Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 11 - Bar Harbor and Acadia

The continental breakfast wasn't anything special, but it was free. (Even though I sometimes feel that just because it is free doesn't make it worth it.) We ate mini muffins, fresh fruit, apple juice, and a couple hard-boiled eggs. We partook of a picnic bench that was partially in the sun to avoid the horrid diners inside. We were disgusted by the lack of courtesy or civility or even manners! We had stood around a little in hopes a table would become available. When one did someone that just walked in threw their backpack onto the table as Oilburner was sitting down. They didn't acknowledge anything. Just turned to get food. The same thing happened with the food. People would just walk up and shove in despite someone else waiting. The straw for me was the guy that stood in front of the bowl containing the shelled hard boiled eggs. He ate directly from, and over it, while standing there. There couldn't have been any crumbs since he shoved the entire thing into his gullet. But what got me, beyond that, was him reaching for another while he turned to walk away. His fingers scraped across half the bowl. Ugh! People can be so annoying.

Our plan today was to visit Acadia National Park. For a Monday, everyone else seemed to have the same idea. I must admit it was a great day to be out. We enter the park and see the visitor center crawling with brightly clad, screaming urchins. Not a tough decision to turn the opposite direction and head into the park.

Of course, we stop at the very first overlook. Oh, so lovely. It is a beautiful day and the weather is great. We know there is a Loop Road for one way travel through a portion of the park and we keep our eyes peeled. In the meantime we ride up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard at 1532 feet. Another fun fact is it's the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from Oct 7 through March 6.

After my ride on Mount Washington I was still a little wound up over some of the tight curves up Cadillac. Luckily no tight hair pins and turn outs had walls. :^)

I know it is completely reasonable to have a lake on an island in the ocean. But the idea still just tickles me. Oilburner went rock climbing to get a better view. (Not nearly as graceful as a billy goat, hiking in motorcycle boots.)

Cadillac Mountain wasn't a three ring circus. Not yet. But soon. The place was crawling with kids, adults, pets, scout groups. All wanting pictures at the best overlooks. Oilburner and I strolled along a couple paths and took a few shots However, we were very eager to get away from the crowds and noise.

We continued through the park, looking for the loop road, bypassing most points of interest. As noted, it was very crowded. At the Carriage House I was glad we were on motorbikes. People had parked along our side of the road for about half a mile. It was a tight squeeze encountering on-coming traffic on the bikes. I would not have liked it in a vehicle.

Not much farther and we are confronted with a park exit sign. Whoa!! Where is the Loop Road? Ok Oilburner, do you want to venture back into the park or see where that road in front of us leads? We vote for moving on.

Acadia National Park actually covers multiple islands and peninsulas, interspersed between cities. Our vote to continue exploring was just to sight see and maybe look for that loop. (Forget about stopping and looking it up. Who needs a map?? hehehe) We wandered a few miles. More time was spent in urban areas than nature so we knew it was time to head back.

The area has a fantastic free bus system called the Island Explorer with "8 bus routes linking hotels, inns, and campgrounds with destinations in Acadia National Park and neighboring village centers." L.L. Bean donates a large sum of money to both the Island Explorer and Acadia. Way to go!! (If you ever purchase from L.L. Bean, know that they donate to some good causes.) And we just happen to have a bus stop in front of our hotel that will take us directly into Bar Harbor. Score!!

We time our arrival to the bus with a refreshing nap, and hop on to enjoy a drive through hectic vacationers that we are not responsible for. Such a nice feeling. The bus makes easy work for getting into town. No, not short. Buses rarely make travel time quicker, but it gave us a view of the side streets and even an interesting hotel we wouldn't have found on our own, all while relaxing and looking out a window.

We arrive downtown and worrier that I am, verify and photograph the pick up location.

Since we hadn't eaten lunch and are closing in on 4:00 we extract a "local" joint from an Acadia Park Ranger that isn't suppose to show favorites. We are drawn to the smell emanating from the pizza place next door to our original destination. We took the long way through the restaurant to reach the "hostess" area. However all waitresses/hostesses refuse to acknowledge our presence or make eye contact. Don't blame it on business since there were only five tables with diners, out of the thirty tables in the place. If this was service, we didn't want it. We left and just walked the 10 more steps to the Side Street Cafe. We order drinks and nachos for an appetizer.

Lunner (Lunch + Dinner) consists of Lobster Mac & Cheese for me (highly recommended by the waiter and I wanted to compare with Peter Ott's in Camden) and Oilburner opted for a meatball sub. Everything was rather bland tasting, nothing really sparking the taste buds. The Mac & Cheese was truly tasteless, not even a shadow of comparison to Peter Ott's. I barely ate any, and wished I had gone for the salad.

We finished up and went on a tour of downtown. The park near the harbor was well used by people reading, playing, picnicking, lounging. We parked our behinds and enjoyed the breeze and people watching. Having our fill we strolled up the street and popped into shops. We managed to leave with the pocketbook relatively unscathed. I purchase the mandatory blueberry jellies in tiny jars (Aren't they terribly cute?) to send to family. We purchased a few stuffed animals and a shot glass. (It used to be magnets. Why we have switched to shot glasses I haven't a clue. This means my "collection" is now a whopping 6! Don't buy me shot glasses!!)

Having our fill of civilization and shopping therapy we hopped on the bus back to the hotel where we promptly washed our atrocious riding gear. This gear had seen 2500 miles, many a rain storm, and gallons of sweat. It was getting stinky. So we dumped them in the bathtub and had an ol' fashioned stomping cleanse. OK. It was only me in there, but it was fun. Oilburner made some reference to an "I Love Lucy" episode with grapes. Yeah. I could get into that. :^)

Cleaned and rinsed they were relegated to drip drying on the bikes in the breeze. (Hopefully some of that dripping might clean the bikes too. hehe) Later in the evening Oilburner threw some clothes into the washing machine for good measure. No use having clean riding gear with dirty clothes.

The rest of the evening was spent lounging, playing on the computers, and packing the "care package" we were sending home in the morning. Reclaim the space in our saddlebags from the souvenirs and some clothing that we hadn't used.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Ghost in the Machine

Luckily we didn't have any motorbike mechanical issues on the trip.  However, we didn't get through unscathed with all of our machinery.  The GPS unit on Oilburner's bike (my old Zumo 450) decided it didn't like the trip and wanted to reroute us, on its own.

It was strange to see the screen display change between map and settings constantly.  The screen display showed random, and unsolicited, selection of options or destinations.  Oilburner was getting ready to through it across traffic, hoping for it to land under the wheels of semi-truck.  I took possession and gave him my GPS, so he could do all the navigation from now on. (Thank goodness the 450 and 550 take the same cradles!  Interchangeable GPS', sweet!)

I can't say that I nursed it back to health.  It continued to behave poorly.  But usually after a couple of hours it might respond to my input instead of its own, and allow me to select a destination.  I wasn't as concerned with being navigated anywhere, though.  More, I just like being able to see the map and what is in the surrounding area.  Strangely, I like knowing if this water channel is a mere river, or the headwaters of a lake.  Especially in unknown parts of the world.

Interweb research revealed that this is a common problem with the Zumo 450 and 550 screens. Something happens to the touch screen, either scratches or grit or water, and it will "sense" phantom touches.  Though it usually takes a few years to manifest.  (Who keeps their 3 year old GPS' anyway??)  Oilburner stumbled up on ADVRider thread discussing the touch screen replacement.  (ADVRider = Adventure Rider.  Its forum is a garbage dump of information, from the useful to the tacky.  But we're adventure riders, there isn't anything tacky to us!)

I love my Zumo 450 (and now 550).  It is a rugged unit, withstanding the bumps, jiggles and drenchings that motorbikes put it through.  I've had the 450 almost 4 years.  Oilburners original Garmin GPS that has been installed on both of his RT bikes finally gave up the ghost months ago and Garmin replaced it with a 550.  (Nicely, Oilburner gave me the 550 citing it's black color was better on my bikes, while the silver 450 blended better on his.)  I know they are old devices, but I can't stand the new devices that are replacing them.  They are cheaper feeling (longevity) and actually have fewer features than the 450/550 offer. So I will stick with these for the time being.

As I was saying, luckily someone has figured out a cheap way around this issue:  Replace the touch screen (properly called the digitizer).  You can replace the LCD display if you want, but it wasn't required if nothing was wrong with it.  The digitizer costs about $18.  The digitizer + LCD  is about $45.  Oilburner went whole hog and replaced both.

Here is the process of replacement:

Take of its head!  (Remove the top cover)


Take out the heart (Remove the battery.  Notice all of the scratches.  That was Oilburner thinking there was a problem with the terminal connection.)

Loosen/Remove the screws securing the back in place.

Pry the back and front halves apart.  Similar to a clam, without any pearls inside.

Be careful here.  Gently remove the two ribbon cables from the board.  (The top strip of plastic is hinged and just pops up.)

Unscrew the screen from the front plate.

Old screen.  (New screen is basically the same, fewer scratches.  :^)  )

Closer up view of the ribbons.  As said, the top bit is "hinged" and just pops up.  Must make sure the ribbon is seated properly for the new screen.

Voila!  Reverse steps for reassembly and the unit works like new!

Item 1: Garmin will do this for you, calling it "refurbishing" and charge you a measly $150.  Oilburner could have gotten away with just replacing the digitizer for $18, but decided to go the fancy route.

Item 2: Oilburner somehow managed to foist this repair job on me.  I guess my better eyesight, more nimble fingers and younger brain were better suited to this work.  (It couldn't be that he was Tom Sawyer'ing me to get me to do all the work.  Could it??)

Item 3: No.  I did not steal the 450 back because some of it's Frankenstein bits were newer.  He says he likes that silver case...he can have it.

Now you know how to replace some GPS components.  If yours starts acting up, do some research and see if it might be an easy job instead of having to replace the entire unit.

Good luck!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 10 - Gorham, NH to Bah Hahbah, ME

East or west? East or west?? It's Sunday and we have a week. Where do we go?? I was put off of heading east simply because I felt jipped. If we went back east, I felt we had wasted 3 days on this trek that could have been used more wisely. (Why am I stupid enough to think this was wasted time?? I love Mt. Washington. And while the Auto Road may have scared me, I am very glad that I managed to ride it. And the weather was perfect. There is no guarantee we would have gotten this later in the trip.) So I devised a route that would take us west into Canada and north of Lake Ontario. We could then be in a position to see Victoria Falls/Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks. We would also be so far west that we would have a route home that wouldn't overlap with our route out.

We seriously debated this issue but had a small concern at the border crossings. We just haven't done them and weren't sure how long it would take at the falls. I had been reading many experiences that were all over the board, there wasn't a line of what to really expect, some people said 10 minutes, others said 3 hours. While that wasn't really a big concern, it was a blip on the radar. The bigger blip was the weather. Forecasts showed widespread rain over the areas and Oilburner wasn't enthusiastic. If we headed east, the skies looked sunny for days. We decided to go whole coastal hog and head to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

I had really, really wanted to go to Baxter State Park on the bike. We just couldn't fit it into the plan. Maine is a much larger state than people think and distances can be huge! So Oilburner attempted to make my dream come true and took us towards "the wilds" of Maine. That means we tracked along the same roads as yesterday up to Errol, NH. I had to point out that we entered Maine, left Maine, and re-entered Maine within 50 miles. I'm thinking we liked Maine so much we entered it 4 times on this trip. :-) (I guess the same can be said for New Hampshire since we crossed its border 5 times.)

Out of Errol, NH we were on a beautifully repaved Hwy 16 with no traffic. The skies were a gorgeous, deep blue. The air was clean and a perfect temp. The beautiful pines were straight and dense and a healthy green. The newly paved road was as smooth as glass, completely devoid of frost heaves.

Life Is Good.

Someone didn't want to stop at a dam that intrigued me, but we did take the opportunity to stop at a beautiful lake so I could take a stretch and potty break. For an "outhouse" this place was clean! Oilburner chatted up a couple kayakers until I was able to get the camera equipment and lounge on the dock.

Another couple arrived to enjoy the weather in a canoe. We turned to watch them unload and spotted this bear in the water.

Ok. He wasn't a real bear, but a St. Bernard is close enough. He just waded in chest deep, lapped the water, and wagged his tail back and forth over the surface. He was one happy guy. The other one came by to say hi to us and welcomed me by shoving his nose into my eye. What can I say...laying on the dock meant I was at nose level. But it was wonderful playing with fur babies. The amazing part is that they put both of these guys in the canoe without problems!

We lounged, soaked up some sun. I considered slithering into the water, but didn't.

We arrived in Monson, the first city hikers experience after the 100 Mile Wilderness on the Appalachian Trail. Watching the people around town I just got this hippie vibe from people, either transient poor AT hikers or strange back woods folks that grow their own food, pasturize (or not) their own goat milk, and are still living in the free love '60's. Not that there is anything wrong with that. :-)

We were not going to be able to make it another 200 miles up, and back, to Baxter. Monson would do, for now. We tried to locate the AT crossing to recreate a photo from when we were here 5 years ago. No luck.

We covered more wonderful backroads towards Bangor, ME, gateway to Bar Harbor from our direction. I did have to turn around to take this image for Circle Blue.

And going through Bangor...I HAD to stop and get a photo with my favorite author. Or at least his house for SonjaM.

As I was finishing up with the full house shots and waiting to cross back to the bikes, someone turned into the driveway. I became self concious and quickly saddled up and left. I am not a celebrity follower and don't want to intrude on others time, property, etc. So I didn't get any gargoyle, bat, or spider images from the fence.

As I was leaving I started to wonder if King keeps his own scrapbook of photos of people taking pictures of his house. Hmmm...fair game. :-)

Relatively, we weren't too far from Bar Harbor. Unfortunately, we encountered some of the worst drivers of the trip on the stretch of highway 1A and 3 between Bangor and Bar Harbor. People had no regard for civility or the 45 mph speed limit.

Regardless, we arrived safely, but snappy after hours on the road. Since I had already relinquished control of planning I just wanted Oilburner to step up and make a decision on lodging. He was having difficulty deciding on a location. Luckily we had passed a place that appealed to him, though they were not on the water, and they had space available. I have to admit that I absolutely loved the secluded feel of this car motel of old. We were within two miles of Bar Harbor, on a busy road, and you would never have known. Barely even aware of neighbors beyond the other 3 units in our building. It was so peaceful sitting on the patio and watching the trees blowing in the wind.

We parked, changed, and walked next door to the Jack Russell SteakHouse & Brewery. I can say the clam chowdah was good. And that is about all. From reviews on the interweb people seem to have great experiences or horrible experiences. No in between.

It was a long day with a fair ending. We were thinking of staying here a couple of days to just soak up the ambience. Yay. No Packing!!

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