Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bikin' the Jordan Stream Loop

Or NOT! Sparky started out today with the grand idea of biking yet another carriage road to go see some bridges--hopefully, the Cobblestone Bridge and the Cliffside Bridge. If she read right, the Jordan-Stream Loop would be an 4.0 mile ride, a nice exercise loop for today. There's just one problem--Sparky is navigationally challenged, and now, it appears, she is LITERARY challenged. SHE CAN'T READ! Now, if you've been reading our blog for a bit, you know, that Sparky writes the blog and often pokes fun at herself, so here she goes today.....Here's her, er, my story..... Why do I write in the 3rd person a lot? Because I'm poking fun at myself and I don't sound as much an idiot to myself when I write in the 3rd person....

"I started out with my handy dandy little book---A Pocket Guide to The Carriage Roads of Acadia National Park. It's a great little book, it fits nicely in a big fanny pack. It's got a map of each "tour". (Swell, but Sparky can't read maps very well.) Bridges are little black boxes on the map. Here's today's map:

Jordan Pond Gate House
Here are today's directions:
"Park at the Jordan Pond parking lot, .2  mile north of the Jordan Pond Tea House. (Eldy dropped me off, so far, so good.) Walk south, (which way is that? Oh, towards the Jordan Pond Gate House. Thank God they gave me a landmark!) along the Park Loop Road to the Jordan Pond Gate. (across from the Jordan Pond Gate house)  Sparky started out, and rode 1.4 miles. "Starting here, turn right at [16]."

WHOA NELLIE! There's no 16 here, Sparky says...the signpost says 18! Sparky whipped out her little book, read, and re-read the instructions. She THOUGHT the book said, "walk south along the Park Loop Road to the Jordan Pond Gate HOUSE and start here."  So she had ridden 1.4 miles in the WRONG direction, having started on the opposite side of the gate. Back she went, another 1.4 miles all uphill. Back to the gate again. Ask directions from a young man who whipped out a map (never a good strategy to use with Sparky, but he didn't know.) Sparky pretended to understand north, south, etc. etc., smiled sweetly and said thanks. She studiously studied the map (for at least five minutes) to no avail.

Off she went again the other way....This time, directions in the little book jibed with the signposts. "Starting here, turn right at [16].   I did.  "Take a left at [15]."  I did. The downhill run follows the curves of the stream at a fairly steep descent. WHEEE--EEE-E-EEEEEEE!  The little bridges cross the Jordan Stream several times and the scenery was beautiful, once again. Sparky doesn't think there are ANY bad hikes or drives in Acadia, they are ALL beautiful.

Sparky ran into some young Friends of Acadia workers, who volunteer to keep the ditches clear along the carriage roads, who repair culverts and bridges, who do LOTS of things to keep the carriage roads and the park beautiful and well maintained. They were working hard. When asked if she could take a photo of them working, here's what they did, they posed! Sorry, she didn't get their names.

OK, guys, back to work!

"Turn right at [23].  You can on foot, you CAN'T on a bike. The little book failed to mention that a right turn puts you on private carriage roads, and NO BIKES ARE ALLOWED.  Pity the foreign visitors who speak or read very little English. Sparky has heard lots of German and French on the carriage roads. There are little icons with the line crossing through the bike, but they are not posted in the same spot as this sign and it's difficult to tell what road they are telling you NOT to go on. It's probably safe to assume that all private carriage roads are closed to bike riders, at least that's what it seems. That's a very small portion of the carriage roads in the park, and the private roads are in the southern section of the park.

Now what? Sparky went left, UP ANOTHER STEEP HILL to a second intersection. She was going to go around the loop the other way. NOPE! No bikes allowed to the right--another private carriage road. Stiff penalties if you think you could pretend to be a foreign speaking person and shrug, "Je ne parlais anglais." (I don't speak English). Hope that French is correct! Sparky went to the left, riding a loop back to the Jordan Pond House. No awesome bridges today. Just one over a regular road. It's still pretty. Don't ask Sparky the location of this one. She has no clue where she saw it.

But wait a minute....Sparky can call Eldy and say she's not done yet. There's another bridge called the Deer Brook Bridge, and it's nearby! Eldy says, sure! Take all day, ride all afternoon if you want. Yippee! The day won't be a disappointment after all! After getting her park out of the bike rack after getting directions from the ranger how to find the bridge, heheheh...Sparky notices SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH HER BIKE. It appears the brakes have locked up. The back wheel is whining with the brake pads smooshed against the rim. Not good. Sparky can't budge the brakes away from the rim one fraction of an inch. Sparky thinks maybe she overheated the little brake pads breaking all the way down the hills. Maybe they fused themselves to the bike. See? Sparky is a safety conscious rider. Now, Eldo? He rides full blast down the hills, and doesn't use his brakes hardly at all. (Yep, proud to admit, I'm a daredevil on the bike) Yeah, and he will only go on level bike rides and downhill ones....tee hee hee. He's a good sport. He knows I'm teasing.

Sparky calls Eldo...Eldo comes and gets Sparky. They head to the bike shop in Ellsworth...The guy puts the bike up on the rack...he spins the wheel, it locks up, he stops and says, "Hm-m-m-m-m...." The brakes do look a little corroded, he says. He looks a little more, he sees a Krypton coiled up like a snake bike lock locked onto the rear carrier (Sparky had attached the bike lock back there), fiddles a bit with the wheel and says,"There's nothing wrong with your brakes, lady---It's this bike lock coiled up on the back rubbing against the tire." It had moved down into the carrier frame and wedged itself against the tire. He moves the bike lock out of the way of the tire, and VOILA! The noise is gone, the tire spins freely, the brakes are working fine...


Sparky sheepishly makes her way to another part of the store to check out kayak supplies....We will say that Cadillac Mountain Sports in Ellsworth, Maine was a great store to shop in and get bike service, even though we didn't need any. They even looked at our Thule bike rack which we are having problems with and tried to help us on that free of charge.  And that was how our day went today...the verdict is still out on whether Sparky is the village idiot or not...Sparky has more stories to tell about herself, but they will have to wait for another day....


  1. Poor Sparky. Oh well, at least she had a good time getting lost looking at all the views :)

  2. You did at least get to ride your bike somewhere. Better than no bike ride at all.

  3. Okay Sparky. . .time to buy a compass. I'm sure they have them that attach to the handlebars of the bike. . .and remember. . .the top of the map SHOULD always be North.

    You would think as a former mail carrier, I would have needed to know how to read a map. . .but I didn't learn until we started traveling. . .and it was the computerized compass on the mirror of the truck that actually helped me figure it all out. . .good luck!

  4. Compass is a GREAT idea for the directionally challenged like you and me. Actually I can read a map pretty well as long as I turn it so the part that is up is the direction I'm going. But tell me to turn East and forget it. I have a compass for hiking but I think one on my handle bars for biking is a great idea. Sure pays to read blogs and the comments! Thanks Sparky. Sounds like a good day to me in spite of the gaffs.


  5. Sparky, you are a riot !!! What an adventure .... Glad the bike repair was minor.... You are all set now but I agree with the compass purchase... Hey, you may have one on your cell phone or you can find an app for that !!! SOOOOOOO

  6. Fun pictures of the workers...glad they got right back to work!! Sounds like you had an adventurous day even without seeing the bridges.