Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Quick Fix

Like a drug addict needing a fix, I take to the road Sunday on Blaze. With Andy in the lead we navigate a very long and circuitous route to Salem Massachusetts. Why Salem? Well to explain that one I’ll need a few words about motorcycling and adventure for those not particularly familiar with what makes a great ride.

For me a decent ride must include a number of factors. First, there has to be a decent number of miles. When a person is in dire need of a fix, a loop around the neighborhood just will not do. Second, when you reach the turn-around point, there should be something worthwhile to see to make the ride a good excuse. Of course one has to eat, so local fare is a necessity, and of course a stop for ice cream as well. Since we are in the midst of a heat wave, we think a cool breeze off the ocean will be just the ticket! So why Salem as a destination when there are plenty spots along the coastline to choose from? Why INK of course!

The heat has us dreaming of the beach, which is our first inclination. However, our original destination makes us think “traffic” and heat rising off the engine to roast us even more while stuck in it doesn’t seem appealing. Then Andy asks what National Park is near the shore where I can get another stamp in my National Park Passport book and with a quick look we notice Salem fit all the requirements for the day. This is now filling the first and second requirement of a decent ride according to the Pat scale of decent destination rides.

We head south on route 13 from Milford and then along 119. When I spot route 225 I decide I want to check this route out as it heads right to the office. I so deplore the route I take now, that options are always a good idea. This route proves to be a pleasant surprise and I am inclined to give it a try for my commute soon. From there we wiggle our way to Salem and arrive around noon. We find the Salem Maritime National Historic Site Welcome Center where I make sure to get my book stamped. In talking with the park ranger, we are made aware that for five bucks you can get several tours and a self guided tour of the merchant sailing vessel the Friendship. The next ranger tour begins at 1:15. Just time enough to satisfy another requirement. Food!

We passed an interesting eatery on the way to the Welcome Center so we backtrack to that spot for lunch. Capt’s Waterfront Grill and Pub has plenty of atmosphere and we are seated right near the keyboard player whom we enjoy while we wait for lunch. We both selected haddock of course, except Andy likes his fried, and I like mine baked. Then we wait, and wait some more. I say to Andy that the chef must have had to go fishing first, and as if on cue, our waiter arrived with apologies.
“Sorry. The chef had to catch it first.”
We have just enough time to swallow and make our way back for the first tour.

National Park tours are an underrated experience in my opinion. The Rangers do a fantastic job in recreating the period and seem to posses more knowledge about the subject than one would imagine. I am not disappointed. We tour the Customs House and two typical residences, one of a normal working class and the second of a prominent and successful period business man. In between, we board the Friendship, where Andy is promptly reprimanded for ringing the ships bell! This working ship is not to be used as a toy and Andy’s faux pas could have resulted in the crew thinking an emergency was at hand. Contrite and respectful, we continue on to inspect this replica in detail.

Riding home the breezes off the coast cool our flesh on the outside, and the stop at a seaside park for ice cream cools our insides. We sit quietly contemplating our existence beneath timeless willows as we watch the gulls dip and rise as the air currents take them. Andy finds a few roads that satisfy our need for twists and turns. Along one such stretch I could have sworn the sign read “Caution. Cheese Turns Ahead.” ( I have not been successful in finding such a sign explained in my internet search so I can’t really be sure what was printed. I do know that the little diagram was not a squiggle, but a depiction of the road ahead as at right angles to each other. Maybe it was just time for supper.)

Once in Lowell, we stop at Heritage Farm were the bike nights are held each Tuesday during the summer months. Being Sunday, we don’t expect a lot of bikes, but the place is hoping with activity. The Cambodian Festival is in full swing in the state park across the street. We eat our biker required diner style meal, enjoy the music and head for home. While this day proves a satisfying fix, like a quickie, you are left wanting to do it all over again.


Unknown said...

"Like a quickie, you're left wanting to do it all over again?" Thought you could slip that by huh? You're too funny. Sounds like you and Andy had a great day. Hope it ended with a quickie. Too funny.

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

The INK is slowly taking hold, just a bit further is Saugus Iron Works or St Gaudens in NH and Red Beach ME is just a hop up the highway.