17.5 mi / 10.8 mph / 1211 ft. climbing
Home: Peter’s WarmShowers house
The morning was cold (in the 30s) and windy, so sleeping in the camper vs. our tent was a much-appreciated luxury. Our day then kicked off with an even more unusual-but-awesome flow: we loaded our bikes and gear onto Brad’s pickup truck and he drove us to Belfast, the next town south along the Maine coast, about halfway to our destination of Camden. Brad gave us a short tour of the town, starting with morning coffees at Downshift Coffee, a combo bike/coffee shop (a combo less-common (sadly) than a bike/ski shop, but more common than the bike/stove shop we saw in Kentville, Nova Scotia!) We walked by Marshall Wharf Brewing Company down on the waterfront, where the remains of yesterday’s brew-fest made us realize we were dumb for not taking Brad up on his idea for socializing last night; it turns out this would have been the place for it, and even their normal beers sound right up our alley, before even getting into the special releases for the fest. Oh well, next time!
When we last rode through Belfast in 2016, it was the midpoint of our day so we likely blew through without stopping, but Brad agreed with our impression that, like many small towns we’ve revisited, the generally-good economic conditions of the last decade had allowed it to grow into something with additional appeal to ex-urban snobs like us.
Our final stop was for breakfast (the first restaurant-breakfast we’ve had in a long time), and by this point Chloe had joined us, completing our foursome that any other diners would have assumed was a booth filled with long-time friends. And that’s what it felt like from the inside too. We mentioned we’d been lucky to find another WarmShowers host for tonight in Camden; they asked if I knew the name at all, and I said “I think Peter…?” They glanced at each other and said “Kalajian? Yeah, I bet it’s Pete.” Turns out Chloe’s parents live a few houses down the street! More small-world, and more evidence that living disconnected from the electrical grid doesn’t require disconnection from the social grid.
Brad driving us to Belfast not only shortened our day, it allowed us to use that saved time to maximize our time hanging out with these awesome people. But finally we had to get rolling, so we said our goodbyes and headed down ME-52, the inland route, rather than coastal US-1. It was great to have Brad help settle my usual hemming-and-hawing between the two; he shared that 52 had just been repaved, knowledge that never would have been accessible to me unless I knew a local cyclist! And although it was a less-direct and hillier route than US-1, we’d have no problem now that he’d given us a lift. It was totally the right recommendation: shoulderless but lightly-traveled, with the constant ups and downs just adding to the great day of New England fall riding.
The route led us in the back way, right into residential Camden, an upscale tourist town best known to us for Rett crashing down into a terrible night after a highlight day in 2016. No ill-advised hikes today, instead, we went directly to the house with the gorgeous garden-filled corner lot (the garage was filled with a layer of drying potatoes; I absolutely love the DGAF of growing front-yard potatoes in this neighborhood), and took Pete’s welcome to their guest room in their beautiful home (which I later learned he self-taught himself to build: the first of many inspiring traits!) Pete immediately made an observation I wish I was able to make: he noted Rett’s North Face culottes, and asked where she got them, thinking that his wife would really enjoy them on the bike. Noticing an article of clothing that someone is wearing, and then especially thinking of it in regards to someone outside myself, seems to not be in my DNA. And maybe it’s not in Pete’s either, and he just works hard it it, but that makes it even more something I should strive to. We got yet another outdoor shower opportunity in their backyard, though the 54 degree air temperature put it just on the edge of tolerable!
We walked into town to the small local grocery to pick up ingredients to make a giant Greek salad for ourselves, and then I took Pete’s invitation to join him upstairs for a beer and good conversation. He described an incredible WarmShowers experience he had in Montana that left him with the attitude of “how could we not pay it forward?” We really hope we’re able to do the same!