New England: overrated. That was the sentence I wrote first, but as I recalled my experience, it was actually awesome. Go New England. Or at least the North half of it cause that’s as far as I’ve got.
From the desert to Mount Desert Island. Bar Harbor is a tourist town on Mt Desert Island at the very NE of America. It’s affectionately known as the “backside of the island”, by the non-Bar Harborians. The island is also home to Acadia National Park, one of America’s finest.
I didn’t like Bar Harbor too much. It’s fine if you want a t-shirt that says “Ba Ha Ba” on it, or chocolate pieces packaged as “lobster poop”, but there’s 3,000 tourists a day passing through on cruise ships, so the town caters to that. Wifey loved it though – think I’ve been conditioned against tourist towns in favour of proper authentic places.
Acadia National Park is indeed stunning though. We went for a big hike up Mt Sargent, Mt Pobescot and around Lake Jordan, all of which was stunning. Finished with a popover, which is basically a local version of a yorkshire pudding that you put jam on/in.
Did some yoga in the sun (next to a construction site), watched Spiderman, did a food tour and generally had fun. Lots of crab cakes, lobster rolls and Maine blueberries in everything.
The most fun came from visiting the rest of the island. Took a (free) bus to a town called Southwest Harbor, which has a lovely community cafe (pay what you want) staffed by a Kerrywoman, lots of nice jewellery shops and a lobster pound called Beales. It’s right on the dock, so the lobsters literally go out of the lobster ships, into the pound, to be selected by customers and cooked (in saltwater). And damn they taste good.
From Bar Harbor, sad goodbye to wifey, then back on the bike to get through Maine. When I started this trip, everything hurt for a while. After a few weeks, whether through being more fit or my brain telling my body to stfu and stop whinging cause it will get you LITERALLY NOWHERE, there was no pain at all. After a week off riding, the pain grumbles came back. Not a ruiner, but tough going day to day. And I got sunburnt.
Maine is hilly too. I’ve survived the long, tough slogs up mountains, but this is short, sharp spikes of double digits. While I can gear down for mountains, these spikes really take it out of my quads. And there’s lots of headwind. So all that whinging means it’s tough. But I’ve quads like a racehorse now.
Not too many pictures. As nice as Maine was, it’s pretty much like Surrey. And not the good bits of Surrey, the boring bits inbetween the good bits. Overrated.
While in Maine (in a town called New Gloucester), I had the pleasure of staying with an airbnb host called Maureen. Maureen is a marathon runner who runs to a high standard, frequently winning her age category. She had told her familt about my trip and they were excited to meet me, so Maureen’s elderly mother (from Kerry) and sister (touring cyclist) drove 30 minutes to have tea. Was lovely to engage in the Irish tradition of tea and a chat.
After Maine came New Hampshire and the wonderful town of Portsmouth (lots of towns around here have English namesakes), where I had a great Irish meal at a pub called Ri Ras, of curry chips with imported Irish curry sauce (just as good as out of a tin foil tray at 4 in the morning), boxty filled with Guinness cooked beef and a pint of Carlsberg. The owner is from Dublin, so we had a chat. Had some (Irish) tea and tea brack outside while listening to some fiddle music. Top, top Irishing.
From Portsmouth to Salem, famous for the witch trials in the 16-somethings. I don’t know what year because I didn’t go to my witch trial walking tour because of pouring rain and thunder and lightning. Still, Salem is a nice town. Had a great pizza (beer dough, chicken, broccolli, bacon and vegan cheddar) in a sci-fi themed bar (called Saucers) with a massive portrait of Capt. Janeway from Star Trek Voyager.
Instead of the witch tour, I had a great time inside the Peabody Essex museum, being cultured. They have an exhibition of ocean liners, which is awesome. Lots of stuff that was on the titanic, as well as some awesome arty pieces.
To get to Salem, I powered through the coast, which was stunning as the fog was rolling in. There’s lots of that here, fog.