Subject: Finishers Wander 12 - Calais, Maine
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 19:26:20 -0700
What would you do if you had no demands on your time? Most people think
when they retire they will do A and B and C and ... I had no such plans
because I never intended to retire. And I haven't, officially. Everyone
understands what self-employed means. I prefer to explain that I am
self-unemployed. What I did was to take my pastime passion and make it a
prominent purpose. The ride is the reason. First year I became a motorcycle
tour guide. Next year a motorcycle messenger. Next year a motorcycle safety
instructor. Next year I began the application process to become a motorcycle
police officer, until I regained my senses. None of these were "jobs", they
were exploration of the motorcycle applied to everyday life. Then there were
the clubs for which I have over-volunteered. Officer in two local clubs,
webmaster/admin for three internet based groups, and coordinator for a
national club. Too much. Too much. I've pared back to only two involvements
now, one of which is editor for a local club newsletter. It was this task that
kept me in a motel room in Portland Maine until nearly noon. The rest of the
club will never know they are reading a transcontinental publication, sent
from the local Kinko's. (Want to see my handiwork? Newsletters online at
So that late start and a raw April day sent me looking for warmth and comfort. Comfort food is called that because it reminds you of "the way it was". I was comforted by something not available where I live now, Dunkin Donuts. But I was discomforted to find they no longer have (and the staff thought I was crazy describing) a dunkin donut - one with a protrusion like the letter Q to use as a handle to dunk into coffee. Dunkless Dounts now. Sad.
Mary Kay pointed out to me a series of bicycle trails in Connecticut called Rails To Trails, made from abandoned railroad beds. Must be a popular thing in the east because I've seen similar signs in Massachusetts and several here in Maine. This is yet to catch on in the west.
Oh, my, I had forgotten how much fun a traffic rotary can be. This is something else not common in the west, but I so enjoyed them in my Boston years. You can get into one and get caught in the vortex like a whirlpool. The first one I came to in Maine was a 6-pointer - roads in all directions. I went around twice just for the halibut. (The kid is easily amused.)
What is not amusing is the decreasing comfort factor as the wind kicks in from the Maine coast. It is steady and biting, with the temperatures only in the 40's ... a bit cooler than I expected for late April. To make more miles and make up for the later start, I stayed away from the coast road until Augusta where I have to head due east to my next target. The state capital building is reminiscent of San Francisco City Hall, except city hall is bigger. Then rolling along the rocky shoreline I can think of only two words to simultaneously describe the coast: friendly and inhospitable. The people here have taken the best of the worst and made it livable. It is a harsh terrain, and its harshness has made the people supple. Like many places where the environment is unforgiving, Maine is a land of contrasts which are rewarding for the inquisitive observer.
The traditional 4 Corners motorcycle ride sends riders to Madawaska, Maine, which is neither the northernmost nor easternmost point in the contiguous 48. THIS is the easternmost point! Quoddy Head, "down east" Maine, N44.81579 W66.95180 [Photo of Quoddy Head]
or, if you would rather see it without the road obstruction, [Photo of Quoddy Head Lighthouse]
And with that, the eastern part of my trip is finished. I am headed next to the northernmost point you can go in Maine. But, as they say, yeah cahnt git theah frum heah. I'll explain tomorrow.
Some people come to Maine for the lobstah, I came for the halibut, or just the heck of it. But the restaurant next to the motel was out of halibut (they only serve fresh) so I haddock another dinner instead. Fresh fish chowdah can do strange things :)
Portland US201 US202 ME3 US1 ME189 Quoddy Head, US1 Calais
It is pronounced cal-us, not cal-lay.
Sam Lepore, San Francisco