WAMM Members Anne Winkler-Morey and David Winkler-Morey have set off on their bike’s to travel across the country for a year. Here is Anne’s blog. This week Anne’s Pedalstory is from Maine.
Much to catch up on: Writing at the Portland, Maine coffee shop – security key: stareastlove. We are almost done going east. 2005 miles. To celebrate passing the 2,000 milepoint (13,000 more to go) and in grateful appreciation of the people who have carried us through this last week: Erik, Deborah and Tyler in Keene NH ; Art and Sarah in Auburn NH, Ray and “Bike to Australia”, in Eliot ME, Noah and Stacy and family in Arundel ME, Denali and family at Higgins Beach, and Erik, Katie, Oliver, and Lilly in Freeport, we are sending $20 to each of the organizations we are raising money for – Project Success, Centro Campesino, Women Against Military Madness and Bikes not Bombs.
If you would like to join us at this juncture in supporting these organizations that help move us toward a world of without war, with education for all, you can send a check to one of the addresses below [see their blog], or you can go to the donate page and use pay pal. Thank you!
Evening of August 5
We are saved from the freeway traffic of Manchester NH (and the making another circle around Bobooge Lake in Central New Hampshire) by Art and Sarah of Auburn NH who make a last minute rescue. They put our bikes in their van in front of Tortilla Flats restaurant along route 3. They deliver us to their house and leave us there while they keep their date for the evening. In their guest bedroom with views of Prairie flowers we feel the stress of the day leave us. Davechanges a tire. Anne sleeps with two dogs at her feet.
Art and Sarah are hikers and bikers and their wedding cake topper shows two figures with back packs and two dogs at their feet. The only other warm showers visitor they have had was biking around the world, so we are not nearly as interesting. Sergei began in the Ukraine and biked across every continent. His worst experience was in LA when the LAPD surrounded his tent and told him he had to move on. Sergei’s startlingly beautiful photos are on the web. I will get the link.
Art says his middle name is Detour but luckily Sarah knows how to read a map.
We are wondering if there ought to be a law against the coupling of two people who are direction- challenged.
Art and Sarah live right on the Rockingham rail trail and we hop on it the next day, glad to be off the road for a while.
The ride into Portsmouth NH involves some high traffic maneuvering on Rt 33. Portsmouth is like Provincetown or the Wisconsin Dells: a major tourist destination with hundreds of shops. After 45 minutes of walking our hot tired bodies through the streets eyeing expensive and fake, until we find cheap and good and have a reviving meal at Dos Amigos, a few feet from bridge over the Piscatqua River that connects New Hampshire and Maine. It is closed to motorized traffic but still open for bikes and peds. Apparently the two states are fighting over who will pay for bridge repairs, stalling the process.
Kittery Maine is serene compared to Portsmouth. We find signs to EASTERN TRAIL and bike route that keeps you off the main drag and meanders its way to Portland ME. Five miles up Dave breaks a derailleur cable. We are in Eliot, Maine.
We stop at the corner store in Eliot- the “Meet Market”- where we meetRay Fauknerwho helps us to think through what to do. He recommends “Bicycle Bob” who he grew up with. Bob’s store is closed and at his home phone number, furnished by Ray, there is no answer. Ray apologizes for not having a place for us to stay and suggested we ask the Eliot Police if we can camp in their back yard – attached to the town park.
We do so. The policeman is very friendly, even offering to take us to a hotel near a bike shop. He is willing to let us camp and we choose that offer knowing a hotels on Saturday night will kill our budget. So we set up our tent.
“This has never happened before” the police officer says- a bit of excitement in his voice.
Moments later Ray is back – he had been thinking of other places we could stay and is relieved we are settling in. He insists on giving us $40 “for bike repairs.” He needed to pay forward. We are deeply moved and hope it is ok if we send the cash on to the organizations we are supporting.
20 minutes pass and a man with loaded bicycle and sign on his back that says “Biking to Australia” joins us. “I was just going to ask here if I could set up- looks like my prospects are good.”
What ‘never happened before” in Eliot now happened twice in the same half hour.
“Bike to Australia” has a derailleur cable in his back pocket and the tools to make the repairs. He and Dave do a make-shift repair.
In the police office there is a poster: A CRIME CLOCK. I tells you how often there is a murder (every 32 minutes) a property crime (every five seconds). Not the kind of clock you want up in your kitchen.
Other then three vagabonds creating a campground in the back of the station, all is quiet in Eliot on August 6/7 2011.
At 2 AM they take out all the vehicles and wash them down.
At 3 AM it begins to pour.
We leave the police station at 8 AM. It is raining steadily, and does so for the next three hours. We press on following the Easter Trails signs which keep us off the main drag by weaving back and forth east and west. If you have time and you want quiet and beautiful hilly riding follow the Eastern Trail signs. If you are trying to get to Portland in time for the wedding – perhaps not. The only problem for those who are in no hurry, is that route does not take you into towns where you can pee, rest, and do things like laundry. After 35 mileswe stop at a help-yourself fruit stand – buy and down a pint of blueberries and rest on the bench , long enough for the owner to come out. He tells us that we are just 1 and 1/2 miles beyond Kennebunk (pronounced Kennybunk) – gives us directions to the laundry there.
He also tells us about his job working for a pharmaceutical company in Kennebunk. “We are hiring.”
He is dismayed at all the people with advanced degrees applying for their entry level jobs.
Why are they doing so well?
“The government has contracted with us for a large supply of anthrax”.
At the Kennebunk laundry we meet Noah Wentworth. He is wearing a T shirt that says “kneading conference 2009.” People gather to share in all aspects of wheat growing and bread baking. I am reminded of the man from Michigan, we met in western Wisconsin headed to the wood turning conference in St Paul. Good reasons to gather.
We ask Noah about places to camp and he invites us to stay in the bunk house in the barn of the organic farm where he lives with his extended family.
The farm is startlingly beautiful: grape arbors, apple plum peach and cherry trees and every type of vegetable. Noah’s parents bought the farm 40 years ago from a 90 year old farmer who had no offspring to pass it on. All of the buildings on the farm have been built by Noah’s father Stacy, or moved there from somewhere else. We stay in an old barn that was transported to the spot. the Wentworth’s have created a cozy bedroom there, where people who want to learn about organic farming (WOOFs -work on organic farms) stay.
We found we had connections:
ToMinnesota– family members have worked withWinona Laduke on the White Earth Indian Reservation.
To Education: Noah’s mother, who we did not meet, founded an alternative school (as Stacysaid “alternative , free, open, holistic, it all means the same thing. ” Students plan their own curriculum, they take no tests, and they get into whatever college they chose. The school is located right next to the farm.
To long term traveling. Noah did a cross country bike trip when he was 20. We talked about how difficult it can be to always be somewhere new, to live outside and that it can possibly drive one crazy. Noahtold us about a story on the NPR show Snap Decisions (?) who spent 71 days in a desert living on a puddle of water and what lived in it. Warm, safe in the Wentworth household, we felt far from that but..
The farm is moving toward zero carbon impact , with it solar panels and compostable toilets that just seem sane. (Pour a cupful of wood chips into the toilet after each use to deal with the smell).
We talked about the politics of the bike paths They said there is resistance in Arundel among some because the town has to pay for upkeep of this part of the path. Stacy’s (Noah’s father, who rides his bike six miles into Kennebunk everyday to have coffee with friends) said this about the Maine to Florida East coast greenway:
“They should just build the bike path. Then at least we can ride our bikes to the unemployment office”
A frustrating morning after we left the farm. I had trouble getting my grades in for my on line course. The department that laid me off tried to cancel my email and it has really screwed things up. ( Talk about rubbing salt.) It was humid and we kept getting lost. We had to stop after ten miles and just sit. There I did some writing and lost all of what I had done for three days. All minor things that were adding up. Then we ate a lot of food, it rained, the humidity lifted and we figured out where we were going and the day started to go much better. Maine coast without ever seeing the ocean. Now that path brought us there , but only for a moment. It wound around beach towns and through an Arboretum that took you through a salt marsh. About15 miles south of Portland we are off the road and on a dirt path.
A woman rides by us and asks where we are going, how far have we come, god bless you… and a minute later do you have a place to stay tonight? I’m rentng a beach house – and we are having eggplant parmesan for supper.
Damari is going through a difficult transition in her life. Her husband of 31 years died in May. She is here in Higgins Beach with her newlywed son and daughter in-law and a couple of their friends. Before long we feel as though we are part of the family. We go for a swim in the ocean and then come back and sit on her porch and watch the sunset over the ocean while drinking strawberry daquiries (our first time- not last- its rum and frozen strawberries, with a little frozen lemonade YUM). Damari is a bread baker (used to own a bakery- her bread recipe is on the recipe page) and a teacher and activist. She said she wore a black arm band to the school where she was teaching at the start of the Iraq war and shortly after was relieved of her position.