What a great day for a ride!! The weather was drop dead gorgeous and we were heading for the White Mountain National Forest. I was so excited. We left Bangor, Maine around nine in the morning after a quick breakfast and headed briefly down Interstate 95 south and then onto Rt. 2 west towards Conway, New Hampshire.
Today Bob was in the lead and as we were rolling down the highway all of a sudden Bob made a right turn and down a small road, which, of course, was being surveyed, and having the shoulder cleaned up. He stopped and talked to one of the workers and then proceeded down the road. We figured it must be something very good indeed for us to detouring down this road.
And it was! Evidently he had seen a sign for a covered bridge and he was interested in seeing it. The bridge was located in the Sunday River Recreational Area about four miles off Rt. 2 in Newry, Maine. It was built in 1872 and was weathered and gray but unfortunately we could not ride on it. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1958 when a new bridge was built down river. It looked sound to us and we did walk through it but no riding. We stayed a few minutes and took some pictures and then backtracked to the highway.
We stopped for lunch at the Crossroads Diner in Bethel, Maine. It was warm outside but much warmer inside so we decided to eat at the picnic tables on the deck. Our waitress was very nice and quickly had our drinks at the table. As we were looking over the menus I notice the restaurant’s motto, “Where locals meet and visitors are treated like locals”. I like that sentiment.
The menu choices were both very homey and sophisticated. On the one hand they offered meatloaf sandwiches and on the other a cranberry walnut salad with sweet and sour dressing. Other choices included various deli sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers with various toppings. I ordered the turkey in a tomato and basil wrap with cranberry mayonnaise. I expected one medium sized wrap and was overwhelmed when I saw that there were actually two medium wraps on the plate. So much food and one small stomach. What to do? I could not finish the meal but I gave it my best shot.
The only one who had trouble with his choice was Barry. He ordered a Rueben sandwich and was given a pastrami sandwich. He had already eaten half before telling the waitress so decided to just finish the sandwich. The prices were quite reasonable which is always helpful when you’re on the road for a long period of time and eating out at least two meals a day. Once finished we were off to the forest.
I love riding through forests of any kind. Our plan was to go through the White Mountain National Forest then finish the day in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The day’s ride was amazing. The forest was lush with green vegetation. The roads were in amazing condition. We did encounter some road construction at the entrance but the rest of the ride was unencumbered. It was a nice cool ride as the trees were canopied over the road offering shade to we travelers.
Over the past week I was used to seeing many, many wildflowers along the road but here in the park the forest floor was covered with ferns. Oh, there were wildflowers to be sure but in small number compared to past days. As we were riding through the park we saw Mt. Washington. According to Wikipedia, Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States and is famous for its erratic weather and strong wind gusts. I wasn’t able to get a picture for some reason my camera was not cooperating. I missed a good number of great views along the way. I will have to rely on Lana and Char to fill whatever gaps I have in my pictures.
Earlier on the trip Bob noticed the architecture of many houses we saw in the provinces were reminincent of homes he saw many years before while stationed in Germany. He mentioned to Char that a great deal of the farms in Germany were constructed with the living quarters built on top of the barn. The idea was that the heat that was generated by the animals would keep the house warm. We noticed architecture that was very similar as we were traveling from town to town through the pass. There would be the main house connected by a covered passage to another work room, connected to yet another room, connected to a garage and then lastly connected to the barn. The home owner would, during very cold weather, never have to step out into the elements or let the elements into the house loosing precious heat. The homes were either built in a row going sideways or the main house would be what you saw from the street with the rest of the connecting building going out the back of the home. Very ingenious.
We had a really nice treat today. About two-o’clock we stopped at a Dairy Queen for some ice cream. I loved it. I had not had Dairy Queen ice cream in a really long time and it was especially appreciated today as it was a little warm once we exited the forest.
Along the road to Lincoln we saw signage for many campgrounds, resorts and inns. We finally arrived in Lincoln and tried to find a place to spend the night. Bob and Char wanted to visit with a friend who owned a children’s camp nearby so we needed to get settled so they would have a home to come back to. We wait a while to see if they would return for dinner but eventually Barry, Lana, Randy and I set out to find a restaurant. We walked about a half-mile down the road to a restaurant called Fratello’s Italian Grille. It was advertised everywhere and looked like a really nice restaurant and it looked very popular when we entered seeing so many people waiting to get in.
We only had a fifteen-minute wait, which was good as it was already eight thirty in the evening. Everything on the menu look enticing but we were not very hungry so only ordered a Caprese salad Randy ordered a house salad with some grilled chicken. Lana ordered spaghetti and meatballs. The waitress was quick to take our drink orders and bring hot garlic breadsticks and a plate with some olives, peppered oil and a wonderful cheese spread.
During dinner Lana asked me to taste her spaghetti sauce and meatballs. I did and was very surprised at the lack of taste of both. The sauce was a marinara and literally had no taste it was as though they had forgotten to add salt, pepper and spices. The same could be said of her meatballs. The meat was good and tender but there was absolutely no taste. We called the waitress over and asked if there was something she could do about the situation. She suggested that Lana choose another item from the menu. I suggested she try the Penne with Bolognese sauce, as it was a meat sauce containing various Italian meats and would be tastier. The restaurant’s Bolognese contained Italian sausage.
Lana ate her meal but was not totally satisfied. You know how it is once you have your taste buds ready for something and it doesn’t work out nothing else does either. The manager did come over to ask Lana if she could help but once she saw that Lana had already chosen another meal made no effort to assuage her feelings by offering to comp her meal or reduce the price of her meal. I was not very impressed with the manager’s interactions with my friend.
As I mentioned I ordered the Caprese salad. The salad is sliced tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and a balsamic vinaigrette. When the waitress brought the salad to the table it was only the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese laying on a leaf of lettuce. I called the waitress over and pointed out that there were ingredients missing from my salad. I said, “There is no fresh basil on my salad or any dressing”. She looked at me puzzled and asked, “Do you want some basil? Would you like for me to bring out some vinaigrette?” I said, “Yes, those are ingredients that should have come with my salad”. She brought both and I sat in the booth putting my salad together. I did not find this very impressive.
This is really the first restaurant on our travels that we walked away from disappointed and unsatisfied. It was really too bad as it was a very nice establishment and one of the most upscale restaurants in the area. Most of the other restaurants were pizza parlors, sandwich shops and the like.
Tomorrow we are off again to head for the Green Mountains of Vermont.