“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith
DAY FIFTEEN – Today was a long day because I was short of my goal yesterday and I felt as though I needed to make up the loss. I also cheated which helped, but in my defense I think you may forgive me after I explain.
I have noticed some remarkable differences in the way different states handle things like speed limits, basic road maintenance, and signage. Out west, most interstates have a 75 MPH speed limit with 65 in more built up areas, and 65 with 55 or 50 in more built up areas on two lane roads for example. In New Hampshire and Maine the Interstate is posted 65 with 45 near the towns and the two lane roads are posted at 45 and 30 in the built up areas with 25 through the town center. I don’t know if the reason is political or the quality of their drivers warrants the caution but every one of those speed limits was roundly ignored, except by me because I was worried about my out of state plate making me a tasty morsel for a LEO with a radar gun.
Road maintenance in PA was pretty good, with a few notable exceptions; NY was pretty bad, with a few notable exceptions, VT was awful, NH was terrific and ME was a mixed bag. I don’t know the tax rates of each of these places, nor the process each uses, though it seems to me that the higher tax states are the worst. Maybe NY and VT could learn something from the state of New Hampshire which has NO sales tax at all!
My constant irritation though was signage. I spent much of the day following one highway: US 202. Note that it is a United States highway designation which means it is a major route through multiple states, including Maine. So why does the signage not reflect that? It was also labeled state route 11 and 100, the Waterville road and county road 4. And worst of all, they botched the most important thing of all…a sign confirming the route number just after a turn to make sure you are on the road you want to be on. In one small town there were three roads that were possible candidates for US 202 based on the arrow marking the turn. One was a jog that turned out to be the right one on my second try but it was the least obvious and the confirming route sign was four blocks after the jog! I had almost turned around before I saw it because I had already made one error. I had followed route 4 previously as it was the most prominent of the designators and found that it had branched off by itself. I recognized my mistake within a few blocks so I pulled in to a gas station and asked how to get back to US 202. There were three people in the place and not one knew where US 202 was. An older lady said she just knows where to go and doesn’t pay attention to the numbers but that I should take 4 to the bridge a few blocks up and go over the river and there would be a big junction where it might be. Bless her; she was right.
Now, about my cheating…I took Interstate 95 from Augusta to Houlton, a distance of about 200 miles. I justify it for three reasons: 1. It was Sunday and there were hardly any trucks, and very light traffic; 2. I was behind and needed to make time through the plains of Maine to get back the miles I lost yesterday; and 3. Reread all the carping above. I was only averaging about 45 mph on the two lane roads and I would not have gotten in until very late in the day. Instead, I was ahead of a realistic time to quit so I went a bit further to Presque Isle which will shorten my previously planned long day tomorrow to a more reasonable day.
Impressions from the fifteenth day:
• I left the top up as it was cold and when there is not a lot of variety of scenery as today that is a more pleasant, and warmer, way to roll.
• Inland Maine is a very different world from the lobster filled bays of the down east. It is potato farming country and contains lots of little towns just hanging on but each one seems to have a brand new Dunkin’ Doughnuts store. In fact, the Dunkin’s may outnumber gas stations and they definitely had more business.
• I won’t be using the Interstates much more (Although I do reserve the right to do so when I need to) because the monotony was awful. This little bugger Elan doesn’t do droning well at all – it needs to run up and down the rev range and so does the driver!
• I am psyched to reach my second leg goal tomorrow! This leg seemed the furthest out of the way because I would never have come this far off the beaten path for any other reason. Having been down east, that part of Maine would call me back but not this part. Sorry northern Maine but you are the ugly step sister.
Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!
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