Maine has always meant lobster to me, but little else. Maybe LL Bean, but it just wasn’t on my radar. It is now.
Driving through the madness that is Massachusetts into the semi madness of New Hampshire was expected. What was NOT expected was that when we crossed the border into Maine, everything became – well – friendly.
Even the previously insane drivers from MA had personality transplants, and became courteous. What IS it about this place? Maybe the water.
Driving past the visitor’s center on I95, I saw a little sign for Rt 1A. Partial mistake. Traffic was bumper to bumper for about 6 miles around York, winding through all of the beaches and vacationers from Boston. At least they were smiling while they got sunburned.
Route 1 was almost as bad – every little berg had vacationers crawling through the streets slowing traffic to a near death experience. I wouldn’t have been bothered if I wasn’t on a motorcycle. Stop and go is no fun on a bike. Enjoying scenery is not really possible when you’re following cars, trucks, and weaving through people oblivious to the vehicular traffic.
Giving up, I reluctantly returned to I95 and motored past Portland, where I tried Rt 1 again. The experience was much better this time. Apparently Bostonians don’t go that far north. Still a few delays, but for the most part, clear sailing up a delightfully scenic road. The problem I had was wanting to stop at every picturesque spot to gawk and take photos. That would have made an 8 hour ride even longer…
About 6 we arrived at our destination, the Eagles Lodge Motel, whose warm treatment of us was far beyond what we expected. Though the rooms were dated, everything functioned, the bed was comfortable and the TV worked. That was OK with us – we weren’t living there, just sleeping… But the kindness and attentiveness shown us by the staff made staying there an unexpected delight.
Early Tuesday, we dressed the bike and made our way to Acadia National Park.
Score #1, when I went to pay for my motorcycle pass ($20), the kind gentleman asked if either one of us was over 62. Being 64 I said sure, and he sold us, instead of a $20 bike pass for one day, a pass that entitles me to bring up to four people with me to any national park or monument. The pass doesn’t expire until I do. The cost?
$10. What a bargain!
So with a decidedly positive attitude, we began the 27.5 mile park loop, which connects the trail heads, features and points of interest. Average speed is about 20 mph, so allow a deal of time. This year, Acadia National Park is on track to host over 3 MILLION visitors. Yes, parking is a problem. There are advantages to going on the bike – I can park that beast on the tiniest sliver of ground…
Two points of interest for you to think about.
When Janet and I arrived at Sand Beach (and found our sliver of ground), we encountered three women visiting from France. One of them, I assume the one who handled English the best, asked if she could have her photo taken behind me on the “motorbike”. Fun, unexpected, and Janet was quite amused.
Seriously, our new friend said that she had been treated so marvelously by every single American she encountered, and was amazed that we were so nice, after the portrayals she had seen in the news and TV shows. We need to be better ambassadors. Visitors like these bring benefits to every one of us in the form of increased tourism, and positive karma when they return home (and gush about all the fantastic Americans they met).
Besides the raw beauty of Acadia, the 1.75 mile, winding and steep road to the top of Cadillac Mountain is a necessary trip. Some go early to experience a spectacular sunrise over the Atlantic, others just to enjoy the view, but in any case, you will rediscover the meaning of the word “awe”.
Everywhere is within reach. Some places, however, require a bit more time and determination than others. Keep reaching!