No, I’m not writing about Congress (and there are even more reasons since that article was written), though goodness knows I could be. What I am writing about is the apparent wholesale abandonment of driving sense on the part of the motoring public. No, no, I’m going to through bicyclists and pedestrians, too. Holey moley!
This past June I whined on Facebook about an incident that happened while waiting to turn left into our driveway, which is on a busy road. I was on my way home from work and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before making the turn. I was on the bike, having made sure to flash my brake light a few times while slowing and had both my brake light and left turn signal on. Just as traffic clears, this lame-brain on a BMW touring bike goes by ON MY LEFT, cigarette dangling out of his mouth, Hawaiian shirt flapping in the breeze, and no helmet on his empty head. I give him the horn; he gives me the finger. Fair exchange, I guess, but WTH?!
This morning I’m also on the bike, second in line to cross a busy intersection that’s one lane in each direction on each leg (so no right turn lane, no left turn lane, just one lane). The car ahead of me has its left turn signal on and has to wait for someone coming straight across who must have imagined another lane. Meanwhile, there are vehicles in the oncoming lane with their left turn signals on. I want to make sure the car ahead of me has cleared so the drivers on the other side of the intersection can see me when I cross the intersection to keep going straight. I’m owning the lane and, six-foot-four plus the silver helmet, plus the hi-viz, high contrast XXL jacket I’m wearing, I’m not hard to see but this knucklehead right behind me just couldn’t wait and passes me on the right just as I’m beginning to cross. Once more with the horn, and a few morning pleasantries. Did I really have my face shield open when I said that? Oopsie.
After riding through the rain and mist, and escaping whatever ghosts there were (or weren’t) in the Haynesville Woods, crossing into New Brunswick and rewarding ourselves with a very nice German-style dinner, Don and I made our way up the eastern side of the St. John River. Our destination was Eagle Lake, Maine, home of legendary (in Maine, anyway) legislator John Martin.
We rode about 350 miles on the first day of our trip. Rolling out of bed the next morning I was reminded how much more physical riding a motorcycle is than driving a car. That I was probably a little more tense because of the rain most likely added to the muscle strain, but a little Tylenol and a little more Motrin took care of that. Some coffee and a hearty German-style breakfast (no beer, thanks), along with clearing skies got us ready for the day’s excursion tracing the northeast border of Maine and the St. John Valley.
All you big and burly men who roll the trucks along
Better listen, you’ll be thankful when you hear my song
You have really got it made, if you’re haulin’ goods
Anyplace on earth but those Haynesville Woods
It’s a stretch of road up north in Maine
That’s never, ever, ever seen a smile
If they buried all the truckers lost in them Woods
There’d be a tombstone every mile
Count ’em off, there’d be a tombstone every mile
– “Tombstone Every Mile,” by Dick Curless
We weren’t loaded with potatoes or headed for Boston town and, fortunately, it wasn’t winter, so the road through the Haynesville Woods wasn’t a ribbon of ice. But it was one of the most memorable parts of our ride across Maine.
After making up some time by taking I-95 from Newport to Orono, we tooled up along the Penobscot River and through more towns I had only heard of or known from their exits on the highway – Milford, Greenbush, Passadumkeag, Enfield, Lincoln, Winn, Mattawamkeag, all on the way to Macwahoc, and the road through the Haynesville Woods. Route 2 doesn’t pass neatly through the center of most of these towns, so I can’t exactly say I’ve seen all there is to see, but riding it does give you a sense of, oh my, just how large Maine really is.
We were about to embark on our – well, my – first real motorcycle tour in the six years I’ve been riding. The plan was to leave Greater Portland, ride up to Bethel and cross most of Maine on U.S. Route 2 to New Brunswick, Canada. From there, ride up the St. John Valley to northern Maine and back home again along “the other Route 1.” And, for the most part, that’s the way it turned out.
After riding motorcycles for more than six years (not continuously, of course) I finally get to go on an extended ride. An ultimate journey it’s not, but tomorrow a friend and I take off on a three day ride through the heart of Maine and New Brunswick’s St. John valley. Three days, two nights, over 800 miles via US Route 2, the Haynesville Woods, various roads following the eastern shore of the St. John River to Fort Kent and Route 11 (the other Route 1) back home. I’ll report back later this week.
Yes, I know it’s been a while, and it seems to have become a more or less constant condition. Still, the last few weeks have been busy, and I expect the coming summer to be full of its own comings and goings. A couple of comings and goings to note: middle daughter is home from college for the summer (yay!), eldest is moved into an apartment with roommates but we’ll still get to see her a couple of times this summer (yay, but also a harbinger of changes to come), and, though neither a coming nor a going, our youngest is itching for the school year to be over.
I did want to mention the end of a good friend’s blog, however. (Can’t link to it since it’s gone.) After more than a decade at it, my long-time friend Brian has decided to take a break from the grind of finding interesting and amusing things on the Internet to share, often with insightful comments about them. I’m not sure what, if any, plans he has to resume any kind of creative online presence but I appreciate both his efforts and the need to take a break.
Summertime will be full of softball tournaments, at least one college visit, side trip to Washington, motorcycle rides, hiking, gardening and grilling, family times, and, oh yeah, I still have to work at least some of the time. Maybe I will find time along the way to share; maybe you will, too.