Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day #49: The Other Portland

Today's Route: Gorham, ME to Center Ossipee, NH (72 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2831

Yeah! Shirley and I arrived at the Atlantic Ocean!

The Atlantic Ocean!

It's hard to believe that I left St. Paul, MN on this date last month. I've covered 2,160 miles in one month. I've experienced so much in that time - seen so many things and met so many wonderful people.

First things first. A few days ago I mentioned that fly bites had left my hands red, swollen, and tender to the touch. I provided the below photo of my right hand.

The swollen hand...

The swelling is now completely gone from the bite on my left hand. So, here's a photo, for comparison purposes, showing what my hand should look like:

...in comparison to the non-swollen hand.

My right hand is almost back to normal. I haven't had any fly bites in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine. Thankfully. I'll definitely be sporting a thick layer of insect repellent when I backpack in the Adirondacks in a few days.

Next things next.

Last night I camped in Gorham. When I awoke this morning, it was really warm out. I knew it was going to be a scorcher.

As I was pulling out of the ball field, I heard this loud sort of snorting sound coming from the sky. I looked up to see this beautiful sight:

A lovely view in the sky.

It was a short 12 miles to the "other" Portland this morning.

The "other" Portland.

I was expecting to easily find a beach for a photo op. I am constantly preaching to others to not set expectations. And here I was breaking my own rule. I guess I deserved to have my expectations disappointed.

For one, Portland, ME has some pretty wicked hills. Wicked as in Seattle-wicked or San Francisco-wicked. I didn't expect this. I expected the elevation to gradually slope downward until I hit a large patch of perfectly sand-colored sand.

In zooming down the other side of a steep hill that I had just climbed, I suddenly found myself riding across a huge, divided bridge into South Portland. This was one of those point-of-no-return moments. So, I crossed the entire bridge. Fortunately, there was a very nice bike lane on the bridge.

As is the case with many southern parts of cities, South Portland was less than pleasant. The waterfront was very industrial and ugly.

I asked around for where to find some nice waterfront. I was directed to the promenade, a few miles to the north. I turned around and crossed the bridge again to return back to regular Portland.

After asking for a few more pointers, I finally arrived at the promenade.

Shirley enjoys the view.

Shirley relaxes against a tree.

While at the ocean, I took some time to pause in the pursuit of happiness and just be happy. I had some great reflection time. (More on that in a later post.)

Around lunchtime, I stopped in Cornish for a water refill, as I had been drinking as if there was a leak in my thirst.

As I was about to leave the gas station and continue on my way, a woman (the wife of one of the station owners) started up a conversation about the weather. She said there was a heat wave hitting the east coast and that it was forecasted to last through the week. A facetious "great!"

I mentioned that I was hoping to find a little cafe with wifi in the next few miles where I could hang out for a few hours and let the intense heat of the afternoon pass. She said I should just stay at the gas station, as they have cold drinks and wifi. Coolio!

The gas station in Cornish.

She suggested that I roll Shirley into the garage where the deliveries are accepted. That way Shirley would be out-of-the-heat and out-of-view.

Shirley, hanging out in the delivery area.

The woman introduced me to the employees and set me up in some chairs near a plug, where I could charge my electronics as I caught up on my blogging. The crew totally made me feel at home. Awesome!

I had planned on stealth camping in Center Ossipee tonight. ("Ossipee" is pronounced like "recipe.") But, given the heat, I was hoping to get an early night of shut eye so that I could wake up super early tomorrow morning and get some good miles under my belt before the sun gets too high in the sky. I wanted to find a place where I could reliably pitch my tent and get to sleep before nightfall.

I thought I'd try to see if I could pitch my tent at a church in Ossipee. Google Maps told me there were three churches in Center Ossipee. The closest to my route was the First Congregational Church. They had a pretty hip website, so I shot them an email inquiring if they would host me this evening.

I quickly received a reply, and within a few minutes, I was on the phone talking with Ryan, making plans for the evening. He wasn't sure if I'd be able to stay inside, but I could definitely pitch my tent on the church property. Woohoo! I would meet Ryan at the church at 5pm.

I hung out at the gas station in Cornish for a bit longer, and then I rode the final 20 miles to Center Ossipee, which was just on the other side of the New Hampshire border.

If you recall, I was not greeted by a "Welcome to New Hampshire" sign when I entered the state from the west. But, entering the state from the east, I was greeted with not one, but two signs acknowledging the state border. I guess all is even now.

Welcome to New Hampshire.

Welcome to New Hampshire, again.

Often times, long-distance cyclists will adorn their bikes with things that they find on the side of the road - flags, feather boas, deer antlers, lamp shades, whatever. Alison, my Warm Showers host in Walla Walla, WA uses the phrase "shoulder shopping" to refer to the process of seeking out good finds along the side of the road.

I'm not much of a shopper, and I'm not sure how much I'm interested in carrying extra weight. But, if it's a really good find, then I'd be willing.

I've been shoulder shopping this entire trip. I've seen a lot of roadkill, but not a whole lot else along the side of the road. Except for empty bottles. Bottles full of a peculiar yellowish/orangish liquid.

Many of these bottles have been soda bottles, and I thought that perhaps the soda faded in color when exposed to the sun for long periods of time. But, the more I talk to people, the more I'm convinced that these are pee bottles.

I've never peed in a bottle myself, but apparently it's done. And sometimes after it's done, the bottle is chucked out the window as if some little garbage-picking-up gnome will take care of the bottles.

I saw tons of these bottles out west, particularly in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I saw some more in Michigan, where I finally decided that I should snap a photo of this shoulder shopping find. Though, admittedly, not a stellar find - not one you would proudly mount on your bike.

A pee bottle from Michigan.

I didn't notice any pee bottles in Ontario or anywhere along the rest of my route out to the coast. But...then I saw one two of them within a mile of entering New Hampshire!

Pee bottle # 1 in New Hampshire.

Pee bottle #2 in New Hampshire.

So, then I arrived at the First Congregational Church in Center Ossipee. (My apologies, Ryan, for not having a smooth segue between pee bottles and your lovely church.)

The First Congregational Church is huge. It's on 5 acres, with a number of different buildings. As it turns out, Ryan said I could spend the night inside, in their "coffee house." And, the second floor of the church office had a shower that I could use. Sweet!

Ryan at the First Congregational Church in Center Ossipee.

The hippest old church I've ever stayed in.

Ryan and I chatted for quite awhile about lots of different things. He grew up in the area, and so he knows lots and lots of interesting tidbits about things in the Northeast. Ryan is also quite the photographer, and so he showed me some amazing photos he's taken of landscapes in the Northeast. I must come back when the leaves are turning.

Thank you, Ryan, for opening your doors to me. 'Tis much appreciated!

While I think of Portland, OR as the "main" Portland and Portland, ME as the "other" Portland, it turns out that there are lots of Portlands. There are Portlands in the following states: AK, AR, CO, CT, IN, IA, KY, MI, MO, NY, ND, OH, PA, TN, TX, and WI.

As for me, I'm not going to do anything further with this information. But if you decide to visit all the Portlands in the United States on your next bike tour, I'll support you whole-heartedly!


  1. Portland Pie Company in downtown Portland makes a delicious greasy pizza. I know it's not exactly your thing, but I found it fabulous (I've been to Portland twice for work. Long story.). And I know exactly what bridge you went across because I accidentally went across it with a boat trailer a couple of years ago. It's not the most scenic part of town.....

  2. Pizza? Definitely my thing. Greasy? Not my thing. On one of our runs, perhaps you can fill me in on your long story. :)


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