Traveling WilBogers do New England, 2005
9/8/05 - Geneseo to Chez Jason (Spencertown NY)
It was a dark and stormy night oops, that's Snoopy's opening. Actually, we've had a stretch of remarkable weather - thanks to our Canadian friends. No, dark and stormy won't do. Let's try: It all started innocently enough. Yeah, that's an appropriate opening line. Oh, I must offer an opening caveat. This adventure involved not one, not two, but THREE of the world's great obfuscators - and I mean that in the best way, of course. You must remember, Mikey, Bob, Char, and I are all ONLY children - founding members of DOOCs (Distinguished Order of Only Children). Only Char is able to maintain a quiet, elegant decorum. The rest of us are loud, obnoxious, and contribute mightily to an on-going Wall Of Words. As many of you know, it is bad enough just to have one of us present. On this adventure, there were always two, me & Bob, and Mikey joined us at the end. Yep, all three together again, will wonders never cease? Thus, the probability for confusion and blending of stories is extremely high. Hell, I'm having trouble remembering what happened, let alone on what day and with whom , to whom, and why. Oh well, here goes my best attempt to unravel the major events that occurred over this three week period of our collective lives. It's a blur, really.
Like I said, it all started innocently enough. We loaded up the "geek wagon" - otherwise known as RVan - and headed for Jason's. You see, we were delivering our hand-me-down notebook and accessories - yes, including a fully loaded Maxtor - to Jason. As we rumbled down the road, we were reminded that it was just two months ago that we were traveling the same road on our way to Jason's for the last live PHC show of the season. During that trip, we discussed replacing our old computers and wondering who might want our leavings. Well, two months later, we have two new computers and Bob "Music Man" Mahoney and Jason "Wonder Boy" Kahn have our old ones.
Aside: After our return, I sent a quick email to Jason & Bob asking how they are getting along with their new-to-them computers. I think you might find the replies interesting
Jason: "The computer and I are getting along swimmingly. It's so cool to make a 362 song playlist and know that it's less than 1% of the music I have. How cool! All my friends want to came and hear what I've got."
Mahoney: "To your question about the
computers, the short answer is: GREAT.
The long answer is: FUCKIN' GREAT!"
Yeah, that's what I like to hear satisfied customers. Mahoney's reply has become a Naweedna staple: How's that retirement thing going? The short answer is The man has a way with words and music ;-)
We arrived at Chez Jason and immediately started unloading boxes full of technology. We quickly realized that Jason's table wasn't going to be big enough to handle all the new arrivals, so he went to the garage to resurrect an old desk, which served the purpose very well. Good thing he decided on the notebook; the desktop would have filled his cozy living room and, as Jason put so cleverly, "upset that whole feng-shui thing" he has going.
We had it up and running in short order just in time for Jason to get to the kitchen to put together another one of his dining delights: BBQ chicken pie, salad, and apple-elderberry pie, all washed down with an assortment of local beers. We discussed many political and news-worthy topics and eventually got around to talking about a good place to meet up with the Wilkinsons. We'd tentatively settled on Charlemont MA because it appeared to be a small town in NC MA and within easy reach for both us and Bob'n'Char. Jason concurred stating that Charlemont was a, pardon the phrase, quaint New England village and not touristy at all. He further went on to suggest the Charlemont Inn for dinner and possible accommodations for B'n'C.
We turned in fairly early. It was a weeknight for Jason, who bikes to work and has to get up early to make the trip. We said our goodbyes that evening because we were not likely to be up when Jason peddled out around O'Dark Thirty. Sure enough, he was long gone when we stumbled in the house for morning face-washing and such. Guess what? Our beloved Jason had left a raft-full of goodies on the counter for us (freshly made focaccia and a big hunk of leftover pie. What a guy; Jason "The Boy Wonder" is going to make someone a great wife, just you wait ;-)
9/9/05 - Chez Jason to Charlemont MA
We were scheduled to meet up with B'n'C in Charlemont around 4 PM. That left us enough time to do the Ashuwillticook (yeah, that's the real name) Rail Trail between Pittsfield and Adams MA. Bike data: 22 miles, 2 hrs bike time, 3 hrs real time. It was a most delightful ride. The weather was cooperative: sunny and cool. The scenery was wonderful: Mt Greylock off to the west, just beyond the reservoir. The trail was paved, which made for easy biking with our new, more efficient tires. In fact, the stretch just outside Adams was a slight downgrade that we were able to coast on. Yeah, lots of heavy physical exercise ;-)
Then it was off to Charlemont to meet the Wilkinsons and morph into THE TRAVELING WILBOGERS. We arrived around three and scouted out the town. Town? What town? We had picked Charlemont because it looked small enough to enable us to find each other even if our fellow travelers were coming all the way from AK. We were right on the money. The 1300 souls that make Charlemont their home are strung out over about a half mile of MA-2. Jason was absolutely correct, Charlemont is NOT touristy. It is the real deal - as real as it gets in NC MA. We looked for a quiet place to park, and after finding it, we planned to call B'n'C to tell them where we were. Guess what? No bars. No, not that kind of bar, there were plenty of them; there were no cell phone bars. That meant we couldn't wait in the fair grounds up the hill across from the covered bridge. It was a most interesting fair grounds - completely empty with a big pit bordered by a concrete wall and surrounded by a tall wire fence and bleachers. What the hell was that? It looked for all the world like a Gladiator pit, but, as we found out later, it was where they had had a demolition derby recently. Gladiator Pit/Demolition Derby not much difference, just a few thousand years, that's all.
We couldn't call, so we were forced to park at the corner our navigational software marked as Charlemont on the computer screen. I took up residence in the back, reading, while Janie sat in the passenger seat writing up her log. A little after four, we heard banging on RVan and a booming voice saying, "You can't park here." Yep, it was B'n'C. They had managed to arrive and park beside us without us even knowing. Hugs and greetings were exchanged and then it was time to secure accommodations and look for a suitable eatery.
Awh, that Bob. Always the clown ;-)
Once we found a suitable home for the night, we set up some chairs around our folding table and proceeded to scarf down Jason's focaccia, some tomatoes we had brought from Naweedna, and a sampling of beers and wine. B'n'C had stopped at a flea market to pick up a couple essentials: wine glasses for $0.50 each. The great Eat & Drink Your Way Across New England Excursion Of 2005 had officially begun. Once the focaccia and tomatoes were gone, and we were sufficiently lubricated to make unremarkable decisions about eating, we packed ourselves in B'n'C's rented Caravan and headed off looking for a suitable place to continue the experience: an eatery with appropriate adult beverages.
So where did we end up? Well, we followed Jason's suggestion and stumbled into the Charlemont Inn for drinks and dinner. It billed itself as a "place with character-s", and it certainly did once we arrived. Let's see, what did we have? Dunno. What did we drink? Dunno that either. However, I can assure you that we scandalized the server wench; the first in a continuous line. In fact, the central theme of this story will be the people we met, mostly waiters and waitresses. Here is a partial list of the cast of characters:
Sarah, Charlemont Inn MA
Karen & Ryan, Woodstock Station Brew Pub NH
Jennifer, Jamison Tavern ME
Tracey, Corsican Grill ME
Rachael, Jordon Pond House ME
Kate, Seafood Katch ME
Don, Mainely Meat ME
Bill, Lubec ME
Nichole, Jasper's ME
Deirdre, Rangeley Lake ME
Jamie, St Albans VT
Shannon, Speculator NY
While on the subject of meeting people, let me tell you right up front that traveling with people from AK is like an invitation to conversation and having Bob "Wall of Words" Wilkinson along makes it even better. It was pretty obvious to the locals that we weren't one of them, and they are very accustomed to tourists, so they almost always ask where you're from. The conditions response is: "We're from Western NY, but they are from ALASKA." The next line is almost always, "I (or my brother/sister/parents/aunt/uncle/legal guardian/significant other/life partner/life partner's brother/sister/parents/aunt/uncle/legal guardian ... or some combination of all) took a tour to Alaska." Bob, who has intimate knowledge of nearly all the tour spots, would then start offering possible sights they might have seen. It almost always ended with, "Next time you're up there, look us up." B'n'C are the most gracious hosts imaginable. In fact, the whole time we were traveling, they had house guests using their home. Thus, the offer to what a moment ago was a total stranger has some bearing on reality.
This particular night it was Sarah, from the much larger metropolis of Shelburne, just a few miles east along MA-2. The menu suggested that there was a secret ingredient in one of the featured dishes, and we managed to get Sarah to divulge it: chocolate. Who'd a thunk it? Chocolate as a secret ingredient. We were a bit more interested in the "secret cracked pepper corns and herb seasoning." We all placed our tongues in our cheeks, looked ceiling-ward, and tried to imagine someone sitting in a small, dark closet quietly (and secretively) cracking pepper corns. The place seemed to be having trouble with the electric, so the lights would periodically go dim and then brighten again. That wasn't much of a problem for us because we were also growing dim as the night wore on. However, the boys playing pool in the back room repeatedly yelped when the lights failed. Hey, playing pool in the dark for high stakes can be a lot of fun, right?
9/10/05 - Charlemont, MA to White River
The morning found us rumbling toward VT-100 and a rendezvous with the Vermont Country Store (VCS) in Weston. On the way, we passed the North River Winery. Of course, we had to stop and sample their wares. Blech! It wasn't bad if you like vinegar, but as wine, well, it left us wanting wanting some real wine. However, we did experience the first of many cheese, dip, jam, and cracker samplings. After having gorged on the free offerings, Bob felt compelled to purchase a bottle of the local wine. It traveled with us on the rest of the trip and is now sequestered, still unopened mind you, in a dark corner of our root (wine) cellar. One day we will muster the courage to sample it, or, better yet, use it to christen another outing of the Traveling WilBogers.
Next it was VCS. This is the original sample-your-way-through-the-shopping-process-store. As soon as you walk in the front door, you are greeted by cut cheeses, VT crackers (BIG ones, not the wimpy little oyster-cracker-like things), and toothpicks. After getting through the cheeses, you go to the candies, cookies (great ginger snaps), coffees, and teas that surround the big pot-bellied stove. Then, up a couple steps, turn left and you enter the dips, sauces, and jams sampling area. I don't get this marketing ploy. Why do they put all the free stuff in front? It would make more sense to me to put the clothing and hardware things in front and make you walk through them to get to the samples. No, not at VCS. There you pass through the samples before you get to the remaining 85% of the store. Strange, but it served our purposes very well - free brunch.
We managed to drop a few hundred dollars at VCS, and, along the way, make fast friends with "Candy Sandy" AKA "Zelda" AKA "Baggy Maggie" and, of course, Gene the cheese cutter. Bob was especially friendly with Gene. I think we ate our weight in samples - most notably the 4-year cheddar. Bob revisited his youth by buying some Beemans chewing gum (it used to be my mother's favorite). Janie took the opportunity to restock her Yorkshire tea supply. Char bought a cat calendar for her daughter, Donna. And me? I got some tangy garlic-horseradish dip that nearly survived the entire trip and I got a BIG block of that cheddar. Hey, it was only $18/lb ;-)
Oh yeah, I suppose I should tell you that Bob got a dill pickle, cheese curds, smoked herring, and some Traventina Alpine cheese. This was just the start of the pickled, smoked, BBQed, salted whatevers that we managed to accumulate and cheese and beer. Cheese and beer and beer and cheese and beer and cheese. We were like a big fuzz ball attracting these sorts of things to us where, of course, they stuck. Can't you just see four exceptionally rotund people waddling along with cheese, beer, wine, herring, and pickles stuck to 'em. That would be us ;-)
We had planned to visit the Harpoon Brewery on our way to Taftsville (home of Sugarbush Farms where we would get more cheese). However, Janie read in the description that there were tours at 11 & 3 with tastings only following the tours. Hmmm, it was getting late and we didn't really need to see how the beer was brewed; we just wanted to savor the results of the process. On to Taftsville.
Not surprisingly, we didn't find suitable accommodations in tiny Taftsville - whoops, don't blink or you will miss it. We continued on to White River Junction, on I-91, so B'n'C were able to find desirable housing - with free wireless Internet. We sat up for cocktails on their patio with plastic-fantastic chairs around a plastic-fantastic table. We had to "borrow" the chairs from the unused pool room - and had to acquire two more just for the little ladies from Boston next door. However, they must have been put off by our rowdiness, because they never came out to use the chairs. Hey, it's the Eat & Drink Your Way Across New England Excursion. Didn't you see the banner?
Okay, where do you eat in White River Junction? Well, our first survey turned up mostly franchises, so we headed down in the valley to see if Hartford might have something local to offer. Hartford turned out to be a working town that shut down after the dinner hour - five to six, in this case. Finding nothing of interest still open, we returned to the freeway and poured ourselves into the China Moon Buffet. Hmmm, we were not all that hungry, so we ordered from the menu instead of pigging out on the buffet (probably a mistake).
There was a young couple in the booth next to us, and we, of course, struck up a conversation with them. The night's entertainment was provided by Lycra Lady and her studly friend. She's from Long Island (go figure), works in a gym, eats like a horse, drinks like a fish, and talked as randy as a goat. She'd better keep working out or she'll be as big as a whale. They were doing the buffet. We oooo-ed and aaaa-ed over every dish they carried back to their table. We also oooo-ed and aaaa-ed at the two very large, flaming adult beverages they shared. Before being served, however, they had to show proof of age. We, of course, demanded to be carded, too. The not-quite-acclimated-to-America Chinese waitress was a bit flummoxed by it all. We never got her name, but I'm sure it wasn't Sarah. Although we were old enough to drink any adult beverage, we didn't qualify for the Senior Discount, which only applies to the buffet. Damn!
The China Moon turned out to be much better than we expected. Let's see, what did we get? Bob started with pork & pickle soup for 2 - a continuation of the on-going theme. Janie & I got hot & sour soup and double-sautéed pork; B'n'C split beef with snow peas, I couldn't get past the pork & pickle stuff ;-) We all enjoyed a couple bottles of Long Trail and Tsing Tao.
9/11/05 - White River Junction NH to Lincoln,
Amazingly, the international marketing conglomerate known as VCS is closed on Sundays. Even more amazingly, the mom & pop enterprise known as Sugarbush Farms isn't. Our timing was perfect. We arrived at the entrance, which is the back door to an old farm house, around ten AM. Since it was Sunday, only the immediate family was manning the shop. We were greeted by Jeff Luce, informed by his mother, Betsy, and cashed out by his wife Kerry. Like I said, you enter the back door, do you sampling in the kitchen, check out in the parlor, and exit out the front door. They do things a little differently in this part of the world. We got pounds and pounds of cheese and buckets of syrup - Bogers got two gallons; B'n'C were limited by their return flight restrictions. However, B'n'C did arrange to have some stuff sent home, mostly to friends.
After the shopping, we toured the grounds and checked out the farm animals. Did you know that a goat's iris is horizontal? Me neither. It was a bright, sunny morning, so the goat's iris was almost completely shut. When he looked at us, you could clearly see that the slit was horizontal with little upturns on either end. It looked very much like a tilde (~) only longer in the middle. Well, we all learned something and got some cheese and maple syrup. Not the wimpy, sweet stuff, but Grade B, the very dark, maple-y stuff from the bottom of the evaporator the stuff we've learned to mainline on our Sunday brunches. Oh, yes, this is the life. Just bouncing from store to restaurant to bar to store to together we will easily top 1,000 lbs by the end of this trip ;-)
After leaving Sugarbush, we headed east toward Lincoln NH, which is at the head of the Kancamagus Highway across the White Mountains. But first, we were anxious to sample some of our treasures, so we pulled over for lunch at the Oxford Community Park where we managed to "sample" a half pound of VT smoked cheddar and crackers accompanied with strawberries (the healthy entry), a large chocolate turtle, a few vanilla cream drops - and a pickle.
Lunch stop, Oxford VT
We got to Lincoln NH around three, spent an hour or so getting informed at the Information Center, finding accommodations (Comfort Inn), dumping RVan's holding tanks, visiting a wine store (open on Sundays!), and finding a place for our evening happy hour (the Hobo RR park next to the Inn). Janie made tortilla chips from some full-size tortillas we had brought, so we had chips and salsa and garlic-horseradish dip and more cheese. It was a spectacular evening sitting at the head of a large expanse of grass, looking off into the duck-filled pools and fountains of the RR park, and looking beyond to the White Mountains surrounding us with the moon rising over them. Yep, it's a tough life, but somebody has to live it, right?
Dinner that night? Well, how about a brew pub? The Woodstock Brew Pub, to be exact. Woodstock is essentially connected to Lincoln, so it wasn't much of a stretch to get there. We walked into the Pub and were greeted by a perky blond wearing sparkly cross earrings and a large sparkly cross pendant, which drew attention to her ample cleavage and a cast on her left arm. We learned her name is Karen; she isn't particularly religious, just likes sparkly stuff, and her Italian father always wanted to go to AK but got sick and died before getting there. However, he lived long enough to father eight children, four of each type. Karen is the youngest of the brood. We talked so much as she led us to the bar to wait for a table to open that before we were done with our introductions, our table was ready. We knew the table was ready because Bob had put the vibrating pager in his pants, and, when it went off well, you get the picture. Karen was a bit reluctant to touch the pager when Bob tried to hand it back. She said she would see that it was disinfected before using it again. Bzzzzz, your table is ready, sir. Yeah, I know ;-)
Karen handed us over to Molly, one of the owners who looked about fourteen and none too pleased with us. Janie dutifully followed her to a table in the FAR corner by the back door - good choice - while the rest of us stayed talking to Karen. The giggling three of us finally joined Janie at our table where we soon met our server, Ryan, whom we all proceeded to call Bryan. I immediately pronounced him "Too Tall" and noted the words on his shirt: "Good Times" on the pocket and "Staff" on the sleeve. There was no "Infection" anywhere, so we were all relieved. We quickly learned that (B)Ryan is no fan of our president and would have appreciated our "Good bush, bad Bush" and "I'm with Stupid, I'm with Satin" tee-shirts. The table was covered with clear plastic under which businesspersons had placed their business cards. Wait, here is one hand written on a scrap of napkin that proclaimed, "Steph Rocks and She's Wicked Hawt." (B)Ryan suggested that it was probably written by Steph. Hey, maybe he knows her. The "Hawt" got us Boston aliens going pretty good and the "hawt" times continued for the rest of the trip.
(B)Ryan: "Can I get you anything from the
Us: "Can the president pronounce nuc(u)lear?"
We started with Weasel Wheat, Autumn Brew (tasted like apple pie in a glass), Red Pack Ale, and Pig's Ear Brown Ale (properly ordered by pulling your ear and snorting). We later discovered the Old Man Oatmeal Stout (the label still showed Franconia Notch's Old Man profile from which the nose is now missing - geologic time marches on). The stout was deemed best of show for that night.
Then came the calamari - deep fried, of course. We had a sampling of sweet potato ravioli - deep fried. We were having cheese withdrawal, so we told (B)Ryan to bring us the cheesiest thing he could. He must have misheard us, because he brought the greasiest, deep-fried thing he could. Maybe it was revenge for calling him (B)Ryan instead of Ryan, but for whatever reason, the curse was to visit us all that evening and next morning. The fried food just sorta sat in our digestive tracks and slowly but surely turned from a solid to gaseous state. Oh my Poor Char suffered the most what with the small motel room and even smaller van. We just turned on the overhead fan and evacuated RVan. Works for me ;-)
Karen came back over to help us pick out a dessert - she pulled up a chair and sat at the head of our table for the consultation. She recommended and we got a bread pudding thing-y made with sticky buns in lieu of plain bread. Karen assured us that it was better than the Brownie Sundae for two that the guy at the next table was hogging for himself. If he wouldn't share it with his dining companion, why would he share it with Bob? Ah, but that bit of logic didn't slow Bob up one bit: "I don't care if you are from Alaska; you're not getting any of my Sundae."
Janie & I talked to Ryan about Katrina and the effect it might have had on Avery Island, home of McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce. We later learned that Avery Island is high ground and Tabasco is still in production, although shipping it out is a bit of a problem. Hey, maybe they can use it for disinfectant. Whatever, out of respect, we declined Ryan's offer to put the large, nearly full bottle in a doggie bag. Whoa, doggie, we finally got up from the table and made our way over to the tee-shirt/hat booth to chat with Karen before leaving - or even thinking about leaving.
Bob managed to distract Karen sufficiently to get a free Loon Ale hat for Char - and she looks really good in it, too. Karen made it easy by suggesting that Char should get a taste of Loon Ale from the bartender before wearing the hat. So Bob kept Karen talking about loons and AK and and and and then we were out on the street, under an ink-black sky and quarter moon. Our "campsite" was nice and quiet, and we had a pleasant night sleeping off the evening's over-indulgences. Next? Freeport ME and LL Bean read on, dear friend.
9/12/05 - Lincoln, NH to Freeport ME
We awoke to our first cloudy morning - not the sort of thing you hope for when driving across the White Mountains on the Kancamagus Highway. Whatever, it is what we got, so we will make lemonade. We stopped at a couple pullouts to see what parts of the view we could, but the best part by far was at the end of the Kanc: the Saco River Visitor Center. So what's so special about that? Well, it has to do with being 62, the official age for Social Security AND the Golden Age Pass. We tried to get our Golden Age Passes at the Information Center in Lincoln, but you need a duly appointed and official Department of the Interior person to issue it - there were only volunteers dressed up to look like park rangers at the information place. So we had to wait until today to get our passes - and that is what we did.
Now, it must be known that Bob is a few months older than me. In fact, his birthday is TOMORROW. But until then, we are the same age: 62. It is the bane of Bob's existence that I have a lower REI membership number than his. It is now the bane of his bane that I have a lower Golden Age Pass number. You see, I got to the counter first. I showed my driver's license first. And I got the first Golden Age Pass. Yay, me! No matter, Bob, we are now both official Old Farts and entitled to the rights and privileges due us.
The Golden Age Pass Boys
On our way to Freeport, we managed to pass through Madison NH, home of the Madison Boulder Wayside Rest. Janie & I had visited the large erratic before, some thirty years ago, so we decided to make it a nostalgic lunch stop. The getting there wasn't what either of us remembered - not nearly so many trashy homes - no homes in fact. The park itself was even more disappointing. The boulder was festooned with graffiti and the "park" was in a sad state of disrepair. Hey, things can change in thirty years, eh? Whatever, we made more lemonade of the offered lemons, had our lunch, and took a brief tour of the boulder.
Madison Boulder Wayside, Madison NH
Nonetheless, I did recall and retell (several times) the story about the grandfather and his grandson that we met on our first visit to the Madison Boulder. He was a bear of a man with the gnarly hands of a manual laborer. We overheard him telling his grandson about the granite boulder and eventually joined the conversation. He was a retired stone worker from a NH granite quarry. He showed us how to feel the rock to sense the grain. He then said, "This is the direction to cut 'er. This face will hold a good polish " We were amazed that anyone could just feel a seemingly isotropic rock and sense the subtle orientation of the crystals. Ah, there is no substitute for experience, and he obviously had a lot of it - the hands were amazing.
We arrived in Freeport around four. Janie & I spent time in Bean's outlet while B'n'C sought accommodations. We all met in the outlet, then took a brief tour of the main store before deciding it was time for a drink and bite to eat. Hmmm, where to go? No shortage of choices in Freeport. Oh, look, the c. 1790 Jameson Tavern is right next door. Cool. It has an outdoor patio, a selection of beer, and all the food one could possibly want. Let's do it.
We were seated by a darling brunette with a flower behind her right ear. I wanted to call her Tahini, but that was just a ploy to get her real name. Why do these waiter-people give out their real names? Anyway, her name is Jennifer, she has completed three years of college, had six majors, is now studying to become a massage therapist and is flying out tomorrow for her first airplane flight to Phoenix. And guess what? She hasn't packed yet. She informs us that it's only going to take two hours to get to Boston by bus. Hunh? B'n'C landed in Boston five days ago, have put a few hundred miles on the rental, and are now only two hours from the airport? Yeah, that could happen - and it did ;-)
Happy hour turned into happy dinner, as you might expect. We sampled three local brewery products: Geary's, Gritty's, and Shipyard, although we don't now remember which was which. Each had its merits. Eventually, Jennifer pulled up a chair and sat with us to discuss what we should order: Torte rustirosa for Bob, lobster croissant for Janie, and Caesar salads for me & Char (with chicken by mistake - turned out to be a very good mistake). Jennifer had to work, so, in her periodic absence, we started up a conversation with a couple at a neighboring table. The guy was from WI, and Bob lived in WI when his dad worked at the VA hospital in Toma. The woman was more local, and, although they were both perfectly marvelous and friendly, the woman was the most impressive to me. She had a marvelously bubbly laugh and used it often. I like attractive women with a sense of humor and great laugh. Go figure ;-)
We left around eight so Jennifer could turn the table and make some more money off tips to finance her AZ trip. Jennifer is the winner in the waiter-person contest. Her cool demeanor, be-flowered ear, and pale blue eyes were captivating. She had a firm grasp on reality. Unlike many of our encounters, she sensed right off that we were non-threatening, fun-loving folks, and she gave as good as she got. The girl has it together, well, pretty together for a person of her age. This was one of those times when I wished I was really wealthy and could leave a $1,000 tip -just as a jump start for a worthy young person. Yeah, Jennifer was, and is, cool.
9/13/05 - Freeport ME to Belfast ME
Happy Birthday, BOB - or as they say downeast, BAWB. He be 6-3 today. Hmmm, what should we do to celebrate? How about having some beer and cheese? But first, it was time to do some serious shopping in Freeport. Char was on the hunt for some hiking shoes and she found just the pair, with the help of Don, the LL Bean shoe guy. Don also offered some advice on the vulgarities of playing the MegaBucks Lottery and how to zip up your spaghetti (put red pepper flakes in the noodle water). Once Char found a pair of shoes, Don told her to wear 'em around while shopping. If they didn't work, just bring back before leaving. Not only did she wear 'em in the store, she wore 'em for the rest of the trip - I accused her of even wearing 'em to bed. She really liked 'em, and they looked really good. What a deal, eh?
Bob had been admiring my "plastic" pants, so he was interested in getting some for himself. Hmmm, maybe a little background is called for. Like Bob and Mikey - and many others - I was a blue jean sort of guy. In my advancing years, however, I discovered that they were heavy, hot, and difficult to pack. How hot, you ask? Well, let's just say that at one point I bought a car because it had a crotch vent. I had always admired Jason's climbing-style pants, but never was willing to pay the high price just to experiment. Yeah, I wanted to get into Jason's pants, and now Bawb wants to get into mine. Go figure. Anyway, I eventually found some Ex Officio pants on sale at Sierra Trading Post. I bought a pair, learned to love 'em, and now own three pair of ExOs and two pair of other, similar "plastic" pants.
Bawb found a pair to fit his long legs - AND - they were on sale. But what if he wants more? Well, the LL Bean sales lady said he could order them from the catalog for the sale price and have them shipped home - free. Why? Because that's the way Bean does things when things are on sale and they don't have 'em in stock. At LL Bean, the customer always comes first - according to the promotional brochure, anyway. So did Bawb like his new pants? Well, yeah, I guess so - he wore them every day for the rest of the trip. Oh, I should tell you that there was some washing in the interim, which is easy to do because they dry so fast. We are now both sold on "plastic" pants. Mikey, you're next ;-)
We next embarked on a hunt for a cheese slicer and a lobster pot (just in case we come across a live lobster that needs a bath - a very hot bath). We found both in a kitchenware outlet right there on the Freeport main drag. I have to tell you that we never did cook our own lobster, although the three of them managed to consume several that were commercially prepared. The lady at the kitchenware store was very nice and suggested some good lunch spots for us. One was the Corsican Grill, which was described as having great salads, soups, bread AND a to-die-for lobster roll. Hey, we're there, thanks.
Let me interject that we had the best of intentions - on several occasions. We would decide we wanted a light lunch or dinner, a salad, something like that, but when we got there, well, the temptations overcame our sensibility and we ended up gorging ourselves. Ah, such is life in the very, very, very slow lane ;-)
We walked in the Corsican Grill just a tad before noon. As usual we announced that we may get a little rowdy, so an isolated table might be best. The hostess said, "Go see Tracey upstairs." That's exactly what we did. Tracey was one of the owners and had seen our kind before. She was very nice and personable but was careful not to let us get too out of hand. We did strike up a conversation with a lady at the next table. She was from coastal MS and was on a cruise that left before Katrina hit. She doesn't know what, if anything, she has left to go home to but fully intends to at least enjoy the rest of her cruise. Yeah, we got it pretty good, I guess. So what did we have? Let's see, Greek salad, lots of great homemade bread (and REAL butter), clam chowder and a lobster roll - all suggested by the kitchenware lady, and all as good as advertised. I believe we also had a gingerbread dessert to celebrate Bob's B-day. Then we were off down US-1, heading for Acadia.
US-1 is hell, especially between Freeport and Ellsworth. There are just too many people thickly settled, as they say in MA. We found ourselves ushered along at the fast-moving, work-a-day people's pace. At one point, we reached our limit, so we took a little side excursion down to Boothbay Harbor. ME is a bit like Canada in that it has people drip: most of the population is located in a relatively thin strip along the coast. However, the peninsular headlands that jut out into the sea preclude thru roads, so there are just the occasional roads that shunt off US-1 and go out and back from some well-healed ocean property. This is the kind of road we took to Boothbay. The closer we got to the bay, the more elegant the homes - the more elegant, the less you can see of them. We ended up on a shoreline drive that connected the dots between progressively hidden dwellings - most of them just summer homes. Don't you just hate the very rich?
The excursion to Boothbay and back cut our time to the coast, so to speak, so we found ourselves on the eastern outskirts of Belfast looking for accommodations. It seems a bus tour was coming though and nearly all of the rooms were taken. However, B'n'C did get one of the last, and we found a nice place in the parking lot for RVan. It had been a long day, so we quickly set up the traveling happy hour bar and cheese sampling station. We were all pretty tired, so Janie threw together some couscous and peanut sauce, and we all dined in the room.
9/14/05 - Belfast ME to Bass Harbor ME
Fog we spent the next few days in fog. Sure, we were traveling in a fog, a fog produced by our ever-present effervescence and continual giddiness. But this was a real meteorological fog. When we were in Lincoln NH, we saw a weather report that showed tropical storm Ophelia hovering just off the coast of NC. As with most such Atlantic storms, it was making its way north - toward us. We all met up in Maine. The fog is just the outer reaches of Ophelia; tomorrow we are supposed to start getting rain; the next day whatever, we will deal with it.
We vowed to do as little of US-1 as possible, so we took some back roads while wending our way toward Acadia. We had seen a couple signs advertising "Wrinkles" but didn't know what the hell they were referring to. Eventually, we stopped for a pee break and found ourselves in the parking lot of a small, local grocery/deli AND right there was a sign advertising Wrinkles. Okay, this is our chance to find out. We all remarked on our confusion about buying wrinkles. After all, we've all got way more than we want, and they were free.
Bob (Bawb) went inside to see about getting some wrinkles while the rest of us peed. Guess what? Wrinkles are pickled whelks - a local delicacy, apparently. Well, if it comes from the water, Bawb just has to have some - especially if it is PICKLED. I suppose this is a good time to remind you of my food allergy. It seems I have a negative reaction to seafood. Well, not all seafood. I can eat, and even crave, some things, but they are all processed. Things like canned tuna, salmon, anchovies. It's eating the "fresh" stuff that causes me problems. What kind of problem? Well, I used to just go ahead and eat it, and then throw it up. I've learned to sense the growing distress, so, in my later years, I've learned to deal with it better. How much can I eat before getting disgustingly sick? Well, let me say that I love fried oysters and clams. However, if I eat more than, say, five, I'll get sick - in the bad way. What happens if I eat fewer than five? Well, I suffer most of the night with the feeling that I've eaten a ground up brick. That's what happened the day before when I ate a bunch of the really, really good Corsican clam chowder in Freeport. I spent the night following the lump of seemingly indigestible stuff as it moved through my gastro-intestinal tract. Not all that pleasant. So what about the Wrinkles? I didn't have even the slightest taste. In fact, I didn't even hardly look at 'em.
We were forced to do a little of US-1 before turning off on Janie's back way into Acadia. It was a neat bit of navigation: back roads to US-1, across a small bridge, and immediately off onto anther back road leading to the Trenton Information Center where we gathered information about possible accommodations. Janie & I were anxious to use our new Golden Age Pass (GAP), so we headed for the Sea Wall Campground. The GAP covered our $20 entrance free, which means we can drive the park loop road as much as we want - for free. The GAP also means we can camp for half price, which means we only pay $10 per night. Okay, that's the best news I can give you about getting old. There are some privileges, but for the most part it is just aches, pains, and hairy ears.
We left RVan at the campsite while we all drove around in B'n'C's rental looking at accommodations for them. After checking out a few, they decided on what was actually the very first one we looked at. The deal was that there were some newlyweds that had a half hour to check in to the upstairs loft. If they were late or didn't show, then B'n'C could have it. Alas, they showed up, so B'n'C settled for another room, which was nice but didn't have a view of the fog. What newlyweds need with a view is beyond me, but it all worked out well for everyone concerned - the newlyweds told us about the Mainely Meat BBQ over at the Atlantic Brewing Company. More on that later.
After securing accommodations, we started touring the western part of what is called Mount Desert Island. Acadia and Bar Harbor are on the eastern part. Because most tourists come to the island to see Acadia and visit the famously popular Bar Harbor, the western half is referred to as "the quiet side". We drove around the quiet side and came to the intersection where Keenan's (see: Link) was located. We'd been to Keenan's twice before it closed. Last year, it had morphed into The Nautilus and has since morphed into Nemo's. Barbara, the Bass Harbor Cottages landlady, had told Bawb that the people at Nemo's were from AK, so we just had to stop and find out. Sure enough, they are transplants from Homer AK where they lived on a houseboat - a BLACK houseboat. We talked to the lady of the place for a while and promised to show up for dinner tomorrow. In the interim, we learned that Nemo's ribs were nothing like Keenan's, so we sorta bailed on her.
We toured the Bass Harbor lighthouse and eventually found ourselves in need of an adult beverage and/or dinner. We had seen and asked about a place called Thurston's Lobster Pond, just across the bay from B'n'C's room. It came highly recommended - let's do it. Do it we did. Janie got a 1.8 lb soft-shelled crustacean (soft-shelled is supposed to be sweeter & more tender than hard shell), B'n'C split a 3.5 lb big ol' mean looking bad boy, and I got a cheeseburger with fries ;-) We also had a few brews, a raft of slaw, some blueberry pie, and a hunk of blueberry cake - it was a Mostly Maine sort of meal.
There was another patron who was wearing an Alaska hat. That, of course, engendered a conversation - from across the room - Thurston's is a pretty informal place. Yeah, they'd been to AK on a cruise, but they were just back from several days in the bush in Baxter SP. Remember when I said ME has people drip with most of the population along the coast? Well, Baxter is WAY up north where there are only a couple roads and almost no indigenous people. The population vacuum and rugged terrain of north-central ME is why they refer to it as the mainland's version of AK. Well, this couple, the ones who had been to AK and just returned from the ME woods, were from are you ready for this West Virginia, where B'n'C used to own some property.
9/15/05 - Acadia ME
Janie heard coyotes last night. Coyotes on Mount Desert Island? Who'd a thunk it? It was a welcome reminder of the wild that would be the wild that none of us could see due to the ever-present and thickening Ophelia fog.
Acadia in a fog
Janie & I walked down to the Sea Wall picnic area and looked at birds fog and birds. We saw lots of seals, more than we've ever seen. Maybe we are just getting better at identifying 'em, who knows. On our way back to RVan, we decided to drive down and set up a mini camp where we could have some breakfast and wait for B'n'C. Hmmm, can you have BREAKfast without a fast? We are in bad need of a fast. Our stomachs are getting stretched, which doesn't bode well for the future of our weight-loss program. Oh well, we're on vacation AND on the Eat & Drink Your Way Across New England Excursion Of 2005 ;-)
B'n'C showed up in short order, and we sat watching birds and seals while trying to decide what to do for the day. We settled on Driving Around And Looking At Shit (DALAS). It was still very foggy and not likely to get any better any time soon, so it seemed like an appropriate time to look at local architecture and culture. We headed over to Northeast Harbor where there are some expensive homes and boat things. The fog seemed to be keeping most people off the roads, which was nice for our DALASing.
We then decided to do the Acadia Loop Drive, which, by virtue of our GAP, we could do as many times as we want for FREE. Only problem is that we couldn't see a damned thing. We could hear the ocean crashing against the rocky coast of ME, but we couldn't see it. We assured B'n'C that it was very scenic, and they agreed that it certainly must be - but we just couldn't see it. So what do you do in a scenic wonderland like this when you are socked in by weather? You have lunch at Jordon Pond House (JPH).
We usually try to avoid tourist black-holes like JPH, but today, it was a welcome sight. In fact, we were able to find a parking spot in the regular old parking lot, which is usually overflowing into the much larger and less interesting new parking lot. We were seated in the balcony - probably because Bawb told the hostess that we tend to get rowdy at times. Our server was Rachael, a very nice young lady from don't remember where. JPH is famous for its popovers, so we all had popovers two, big ones each with real butter and some really marvelous strawberry preserves in a crock in the middle of the table it was nearly empty by the time we filled up.
Oh, yeah, we had more than just popovers. B'n'C shared a seafood chowder and I had tomato bisque. The lunch rush was over - meaning the tour buses had left - by the time we finished, so we ended up having the balcony to ourselves. It turns out that we weren't the only rowdy ones there. The waiter-persons started tossing leftover popovers from the ground floor to the balcony. We tried to get in on the action, but, alas, we really didn't need any more popovers.
We spent some time in the gift shop looking at the popover pans and buying some of the strawberry jam. Janie & Char found a blueberry jam jar that was ¼ air bubble, so you cold buy 6 oz of an 8 oz jar for the 8 oz price of $6.50. Most interesting was the air was on the bottom! Quite the deal, eh? Despite the lack of alcohol, we managed to get the staff to join in our fun and frivolity. They sold postcards but had a clearly labeled sign on the rack stating: "Sorry, we do not sell stamps." Janie bought some cards, and Bawb asked if they had stamps. Then Char asked if they had stamps. I asked if they had stamps. Eventually, the manager was asking if they had stamps. Trust me, it was a gut buster you had to be there, I suppose ;-)
We spent the rest of the day DALASing. We looked at houses, harbors, boats, tourist traps, and fog shrouded scenery. We even stopped at a dive shop, which, as fate would have it, was the front of a marine shop. Captain Bawb was in his element. We looked at rope and other marine stuff. The highlight was the lobster banding tool they use to put those very small rubber bands on the very large lobster claws. It was most appropriate because just yesterday I had asked Bawb how they do it. Now I know and so do you. A man is only as good as his tool ;-)
We stopped at Duck Brook Bridge and took a one-mile hike along the carriage trail to the head of Witch Hole Pond. Witch Hole is a glacial lake, so it basically a fat stream with water flowing in one end and out the other. We stopped at the point where Duck Brook flows into the lake. As you might expect, it is topographically low, so there is a fairly constant breeze. This will become important when I get around to describing tomorrow's adventure. For today, however, we just enjoyed the fog enshrouded view and gentle breeze. When we were through DALASing, we drove around looking for a place to have a light dinner after a fairly heavy lunch. We found just the place: The Seafood Ketch.
The Seafood Ketch is just down the road from B'n'C's quarters, so it was easy and convenient. Maybe too easy and too convenient - certainly for a "light" meal. Guess what? We started with beer: Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat for Janie (the best blueberry brew yet), Bar Harbor Real Ale (a big winner - it quickly became our regular), and Coal Porter (a very good porter, but too heavy for food). The latter two were from the Atlantic Brewing Company, located up at the north end of the island. Hey, let's go there tomorrow. Bawb remembered that a fellow house guest (the newlywed) had mentioned a great BBQ place next to the brewery: Mainely Meat. Done deal - for tomorrow - what about tonight?
Well, the beer led to appetizers (mussels, crab cakes, Ketch fries). That, of course, led to dinner. Char & I ordered small steaks and left the appetizers to the other two. One of the cooks - the sauce guy - was wearing a Meet the Fuckers tee-shirt with pictures of Bush & Cheney as "the Fuckers" and that entailed a discussion of nuclear vs. nuculear, among other things. Our waitress, Kate, was very pleasant as was the manager - never got her name. Kate was a newlywed and looking for a $100 tip to finance her honeymoon. Although we contributed to her fund, she's going to have to do a bit more waitressing before signing up for that cruise.
9/16/05 - Acadia ME
Well, I had QUITE a day. Again, it all started innocently enough. We decided to split up: B'n'C would tour Bar Harbor (although, as it turned out, they never got there they spent the day looking at shingle patterns and trying to find some bars of both types) and we would bike the Acadian Carriage Paths. We agreed to meet that evening at the Atlantic Brewing Company for beer and BBQ. That was the plan, anyway. So what happened? Read on, dear friend.
Janie & I got up early, found a great place to park over at Duck Brook Bridge, and were biking by eight thirty. We crossed the bridge and headed to Witch Hole Pond along the same trail we had walked yesterday with B'n'C. It was another foggy day with brief glimpses of sun. It is almost exactly one mile to the head of Witch Hole, and we stopped at the same spot we had yesterday. Okay, now I need to describe the setting. I'll reproduce the description from the Maine 2003 trip log (Link).
There are forty-five miles of carriage roads in Acadia. All of them, and one third of Acadia NP, were donated by John D. Rockefeller Jr. The carriage roads were constructed between 1919 and 1940 because John D. desired to travel on motor-free byways. In fact, there were no motor-cars allowed on Mount Desert Island when the state lifted the ban in 1915. That must have been what prompted John D. to build his own roads: Goddamnit, Billy, I want motor-free byways.
The carriage roads are the best extant examples of broken stone roads in the US. They are sixteen feet wide and composed of three layers of rock: cobble base, coarse gravel intermediate and crushed stone on top. They are bounded by stone culverts and wide ditches. The roads have an eight inch crown to ensure good drainage. Rockefeller aligned the roads to follow the contours and take advantage of scenic views. They are graded so they are not too steep or too sharply curved for horse-drawn carriages.
Road crews quarried local granite for road material and bridge facing. John D. participated in the construction process. He walked the areas he choose for road construction and observed the work in progress. He knew the workers by name and employed experts to design the bridges and engineer the roads. Through it all, he paid rapt attention to the minutest details, from the placement of coping stones, to the cost of a running foot of road.
Coping stones: Blocks of granite lining the roads serving as guide rails. They are locally referred to as Rockefeller's teeth.
Okay, the operative image here is "Rockefeller's teeth" because that's what rose up to bite me. Remember it was early on a foggy day and we were overlooking a quiet glacial lake at a low point in the topography - a place there is always a breeze. There was also a dying conifer right at the lowest point, and it had some interesting features that we didn't see yesterday.
Spiders like to build webs in breezy places - check out the webs in your home if you want to find the draftiest places. This dying conifer provided a perfect substrate for spiders. Virtually every branch tip was festooned with a spider web. Because it was early on a foggy morning, the webs were dappled with water droplets. The occasional showing of sunlight glittered and glistened off the webs and made a pretty spectacular image; an image worthy of recording. It was that desire to photograph the glistening spider webs that got me into trouble.
I was standing on one of the coping stones marveling at the spider webs when I decided to step across to another one to see if I could get a better sun angle for a potential picture. I didn't even have the camera out. I was telling Janie that I needed to get a darker background to get the reflections to show up better. I knew the rocks were wet. I was very cautious when I stepped from on rock to the other. No problem. Well, no problem until I relaxed and started looking up over my head at the closest webs. I must have then risen up on my tip toes because my well-cleated hiking/biking shoes gave way and down I went.
It was such complete surprise; I was looking up when it happened, and I was unable to make any defensive adjustments as I fell because I had no idea what was happening. I was just falling like I'd been shot. My left shin took the brunt of the fall with only a minor bang of my right leg. I managed to catch myself with my left hand just before my binoculars, which were hanging from my neck, smashed into the rock. Yeah, I was pretty much horizontal at this point, but I didn't go completely down; I managed to spin around and catch myself before falling to the ground. So what did I do first? I checked my new, expensive binoculars, that's what. Yep, they are okay, now what about me? One look at my left leg and I knew I was in trouble. My attention first focused on the scrapes and scratches - granite is hard, you know. Then I noticed the blood running down my leg into my sock. Hey, these are my favorite UltiMax socks, damnit.
By now I knew my biking day was in jeopardy. However, at this point I was just wondering how much discomfort I'd be in; I did not yet consider it to be a serious problem. Okay, so now I need to check out the cause of the bleeding. Is it bad enough to require professional attention or can we patch it up with our medical supplies? In addition to the obvious scrapes, there were two breaks in the skin on the left shin and one on my right calf. The ones on the left looked worse, but the right one seemed to be bleeding more. Checking out the left ones, I discovered that the top one was a fairly serious looking rip in the skin, an inch or so long. It looked kinda ugly. My heart sank because I was pretty sure it would require stitching. Today's bike outing was in jeopardy.
Then I looked at the lower, less angry looking wound. Although it was smaller, it seemed to be bleeding more. I wiggled the skin around to see how bad it was and that's when I saw something white through the opening. THAT'S MY SHIN BONE. Holy crap, I've seen my living bone. At that point, I was certain that I would need professional medical attention, and I was beginning to wonder just how badly I might have injured myself. I mean, after all, I had just slipped off a rock and scraped my leg. The rock was maybe two feet high. How bad can it be if I only fell a couple feet - a glancing blow - can't be all that bad, right? But I can see my shin bone. That's when I started feeling lightheaded. I was trying desperately to maintain my cool and not get panicky. I didn't experience any pain while standing and walking, so there didn't seem to be any structural damage. The bleeding was slowing. It's just a little scrape that will require cleaning up and probably some stitches. No big deal. But I could see my shin bone!
Riding a bike is a finesse operation, and no matter how much I fought it, I was still lightheaded. The last thing I needed was to fall off the bike into another hunk of granite or grind some of that fine grit into my open wounds. Janie decided to go back to call for some help while I tried to gather myself. She had been gone for a few minutes when I decided to give the biking thing a try. I wrapped my bandana around the larger wound, got on my bike, and headed back. Wonder of wonders. As soon as I got on the bike, I started feeling better. In fact, I rather enjoyed the bike ride back. I asked the Dr about it later, and he said it was the distraction of biking that got my mind off the injuries. Whatever, in short order, I covered the mile and found myself back at the bridge almost before I knew it.
I saw Janie back at RVan and four or five gray-haired ladies milling around at the bridge entrance. As I crossed the bridge, the woman closest to me shouted, "No bars." Hunh? I'm sorta perplexed at this statement because even party-hearty me realizes that it is only nine in the morning and a bit too early to be thinking about bars. My confusion was heightened when another gray-hair yelled, "We're in a dead zone." Okay, that's not what I want to hear at all: no bars and dead zone. By this time, Janie had come up and explained that they couldn't contact any emergency services because we were in a cell phone dead zone - no bars. Ah, so I'm not going to die, right? No, not right now.
The ladies were locals out for their morning constitutional. They tried to explain how to get to the Mount Desert Island Emergency Room in Bar Harbor, but, as we would find out later, it is not the easiest thing to get to. Finally, one of them, the "no bars" lady, suggested that we go to the park headquarters, which is just a bit down the road. Good idea. I'll have someone trained in emergency medical issues assess the damage, and s/he can tell me if I need stitches or whatever. I racked the bikes while Janie prepared RVan for motoring, and we were off to the headquarters in short order with me, the "dead zone" bike klutz, driving. I expect Janie was a little concerned, but she knew she didn't want to drive RVan. After rereading this, I find myself wondering just how old these "old ladies" were. I expect they were actually my age, certainly not much older. I'm sorry, but I just don't feel 62. I don't want to be 62, but I guess I have to be - 62.
When we got to the park headquarters, we found two uniformed women thoroughly focused on doing "paper work" on their computers - or maybe they were just surfing the Internet. When one of them finally looked up and asked if she could help us, I pointed to my leg and said, "I seem to be leaking." She then looked down at my leg with the red blood streaks and bandana bandage and sorta blanched. She came out and took a closer look, conferred with her fellow worker, and decided to call Ranger David. While we waited for David, she asked what happened and I pretty much relayed the story as written above. Janie thought I might be in shock or something because I could have just said, "I slipped on a rock." But you know that isn't my way. In fact, I found myself practicing the write up every time someone asked about the accident. That's what doing these Saturday AMs has done to my life ;-)
David was a moderate-sized but very fit-looking young man with a long pony tail that made him look Hawaiian or Native American, which he may very well have been. He breezed into the room and asked, "Where's the amputee?" First no bars, then dead zone, and now amputation - it was turning into quite a day, eh? He took a look and decided it was too much for him, so he took some information about where, when, and how it happened AND he asked for my SS number. Hunh? They have to file an injury report, so I guess they need this sort of information. Apparently this sort of thing happens frequently because by the time David was finished taking down the data, the lady at the desk handed us a pre-printed map showing the route to the emergency room.
Bar Harbor is one of those little villages that has overgrown its available space. The result is narrow, over-crowded streets and a hospital that is located in the middle of all the hub and bub. Fortunately, it was still early and most of the tourist traffic had not yet materialized. We followed the directions and found ourselves in the hospital parking lot. It seemed to be the original hospital that has been enlarged repeatedly over the years. Thus, you have new wing attached to new wing, which results in some confusing traffic patterns for finding parking places - all of this is complicated by driving a big ol' van. Fortunately, the Emergency Room is well announced, although it directed us along a curiously circuitous route to get there. All the way, we were half expecting to run into B'n'C, but, alas, they were off doing other things. Oh, the hospital address may be revealing: 10 Wayman Lane. Hell, it isn't even a street, it's a lane fer chrissake.
We walked into the Mount Desert Island (MDI) Hospital Emergency Room and were greeted by Mary Ann Spirs, 2002 Employee of the Year, who took down some necessary information and quickly handed us off to Suzy, the triage nurse. Suzy either had a bad head cold or serious sinus issues - don't cough on my open wounds, please. Although not in prime health, Suzy was very professional and, after taking my vitals, handed me over to physicians assistant Reid Kincaid. Reid was a youngish (turns out to be 37, but didn't look much over 27), thin, athletic-looking PA specializing in ERs - AND - dressed in BLACK scrubs. Oh my, no bars, dead zone, amputee, and now a man dressed in black. Can it get any better? Well, yes, it can ;-)
When Reid (we were quickly on a first name basis) asked what happened, I had yet another opportunity to fine-tune my Saturday AM description. By this time, Janie knew I was just being my usual verbose self, but Wanda, David, Mary Ann, Suzy and now Reid, didn't. They all must have thought I was delirious. Do all these people really need to know that while biking the wonderful Acadian Carriage Paths looking at a tree covered with spider webs in the drainage valley between two bodies of water and the natural breeze oh, hell, I just slipped on a rock. What are you going to do about it? As it turns out, Reid spent seven years in various ERs in Alaska. So do you think Reid has seen worse injuries than this? Oh yeah. But they weren't MY injuries and don't forget I'm an only child, former college professor, who writes Saturday AM. So listen to my story, please.
Reid outlined the procedure: cleaning, stitches, bandages, antibiotics, and when did you have your last tetanus booster? Okay, it was at this point that I first started feeling real fear. Tetanus shot. Do you remember your last tetanus shot? I do, too. They hurt like hell. It was going to be difficult enough to sleep with sore shins, now a sore shoulder, too - damn. Try as I might, I couldn't prove that I had a tetanus shot in the last ten years. A bit later, the self-proclaimed Evil Nurse came in with a needle full of tetanus serum. We discussed the discomfort of such things as she poked it in my right shoulder; right shoulder, left leg - yeah sleeping is going to be interesting. Oh well, at least we were having a good time, even if I might have to pay for it later. Oh, we got the bill this week: $900 for the ER visit. When you add in the medication, local X-rays (read on), and stitch removal, the total easily exceeds $1200 - for a simple little two-foot fall off a hunk of granite. Thank goodness for health insurance (we co-pay only ~$100).
After the Evil Nurse did her duty, Reid came back and, to my amazement, washed my wounds with saline solution and began sewing me up. Why was I amazed? Well, I don't have a lot of ER experience. In fact, I haven't had a lot of hospital experience at all, but I've had a lot more OR than ER experience. Thus, I was expecting to be shaved and slathered in that sterilizing brown liquid that looks more like gravy than a medical condiment. I asked Reid about it. He said the brown liquid has been shown to cause more damage than good, and about the leg shaving thing, they don't do that sort of thing in the ER, but he did suggest a nice shop just down the street where I can get a shave, pedicure, and (wink, wink) massage.
Before stitching me up, Reid described the wounds to us. The upper one was a jagged wound that will require ten or so running stitches. The lower injury was a puncture wound - to the bone, I might add - that would take about three stitches to close. The stitches should be removed in about a week. Hmmm, we're traveling, that means another ER visit somewhere? Yep - unless Bob or Mikey takes 'em out. I wanted to have my family Dr see it and remove the stitches, so we waited until we got home. As fate would have it, after ten days, our local nurse took one look at my leg, got this kinda snarly look and said, "That still looks angry; some of those will have to be dug out." That's just what I wanted to hear. When our family Dr came in, he said it looks like they should wait until Friday (two weeks to the day) and in the meantime, I should get some X-rays to see if the bone is infected. We don't want none of that bone infection thing ;-)
Back to Reid Kincaid - doesn't it sound like his name should be Dr Drake Remora? So tell me, Reid, will I be able to go out and bike today? Sure, why not. You should rest, ice the leg, and keep it elevated, but, what the hell, knock yourself out, bike if you want. The image of biking the trails with my left leg wrapped in an ice pack and propped up on the handle bars passed through my mind. To make me feel better, Reid told us about this lady who took a bus from California to Acadia just to bike the Carriage Paths. She rented a bike in Bar Harbor, got to a trail head parking lot, road across the parking lot, crashed into one of those rocks, and broke her arm. Back on the bus to CA. Yeah, I can bike today, although I might be paying for it tomorrow.
Once he was done with the stitching, he started dispensing the post-ER instructions. He gave us a prescription for antibiotics and said, "No alcohol." Allright, stop right there. Did I tell you that we planned to meet our friends at the Atlantic Brewing Company? Reid gave me a knowing, almost fatherly look and said, "I suppose you could wait till tomorrow to start the antibiotics." I could have kissed him right then and there.
Then Reid told me to take 800 mg of Ibuprofen to combat inflammation and pain. When he was finished with his post-ER instructions, I started repeating them to ensure I knew what to do. When I said 800 mg Ibuprofen a day, he quickly corrected me: 800 mg Ibuprofen THREE TIMES a day. OMG, that'll be 12 Ibuprofen plus the antibiotic plus my vitamins, prilosec, Claritin, chondroitin, and Ca supplement. I'll be spending most of my vacation taking pills. Reid ended our encounter with, "Sign here. Have a nice bike ride."
As the door closed behind us, we said to no one in particular: "Uh, is there a pharmacy nearby?" The air did not answer, so we drove around Bar Harbor looking for the grocery we stopped at last year. No pharmacy there, but the lady told us where to find 2 - a Rite Aid that "doesn't have enough pharmacists" and West End Rx, the pharmacy she uses. We found Rite Aid first and Janie went in. All the employees Janie spoke with had some kind of accent and odd names like Vili & Mariya. One took my insurance card and prescription and said come back around three this afternoon. No problem, we'll come back AFTER our bike ride. We headed back to Duck Brook Bridge, but the small parking area was overflowing. As luck would have it, while I was turning around, a car pulled out. We quickly took the empty slot, unracked the bikes, and hit the trail exactly three hours after we started earlier in the morning. And yes, we did go back to the scene of the crime. There were no hunks of skin on the rock. In fact, the rock looked entirely innocent. I still don't fully understand how it happened, but we now all know it did.
Bike data: 22.7 miles, 3 hrs bike time, 4 hrs real
time, ~14 stitches, 1 tetanus shot
but no picture of the "dream catcher tree"
We arrived at the Atlantic Brewing Company around 4:15, but there was no B'n'C. Ah, but I have learned. I went into the gift shop and asked if Bob from Alaska had been there. You see, I've learned that Bob makes himself known wherever he visits. Hell, I do the same thing. In fact, I'm very sure Reid, Suzy, and Mary Ann have had at least one chuckle over our ER visit. Sure enough, the sales girls said, "Yeah, there was a Bob from Alaska here. He's a tall guy with a white beard and wearing a red shirt, right? He was here around two." Okay, I don't know what shirt he might be wearing but he is tall and white but he was supposed to be here at 4, not 2. It turns out Bawb just couldn't wait. He and Char had done a formal beer tasting, scouted out the BBQ for tonight and contributed to the gift shop cash register.
B'n'C arrived in the parking lot, for the second time, around 4:30. I walked over and announced, "No matter what you did today, I can top it." Bob: have a beer, take your mind off it, and don't worry about those stitches - I can take 'em out, no problem. We ordered up a smattering of brews - all were very good to excellent - and a couple BBQ samplers: chicken, sausage, ribs, pulled pork, potato salad, slaw, baked beans, and TWO great sauces. We ate and drank our fill so much so I soon had to pee. It was necessary to go out the screen door to get to the restroom. As I approached the screen door, I noticed a round puncture hole at about hip height. Hmmm, looks like some other GUY has had to go - in a big hurry - with one of those four hour erections they talk about on TV. It sorta broke me up and set a good tone for the rest of the evening - yeah, Don, the Mainely Meat "chef" can pull my pork anytime.
After I had told my tale - for, what, the third or fourth time - B'n'C related what they'd been up to. They'd driven across the causeway 2 or 3 times trying to get some bars (phone reception) so they could take care of some bill paying at home, snooped around looking at old houses, found a B-17 to explore, found a motel off the road and gone to Atlantic Brewing for a tour, tasting, gift shopping, bought a gallon of mustard, an assortment of beer, and made friends with Don, the "pork puller" who drinks Bud. Yeah, you read that correctly. He bought a gallon of mustard. As you will find out later, we eventually found ourselves at the mustard factory in Eastport and bought another gallon of mustard, along with a bunch of other items.
Church with an explosion of shingle styles.
So we now find ourselves parked outside the High Tide Motel #19 at about 9:30 in a steady Ophelia drizzle. I've already dozed off a couple times while Janie writes up her log. When she finally came to bed, I leaned over and in my best little-boy voice said, "I've had QUITE a day." We had a good laugh and anointed "I've had quite a day" as the phrase of the trip. It was quite a day AND quite a trip - for sure ;-)
Now that I've related the details of the day, I can tell you some of the alternative "titles" Janie came up with: "Dream Catcher turned Nightmare Tree", "Wounded Knee Hero", "I'm Leaking", "Attack of the Passamaquoddy Granite", and "You Can't Beat Our Meat". I can also tell you that one of the scariest things about the whole ordeal was the fact that after the initial gush of blood, the bleeding pretty much stopped. At first I was very relieved that the bleeding stopped, but later I started to wonder why. I asked PA Reid and our family Dr. They both said that there isn't much circulation in that location, which explains why it is taking so long to heal. I also have to say that there really wasn't much pain or discomfort involved. Hey, with 2.4 g of Ibuprofen in my system - and the antibiotics - and the copious amounts of alcohol - and the distraction of BAWB - I guess I should have known. No, not much discomfort at all. And the best news of all I felt absolutely no effect from the tetanus shot. All in all, it was a pretty innocent adventure - just the kind we like ;-)
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