Friday, June 19, 2009

Where in North America is Uncle Rod? Day 6

Friday, June 19, 2009
Parkman, ME
211 (1,797)

When I woke this morning, the rain was still pounding down outside. I went early down to the “continental breakfast” and had a few muffins and cups of coffee. Things were still drying in my room, so I decided to wait until checkout time to leave. Everyone did. The dozens of French Bikers at the hotel were all milling around the continental breakfast and procrastinating the rain until checkout time. By 11:00, I’d packed everything up, dry or not, and loaded the bike. As I carried my gear downstairs, the rain stopped for a moment for the first time in two days and I began loading the bike. At about 11:30, the parking lot was full of bikers warming their engines, and we all took to the highway at the same time. I headed North on I-93 for 35 miles before taking rt. 3 through the White Mountains and up to rt. 2 to take me into Maine. As I turned onto a stretch of rt. 115 between 3 and 2, a sign warned me to “brake for moose, it could save your life.” Within a quarter mile, I braked for two Moose, a cow and her calf, as they wandered across the road.
The ride up I-95 was surprisingly beautiful through the White Mountains, and for the first time in my life, I experienced two-lane interstate, as the pass was too narrow to create four lanes. For 35 miles, I enjoyed the respite from the rain that started as I’d loaded my bike and merely dealt with the misty drizzle and road spray. But as soon as I turned east on Rt. 3, the rain started again, and became increasingly heavy for the next 185 miles.
I rolled into Farmington soaked, and bottom weary, so I decided to stop for a stretch in the pouring rain at the first gas station I found. I pulled into the parking lot and was met by two men who invited me to go inside for a free cup of coffee and then return for free hotdogs. These guys had set up a tent in the lot and were grilling in the rain. Customer appreciation, they said. I protested that it was the first time I’d been there, so how could they appreciate me. They assured me they did, and grilled me up two hotdogs, which I ate while standing under their shelter and enjoying conversation with them. When it was time to press on, they gave me their cards and invited me to call them for a free, warm, dry place to stay next time I’m in Maine. So Maine has now tied Arkansas for the friendliest state I’ve visited.
A few hours later, I arrived in Parkman, via a change of plans from a facebook offer of a warm dry bed. The Johnstons took me in, washed my clothes, fed me Moose meat, and invited me to spend an extra day waiting for the weather to subside.
I decided to take them up on the offer. I’m a bit relaxed now, knowing my stuff has extra time to drive, and I can stay dry for a bit longer before once again braving the wet and wild.