Miles to Date: 315
May 10, 2015 – Sunny, 65 degrees
Today I turned the first big corner of my trip. Coastal Maine dawned foggy, but by the time Jim Merkel, Susan, and I enjoyed a vegetable omelet, hash browns, oranges, and toast with strawberry jam, the sun was peeking out. Jim rode the first ten miles with me, climbing away from the sea on Route 137 West. After he turned back at the hilltop overlooking Knox Center, the countryside widened out, the swales became more generous. The farms expanded as well – big Holstein operations eclipsed smaller, more locally focused farms. The landscape felt Midwestern, as did the optimistic village names – Freedom, Hope, Union, and Unity.
Maine has a wonderful web of small highways and drivers are very respectful of cyclists. Route 220 from Knox Corner to Unity is a glorious stretch on a perfect road. I stopped at the Unity General Depot for lunch; a hybrid general store, restaurant, and gas station with Subway and Dunkin’ Donut franchises. So far removed from the organic sustainability I just left. What General Depot lacked in charm and nutritional value it made up for in activity – the place was packed on Mother’s Day noon. This was my first of what will likely be many Subway meals. Subway is the most ubiquitous franchise in the United States, and in many small towns like Unity, it is the only lunch option. As fast food goes, it is better than most; you can pile your sandwich with veggies.
The ride from Unity to Waterville was easy. The day grew hot and blackflies swarmed me along marshy stretches. Why do they always fly in your mouth? Coming into Benton I noticed yard sales, many of them on this lovely Sunday afternoon. Then I noticed storage facilities. Larger yard sales, and even more storage facilities. On our morning ride, Jim revealed how difficult it was to keep stuff in check. Since writing Radical Simplicity he had moved in with Susan, combined two households, fathered a child, bought forty acres, built a house, a greenhouse, purchased a car, and a boat. “I don’t know where to put it all, and I wrote a book about it.” Cycling past yards full of junk, stuff for sale, cars, trucks, and rows of storage buildings, the number of objects along this small sliver of Maine boggled my mind.
I stopped at one of the better organized sales. Chuck Norris, or so he called himself, and his wife have run a yard sale every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for over twenty years. They have a big tent with tables full of paraphernalia, and larger items spread on the driveway on this nice day. It’s their hobby and business. They pick up stuff from auctions and wholesales, and then sit in their driveway during the long summer days passing it on to others. I was drawn to an antique metal Shop Rite truck, but of course I didn’t buy anything. I am traveling light.
I rolled into Waterville to visit my friend Gail just after four, and just before afternoon thunderstorms descended. She and her housemate Ruth gave me a wonderful dinner and we speculated on how we will live tomorrow.