Howard writing:

We’re now in the town of Canaan, Maine, with just under 100 miles to go to reach the Atlantic.  I’m trying hard to stay in the moment and not think about the journey ending.  Fortunately, the route has continued to be great so I can still appreciate each cycling day.

We left La Patrie, Quebec, in a light rain.  The terrain continued to be extremely hilly, and forests and lakes continued to dot the landscape.  We crossed the border into the United States at Woburn, which (along with Sombra, Ontario, where we entered Canada) must be one of the sleepiest border crossings anywhere.  That didn’t prevent the young US border agent from yelling at me for going to the “wrong” line to be cleared for entry.  It wasn’t the warm welcome back to America that I had expected, but then again, border guards aren’t known for their sensitivity to elderly cyclists like me (or anyone else).

The remaining 30 miles to our campsite in Eustis, Maine, was very pretty, following a river.  Knowing that the 2180 mile Appalachian Trail passes just south of Eustis, I found myself thinking about the hikers who started in the spring way down in Georgia and who are just now reaching the end of their epic hiking adventures.  With my own feelings of regret that my trip is nearly over, I could imagine the feelings of anticipation and regret they must be having as their trips begin to wind down.

Eustis is situated on Flagstaff Lake, one of Maine’s largest. There are several modest ski areas in the region.

We spent August 25 as a layover day in Eustis.  We took a hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail, with roots, rocks, and ruts creating all sorts of hazards for hikers..  We talked for a time with some backpackers who have recently started southward toward Georgia.  They hope to arrive before Christmas.  What an amazing undertaking.

We ended that day with a delicious lobster dinner – the first of what will be many here in Maine – at a very nice restaurant in a former farmhouse.  We had a nice conversation with a couple at the next table, who were celebrating their 10th anniversary.  Andrew and Cassie live near Portland, Maine, with two young children.  He’s a Republican; she a Democrat.  Andrew said that while he didn’t like Hillary as a candidate and sees himself as a fiscal conservative, he simply couldn’t vote for Trump, who he feels is certifiably crazy.  Cassie works as a healthcare administrator, and she explained how dire the health situation is here.  Maine’s governor, who they feel is as irresponsible as Trump, blocked Medicaid for Maine’s citizens.  Poverty and some of its associated problems like opioid abuse are very prevalent here.  They said they were grateful that Maine Senator Susan Collins was one of three Republican votes that shot down the recent Republican attempt to dismantle Obamacare.

Today, we moved from the Appalachian Mountains to the central region of Maine.  The route followed the beautiful Carrabasset River for around 40 miles, including a fabulous 7-mile stretch of the Narrow Gauge Trail.   Along this forested trail, many trees are already starting to turn colors.  We can only imagine how glorious the colors will be in 3-4 weeks.

The upper stretch of the Carrabasset has very little water this time of year.  The low water reveals a very dramatic stream bed; the river must be a wild maelstrom during the spring thaw.

My lunch stop in the town of Kingsfield continued our culinary taste of New England.  This was some of the best clam chowder I’ve ever had.

Continuing along the Carrabasset, the scenery continued to dazzle.    Just before Skowhegan, the route turned to follow Maine’s largest river, the Kennebec.After Skowhegan, I climbed out of the Kennebec watershed to my rendezvous with Wendy at our Canaan campground.

Tomorrow, we will ride to Holden, around 50 hilly miles further east.

Even as we continued our tour today, we were aware that the Bay Area, especially the GGNRA, was dealing with the fallout of the alt right event-that-wasn’t.  It’s sickening that these people can cause so much stress and expense. Trump has enabled and encouraged these fringe groups to seek their 15 minutes of fame by creating confrontations around the country.  We were thrilled to read of all of the creative counter-demonstrations that would have greeted the white-supremacists and neo-Nazis, had they held their pathetic little event.

Meanwhile, while we’ve been enjoying this trip, we’ve let some things slip on the financial front. Imagine our shock when this text showed up on my phone yesterday:

“WARNING:IRS is filling lawsuit against you, for more information call on +1-4752192363 on urgent basis otherwise your arrest warrant will be forwarded to your local police department and your properties, social benefits and bank accounts will be frozen by the government.”

Naturally, we immediately called the number and provided all of our financial information, so that we don’t end up in jail. Close call.

(P.S.  The above was provided merely for your enjoyment – we haven’t done anything to compromise our financial information.)

 

Wendy writing:

With crossing the border back into the United States, we are back to the English language, Google Maps giving instructions in miles, and American money (no need to worry about spending down our cash before leaving the country).

And happily, we have already been enjoying Maine lobster! “Lazy” lobster (already out of its shell), lobster bisque, and while Howard was enjoying his clam chowder, I had a huge and delicious lobster roll. Yum!

We also are enjoying cooler weather – wearing long pants and jackets at night and extra layers for cycling – AND there are virtually NO MOSQUITOES! I am writing this blog sitting at our campsite picnic table after weeks of the insects driving us into our trailer. This is just in time, as we were really becoming weary of the biting insects. In La Patrie, the mosquitoes and no-see-ums were insane; even using insect repellent with DEET, I ended up with 12 mosquito bites along my hairline on my forehead alone and many more bites elsewhere. Due to the intense itching, Howard and I have been taking an antihistamine the last couple of nights in order to sleep. Nice to have at least a temporary reprieve…

After crossing the border, it was amazing to see the scenery change immediately to very dense conifer and hardwood forests. Any area that has not been cleared for buildings, roads, or trails is virtually impassable. Moose caution signs are frequently posted along the road.It’s hard to imagine how bull moose with five foot wide antlers can move through these dense forests; someone told us today that they have to turn their head so that their antlers are vertically positioned. On the Appalachian Trail portion that we hiked, the forest had only one spot where we could see any long views.

Maine is gorgeous. Too bad that we can’t stay to see the fall color in its full glory, but one of us has to teach on September 23…

Canoeing is big in Maine – it would be a lovely place to canoe, lake to lake, and on rivers. It’s been great to see rivers running clear and clear lakes.

A new sound to add to my cycling time: gunshots. I heard gunshots in two different areas today. These were likely to be target practice (not my favorite sound, to say the least). “No Hunting” signs are posted along the road. Through the forest in this photo is our campground.

Atlantic Ocean and Bar Harbor, Maine – here we come! Two more cycling days with perfect sunny weather and temperatures in the low 70’s in the forecast – we have been so lucky with weather!