Friday, July 27, 2007

Travel Day Five, Thursday, July 26, 2007

The day begins with eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. We remark to each other how we can only seem to find this type of breakfast in Vermont. With full stomachs we set out about 10:30. Andy picks up 114 north toward the Canadian border. The route turns east at the border. The road is rough, but the country side is pleasant. The smell of pine is strong and sharp in the air. The sky is clear and it’s already a hot day. Despite the rough road it affords plenty of twists and turns to make up for the bumps and ruts.
At the New Hampshire line, 114 connect with route 3. Here we head north once again. I can tell that Andy is intent of seeing the three Connecticut Lakes we missed a few weeks ago, when we were distracted at the Blessing of the Bikes in Colebrook. There are few cars along this stretch and the weather gods have been good to us. Suddenly, a deer pops into view. This one seems more intent on leaping across the roadway than the one we encountered in New York. We slow almost to a stop. It’s a doe, and she doesn’t like the look of us at all, and turns tail back into the woods. We continue north, enjoying the lakes, the smell of the pines and the warm sun on our bodies.
We reach the border around noon. We stop to take some photos. At this point Andy is trying to decide where to take me next. He looks at his trusty map. There is no easy way to Maine except through Canada. What the heck, let’s go for it. The border guard looks bored as he asks for our driver’s license. He does the usual routine. Andy tries pleasant chit chat about how it’s nice that we don’t need the passport yet. This sends the man into a diatribe about George. He finally stops himself and is helpful with directions to Maine, which confirms our plan from the map. We collect our licenses and take our leave.
We head out and pick up speed and as we reach the first crest, I am unprepared for the drop into Chartierville. I’m dropping like a rock and desperately trying to kick it down a few gears, while the ruts in the road are trying to pry the grips right out of my hands. I have a few tense moments, but get the bike to manageable speed and better able to watch for the rough spots.
Chartierville is where my grandmother was born and raised. As we ride through the small town, I notice the church and imagine this is most likely where she was baptized. I wonder if she missed home once she moved to the States? It is certainly a small farming community. I still have relatives here somewhere, still working the same farm.
We soon take our leave of Chartierville, and turn right on route 161 east. The roads here again take me by surprise. The only thing I can relate them to is Six Flags. The road is like a giant roller coaster. Up, up, up one side and down, down, down the other. When you get to the rise of one, you can see clear across the straight stretch of road for miles. I can’t imagine what these folks do in the winter. If you ever make it up one icy side, there must be hell to pay trying to get to the bottom.
At route 27 we head south to the States and stop at the border check. This boarder guard is a woman and much more friendly. She asks us the usual questions, like what we did, where we stopped, and where we were born. She inspects our license plates and seems amused. I don’t care what she imagines about us as long as I get back into the US. All goes well and we are allowed into the state of Maine. Route 27 is quiet for a long stretch, with nothing much along the roadside. The lakes are glinting and sparkling in the sunlight. It isn’t quiet for long. We are soon joined by logging trucks and tankers. The tankers cause me intestinal cramps a couple of times as it seems they can’t decide which side of the road to occupy. Their tail wind isn’t too pleasant either. We stop at the first convenience store we come too for lunch. Its 2:00 and I call the girls while I eat a premade sandwich. The girls are getting together to celebrate my middle daughter’s birthday. Her birthday is tomorrow, but she has today off. They are planning to take the grandkids to have them photographed together. Grandma is looking forward to a copy of that! We chat a few moments and disconnect. I polish off my lunch and we head out.
From 27 we connect with 142. There isn’t much company on this road either, but the riding is enjoyable. This is turning into a full riding day and no one is complaining. The weather is perfect for joy riding. From 142 we pick up route 4 that eventually connects us with route 16. There are plenty of warning signs about moose and we are not long on the road when a trucker coming in the opposite direction is honking. We have no idea what that is about, but we slow thinking maybe moose have been spotted. We never see any moose, and instead enjoy this part of route 16 which neither of us has ever traveled before.
It’s 5:30 when we reach the New Hampshire line. The route continues to be pleasant, and we spot many people enjoying the river, swimming or boating. There are a number of fly fishermen too. We reach Berlin about 6:45 and it’s time for gas. I haven’t been to Berlin since I was a kid. They’ve fixed the place up since last I was here. The woman at the station suggests we head to Gorham for a room. We do, and are off the road by 7:00. Andy takes a dip in the pool while I try to connect to their imaginary wireless. I’m able to connect for a few minutes, but the connection drags and I soon lose it altogether. I give up and we go eat Chinese next door. All told, we put 250 miles of great roads under our belts.

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