Friday, 28 October 2011

USA Today (7) Acadia National Park, ME, Bikes, Beer & Bublé.


Continuing our exploits on our New England roadtrip / honeymoon last month ...........


After proper American breakfast of Brooklyn Bridge bagels and last night’s left over sausage burger, 

Delicious!

.....we set off to Bar Harbor for a day of mountain biking. Cycling in either my fit flops or my hiking boots seemed like a bad idea, which gave me an excellent excuse to indulge in one of my favourite things – shoe shopping! 

Ten minutes and $100 later I was fully tooled up and the proud owner of a new pair of Merrell Avian Light Ventilator  high performance trail shoes – and they matched my top. Result!

After picking up our bikes and then waiting in the wrong place for the shuttle bus, 45 minutes later we were at the start point for the island’s system of traffic free carriage roads. These were un-made roads used through time by horse and carts. 


Acadia & carriage roads.
 
They were – we were told “Not very steep / really quite flat.”

This however, was a lie. 

We’d planned to do a loop around three lakes and after tanking along for the first couple of miles, we hit our first hill. This posed no problem for Tris who cycles to work every day, takes part in triathlons and who completed the coast to coast en vélo over the summer. Whereas I’d not done nothing more than tootle down the road to the pub in the last few months and nothing at all for a long time before that. 

Look at those little legs go.

It wasn’t long before I had to get off and push. As other cyclists rode up the hill past me, I felt pretty useless and not at all optimistic about how the day was going to pan out. Still, I wasn’t the only one struggling and unlike one woman, at least I didn’t have a massive strop. She stopped and sat by the side of the road with her back turned towards her husband. He in turn didn’t really know what to do – so just hovered. We didn’t see them again that day.


It's steeper than it looks!
As we cycled on, the downhill bits were great, bombing along - mountains, lakes, trees and blue sky. With the wind in my face, I bent down low over my handle bars for improved aerodynamics. But the down hills were never long enough and seemed scant compensation for the ascents. 

Before long my knee was hurting and I was sweating like a fat lass – but at least my new shoes were comfy, which was just as well as I seemed to be doing much more walking than I’d originally anticipated.

We skirted past Eagle Lake before stopping at the top end of Jordan Pond for a picnic. It was absolutely beautiful. We walked out on the large pink boulders into the shallows where grass shoots broke the surface and sat and reflected on life and nothing in particular.

 
Jordan Pond.
Back in the saddle again we cycled past ‘The Bubbles’ and ‘Bubble Pond’. What a great place for a children’s book – Mr & Mrs Bubble and all the little Bubbles who all live in Bubble Pond .....

We’d only managed a further three miles after our lunch time stop, and I was off and pushing my bike yet again. Grandparents out cycling with their grandchildren overtook me. A group of small Japanese girls cycling in Ugg boots overtook me. A horse pulling a carriage full of elderly tourists overtook me. Why was I so rubbish? Why couldn’t I cycle up hills? A carriage at that point looked like a much more sensible option.

I considered my excuses and contemplated which card to play. The K, C or F card? I chose the C (cancer) card as a reason to stop beating myself up as the K (knee) card seemed a bit wet and the F (fat) card is one I like to ignore!

We had a few tears along the way, but I made it in the end. A whole 11 miles – which seemed more like 111 miles. 

Back at the top end of Eagle Lake, where we started.

It was a bit pathetic for someone who managed to cycle 75 miles in one day three years earlier, but considerably better than anything I managed to do since and it did give me a real sense of achievement. On this occasion, I really did need the restroom for a rest!

Back in Bar Harbor we went beer tasting at the Bar Harbor Brewing Company. We were really pleasantly surprised. New England has lots of small breweries and their beer is great. 

Not only was the beer a real surprise (I’d been expecting Budweiser and Coors and that to be about it), football / soccer seemed to be really popular too. When I went travelling around the world, I was so pleased to come from Manchester. People would ask where I came from, I’d say “Manchester”, at which point they’d burst into a big smile and say “Ahh – Manchester United”! On that basis, I got a warm welcome everywhere – that is apart from America – until this trip. Soccer seemed to be really catching on and the people we met seemed to be really knowledgeable about the premiership.

Our bar tender was a Liverpool fan! Primarily as a result of their link with The Boston Red Sox (they share the same owner). As we worked our way through a free tasting of his entire range of beers we discussed real ales and football. Tris was in his element and I was holding my own, though I didn’t feel the need to prove myself by explaining the off side rule.

We got chatting to a couple from Mojave Texas who were also working their way through the ‘the flavour gamut from light and fruity to dark and rich': 

My favourite.


Tris' favourite.


Very nice also.


Hic!


We were having a lovely time talking to them about ‘Dallas’ and it was all going very well until Mojave woman started talking about how much all Texans loved Newcastle Brown Ale and how they’d get it in their ‘growlers’! Apparently there is a place in Mojave where you can go and fill up your ‘growler’ – and where everyone hangs their ‘growler’ up around the bar.

Like a dirty school boy, I started to snigger.

“Shall I tell her?” I said to Tris.

“What, that Newcastle Brown is rubbish and only people from Newcastle drink it?” he replied.
“No – about the ‘growler’. I’m going to tell her.”

So I told her – I filed it under ‘cultural sharing and education of Americans’.

“If you go to England” I ventured, “don’t go into a pub and ask for a ‘growler’ because it means something very different back home.”

“Does it really?” replied ‘Sue Ellen’.

I had the room’s attention, but I hadn’t thought things through. Normally I’d say it’s another word for a fanny. But in America, that doesn’t work because a fanny is your bum – complicated by the fact that a bum is a homeless person. I was starting to struggle.

“A ‘growler’ is another word for your downstairs lady bits” I said finally. 

There, that would do it.

Apparently not!

“Excuse me?” said Texas woman looking confused.

“You know ..... down there,” I said nodding and gesturing southwards with eyes.

But she still didn’t know and I was stumped. To be fair, most of the rest of the room had got it by now, but it took Tris and a well timed “vagina” intervention to put the matter beyond reasonable doubt. 

“Oh!” she said.

My ‘growler’ had fallen flat!

We went back to Southwest Harbor that evening for dinner. Baked Camembert with blueberries, crab cakes, scallops, local wine from the Bar Harbor cellars and interesting conversation with a family from Tennessee who referenced Manchester as “just south of Scotland” and loved the British Rail system, because you can go anywhere!

Driving back to our cabin that night, we listened to the soothing, easy listening tunes of Delilah on 92.9 WEZQ. Delilah’s nightly show is syndicated right across the US – playing a musical soundtrack to personal stories phoned in by her listeners. 

We wondered what she would choose for us and decided as a homage to our cycling trip around ‘The Bubbles’ and our general optimism regarding our future, we should plump for Micky Bubbles, aka Michael Bublé and ‘The best is yet to come’!


Out of the tree of life, I just picked me a plum
You came along and everything started to hum
Still its a real good bet, the best is yet to come

The best is yet to come, and baby wont it be fine
You think you've seen the sun, but you aint seen it shine

Wait till the warm-up's underway
Wait till our lips have met
Wait till you see that sunshine day
You aint seen nothin yet

The best is yet to come, and baby wont it be fine
The best is yet to come, come the day your mine

The best is yet to come
Come the day your mine
Oh come the day your mine
I'm gonna teach you to fly
We've only tasted the wine
We're gonna drain that cup dry

Wait till your charms are right, for the arms to surround
You think you've flown before, but you aint left the ground

Wait till you're locked in my embrace
Wait till I hold you near
Wait till you see that sunshine place
There ain't nothin like it here

The best is yet to come, and baby wont it be fine
The best is yet to come, come the day your mine
Come the day your mine
I've got plans for you baby
And baby you're gonna fly


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