Culture Shock

September 19th, 2008 by scott and becky

71 km, 4.75 hours

Our morning began with a wonderful breakfast at the Marrion Mansion B&B. Shortly after breakfast, Becky headed into downtown Portland to visit the visitor information centre and pick up some maps. Unfortunately, her visit was not nearly as successful as we had hoped. We had been taking for granted the visitor information services in the Canadian Maritimes, which are significantly more useful that those in Maine. The person was able to provide a free road map, but did not have any information on accommodations or bicycle trails. When Becky asked if they happened to have any tourist information (maps) of New Hampshire the comment received was “We are in Maine!”

Since Portland, Maine was not on the Adventure Cycling route, we needed to choose an alternate route. On the CAT Ferry we were told about the East Coast Greenway (http://greenway.org), intended to become an urban equivalent to the Appalachian Trail. Scott downloaded the GPS tracks for the Eastern Coast Greenway and the Adventure Cycling route. Between the two of them and the very rudimentary maps provided on the GPS, we hoped that it would be good enough to get us to our destination (Boston).

We found the Greenway without too much trouble. The first part of the path was The Eastern Trail, a paved bike path, which was nice and provided us with views of the Portland River, through a landfill-turned green space, and into the fields of a really nice recreation center. The trail then turned to crushed stone, and led through some nice wooded areas.

Since we wanted to see the Maine coast, we decided to get off the trail and head towards the coastal road at Pine Point. Once we reached the coast, we experienced culture shock. The main street ran for about 7 km, and contained only motels on both sides of the street. The motels were not spectacular, rather budget vacation hotels. We were dumbfounded by the sheer number of them. With so many motels, we could finally understand why the tourist office did not have an accommodation listing – it would be too long!

The ride through this “vacation” area was especially odd because there were very few people around. Many of the restaurants were closed. It was a beautiful (if not chilly 14 degree) sunny afternoon. We speculated that it was deserted because it was a Friday and the kids were all still in school. Come the weekend the place would likely be a zoo.

Every 5 or 6 hotels there would be a short street that provided beach access. From what we could see from our bikes, it looked like there was a nice long sand beach behind the motels. However, we did not get off our bikes to take a closer look, so we aren’t certain what the beach there is like, and whether it is all accessible, or split up into individual “beaches” for each resort and condo complex.

We pressed on until 5 pm, and started to look for accommodation. Fortunately, we were back on the Adventure Cycling route, so had some idea of the towns and facilities coming up. This reduced some of our stress, although we were beginning to get concerned as it got closer to sunset about how much further we could press on. Finally, we stopped at Wells, Maine for the night. We found an nice inexpensive motel that conveniently had a kitchenette in the room. It also had a hot tub two doors down and a laundry across the parking lot. Becky cooked a delicious dinner in the kitchenette, and we enjoyed a nice soak in the hot tub before crashing for the night. A bit pricy ($70 US), but the hot tub made it all worthwhile!

Elevation Profile
Download GPS Track in GPX format

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