Maine: Exploring Lighthouses and Mountains

Maine: Exploring Lighthouses and Mountains
Hewn from bedrock and shaped by glaciers, Maine’s landscape is unique, from its rugged coastline dotted with lighthouses to its pristine lakes and deep woods. Maine has always attracted individualists and adventurers, from lumberjacks and hunters, to fisherman plying Georges Banks, and to Henry David Thoreau and motorcyclists.

Lighting the Way

Our sojourn begins in Portland, Maine’s largest city. Alan (on a BMW F 800 ST) and I (on a 2014 Honda CB1100) track northeast on serene backroads, rolling past small towns, family farms, mud flats, and salt marsh inlets. The ocean here is shy, hiding from the road in backyards and woods, and the mood is relaxed until we hit U.S. 1, a major artery for summer vacationers. We turn off the slow, beaten path and find our own route to Wiscasset where we indulge in lobster rolls, a local favorite, and refuel with coffee.

Alan tears it up along 32 near Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

Sated, we zigzag along local asphalt to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park. The lighthouse, squatting upon a bouldered bluff, casts its beacon of light (fueled first with whale oil, then kerosene, now electricity), 14 nautical miles into dark, foggy nights. The lighthouse is semi-retired (most ships rely upon electronic navigation these days), hosting tourists who admire the view, clamber upon the shore, and relax in the spruce grove. We shed our riding gear and wade in the cool waters of the Atlantic, joining others marveling the craggy shore. There is a story spanning eons in these striated stones, a story of tectonic forces, of the sea washing away soil to reveal bedrock, and the relentless, patient ocean slowly changing the stone into sand.

Motorcycles & Gear

2014 Honda CB1100, 2007 BMW F 800 ST

Helmet: Shoei RF1200 Terminus, Shuberth C3 Pro
Jacket: Spidi Gunwind, Dainese
Pants: Aerostich Darien Light, Dainese
Boots: Alpinestars Mono Fuse GORE-TEX, Sidi
Gloves: Aerostich Elkskin Gauntlet, Held
Luggage: Nelson-Rigg Silver Streak saddlebags
Always consult more detailed maps for touring purposes.

We remount and move toward the Marshall Point Lighthouse, just 13 miles away as the crow flies, but nearly 50 miles around Muscongus Bay. Geologists describe Maine’s coast as a “drowned coast.” Rising seas filled Maine’s coastal valleys at the end of the ice age, transforming them into bays and turning mountaintops into the over 3,100 islands that dot the coast.

We get to Marshall Point Lighthouse just as the sun begins its long goodbye. In the warm afternoon light it stands rooted to the rocks, a stout white cylinder of granite and brick topped with a black trimmed lantern room. It looks like it can handle anything winter can throw at it. A family has brought a pizza to watch the sunset while others meander upon the cobblestones and explore the walkway leading to the lighthouse. Tidal pools abound and are teaming with life.

Mainers love Pemaquid Point Lighthouse so much its likeness represents them on the Maine state quarter.

We have one more lighthouse to see before our day ends. We ride northeast in the fading light and catch Owls Head Lighthouse in the dusk. Set high on a rugged promontory, the lighthouse offers a panorama of Rockland Harbor. Thick woods reach right to the shore where they give way to the rocky coast. This is quintessential Maine—the sea, the woods, the lighthouse and bedrock together, stoic and imperturbable.

Situated away from the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor, the Best Western Acadia Park Inn is a motorcycle-friendly motel-style inn where guests can park their bikes right outside their room for security. Complimentary continental breakfast is served and guests can also enjoy the heated outdoor pool. Access to Acadia National Park is just down the road. Find it at 452 State Highway 3, Bar Harbor, ME

With the day done, we make our way to Camden in the dark, the heat of the day replaced with an evening chill. Tonight we dine on cheeseburgers and craft beers. Life is good.

Ocean View

From the top of Mount Battie, the morning sun shines upon Camden nestled in the safety of the harbor—just beyond lies Penobscot Bay and beyond that the Gulf of Maine. Fishing the Georges and Browns Banks once dominated the economy here, but Main Street is now filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. Times change.