Monday, June 29, 2009

Headed home to Honolulu, for now

By the time I got to Rochester, New Hampshire, I'd put my rain suit on three times and taken it off twice in the 200 miles from Ellsworth, Maine.

When I stopped at a Wendy's for something to eat, the drizzle let up outside and I took the suit off one last time. There were only 20 miles left to Portsmouth and I decided to make a last dash without it.

Bad idea. I should know by now that the weather changes as you approach the coast and it did -- for the worse. By the time I reached my sister Betsy's, I was soaked.

Before that, however, my new River Road rain suit had held up well. The waterproofing had worn off the top of my left boot where it works the shifter and my sock was getting damp, but there were no drips inside the nylon suit, my helmet kept the moisture out and water was still beading up on my gloves.

Chris had ridden along with me on his Fat Boy to Dysart's truck stop in Newport, where we ate a couple of enormous omelets and said so long. I'll visit him in Tennessee in August and he promises to take me on some great rides.

On I-95 from Bangor to Augusta everything else on the road was passing me, which got old. Driving 75 miles per hour in the rain to keep up didn't appeal -- think, "high-speed wobble." So, I switched to US 202 from Augusta to Rochester and then took the Spaulding Turnpike into Portsmouth.

US 202 goes through Lewiston, Maine's second-largest city. It's now a virtual museum of hydro-electric-powered industrial glory days and Victorian architecture, which I've by-passed in all my previous trips to Maine. Even in the gloom the huge factory buildings, now mostly idle, were impressive. The Great Falls of the Androscoggin River roared beneath the bridge connecting Lewiston with Auburn.

In Rochester, there was a Sunday evening crush of New Hampshire motorists heading home after readying their cottages on Lake Winnipesaukee for the Fourth of July weekend. The traffic to Portsmouth was a big change after almost three weeks on empty highways. For someone used to Honolulu's congestion, the freedom of Maine's open roads was a joy despite the weather.

Tomorrow morning, I fly back to the Islands, leaving the KLR at Betsy's until August, when I'll return to begin a ride to points south. Until then, this blog probably will take a break. I'm bringing a load of stuff to leave at home: extra tools, clothes and things I thought I'd use but never did and won't on the next trip.

I left the tent, sleeping bag and the rest of my camping gear at the cottage in Ellsworth, including a knapsack full of cooking gear and food -- mostly canned -- that I'd planned to use if the weather had cooperated. After I arrived in Portsmouth, I remembered there are two eggs in my plastic egg-case in the knapsack. I'm wondering if they'll survive the month until I return.

With eggs as with life, the devil's in the details.

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