“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith
DAY SIXTEEN – Leg Two is Done!!
I left Presque Isle, in the rain with a dripping car, a bit early as I woke before the alarm. The motel had a grab bag of breakfast stuff so I drove north on highway 1 and ate a sweet roll and an apple on the road. Before long the wind started gusting and moving the car all over the road. When I got to the point on the road that I thought was THE point, as determined by Google maps and a diagonal straight edge, I took a photo, though it may not be THE point.
Wherever the exact point is, I passed it because I was on the highway its entire length between Grand Isle and Madawaska. So it is official! I made it to the Northeastern most point in the continental USA, which was an entirely different experience than Florida. That point was completely anonymous because virtually everyone who passes it doesn’t care about it as they cross over the bridge to Key Largo, whereas in Madawaska it is a BIG deal. Also Florida was sunny and warm and Maine was rainy and cold. Bless the folks in Madawaska because they have an actual park to commemorate the fact that they comprise one of the four corners of the USA.
I felt cold. When I left it was 36 degrees and there was snow beside the road. Last week they had a foot of snow so it is a good thing I didn’t head there first! But the cold wasn’t the real problem; the wind was. All day it moved the car half a lane left or right and I probably stayed warm from the workout since the puny heater was no match for the cold that blew in from everywhere. I don’t think it ever got above 40 all day and it is 37 right now. I stopped at a little general store and the man and woman there were enthusiastic about making sure I got to the park and gave me a little history of the area as well as a warm welcome. Nice folks.
Once I had reached the goal, I turned my attention to getting out of the worsening weather by heading south. I failed. Two things marked my long drive downstate. First, the rain turned to snow, the temperature dropped and I even put on a knit hat in addition to my warm jacket and gloves. The Elan is many things…weathertight is not one of them.
Second, I traveled the worst stretch of road since I left home, and, I hope, ever. Highway 11 is a logging truck route and the trucks have pummeled it into ruin. There are patches on the patches that the original patch needed, and the ruts are troughs filled with rain water. It really was, as the old song says, “Forty miles of bad road.” But that is not the reason for my disdain. It is the first highway I have ever been on anywhere in hundreds of thousands of miles where a lane and a half was blocked by a fallen tree! You’ll say, “You should have taken a photo!” and you’d be right. But I was so busy processing what to do, slowing to a crawl and diving all the way to the left shoulder to get around it that I was past it before it occurred to me. And, with a couple of big trucks only a quarter mile or so behind me, I chose not to turn around for a retake. You will just have to believe me.
Once I had cleared the bad stuff I made very good progress and had a lot of fun following the Androscoggin River on Highway 2. Other than the small towns every five miles or so that had 25 MPH speed limits which killed the nice flow, it was wonderfully rhythmic. The rain and snow were no longer, the sun peeked through once in a while and other than that nasty wind, it was a fun run. So, I went further than I planned to go, all the way to Gorham, NH. Now, instead of Rome, NY tomorrow, I will be heading to Syracuse, which makes my really long Wednesday plan about an hour shorter
Impressions from the sixteenth day:
• It was too bad is was rainy and cold as I would liked to have spent a little time in the Madawaska area. The people were so friendly and kind, and they had made such an effort to celebrate their little corner of the USA.
• I hope I have gotten the worst road item checked off my list. It was really awful and if I would have had the shock absorber problem on that section of road I would have had to drive 20 miles an hour max!
• Today I finally got the moisture I have been avoiding. And I got it all, rain, sleet, snow and wind. I guess I need to revise what I said yesterday…The rain, it’s plain, stays mainly here in Maine. I think I’ve got it!
• I made up a lot of ground today and had a really nice little shortcut just before I reached New Hampshire that wound through the woods and avoided the traffic on highway 2. A sweet little morsel for a tired driver.
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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