I peddled into my thirteenth and final state on August 8th, 86 days after leaving the Pacific Ocean at Neah Bay, Washington. After riding on back roads a bit inland from the coast (in order to avoid all the tourist traffic on U.S. 1, such as around Kenneybunkport), I turned a corner and smelled salt air over the coastal marshes. A rush of memories swept over me as I recalled summers on the New Hampshire coast at Hampton Beach, diving through waves in the cold ocean water, and watching shorebirds in the nearby marshes. Funny how a smell can bring back such vivid memories in a flash.
I visited my cousin, Mary, and her husband, Bob Dall, at Cape Elizabeth just south of Portland, Maine. They have a lovely place and were wonderful hosts. It was fun to catch up with them, their son, Bobby, and grandson, Charlie, and to recount stories from the extended Lagasse clan.
(Road Angels Bob and Mary Dall in Cape Elizabeth, ME.)
I passed through downtown Portland and its historical, red brick buildings on my way up the coast (or “Down East” as the locals would say)
…to Yarmouth, where I met Carol White, another old college friend and the younger sister of Michael, my high school buddy from Providence, RI. Carol and her husband, Herb, took me across in their skiff to Chebeague Island in Casco Bay, where they have lived for 30 years. Their two daughters, Anna and Julia, who grew up on the island, are working on a lobster boat for the summer hauling traps. They brought home a handful of the day’s haul for dinner.
To maintain my ale addiction, they produced a wide selection of local brews from Maine to sample. I’m happy to report that they all go well with lobster!
These Island Angels even let me stay an extra day when the morning weather radar looked ominous. I tagged along as Julia and her mom cleaned young oysters, and added East Coastal species to my bird list as we toured the island. It was a treat to catch up with Carol after 40 years; to see how life on an island presents unique benefits as well as challenges; and to meet her and Herb’s offspring who reminded me very much of my houseboat kids.
(Island Angels – the Maine/White family: Herb, Carol, Julia and Anna, Chebeague Island, ME.)
I headed inland as well as farther Down East to visit my old botany professor, Bruce Fowles, long retired from Colby College, in Washington, ME. He and his wife, Rhoda, live on 20 remote acres and house rescued dogs. Bruce admitted that the only lichens he looks at now are on the bark of logs he cuts for firewood. I have to admit the same minimal contact these days with the plants he and I used to study intently 40+ years ago.
(Road Angels Rhoda and Bruce Fowles in Washington, ME.)
(A rescued poodle with character… and a strong attachment to the rescuers.)
(Student and teacher, 40+ years later.)
I then headed farther Down East, over extremely hilly country in the Camden/Belfast area, in 90 degree, humid conditions. Road signs at junctions pointed toward Union, Liberty, Freedom and Hope, all local Maine towns slightly inland from the coast. I particularly like being headed for Hope, while sweating profusely grinding up a 12% grade.
These Maine communities are deep in history, and share a common heritage that includes old churches, graveyards older than Seattle, and houses with a traditional architecture (and almost always painted white with black shutters)..
I reached Bar Harbor (or “Bah Hahbah” in Maine-speak) on a cold, wet Saturday – the first time in months that I felt cold while riding, and such a relief after the preceding hot, humid days. Like a bad penny, I turned up again to enjoy the hospitality of my old college friend, Michael Lynes, whom I stayed with in Connecticut, and his wife, Kristine. They have built a lovely post-and-beam house on Mt. Desert Island, and a new addition that will keep Michael busy for years finishing. He has an interesting hobby doing barn-raisings around New England, and their beautiful house is a testiment to this community practice as well as appreciation for wood and careful craftsmanship.
(Island Angels Michael and Kristine in Bar Harbor, ME.)
The end is in sight even through today’s coastal fog – I expect to reach Quoddy Head Lighthouse on Tuesday, weather and bicycle allowing. Here is a map of my progress to date, with a little over 100 miles to go…
Thanks for your support all along this journey. Stay tuned for a final post soon!
- Dave (posted 8/14/2016 from Northeast Harbor, ME)