My Travel Journal - 2004 Bar Harbor, ME to Lancaster Country, PA
Day 1, Sept 19, Sunday
Acadia Inn, Bar Harbor, Maine (Altitude: 50 ft; N 44 26.232; W 68 12.344) to Waldoboro, ME - 95 miles
Wife, Patricia and I have been on vacation here in Bar Harbor since September 16. We woke early, and had a diner breakfast before 6:00 AM. We then said good bye for about 2 weeks (Photo 038, Photo 039) since Pat now sensibly drives the car home to our home in White Plains, New York while I follow the Adventure Cycling Association, Atlantic Coast map route from Maine to (hopefully) Virginia. Before 7:00 AM, I am already riding across Mount Desert Island (where Bar Harbor is located) heading for the mainland. The weather forecast was for temperatures in the 50's and partly cloudy. Here in Maine, partly cloudy can translate into overcast with showers, as it did today. But there is always a lot of adrenalin on the first day of a bike trek, so the weather and erratic winds did not slow me down. Today, there is an element of familiarity with the route since I am just reversing the route I took on the last 2 days of last year's bike trek from Rochester, NY to Bar Harbor. It's a pretty ride today, generally along the coast of the Maine shoreline with the occasional short cut inland (Photo 040, Photo 042, Photo 043, Photo 044, Photo 045, Photo 050, Photo 052, Photo 053, Photo 054, Photo 055, Photo 056, Photo 057, Photo 060). Today's towns included Ellsworth, Bucksport, Searsport, Belfast, Camden, and Warren. Notable sights included a blue heron the size of a pterodactyl launching itself only a few yards away from me (too fast to be photographed), and a herd of belted Galloway cattle on a coastal gentlemen's farm (Photo 059). These cattle are called Oreo cows because of their black front and back with white band in the center. I enjoyed a high value lunch of spaghetti, haddock and raspberry pie all for only $12.60 in Belfast. In addition to many photos of the lovely coastline, I also took photographs of a local horse show (Photo 047, Photo 049) a shop selling circular stairways (to heaven?) (Photo 046) and a last year) was closed. So I biked a couple of additional miles until I found the Yankee Traveler Hotel (Photo 062). There is no food for dinner nearby so I enjoy a peanut butter and honey on pita bread and some beef jerky from my packed food stores.
Day 2, Sept 20, Monday
Waldoboro, ME (altitude 167 ft; N 44 07.020; W 69 18.042) to Sebago Lake, ME -86 miles
Have I mentioned that Maine is full of hills? Short steep ones, long gradual ones, and all variations in between. So even on a bright but chilly day, the hills and erratic winds leave your legs weary. And speaking of roads, there's a great variety there too. Some busy, with no shoulders, and some newly paved and wide. The breakfast food in diners and takeaway lunch in supermarkets is stellar and cheap. The first part of the route today was largely along the Maine coastline, primarily on route 1 (Photo 063, Photo 064, Photo 065, Photo 066, Photo 068, Photo 069, Photo 070, Photo 072, Photo 073, Photo 076, Photo 077, Photo 078, Photo 079). I stopped for a break at a gas station where a tandem bike was outfitted for touring. A retired couple was just beginning the trek from Maine to Florida following the same maps as me, but at a more leisurely pace. They said they already had 11,000 miles on this tandem, and 51,000 on the one before. Passing the towns of Damariscotta, Wiscasset, Bath, Brunswick, and Freeport (the latter town being the home of LL Bean -catalogue merchandiser - where Pat and I shopped on the way up). Then the route went inland to the towns of Grey, North Windham, and ultimately Sebago Lake. There, at the Family & Friends campground, I got a small log cabin (Photo 080, Photo 081, Photo 083) with electric but no heat, bunks but no bedding, a pond but no running water, snacks but no real food. Fortunately, the hot tub and hot showers are redeeming features. Again, peanut butter and honey for dinner, but with ice cream for dessert. Went to bed with lots of clothing on, including a little skullcap.
Day 3, Sept 21, Tuesday
Sebago Lake, ME (374'; N 43 46.028; W 70 32.242) to Exeter, New Hampshire -90 miles
When I awoke at 5:20 AM, it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit in my little unheated cabin. I packed my gear and was on the road by 7:00 AM. Sadly, there was no breakfast on route. So, I detoured 2 miles in the west into the town of Standish for a big breakfast at a diner. Further down route 75, I encounter delay due to road construction. I get a big laugh from the road crewman when he twirls his "stop" sign to show "slow", by responding, "That's my only speed". As I proceed, I weave among bulldozers, dump trucks and graders, much to their amusement. I take photos further down the road (Photo 084, Photo 087, Photo 088, Photo 089). Besides roads, it seems that homes are being constructed or renovated almost everywhere en route. By late morning, I have again arrived at the Maine Coastline at Wells Beach and check out the beach (Photo 091, Photo 092, Photo 093, Photo 095, Photo 096) and the houses nearby (Photo 097). For the next 25 miles, I ride through the coastal towns of Ogunquit, York Beach, York Harbor and Kittery Point enjoying the magnificent views (Photo 098, Photo 099, Photo 101, Photo 103, Photo 107, Photo 108). And there are also many spectacular ocean view homes too. I crossed the bridge into New Hampshire at Portsmouth, then take back roads up to Exeter. Along this route, I spook a number of large attractive guinea fowl, but they remain along the roadside so I take photos (Photo 105). When I reach Exeter - the home of the famous preparatory school, I find the recommended hotel and campgrounds closed and the bed and breakfasts full. In desperation, I opt for a far too expensive room at the "Inn at Exeter" (Photo 110) . I heaved my loaded bike up the formal stairs into the lobby, where it received a special storage room. I splurge and have a fine haddock meal in their dining room. I plan to return to basics tomorrow.
Day 4, Sept 22, Wednesday
Exeter, NH (Alt 82'; N 43 59.659; W 70 57.281) to Westborough, Massachusetts -85 miles
The big news about today is that the weather was terrific - warm, bright skies with few winds. The less good news is that the route took me on many unsigned roads, so I spent nearly an hour either asking for directions, validating directions or backtracking as appropriate. The route today involved dozens of back roads in New Hampshire and Massachusetts (Photo 111, Photo 112, Photo 113, Photo 114, Photo 115, Photo 116, Photo 118, Photo 119) in contrast to the Western US where I was on Route 2 for almost 1000 miles. Again, I saw hundreds of upscale suburban homes, tucked away on their multi-acre plots, housing commuters to Salem and Nashua, NH and the environs around Boston. Today, I concluded that one of the reasons I may enjoy this type of cycling is that in my younger days my Dad would recount stories of his own youthful bicycle touring adventures around Yorkshire, England. While the route and bike and equipment are now quite different, the adventure remains the same - you just can't be sure of what you will be facing. Upon checking into my hotel in Westborough, Massachusetts (Photo 120), I immediately ride down a highway to the closest bike shop to inflate my woefully under-inflated tires with a decent pump. There, I also pickup a few Massachusetts cycling maps since I plan to bike from my home up to Cape Cod, next year. Grapes and a bottle of wine supplement my peanut butter and honey sandwich for dinner tonight. I have no complaints.
Day 5, Sept 23, Thursday
Westborough, MA (Alt. 232'; N 42 17.225; W 71 35.770) to Windsor Locks, Connecticut - 85 miles
Another sunny, warm day; too warm considering the time of year and all the hills on the periphery of the Berkshires that I'm facing on the route. The route is generally more of the same. There are back roads through woods, generally with upscale homes on few acre plots, with the horse or other farms in the open spaces (Photo 122, Photo 123). I lost the route today and ended up going uphill for 3 miles to the town of Charlton only to head back to Quinebaug; but enjoyed great vistas of the Berkshires on the way back (Photo 124, Photo 126, Photo 128). Lots more photos were taken en route (Photo 129, Photo 130, Photo 131, Photo 132, Photo 133, Photo 134) On a separate note, bicycle touring really tests your senses. You see so much, despite keeping an eye on the road. You hear countless birds, and the occasional creature scurrying back to the woods as the bike passes close. But the smells in particular are amazing. The scent of evergreen, berries, apple orchards, farms and barbecues. And of course gasoline and diesel fuel from the vehicles. All is quite distant from the sense of "time management" which dominates my workday life. As I near the town of Windsor Locks, I pass a huge shrubbery farm; hundreds of acres of yews, cedars, arborvitae and other shrubs (Photo 135, Photo 137). All seem to be a uniform size, so it looks like an army of shrubs ready to lay siege. Just outside of Windsor Locks, I pass a small flock of free-range ornamental chickens pecking by the side of the road and guarding a farmhouse (Photo 140). After I check in Days Inn Hotel opposite Bradley airport (Photo 141), I head next door to the steakhouse. I enjoyed a fine meal, but as I depart I am dumbstruck by the sunset over Bradley airport that a photo cannot really capture (Photo 143).
Day 6, Sept 24, Friday
Windsor Locks, CT (Alt. 273'; N 41 55.599; W 72 40.225) to Hyde Park, New York - 97 miles
I woke early and thought about cycling the route about 10 miles to Granby for breakfast, but it was still dark at 6:00 A.M. and there was significant airport traffic. So I instead had an oatmeal-free breakfast at a Friendly's restaurant just down the road (Photo 144). Another sunny, warm day to enjoy the hill climbing today along North Western Connecticut and about 20 miles worth of the Hudson valley along route 9 in New York (Photo 145, Photo 146, Photo 147, Photo 148). Again, the route was peppered with lovely homes and estates and farms. I did conquer a hill (Winchell Mtn Rd - north of Sharon, Connecticut) that brought me to my knees 4 years ago when I was enjoying my 1st bike trek (as a grown-up) from White Plains to Rochester, New York. Again, many beautiful views today but my digital camera filled up by mid afternoon, so I could not take a photo of the "Welcome to New York" road sign. It seems the nice weather has stimulated the many creatures around. The wooly caterpillars are sprinting across the road shoulders and I weave to avoid them. During the afternoon, I saw over a dozen ground hogs by the edge of the road and they scamper away when they see me. Of course, I have also seen many less fortunate creatures on the road shoulders, including raccoons, snakes and skunks. Today, I encountered another adventure cyclist, Dale, just before leaving Connecticut. He was also loaded with gear and had left Phoenix, Arizona about two months ago and was heading for Bar Harbor. Dale is 53, a recovering alcoholic, and was enjoying bike touring as a type of therapy. When I arrived in Rhinebeck after 87 miles on the road, I decided to head for a campsite just outside of Hyde Park 10 miles south. But I can't find it and spend the night in another motel (Photo 149).
Day 7, Sept 25, Saturday
Hyde Park, NY (Alt. 190'; N 41 47.572; W 73 56.167) to Walpack Center, New Jersey - 95 miles
I write this journal entry via headlight from within my one-man tent (Photo 159). I'm camping at a remote campground south of Port Jervis in the Delaware River National Recreation area of New Jersey. I hear crickets and bullfrogs and coyotes and their pups, but fortunately no bears. But I did put all of my food in a "bear bag" far from my tent site. Now to start the day's events - today began chilly and overcast, but I did find a diner open for breakfast just down Route 9 from my hotel. I then passed the FDR homestead and the Culinary Institute of America before crossing the mid-Hudson bridge in Poughkeepsie, New York (Photo 150, Photo 151). It occurred to me that in just a few minutes I could ride my bike up to the Poughkeepsie Metro-North train station and be home in White Plains in about an hour - but why would I want to do that? The haze was just lifting from the Shawangunk Mountains as I passed through New Paltz and the sun came out. For the next couple of hours, I rode along the "Hudson Valley Wine Trail" keeping an eye out for tipsy drivers (Photo 152, Photo 153, Photo 154). From Middletown, New York, the back roads took me to Port Jervis, then southwest into the Delaware River National Recreation area (Photo 155, Photo 156, Photo 157, Photo 158). Just past Port Jervis, Larry, a 45-year-old committed bike racer pulled beside me. He was doing a leisure ride in preparation for a race tomorrow. He entertained me with lore of the area, and caused me to increase my pace a little (while I slowed his considerably). I was thankful for the fine maps today, which managed to weave me around the mountains with a fairly flat course with few hills. I'll sign off with memories of my parents taking our family camping to a place not more than ten miles from here, and all the fun that we had with the other families at that time.
Day 8, Sept 26, Sunday
Walpack Center, NJ (Alt. 374'; N 41 08.711; @ 74 53.396) to New Hope, Pennsylvania - 95 miles
It showered unexpectedly last night, but fortunately I had the sense to use my tent rain-fly. As I packed up this morning, the campground owner asked me, in all seriousness, if I saw any bear. He was walking two large dogs with him, to spook a bear if encountered. Would have been nice if he mentioned that last night before I took this site out on the periphery of his place. I fell as I rode through some loose gravel on the way out the campground. Broke my bike mirror, and got road rash and a thigh bruise - but nothing significant. Today is a simple ride - just follow the many back roads paralleling the Delaware River, separating New Jersey from Pennsylvania (Photo 160, Photo 161, Photo 162, Photo 163, Photo 164, Photo 165, Photo 166) . Of course, it would have been simpler and 7 miles shorter if I had not taken a couple of wrong turns on the way. And, there were some pretty big hills along the way, too. Two of the roads en route were closed to car traffic because of the terrible flooding from Hurricane Ivan along this stretch last week. It was a terrible seeing so many homes near the river with all of the family furnishings sodden on the side of the road (Photo 167, Photo 168, Photo 169). But on the roads closed to traffic in Worthington State Forest, a remote section, I saw a fox, bobcat, porcupines, wild turkey and a big snake. The roads along this stretch are generally well maintained by the State, but the reason for the road closures ("washouts") due to the hurricane were apparent. The bridge crossing into New Hope had spectacular views (Photo 170, Photo 171). I had a Sunday brunch at the Delaware Water Gap, lunch in Phillipsburg and dinner (pasta delivery) here in New Hope, where I found a room with the double blessing of laundry facilities and a bathtub for leg-soaking (Photo 172).
Day 9, Sept 27, Monday
New Hope, PA (Alt. 154'; N 40 21.241; W 76 05.899) to Denver, PA - 90 miles
Another fairly nice day; cloudy, but warm with insignificant winds. The day began winding through back roads in Bucks and Montgomery Counties in Pennsylvania on route to Norristown (Photo 173). There are many turns on these roads around little bedroom communities for commuters to bigger cities nearby. And again, there are many palatial homes, estates and horse farms. After lunch at a diner in Norristown, I found the Schuylkill bicycle trail on which I met Jack. He is in his 20s, cycling from Niantic, Connecticut to Key West following the same maps as me. But he is pulling a BOB trailer and has downloaded all of the map waypoints into his handlebar-mounted Global Positioning System computer from the Adventure Cycling Association website. It took him a long time to do it, but his system clearly indicates if he goes off course (which my "sense of direction" clearly does not). His wife isn't happy with his bike adventure either. Soon, we take a turn into the Valley Forge National Historic Park and follow the bike loops and take lots of photos (Photo 174, Photo 175, Photo 176, Photo 177, Photo 178) . Jack stays behind and I continue to ride west along back roads to Chester and through Lancaster County. I pass the Hopewell Furnace tourist site (Photo 179) and the Bowmansville drag race track (Photo 180), where I take a wrong turn up a mile long hill. I have concluded that next time, I too will be GPS-enabled! After 10 more miles, I find a Comfort Inn in Denver, Pennsylvania just off of the Pennsylvania turnpike (Photo 181). I plan to spend tomorrow there also because of a well-deserved rest day and tropical storm Jeanne is expected to make the roads and weather messy. For dinner, I supplement the veal parmigiana from a place down the road with a good bottle of red wine.
After a couple of phone calls home and to other family members, Rob determines that it makes more sense for him to abandon his bicycle ride at this point and instead visit his parents (182). He will continue the journey south at some point in the future.
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