37.1 mi / 11.2 mph / 1200 ft. climbing
Home: Travelers Inn
Our nomadic life has always been filled with a lot more non-riding days than the average “bike tourer”. Over the 377 days of our nomadacy thus far, we’ve moved forward on our bicycles on only 164 of them, less than 44%. But now we are looking at our longest planned time off the bike by far: six months! While we fully plan to continue riding again in April, that’s a long enough time period to cause any plan to change. So on the unlikely-but-non-zero chance that this is our last day of “bike touring”, let’s make it a good one!
Once again we had another perfect sunny fall day, retroactively confirming our choice to hightail it out of less-climactically-friendly Nova Scotia. Most of the day was on US-1, but we again had the time/distance budget to allow us to take some slightly-less-direct minor roads, as Rett has generally decided lately that the tradeoff is worth it. Especially so in this case, where we passed alongside a friendly group of two horses and a pony, and we finally happened to be carrying some carrots for Rett to bribe them with.
At mid-morning we pulled into a gas station for a snack, and Rett sent me inside to get something for her, which I always dread a bit because it’s easy for me to choose something that she won’t be interested in at that moment. This time, I immediately laughed when I walked in the door (and then the women inside laughed along with me when I explained): sitting right there, next to the cash register, was a tray of pumpkin muffins, something I knew Rett would definitely be excited to eat. I thanked the ladies for making my life so easy today!
While eating, I noticed a building next door named “Mexicali Blues”. Interested why a place in Maine would be named after Baja border city on the absolute opposite end of the country, I looked it up, and saw that they were a clothing store, and the “Magic Skirt” was their main product. It turns out Rett had been looking at this exact thing online (with no idea that it was a Maine-based business), as a slightly-more-structured upgrade from the multi-use sarong/pareo she had learned the value of in….Baja! So rather than ordering one, she obviously had to stop in. Turns out the store is named after a Grateful Dead song, and it’s a total hippie shop, with the Magic Skirts being constructed out of used Indian saris. That means every one is unique, so picking one out in person is definitely the best way to go about it. Rett came away with a particularly Halloween-adjacent one. It’s quite rare to ride across anything that’s a surprise to me, given how carefully I plot our routes, but it was especially wild for this to happen at this isolated outpost along an otherwise-lonely forested Maine highway!
We crossed a wide river into the small town of Wiscasset, where we skipped a popular lobster shack for the second time in eight years, and continued out of town to a Shaw’s grocery store instead (somehow it seems like “retail outposts in the middle of nowhere between towns” has become a thing around here). Lorie, the friendly woman at the checkout pulled our story of our most-reused reusable bags out of us, and in return, gifted us a couple of brand new reusable bags!
At most large grocery stores, the asphalt of the parking lot out front reaches tendrils along the sides of the building and wraps around the back, where dumpsters sit dribbling soured milk across that impermeable surface, roaring trucks make their deliveries, and bundles of crushed cardboard waste sit stacked waiting to be hauled off. But somehow at this Shaw’s, the 20-foot gap between its walls and the surrounding green leafy forest(!) was filled with nothing but green lawn. What a pleasant place to set up our chairs and assemble our relaxing (almost-as-good-as-lobster) lunch.
Another river crossing brought us into Bath, and that was unfortunately the end of our country-road riding, with a linear suburb somehow sprawling across the mostly-forested space between the compact towns of Bath and Brunswick.
On the way to our motel in Brunswick, we went past the Amtrak station, so we peeked in make sure we wouldn’t have any surprises boarding the train tomorrow morning. Then a half-mile from the motel, we hit an intersection where we had to stop, and Rett didn’t feel like starting the bike again, so we walked the rest of the way. I was a bit disappointed, because I was hoping that future-Rett would be able to go back and read the final sentence of this chapter of our riding to remind her what a confident and successful bike rider she was. And instead the particular sentence that got written could allow some doubt to creep back. But seen from a wider view, the day’s riding was a huge success, both with Rett’s riding skill and comfort, and with the overall quality of the day. We both hope that the end of this chapter isn’t the end of the book, but if it is, it shouldn’t make us sad whenever we go back to read it.