Riding to Maine on a Forty Foot Crane
(from “Living in the Future” by John Prine)
My riding partner, Norm, and I had been planning a trip to Maine for the past year. The summer before we completed our Hemingway Quest which took us to Keywest and back through the southeast and southwest completing 42 states. We needed to travel 10 more to complete the lower forty-eight. We had also reached three corners of the US: Cape Flattery, WA; Keywest, Florida; and Pt. Loma in San Diego. Madawaska, ME would be our last.
Finish the last corner and states of the lower 48 states.
Change of Plans
We had originally planned to complete a trans-Canada trip then return through the New England states: about 10k miles. I changed those plans the spring before departure when Norm hit an elk on White Pass in the Cascade Mountains. He lived but not expected to ride again for sometime, if at all.
Initially, I considered taking a short trip and waiting for Norm to repair before finishing off the states. It soon dawned on me though, that what had happened to Norm could easily happen to me. I also have a friend who has cancer and lost several family members to it. I began feeling an urgency to finish. A friend of mine often asks, “Who promised you tomorrow?” The trip was back on.
I opted for a more direct route considering I was traveling on my own. I also shortened the trip, but as I planned, the original 7k miles expanded. This was largely due to financial reasons at first. Since I would not be splitting the cost of camping or motels I routed the trip to match more camping. I could also stay with friends which included; Boise (brother-in-law), Salt Lake City (Navy buddy), Chicago (Navy buddy), Maryland (family friend), and Milwaukee (past work colleague).
After laying out the trip through these cities, I began looking for fun roads to ride and other places of interest. I had been through the southeast into the Smoky Mountains but had not been on the Blue Ridge Parkway so added that to my route. To get there I would have to travel further south than Maryland and noticed US-52 on the map, which looked like an interesting and scenic road along the Ohio River; I added that.
Other additions were Anamosa, IA (National Motorcycle Museum), Manhattan, Long Island, Bar Harbor National Park, crossing into Canada from Madawaska (the northeast corner), Niagara Falls, Muskegon MI for the Lake Express High Speed Ferry, and Sitting Bull’s grave site in North Dakota. With the additions, the trip was now about 9,500 miles. I only had twenty-five days so I would be traveling every day with no time off for good behavior.