Sunday, June 29, 2008

Day 1: Powered by Ignorance

We're back to Chicago now just 4 hours after a glorious, challenging, hilly, rejuvenating, and -- if I can slide into earnestness for just a second -- life-affirming cycling trek through coastal Maine. Rather than trying to lodge all the worthy details into a single entry, I thought I might record my travel journal entries from each day of the trip. Ideally I'll post one per day for the next 8 days, but be patient with me if a busy schedule forces a lag here or there. Without further ado, here is Day 1:

Had we known what was coming--the height of the hills, the speed of the semis passing along Route 1, the aches and pains, the mosquitoes--we might never have done it. I'm so glad we didn't know what was coming.

Day 1: Brewer to Mt. Desert
Just over 50 miles today! The longest ride I've ever done in a day, this one chock-a-block with hills and stunning scenery, even if a bit foggy here in the northeastern terrain. I'm writing from the Atlantic Brewing Company's Knox Bar & Grill, where half a plate of pulled pork is staring me down, daring to be eaten. We'll see after a sip or two of Coal Porter, which has big shoes to fill after the pint of ginger beer (each batch brewed with 20 pounds of fresh ginger) I just finished. Both are brewed within sight of the table we're occupying at the moment. This is our reward after a long, exhausting, but also exhilarating day of riding.

We found this place on the recommendation of the friendly staff of the Mt. Desert Narrows campgrounds, which we'll be calling home tonight . . . as will thousands of mosquitoes. Thank god for Deet. On my hands, face, and feet. I love you, Deet. I want to be your best girlfriend and take you to the Sadie Hawkins dance, then get frisky in the back seat of your Chevy Malibu. But I digress . . .

Unforgettable moments today included the two deer that pranced across the road directly in front of us, with a clomp clomp clomp reminiscent of clydesdales. And a sojourn to the little town of Ellsworth, childhood summer home of our new Chicago neighbor Matt, but also safe haven for sub-par haddock sandwiches at promising enough seeming diners. Oh the sorcery of the touristy diner, just waiting to disappoint. But the town itself was sweet and walkable, with a lovely grocery co-op selling heaps of local produce and other provisions perfect for camping. We stopped for coffee at a groovy cafe, and most of the locals here seem to be avid cyclists, offering all kinds of free and valuable advice about routes not to miss, and also those best avoided.

Reaching Mt. Desert today was an unprecedented physical victory for me; never before have my feet pedaled a half-century of miles. The climbs were grueling, but the rewards took the form of giddy downhills and beautiful scenery around every knot in the road. The woman at the Mt. Desert area welcome desk was true to the spirit of her desk, even calling a campground or two for us to inquire about rates. But we followed our noses to the wonderful site where we'll sleep through what we hope are false reports of thunderstorms. The sun's actually peeking out after a gray and misty afternoon, so maybe we'll get lucky.


tracy said...

Christy, CAMPING? I'm sorry, I think I must have the wrong Christy.

I'm already in awe of what it must have taken to cycle this route, and you're 1/8th into it. I'm also envious of the amazing stuff you've seen (and eaten!) More, please!

Diana Sudyka said...

Well, well, well. Welcome back! Can't wait to read more about it in the coming days.

I...I too love Deet. There...I said it.

kkurtz said...

welcome home!
sounds like a great start to the trip. except for the pulled pork...
oh, & the camping w/mosquitoes..., but other than that, sounds wonderful. I am eagerly anticipating the next installments to this saga.