Hampden to Orrington, ME
The obscurity of the coincidence that a friend I've had for a decade would unbeknownst to me be in Maine the same as me and staying one town over is not lost on me. It seemed too fated not to plan to meet up. I lingered after breakfast until I could get the details. It would be 15 miles to Orrington on Brewer Lake. Easy.
I slowly made my way from Hampden to Bangor so I could ride across the bridge over the Penobscot River. On the way I took a detour to see Bangor's most famous resident, Stephen King's house. Three other people showed up at the same time to take pictures of the old brick mansion surrounded by wrought iron.
I continued down to the board walk and road the bike path around the riverside concert venue and back stopping at a park bench to eat some of last night's pizza my hosts had generously sent me on the road with. I ate three of the four pieces and offered the last to a homeless man who was rooting around in the adjacent garbage can. He told me how he started out with a $150 fine he couldn't or didn't pay to the courts and ended up with no home, no job, no car. He's a self proclaimed alcoholic who thinks the government is trying to exterminate people like him and says they don't discriminate between homeless and drug dealers who are killing people. He also thanked me multiple times for the pizza saying he'd hug me if he wasn't so dirty. I was glad he didn't.
I am on the road by choice, I have plenty of resources at my disposal and I'd like to think that I have enough friends and family in my corner that if I ever had a fine I couldn't pay, someone would loan me the money. I rolled away to the other side of the bridge, leaving the "big city" of Bangor for the town of Brewer where I wandered into Mason Brewery for a Sunday noon flight of beers. The outdoor outlets weren't working so the waitress kindly took my phone behind the bar to charge. I felt a bit naked with nothing to hide the fact that I was, indeed, alone.
I tried the Saison, the Gose, an Ale and a Black IPA. The brewery was started two years ago by a cop. They just put in an outdoor bar. As I sat on the patio two tables filled up with leather vest wearing Harley riders. Some motorcyclists acknowledge me on the road and others speed by loudly not giving me the time of day. I wonder what all their patches mean.
I strike up a conversation with the table across from me and meet a second 79 year old woman in two days who's from Pennsylvania and has been traveling with her husband, daughter and granddaughter. They recommend that I go into Canada. They aren't the first to do so. We wish each other safe travels and I head for Orrington.
Maine is full of lakes, rivers and miles of rocky coastline. I'm following directions with my data turned off to save battery and avoid data overages. The map sends me to the end of a gravel road. I'm not sure if I've arrived or not, the place is a run-down cabin that doesn't scream AirBnB. I retrace my steps using the pics on the site and eventually find it. The place is run by Mary and her husband. They used to live in Cleveland, another coincidence.
Mary's first husband was a cyclist who was killed in an accident in Europe. She apologized for telling me and told me to be safe. I know what I'm doing has some inherent risk but so does everything from walking around your neighborhood to driving to the store for milk to working a job that causes chronic stress. No reason not to do what you love just because something "might" happen. I refuse to let fear be the major driver in my life.
I brought my bike in, put on my bathing suite and took one of the two kayaks out on the lake. I paddled around a small island with a "no trespassing," two abandoned docks and a house on stilts. It didn't look like anyone was there and I wanted to get out and explore but I respected the sign and continued on.
A fish bit my toe as I was deciding the best way to swim from the shore through the water lilies to the swimming platform. The water was warm but visibility wasn't great. I strained my right groin in my long, fast ride the day before and tried to stretch it out before swimming back and showering.
Jason, Jason and Alex all also went to Ohio University, although I only knew Jason E when I was a student there and the Jasons didn't know each other until this trip. We grilled out dogs and burgers, drank some beers and watch the sun set on Brewer Lake and another fine day in Maine.