24 June, 2014

Pedaling Down Memory Lane in Maine

“We’re turning south from Quebec to Vermont and New York and then back to New Jersey to visit family before going to Europe.” This was our plan since we left Seattle over three months ago. Then one morning in Quebec, we woke up and decided to continue east into Maine and Acadia National Park. Doug had never been there and we could dip our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean at Seal Harbor, thus avoiding the traffic on the Jersey Shore. Also, I could take Doug to Jordan Pond House for popovers in Acadia; just like I used to go with my grandfather. The next week had suddenly gotten a lot more exciting.

On June 14th, our 84th day on the road, we reached the Atlantic Ocean. Wow! We stopped at Seal Harbor just outside of Acadia National Park to soak in the moment. It brought tears to our eyes and we could barely believe that we crossed the whole continent. It didn’t seem like we had really pedaled that far, but we had!

We crossed the continent and made it to the Atlantic!

We crossed the continent and made it to the Atlantic!

After commemorating the moment with a few pictures, we pedaled a few miles down the road to our WarmShowers host, Anna’s home. She was generous enough to let us spend an extra day with her to catch up on laundry and chores and relax a bit. She even drove us over to Bar Harbor and joined us at Jordan Pond House, where I used to go every summer with my grandparents and family for afternoon tea and popovers. I remember the view of The Bubble Mountains over Jordan Pond being beautiful and loving the popovers and strawberry jam. After 80 years under the management of the Acadia Corporation, the restaurant was under new management. I was worried that it wouldn’t be the same, but it was; the view, the popovers, and the jam were just as I remembered. It was special to share this experience with Doug.

Photographer Anna Travers took this photo of us in Acadia National Park.

Photographer Anna Travers took this photo of us in Acadia National Park.

Returning to her grandfather's old town.

Returning to her grandfather’s old town.

We left Acadia and rolled into South Brooksville, where my grandparents lived and we spent a week every summer throughout my childhood. On the property, there are two historic houses and a huge barn. Halfway House is the home where my grandparents lived and Kinderhaus is where we used to stay. I’m very fortunate that my Aunt Judy still owns the property, lives in Halfway House, and so graciously welcomes anyone from our family. With just a few days of notice and despite being out for the evening, she opened both houses for us to explore. She had a room made up in Kinderhaus for us and put milk, eggs, and OJ in the refrigerator. The last time I was inside either home or downtown was over 20 years ago. I hoped it was just as I remembered, but after looking at the fancy website for the small, local Bucks Harbor Yacht Club where my sisters and I used to visit and in talking with a few Maine residents along the way, I figured that a lot had probably changed.

Kristin soaking in the view from the yacht club her grandfather used to belong to.

Kristin soaking in the view from the yacht club her grandfather used to belong to.

We finally arrived Monday afternoon. It took a bit longer than we anticipated after pedaling up far more hills than I remember as a kid sitting in the back seat of our station wagon. I immediately walked into the barn and through both houses to show Doug around. I couldn’t wait to see if it was how I remembered it. My aunt had modernized Kinderhaus and the downstairs of Halfway House, but there was a lot that was just as I remembered it, including the upstairs beds we used to sleep in and the life jacket hanging in the barn that smelled like band aids. The front of Halfway House still had hummingbird feeders hanging from the covered porch and beautiful flowers on both sides of the steps. Next we walked down to the yacht club. The tennis courts where my grandfather played, the main hall where my sisters and I used to square dance on Thursday evenings, and even the tetherball pole were just as I remembered them. Amazing. We returned to Kinderhaus to relax for the evening and visit with Aunt Judy. It was great to catch up and hear about the remodeling and her plans for selling the houses later this summer.

Remembering old times with her grandparents at Halfway House.

Remembering old times with her grandparents at Halfway House.

I knew this would be my last visit to Halfway House and Kinderhaus as I remembered them. That evening and the following morning, I found myself wandering through the houses, the barn, and sitting on the deck, wishing for my grandparents (both deceased) to join me and really make things just like they were. At least the memories will be with me forever. It was so special to have one final visit before another family moves in and creates new memories.

Anna pointed us to some quieter, more scenic roads on Mt. Desert Island.

Anna pointed us to some quieter, more scenic roads on Mt. Desert Island.

On a lighter note, a few days later, we did some final route planning and figured out that we’ll be rolling into my parents’ house on the evening of June 28th. We’ll be spending the next month visiting family and friends, doing bike maintenance (Doug’s drive train is hanging on by a thread), cleaning all of our gear, and relaxing before boarding the Queen Mary II on July 28th to Southampton, England.

Special Thanks: We want to extend a special thanks to all of our WarmShowers hosts over the past few weeks. Your hospitality and generosity and lively conversations are a wonderful component of our trip that goes beyond our expectations. Good luck to Ben as he begins his Northern Tier trek across the country; to Chris in finishing the book release of Spokes and Jokes; to Anna in her budding photography career, and to Julie in conquering those back-to-back century rides at age 70!!! You’re an inspiration!

Also a special thank you to my Aunt Judy for making Doug and I feel at home in her homes. Good luck with the sale and enjoy the last summer in Halfway House.