Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MaineLining - Day 4 - Forts, Arsenals and Poets

We found the Super 8 in Bangor last night and decided to stay there. MeAsWe and Me stayed at plenty of S8’s during our trips, but this one was especially nice. The breakfast bar was fully packed with donuts, cereals, milks, coffee (24 hour btw) and everything they advertise. Usually we find one of the juice machines broken, maybe 1 english muffin or the coffee is not ready. It was a welcomed change from the norm. First on the agenda is a trip to an auto part store to replace the burned out taillight bulbs. Thanks to the V-Rodder from Canada that told us they were burned out last night.

With the bulbs installed and working we headed for Cole’s Transportation Museum. Museums are worth 1000 points in the OSJ hunt. We pulled into the parking lot and found more than just the museum. There was a tank (1000 points), a thru truss bridge (500 points) as bonuses to the bonii location.

Our next destination was a president town, Clinton. Now if Hillary had gotten herself elected this would have been worth double points, like the Franklins (Pierce and Roosevelt). Oh we did inhale btw.

One of the neat things about the treasure hunt, by going to places you would not ordinarily go to, you end up on roads you would probably never travel on. The Treasure Hunt is a game with no real reward at the end other than you can say you got more points than anyone else, hence presumably you road to more places, the real benefit is the roads and places you see.

Fort Halifax is located in Winslow Maine and the oldest blockhouse in the US. It is also a National Landmark.

This bridge is not special, but it sure was a pain to take a picture of and why I posted here. We had to cross an intersection that curved around a bend, crossing multiple RR tracks and their off shoots, make a U – Turn and come to rest just far enough to peak around the corner to take a picture. What some will do for 500 points.

Muffler Men is a term to describe statues used as roadside advertising made in the 60’s and 70’s. International Fiberglass of Venice, CA made the most famous of these 20 foot tall statues and have become icons of roadside treasure hunters. This is a midget wanna-be muffler man.

Winding our way down from Bangor to Augusta our time sensitive stop was North Country Harley Davidson for a stamp. With that out of the way, we headed for some more landmarks.

Fort Western is on the banks of the Kennebec River and sits right on the Augusta Town Hall grounds. It is oldest surviving wooden fort in the US, built in 1754.

Next stop, Kennebec Arsenal. This is the most intact military munitions depot built still existing, erected between 1828-1838. What struck me, it looked like the abandoned mental institutions I have been to in previous treasure hunts. Further research showed that it had been used as a state mental hospital at one time. The place has essentially been unused for 30 years.

Making our way south, MeAsWe reminded me, we should be hungry and maybe a bite to eat was in order. I knew exactly where we were headed. I have eaten at the A-1 Diner in Gardiner multiple times and have always enjoyed my meals here. It is on the pricey side, well actually it is down right expensive for lunch, but good. One thing about Diners is it seems to be easy to strike up a conversation with the people. I don’t know if it is the size that makes it easy to break down those barriers, the quaintness or is it something the diner owners pump into the air. I have been to well over 100 diners and all seem to be the same.

It is 3pm as we head out of the A-1, and we are headed for New Hampshire for some president towns and 2 HD dealers for stamps. Even though the first HD dealer is only 75 miles away I had my doubts we would make it there by 5. A quick call to the dealer would tell me if they were open to 6. No answer, no voice mail, no nothing. I called the other dealership and they were open until 6. I asked about the one further north (they own it) and she told me they were closed on Tuesday.

We have one quick stop in Gardiner, Erwin A Robinson House, a National Landmark. Now I have to admit most of the places I don’t have a clue why they are Landmarks until after I get home and do some research for posting a Waymark.com This guy was a poet and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922, 1925 and 1928.

At this point it was 4pm or so, we were 175 miles to home, and it was beginning to rain. We decided we had chased enough for the last 4 days and to simply head home via slabs. Well sorta. I-295 is under construction and the south bound side is closed. We are detoured down US 201 to Brunswick. Making Brunswick, I tell MeAsWe that I simply need to take a rest. Lunch has given me the sleepy’s. We parked our selves in a booth in Subway, pretended to read the paper at the booth and both of us fell asleep for the next 30 to 45 minutes. Waking up we find it is raining steadily and we head out on the slabs for the 3-4 hour ride home.

Monday, July 20, 2009

MaineLining - Day 3 - 45th, St Croix, 4 Corners, Fort Kent

I am up early around 5 am to figure out how we make up 150 miles, since we have fallen behind. Mary, the proprietor of Milliken’s, told me the night before if you are up before me, just push the on button on the coffee maker, so I did. Armed with my computer and all the attachments I head out to the room where they have their computer stuff. I have to say staying at Millikens was like staying at one of your favorite relatives, not quite home, but oh so very close. Marty, one of the other guests comes tramping thru the door, he was out watching the sun rise over the Eastport’s harbor. Dang we could of been doing that.

Mary was up around this time as well, preparing breakfast. Breakfast consisted of orange juice, a bowl of fresh fruit, fresh melon, and a casserole. It was very good. It was hard to get motivated after breakfast and moving on the bike, but we were off on the road headed to Plourdes in Caribou, which was our only time sensitive destination of the day, which we will easily make before closing.

First stop is Perry, ME located on the 45th parallel. Markers are worth 1,000 points a piece and there 2 places along Route 1. The first is a store, which by my count has 6 markers and then the stone on the south bound side for a total of 7 markers. I am sure the other contestants will not be happy with my count, but the treasure hunt says markers not locations. We shall see what OSJ, the rally bastard, has to say.

Heading north we come across St Croix International Historic Site. This was an unplanned stop, since the ranger is hard to find to get a stamp, but we pulled in anyways. Well the ranger was right where she was suppose to be in the visitor center and we spent a strong half hour talking with her. Oh we got the INK, which I didn’t get on my last go round. She mentioned be on the look out for the mustard fields as we head for Van Buren.

The ride from Eastport to Plourdes in Caribou seemed endless, but it is only 170+ miles. Along the way, starting in Houlton to Presque Isle there is a scale model of our Solar System with all the planets located along US 1. Pluto is located inside the Maine VC at Houlton and is no bigger than a golf ball. As we rode toward Presque Isle I pointed out the ones I saw to MeAsWe, with Saturn and Jupiter large enough to be readily seen. The rest are small and easily missed. The sun is located in one the buildings at the University of Maine in Presque Isle. It is part of the structure of the building. More info here http://www.umpi.maine.edu/info/nmms/solar/

At Plourdes we get our Tour Card stamped. Plourdes is the tour card maker/breaker since it is so far up in Maine. Just as those locals in Caribou, Bridgeport CT is so far away.

Grabbed a bit to eat at Tim Horton’s and we were off to Madawaska via Van Buren. Total miles is only 45, but again a long ride for some reason. We picked up a bunch of NRHP (National Register of Historic Places) in Van Buren, to break up the monotony. We arrived in Madawaska and immediately headed for the 4 Corner Monument. The monument commemorates the northern most location for the Southern California Motorcycle Association’s Four Corners Tour ( http://www.usa4corners.org/main.htm ). The official location is the post office. NER has a paver donated thru donations from about 20 members of the New England Riders. The paver is located right in front of the fountain dead center.

Next stop is Fort Kent, ME for the fort and the beginning of Route 1 (or is it the End). The ride from Madawaska to Kent is just down RT1 a piece. Fort Kent was built for the Aroostook War of 1838/39 due to a border dispute between the US and Great Britain.

See that thru truss bridge in the background. Thats worth 500 points for the Treasure Hunt. I see 2 bridges however for treasure hunt purposes it only counts as 1 span, hence 1 occurrence, 1 500 point.

From Fort Kent we headed down Rt11 towards Augusta, running out of sunlight and in consideration for the moose, deer and other creatures of the night that like to mess with cycles, we made it as far as Bangor and called it a night. Another rider caught up with us coming off the highway to let me know my taillight was not working. First order of the day tomorrow will be to find an auto parts store for bulbs. Last picture of the night is a bridge, but we did manage to pick up a NRHP that will count as a transportation musuem as well for a whopping 1000 points.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

MaineLining - Day 2 - Acadia, Fort Knox, Town X

Today was all about riding the Penobscot elevator to the top, get to Acadia grab a bunch of ink, get a pic of Town X, cross the 45th parallel, and bed down in Houlton for an easy ride to Plourdes the next day. 4 out 6 aren’t bad. After doing many multi day rides, I have learned to expect the unexpected and what works on paper doesn’t necessarily translate to reality. If it did I would be richer than Bill Gates.

I awoke at 5am to review the days ride. MeAsWe is peacefully sleeping, I decided to shower, get dressed and go out hunting. (read look for coffee). I remember the night before MeAsWe mentioned something about a DD right around us. Choke in, key on, push start and brrrrrrrrrrrrooommmm. The twin exhaust is throwing a stream of steam out the rear, bike is purring away. I throw my leg over the seat and off we go for the java. We are in the back of the motel and head out, seeing the left hand turn, I drop my left should, push my right hand and roll into the left turn. At the apex I begin an acceleration to exit the turn, the road opens wide and I twist the throttle abit more. Having performed a perfect entry and exit to the first turn of the day, I look to my right and hit the brakes. DD is right next door. I could have walked and probably should have, since I do need the exercise. Back at the pit, I gather up the coffee for the crew and buckle down for some puter time on the road.

It is a beautiful sunny day out and we are headed for Fort Knox and the tallest bridge-observatory in the world and one of three in the world. It will take a full 50 seconds to reach the top. We are warned that as we exit the elevator, we will be right against the glass. I am sure this is for us folks that have a touch of vertigo. While we are up here, one of the other observers points out a hawk flying over head. We take the required picture of the bike from above and head down to the ground.

Somehow we burned up 45 minutes in the tower, we are headed out and a sign says something on the order “don’t miss out on ½ the value of your ticket". Fort Knox is included in the entrance fee. Being a sucker for historical stuff we head over to the fort. As a bonus there are some guys standing around a cannon in period clothing and we come to find out they will be having a demonstration of the rifle cannon in the next few minutes.

With the demo over and the ringing still in my ears, we approach the entrance and low and behold Fort Knox is a National Landmark. I don’t know how I missed this at home, making the visit all that more on target.

It’s now 11:00am and we are behind schedule, but Acadia National Park is only a few miles up the road. If need be I can cut some time out of the ride around the park. First stop is Seal Cove Auto Museum for 1,000 points and then the park roads.

Acadia is sure a beautiful place. It is the first national park east of the Mississippi river: the lands were donated by various people such as the John D Rockefeller, who also built many of the roads in the park. I could dedicate a full blog entry on Acadia. For you New Englanders, this is one place you have to get to and you tourists making it to NE, don’t let this get past you.

Earlier in the day, I figured I could make up time by cutting our visit here short, but this was MeAsWe’s first visit and I found myself in awe of the beauty. At 5:00pm I figured we were only going to make it to Eastport.

Back on the road heading for the Town X and the Fisherman Statue. Town X is the only X town in New England for the ABCD June/July treasure bonus and is worth a whopping 26,000 points. The Fisherman is 4,000 points, not to shabby either.

EasyEd has compiled a great web site for motorcycling travel in NE, and the Milliken House is mentioned at the site. A call to Mary (the owner) finds us telling her we will be right over. The room is $70, which includes a great breakfast, which in my mind is worth at least $20, making the room a cheap $50. This is the first B&B I have stayed in and the experience was great. After we arrived, we got settled in and headed out for dinner at the Chowder House. We sat outside and watched the lights and activity in the harbor.

After the meal, we donned on our evening attire and headed back down into the parlor where the rest of the guests were sitting around just chawing about stuff. The center of attraction was a local lady that had a ton of life experiences and a bend toward politics. She asked me what I thought about Mitt and we began a political conversation about O’Bama and McCain. It stayed friendly, however we moved onto other non-controversial subjects. As the time passed by and approached 10pm MeAsWe and I said our good nights and retired for the evening.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

MaineLining - Day 1

WeAsMe took off on Saturday July 18 for parts in Maine. We had 6 objectives to accomplish. Capture the NER OSJ Treasure Hunt 4th Corner, get Town X for the ABCD, get a stamp at Plourdes and North Country in Maine for the http://www.ridenewengland.com/ tour, visit Acadia NP for the IBA National Park Tour, capture as many National Landmarks as we could and grab as many OSJ points along the way. We covered 1380 miles and accomplished all objectives and then some. Oh there was another objective. Have a good time. We had a GREAT time.

We left Saturday morning around 8 am. Late start for the first day of touring standards, but we have become accustomed to arriving at 10 pm at our daily destinations, so Einstein was right, time is relative. We slabbed it to the Brunswick, ME area some 175 miles to get up into our touring area. First stops included a couple of transportation museums, Italian motorcycle dealer and the Harpswell Meeting House built in 1758 and a National Landmark. From here on we would travel back roads and US Route 1 up the coast of Maine.
Passing thru Wiscasset we picked up the Nickels-Sortwell House built in 1807 at the peak of the ship building era.

In this town you will also find a more frequented spot than the National Landmark is Reds Eats. It never ceases to amaze me that people will stand in long lines just to get a lobster roll. I have yet to succumb to the tourist attraction; the lines are too friggin long.

One can’t really hug the coast of Maine. You have to bob in and out of the various crooks and crannies, isthmuses, and other pieces of land along the coast. A 200 miles trip can easily turn in 1,000 mile trip, so you have to pick your spots and just go. We headed to Boothbay to pick up a Train Museum. This was a 30 mile round trip.

Back in Wiscasset, we headed in land for a bit to some presidential places for points, like Jefferson, Washington, and Warren, making our way back to water in Rockland. Here we are looking for some turn of the century schooners that are National Landmarks. Now Rockland Harbor is divided into to various mooring places, so you have to roam around looking for the tall masts and old looking boats. We are weaving in and out of the streets, harbor places, down alleys, thru marine repair places and parking lots. We turn down this one narrow road and VIOLA

These boats are now used for 3 day to 4 week cruises, I am sure the cost is more than a Super 8 stay. I ask the crew if they knew where the rest of the boats were. She said some a returning from Boston Harbor from the Tail Ships festivals, but the rest are over there as she points over the harbor. Of course we weave our way over to this point. Now these boats are kind of like forts. Once you seen 4 or 5, they all take on similarity (like they all float in the water), however we happened on to Isaac H Evans. One of the crew member was doing some maintenance, which I asked if he minded that I take some pictures. Note only did he not mind, but had us come aboard for a more intimate look at one of the boats. They are truly amazing. We ended up spending probably 45 minutes here.

Out of Rockland Harbor and not having our fill of schooners, we head to Camden. I spent a couple of days up here with my cousin in 2007 and I wanted MeAsWe to see this harbor. It really is a picturesque place. We grabbed pics of the Mercantile and set sail for our next spot, some more presidential type places, Monroe, ME (treasure hunt points).

As you can see from the picture, we are running out of sunlight (actually we have run out), and I begin to think maybe we should call our destination place to see if they have any rooms for the night. A call to the Pine Shore Motel and the conversation was something like

PSH: How many people, smoking or non smoking

Me: 2 adults, smoking

PSH: Will you book for the night.

Me: We will take the room

PSH: You better take any room, the area is filling up

Me: We will take the room thank you

PSH: I am sorry we don’t have any rooms

Me: I don’t understand, we will take the room

PSH: We don’t have any

Well this conversation went on a bit. It finally got thru to me they didn’t have any rooms available and the person was advising me to take a room someplace because the area was full. Between the cell phone and my hearing, I was obviously missing the most important part of the conversation. DUH !

We continue to travel and I decide we would look for a place in Bucksport. We come onto the Penobscot Bridge (we will we ride up tomorrow) and take some pictures, cross the bridge and see a Best Western down the street.
We pull in there and they are full, suggesting a place up the road. Head for the Bucksport Motor Inn and the neon sign says "vacancy" (hopefully the NO is not burned out). They have one room left (yeah right) and it does not have AC. It is now 10pm and probably not going to get easier to find a place. We fill out the prerequisite forms (I always make up the license plate number because I can't seem to remember it), grab the keys and head for Ming’s Garden for dinner. As we pull out on Main Street I see the NO lit up, dang she wasn’t lying, phew ! We have some dinner and call it a night.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Rebel is Re-Born

all 250cc's of it. I purchased a 1986 Honda Rebel for Sky and MeAsWe to learn to ride. MeAsWe completed the MSF safety course and her license is on the way. Sky has yet to take the MSF course.
This bike is 23 years old and it's life is a mystery to me, but not to the Rebel. Maggie, the last owner, purchased the bike to learn to ride, graduating to a Suzuki C50. Her friend Judy, indicated that Maggie purchased the Rebel from a Mass State Trooper.

What is amazing is the bike is in remarkable shape for its age. It has 17000 miles on it, so this was not a wall flower, but not a heavy traveler either. This could change.

The ride from Upton to N Uxbridge was hmmmm how to decribe, ahhhh cramped and small. I understand how this is a great learner bike. 5'2" can flat foot this bike and the weight is essentially a non-issue, when throwing it into a curve or coming to a stop. I swerved the bike left and right to see if anything was loose and finally got the bike up to around 55 per it's own speedo. I had to throttle down, I was way over the speed limit and I am sure Mr Leo would not have a sympathetic ear, if I was stopped. First stop was the Hess station at Plummer's Corner to fill the tank.

The next stop is Northbridge High School parking lot. MeAsWe took the bike around the loop once and pulled up to let Sky ride the bike. Sky jumps on as I say "take it easy on the bike, it is old". He pulls off and my first impression was hey he has done this before. No stalling the bike as he moves off the block. A nice easy take off, he has good clutch and throttle control. I am impressed. Couple loops around the parking lot and we call it quits for the day. It is getting dark, so we (that being 3 of us) decide pizza is in order.

Sky asks if he can ride the bike to Papa Gino's. Seeing that he appears to be comfortable on the bike and he does have to venture out in traffic sometime, I say sure.

Two new rider lives are born. Wish them godspeed, I sure do !