Thursday, February 4, 2016

#413 Wicked Awesome

This year’s week-long bicycle trip was BikeMaine (ok, so I started writing this in September so "this year" is technically 2015).  My friend Steve emailed me earlier this year and threw it out as an option.  Why not? 

Flying and shipping my bike looked to be really expensive so I drove and picked up Duane in Dayton.  I met him a few years ago on the Bon Ton Roulet.  He and I met Steve and Tracy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (the halfway point) where we spent the night.  The next day we drove the rest of the way to the starting point in Kittery, Maine. 

This is BikeMaine’s third year so they do still have some kinks to work out, but I really enjoyed the week.  It’s a smaller ride – capped this year at 350, next year at 400. 

We had a lobster bake the first night.  I learned how to crack a lobster and how to eat a mussel properly.  I pulled my first mussel out of the shell and ate it.  And crunched all the sand with my teeth.  Later I learned to dip it in broth to wash off the sand.  My tutor told me not to eat the foot, but I had already eaten one.  I have no idea why you’re not supposed to eat it, but I didn’t from then on.  I soon became a pro and helped others sitting around me eat their lobster and mussels. 

Day 1 – 60 miles from Kittery to Old Orchard Beach.  It started out as an overcast day and quickly turned into a rainy one.  My preferred mindset is, “It could always be worse.”  It didn’t rain hard and there was no lightning, and it was fairly temperate.  My bike was a mess though.  I hate for it to get so gritty!  We stopped at Kennebunk for lunch at the local firehouse and I spotted a tall, handsome biker.  This goes into my “Feeling Normal” album.  Steve hopped in front of us to be funny. 

There is an 80s amusement park at Old Orchard Beach, which was closed for the season.  We walked past it after our dinner on the pier.  The tide was out so the beach looked enormous!  Can you tell we’re happy to be here? 

L-R: Steve, me, Duane, Tracy, Boris
It rained most of the night, but that didn’t deter BikeMaine from setting off fireworks on the beach just for us.  Even though I was not directly underneath the fireworks, 34I was dry and cozy in my tent at 8:30 p.m. 

Ooooooh.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.
Day 2 – 55 miles from Old Orchard Beach to Bridgton.  After the rain, we had a beautiful, sunny day.  This day’s route was pretty hilly, rivaling southern Indiana.  We had lunch in Sebago (not the shoes – that is in Michigan) and a nice rest stop by the Saco River.  Duane and I also stopped by a lake to take some photos, and Andrew, one of the riders and also a photographer from Down East, took some pictures of us on the pier, similar to this one.  

This might be my favorite picture from the trip.
Day 3 – 46 miles from Bridgton to Bethel.  Another sunny, beautiful day!  It’s warming up too.  This day it hit around 80 degrees but was still very pleasant.  It was another hilly day too.  There was a chance of rain so Tracy and Steve (who ride faster than I do) had set my tent up for me.  So nice!

Bethel was our layover town so dinner tonight was on our own.  We walked around town and ate pizza at Suds Pub.  Duane’s new buddy, Woody, sat down next to us at the pub and said, “I’m wicked parched.”  Which sounded like, “I’m wicked paaached.” in his brilliant Maine accent.  Love it! 

After dinner, Steve and I stopped at an auditorium in the Gould Academy campus (that was our base camp) and watched a movie, “Damnation” about the removal of dams in the United States.  Very interesting. 

Day 4 – rest day in Bethel.  We had several options for this day – rest, hike, kayak, paddleboard or tool around town.  After breakfast at Café diCocoa we walked to Paradise Hill.  Duane wanted to pan for gold (gems really) so after he and Boris burned through a $50 bucket of rocks, we three went kayaking on the Androscoggin River.  Karen, another BikeMaine rider, joined us.  I am thankful she did!  At the counter we had to choose between the five-mile, one-and-a-half hour trip, or the 10-mile, three-hour trip.  My mind said one and a half hours was plenty.  Duane and Karen, who had kayaked before, wanted to get their money’s worth and go for the longer route.  I reluctantly agreed. 

Before our kayaking adventure.
Boris tipped over while getting into his kayak.  (Premonition of things to come.)  I followed Karen since she knew what she was doing and got off to a faster start.  We slowly pulled away from the boys.  I looked back every now and then, and they got smaller and smaller.  Eventually, I couldn’t see them at all.  Karen and I had a nice paddle (is that what you call it?).  Although, after 30 minutes I started thinking, “I have two and-a-half more hours of this!  My arms are going to fall off!”  I calmed my mind and focused on enjoying the river and being in the moment.  My right elbow started to hurt a tiny bit but I just kept paddling.  We saw some Merganser ducks (per Karen).  It was a beautiful day and I loved being out on the water.  It was so peaceful!  Karen and I chatted now and then, but then one would pull ahead of the other and we’d paddle on in silence. 

We rounded a corner and Karen called out that we were done – we had reached the bridge where we were to pull off.  Two hours!  And right when we were done I realized that there were foot rests in the kayak.  I had paddled for two hours and not noticed them at all.  My feet were right between them!  That would have been helpful!  I felt pretty good about my kayaking skills, and that I had kept up with her not using foot rests. 

We walked back to camp (15-20 minutes) and eventually the boys made it back as well.  It took them the full three hours.  Boris had trouble the entire way.  I felt bad for leaving them, but not too bad.  J 

Ate dinner with the BikeMaine group at the Bethel Inn.  Very pretty! 

Day 5 – 61 miles from Bethel to Camp Tapawingo (near Sweden).  The days were getting warmer, but the nights were getting colder.  I was starting to sleep with my hoodie on.  The first 20 miles of this day’s ride was the best so far of the ride.  I rode with a few different people today – one couple from Kansas City and another man from Annapolis, Maryland.  Our lunch stop was at Weston’s Farm with some wicked awesome corn chowdah. 

When we arrived at Camp Tapawingo it was a schorcher – in the high 80s.  After putting up our tents we hit the Keyes Pond (which looked like a lake to me).  It felt soooo good!  I jumped in with my bike shorts and sports bra. 

Cooling off in Keyes Pond

Camp Tapawingo cabins
Camp Tapawingo is a summer camp for girls age 8-14 and been around for almost 100 years.  It looks straight out of Parent Trap.  Girls can go there for four or seven weeks at-a-time.  Cost?  $11,000.  Yes, you read that right.  And this is no fancy camp.  The cabins are very sparse with eight beds per cabin, two sinks and two toilets. 

Of course, Steve made fun of the name and kept saying it in an Italian accent, “You eat-a some pasta, you drink-a some wine, you tap-a your wingo.”  We laughed so hard.  He said that Tapawingo is native American for “pleasure yourself.”  I later learned that it really means, “place of joy” so he wasn’t far off.  Tracy sat on the deck reading a book ignoring us, possibly pretending she didn’t know us. 

We had a nice dinner in the main camp building and even played ping pong.  A band called The Lonely Heartstrings played after dinner – an interesting group.  They formed to play one wedding reception.  The bride wanted them to play Beatles songs on traditional bluegrass instruments and they had so much fun they stayed together as a band. 

My arms didn’t feel sore today – I was surprised.  I rode by a river and wanted to kayak again! 

Day 6 – 76 miles from Camp Tapawingo to Kennebunk.  Was a long day on the road.  I left early this morning because I’m the slowest rider.  They all caught me at mile eight.  Arrived at Kennebunk at 3:30 p.m.  The showers were packed so after setting up the tent we sat around chatting for a while.  We ate in town at the Waterhouse Center, which is a covered area that serves as an ice rink in the winter.  Since it was our last dinner, I was brave and went through the dinner line twice.  Dessert was strawberry rhubarb pie with ice cream.  Unfortunately most of the shops closed at 6 so we didn’t get to do much after dinner.  Kennebunk is a lovely little town and would have liked to have more time to look around.  Too bad it was such a long day on the bike. 

Pretty flower boats!
Kennebunk at night.  

Day 7 – 52 miles from Kennebunk to Kittery.  What a beautiful day!  The morning was cool but comfortable.  We rode through Kennebunkport, which was spectacular and the best part of the ride by far!  After riding past the Bush compound, Duane and I stopped along the shore.  The tide was out and the beach was massive!  We talked to a local couple while putting our shoes back on and the woman mentioned Barbara Bush was on the beach.  She walks it most mornings.  As we arrived at the beach I did notice an older woman with a walker and some people walking with her.  As I watched her I thought, “I want to be like that when I’m older.  Even if I need a walker, I want to be outside enjoying the beach (if I’m around one).  And THAT was Barbara Bush!  Wow!  By the time we realized who it was, they were a spec. 

Linda at Kennebunkport
 As we rode through Wells and York, the traffic was nuts.  Glad to be on a bike and whiz by all of them!  

Duane took a picture of me while riding through York.  Watch out!  
Our rest stop was at Nubble Light House.  Very nice!  As I walked around with my snacks, I saw four older women sitting on a rock.  They were taking pictures and I asked if they wanted me to take one of them.  After I did, I walked behind them and took one for myself.  Makes me think of my girlfriends back home, especially three of them from high school.  The four of us have had some fun times together! 

Nubble Light House.  I could have sat here for hours!

Four friends.  
Arrived in Kittery around 1 p.m.  Quickly ate lunch and showered.  Then it was au reviour Maine as Duane and I headed to Harrisburg.  Made it there by 11 p.m., but no one was at the front desk to check us in.  After patiently waiting (and Duane impersonating a hotel employee) we finally got some sleep.  The next day I took a wrong turn on I-70 and ended up in Maryland.  What?  We were on 76 heading west and I knew we eventually wanted 70, so when I saw a sign for 70 I took it.  Never mind my Garmin kept telling me to make a U-turn.  I disregarded it since it had also told me to take an exit in New Jersey on the way to Maine and that was wrong.  So I took 70 South instead of waiting MANY more miles for 70 West.  I only noticed when I saw the sign, “Welcome to Maryland.”  Oops!  It could have been worse.  We only lost an hour. 

Despite that one error, we had a great week, and I traveled through 10 states!  Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and then Maryland.  Wow!  What wicked awesome trip!  

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