Caryl and Brian's World Bike Tour

Panwal, ME to Shelburne, NS Canada

Back Home Up Next

 

Copyright (c) 1997 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.

Chapter 42 - Jul 28 to Aug 10, 1997 Panwal, ME to Shelburne, NS Canada 26,281 KM (16,294 MI) cumulative

Freeport, Maine is one odd town. Picture yourself riding along some quiet, treelined roads, up and down gently rolling hills, past tiny crossroad villages having not much more than 4 houses and a small store. Turn right, go over I95, and run smack into the rear end of not just one, but 3 Greyhound sized tour buses, all empty. A bit further on you come to these Disneyland spotless buildings all a kind of homogonized tan and gray supposed clapboard style looking like some town council slapped uniform design restrictions on all construction. Hundreds of people walked up and down the streets hands filled with shopping bags. More tour busses disgorged passengers continuing to add to the crowds on the streets. They're all there to visit those "factory outlet" stores that are supposed to have discounted prices but usually don't. They're all there, Dansk, Bennelton, The North Face, Danskin. The biggee, the store that started this whole mess is L.L. Bean. There's not just one, but three huge Bean stores, one devoted to kids stuff, the 4 floor retail store where everything is priced at catalogue value, and the supposed "factory store".

L.L. Bean sells very high quality outdoor clothing and equipment, much like REI, except that they also include fishing and hunting which REI avoids. However, everytime I've perused their catalogue I've always found their prices to be higher than REI, especially in light of the annual 10 to 11% REI members rebate, and definitly much, much higher than the Campmor catalogue which has the best prices of all, for new stuff that is. This day I had had my heart set on finally getting myself a good pair of Teva sandles to wear after riding. I'm tired of plastic, el cheapo flip flops. Normally the cheapest run around $40, which is far too much to justify at this time. So I was hoping, really hoping, we'd find their "factory" store" prices to be significantly lower as these were supposed to be seconds and returned items. In Cheyenne we discovered the Sierra Trading Post's factory outlet to have unbelievable prices. A pair of all leather Merrill hiking boots for $20, normally $100. Merrill walking shoes normally $50 were $10. La Fauna folding chairs normally $30 were $10. But, they didn't have any Tevas that fit. I'd hoped for something similar at LL Bean. Much to my dismay, LL Bean discounted prices were not that good at all. Perhaps only about 10 to 20% at most which brought their prices more in line with REI's. It was quite a disappointment. I've concluded if you absolutely have to have the LL Bean label, then you have to pay a premium price. If you want to save money and get somethign equivalent or even identical, go with REI, Campmor, or Sierra Trading Post.

We did stop for the night near Freeport at perhaps the most beautiful campsite we've had along the entire east coast including the Washington D.C. to Florida leg. The Flying Point campgrount is situated at the tip of a small penninsula with two bays on either side. When we arrived it was foggy and spitting just a light misty rain. The fog cleared, the sun came out, and the wind settled down leaving the water glassy smooth. Shores of the two coves were tree lined to water's edge, white sail boats floating at moorings were sprinkled around the water. With the water stilled the boats, birds, shoreline, and light whispy clouds drifting overhead produced perfect reflections in the dark green water. Our tent was perched on a cliff overlooking all this splendor. In the morning, the sky was filled with the pinks of the rising sun coming over the water. Camp was silent, only the sounds of a few birds broke the still. We hated to leave.

It was the day to finally meet another one of those great keypals we've been writing to for so long, via email, but had as yet to meet face-to-face. So from Bath we headed inland over another of those New England rolling roads enduring the busy Bath Iron Works traffic, to the crossroads village of Dresden, turned left into the driveway of one of those extended farmhouses so common in this area. Back in the 1700s many farmers built these small colonial houses with a barn next door. Over time they added onto the house, naturally toward the barn to make that walk in the winter shorter and shorter. Eventually the barn and house become one long, long house. Doris' house lies on a hill overlooking a peaceful pond surrounded by 200 acres of undeveloped land all owned by Doris. She and her late husband, Leslie, picked a gem of a spot.

We arrived to a full house alive with the clattering noise of many children and adults. Doris' grandaughter, Michelle, and husband, Allen, along with their two young children were visiting from California and her daughter, Rene, and son-in-law, Keith, had brought their 5 young kids over for a visit. The sound of toys rattling, computer games bleeping, children giggling, and adults jabbering filled the air. Sooon after we arrived up drove Doris, this little bit of a spitfire woman having far, far more energy than one half her 70+ years of age and twice her size. Wearing a long dress and bonnet she looked a bit odd at first. She'd been doing a volunteer day at the old fort nearby and is required to wear 1700s style clothing. Quickly changing into something more 20th century, she looked like your typical gramma one we could easily adopt. What a fabulous evening we had. Lobster, potatoe salad, bread, fresh razzelberries for dinner and lots and lots of conversation. In the morning, eggs with cheese and Doris' famous, mouthwatering blueberry muffins and, of course, more talk. Doris' hospitality and generosity were outstanding. I came away thinking if ever we settle down in a house again I want to be just like her, take in roaming bike tourists, give them good food, showers, warm beds, and send them on their way feeling as though they just visited home.

We returned to the coast at the quaint, but somewhat touristy harbor town of Wiscasset along a much easier to ride Rt 27 that had lots of traffic but beautiful 10 ft wide shoulders most of the way. We stayed to the coastal Rt 1 or side streets through towns hugging picturesque harbors dotted with boats and hundreds of tiny lobster trap locator bouys. Most towns had an eclectic variety of Victorian style buildings mixed with more modern edifices fancy, brick bank style buildings, boxy wood sided auto parts stores, 30s style business fronts. Businesses seemed to be predominantly art galleries, restaurants, gift shops, and tons of antique shops. It seems to me competition in the antique business would be a bit too stiff in this region. Shops with a bit more local flavor were the lobster trap shops with their half cylinder or rectangular shaped wood slat traps with the internal rope netting used to trap the lobsters and bullet shaped multicolored bouys looking like bullets that were scewered on a stick. The bouys of old were made of wood. Today, styrofoam. Every once in a while, as a joke, a store would build a human sized trap for photo opportunities, great place to keep the kids.

We had another keypal to visit just bit further down the road in the town of Lincolnville. Our association with Rob started with an unusual coincidence. Way back in May when we were driving the VW from the Grand Teaton Nationa Park to Virginia we happened to see a bike tourist out in the middle of one of those Wyoming roads. As a matter of course we had to stop to see if he needed anything. Through our conversation we learned that Rob lived in Maine, right on the coast, within a stones throw of the Adventure Cycling Association route. It is where the northern most east/west route and the east coast north/south route have joined. He inivited us to stop by when we got in his area, an offer we couldn't refuse.

Rob has got himself a little piece of heaven smack dab in the middle of the very touristy Maine coastline. Just off Rt. 1 he's got 10 acres fronting right on the rocky shoreline. The cabin just the perfect size with a tiny kitchen and bathroom, small bedroom, and a living room and deck that fronts entirely on the shore side. Steps away from the deck steps you find yourself scambling across rocks painted in stripes of white, black, brown, green, and finally the blue/green ocean water. The cabin is home to Rob, his wife Marcia, two dogs, two cats, and three bunnies. We spent the entire day just sitting on the deck admiring the view, riding down to the town to get a take-out seafood dinner, and crawling amongst the seaweed hunting for mussels. In not much more than a half hour we'd filled 2 buckets, plenty for 5 people, an extra guest arrived later, to gobble down for dinner and have some leftover for breakfast.

Rob, a tall lean man with very closely cropped graying hair, is a science teacher of sorts. He tells us his teaching technique tends to lean toward letting the kids choose a path of interest and he provides the guidance needed to get them to a destination. However, much of his teaching revolves around environmental issues. It is so refreshing to see an environmentalist type person who not only "talks the talk" but also "walks the walk." So many will talk about all that SHOULD be done but when push comes to shove they don't follow their own preaching. Not Rob. He's got students out taking water samples, making tests, and reporting the results to various labs all as volunteers. He rides his bike when ever possible, even in the coldest winter months over ice and snow. His cabin is being turned energy self sufficient, or as much as possible with the current addition of solar power and possible future addition of wind power. He lives what he speaks and we really admire that because it's not always easy and certainly not that cheap initially.

Marcia has got an easy going relaxed attitude that makes you feel so comfortable just curling up in a warm chair to read. I think it must come from her having been a true 1960s hippie living in a commune where you lived in absolute primitive conditions. No heat, no electricity, no water at the touch of a button. That experience seems to have taught her to take things one day and step at a time. No rush. Unlike Rob, she's not a traveler. She'd be content to spend her days enjoying their little bit of heaven on the coast, puttering in the garden or reading on the deck. So while Rob roams the world, Marcia takes care of the home front. She currently works for the Maine wellfare department and she was telling me about all the administrative nightmare they're going through with getting updated equipment and having to change the way wellfare works forever. She says it'll be tough at first, this new 5 years and that's it, no more money policy. But, in the long run she feels it'll break that dependency cycle. As with anything change is often so hard, but good in the long run.

After one day rest at Rob and Marcia's we had a mere 2 days ride to reach Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. The route spent some time on the horrible, heavily trafficed Rt 1. Occasionally it would loop off on a small country road passing closer to the coast. Amazingly just a few short blocks away from Rt 1 and the traffic nearly disappeared. It was the height of the tourist season. Campgrounds, inns, stores, and tourist towns were all humming and buzzing with the summer business in full swing. We managed to find ourselves a campsite in the crowded, but somewhat less bustling southwest side of Acadia and settled in for a few days. On August 5 we headed to Bar Harbor to officially finish what we call our perimeter tour of the continental U.S. It was completed 9 years to the day after we started it with our first coast-to-coast ride from Bellingham to Bar Harbor. As we look at our AAA USA map and all those black penned in lines representing our various bike routes, it's hard to believe just how much of the North American continent we have covered solely by pedal power. Yet, as we look at our world map, it's hard to believe how much there is left. But, we feel a satisfying sense of accomplishment at getting this far. The rest we'll just keep working on.

>From our previous visit we recall Bar Harbor as a quaint and quiet seaside village with several tourist related shops but not overly busy. The roads around Acadia had some traffic, but not too much. But, we have to remember, that was in October not the height of the tourist season. In August, what a difference. Sidewalks were jammed, traffic in town was bumper to bumper, out of town cars whizzed by every second. You couldn't go for a walk to the Bass Harbor lighthouse without feeling like you were in the parking lot just before a Chargers football game. People and crowds were everywhere. We decided to get out ASAP. It was too much for us to handle.

Our one question was, which way to go. One option was to continue north on the Maine Coast to St. Johns in New Brunswick, Canada. Then take a ferry to Nova Scotia, ride around there for a while, then return toward Quebec. The other option would be to take the ferry directly from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia. Each option had its pros and cons. The first allowed us to see the north Maine coast and the ferry from St. Johns was cheaper, but we'd have to ride through the big city of St. Johns. The second was a shorter overall distance and would let us see more of the Nova Scotia coast, but the ferry was much, much more expensive. The decision was finally made for us when we received a note from my father saying he wanted to pick us up in N.Y.on October 11, 5 days earlier than what we'd planned. So we needed to take the shorter route, the ferry from Bar Harbor. Rousing ourselves at the wee hour of 5AM we packed the bags and rode the 20 miles to catch that 8AM, 6 hour long ferry to Yarmouth, Canada.

For those of us who get horrifically seasick on large ferries the crossing was quite pleasant, smooth seas, sunny skies. We gently floated past the penninsulas marking the outer extremity of the bay to Yarmouth, past the ever vigilent Yarmouth lighthouse with its odd narrow base bellowing out into the oval shaped light top. Seagulls and other shore birds sqawked and fluttered from an odd island having nothing more than grass, birds, and skeletons of dead trees. After rolling off the boat, up the hill, and onto Main Street we were pleasantly surprised at the sharp contrast between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth. Bar Harbor is about as touristy as a town can get. Its streets are lined with shops selling the usual seashore type gifts, miniture ceramic lighthouses, model boats, tiny lobster pots, crystal fish, and plush stuffed whales, seals, and the ever popular puffins in sizes small, medium, and large. Every store that isn't selling trinkets is either selling fishing, whale watching, or puffin watching tours or is a restaurant selling overpriced lobster rolls. The streets are crowded, the sidewalks are crowded, the stores are crowded.

Yarmouth, on the other hand, is just barely touristy. There are perhaps three shops selling tourist trinkets, one selling Yarmouth woolen goods, and one lady selling paintings on the street. A couple of restaurants, two being pizza shops, and the businessses needed to support a normal, working town, banks, pharmacies, newsstands occupy the rest of the buildings. Once the traffic from the ferry disperses to points further east the town becomes quite pleasant and normal. You can spend the day taking the walking tour, looking at the exteriors of some of Canada's oldest buildings, stopping in at the Killam Bros. shipping office, now open as part of the yarmouth County Museum, gazing at paintings and models of sailing ships from Yarmouth's days as Canada's second largest port in the museum itself, or touring the Fuller house next door, yes this is the Fuller brush man. As an introduction to Nova Scotia, Yarmouth couldn't be a better choice.

Nova Scotia has an interesting history. The first people in the area were the Micmac Indians who suffered the same fate as all eastern Indians following the arrival of the Europeans. The first Europeans to settle the area were the French in 1604. They named the land Acadia meaning "peaceful land." They were soon followed by Scottish in 1621 and a land dispute errupted. Because the area had been claimed by the English explorer, Cabot, in 1497 the 1713 Treaty of Utretcht settled things by seeding Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick to the Scottish settlers and Cape Bretton Island to the French. Those French remaining in English territory who would not take a loyalty oath to Great Britan were expelled. Most moved to what is now the New Orleans area of Louisanna taking the name Acadians, later shortened to Cajun, with them. In the meantime colonists from the British Islands and New England flocked to Nova Scotia to fill in the void. This flood continued even after the revolution when "loyalists" escaping what would have been intolerable conditions in the states, came firse to Shelburne and then to the rest of the region. It would make sense that loyalists would not be looked upon too highly in the U.S. following the war. But as one woman told us, Nova Scotia was not just a haven for loyalists. On the one hand, they wanted to be loyal to the crown but on the other they depended upon trade with New England. So they really wanted to stay neutral, not an easy thing to do. Eventually with the British North American Act of 1867 Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton Island, was joined with New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec to become the nation of Canada. Prince Edward Isand was added in 1873 as the 7th province.

Much of Nova Scotia's early economy came from the seas in the form of fishing. But, as the American cities of Boston and Salem discovered, there was a whole bunch of money to be made through the triangle trade routes, Nova Scotia to Europe to Africa to the West Indies and back. Yarmouth, a small harbor, with a population of 10,000 became Canada's second largest shipping port, second only to St. Johns. Interestingly due to its small size many of the ships registered and owned by Yarmouth businesses rarely saw their home port. The world was their home as they traded from port to port only taking short leaves in Yarmouth. Unlike the U.S. which had to find other trade routes avoiding the West Indies following the revolution, Yarmouth continued to trade for West Indie molassas well into the late 1800s. Virtually all of it going to the U.S. again for production of rum.

As progress replaced the tall sailing ships with steamers and then with those huge diesel ships of today Yarmouth's importance in the shipping industry faded and disappeared all together. The Killam office, one of the last to operate in Yarmouth, closed its doors for good in the 1960s to become part of the Yarmouth County Museum. Yarmouth and much of Nova Scotia now consists of sleepy seaside villages surviving on an economy of tourism, fishing, some manufacturing and lumber industries.

The west side of the penninsula around Yarmouth has low rolling hills covered with short pines, blueberry bushes, and other short shrubs. The scraggly appearance of the pines reminded us of the permafrost regions of Alaska and the Yukon, yet we definitly weren't north enough for that. I suppose the severe winter weather tends to stunt the tree growth. The southern coastline is quite jagged, large inlets reaching several kilometers into the mainland provide great safe harbors for boats. These bays naturally lead to a booming ship building industry in the 1800s, the heyday of the wooden ships. There are two choices of roads to follow. Rt 103 bypasses the penninsulas and gives the shortest route to Halifax. Rt 3 snakes in and out around each of the penninsulas. If we were to ride Rt 3 to Halifax we'd more than double the total distance. So we had to pick and choose which small coastal towns we wanted to visit.

Nova Scotia has done an excellent job of preserving odds and ends of interesting historical goodies throughout the province. In Argyl there's Canada's oldest standing courthouse, in Barrington an 1800s meeting house and water driven woolen mill, in Shelburne an old dory building workshop and many early houses and stores. In fact Shelburne's waterfront looks so much like a town from days gone by it was selected as the site for the recent filming of the movie The Scarlet Letter. Several notebooks filled with photos show Hollywood's expertize at taking anything from the wrong century and making it fit the movie's time. A 20th century monument to men lost at sea is covered in a building, later burned in the movie. A 19th century house has an entire new front built around it. A garage becomes the front of a cabin with a pivoting door for the car. Streets were covered in dirt, pigs, horses, cows, and chickens were brought in and the result was an incredibly realistic looking 1800s town. Now we just gotta go rent the movie.

Our personal favorites were the old woolen mill and the dory shop. The woolen mill started operations in the early 1800s and actually continued on until, amazingly, 1962. The last owner finally quit due to lack of profitability and poor health. Having been still in operation so late there is an old movie showing all the machinery in use that is quite fascinating. Unfortunatly by this time the shop was only making wool yarns, not cloth. So the film only showed the automated steps used for producing the yarn. Turning tufts of wool all knotted together after being sheared off the back of sheep into soft yarn is a multi step process. First it's washed in a big tub to remove sticks, stones, dirt, and other sheep related stuff. It is then carded, a process where all the knotted fibers are untangled and made reasnably parallel. By hand this is done with two boards covered with nails. You simply brush the wool between the boards making the fibers smooth. Takes forever to do a reasonable amount. In the woolen mill there were three machines having large rollers covered with these knobs. Pass the wool through all three machines and, voila, it's carded. The next step is to twist the fibers together, adding more as you go along, to make a single long strand. That's what the spinning wheels did. The machine for this was fascinating. It could wind 250 spools of yarn in one shot. It consisted of two long separate arms. On one was the unspun wool. On the other, the spools. The yarn master would string wool between the two. Then the side with the spools would pull back about 4 ft dragging strands of wool out like long white, fuzzy strands of spaghetti. The spools would twist one way twisting the fibers together. Then with a shift of wires the entire assmebly would move forward while the spools wrapped the yarn on. The process would be repeated. A great innovation for its time, we found it to be far too labor intensive. I'm sure nowadays the dirty wool is simply stuffed into one end of a gigantic machine and out the other end comes yarn, dyed and ready to go. No human handling. The water wheel would have been used to power the looms to make cloth. Normally it would be functioning. But with the recent droughts, there simply wasn't enough water flow for it to work.

A dory is a wooden row boat with a flat bottom and tapering sides. They were used extensively for fishing and then later as life boats until steel, fiberglass, and inflatible boats took their place. The dory manufacturing shop in Shelburne started operation in 1917 and continued to 1971. It was three stories high, storage on the top, manufacturing in the middle, and painting plus finishing on the ground floor. What was particularly neat about this museum was the profile they did on one of the original dory builders, Sidney Mahaney. He started as a young lad working in this shop when it first opened. As an apprentice he started with the task of painting, chopping wood, and other menial jobs. Eventually he graduated to making the templates, cutting the wood, and doing the assembly. He continued making dories right up until the shop closed in 1971. But, he was still alive when the old building was renovated into a museum in 1983. His love for making dories was so strong he became a fixture in the museum twice a week making more of his beloved boats right up to his death in 1993 at age 96. A film is shown where he was interviewed not too long before his death. The commentator asks "How many dories have you made?" "Over 10,000." "Isn't that enough?" "It's in my blood. I just want to make one more dory." There are several dories in the museum that will always remain there having the Sidney Mahaney signature.

Appendix A - Route

Maine

Pownal, Freeport, Brunswick, Cooks Corner, Bah, Dresden Mills, Wiscasset, New Castle, Damariscota, Waldoboro. Warren, Rockport, Camden, Lincolnville, Northport, E. Northport, Belfast, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Bucksport, Orland, E. Orland, Surry, E. Surry, Ellsworth, W. Trenton, Somesville, S.W. Harbor, Manset, Seawall, Bar Harbor, Ferry to Yarmouth

Nova Scotia

Rt 3 and 103 to Shelburne

Appendix B - Campsites and hotels

Maine

Flying Point Campground in Freeport ($), Doris' house in Dresdin, Duck Puddle Campground near Waldoboro ($), Rob Lovell's house near Lincolnville 2 nights, Whispering Pines Campground at E. Orland ($), Seawal Campground Acadia Nat'l Park 3 nights ($)

Nova Scotia

Lomer's Camper Haven near Yarmouth 2 nights($), Bayberry Campground near Barington ($), Islands Provincial Park 2 nights ($), Thomas Kaddall Prov Park ($), Rissers Beach Prov Park ($)

($) indicates fee camping

Acknowledgments

First, we'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.

We'd also like to thank the following folks for their generous support:

JANDD Mountaineering Inc for donating great bike bags and racks Wendy Strutin for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site, http://www.ot.com/~strutin Coleman Inc. makers of fine outdoors equipment White Lightning, makers of great self cleaning chain lubricants TREK Bicycle Manufacturing Inc, makers of sturdy MTBs

Newsletter 42

Date: Sat, 16 Aug 1997 22:57:21 -0400

In-Reply-To: <199708162005_mc2-1d58-1b43@compuserve.com>

2nine years finally finish the U.S. perimeter Sail to the quiet Nova Scotia Learn loyalist history from a different side Explore old woolen mills, dory workshops, meeting houses

Copyright (c) 1997 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.

Chapter 42 - Jul 28 to Aug 10, 1997 Panwal, ME to Shelburne, NS Canada 26,281 KM (16,294 MI) cumulative

Freeport, Maine is one odd town. Picture yourself riding along some quiet, treelined roads, up and down gently rolling hills, past tiny crossroad villages having not much more than 4 houses and a small store. Turn right, go over I95, and run smack into the rear end of not just one, but 3 Greyhound sized tour buses, all empty. A bit further on you come to these Disneyland spotless buildings all a kind of homogonized tan and gray supposed clapboard style looking like some town council slapped uniform design restrictions on all construction. Hundreds of people walked up and down the streets hands filled with shopping bags. More tour busses disgorged passengers continuing to add to the crowds on the streets. They're all there to visit those "factory outlet" stores that are supposed to have discounted prices but usually don't. They're all there, Dansk, Bennelton, The North Face, Danskin. The biggee, the store that started this whole mess is L.L. Bean. There's not just one, but three huge Bean stores, one devoted to kids stuff, the 4 floor retail store where everything is priced at catalogue value, and the supposed "factory store".

L.L. Bean sells very high quality outdoor clothing and equipment, much like REI, except that they also include fishing and hunting which REI avoids. However, everytime I've perused their catalogue I've always found their prices to be higher than REI, especially in light of the annual 10 to 11% REI members rebate, and definitly much, much higher than the Campmor catalogue which has the best prices of all, for new stuff that is. This day I had had my heart set on finally getting myself a good pair of Teva sandles to wear after riding. I'm tired of plastic, el cheapo flip flops. Normally the cheapest run around $40, which is far too much to justify at this time. So I was hoping, really hoping, we'd find their "factory" store" prices to be significantly lower as these were supposed to be seconds and returned items. In Cheyenne we discovered the Sierra Trading Post's factory outlet to have unbelievable prices. A pair of all leather Merrill hiking boots for $20, normally $100. Merrill walking shoes normally $50 were $10. La Fauna folding chairs normally $30 were $10. But, they didn't have any Tevas that fit. I'd hoped for something similar at LL Bean. Much to my dismay, LL Bean discounted prices were not that good at all. Perhaps only about 10 to 20% at most which brought their prices more in line with REI's. It was quite a disappointment. I've concluded if you absolutely have to have the LL Bean label, then you have to pay a premium price. If you want to save money and get somethign equivalent or even identical, go with REI, Campmor, or Sierra Trading Post.

We did stop for the night near Freeport at perhaps the most beautiful campsite we've had along the entire east coast including the Washington D.C. to Florida leg. The Flying Point campgrount is situated at the tip of a small penninsula with two bays on either side. When we arrived it was foggy and spitting just a light misty rain. The fog cleared, the sun came out, and the wind settled down leaving the water glassy smooth. Shores of the two coves were tree lined to water's edge, white sail boats floating at moorings were sprinkled around the water. With the water stilled the boats, birds, shoreline, and light whispy clouds drifting overhead produced perfect reflections in the dark green water. Our tent was perched on a cliff overlooking all this splendor. In the morning, the sky was filled with the pinks of the rising sun coming over the water. Camp was silent, only the sounds of a few birds broke the still. We hated to leave.

It was the day to finally meet another one of those great keypals we've been writing to for so long, via email, but had as yet to meet face-to-face. So from Bath we headed inland over another of those New England rolling roads enduring the busy Bath Iron Works traffic, to the crossroads village of Dresden, turned left into the driveway of one of those extended farmhouses so common in this area. Back in the 1700s many farmers built these small colonial houses with a barn next door. Over time they added onto the house, naturally toward the barn to make that walk in the winter shorter and shorter. Eventually the barn and house become one long, long house. Doris' house lies on a hill overlooking a peaceful pond surrounded by 200 acres of undeveloped land all owned by Doris. She and her late husband, Leslie, picked a gem of a spot.

We arrived to a full house alive with the clattering noise of many children and adults. Doris' grandaughter, Michelle, and husband, Allen, along with their two young children were visiting from California and her daughter, Rene, and son-in-law, Keith, had brought their 5 young kids over for a visit. The sound of toys rattling, computer games bleeping, children giggling, and adults jabbering filled the air. Sooon after we arrived up drove Doris, this little bit of a spitfire woman having far, far more energy than one half her 70+ years of age and twice her size. Wearing a long dress and bonnet she looked a bit odd at first. She'd been doing a volunteer day at the old fort nearby and is required to wear 1700s style clothing. Quickly changing into something more 20th century, she looked like your typical gramma one we could easily adopt. What a fabulous evening we had. Lobster, potatoe salad, bread, fresh razzelberries for dinner and lots and lots of conversation. In the morning, eggs with cheese and Doris' famous, mouthwatering blueberry muffins and, of course, more talk. Doris' hospitality and generosity were outstanding. I came away thinking if ever we settle down in a house again I want to be just like her, take in roaming bike tourists, give them good food, showers, warm beds, and send them on their way feeling as though they just visited home.

We returned to the coast at the quaint, but somewhat touristy harbor town of Wiscasset along a much easier to ride Rt 27 that had lots of traffic but beautiful 10 ft wide shoulders most of the way. We stayed to the coastal Rt 1 or side streets through towns hugging picturesque harbors dotted with boats and hundreds of tiny lobster trap locator bouys. Most towns had an eclectic variety of Victorian style buildings mixed with more modern edifices fancy, brick bank style buildings, boxy wood sided auto parts stores, 30s style business fronts. Businesses seemed to be predominantly art galleries, restaurants, gift shops, and tons of antique shops. It seems to me competition in the antique business would be a bit too stiff in this region. Shops with a bit more local flavor were the lobster trap shops with their half cylinder or rectangular shaped wood slat traps with the internal rope netting used to trap the lobsters and bullet shaped multicolored bouys looking like bullets that were scewered on a stick. The bouys of old were made of wood. Today, styrofoam. Every once in a while, as a joke, a store would build a human sized trap for photo opportunities, great place to keep the kids.

We had another keypal to visit just bit further down the road in the town of Lincolnville. Our association with Rob started with an unusual coincidence. Way back in May when we were driving the VW from the Grand Teaton Nationa Park to Virginia we happened to see a bike tourist out in the middle of one of those Wyoming roads. As a matter of course we had to stop to see if he needed anything. Through our conversation we learned that Rob lived in Maine, right on the coast, within a stones throw of the Adventure Cycling Association route. It is where the northern most east/west route and the east coast north/south route have joined. He inivited us to stop by when we got in his area, an offer we couldn't refuse.

Rob has got himself a little piece of heaven smack dab in the middle of the very touristy Maine coastline. Just off Rt. 1 he's got 10 acres fronting right on the rocky shoreline. The cabin just the perfect size with a tiny kitchen and bathroom, small bedroom, and a living room and deck that fronts entirely on the shore side. Steps away from the deck steps you find yourself scambling across rocks painted in stripes of white, black, brown, green, and finally the blue/green ocean water. The cabin is home to Rob, his wife Marcia, two dogs, two cats, and three bunnies. We spent the entire day just sitting on the deck admiring the view, riding down to the town to get a take-out seafood dinner, and crawling amongst the seaweed hunting for mussels. In not much more than a half hour we'd filled 2 buckets, plenty for 5 people, an extra guest arrived later, to gobble down for dinner and have some leftover for breakfast.

Rob, a tall lean man with very closely cropped graying hair, is a science teacher of sorts. He tells us his teaching technique tends to lean toward letting the kids choose a path of interest and he provides the guidance needed to get them to a destination. However, much of his teaching revolves around environmental issues. It is so refreshing to see an environmentalist type person who not only "talks the talk" but also "walks the walk." So many will talk about all that SHOULD be done but when push comes to shove they don't follow their own preaching. Not Rob. He's got students out taking water samples, making tests, and reporting the results to various labs all as volunteers. He rides his bike when ever possible, even in the coldest winter months over ice and snow. His cabin is being turned energy self sufficient, or as much as possible with the current addition of solar power and possible future addition of wind power. He lives what he speaks and we really admire that because it's not always easy and certainly not that cheap initially.

Marcia has got an easy going relaxed attitude that makes you feel so comfortable just curling up in a warm chair to read. I think it must come from her having been a true 1960s hippie living in a commune where you lived in absolute primitive conditions. No heat, no electricity, no water at the touch of a button. That experience seems to have taught her to take things one day and step at a time. No rush. Unlike Rob, she's not a traveler. She'd be content to spend her days enjoying their little bit of heaven on the coast, puttering in the garden or reading on the deck. So while Rob roams the world, Marcia takes care of the home front. She currently works for the Maine wellfare department and she was telling me about all the administrative nightmare they're going through with getting updated equipment and having to change the way wellfare works forever. She says it'll be tough at first, this new 5 years and that's it, no more money policy. But, in the long run she feels it'll break that dependency cycle. As with anything change is often so hard, but good in the long run.

After one day rest at Rob and Marcia's we had a mere 2 days ride to reach Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. The route spent some time on the horrible, heavily trafficed Rt 1. Occasionally it would loop off on a small country road passing closer to the coast. Amazingly just a few short blocks away from Rt 1 and the traffic nearly disappeared. It was the height of the tourist season. Campgrounds, inns, stores, and tourist towns were all humming and buzzing with the summer business in full swing. We managed to find ourselves a campsite in the crowded, but somewhat less bustling southwest side of Acadia and settled in for a few days. On August 5 we headed to Bar Harbor to officially finish what we call our perimeter tour of the continental U.S. It was completed 9 years to the day after we started it with our first coast-to-coast ride from Bellingham to Bar Harbor. As we look at our AAA USA map and all those black penned in lines representing our various bike routes, it's hard to believe just how much of the North American continent we have covered solely by pedal power. Yet, as we look at our world map, it's hard to believe how much there is left. But, we feel a satisfying sense of accomplishment at getting this far. The rest we'll just keep working on.

>From our previous visit we recall Bar Harbor as a quaint and quiet seaside village with several tourist related shops but not overly busy. The roads around Acadia had some traffic, but not too much. But, we have to remember, that was in October not the height of the tourist season. In August, what a difference. Sidewalks were jammed, traffic in town was bumper to bumper, out of town cars whizzed by every second. You couldn't go for a walk to the Bass Harbor lighthouse without feeling like you were in the parking lot just before a Chargers football game. People and crowds were everywhere. We decided to get out ASAP. It was too much for us to handle.

Our one question was, which way to go. One option was to continue north on the Maine Coast to St. Johns in New Brunswick, Canada. Then take a ferry to Nova Scotia, ride around there for a while, then return toward Quebec. The other option would be to take the ferry directly from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia. Each option had its pros and cons. The first allowed us to see the north Maine coast and the ferry from St. Johns was cheaper, but we'd have to ride through the big city of St. Johns. The second was a shorter overall distance and would let us see more of the Nova Scotia coast, but the ferry was much, much more expensive. The decision was finally made for us when we received a note from my father saying he wanted to pick us up in N.Y.on October 11, 5 days earlier than what we'd planned. So we needed to take the shorter route, the ferry from Bar Harbor. Rousing ourselves at the wee hour of 5AM we packed the bags and rode the 20 miles to catch that 8AM, 6 hour long ferry to Yarmouth, Canada.

For those of us who get horrifically seasick on large ferries the crossing was quite pleasant, smooth seas, sunny skies. We gently floated past the penninsulas marking the outer extremity of the bay to Yarmouth, past the ever vigilent Yarmouth lighthouse with its odd narrow base bellowing out into the oval shaped light top. Seagulls and other shore birds sqawked and fluttered from an odd island having nothing more than grass, birds, and skeletons of dead trees. After rolling off the boat, up the hill, and onto Main Street we were pleasantly surprised at the sharp contrast between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth. Bar Harbor is about as touristy as a town can get. Its streets are lined with shops selling the usual seashore type gifts, miniture ceramic lighthouses, model boats, tiny lobster pots, crystal fish, and plush stuffed whales, seals, and the ever popular puffins in sizes small, medium, and large. Every store that isn't selling trinkets is either selling fishing, whale watching, or puffin watching tours or is a restaurant selling overpriced lobster rolls. The streets are crowded, the sidewalks are crowded, the stores are crowded.

Yarmouth, on the other hand, is just barely touristy. There are perhaps three shops selling tourist trinkets, one selling Yarmouth woolen goods, and one lady selling paintings on the street. A couple of restaurants, two being pizza shops, and the businessses needed to support a normal, working town, banks, pharmacies, newsstands occupy the rest of the buildings. Once the traffic from the ferry disperses to points further east the town becomes quite pleasant and normal. You can spend the day taking the walking tour, looking at the exteriors of some of Canada's oldest buildings, stopping in at the Killam Bros. shipping office, now open as part of the yarmouth County Museum, gazing at paintings and models of sailing ships from Yarmouth's days as Canada's second largest port in the museum itself, or touring the Fuller house next door, yes this is the Fuller brush man. As an introduction to Nova Scotia, Yarmouth couldn't be a better choice.

Nova Scotia has an interesting history. The first people in the area were the Micmac Indians who suffered the same fate as all eastern Indians following the arrival of the Europeans. The first Europeans to settle the area were the French in 1604. They named the land Acadia meaning "peaceful land." They were soon followed by Scottish in 1621 and a land dispute errupted. Because the area had been claimed by the English explorer, Cabot, in 1497 the 1713 Treaty of Utretcht settled things by seeding Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick to the Scottish settlers and Cape Bretton Island to the French. Those French remaining in English territory who would not take a loyalty oath to Great Britan were expelled. Most moved to what is now the New Orleans area of Louisanna taking the name Acadians, later shortened to Cajun, with them. In the meantime colonists from the British Islands and New England flocked to Nova Scotia to fill in the void. This flood continued even after the revolution when "loyalists" escaping what would have been intolerable conditions in the states, came firse to Shelburne and then to the rest of the region. It would make sense that loyalists would not be looked upon too highly in the U.S. following the war. But as one woman told us, Nova Scotia was not just a haven for loyalists. On the one hand, they wanted to be loyal to the crown but on the other they depended upon trade with New England. So they really wanted to stay neutral, not an easy thing to do. Eventually with the British North American Act of 1867 Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton Island, was joined with New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec to become the nation of Canada. Prince Edward Isand was added in 1873 as the 7th province.

Much of Nova Scotia's early economy came from the seas in the form of fishing. But, as the American cities of Boston and Salem discovered, there was a whole bunch of money to be made through the triangle trade routes, Nova Scotia to Europe to Africa to the West Indies and back. Yarmouth, a small harbor, with a population of 10,000 became Canada's second largest shipping port, second only to St. Johns. Interestingly due to its small size many of the ships registered and owned by Yarmouth businesses rarely saw their home port. The world was their home as they traded from port to port only taking short leaves in Yarmouth. Unlike the U.S. which had to find other trade routes avoiding the West Indies following the revolution, Yarmouth continued to trade for West Indie molassas well into the late 1800s. Virtually all of it going to the U.S. again for production of rum.

As progress replaced the tall sailing ships with steamers and then with those huge diesel ships of today Yarmouth's importance in the shipping industry faded and disappeared all together. The Killam office, one of the last to operate in Yarmouth, closed its doors for good in the 1960s to become part of the Yarmouth County Museum. Yarmouth and much of Nova Scotia now consists of sleepy seaside villages surviving on an economy of tourism, fishing, some manufacturing and lumber industries.

The west side of the penninsula around Yarmouth has low rolling hills covered with short pines, blueberry bushes, and other short shrubs. The scraggly appearance of the pines reminded us of the permafrost regions of Alaska and the Yukon, yet we definitly weren't north enough for that. I suppose the severe winter weather tends to stunt the tree growth. The southern coastline is quite jagged, large inlets reaching several kilometers into the mainland provide great safe harbors for boats. These bays naturally lead to a booming ship building industry in the 1800s, the heyday of the wooden ships. There are two choices of roads to follow. Rt 103 bypasses the penninsulas and gives the shortest route to Halifax. Rt 3 snakes in and out around each of the penninsulas. If we were to ride Rt 3 to Halifax we'd more than double the total distance. So we had to pick and choose which small coastal towns we wanted to visit.

Nova Scotia has done an excellent job of preserving odds and ends of interesting historical goodies throughout the province. In Argyl there's Canada's oldest standing courthouse, in Barrington an 1800s meeting house and water driven woolen mill, in Shelburne an old dory building workshop and many early houses and stores. In fact Shelburne's waterfront looks so much like a town from days gone by it was selected as the site for the recent filming of the movie The Scarlet Letter. Several notebooks filled with photos show Hollywood's expertize at taking anything from the wrong century and making it fit the movie's time. A 20th century monument to men lost at sea is covered in a building, later burned in the movie. A 19th century house has an entire new front built around it. A garage becomes the front of a cabin with a pivoting door for the car. Streets were covered in dirt, pigs, horses, cows, and chickens were brought in and the result was an incredibly realistic looking 1800s town. Now we just gotta go rent the movie.

Our personal favorites were the old woolen mill and the dory shop. The woolen mill started operations in the early 1800s and actually continued on until, amazingly, 1962. The last owner finally quit due to lack of profitability and poor health. Having been still in operation so late there is an old movie showing all the machinery in use that is quite fascinating. Unfortunatly by this time the shop was only making wool yarns, not cloth. So the film only showed the automated steps used for producing the yarn. Turning tufts of wool all knotted together after being sheared off the back of sheep into soft yarn is a multi step process. First it's washed in a big tub to remove sticks, stones, dirt, and other sheep related stuff. It is then carded, a process where all the knotted fibers are untangled and made reasnably parallel. By hand this is done with two boards covered with nails. You simply brush the wool between the boards making the fibers smooth. Takes forever to do a reasonable amount. In the woolen mill there were three machines having large rollers covered with these knobs. Pass the wool through all three machines and, voila, it's carded. The next step is to twist the fibers together, adding more as you go along, to make a single long strand. That's what the spinning wheels did. The machine for this was fascinating. It could wind 250 spools of yarn in one shot. It consisted of two long separate arms. On one was the unspun wool. On the other, the spools. The yarn master would string wool between the two. Then the side with the spools would pull back about 4 ft dragging strands of wool out like long white, fuzzy strands of spaghetti. The spools would twist one way twisting the fibers together. Then with a shift of wires the entire assmebly would move forward while the spools wrapped the yarn on. The process would be repeated. A great innovation for its time, we found it to be far too labor intensive. I'm sure nowadays the dirty wool is simply stuffed into one end of a gigantic machine and out the other end comes yarn, dyed and ready to go. No human handling. The water wheel would have been used to power the looms to make cloth. Normally it would be functioning. But with the recent droughts, there simply wasn't enough water flow for it to work.

A dory is a wooden row boat with a flat bottom and tapering sides. They were used extensively for fishing and then later as life boats until steel, fiberglass, and inflatible boats took their place. The dory manufacturing shop in Shelburne started operation in 1917 and continued to 1971. It was three stories high, storage on the top, manufacturing in the middle, and painting plus finishing on the ground floor. What was particularly neat about this museum was the profile they did on one of the original dory builders, Sidney Mahaney. He started as a young lad working in this shop when it first opened. As an apprentice he started with the task of painting, chopping wood, and other menial jobs. Eventually he graduated to making the templates, cutting the wood, and doing the assembly. He continued making dories right up until the shop closed in 1971. But, he was still alive when the old building was renovated into a museum in 1983. His love for making dories was so strong he became a fixture in the museum twice a week making more of his beloved boats right up to his death in 1993 at age 96. A film is shown where he was interviewed not too long before his death. The commentator asks "How many dories have you made?" "Over 10,000." "Isn't that enough?" "It's in my blood. I just want to make one more dory." There are several dories in the museum that will always remain there having the Sidney Mahaney signature.

Appendix A - Route

Maine

Pownal, Freeport, Brunswick, Cooks Corner, Bah, Dresden Mills, Wiscasset, New Castle, Damariscota, Waldoboro. Warren, Rockport, Camden, Lincolnville, Northport, E. Northport, Belfast, Searsport, Stockton Springs, Bucksport, Orland, E. Orland, Surry, E. Surry, Ellsworth, W. Trenton, Somesville, S.W. Harbor, Manset, Seawall, Bar Harbor, Ferry to Yarmouth

Nova Scotia

Rt 3 and 103 to Shelburne

Appendix B - Campsites and hotels

Maine

Flying Point Campground in Freeport ($), Doris' house in Dresdin, Duck Puddle Campground near Waldoboro ($), Rob Lovell's house near Lincolnville 2 nights, Whispering Pines Campground at E. Orland ($), Seawal Campground Acadia Nat'l Park 3 nights ($)

Nova Scotia

Lomer's Camper Haven near Yarmouth 2 nights($), Bayberry Campground near Barington ($), Islands Provincial Park 2 nights ($), Thomas Kaddall Prov Park ($), Rissers Beach Prov Park ($)

($) indicates fee camping

 

Copyright 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.

Acknowledgements

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We'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.

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Wendy Strutin Riedy for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site, http://outthereliving.com


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