Big Storms, Big Apples, and Big Buildings

Easternmost point in the U.S

There’s not a whole lot to see in northern Maine besides trees and lakes. It’s really pretty up there, though! I did make it up to the northeastern-most point of the U.S., the town of Madawaska. The whole way up I’d been looking forward to sitting down in some little cafe with a cup of tea while pondering over something. Yes, I was determined to sit and enjoy my success at reaching this far end of the American Empire! Upon arrival, I found gas stations, lots of small houses, and road work. I walked into the public library and had the following conversation with the woman behind the counter:
“Is there anywhere in town I can find a cafe?”
Mouth agape, blank stare.
“You know, somewhere I can get a cup of coffee or tea?”
“There’s a McDonald’s down the street by the gas station…”
Great.
I settled for an iced coffee in a bottle from the gas station down the road and then found a passerby to take my picture in the “Most NorthEastern Town in the United States” (so says the sign, see?). Not an hour after I had arrived, I left to ride Route 1 south down to a little town called East Machias. I had started the day in western Maine; by the time I had reached East Machias, I had done over 500 miles since breakfast. With a sore butt and blisters on my throttle hand, I reached my host’s house – a published writer and fisherman named Paul – and set up camp in his greenhouse. Paul is a fantastic fellow who has traveled extensively through foreign countries, both by himself as well as with his wife and two kids. If any of you think you don’t have the time or resources to go places, you’re wrong. Paul is a real-life example of what you can do and where you can go regardless of lifestyle, and an inspiration to me in my travels.
I stayed at Paul’s place for two nights, spending a day in Lubec and Campobello (Canada), where Franklin D. Roosevelt had a family cottage that is now part of an International Park. On the morning of August 5 I said my goodbyes to Paul and his kids, and left to explore the great land of Acadia National Park!

F.D.R.’s cottage on Campobello
Awesome building in Acadia. That garage would be perfect for the bike…
Lovely Acadia
Reconstruction of The Friendship of Salem

At the end of a long day of exploring the gorgeous seaside park of Acadia I arrived in Belfast, Maine, where I was to stay with a wonderful couple, Mike and Ellie, who lived in a gorgeous home built in the 1870’s. They invited me to stay for as long as I want (this seems to be a common thing among good people) and even took me out for a little driving tour of the town. They took me out to dinner TWICE, once with their friends where I had a really good sandwich, and once by ourselves (actually, Mike wasn’t there because he had to work) so I could try a Maine lobster and Maine blueberry pie before I left the state. I didn’t argue with that and accepted their generosity with a glad heart and an even ‘gladder’ palate.

The Great Plymouth Rock

Of course, I HAD to go to Salem, Massachusetts, so there I stayed for a couple days with a wonderful woman named Barbara. Barbara knows everything about everything in the towns and cities surrounding her, so once again I had my own tour guide to point out things I never would have discovered. I spent one day wandering around downtown Salem – there is a lovely memorial to all the victims of the witch trials – and one day down in Boston. While in Boston I met up with the long-lost Theresa Vela, known to me from Berkeley! Theresa is another one of those people who knows everything about everything around her. After getting together with her wife and their two friends at a pub to drink Sam Adams beer and watch the women’s USA soccer team dominate, we went for a walking tour of old Boston, where I saw Faneuil Hall (birthplace of the Revolution); the graves of Sam Adams, Ben Franklin, and John Hancock; and the site of the Boston Massacre. I also had a beer in one of the oldest taverns in Boston, The Green Dragon, where Paul Revere and John Hancock are known to have often enjoyed a few drinks!
Another night in Salem and then off to Plymouth to see Plymouth Rock. I was told not to expect anything exciting (which I wasn’t; I just wanted to see the rock). Indeed, it is just a rock, or a small boulder. As it was a hot and humid day and I was perspiring profusely in Plymouth, I decided to move on after about 45 minutes and continue down the coast toward Rhode Island. I met up with a fellow BMW rider named Bill and his wife Nancy, a wonderful friendly couple who own a bed & breakfast in Newport. Bill and Nancy allowed me to sit on their front porch and wait out the heaviest rain they’d had all year – thank God I arrived minutes before the shower began! Once the thunder and showers ceased, I headed over to my host’s place, just a couple miles away. Erica is a super-fun and generous host who took the time to show me around Newport and Providence (I arrived just in time for a big block party in Providence called Foo Fest, with lots of local bands and artists; so much fun!).
From Newport it was off to Charlestown for a night, where a BMW rider named Rex and his wife let me camp in their yard for a night. Yet another pair of awesome, generous people. Rex took me out for a big breakfast and saw me off. That evening I made it to New York City, where I stayed with my – get this – First Cousin Once Removed! Yep, Dad’s cousin Lynn is a fantastic, fun, energetic woman who appreciates life and sees beauty in everything around her. The evening I arrived she took me out for Polish food to celebrate our ancestor’s immigration to New York from Poland. I ended up spending a week taking a big bite out of the Big Apple, exploring Manhattan as much as I could. My feet were so, SO sore after my first few days there! I could write pages on what I did and saw in NYC, but I’ll keep it short and sweet for now. Ah, how about a bullet point list?

  • American Museum of Natural History – My favorite attraction here. I simply could not leave the museum, even though my feet were screaming for a break and my stomach was whining for food. I did leave to buy a pretzel and then returned for more exploring.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – Second in line of my favorite exhibits, the Met is filled with artifacts from around the world. I saw ancient Egyptian tombs and Samurai armor, old American furniture and ancient Eastern textiles. One could easily spend a week here and not see everything.
  • Museum of Modern Art – Some beautiful works of art here, though modern art isn’t exactly my cup of tea…
  • Guggenheim Museum – Filled with contemporary art, I really couldn’t appreciate this one, though I’m glad I can say I’ve been here.
  • 9/11 Memorial – A beautiful tribute and memorial to the heroes and victims of 9/11.
  • Empire State Building – Iconic, though the lines were horrendous. Great views from the top, though.
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – What more can I say? Pretty cool to see this stuff close-up instead of in textbook photos.
  • One Broadway play and one off-Broadway play – both wonderful! We saw Newsical (a comedy that succeeded in insulting everybody in the room), and Spider Man (a fantastic, original display of theatrical genius).
  • The new World Trade Center under construction
  • Lots of wandering around, checking out Central Park and Times Square and trying to weave through the thick walls of human bodies that fill the streets.

 Well, that’s it for now, more to come later!

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