Still reeling from yesterday’s ride in the rain & violent wind I was not a happy camper when I looked outside my room at 6:00am and discovered it was raining. The cats & dogs kind of rain, definitely not my idea of fun to ride in. The bike was under its cover but that wasn’t much help as the reloading process would expose it to the rain and it would be soaked when it was time to ride. And right I was, but at least I’d brought a plastic sheet to cover the Air Hawk seat pad with so it remained dry until the last moment.
I usually oil the chain in the morning after riding a few miles to warm it up. Today that would have been pointless as the weather channel showed nastiness as far as I could ride in any direction so I elected to do the deed right there in the parking lot. One of the things I picked up on my first long distance ride was to carry a few pieces of cardboard that could be bent and slipped behind the chain to act as a shield against overspray. One of the best sources for this turned out to be those one-piece promotional advertising brochures you find in all the motels and restaurant lobbies. They’re the perfect size and when you’re finished spraying they can be rolled up and tossed in the nearest garbage can. I brought a few from home but it would have been just as easy to pick them up at each motel. Heloise would have loved this one. Or not. I actually never met the woman.
This would be another no-photos day as the rain increased in intensity by the hour. Who wants to stop and take pictures in the rain? Not me, plus I couldn’t see more than a couple of hundred feet in any direction given the fog that accompanied the rain. I’d programmed the GPS to make the run to Bangor, Maine and I just sat back and followed its directions. Well sort of, I actually didn’t sit back, it was more of a forward hunch to try and minimize the effects of monsoon-like rain storm. It really didn’t help much, I ended up totally soaked with a tired back to boot. This is exactly why Gin & Tonics were invented.
At one point I came to a fairly large city, I think it may have been St John and a toll gate system suddenly appeared out of the carnage. The other day I passed through one and not being ready I had to damn near undress in order to get the money out. Four bucks they charged me, same as a car. That doesn’t seem fair, I think bikes should only have to pay half fare since we’re smaller and generally only have two wheels. Anyway I digress, today I spotted them far enough in advance and I was able to pull over into a yellow striped median affair and dig the money out in advance. Fortunately a sign had the amount posted, a mere fifty cents which was reasonable enough but the challenge was getting the coins. Big Red was totally soaked and so were my “waterproof” winter gloves which meant I had to take them off before I could reach the coins. This was not an easy feat but I managed and just as I’d fished the two quarters out a couple of the gals who work at the gates pulled up and held out two quarters for me. Dang that’s a nice gesture isn’t it? I thanked them and showed them my coins (show me yours and I’ll show you mine?) and headed into the nearest gate. Naturally the operator had just closed it for some reason. I had no place to hold the coins so I had them gripped in my front teeth and as I flipped the helmet up to extract them the operator started to deny me entrance. Then he decided it wasn’t worth the hassle so he took the coins and went somewhere and the gate magically opened. Nice guy. Nice gals. Crappy weather though.
I reached the US customs border crossing at Calais around mid-afternoon and it was truly hell getting to the gates. There was some kind of road construction going on that required everyone to drive through the hairiest bunch of potholes I’ve ever seen. The stretches were short, only a few blocks long but cars were bottoming out in holes that looked like they were ten inches deep. I managed to stay upright and avoid the really nasty ones by using both lanes much to the chagrin of oncoming motorists. By the time I reached the line going through customs the Ninja had begun to overheat, so much so that steam was rolling off the engine in places it shouldn’t have. To counter this I began turning it off whenever we stopped no matter how momentary it was. That helped and by the time I reached the booth it had settled down.
Customs guys are always fun it seems and today was no different. I answered the usual questions while the agent studied me and I guess I must look harmless as he let me through. The best part was when I dug my new passport out, carefully wrapped in a sandwich baggie to ensure it stayed dry. I didn’t want to remove my gloves if it wasn’t necessary as getting them back on with wet hands is damn near impossible. With that in mind I handed him the whole deal and asked if he minded getting it out of the bag and he said he’d be happy to. “You’ve got a bit of a water problem with your baggie” he said as he poured a solid stream of water out of it. The passport looked like a drowned rat, totally soaked and curled up pages. Fortunately his machine was able to read whatever it is and he handed it back to me, unable to suppress a grin. I think I may have been put here on earth to entertain Customs agents.
I rode into Bangor late afternoon and stopped at the first motel that looked affordable but it turned out to be fully booked so I was forced to move on. Using the GPS lodging finder I ended up close to the airport at the Days Inn and settled in for the night. Everything I was wearing, including Big Red, my electric vest, two long sleeve shirts, my jeans, my long-johns, my socks, boots, and waterproof gloves, even my helmet liner were all totally soaked. The gals at the front desk must have felt sorry for me so I snagged a good room on the ground floor where I could see El Nino.
I unpacked and changed into a pair of dirty dry jeans and shirt, then took the tour of the washer/dryer facility. One each were present, both on the small side and probably great for drying a pair of undies. No way would Big Red fit into that dinky little pipsqueak of a dryer so I headed back to the front desk with Big Red in tow. I held him (do Aerostich Roadcrafters have a gender?) up in front of the desk manager and said no way Jose, this puppy needs something with more capacity. She agreed and said follow me, which I did. We walked down the hallway a bit and using her master access pass let us into the hotel’s commercial laundry room. We are talking three BIG honking dryers here and she soon had the codes figured out as to how hot and how long it should dry. With Big Red tumbling around in one she told me to take my time and left me to my own devices. I liked her generous offer and said I would mess around with my blog while I waited as I just happened to have my notebook along. I liked being left alone with three monster dryers, besides Big Red and the notebook I also happened to have along a huge bag containing all of my wet clothes… Once she left I began experimenting with the other two dryers and soon had both of them going full tilt drying the rest of my stuff. What a deal that turned out to be, if I’d had to use the little coin-op thing it would have taken hours and cost big dollars to accomplish what I did in 30 minutes. Not to mention having to fend off other would-be users of the miniscule machine.
Next on my priority list was food. Right next door to the motel there is a place aptly called the burger something or other to which I made a bee-line for. It was still early enough so I didn’t have to deal with the dinner crowd and I think the bored waitress was happy to see me. I liked her right off as she placed a full basket of fresh popcorn on my table and took my order for a Guinness. One of my buddies once said drinking a Guinness was like eating a loaf of bread. He may have something there. The menu was totally comfort food items with burgers of all kinds represented as well as chicken, fish, pasta, steaks, etc. Being one of the more refined diner types I went with the burger clubhouse. Hey, what more could you want? I mean, this baby was to die for, thick white toast, burger cooked just right, ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, mayo, everything. Mmmm! And you could have a host of sides with it so naturally I chose mashed potatoes. I woofed down half of it and the spuds, then packed the rest away in a take-out box which I am fondling at this very moment.
Once finished with food and laundry duties I hopped on board the Ninja and headed down the road following the desk manager’s detailed directions to the local food and by the way we also sell liquor emporium. Dismounting in the parking lot I was immediately accosted by the local pollster lady who was interested as to my opinion on God forbid same sex marriages or the real deal, opposite sex marriages. Being somewhat familiar with the latter I promised I’d sign her petition if she’d watch my bike while I did my deal with the devil and she agreed. Outside again she was nowhere in sight but one of her co-volunteers, a guy this time, accosted me with equal fervor. Pointing to my Oregon license plate he did the raised eyebrow look of astonishment and asked if I’d actually ridden all that way. What do people think, like, do bikers ship their rides across country and then fly back just to catch a ride on a bike with an out of state license? I returned to the motel.
Before leaving I’d turned up the wall heater unit to its maximum mid-February- hot-as-hell setting and hung my waterproof gloves, Air Hawk cover, and other stuff in front of it to dry. The room had to be hovering somewhere in the mid 90’s, maybe more. My boots were next and after an hour or so they appear to be both wearable and dry as are the other items. In other words things are looking up a bit. It’s also stopped raining, at least for the moment so I’m pretty much ready for tomorrow.
Oh, I nearly forgot to share this with you. The strip mall liquor purveyors had a special going on Gilbey’s Distilled London Dry paint remover and embalming fluid at only $8.95 per 5th. They also happened to carry Canada Dry Tonic Water… You see how all this works? Sometimes you just have to stick it out and things come together.
Life is good. As long as there are commercial dryers close by.