The Other Route 1: Prologue & Part 1

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I took advantage of some relative early spring warmth and went for a ride on our motorcycles. The morning was bright but still cold, with temperatures hovering around 40┬░ F, though it promised to warm up to the mid-fifties later in the day.

While at a local eatery an old guy who noticed our motorcycle gear struck up a conversation. He told us about various routes and roads, destinations and landmarks that made for good rides. Among those he mentioned was Maine Route 11, which stretches from Lebanon on the New Hampshire state line all the way to Fort Kent and the Canadian border, and which he referred to as “the other Route 1.”

In an age where we all take the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways (a.k.a the┬áInterstate Highway System) for granted, it’s worth remembering that there were interstate highways, and major intrastate highways before the present system was created beginning in the late 1950s. These roads travel through and pass by places that we rarely get to see from interstates, both because they account for a very small proportion of road miles and their necessary, but sterile and boredom-inducing sameness from one end of the country to the other. Many still exist, and are often in good condition because of their status as state (or sometimes federal) highways. Unlike Route 1, perhaps particularly in Maine, these other roads may offer a glimpse into what a place is really about, and in all its glory, or not. At least in the case of Maine’s Route 11, we’ll see.

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