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Day 10
August 23rd, 2002
Bar Harbor, Maine


My eyes popped open and I grabbed my watch, trying to focus with bleary, tired eyes was difficult.  Damn, its after 7.  I won't be riding out till 8am.  Not that big a deal, I'm in New England, no great distances to cover.  I estimate a 350 mile ride to Warwick, Rhode Island and the Red Knights rally.
I rode SR 3 to Ellsworth.  The sun was bright and the sky blue.  Another picture perfect day.  I knew I was in store for a stunning ride across New England.  Traffic was already beginning to build, but I managed to miss the worst of it.

An old lady with a white cane, accompanied by a aide, was trapped trying to cross the busy 5 lanes of traffic in the city.  They were stuck in the middle turn lane.  I saw them, and began slowing down, bringing the rear traffic under control.   I came to a full a stop, stopping the cars behind.  I was only worried about the lane to my right, but a cage seeing what was coming off coasted to a stop beside me.  Not one horn blew while we stopped traffic to let the ladies cross in peace.

Having done my good deed for the day, I stopped at a local bank ATM for some cash.

With fresh bills in my wallet I set off east.  SR 3 was just a average road, but after the pounding of the Maritime roads it felt like glass.




















                                                    Bucksport, Maine


The eastern sun was bright in my face.  The temp was in the 60s, I felt good.  The stiffness in my back gone.  With not many miles to ride today, I could indulge myself.  I wanted to find a place serving famous Maine blueberry pancakes.  I began to scour the road signs for some hints.

Many businesses in Maine use the following theme. "The Maine Video Store,  The Maine Attraction,  Mainley Hair Barbershop etc".

I rode into the harbor town of Belfast.  A typical New England village.  A church with a tall steeple,  situated on a inlet water view.  Shops, and stores in the nucleus of the small business district. Old cemeteries can be found in several places along the highway.

I see several diners that have real possibilities for good pancakes.   Before I can make a decision, I see the fire department, and stop to get some expert advice.

I found a young female paramedic in the day room.  I introduce myself as a firefighter/emt from Alabama looking for the best pancake house in Belfast.

" yah that's easy, the Blueberry Hill Inn south on 3, yah they have the best pancakes, yah you passed it coming in" she says with that unique Maine accent.

"thanks"

"yah, you are on a bike?"

"yah I am" I respond, trying to mimic the Maine accent.

I return to SR 3 and quickly find the Blueberry Inn.  A nice place, decorated in blue and beige.  I ordered 2 blueberry pancakes, and bacon.  It was excellent.  I'm not a breakfast eater, but if I could get meals like this every morning, I might change my mind.

The waitress is a young lady with the blondest hair I've seen in a long time.

"baby I need a blueberry muffin to go"

"k"

The cashier is a newly wed, that honeymooned in the Maritimes last month.  We exchanged views about each others trip.

I noticed a Gold Wing rider looking over the ST, when I walked out to the parking lot. The sun was bright, and I had to squint.

"you don't have a radio?"

"no, its not really me"

"you mean you've never listened to Glen Miller while riding I-95?"

"no, but I once rode across Nebraska singin the Achy Breaky"

On the way out of Belfast I stopped at the fire station and gave the young paramedic the blueberry muffin.

"yah that was the best breakfast I ever had, so here's yah a token of thanks, yah it is"

"worse Maine accent I've ever heard, yah it is"

"reckon, I could make it up here?"

"yah, YOU would do quite well, yah you would"

Soon after I was back on SR 3, passing the many lakes and villages that define New England so well.  Trees here are already beginning to show the signs of fall. 

It has been a warm summer in Maine (hey it was even 85 a couple of times).  These folks also are "victims" of thick blood.  If a business had air conditioning, it was proudly displayed on a big sign out front.

I passed a huge flea market stand just west of Manchester.  People sorting through others junk never ceases to amaze me.
Augusta, the capital city of Maine.  My route takes me pass government buildings, and I see office workers walking the grounds of the complex.

Out of Augusta I take US 202.

Many townships can be found on 202.  They are not far apart.  Each is unique and special.  I have always found New England a great little place.  New Englanders have a special outlook on our country, so I don't really try to figure them out.  By now most of you have figured out I'm a Ronald Regan conservative, and in New England that puts me in a minority.  I can see a liberal person from out of state, moving to Alabama and running for senate.  Never going to happen, but that's exactly what happened in NY, and she got elected!

Maine is one of the most unique states I've been to.
  
US 202 south through Maine is a slow go.  Many, many villages and low speed limits.

Still full from breakfast, I skip lunch and enter New Hampshire.  The suburb for Boston.

In Northwood I leave US 202 for SR 43, but the congestion is still the same.  In New England you are never more then 10 miles from a red light, literally.  Southern New Hampshire is nothing but congestion.  I poke along in long traffic lines on 43.

I wonder what the brothers here would think if someone teleported them and their bikes to the open spaces out west.  Where 70-100 miles to the next "town" is common.  Places where a long rider can twist the throttle and cruise 110 mph for as long he wants.  Just 2 months ago I was far away from this lush green landscape, and dense population pockets.  I think back to the brown hills of Oregon, the deserts of Utah and Nevada, and the peaks of Colorado.   Such variety in our great country.





















           
             A rider passes through a town near the NH-Mass line. 


The villages and towns of New England are the most unique in the country.  SR 13.
What would the folks in Pritchett, Coloradao think of the northeast?  Would they enjoy being so close to everything they've ever wanted?
I followed SR 43 to Manchester.  It was crowded and confusing there, but I managed to find SR 101.
  
On 101 the traffic thins out, and I have a nice ride.  I stopped for several pictures.  The roads are good, but the pace is slow.  There are no fast roads in New England.  

I stayed on 101 to Milford, then turned south for Mass on SR 13.  I think every state has a Milford.  I have passed that sign many times, in lots of states

The homes on SR 13 are close to the highway.  They sit on shaded lots.  Most are wood framed, and painted white.  SR 13 is a pleasant road.  Nice curves, but a little too much traffic.  All in all and nice way to experience New England.


























                                                          New Hampshire on SR 13

I ease into Mass a few miles later.  In Mass 13 is bumpy, and prior to riding Nova Scotia, I would've considered this road for the asphalt shredders.  But now I pay it no attention.

SR 13 remains 13 in Mass.

I stopped in Townsend for no other reason then just to look around.  A park of some kind occupied the center of town and I parked the ST there. 

Businesses lined the edges of the park.  A gazebo sat in the middle. A large church sat across the street.  Tall trees shaded the green grass and walkways.  I took a walk to the hamlet's memorial to her Civil War vets.  They are common throughout New England, as they are in the south.  Western folks spend little time thinking about the Civil War.  They do not understand the impact the war had on the north and the south.  Our country could not be what it is today, if not for that war.  A tragic war yes, but one that was necessary.  It was the war that united us. Prior to 1861 you were loyal to your state and region, north or south. All that changed after the war.  I love the south, and Alabama, but above all else I'm American.  I love being southern, and enjoy the things that make my region unique, but in the end I am a American.  

I gazed up the Union infantrymen, and wondered if any sons from Townsend, fought against any sons from Prattville.  Such a thing happening today is incomprehensible.
























                                           The park in Townsend, Mass.


I left SR 13 and went to SR 110.  So many towns and small cities to get through, but it was still fun.  I went by a couple of 20 acre farms, about as big as you can get in Mass.

























                       The Massachusetts Hills, as seen from SR 110


It was getting late, and I needed to get to Warwick, so I skipped over to SR 110 to I-495, picking it up near Clinton.  From there, I made quick work to I-95.  The route takes me around the morass known as Boston.  Talk about your parking lots.

I got caught in the exodus from Boston near the I-95 interchange.  I was delayed about 30 minutes.

I took a butt break near Pawtucket.  I checked my routes to the motel.  I did not copy them very well, but its the Sheraton near the airport, can't be that hard to find I say to myself.

When I entered RI I remembered the strange uniforms the state police wear here.

Traffic is heavy in Providence, and I miss the signs to the airport.  Damn.  I ride a few more miles and find a exit to sort things out.  I coast into a mall parking lot to see where I need to go.  

I was leaving the parking lot when I noticed a Gold Wing rider go by, with a Red Knight vest.  YES!!  He goes north bound on I-95 but I'm stuck at a light.  Damn.  When the light changes I bolt out and get on the freeway, I see him way ahead, and I drop a gear to close the gap.  In seconds I pull aside him and motion I am Knight looking for the rally.  He says to follow him.  How lucky can a guy get?

I find the motel and pull to the check in area, after covering 387 congested miles for the day.  The parking lot was packed with bikes.  Mostly Gold Wings and Harleys.

I find my cohort and chapter president a few minutes later, Dallis Johnson.  Dallis and his wife rode in from Prattville.  We speak and catch up on on the news.  Dallis and Becky rode 750 miles to Front Royal, Virginia on the first day. A helluva ride 2 up.

For those of you who don't already know, the Red Knights are firefighters that ride.

I settle in my room, then went to meet some of the guys in the hospitality room.  The Sheraton is a great motel, and high cotton for a long rider.
I was standing in the lobby with several other firefighters when a flight crew entered to check in.  About 8 female flight attendants and a cockpit crew.  Man, someone is going to get in trouble tonight.  I asked-

"how many of y'all are single" 4 hands went up

I eased out of the situation and went to the business meeting.  I'm sure the guys I left behind could pull up the slack.

The meeting was pretty boring, and uneventful, but we did decide to let the Canucks pay their membership fees at par.

I mingled around, meeting firefighters from all over the continent, but the vast majority were from the northeast.  Canada was well represented with firefighters from Montreal, Alberta, Edmonton, and Winnipeg in attendance. I also met several FDNY guys.  I was glad to see they were feeling better, and out having a good time, even if they do talk fast.

We talked about bikes and firefighting, but I called it a early evening and went upstairs.  I was tired.  I heard later, many of those boys were up to the wee hours.  Mum is the word if any of the single guys, hooked up with the flight attendants. I was sworn to secrecy the following morning.
I had a great day today, and looking forward to the rest day tomorrow.




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