Sunday, July 17, 2011

7.14.11 Day 22 I am one with my machine.

7.14.11 Day 22 I am one with my machine.

Drying out the supplies in the room last night.
Can't say I've ever popped a tent in a hotel room before. Seems so much bigger in here.

I rolled out of bed at 7 this morning tired, but eager to get on the road. There were mountains waiting for me to ride. Normally, I never eat breakfast. But today, something told me I should go get some coffee and a bagel. When I walk in the lounge, an older man says to me, “Hey! You’re the kid on the bike right?”

I guess I’m the only Asian guy in a 500 mile radius around here because everyone seems to know me already. “Yeah, Im Daniel, how are you?”

Older guy: Great! Im Ken, I own this hotel. Its nice to meet you, one of the other visitors told me about you. I did the 4 corners ride 3 years ago.

Me : Sweet! That’s awesome, what kind of bike do you ride?

Ken: Honda Goldwing. Ive got almost 80,000 miles on it now and its my third one.

Me: Wow, I guess you’ve been doing some riding!

This went on for quite a while, Ken told me about all the rides he has done on his Goldwings while I listened and chimed in occasionally when we had ridden a common road. He told me about his 4 corners ride and all the other long rides he had taken including a large portion of Canada. I had a few questions for him about British Colombia and the Yukon Territory. He hadn’t ridden Alaska yet so he couldn’t help me there, but had some great info about the Northwest, southwest, BC and YT.

I drank 3 cups of coffee and ate two bagels while we chatted and then I realized it had been a couple of hours already. He told me he wanted to show me his bike, so I said, “Cool, let me pack my things up and Ill follow you over to your place.”

“No need,” he says. “We can walk.”

It turns out he lives across the street from the hotel in a beautiful house overlooking the lake. We go to his dual garage and he shows me his pristine Goldwing, Jeep, ATVS, then opens up the other garage to show me the trailer for the Goldwing and more toys. He’s had the trailer for all three of his Goldwings now and says it probably has over 300k miles on it and has been painted three times to match each Goldwing. I tell him that I should get a Goldwing as my next bike. He laughs and says, “ Your still young, enjoy your bike while you still can.” I will Ken…. I will.

Ken's home on Long Lake

Back in the room, I finished packing and make my 4 trips from the room to the bike to load up. I pull my card out of the tailbag and go to the counter to check out. Give Ken my card and he tells me the room is complimentary. I try to refuse and but he insists and I thank him profusely. I know I will say this time and time again, but its amazing what people are doing for me. I tell Ken I will tell everyone visiting Madawaska about his exemplary lodge and seriously, I checked, it’s the cheapest and nicest room you will find in the area without having to cross into Canada. Most likely you won’t find a better place across the border either especially if you’re a moto or race fan. Ken ha all sorts of racing memorabilia on the walls and even some photos with Dale Earndhart. If you plan on doing the 4 corners, stay at the Long Lake Motor Inn and tell him I sent you. I hope he will remember me as I plan on coming back one day when I visit Acadia National Park again. I drag him and his wife outside so we can have our picture taken together with my bike in front of the sign. Thank you again Ken, it was absolutely
fantastic meeting you.

Ken and wife at Long Lake Motor Inn.
St. Agatha, Me. Just down the street from Madawaska.

Best room in the area. Tell them I sent you!
Oh, and a lounge and bar in the hotel where Guinesses can be had for $3.

With so much time spent talking to Ken, I am way behind on time but it was worth every second. At the gas station, I fill up on the American side of the pumps and when Im about to throw my leg over Jess, a truck and trailer pulls up. The driver takes one look at me and says, “Damn! Georgia? Did you ride all the way up?”

“Hell yeah,” I say. The driver tells me he is originally from Madawaska and he comes back for three weeks during the summer to visit. I say, “Oh, you mean the only three weeks of summer this place gets? “ We laugh and introduce each other. Jimmy is an electrician from the Houston area. We talk for a while about riding and he asks if I have been to the Ozarks yet. No, but I went a few years ago with some friends and loved it. We talk about some good roads then he gives me his card and says that if I come to the Houston area, I have a place to stay and a lift to work on Jess. I give him my card and thank him for his generosity and he takes his leave. Amazing. Whats that old slogan Honda used? You meet the nicest people on a Honda? Well, they are right. I love my Honda. There was thoughts of selling Jess after the trip was over to help finance the trip and offset the cost of the Yamaha R1 I bought. But at this point, I can’t imagine ever parting with Jess. I am one with my machine.

After the most northeastern point of the US, there is nothing left to do but head back south and start making my way west. Au revoir Madawaska, thank you for the incredible memories. Ive been heading north and east for so long now it was odd to start seeing signs for south and west. A few times, I had to double check myself and make sure I was indeed going the right way. Since I spent the entire morning talking to Ken and Jimmy, I jumped on I-95 south to make up the hours I used. The ride down was excruciatingly boring. I stopped often to rest and revitalize. Somewhere in mid-Maine, I stop at a gas station to fill up and a Coca Cola delivery truck parks next to me and the driver jumps out and says, “Damn! You ride that thing all the way from Georgia?” Hahahaha, how many times will I hear this during the trip? The driver tells me I picked the perfect time to come to Maine as they have been getting some ridiculous thunderstorms and flash floods lately. He asks if I have come across any moose yet. I say no and he looks very surprised. Apparently, Ive been quite lucky except for the torrential downpour I experienced in Acadia. BTW, I love Coca Cola and its not just because I tend to call Atlanta my “home.” I feel like its ATL representing all over the globe, but mostly it’s the caffeine I love.

Maine is a beautiful state. Definitely worth a return visit.

Lots of construction stops.

Tallest mountain in Maine, can't remember the name, but you can't miss it if your going up route 11.

Riding down I-95, there were a lot of areas where the skies looked dark and I could see the rain fall in the distance. It’s crazy how far you can see around here, it reminds me of the deserts of the southwest. You know where the rain falls. I ran into a few small showers, nothing drenching but it made for a chilly ride. Close to my exit off the interstate, it starts looking pretty bad so I pull off and do the rain gear dance. After I get everything on and covered, blue skies reappear. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. If I put it on, it doesn’t rain, if I don’t it pours. To cross back into New Hampshire, I need to take a lot of backroads. Its all through small towns that are ski resorts during the winter so it’s quite touristy with lots of traffic. At this point, Im exhausted and ready to eat. Im starting to get in a bad mood and I just really want to get to a campsite. In Conway, NH I pull off at a gas station and start looking for campsites. I call a couple places and find Pine Knoll Campgrounds for $25. Electricity and they claimed internet, but I don’t have any signal. When I pay for my site, they tell me I can pick up a bundle of firewood too. Cool, Ill take it. But how am I going to carry it back to the site? I find my tent spot, drop off the dry bag with the camping supplies and head back to the wood shack. Strap the wood bundle on top of the tailbag with lots of people staring and head back to the site. Haha. That’s got to be the first time wood has ever been carried on a sport bike. The things I do with my bike…..

Parts of Maine reminds me of the southwest where you can see rain clouds coming from miles away. At least you know when your about to be wet.

Is this a sportbike first? Definitely a first for me.

At the site, I pop up the tent and start thinking about dinner. I got back to the office and ask about a cheap local restaurant. The attendant says how about a good restaurant with a discount. She hands me a gift certificate to Almost There Sport Pub. Alright, Ill give it a go. Its, eh…. The service sucks and the clientele was.. how to say this nicely…. Okay, no way to say it nicely, they were northeastern rednecks. Ive never heard so many curse words coming out of drunk peoples mouths at dinner. I can’t say I would recommend it to anyone, but the name of the place is fitting, Almost There to a better restaurant. I eat my burger and head back to the campsite and start trying to make a fire. The wood is a bit damp, no wonder its free. I scrounge for some kindling and find a tree that has been decaying. I strip some bark off it and try to light it. No go. Its too wet. I need some paper or something. I pull some receipts out of my pocket and try that, it lights but the kindling is too wet to light still. Damn. I go to my camelback and pull my book out. I tear out a few of the pages Ive read and use it to start the fire. I figured this would do a couple of things for me, start my fires, slowly but surely lighten my load and also help keep my page. After a few pages, the kindling dries out enough to light but the wood is still too wet. I keep scrounging for more kindling and finally the first piece of wood starts to burn a bit.

Right when the first piece of wood starts burning well, the rain comes. Really? Again? What happened to the 10% chance of rain? Those freaking meteorologists are always wrong. Im starting to dislike New Hampshire. I hang out for a while in the rain to keep the fire going and once it gets heavy, I throw the remaining pieces of wood on the small fire and crawl into the tent. Break out the laptop and start updating the blog while listening to the rain fall. After an hour or so of rain, it finally subsides and I crawl out the seclusion of my small, cramped, gear filled tent. Sweet the fire made it.

There is something quite entrancing about watching wood burn. It’s almost sensory overload. The warmth, the smell and even the taste of the wood when the smoke envelopes you. The glowing red embers highlight each individual grain. The crackling, the occasional pop and the sound of the oxygen being consumed keeps the eardrums busy. Even the chemical reaction involved if you want to get nerdy about it. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with a fire since its only going to be 50F tonight and the fire ring is so far away from the tent but whatever, its free and it’s something to occupy my time. I watch the fire while thinking about what the hell I’m doing. Ive been on the road three weeks now and Im used to waking up every morning, packing, and riding for hours at a time. But why? I still have no idea what I’m doing and what I’m looking for. Im lost in my own world right now searching for something that isn’t there. Will my search ever end? I hope not, as far as I’m concerned, I could continue this for the rest of my life………

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