"Maine Ė The Way Life Should Be."
 Ė highway road sign

Calais, ME to Madawaska, ME: US-1 North to Princeton through Topsfield, Danforth, Houlton, Mars Hill to US-1A to Van Buren back on US-1 to Madawaska. (

Each morning of this journey I go through the same routine of packing the motorcycle. Itís quite simple once you have a plan and system, but it still takes time. You canít just roll out of bed, jump on the bike, and go. BMW, with their great luggage systems, has made this process as easy and simple as possible. My bike has two 33 liter waterproof system saddle bags, made of hard ABS plastic. I also have a top case on the rear luggage rack, made of the same material and with just about the same capacity. Each case locks onto the bike and has a fitted soft luggage bag inside which you can fill with your stuff. When you arrive at your location only the soft luggage leaves the bike. I also have a tank bag and my passenger seat is occupied by a Seal Line Dry Bag which contains my camping gear.

So this morning is much like the last two, except with a twist. I wake up late (8:00 AM) and have the bike loaded and ready to go by 9:30. I struggle to get the heavily laden bike off the center stand, and then my big surprise.

I DROP THE BIKE! There is my beautiful brand new motorcycle with 3000 newly minted miles lying on its side. The parking lot was a bit slanted and it doesnít take much to lose your grip on a 650+ pound vehicle (550 pounds without luggage). Well no use crying over spilled motorcycle. I calmly walk to the other side and assume the position, back against the bike as I grab the handle bar with my left hand and the side bag with my right. BUT I CAN'T LIFT IT BECAUSE IT IS TOO HEAVY WITH ALL THE GEAR. Fortunately the chambermaid of the motel, as luck would have it a women of some stature, comes to my aid and she assists as I right the beast. All told, the bike is probably down for less than two minutes.

A quick survey reveals only a small scratch on the right saddle bag and a few scuffs on the hard plastic cylinder guard. The equipment worked and the bike was basically unscathed. Thank you BMW. I just wish I could right the bike on my own. If that happens again (and chances are it will) and no one else is around Iíll have to take the gear off in a hurry.

So with a newfound look on life, I head up US-1 to my first stop of the day, Princeton, Maine. Princeton isnít much. Actually just a post office and a low two lane bridge where Grand Lake meets Big Lake (Iím not making these names up). But for me it has some real meaning. In the summer of 1981, when I was 13 years old, I paddled a canoe under the Princeton Bridge in the middle of a three-week trip down the St. Croix River and through the lakes of northeastern Maine. My parents were kind enough to send me to The Maine Wilderness camp for five weeks that summer, the final three of which were spent in a canoe. I ate a lot of freeze-dried food that trip, but it was a wonderful experience Iíve never forgotten. Princeton and the bridge were just as I remembered.

This area of Maine is really quite out there. As I motored north along the St. Croix River today, following the Canadian border, I realized how remote this part of America is. Iíd drive for minutes without seeing another vehicle. Each small hamlet Iíd pass through had its own small pockets of people who probably all know each other, but the spaces between felt like outer space. It gives you a wonderful feeling of being alone and, at the same time, connected with the earth. I was digging the feeling and I canít wait to experience the same when I get out west.

A few miles from Princeton, I take a detour to the west and head towards Grand Lake Stream. This is where West Grand Lake runs off into Big Lake. A long stream, about 4 miles, connects the two. A small man-made dam has raised the water level in West Grand about nine feet and allows a fish hatchery to thrive. During my canoe trip we had to portage, or carry, the canoes from Big Lake. The general store (the only commercial enterprise for miles) provided some relief to my merry band of paddlers. It was the first time in two weeks we actually had real food.

I stop for a real lunch in Danforth at the Hungry Bear Eatery (some good corn chowder) and then leisurely continue towards Madawaska, the northern most town in Maine and one of the "Four Corners" of the U.S. By 5:00 PM I check into Martins Motel, operated by Mike and Laurie Lavoie. Mike suggests the Tang Palace Restaurant for dinner and he knows what heís talking about - Chinese food as good as any in New York City!

Keep the rubber side down!

Miles Today: 234.8
Total Miles: 995
Time on Motorcycle: 4 hours 28 Minutes
Average Speed: 52.6 MPH
States Visited today: 1 (ME)
Total States Visited: 6
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 0
NPS Stamp totals: 27 Stamps, 5 States
Weather: Clear and Crisp, 40s at night

If youíve never been near a paper mill, youíve missed out on one of the worldís worst aromas. Maine is famous for paper mills and I saw a few today, as well as many logging trucks heavy with fodder. The smell of the mill is quite unique and forever unforgettable. Along the route from Bangor to the Maine Wilderness base camp weíd pass through Lincoln, or Stinkiní Lincoln as we affectionately called it. Imagine the essence of rotting fish and youíll still be miles away.