Advent, Day 8: Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour

Dear readers,
The Maine for an adventure a day, each day of this advent season — big or small, by land or sea, with friends or solo, in image or word, exuberant or contemplative, real or conceptual. We live in a state of wonder, its wide open spaces anticipating our
hope and joy.

It’s day eight and we’ve got the Rabid Outdoorsman on tap with a the story of his 2008 motorcycle tour. He traveled to Presque Isle to camp and fish with friends, to Calais to visit family, biked the Million Dollar View Scenic Byway (and didn’t find it so scenic), and then met up with a friend on Beals Island for lobsterin’ and wormin’.

Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour – Parts I and II

As the week progressed, I continued to keep a careful eye on the weather. Predictions were that it was going to rain buckets all over the state for somewhere around an eternity. By Thursday evening, I began to feel my chances at starting a statewide bike tour were vaporizing before they had even begun. Friday morning, however, was another story and as I climbed out of bed skies were threatening but the predicted rains were not falling. I decided at that moment that Mother Nature be damned I was going North! Quickly packing a small backpack, I jumped on my Yamaha V-star and the beast roared to life. As I hit the throttle, my MP3 player shuffled to Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” and I sped off toward Presque Isle.

Steely gray skies threatened, but I still managed to make it all the way to Lincoln before the heavens opened up and the thunder and lightening rained down upon me. God may be forgiving but Mother Nature is a vengeful bitch. Deciding against the repetitive nature of the interstate, I had opted for the more scenic and isolated route two but as my engine lost power a full 45 minutes from Houlton I began to wonder if this had in actuality been a good decision. I stopped at a small rest area (the only one) to assess the situation and after a through inspection decided that it was best to have a short breather and let the engine cool. Despite the fact that one tail pipe was stone cold, the bike had plenty of oil, only 10,000 miles and the idiot light had not yet come on . . . things were looking up!

I rested about a ½ an hour as the rains pounded down and silently wished that I smoked cigarettes. Jumping back on the bike, I managed to limp along under ½ power until I reached a small engine repair business just on the outskirts of Houlton. Once out of the rain and in the garage the issue was immediately apparent. Water had worked its way in around my spark plug and arched out the cylinder. Apparently Yamaha Motorcycles are “water resistant” and not “water proof”! A little bit of WD40 and 30 minutes on repair work later I was back on my way to the North country.

My MP3 player droned on and the miles continued to melt away as I sped toward my destination. Heavy rain on a motorcycle has the unfortunate side effect of causing a rider to develop tunnel vision and I am certainly no exception. Somewhere on the other side of Mars Hill I narrowly missed being broadsided at 4:00 in the afternoon by a 320 lb black bear. A prayer was said and a bladder was almost emptied.

The final stretch into Presque Isle, however, is what motorcycle riders live to see. The rains let up, the clouds parted and for a moment I even saw a few glimmers of sunshine. A moment of calm washed over me as the first leg of the trip was completed and I let out a small sigh. Somehow experienced trip difficulties make the little things that much more enjoyable. Cruising into Presque Isle my confidence was soaring and I knew that the remainder of the trip would be awesome.

Arriving in Presque Isle, I connected with friends and was presented with the fact that we had a “couple” of easy miles left to travel to make it to our intended camping location. There is something to be said for Aroostook natives and their estimation of distance is vastly different than most. About ½ an hour later, we completed the final stretch comprised of broken pavement and dirt roads . . . shaken but not stirred.

I was pleased to see that the festivities had already begun and over a dozen tents dotted the small campsite. A large bonfire had been started and the fragrant aroma of charred meat hung heavily in the damp air.

After setting up camp, I immediately launched into a conversation with a local on where one might find good fishing. I was informed that only a “couple” yards away ran the Aroostook River and that it was loaded with 10 and 12 inch brook trout. The next morning, I managed to hike the mile to mile and a half over blow downs and through fields of raspberry bushes down to the river but after several hours of dragging a dozen different lures through the clear waters I didn’t manage to temp even a single fish.

During the walk back to the campsite, I did manage to find a few photographic opportunities. Originally, I had made this trip with the express purpose of taking photos of either the potato or mustard fields in full bloom but overcast skies and the constant threat of rain showers made acceptable shot possibilities practically impossible.

A FULL all you can eat Aroostook breakfast of pancakes, sausage, eggs and bacon was served and the hungry masses quickly satisfied. After thoroughly stuffing myself, I jumped in my friend’s pick-up and we headed out to “camp”. According to my Aroostook county friend Camp was a “couple” of miles away and set on the shores of Squapan lake. After listening to the entire Led Zepplin IV CD on our trip over to Squpan, I was beginning to see a trend in regional estimations concerning distance. 

We arrived at camp and joined in on the festivities and I was about ready to pick up a fishing pole when I saw one of the locals pull up a monster 3 ½ inch chub. When I inquired if I could expect better fishing he said no and I headed directly for the horseshoe pit. I finished the day with a 9 win 1 loss record and have to blame my good fortune on the fact that it was my birthday . . . Heavy rain showers finally put an end to the activities at around 4:00 PM and we all piled into our vehicles and headed back to our camp site.

Awaking the next morning, dark skies were once again threatening rain and I realized that it was a high possibility that my ride to Calais to visit family was going to be very wet. I packed up my gear, bid old and new friends farewell, swung my leg over the iron horse and sped off down the road toward Houlton, Danforth and finally Calais.

Read Part III and Part IV of Rabid’s Wild Crow Motorcycle Tour to see his photos from the Million Dollar View Scenic Byway and find out about his adventures lobsterin’ and wormin’.