I-95 does the job as I cruise across New Hampshire for a few minutes and through Maine. Two hours on the road and Iím already past Portland. Interstates are great if you want to get somewhere fast, but thatís where their appeal ends, especially on a motorcycle.
Trucks are a motorcycleís worst enemy and they breed on the interstate. You are much more vulnerable to things like wind turbulence, flying rocks, and tire shrapnel on a motorcycle than while in an auto. Combine that with a motorcyclist least favorite pastime Ė visiting the toll both Ė and youíll understand why my route across the country has me on interstates less than 10 percent of the trip. And as Chuck Kuralt said, you donít really see much on those roads. Do yourself a favor and pick up "National Geographicís Guide To Scenic Highway and Byways", required reading for my trip, and a beautiful book as well. Listed within are some of the greatest routes in America and many of the roads Iím planning to cross.
Just past Brunswick I turn east up the coast and get on US-1, my companion for the next two days. As I pass through Rockland, a fast moving rainsquall whips off Penobscot Bay. Someone up there likes me because as it starts to rain I look towards my right and there is a self-service car wash. I pull into one of the empty stalls and wait out the passing shower. I take the opportunity to check my phone messages and give my friend Heather Murrell a birthday phone call. HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEATHER!
I stop for lunch just north of Camden, near Belfast, at the Blueberry Bay Restaurant. Blueberries are naturally indigenous to Maine and New Hampshire, having grown here for thousands of years. The waitress somehow manages to find me a slice of pie - blueberry of course.
My big goal for the day is Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. By 2:00 PM Iím at the main visitor center getting another stamp for my National Park passbook. In the VC parking lot I meet two young couples from Connecticut as the guys come over to check out the bike. We have a nice conversation about BMW motorcycles. In case you were wondering, my bike is a 1999 BMW R1100RS, one of the last made as BMW discontinues the model, one of itís most successful ever. Before this bike, my main ride was a 1969 BMW R69US, the end of the line as well for another generation of BMW motorcycles.
Acadia National Park is indeed a wonder, a unique natural beauty here in the northeast. As I travel around the park loop road Iím in awe of the quintessential Maine coastal landscape. Granite cliffs break against the Atlantic and the pine trees fill the air with a pleasant aroma. Iím also in awe of the crowds. The park is packed, but this is expected in August.
I skip the drive up Cadillac Mountain, as Iíve visited it before. The main reason to go to the top anyway is to witness the sunrise before anyone else in the U.S. Expect a crowd here come January 1st.
North of Ellsworth, the road opens up and traffic disappears. Most tourists never get past Bar Harbor. Pink granite and fishing villages dot the coastline. The town of Perry lies exactly on the 45th Parallel halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. I stop at The St. Croix Island National Historic Site for a photo of the bike in front of the sign. No visitor center or NPS stamp here. A few minutes later I arrive in Calais and check into the Calais Motor Inn as the daylight disappears.
See you tomorrow and look out for MooseÖ.
P.S. Ė I forgot to thank some people in my post last night. Blame it on the lack of sleep. Besides the women in my life there are a bunch of guys Iíd like to appreciate. First off, Ted Saland, the graphics wizard, for designing my logo and business card. Secondly, my good friend Brad Roth at The Travel Channel for getting me the video gear. Also thanks to Michael Zorich at Canon for loaning us the camera for our tests and to Steven Klappholz at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
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