along the skinny little sides roads kept our speeds down and our guard up.
Our bellies were starting to rumble as we rolled thru Bath and into Woolwich.
This family restaurant is right on rt 1, you cant miss it with the large metal Lobsta greeting you as you go by. This was my first ( and only ) Lobsta roll of the trip. And it was great. I regret not bringing my camera into the dining room. I saw something on the menu about the ” worlds largest Lobsta Roll ” But I didnt think much of it until the couple next to use ordered one. Man was that thing HUGE! Must have been 2 feet long. I should have taken a photo of it.
Oh well, our lunch was great, but the bike was calling to us. We needed to get away from the busy hustle of the coastline and get some good riding in. We took a left onto Route 218 in Wiscasset and follow that thru small towns like Alna, Whitfield and Windsor. 218 is a nice road to take your motorcycle on. Plenty of elevation changes, we call them belly ticklers and plenty of curves to make it fun. Our fully loaded multistrada performed flawlessly. We also had just installed a new intercom system so we could talk during the trip. Here is our cockpit for the weekend, GPS, Ipod and intercom
As we crested a small hill we noticed a small parking area and what looked like a memorial. We quickly did a uturn to go back and check it out.
Seems to be the final resting place of Mr & Mrs Stevens. We stayed for a few minutes, placed our own little stack of rocks then headed out. Next stop North County Harley Davidson….
So if you haven’t figured out by now I am participating in the www.ridenewengland.com contest. Its pretty simple and straight forward. You visit 27 Harley dealers located throughout New England, they stamp a card. Then when your done your name gets put in for a drawing of a 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle. Some of you might think I am not a Harley fan. But you would be surprised to know I am a true motorcyclist, if it has 2 wheels, a motor and lets me feel wind in my face then Im a fan of it. I dont think a hog could be my only bike but I wouldnt mind something that is slow, doesn’t handle or have good brakes and melts if it gets wet…omg…did I say that out loud???
Okay, this Harley dealer was just a bit different. They sold Honda’s and these cool machines
Michelle really liked the colour, and after looking at all the burn out marks in the driveway from these things Im wondering if it would be fun to have. I got my stamp and a photo for Willy
This was our first encounter with the locals that thought something strange was going on. You see it was 2:30 when we got here. The temps was in the mid to high 80′s and pretty humid. The parking lot to the dealership was full of bikes, and the shop itself was pretty full. When I walked in wearing what you see in the photo above you would have thought a alien had landed in Augusta at that moment. People didnt quite know what to say to me, but they sure did stare! I just smiled and said ” hi ” to everyone I walked by. One guy said “I didnt know it was supposed to rain today” as he strolled by me talking with his buddy next to him.
So no biggie, Ive been riding for many years and I always wear my gear no matter how long or short a ride, hot or cold or stylish or not. this new suit just helps me stand out in a crowd.
We mounted the duck and pointed our fender north. Our route kept us on 202 north for a short bit, but my mapping skills soon took over. We found many little un numbered back roads thru towns like…China, Freedom, Waldo, Swanville and Prospect. As we followed route 174 east towards Bucksport we soon saw this structure ahead of us
This is the Penobscot Narrows bridge built just a few years ago to replace the failing bridge right next to it. You can see the old bridge to the left of the new one in this photo
Which was taken in the Penobscot Narrows Observatory tower. Which is the the tallest public bridge observatory in the world and the only one like it in the USA. The views from here are breath taking.
After the 400 foot elevator ride back down to the bike we walked around Fort Knox for a little while. This granite fort was built in the late 1800′s when there was some tension between US and UK, Although it was manned at several different times during 2 wars it never saw any battle.
OSJ was having a great day!
Once we were done exploring the fort it was getting close to dinner time. We had made my destination for the day, Bucksport but still felt like we could keep riding. Michelle called our friends Tony & Joan that live in nearby Holden Maine. They were just heading out to a play for a few hrs but told us we could crash at their place for the night. Plus we would get to visit with their 3 girls, one of which is Michelle & I’s god daughter. Holden was just 10 miles north of Bucksport via route 46, which is a nice scenic road to ride that takes you thru many farms and forest sections. We pulled in just after dark, 310 miles since we left West Boylston that day. One perfect day of riding down.
Saturday morning, up early and on the road. But before we do Tony & Joan pose with us for the 1st photo of the day.
Their coon cat watches as we pull out of the driveway and head north.
We quickly zip thru Brewer then Bangor and onto I 95. Just before the on ramp I pull up to a guy on his VTX all loaded up. I yell over to him, going for a long ride? Yup he says, heading north. Ah cool us too, I reply back, were heading up to Caribou and then Fort Kent. Holly Crap he says, thats quite the ride! as we both clicked into gear and pulled away from the traffic light. And yes it is quite the ride!
One of the 2 Harley dealers on the Maine list is Plourde & Plourde Inc in Caribou. And they close at noon. So we needed to make some time. Good thing we hooked up with this guy on a Harley Street glide, just like this one, same colour and everything.
Well this guy passes Michelle and I on I95 just outside of Bangor like I was standing still. I hear Michelle say something like..” you gonna take that from a Harley?” over the intercom. I shout back…”we’re going 82mph and he flew past us!” So she replies….well thats all I needed to hear. “ Hold on!” The last I saw the speed was reading 142 as we caught the speeding hog and blew right past. My best guess is we might have hit 130 for real, Ducati speedo’s dont quite tell the truth as the speeds get faster. I slowed back down to the mid 80′s only to be passed again by the white hog. This time I kept about 100 yds behind him and cruised for quite a bit. We had 90 miles to travel to our exit, it went by really fast!
We took exit 264 in Sherman Mills and took route 11 north. 11 starts at the New Hampshire border near Berwick Maine and ends on the Canadian line. This northern section stretches some 100 miles between Sherman Mills and Fort Kent. You travel thru dense forest, rolling hills and even some farmland the whole way up. The road condition was perfect and traffic was very light.
Up here you travel thru towns like…T7R5, T8R5 and so on. One thing you notice up here is very few people follow the 55mph speed limit on these roads, but as you enter the few little villages the limit drops to 25 and you best keep it close to that in town. One such town was Masardis, we pulled over at the General Store for a quick break and a snack
I wish I took some more photos of the people that came over to talk with us. I think there still talking about the people from MA dressed funny that stopped in town. The guy you see entering the store on a wheel chair was quite the person. I took that photo just as we were leaving. After we bought some water and a candy bar we just stood by the bike and talked with the Dad & young son that was in the front yard of the house behind me in the photo. Before we even had our helmets off the Dad yelled over…” where are you guys from?” almost expecting us to speak some foreign language because of how out of place we looked. ” Just down the road a bit I yelled back thru my helmet”
I needed to use a bathroom so I re entered the store to ask if I could use theirs. ” Nope no public restrooms” says the guy behind the counter. Oh well I can hold it. Just as I got back out to the bike, the Skip (the guy in the wheelchair) rolls out to me and says “how bad ya gotta go? You can follow me to my house and use mine, its right down the road” I thanked him but said I could hold it. We then started what turned out to be about 20 minutes of talking. He told us about how he was once a police officer in Kennebunk, worked for his uncle way down in MA one summer. And how agent orange was the cause of his legs being amputated. He was a proud American soldier that paid a dear price for his country. I thanked him for that before we left. And just as I was putting my helmet on he tells me that just up the road I will see a old burial ground, and across the street a run down home. Pull into the driveway, thats my friend Charlie that lives there, you can take a leak behind one of his old cars. Dont worry he says, He never wakes up before noon so you will not be bothered.
I beeped as we went by…seems Charlie needs to hire a contractor
Once we reached Ashland we took a right onto route 227 and followed that great road for a bit. Here we started to see more and more of the landscape become potato fields. We also notice most farms had little roadside stands selling them. 10 lbs for $4, too bad we didnt have room on the bike my kids eat that in a week!
We ended up on route 164 which led us right to down town Caribou. It was 11:30 and we needed a stamp. We rolled into Plourdes just as a group of Hogs from Canada was pulling in. Pretty basic shop way up here.
Now here’s when it starts getting interesting. As I pulled over and put the side stand down I noticed it seemed pretty loose, we put it up on the center stand and went in before they closed on us. When we came out one of the mechanics was rolling some bikes back into the shop. I asked if I could borrow a hex wrench to tighten a bolt. He brought a set out to find the right size. As I tightened the bolt he notice there was a second bolt holding on the side stand that was just about ready to fall out. That one was stripped and wouldn’t go in, so I put it in my tank bag to deal with later. He then said, lets make sure that one you just tightened it good and tight, hold on. Back he comes with a hex socket kit and a big ratchet. Well he gave it a few turns and said, there ya go its not gonna go anywhere. Off we went.
The ride up to Fort Kent from here was nice via route 161. More rolling hills, and farmland. YOu go thru towns like Stockholm and New Sweden. Which made national news several years ago when someone poisoned the coffee urn at the local church with arsenic killing one and injuring 15. The small town of 600 people were shocked to find out a few days later a local man committed suicide leaving a note claiming he had done it.
We enjoyed the rest of the ride up past Long Lake and finally into Fort Kent. I was on a mission to find this sign. The lovely Mrs. OSJ will pose for you in front of it
The other side…
Now before we took the photos the bike almost ended up on the ground, why? Well the one bolt that was holding on the side stand had become loose again. A trip to the local auto parts store for some loctite was needed. But before we needed lunch! Right across the street was Rocks Family Diner
A BLT on fresh homemade bread sounded great. And it would have been if they put more than 2 skinny strips of bacon on it! Michelle’s chicken sandwich was good. I took my suit off before we entered, that way I wouldnt scare the locals. It was a much needed break after 200 miles of riding.
Back out to the bike to try and fix the now 1 remaining bolt holding my side stand on. When I go to remove it to apply the loctite I notice the head spinning freely…OMG he snapped the head I yelled out to Michelle! You gotta be kidding me! Well good thing I had the center stand installed, So we zipped tied the side stand to the frame and headed south on route 1.
Shortly we arrived here…
What a great little park they built. This is one of the 4 corners of the Honda Sport Touring Association’s tour. You have 21 one days to go find the 4 corners of the USA. Someday we might do this, but for now we just enjoyed the northeastern most point.
From here our journey took us back down US 1 towards Caribou. We thought about staying in Caribou that night. As we approached the city I noticed the check engine light was on. What else could go wrong here, we both were thinking to ourselves. It was getting hot and we were approaching 275 miles for the day. We needed a good break. I thought we needed a nice hotel with A/C. Michelle said I just needed some ice cream. So we found a cool place to rest, have some frozen desert, and check out the owners manual for what might be going on with the duck. Turns out the light was just a error code going to the engine from the fuel injection system. The bike was running fine, and seeing we were 680 miles from home, and 340 miles from the nearest Ducati dealership we decided to keep on riding.
One place in Presque Isle I wanted to see was the launch site of the first successful transatlantic balloon flight. The Double Eagle left from a small field in town back in 1978. They build a small memorial in memory of the event.
One other thing I notice when planning this trip was some of the towns like Limetone,Fort Fairfield and others that border New Brunswick have many small roads that just end at the border. Some have crossing check points but others just end on the map. I wondered what it looked like. As we approached Mars Hill I ventured off the beaten path to find out.
This is what we saw.
You can almost see a car just off to my left, which is parked in the driveway of a small house. That fence ahead is the line. Now off to the right of the photo you can see a stone marker. Thats pretty cool because this is what it looks like up close.
The little dirt road that I used to get close to the marker went right around that stand of trees and connected to the road in Canada right on the other side of that fence. As it turned out I was talking with one of my customers about this trip a few days after we got back. He grew up in Caribou and said many of these roads were wide open when he was a kid. He did say that the little house at the end of the road was owned by the US boarder police and had several cameras pointed at the gate and the surrounding fields. So I guess Michelle wasn’t the only one taking photos of me!
After a few more back road explorations we ended up in Houlton. We figured it was time to get a room. Turns out Houlton was full for the night. But a girl at one of the hotels called the Brookside hotel in Symra to see if they had rooms. They did so a quick 14 mile ride on I95 took us to our resting place for night 2.
We pull into the Hotel which has a restaurant right next door at 7:15, some 12 hrs after we left and 345 miles later. Tired and hungry. The hotel office has a note on the door telling you to go to the restaurant to get your room key. I walk into a small, packed local restaurant dressed in my riding suit after 12 hrs on the road. Well every fork, spoon and knives fell on the table as the EVERYONE in the place just stared at me like I had 16 heads. I was hot, sweaty, tired and I needed a shower. The waitress says ” Hold on a minute honey” as she carries a tray of home made meals to a packed table. I say ” I need a key” as she comes back by carrying a full tray of dirty dishes ” then I will be back to eat” She hands me a key to room #10 and says “We close at 8 and there is no other place to eat nearby so get right back in here if you don’t want to starve tonight” I place the $50 bucks on her tray as she goes by again and say “save us a table”
Michelle and I check out the room, turn on the a/c and then go over for a good meal. And it was awesome. Home made pork roast with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cream corn and fresh rolls! Man what a great meal. It was close to 8:30 as I ordered my Grapenut pudding and most of the tables were cleaned and chairs were being put up for the night. The waitress who gave me the key came over to see if we needed anything before everyone left. I asked if anyone was coming over the the office for the night? Nope she says, “your on your own tonight” We she wasn’t kidding, by 9pm everyone was gone. I stood outside the room looking down the street and saw nothing, no houses, no business, NOTHING! Not 1 car drove down the road the entire night. It was a little creepy to be honest. The room didn’t even have a dead bolt, just a jiggly old door knob lock.
The next morning we awoke to find someone had showed up in the middle of the night. We never head anyone!
Now to get an idea on how far north we are, here is a map of the first 100 miles of our route.
But before we get going I must comment on the Brookside Inn. The rooms are fairly clean, little dated with the decor, maybe a little small as well and they certainly need to update the locks. But we survived, and to be honest we had the best sleep in a hotel we’ve ever had. And we didnt have to worry about the people in the next room hearing us…or so we thought.
Okay and the little restaurant attached was awesome! Again, I forgot to take my camera in to breakfast, so you going to need to trust me on this. It was great. If you find yourself riding up here you must stop off at exit 268 and eat there.
Okay so our goal for the day is to see two things, and ride some great northern…or really down east roads. First we gotta get out of ” the county” and into Down East. Which is the rural towns and villages in Washington & Hancock county. Our first 120 miles of the ride was mostly on US1. Which is a very lonely road to ride on a dreary Sunday morning. The few small villages we came too were very quiet with not too many people up and out. There are several scenic pull over spots along the highway. One in Orient that looked over the Chiputneticook Lake system which includes North, East, Mud and Spednic lakes. It was early and still a little over cast so we just rolled thru the rest stops
One thing I was a little surprise by was the condition of the homes and towns of the Indian reservation. US1 goes right thru the Passamaquoddy Reservation just before you reach Calais. The small brick homes looked like they were thrown together and the trash and junk that lay everywhere was a little surprising to see.
I had planned on taking a “dirt super Highway” up here, Stud Mill Pokey rd runs all the way from Rt 2 in Old town to Princeton and US1. Its one of those roads that dont show up on Streets & Trips or Mapsource. But its there, and I found out if you want to see a moose in its natural habit then the eastern section is the place to go. But the allure of this place in Calais was much stronger then my desire to see moose
Our first stop of the day was some 125 miles into the ride. We needed a little taste of home, and a talk with our little ones there. Our 4 girls were being watched by my inlaws while Michelle and I explored Maine. They missed us and we missed them, it was a welcome break for all of us.
Back on the road we stayed on US1 all the way to the intersection of route 190 which took us into Eastport Maine. I wanted to visit Eastport when I did my Nova Scotia trip a few years ago but never made it there. We rolled in just around noon. The small coastal fishing village was not too busy. Some shops lined the main road, and some very cool looking buildings were around.
We walked around and picked up a few gifts for the kids at home. But the real reason I wanted to come to this tiny little village was to see this..
After talking with some locals we were surprised to find out he didn’t have a name. They just call him the fisherman statue, Michelle named him Bob. There are two interesting stories around him. One is the fish he is holding, its a Pacific salmon, not the type they catch here in the Atlantic. The statue was made as a prop for a tv show filmed in town. Murder in a small town X was a fox really / who dun it type show filmed in Eastport in 2000.
This brings up the other interesting thing about the statue. Here is what the plaque says that is on it.
The final show aired on Sept 4 2001, 7 days before Angel Lost his life on that tragic day.
Once back on the road we made our way back to US1 and continued south. In the little village of Dennysville we took a right onto route 86. Now this short (all but 10 miles) road that travels from Edmunds to Marion Maine is one road that is worth the ride up to do. Mater of fact later in this trip report I will attach a Google map that is a wonderful loop ride to do.
So back to the ride, route 86 is one of those back roads that doesn’t have any driveways or cross roads on it, and back when they made this road the Maine DOT didnt bother to straighten it or keep it level. The belly tickers and corners make it a motorcyclist playground.
Michelle was enjoying the day!
At the end of 86 we took a left onto route 191 south. This road led us back to US1 in Machias. Home of Helen’s…
… which has wonderful blueberry pies, and home made meals that are guaranteed to statsify
US1 took us to Cherryfield where we took a right onto route 182. This road takes you thru Trunk Lake Park. And another awesome motorcycle road to ride on. If you find yourself up in this area you must ride this route This has three of the best roads Ive been on in New England, 191, 182 & 86.
It seemed like a matter of just a few miles we went from the middle of nowhere (Cherryfield) to the tourist capital of the world (Acadia National Park) I needed to get to the Cadillac Mountain to find something for a treasure hunt thread on New England Riders. Nomad Willy had posted up this photo for someone to go find
It took a little searching but not long after we reached the top I found it!
The top of the mountain was so crowed, and people were starting to get a little nervous with a guy walking around wearing a day glow suit. So we quickly mounted the bike and worked our way back out of town. We grabbed a few photos on the way down.
Once we made our way back to US1 we continued our journey south. By this time we were 280 miles into our day. Our original plan was to find a place to stay somewhere between Bucksport and Ellsworth. We passed many hotels that had rooms but we just kinda fell into a grove. If you’ve taking your bike on trips you know what Im talking about. We felt great and just kept on riding.
We found ourselves getting closer to Rockland, and one place we always wanted to stay at was in the center of Rockland. Which has a nice ocean front downtown area, with small shops, movie theater and a few restaurants.
Seeing it was my last night as a 40 year old, yes I 41 now! Michelle splurged and got us the top suite at the Trade Winds Motor Inn
We arrived early enough to relax, shower and change into normal clothes. Michelle an I had a very nice night strolling along the downtown area.
We had a great dinner, then went into the movie theater to get some fresh hot popcorn to take back the the room and sit out on the balcony and watch the ships sail.
Total miles for the day as 335. Tomorrow we head for home.
Monday Morning 7/28/08
Happy Birthday OSJ. Yup today I turned 41…ugg…Today was just about getting home. No real plans, we needed to be home by 2:30 to be able to get one of the girls home from camp.
Again we grabbed US1 south from Rockland and followed it to Bath. Traffic was heavy, and I was doing alot of passing until Michelle reminded me that we were not in Northern Maine anymore and to calm down a bit. Once we reached Bath I stayed on US1 instead of taking I295. We rolled thru Freeport around 11 am. Our last stop of the day was at “The motorcycle shop” in Freeport http://www.got-bike.com/about.php?pid=1
Tim had told me about these place and I was excited to finally get here. What a cool place. With some interesting bikes scattered throughout.
We hung out here for a while, the guys that run the shop are very nice and helpful. Michelle got me my gift, a nice new shield for the Arai
From here we grabbed I95 to I495 and just slabbed it home. 240 miles for the day, but by far the most boring and tedious of the trip. It had been such a great 4 days of riding, some 1300 miles traveled. I was so tire when I got home I forgot to put my feet down when I pulled into the driveway