It’s been interesting planning the routes these past few days. As you know, I have tried to stay off the interstates and concentrate on the back roads. However, when I was in Texas, Arizona and South Dakota I opted for the interstates based on the lack of population and the risks associated with being alone on the back roads. What I have found on the East Coast is just the opposite. The additional population creates small towns every few miles with 30 MPH speed limits. With these small towns comes road construction projects, traffic jams and detours. It’s interesting, I am almost being forced to take the interstate for fear that I wouldn’t make it back to Chicago until Christmas.
I left Rochester, NY to head for the Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondacks are a preserve that is 18,702 sq. miles or 6.1 million acres, and is best described as heavily wooded (2.3 million acres) with various mountains, the highest being Mt. Marcy at 5,200′. The southern part of my ride had some homes along the way, but no towns or businesses. At one point I was beginning to worry, since I didn’t pack any food except for some Oat bran bars. After 35 miles of nothing but forests and cabins, a grocery store/gas station/restaurant appeared. Trust me, I didn’t question what type of food they were serving, I was just happy to see them. To give you some idea of how rustic the setting was, their bathrooms were Port-a-Potties in the graveled parking lot, with no running water! Good thing we were in the middle of a magnificent pine forest. I guess there are trade offs in life.
My designation for the evening was Burlington, VT. While at lunch I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I only had 3-4 hours of riding in order to reach Burlington. One of the treats of this leg of the trip was the one hour, 10 mile ferry ride across Lake Champlain. As a biker, I got preferential treatment and was allowed to be the first one into the holding compartment prior to the other cars be loaded (see photos). Once I disembarked, I rode to my hotel, checked in and headed into the town of Burlington, VT for dinner. The best way I can describe Burlington is that it’s a lot like Boulder, CO. but with a New England flair ie. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, etc. There are plenty of “alternative” life styles and some homelessness. The main shopping street is Church Street and it is limited to pedestrian traffic only. The shops and restaurants are quite interesting and as you can imagine the place was packed with younger people mostly in their 20’s and 30’s.
I am writing this from the land of Saabs & Subaru’s. If you ever wonder who buys these cars, you just have to come to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. They must have a great sales incentive program for this area, because these cars are everywhere!
My destination for the evening was Bangor, ME, about 300 miles to the east. On the way to Bangor I went right past Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in Waterbury, VT. Even through I am lactose intolerant, I had to make the obligatory stop to have a quick taste. I threw caution to the wind (no pun intended) and had the a double scoop of chocolate. What the heck, I’m on a motorcycle all day and by myself! And yes, it was as good as I remember.
The terrain through Vermont and New Hampshire is mild and rolling and there are trees everywhere you turn. At a gas stop I met some bikers from Maine and they gave me some pointers on the best route to take to Madawaska, ME. When I asked about the moose, they said that I should be careful in the early morning and evening. Needless to say, I listened to them, but even in the middle of the day I kept my eyes out for any sign of movement on either side of the roadway.
While on I-95 about 20 miles west of Bangor, ME I had my first encounter. While traveling in the right lane, at the posted speed limit of 65 MPH and keeping an eye out for moose, I believe either a large fox or wolf ran perpendicular across the highway, approximately 100 yards in front of me. If you ever want to get your adrenaline pumping this is a good way to accomplish it. I immediately hit the brakes and fortunately he was far enough in front of me that it wasn’t close. You realize how quickly these animals can move and that they have no knowledge of the impending danger of the highway. The good news is that the beer truck that was following me was far enough back not to become a factor. I have become hyper sensitive to the following distances that others keep, because I can stop a hell of a lot faster than a fully loaded semi-trailer.
Today I just turned 12,000 miles on this trip. Tomorrow I plan on riding to my fourth corner! Can’t wait!!
Entering the Adirondacks
The ferry ride to Burlington, VT
At Ben & Jerry’s