For several years early in my career with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), I covered the islands along the coast of Maine. Thoroughly enjoying my many trips to the beautiful rugged atolls, I particularly appreciated meeting the unique independent inhabitants. The fine people residing on them weren’t always as fond of me and our communications were sometimes unpleasant. In fact, occasionally they were downright hostile.
Much has changed since I left the IRS behind. Nowadays, my visits to the islands are for pleasure not business. No more combative interactions and disagreeable enforcement encounters. Instead, I serenely navigate my kayak along the shores or peacefully bike their scenic roads.
Islesboro is one of my favorite bicycle outings. The 14 mile long island offers sweeping vistas, numerous picturesque coves and harbors, and lightly traveled primarily paved roads. Located three miles from Lincolnville Beach in Waldo County, it is just a twenty minute ferry ride from the mainland with several crossings each day.
I’d been waiting for a Goldilock’s day to post a Penobscot Paddle & Chowder Society club bike trip to the engaging oasis in central Penobscot Bay. Discerning what appeared to be the perfect opportunity, my longtime friend Brent was the only respondent. Both retired, we had the advantage of choosing a warm sunny weekday for our junket.
Arriving at the Lincolnville Ferry Terminal, we were surprised to find the roundtrip ticket price for an adult with a bike is actually higher than one for a vehicle and driver. Since a Mini Cooper takes up more space than about a dozen bicycles, this appears to be faulty logic in the extreme. My jaded suspicion is the ferry service is compensating for cost overruns on the backs of cyclists. A beautiful bike ride, we sucked up the monetary pain and paid the exorbitant charge.
The overpriced ferry excursion was idyllic with spectacular views of the Camden Hills and nearby islands. Arriving at Grindle Point, we followed Ferry Road past Broad Cove to a junction where the post office and several town buildings are located. Progressing north on Main Road past the architecturally unique granite and brick Alice Pendleton Memorial Library, we navigated through The Narrows, a panoramic restricted isthmus that connects the northern and southern sectors of the island. Continuing north through the tiny village of Pripet, we rounded the upper end of the island near Turtle Head Cove and began our trek south on hilly Meadow Road.
Reentering The Narrows and angling right past the Historical Society onto West Bay Road, we proceeded along a substantial beach and connected back to the Ferry Terminal. After enjoying lunch on the shore next to the Sailor’s Memorial Museum adjacent to the ferry landing, we traveled south through the quaint hamlet of Dark Harbor where there is a shopping area with opportunities for food, ice cream, and snacks.
Persisting south past numerous Gilded Age mansions, the highway ended at Pendleton Point a scenic picnic and recreational area. A few years ago, the promontory was one of our stops on a long distance sea kayak trip. Taking a hiatus from biking, we hiked the rocky shoreline reminiscing about sea kayak escapades past.
Islesboro is an exceptional sea kayak destination. Nearby Warren Island State Park opposite the ferry terminal offers outstanding campsites for paddlers some with breathtaking views of the mountainous mainland. The approximate boundary between East and West Penobscot Bay, the island is a waypoint for trips to North Haven, Vinalhaven, Cape Rosier, and Deer Isle Archipelago. A lengthy circumnavigation of Islesboro can also be completed in a day trip from Warren Island.
Dazzled by three attractive young ladies on our jaunt back to the ferry terminal, we stopped for refreshment at a lemonade stand in Dark Harbor. The price of relief was a dollar a glass and no senior discount! My admittedly faltering recollection is the cost of a glass of lemonade was five cents when I was a kid. That’s what Charlie Brown advertised. Since over sixty years have transpired since those halcyon days, maybe the current cost accurately accounts for inflation. At the price they’re charging perhaps the young entrepreneurs will be able to forgo student loans when they’re ready for college.
Completing a 37 mile outing, our day ended with another remarkable but expensive ferry ride back to Lincolnville Beach. We traveled home light on cash but flush with warm memories of a most excellent day of cycling without any contentious tax deliberations.
Author of “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery” and “Mountains for Mortals – New England,” Ron Chase resides in Topsham. Visit his website at www.ronchaseoutdoors.com or he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org