By Jelane A. Kennedy
A cartographer can be a traveler’s best friend. After finally feeling confident on how the bike path map worked we planned our last day out before we were to leave the area. Off to Biddeford it would be, the Eastern Trail had another car-free section that started behind the Southern Maine Medical Center. Finding the Southern Maine Medical Center and realizing that the trailhead was way back in the parking lot was a bit tricky. The Medical Center signs came in handy as a guide. We missed the road the first time and had to double back.
This section of the trail took us down the coast toward Kennebunk. We were feeling like old pros at this point. We had found our way to the bike trail, had our lunch all packed and we were ready to see this new section. This part of the trail seemed less scenic than then the section we did through the marshes and along the coastline in Portland. It had been raining and the warning markers on the trail for the areas that were a bit soft were much appreciated. Since the trail was packed gravel instead of asphalt it was very helpful to have this heads up.
The section was more woodsy but in a nondescript less scenic way but probably the biggest difference was taking the bridge over I-95, it was a bit jarring to find yourself suspended over 6 lanes of traffic moving at over 65 miles an hour! When we packed our lunch we had thought we would find a little off shoot from the trail to go down to the beach so we might have our lunch there. Different from our earlier experience this section did not have bathroom facilities and lacked some signs to tell us as tourists what was near by that we could visit. This section of the trail seemed less developed in that way.
We ended up eating our lunch at the turn around point for us, the end of the off road trail which happened to be in a school parking lot. Not particularly scenic. While sitting there we were approached by a woman not dressed to bike.
“Hi, do you know, is this the bike trail?”
“Yes, it is.” Said Eileen.
“Thank goodness, I’ve been all over trying to figure this out and had just about given up. I wanted to find it before my daughter came, we wanted to try it next week but I just didn’t know where it really was.”
“It is a great trail but the maps are a bit confusing, you wish they would mark the kiosk with, here you are!”
“Yes, and even just finding the parking lots and access points. I’ve asked at least a half dozen people in the last week and gotten different answers!”
“Jelane, can you get our color coded map out and let’s show her the other sections.”
“This is the color coded map but if you don’t know the terms it can be confusing. So off road is in green and it means it is a trail like this with no car traffic, and the pink is on-road with cars.” I said.
“See we are here at Kennebunk Elementary School, and we road to here from the hospital parking lot in Biddeford where we parked our car.” Eileen commented.
“And here is another section we did the day before over in the Saco/Old Orchard Beach area that takes you through the marsh to Scarborough. This section was very pretty.”
“Jelane, why don’t you give her this map, we can pick up another one back at the campground. It is so much easier with the color-coded map. We like doing the off-road sections.”
“Thank you two so much, I’ve had a place in Wells for several years and just recently heard about the bike path. Now I can start exploring it!”
It was another reminder to me that so often as humans we get stuck in our own way of thinking, forgetting that others might not understand our language, meaning that the biking people who developed the maps and wanted people to enjoy the trail didn’t realize that others might not understand their lingo.
After our lunchtime encounter we hoped back on our bikes and head back to Abbey, another fine afternoon of riding. As we made our way back to the campground we found this great little ice cream spot called, Dairy Joy (sorry no website to direct you to) at 311 Elm St, Biddeford. They had great ice cream, both soft serve and hard that was hand made. They are open from April to October each year, starting at 1 PM to 9:30 PM every night. It is a great little Mom and Pop place. The price was very reasonable and would be well worth the trip off Route 1 to return. They only accept cash. We both had soft serve ice cream and I had a maple twist (chocolate and maple together) and Eileen had vanilla.
Once again, we found a great little gem and another way to enjoy the area. We look forward to checking out more biking (and ice cream) on our next trip to Maine.
(c) 2014 Jelane A. Kennedy