the roads here are circular

This is a weird place. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the center is that pulls this particular assortment of people into orbit. As I sat on the pier looking at my maps for the address of the hostel I’m camped at, two kids, I doubt they were even twenty, came up and asked if it was a map of the island I was looking at. They were looking for a place to camp. Then they asked if I lived here. I told them no, and that the hostel had cheap spots, but they just walked away. I got the feeling they were scheming for a place to crash. They didn’t have any camping equipment.

Riding toward the hostel, a quick survey of the place revealed what I expected, expensive restaurants and boutique shops filling a dozen blocks by the sea. But then to my surprise, the hostel was brimming with guests.. I was expecting a sleepy place run by a middle-aged couple. Instead I had to wade through the guests to find a very alert, busy, and young David to check me in. As I finished filling out the paperwork, a scruffy guy with a backpack came in, no reservations. Said he’d just come in to town, had some leads on a job, and was interested in longer term lodging if David knew of any.

After setting up camp, I walked around a while, examining menus, trying to find something unique and below the average going rate. No luck, so I picked a place because I liked the particular illustration of a whale that they used as their logo. As someone who’s read Moby Dick several times, I’ve given whale illustration an inordinate amount of thought.

I sat down at the bar, next to what I quickly realized was a very inebriated woman. She’d already been in a verbal altercation with another patron and was sitting there brooding on it when I arrived. Her husband arrived, also inebriated, but less so, or better at keeping his composure, and at first he accused her of always ruining a nice day. Then he became more sympathetic as it was revealed that the other patron had made a slight on South Carolinians. They were South Carolinians.

For the record, as this thing played out, I did not take a liking to the contentious other patron either. He was wearing a high-arch billed ballcap and thick-rimmed glasses, drinking Corona’s, and talking too much. So, then the husband said to me, as if I was some kind of confidant, that he was going to have to go kick this guy’s ass. I ignored him, but the bartender–who I was sympathetic to because he was also new in town and because he gave me my first beer on the house after I told him I’d biked in from Missouri–came around from behind the bar and made it clear that they’d both better leave now. The only person I felt bad for was the bartender, even though he’d clearly played favorites with ballcap guy somewhere along the line, but he handled himself like a pro at that point, so kudos to us new guys.

Maybe the real problem with my comprehension of this place is that I’m unsure how I wound up with this as my destination too. All I can figure is that I had the maps, from the trip I was planning last year. I’d bought the ticket; it was inevitable that I’d take the ride some day.

Okay, details: In what I realized would be one last grand muscular expression, I did 105 miles today. I hadn’t broken the 100 barrier in quite some time. In fact, I think I’d rarely done more than 60 since I hit the Erie Canal. But the Lord gave me sun today, the first I’d seen of it since the morning I left New Hampshire, and it felt great to be sweating profusely and seeing vibrant colors. Now I’m exhausted. I explored the streets of Bar Harbor in a delicious zen state. I was a completely detached observer of all that tension in the bar. “Lively here in Bar Harbor,” I said to the bartender with a smile after he kicked the couple out.

Finally, I must admit that I did not wind up finishing the official Adventure Cycling route. With about 12 miles left, I became worried that I’d missed my turn and even with the GPS it was difficult to discern whether I had or not because the major roads here are like the rings of a tree, circuiting the island and touching in places, so I asked a local. He suggested that I take the second left, Crooked Road, and the way he said it, without fuss or aloofness, made me trust him. It was a pretty nice ride. Tomorrow, I’ll take the official route back out of town and see where, or if, I went wrong.


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