(That’s Scarborough Marsh. Not Portland, but on the ride and hilariously beautiful!!!)
Yay!!! I made it to Portland! To be perfectly honest with all you wonderful people, riding over the Casco Bridge was one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve experienced in a while. Just a week ago, my dear friend Ivy and I marched over the same bridge, in the same direction, while walking back from the Portland Head Lighthouse. Seeing it around sunset from the bike lane was tremendous. I could just stop my tour here.
Just kidding! I have to make it at LEAST up the coast to Brunswick tomorrow! What kind of Polar Bear would I be if I turned around without making it to campus? Seriously though, I am not turning back any time soon. I had a great day of biking! It all started around 7am with a bit of mapping. I’ve taken to writing down sticky note cue cards and tucking them into a map viewer that Vij gave me. It works very well so far! I map the route on mapmyride and then write down the turns and street names on my sticky note with the expected mile marker I’ll be at when I need to turn. It may seem excessive, but otherwise I’d be constantly stopping to check my map. And that would just be silly. So, after a wee bit of mapping, K&P&I (I’ve used letters because I never asked them explicitly whether I could print their names… they are on WarmShowers, though… so if you are riding through you should most DEFINITELY look them up! Such amazing people!) headed out to the local farmer’s market, where I bought: 1 cucumber, 1 bit of broccoli, a bunch of delicious scallions, and some yummy hummus. I’m lucky I stopped there. I could have eaten the entire market, it all looked so delicious! After the market, we zipped down to Ceres cafe/bakery for coffee/cookie/smoothie/pastry and then they dropped me off at the Portlsmouth-Kittery shuttle stop.
Why a bus, you ask? Some smart engineers/city planners/ people decided that bikes don’t need to make it to Maine under their own power, and tore down the one bridge that allowed pedestrians & bicyclists just to rebuild a safer one. Silly idea, I know. According to trusted sources, this little issue will be fixed by next summer. Hurrah! In the meantime, either you can bike an additional 25ish miles to the next available bike-friendly bridge, or take a fancy little hotel shuttle bus. It was a very pleasant experience, but I did drop one of my water bottles on arrival in Kittery, resulting in a very broken bottle. Oops. No fault of the shuttle service, just a crappy start to the ride.
I rode for a while and then stopped at Vaughn Woods State Park to nibble on my breakfast of morning gatherings. Here, finally, is a picture of Guffy all gussied up! Please note the scallions hanging off the back. They went sooo well with the hummus! I haven’t eaten them all, quite yet. But I’ve made good headway.
In addition to hearing Veerys (beautiful, ethereal sounding birds!) along the quiet rail trails in Maine, I saw some interesting signs including one placed by the FFF (Friends of Fred Foundation – not a real organization, yet!). I didn’t realize there were so many turtles shuffling around in Maine! I was no threat to turtles, or inchworms, or ants while climbing up hills, however. I finally met some decent hills, and while I may have triumphed, it wasn’t pretty. I think I got down to 2mph on one of them. Oofta. I hope hills get easier as I get more used to climbing so heavy.
Caption: Yay Fred! And continued congratulations, Glenster and Kels! I thought of you all each time I saw turtle crossing signs… which was often!)
Before hitting the hay, which I desperately need to do… a bit about the ride after the turtle road signs. I rode on little streets, big streets, walked my bike on highway shoulders, rode on gravel & sand rail trails, and even over an amazing sunset-lit Casco Bay Bridge. I also had the chance to talk with various wonderful people throughout the day, from farmers at the Portsmouth market to two Maine teachers who were drooling as much as I was over the beauty of the Scarborough marsh. That is why I’m most excited for the trip. Biking alone can be boring, but I think what keeps me pedaling is not just the amazing scenery changes or the various trees or even the birds (big draw), but the people you meet – maybe just this once in your lifetime – along the way. As I tuck in on the couch here at Ben’s house, I am exhausted (yay 68 mile day – first of those in a while!) but also very content and grateful. I feel like I could go on and on with a list of “if it weren’t for”s… If it weren’t for my friends in Boston, I wouldn’t have gotten my stuff to Amtrak allowing me to leave on the trip… if it weren’t for my housemates, I wouldn’t have had a place to sleep between May and two days ago… if it weren’t for Vij… and Julianna… and K and P and Ben… and… and. The list doesn’t stop. I’m grateful for everyone who has ever played a role in my life that has led me to this adventure and beyond. I’m looking forward to riding to Brunswick tomorrow with Ben. From there, maybe a side trip to Harpswell to visit Chuck? Freeport for a sleeping pad? Staying in Brunswick or moving on? We shall see!
PS one thing I’m not so grateful for. Silly Horseflys. One word: OUCH!
PPS one other thing, I may have given myself DEET poisoning by accidentally spraying it in my mouth/inhaling while spraying. The mosquitoes are vicious, especially if you climb hills too slowly to out-bike them. Hmm… my uvula hurts and has little bumps on it. I hope it was just pissed off that I gasped for air through my mouth today and not the harbinger of an infection or some other such silliness. Again… we shall see!