August 23, 2005

Start: Portland, Maine
Mileage: 116 miles
Route taken: Highway 9 to Highway 1 to Interstate 95, exit at


        This was the furthest east I could go and today marked a southward turn on my trip. In some ways it saddened me. I knew I was moving towards home rather than away from it, even if I was going south.

        My plan is to return home to Sunset Beach on October 1 and this was a reminder that day was coming closer.

        As much difficulty as the road can be, and all the challenges it presents, there is still nothing more satisfying than being a part of it.

        So I was heading down the coast, taking my time, since I knew I was stopping in Boston for the night, which is less than two hours away.

        There was a small deli just outside of Portland and I stopped in for some lunch.

        My weakness for submarine sandwiches is pathetic. I could probably eat them every day. I don’t know what it is about them, but I have always loved a good sandwich.

        This place provided me with a delicious Italian sandwich and better conversation. It was my second positive interaction with New Englanders and I was really starting to worry.

        I had come to this area expecting resistance. When I was here 12 years ago the people were some of the most unfriendly I had ever encountered. They were as cold as the weather.

        It was disturbing. They didn’t have to be, but the dour looks and frigid demeanors really made my visit to the area extremely unenjoyable.

        So when the people at the deli welcomed me and were interested in the motorcycle, it was a bit unnerving.

        I was totally expecting to eat my sandwich under a cloud of contempt, cast at me by everyone in the room. When the exact opposite happened, I was quite surprised.

        They even gave me advice on what route I should take to get to Boston. The coast by Kennebunk is really pretty and shouldn’t be missed, they said.

        Ok, now I am wondering when the pod people exactly took over.

        Actually I have a theory about why the sudden change in attitude.

        This is an area that lives for its sports teams. It is a symbiotic relationship and there hasn’t been anything to cheer about since the Boston Celtics were dominant in the 80s.

        The New England Patriots were never really good and that just added to an already dreary winter, a winter set up by a heartbreak by the Boston Red Sox.

        All summer the baseball team would look promising and then some how would manage to tear out fans’ hearts just before the leaves turned and the air got colder.

        So by the time Spring came around, New Englanders had five months to think how bad their teams were all the while the Boston Bruins were stinking up the ice.

        I would probably be in a bad mood too.

        Then all of a sudden, the teams started winning, at least the teams that mattered.

        The Patriots won two Super Bowls and started looking like the Dallas Cowboys, winning three of the last four Super Bowls.

Then 86 years of misery was erased when the Red Sox won the World Series.

Well now it is like a Shriner’s Convention here. Everyone is smiling, everyone helpful. I don’t know whether I am in Boston or Dubuque, Iowa.

When I arrived in the city, a cold I had been fighting for the last few days was tightening its grip around me. I wanted to find a nice, clean, cheap hotel room. When I went to the Super 8 and the man told me he had no rooms, he actually helped me find another place.

I thought I was hallucinating from the cold medicine.