Thursday, May 17, 2018

East Coast Un-Tour: Thursday, May 17, 2018

We had a great time with our friends in Quebec. While there we did an enormous amount of walking but zero cycling. We walked all over the old city each day, and one day we drove out to a Canadian National Park for a more rustic hike. Note some of the snow we hiked through in the photo below.

From there we moved on by ourselves to Bar Harbor, Maine and the adjoining Acadia National Park. The park has scenic roads and carriage-ways and we fully expected to pull the tandem out of the van to enjoy the scenery from the bike. It was not to be, though. The weather was very variable and generally cold and windy while we were there, so we just drove around the park instead.

After a couple of days, we were back on Highway US 1, slowly moving down the coast. We overnighted and walked around in Rockland (where the guys and I spent a couple of days last summer on our Maine bike trip). From there, we moved on to Portland, with roadside stops at Georgetown Pottery and at the LL Bean mother-ship.

In Portland, we lucked out and grabbed two nights at a wonderful AirBnB, with fantastic ocean views from our windows, and easy access to South Portland's Greenway Path and the waterside recreation trails across the Casco Bay Bridge in Portland proper. We FINALLY justified carrying the tandem with us all the way to Maine, spending about two and a half hours riding the trails mentioned above. A good bit of that time was spent on portions of US Bike Route 1.

Truth be told, with the exception of the waterside sections, these trails were adequate, but don't match the West Orange Trail back home. If it had been warmer and sunny, we would probably have enjoyed them more. In addition, the off-trail traffic and the busy Casco Bay Bridge were cause for concern. There were a couple of intersections that were so intimidating that we decided to get off and just walk the bike through the pedestrian cross-walks. All that aside, we were delighted to finally be able to get on the bike!

Monday, May 7, 2018

East Coast Un-Tour: Monday, May 7, 2018

At present, I have no formal bike tour plan this year, but Kathy and I are finishing our third day of a three week East Coast road trip in a rented mini-van with our tandem in the back. We expect to be doing little rides here and there as opportunities present themselves, so I am going to journal the trip here on my cycling blog, even when we have not actually been on the bike.

We have plans with several of my college friends and their wives in Quebec City from Wednesday through Sunday, so we pushed to get up to New York State in short order. After we leave Quebec, our plan is to head to Bar Harbor Maine, ride a bit in Acadia National Park, then slowly make our way down much of the East Coast, as far as Georgia, driving primarily along Adventure Cycling Association's Atlantic Coast Route. Kathy and I will be taking our time, especially in Maine, which I found to be charming when I visited on the bike last summer. (I still hope to complete my blog entries for that trip some day!) 

These first two days were all-day, high mileage ordeals mostly on the interstate. We made it to Philadelphia last night in time to have a late dinner with one of Kathy's nephews and his wife. It was kind of a trip in a time machine, back to when Kathy and I were finishing up our own educations and trying to figure out the direction of our "grown-up" lives. Wow! Anyway, getting to Philly was almost 11 hours in the car, with just a few short breaks. The traffic around DC and Baltimore crawled along, even on the alternate route suggested by Waze - even on Sunday. This morning after a couple of hours, the cars and trucks finally thinned out as we headed north toward NY's Finger Lakes area, which is where we are now. We finally got off the interstate and drove instead on Pennsylvania's bike route "J" and at one point pulled over for a riverside lunch stop. The bike route featured many short, steep hills and would have been a challenge on two wheels. Our van kept downshifting to power up many of them.

Lunch beside the Susquehanna River.
We are overnighting just north of Watkins Glen, overlooking Seneca Lake (the largest of NY's Finger Lakes). Not only is this NY's wine region, but it is also loaded with craft breweries. We had dinner at Rooster Fish Brew Pub, sampling two of their own beers. I found their nut brown ale to be just OK but Kathy really enjoyed their cocoa porter. The most notable thing about the meal was that we sampled a Beyond Burger, which is a vegan burger that claims to be "the revolutionary plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef". Now, it is true that I have not eaten an actual beef hamburger in a very, very long time - 20 years or more - but the Beyond Burger looked and tasted just like what I remember. Rooster Fish grilled it and topped it with a slice of tomato and lettuce and onion. It was seriously good. I would definitely order it again.

Tonight we are staying at a pretty basic, but clean, Lakeside Resort, located on a beautiful property overlooking the lake. It is on the west shore of Seneca Lake, a couple of miles uphill from Watkins Glen. You can actually take a number of short hikes right on their property here.

Kathy standing by the hotel's fire pit looking down at Seneca Lake at the foot of the property.