Post ride FAQs

We are still enjoying ourselves and our “recovery” here in Maine and are now at the Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor. This morning was spent kayaking and the afternoon on a whale watch boat trip so we are certainly not stressed! Some questions we’d like to answer about our ride and if you have any of your own, please post them in the “comment” tab and we’ll answer them.

How many miles a day did we ride?

We were on our bikes 71 of the 79 days for a total of 4230 miles which works out to 59.57 miles per day and averaged between 11 and 12 miles per hour. Our longest mileage was the wind-aided day in Montana, 104 miles, and the shortest was probably on July 4th, around 34 miles. There were some 70 and 80 mile days in there as well. We had 8 rest days where we did nothing at all but recharge our engines, laundry, bike repair etc.

Did we have any major bike breakdowns?

None. The Surley Disc Truckers are amazingly sturdy and reliable bikes and Vanessa at Landis Cyclery in Tempe set them up and fitted them perfectly for us. On a side note, our friend Vanessa is moving with her family to California before we get back to Phoenix so we won’t be able to share our road stories with her in person but we’ll stay in touch. We did have 5 flat tubes, one in Montana and 4 in two days of riding on the Interstate in North Dakota. We replaced both front and rear tires on both bikes due to the plain old wear and tear of the road. In Minneapolis we had the bikes checked out, cables and brakes tightened and both chains replaced, again normal wear and tear.

How many hours a day did we ride and where did we spend the nights?

In general, we tried to get on the road by 7 o’clock each day. The early start was to avoid the heat of the day and to get some miles in before the winds picked up. Also on most days we were able to dodge going-to-work traffic. We would pedal for 25 miles or so (about 2 hours) and take a snack break, bananas and protein bars and then resume biking until lunch, usually around 11:30 and then plan on stopping between 1:00 and 2:00. So it wasn’t that we were on the bikes every waking minute but probably 5 to 7 hours daily.

At the beginning we camped a bit but with the noise of the campgrounds and RV parks (dogs, trains, other campers – one woman next to us in Washington was on the phone to her friend at 3:00 am … loudly chattering away) we we weren’t getting enough “good” sleep to help us keep going day after day. We then shipped most of our camping gear back to Phoenix and utilized Warm Showers and hotels after that. We also shipped back our cold weather gear once we crossed the Continental Divide and later shipped some things we didn’t need anymore which emptied out our front panniers that we shipped back, too. So we were definitely lighter by the end of the trip.

What were your favorite and least favorite parts of the ride?

The most beautiful scenery along the route was in the mountains but also the hardest biking. Going through the Cascades and then Glacier NP were, I think, our favorite segments. Every day had its own challenge and beauty so there was never a terrible, horrible day but some of the hardest to get through were the rides into Browning, Montana, because of the endless hills and added mileage; after Wolf Point, Montana, because of the strong headwind; and some of the days in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine caused by the numerous steep climbs. On the whole, we would both agree that the adventure was fun and enjoyable. We really enjoyed the long rail to trail paths in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the ride in the UP of Michigan, the Erie Canal and many others.

Be sure to post any questions you’d like us to answer. We’ll try to break ourselves away from activities like the below to answer them!!!!

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Day 81 – Relax

Day 81 – Recovery

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A deserved champagne toast

This is day 2 of no bikes and yes, we are feeling a little nostalgic for the routine and the enforced exercise of riding everyday. Both yesterday and today we have explored a little bit of Acadia and today we drove to Campobello to visit FDR’s summer cottage there. We pulled out our passports again to get there since (I didn’t know this) Campobello is in New Brunswick and it is in a joint US-Canadian international park. There were docents stationed at strategic places to educate us.

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US – Canadian park at Campobello

 

The island used to be a retreat for wealthy New York and Boston families in the 1900s and had several hotels including one with 400 rooms. The hotels are gone as are most of the houses but the Roosevelt cottage and two others have been preserved.

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The Roosevelts’ cottage

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FDR, his mother, Eleanor and kids

Just before the bridge back to the US we stopped at the Mulholland Point Lighthouse and since the tide was running out, seals were feasting on the smaller fish caught in the rip. A guide at the lighthouse explained the resident sea mammal life including a recent dramatic rescue of a baleine whale that was dangerously tangled in fishing lines to the point that they were cutting into his body and restricting his ability to feed. A team of naturalists labored for hours to slowly cut away the lines and freed the whale from the entanglement.

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Mulholland Point Lighthouse, New Brunswick

After crossing the bridge we passed through Lubec, the eastern most town in the US and drove to the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, the easternmost point in the US.

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Now we are sitting on the rocks at Schoodic Point reading, writing and awaiting the sundown. Tomorrow we drive to Bob and Rebecca’s place in Sebasco, ME.

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Looking toward Mt. Desert from Schoodic Point

Random thoughts and observations about our 79 day journey:

* As we observed early on in our blog, we found people to be without fail eager to help and willing to open themselves up to strangers. I can only remember one driver who seemed to try to drive as close to us as possible then gunned his extra loud Diesel engine. Not sure why he chose to do that but in the end all it did was startle us.

* Americans are very patriotic. It’s a generalization but the flags, buntings and bumper stickers show that no political party or region has a monopoly on pride in our country or in supporting our troops.

* We saw many older than middle age men and women riding brand new Harleys and I’m sure the Harley-Davidson company is very glad for the market niche. Many folks were on three wheel motorcycles and some pulled small trailers.

* There is a love affair with the RV lifestyle. We saw them on the roads, in campgrounds, for sale used in front yards and lined up new in dealers’ lots. They truly are mobile homes complete with every amenity we have in our houses including some with Jacuzzis and multiple bedroom/bath suites.

* One could easily build and furnish a house with the various materials, furniture and appliances either for sale or for free in front of houses.

* The most common small business we saw was auto repair and body work. Every town had at least one of each and sometimes more. The most frequently seen chain stores we saw belonged to Family Dollar. They seemed to spring up everywhere. Until we reached some of the cities in the Midwest and east we hardly saw any Starbucks. There are, on the other hand, many Subways.

* I forgot to mention that when we came through Brunswick, Maine, we passed the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. A few weeks previous to that In Ontario, we had passed the house that was the inspiration for her book.

While we feel we have accomplished a wonderful and long journey, we both feel that by taking one day at a time and even one mile at a time, this trip is not “epic” at all. There is something about establishing a daily routine and daily expectation of what is to be accomplished that reduces the 4200 mile into manageable distances. It’s the old “every journey begins with one step” phenomenon.

I’m absolutely certain we will remember other vignettes of the trip and we will continue to blog them in case anyone out there is still watching!

Addendum

It’s hard to believe that it was only yesterday when we rode into Bar Harbor. It already seems like days ago. Yesterday was a strange day in any case. When we got on our bikes in the morning, we knew we would not be doing so again in the context of our cross-country ride. And so we were feeling nostalgic. But we also knew we would have a fair number of hills and the morning was gray and chilly, so our level of enthusiasm was moderated somewhat.

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Charles heading off early in the morning for the last time, under cloudy skies. Later in the day we would reach our final destination of Bar Harbor, ME.

Indeed, the ride was pretty grueling. Maine hills can be thought–they are relatively short, but not at all sweet. I much prefer longer climbs that are less steep than the short, steep Maine variety.

At one point in our ride, we had the opportunity to stay on Route 1–the crowded, tourist highway to the coast–and cut about 10 miles from our trip, or take a quieter albeit longer route. Normally, we would have looked quite fondly at the short cut but we decided this being our last day and all, that we should take the road less traveled. And we were glad we did. We got to stop and munch on wild blueberries on the side of the road and bike through the pretty coastal town of Surry.

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Wild Maine blueberries are so much yummier than the commercial ones we get in grocery stores! I could have spent their rest of the day happily munching away, but we had places to go.

Our bike map showed only two hills of any significance between Surry and Bar Harbor, but our map was not truthful. In fact, we had about 5 or 6 pretty long and steep hills before we got to our destination. We then added another 8 miles of riding some of Arcadia’s carriage roads to make it up to Jordan Pond House for some popovers. I have very fond memories of having popovers there as a child for special occasions, so it seemed only fitting that Charles and I should celebrate the completion of our journey there. We were literally given the best seat on the lawn, closest to Jordan Pond. It was gorgeous. And probably due to the little note I wrote when making the reservation about growing up in Maine and finishing our bike trip there. Whatever the reason, the views from our table were stunning.

We then took the bus back down to Bar Harbor and dropped off our bikes at the bike shop for them to be shipped back home. I was worried that we might want to use the bikes later in Maine, but given the difficulty of the ride we had just completed that day, we both thought that a week without bikes in Maine would be a good thing. Of course, today, as we were driving around Schoodic–a beautiful coastal area across from Mt. Desert Island but still part of Acadia National Park–we missed the pace of riding and the ocean and pine smells. So we slowed down and rolled down our windows and all but stuck our heads out of the car. I guess it will take us a little while to get used to not being on a bike and experiencing the world from the inside of a car.

Our day yesterday ended with a wonderful dinner in Bar Harbor and a long drive in the dark to our B&B. We were exhausted, not being used to riding and partying!

Today we woke up and took a shower in the morning instead of in the afternoon as we have done for the past 89 days. We had a leisurely breakfast, enjoyed the view from our bedroom and caught up on some emails and I went out to the beautiful beach across from our B&B and participated on a Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Board call. After the call we got in the car and explored the area. We stopped in an art gallery in the small town of Winter Harbor. While chatting with the owner we discovered that she had gone to the same high school I had, graduating a few years earlier. Her father had been one of my high school math teachers and her grandmother had taken my senior photo! Another person entered the gallery and after a few minutes conversation we realized that her cousin had been in my junior high and high school classes. It’s a small world.

Anyway, long story short, we’re enjoying ourselves but it feels strange not being on our bikes part of every day and I feel somehow a bit guilty for it. Don’t ask me why and I’m sure that feeling will be gone by tomorrow. Now we just have to start eating a lot less than we’re used to. No more daily malts! It may take us a while to wean ourselves from this addiction.

Maine, by the way, is an incredibly scenic place. Whoever of you has not been here yet definitely needs to come. Some photos from today are pasted below.

This adventure has been something to remember and I’m so happy we were able to undertake it. I know that many of you think that you could never do something like this, but you’re wrong. I believe that you all could–just taking it one day at a time and one mile at a time. That’s the secret to success. Signing off. Cue tears.

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Schoodic Point is another place where my parents used to take us as children. We would spend the day happily hopping from rock to rock.

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The view from our B&B. Sand beaches such as this one are quite a rarity on the craggy, rocky coast of Maine. At low tide the beach is about three times as large. Two kayaker a are visible in the distance.

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Bar Harbor was named as such because of a sand bar between the town and the island you see in this photo. At low tide you can walk on the bar to the island. This is the location where we dunked our front tires into the ocean.

 

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Taken from the carriage rode on our way to Jordan Pond House for popovers and prosecco.

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Toasting ourselves with Perrier Jouet and eating cheese and crackers on our own private beach. We saw a seal merrily jumping through the water after having scared up fairly large schools of fish that we could see churning up the water.

Day 80 – Resting in Acadia

Basking in completing our journey. Acadia.

Here’s the run down on our last day of biking yesterday.

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Our Surlys, eager for the last day’s run

We started out from Searsport after an early breakfast into a cool morning and had about 20 miles on route 1. There was not too much traffic that early and the shoulder was wide so not a worrisome start to the day.

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The Penobscot River Bridge and Observation Tower

We turned off onto a state road that took us through Surrey.

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Maja grazing on delicious Maine blueberries on the roadside

We had some ups and downs through Surrey and eventually onto Ellsworth where we made our last turn onto Maine 3. This road was ok once we got out of Ellsworth and we enjoyed a long downhill run to the outskirts of Bar Harbor. There the road got downright hazardous with broken up pavement, no shoulder and a lot of vacation traffic.

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Our entry into Bar Harbor. Maja isn’t really that much taller although Charles may be shrinking some.

We were glad to turn off onto the town of Bar Harbor and found a nice spot to dip our front wheels in the Atlantic and whoop our arrival.

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Pacific to Atlantic. Rear wheels in the water in Anacortes, WA, on June 1. (See the photos below). Front wheels in the water at Bar Harbor, Maine, August 18.

When I think of all the adventures we have had over the last 79 days, all the climbs and descents, the “temporarily lost” confusions, the winds and weather, the hosts and others we’ve met, all the drivers who paid enough attention to avoid mowing us down I find it a little hard to comprehend that we have completed our journey.

 

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After the initial celebration we walked our bikes into town with all the tourists and celebrated with ice cream.

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Have a little sympathy. We’ve been on the road for a long, long time.

The fun didn’t stop there as we rode on Acadia National Park paths out to Jordan Pond for a toast with popovers and prosecco.

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Popovers and prosecco at Jordan Pond

We put our bikes on the park’s bus and rode back into town where we dropped off our bikes at the Bar Harbor Bike Shop to be shipped back to Phoenix.

Now without our trusty Surly Disc Truckers and a a little sad at the parting, we took a bus to the airport to pick up our rental car and still dressed in our biking clothes had dinner at McCay’s and then undertook the hour’s drive to our BnB, Oceanside Meadows Inn on the Schoodic peninsula for a couple of days of serious de-compression and reflection.

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Our inn in Acadia

This wraps up our daily blog but we intend to add an epilogue or two with thoughts and photos so we hope you will stay connected to bikewright.org for a while anyway. We sincerely thank each of you for following us, supporting us and keeping us in your thoughts as we pedaled eastward.

We have met some amazing people on the way, seen some beautiful scenery, introduced ourselves to a part of America we didn’t know and toured some of the most beautiful and original architecture this country has to offer from Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Day 78 – Damariscotta to Searsport

53 miles. Yep, more hills but the last day before Bar Harbor.

First I want to say that without Maja by my side I would not have made it out of the state of Washington. Her energy and spirit inspires me every mile. I can safely say there is no other person on the planet with whom I could spend every waking moment for 80 days and still be joyful. I would hate me if I had to spend 80 days with myself! She encouraged me in the gloomy moments when all I wanted to do was stop pedaling and sit down by the road and cry. Every day, almost every hour on a journey like this presents its own challenges and Maja helped me meet them all. To quote Fat Boy Slim, “I have to praise you like I should.”

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Maja keeping us on the route somewhere in North Dakota

Last night we walked the mile or so into Damariscotta and had a very good meal at the King Eider’s Pub. As we ate, the rain began so we managed to find a taxi to take us back to the DownEaster Inn. This morning we had to backtrack about 1.5 miles from there to get back on our route where we spent some miles riding on Route 1 with the expected tourist and truck traffic so were glad to get off that highway on to local roads. They were less busy but offered little in the way of shoulders and were steeper climbing.

We had a few ocean views to entertain us and the weather was alternately cloudy and sunny.

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Tide’s out on the rocky Maine coast

We rolled into Searsport, home of sea captains and boat builders with some impressive homes from the late 1800s.

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Ship captains’ and ship builders’ homes in Searsport

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These cannonballs probably won’t fit in the canon

Stopping at The Brick House for a late lunch we pedaled up the hill to The Yardarm, our last hotel on the road. Tomorrow will be Bar Harbor and the ceremonial riding into the Atlantic – from sea to shining sea.

 

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And a wrinkly old Smokey doing what he always does

Flags, signs and other stuff

All the way across the country we have seen many, many American flags in all sizes. Some are on flag poles, some on porches, some planted in yards.

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The patriotism and spirit is great to see and we watch the movement of the flags to give us an idea of wind direction and speed, like a tell tale in sailing. Some people have painted old shipping pallets to look like US flags.

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We have also seen many Marine Corps flags (none from the other branches), some Don’t Tread on Me flags and a few confederate flags. In Michigan a pick up went by us with a large confederate flag fluttering from one side of the bed and a don’t tread on me flag on the other. In various communities in the Midwest that had been originally settled by immigrants from European countries in the 1800s the flag of that nation is flying from store fronts and homes – German, Poland, Italy.

The variety of signs we see is vast and entertaining. In Montana there were warnings posted on fences around two houses that showed the profile of a Doberman and the words, “I can get to the gate before you can get to the house.” A cemetery posted “No Trespassing after Dark.” In upper NY state there were many yard signs promoting the repeal of the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that among other things, restricts Internet ammunition sales and the sale of large capacity clips. The law was passed after the Sandy Hook shootings. A sign at a golf course proclaimed, “I like big putts and I cannot lie…”

We have been surprised at how few Trump and Hilary signs we have seen. Certainly there have been more of the former but in this election year we expected to see many more. The candidate signs and posters we do see are for local elections for city council or sheriff or Congressional candidates. In Michigan a candidate for congress had many signs on the road saying, “Make Washington Listen.”

From Wisconsin eastward there were ubiquitous signs for camp firewood for sale. Racks had been constructed and the cost was between $3 and $5 per bin for “camp wood,” all on the honor system. Also on the honor system were vegetable stands and flower baskets.

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Everywhere we cycled people had cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, RVs, snowmobiles, trailers and every other type of vehicle for sale by the road in front of their houses. Most of them had “for sale by owner” signs on them. There was one stretch through a town in New York where every house had a vehicle for sale on the road. Some were old junkers but others were new.

Day 77 – Danville to Damariscotta

57 miles. Another road closed and more hills.

Today was supposed to be a “light” day as we ease to the finish line in Maine. Note: Maine is not flat. There are so many little hills and ridges that are very steep so each mile is like a wind sprint followed by recovery downhill and immediately another wind sprint. When I ran track in high school and college, part of our training was sprinting 1/2 lap then speed walking 1/4, sprinting 1/2 lap and walking another 1/4, etc. almost to exhaustion. This is what yesterday and today have been. Whew! Our granny gears are getting a workout.

Since our hotel didn’t serve breakfast we left early and got to the Brunswick Diner after 20 miles or so for a “good food” (their wifi passwords) breakfast. After breakfast the fun began as we once again found our route completely blocked by construction on a bridge! We had to double back on the road we had just traveled and eventually got on to US1 in Bath at the bridge over the Kennebec River. The detour added about 4.5 miles to the day and also added a few expletives along the way. We were able to warn two other cyclists (two women with heavily laden bikes including violins) about the blockage so I hope we saved them a few miles.

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Our route is again only a few yards on the other side of the construction zone but impossible to get through.

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An anhinga drying his wings seemed to mock our road closure agony

Once through the death defying run up to and over the bridge on Rte. 1 we paused to get a photo of some new Navy vessels docked at the Bath Iron Works.

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Wrapped and concealed Navy ships at the Bath Iron Works.

After the bridge we were able to rejoin our mapped out route to Wiscasset where we stopped for lunch, our first Maine lobster roll of the trip.

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Not sure if this photo was meant to be of me eating in Wiscasset or of the gull over my shoulder waiting for leftovers.

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Wiscasset harbor. Our first glimpse of the Atlantic.

Getting rolling again was difficult and the traffic on Route 1 was very heavy but we struggled up and down some more hills to the Down Easter Inn in Damariscotta.

Tomorrow will be more of the leg and lung burning to Searsport for our last stop before Bar Harbor!

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Maine art

Day 76 – Fryeburg to Danville

57 miles. Many, many hills.

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Our eleventh state!

Donna at the Admiral Peary Inn loaded us up with a good breakfast for what we knew was going to be a tough day with lots of ups and downs. We are close to the coast in Maine but the roads are anything but flat as they cross ridge after ridge. None of the hills are Cascades or Rockies height or length but are steep and numerous.

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More stone walls

We had read from other cross country cycling blogs that the condition of the roads in Maine was poor and the shoulders unpredictable in width. At the beginning today we were on a new road with a wide shoulder but as we have come to expect, soon the rough pavement and narrow shoulder returned.

We forged ahead and today saw many old cemeteries, some severe looking. We passed lakes, state forests and trails and, of course, more camp firewood for sale.

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Simple and eternal rest

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Stopping for lunch at a clearing, we took a breather and then pedaled the rest of the way to the Sleepy Time Motel outside of Auburn, Maine. (The owners originally are from Phoenix.)

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Subway for lunch

Tomorrow promises more climbs, short, steep and intense.  We are down to three more days on this journey!

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View of the Maine mountains and a local IPA at dinner last night.

 

Post script

I forgot to mention that the other thing that was so special about our ride over the past days was the opportunity to see three beavers at the start of one of our days. We had started early in the morning to beat the heat and were riding next to a crystal clear river. We saw one adult beaver swimming toward what seemed to be a small log in the river, but we then realized that it was a baby beaver that the adult picked up. And just further ahead was another adult beaver that dived under the water, but because the water was so clear, we could continue watching it. It was really amazing! And it reminded me of my very first longer bike ride that I took while in high school with a friend. We rode from Bangor to Dedham to spend the night with her grandmother. The ride was about 12 miles each way with one serious climb. Not bad for two girls who had never gone more than a couple of miles to school and back. On the route we stopped by a little pond and watched a beaver dragging some branches to its home. Later that day we saw a moose behind her grandmother’s very modest home. It was a real adventure for us.

The same day Charles and I saw the beavers, we saw another bald eagle. It’s so exciting to see these majestic birds soaring over us. I will never tire of it and hope we will see many more along the Maine coast.

We didn’t have any adventures today. Just a lot of climbing and a fair amount of heat. Sometimes the smaller hills can be harder than the mountains just because they’re so steep. I was in my granny gear several times today, which I hadn’t needed to use while climbing our monster mountain yesterday. And Charles and I actually dismounted and walked 25 yards or so when the incline was just too steep up one hill. Tomorrow will be another tough one. But we only have three to go.