Denise Goldberg's blog

Circles, parks, & funny birds
Wandering in Downeast Maine

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Looking back, thoughts from June, 2006...

I used to think that I could visit a place once and that would be enough; a new year always meant new travel destinations. I learned (or maybe I should say I decided) a long time ago that it's more than acceptable to return to places that I've enjoyed in the past. There are sights to see again, sights to see in different light or in different conditions, and brand new things to see too.

I visited Downeast Maine in 2005. And I stopped at Acadia National Park in September on my way home from Prince Edward Island. But somehow, I haven't absorbed enough of that area, and it's more than possible that I'll never get tired of visiting there. I don't really need a reason to go back there, but if I needed a reason (or excuse)... I want to visit the puffins again with my new toy - a Canon Digital Rebel XT (a digital SLR) - in hand. That's enough for me - I'm going back!

I promise, I'm going to explore someplace new when I head out on my bike in September...

This will be a quick four-day trip, and I've decided that it feels right to do it as a series of day trips. Friday, Sunday, and Monday will be days for wandering on my bike; Saturday is my planned visit with the puffins. (Or maybe I should say hoped for, since the boat trip is definitely dependent on the ocean conditions.) Even then, I'll have the afternoon to wander on my bike. I hope to wander on some roads that are new to me, but I will be repeating last year's rides in Acadia National Park too, both Park Loop Road in the main part of the park, and the road around the Schoodic Peninsula.

I find it interesting that when I'm riding around home I often repeat the same routes. If I'm on a tour, I tend to ride a big multi-day circle or I ride point-to-point. Sometimes I do an out-and-back tour, but the other two options are more common. When I repeat rides at home, sometimes I flip the ride around; things do look different when you approach them from a different direction. That's not possible at Acadia though since both of the roads I'll be rolling down are one-way loops. I really enjoy the two loops in Acadia; I hope that riding them more than once will satisfy my Acadia itch for now. My goal is to keep an eye out for interesting things along the road, and to enjoy the scenery in possibly different lighting conditions.

It's time to absorb the sights and sounds of Downeast Maine; it's time to ride.

It's my turn to go to Acadia with Denise!

Both of my compatriot's (Denise's other bikes) have already been there. They were able to visit during her spring & fall tours last year. That made sense since Denise was touring - and they are both touring bikes while I am set up as a road bike. Yes, I do sport a rear rack, and I know that Denise plans to use both her TailRider (for the camera) and a single almost empty rear pannier (for sandals to be used for traipsing around on the coastal rocks instead of using cycling shoes for that non-cycling pastime). But that's not much weight at all. And I really do want to explore Downeast Maine. I'm so excited!

Oh, you want to know where my picture was taken? It was somewhere along the southwest coast of Maine, probably near Kittery Point or one of the Yorks. That makes a good wander for a day trip since we live in northeast Massachusetts. And now I'm going to get to see Downeast Maine too!

Yes Rover, of course you're coming too. After all, you told me last year that you liked riding in Maine, and you enjoyed our short 2-day trip (last month) from home to Kittery and back again, right? I'm counting on you to take pictures while we're riding. And yes, I promise to stock some chocolate for you. I know that you prefer quality dark chocolate, but energy bars with a touch of chocolate are OK with you too, right?

What? You don't talk to your travel mascot?

Those of you who don't know me (and maybe those who do!) may be questioning my conversations with my bicycles and with Rover. Shh! Don't hurt their feelings by telling them that you don't believe they can communicate with me. Rover always tells me he'll take notes for me, but he usually forgets because he is so fascinated by the sights he sees as he looks around. He's trying to learn how to use the camera, but honestly I think it's a little too big for him.

Table of Contents

For now, please use Blogger's list of posts in the sidebar to follow my trip in reverse sequence. I plan to flip this blog on its head so that the posts flow from oldest to newest (like the table of contents in a book), adding a real Table of Contents and a Page by Page sidebar entry, and adding (better) next and previous links at the bottom of each post.

I probably won't be able to make these changes for the next several weeks.

...Denise, January 18, 2009

Friday, June 30, 2006

Biking day by day...

...a happy decision

It's not often that I stray outside of my home area with my bike where my goal is to do (to ride?) day trips. Day trips usually mean I ride a loop from home, or I drive a reasonable distance (one hour? two?), do a loop or an out & back ride, and then drive home. Somehow when I planned this trip it felt right as a series of rides where I started and ended in the same location each day, varying my starting point each day.

Day rides were absolutely the right decision for me this time. I wanted to ride at Acadia again - both Park Loop Road, and the Schoodic Peninsula. And I wanted to visit the puffins. While it would have been possible to pull this trip off as a tour, given the weather and my somewhat wacky wish to visit the two pieces of Acadia National Park twice - well, I was very happy with my non-tour long weekend.

And now? It's time to dream once more, to dream of traveling somewhere, somewhen, me & my bike...

If you want to cover the same ground (well almost, without my out-and-back ride through Cutler, and without my multiple visits to Acadia & the Schoodic Peninsula) - but do it as a tour, here are possible day-by-day riding breakdowns:
  • Loop Acadia National Park once, then ride to Winter Harbor, loop the Schoodic Peninsula. Finish the day with a short ride to a B&B in Prospect Harbor. Mileage, following the most direct route: 60 miles
  • A relatively short riding day, direct from Prospect Harbor to a very friendly B&B in Jonesport: 42 miles. The distance could be extended by riding the other (further) side of the triangle to Jonesport from Route 1.
  • Ah, time to visit the puffins. Morning boat trip, possibly some wandering by bike in the afternoon
  • Jonesport to Bar Harbor, 74 miles.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pictures, more pictures!

I think it's possible that my cameras were a little out of control on this short 4-day trip. (Oh, you're right, that was me that was out of control with the cameras!) Before I weeded out the bad shots, I had over 600 photos. Editing allowed me to delete about 100 of them - but that's still quite a few pictures. There are a good sampling of pictures embedded in this journal, but there are more in my smugmug galleries. (No, there certainly aren't 500 pictures in my galleries - I spent quite a bit of time selecting the photos to be uploaded.)

The top level gallery is available here.

I've split the photos into four galleries, and I've included the individual links here just in case you want to go directly to a gallery: You can click through the pictures in my smugmug gallery, or you can simply click the slideshow button (in each gallery) and let them scroll. Which camera? Two cameras accompanied me on this trip - my Canon S400 (Digital Elph) which is a small point-and-shoot camera, and my Canon Digital Rebel XT (SLR) with a 18-125 zoom lens. While I thought I would want the macro lens for the SLR, I left it home - figuring that I wouldn't want to be changing lenses outside in less than nice weather conditions, and assuming that I could make some use of the macro on the S400. No, the macro on the little camera is not the same, but I believe it was the right decision for this trip. But which camera took the picture that I am looking at? You can easily tell which camera took the picture if you are looking at my smugmug galleries. If you look under the picture, the camera that took the picture is identified. The picture is only in this journal? Well, it's possible to identify the camera here too, it's just a little more subtle. The aspect ratio of the pictures is different - while most digital cameras use an aspect ration of 4:3, digital SLRs match 35mm cameras with an aspect ratio of 3:2. You can see an example of this by looking at the two pictures below. The first was taken with the SLR, and the second with the Digital Elph.

A mystery ride out of Freeport

Photos: Acadia's Park Loop Road (again)

Gray & wet...

...but I promised my bike a ride!

The last day of my short escape...

I woke up at one o'clock in the morning to the sound of heavy rain. My thoughts? "Hey - it's not time to wake up, and maybe by the time morning really rolls around everything will be dry again." Unfortunately I don't have any control over the weather, and it was still quite wet when I woke up. I promised my bike we would ride today; now I needed to figure out when and where!

Breakfast first though... as we sat down to eat this morning, the first course was fresh fruit and a very interesting fruit drink. I had to ask what it was - somehow the intricacies of the flavor didn't allow me to identify the parts of the whole. It was something called an Orange Dream: orange juice, milk, sugar, vanilla, and ice, all whirled together in a blender. Very nice, and a good change of pace too.

I dressed for walking in damp weather, and headed to Acadia once more. I really wanted to ride Park Loop Road again, but I couldn't get excited about riding it a second time in rain and fog. By the time I stepped out of the B&B the rain had pretty much stopped, and although it would have been very easy to change my morning plans back to riding, I didn't. And I'm actually glad that I drove the loop and walked across some of the rocks along the coast (with my camera, of course - you didn't doubt that, did you?). As it turned out, there were sections of the road that were quite foggy, so I was pretty happy to not be wandering through the fog on two wheels.

The sky was getting lighter as I left Acadia and headed towards home. It was a very funny day with variations of cloud-shrouded light, from dark gray and stormy to light and back to stormy again. As I headed towards the west and south, I wondered if my search for a dry road would have a successful end. I drove through several long stretches of rain, still hoping. Freeport loomed, and I pulled off of the road. There's a loop ride between Freeport and Brunswick that's documented on the Explore Maine by Bike web site, and I thought that would be a good ride for today. As it turned out, I did part of the ride, but as is somehow fitting for this trip, I did my own variation. I headed for the loop, but as I was supposed to take the left at a Y-intersection I noticed that there was a "construction ahead" sign. Hey, no construction for me today! As it turns out, the other side of the Y was the return road for the trip - Flying Point Road. No construction signs, and I like the name of the road. I think I'll take that road...

It was mainly an out-and-back route for me, with a little bit of extra wandering thrown in too. (I guess I'll just have to go back to Freeport another day to do the loop ride as documented!) It was another quiet back road, full of rollers. Fully leafed trees, ferns, it really must be summer! I even passed a field full of belted galloways, although the silly animals didn't cooperate by standing close enough to the road for a decent picture. I tried though.

It was a good ride, made even better by my very lucky timing. The roads were dry as I rode, but the air was very damp. I was riding through a very heavy mist. It wasn't a sight-obscuring fog, but the dampness was noticeable. It wasn't unpleasant, although I imagine it wouldn't have been as nice if the temperature was a few degrees cooler. I'd call my timing pure luck today - just as I finished my ride, it started sprinkling. I no sooner stashed my bike in the back of my car when it started pouring! Some days timing is everything, isn't it?
...time to head home (for now). I found it very interesting that as I started heading home from my almost wet bike ride, driving to the west - the roads were totally dry just a mile from where I had been standing in that downpour.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Photos: Machias, through Cutler, and beyond

The suspected cause of my misbehaving cycle computer - related to VLF transmission at the Cutler Naval Station

Photos: Schoodic Peninsula once again

According to the National Park Service geology fieldnotes for Acadia National Park, these bands of black rock are "black diabase dikes that spread themselves into open fractures on older rock".

Wandering down a mystery road

Well, I think I rode 40 miles today - or somewhere close to that. You'll have to keep reading to discover the mystery of the bicycle computer!

Morning, daylight reaching through my windows to inform me that it's time to start the day. That streaming light came through very early; sunrise here in Jonesport was at 4:46 this morning. (I read earlier this year that the state of Maine is considering switching from Eastern to Atlantic time zone - that sunrise time could be part of the reason!) There was still fog hanging off of the coast, but the ground was dry. That was a wonderful sign, and the start of a good riding day.

Of course I started my day with another good breakfast and conversation with Maureen. That's part of the reason I like staying in B&Bs; it's always fun to chat with the folks who own them. Right after breakfast, it was time to hit the road. My bike and I started the day by getting a lift in my bright blue car to the town of Machias on Route 1. That seemed like a good starting point for my wander along the coast. I quickly rolled off of the busier (but not too busy) Route 1 to a narrow and quieter road leading through Cutler. I didn't have an exact destination in mind, somewhere along route 191 sounded like a good plan. And yes, I did an out-and-back ride today. There were loop possibilities that included 191, but this was planned as a 'not Route 1' day, so out-and-back it was.

The road was beautiful, two lanes with no shoulders, some houses, trees, fields, and a decent number of water views too. A day of rollers, up, down, up, down... I assumed that hills would be part of my day since I started and ended on Route 1, which runs inland in a somewhat straight line away from the very jagged coastline. (OK, OK, it's really not straight, but it is when you compare it to the coast!) I was hoping that my ride wouldn't be all down on the way out and all up on the way back. It wasn't. The entire ride was rolling, what a nice surprise. And it was a beautiful scenery day too. I stopped at the library in Cutler to take a picture of the harbor, since the building was situated on a hill looking down at the water. There was a woman working on a painting at that spot too, and her collie - although leashed and attached to a fence - went into guard dog mode. The dog calmed down after her owner's assurance that I was allowed to visit, and she (the dog) even allowed me to take her picture. Nice dog!

Ah, a swoop down to the harbor. Yes, I did have to stop again to take more pictures. And I had to talk to one of the men who was standing at the boat ramp. He asked where I rode from, and I had to disappoint him by telling him that although I am from the Boston area I am just doing day rides in the area. We talked about touring a bit though, and he told me about meeting Renata Chlumska, a Swedish woman who is circumnavigating the United States by bicycle and kayak. What I found very interesting is that this is the second time on this trip that I've heard part of Renata's story. She actually stayed at Harbor House B&B (my home for the last 2 nights). Maureen said that one night she got a call from the Coast Guard saying they had a woman who needed a place to stay for the night. I wish I could have been there at the same time; it would have been interesting to talk with her.

Down the road a bit more... ah, I think it is time to turn around. My intent today was to ride 20 miles out, then return. Did I really ride 40 miles today? That's a guess based on the partial mileage on my computer, and my maps. The ride back was just as pleasant as the ride out, with the weather improving as the miles rolled by. From chilly and foggy, to chilly and less foggy, to patches of blue sky, to what felt like rising temperatures. Can I put in an order for a repeat of today's weather tomorrow?

So what happened to my computer? It worked perfectly at both the beginning and end of my ride, so I really don't think there is anything wrong with it. When it stopped recording miles, I stopped to check the magnet and the sensor. Both looked to be in the right place. I could hear that funny little sound when the magnet passed the sensor. The batteries are new. Why do I keep having these weird problems with my little wireless computer? My suspicion today is that the Cutler Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station might have had something to do with it. (Yes, you guessed right - I rode by there not once but twice today!) This is a "VLF (very low frequency) antenna and transmitter station that is a communications link between regular navy communications systems and ships and submarines in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans." It has 2 principal antenna arrays that are composed of 26 radio towers. Curious. It's just a suspicion - I could be totally off base here, but I really can't figure out what else could have caused this behavior. Now, if the computer had stopped working and continued not to work I would have figured it was either a battery or a defective computer. But when it worked at both the beginning and end of the ride...

My bike jumped in to the back of the car for our ride to Bar Harbor. But I had a stop to make along the way. The Schoodic Peninsula was calling once more. The lack of visibility when my bike and I wandered down there on Friday left me with the desire to see it again in what I hoped would be better lighting conditions. I had a second motive though, to visit Raven's Nest. Maureen told me about this spot. It used to be signed, but the Park Service removed the sign for some reason; having someone tell you that the trail even exists is very helpful. It's a spot where the cliffs have eroded into a W shape, and it was absolutely beautiful. My level of discomfort standing on the edges of cliffs stopped me from going too close to the edge, but I think I still managed to get some good pictures.

My last stop for the day was at the tip of the peninsula, a very rocky but walkable coastline, with sea gulls posing for photographs. Watching the waves, purple iris reflecting in standing pools of water, black basalt running through lighter colored rocks, fog banks hovering over the water. How many times can I say beautiful? I think I need another word...

Back on the road again, one more night in Bar Harbor. My plans for tomorrow are to ride the Park Loop Road again. My hopes are that I get to ride on dry roads, but the weather forecast is calling for showers yet again. Only the morning will tell.

Ah, an after-ride photo of myself. Amazingly enough, I only seem to have a little case of helmet-head.

A nice touch in my room tonight... a stained glass window between the room and the bathroom. With the bathroom light on, the window glows nicely.