THE KWIK MART KHRONICLES 94
Let’s take stock of the situation…it was Saturday night, I wasn’t even halfway across Maine, and I needed to be at the Gaspe border in northern New Brunswick by Monday morning. Y’all don’t need a computer and mapping software to figure this one out. The curtain had closed on the Maine gravel, my rate of advance east was simply too slow, I’d have made the Gaspe by about Wednesday…if the Garmin didn’t get lost in the bush more than a few more times.
Pitch dark on secondary pavement in Maine, folks, there ain’t much out there, not even a glow on the horizon, nothing darker if you haven’t had the opportunity to ride this type of road. Sometimes found in unlikely places, and under strange circumstances, just ask me, and that’s where I found myself, steady rain falling, cold and wet, every light on the front reaching.
The road felt like it was bolted to the bike, then the bike bolted to me, it had been a long day. It’s a strain to ride at night, ya know there are some very dim witted, but huge animals that could step into the road at any minute, there’s no such thing as a casual evening ride here. My hands were cold, but when the occasional vehicle would pass, I needed to click the auxiliary light switch. Half the time the switch wouldn’t disengage fully and the lights would blink instead of switching off. While it might mean “radar trap” in an urban setting, it means “freakin’-moose-in-the-road” up here, and all the drivers were braking immediately, the brake lights still lit up as they went out of sight.
East, east, more east, and finally I ran out of the rain, now it was just cold. I knew approximately where I was, west of I95 but approaching fast, and still well south of where my original route hit I95 near Millinocket, way off course. If I was cold riding 60mph, it was freezing riding 80mph on the slab, and I got off at the Lincoln exit, plenty of motel signs on the billboards, there has to be one room left in this town.
After a bunch of “No Vacancy” responses on the phone, a guy with a very heavy NYC accent said “Yeah, I gotta small room, but it’s directly on the lobby if ya don’t mind something like that”. Hmmmm, it’s 11 freakin’ 30 on Saturday night, I’m frozen solid, no others available…let me think on it a bit.
My new NYC friend spoke in a language only used by a caricature of an old time gangster, looked the part except in miniature, and was of indeterminate sexual orientation. He was a nice guy, and I had a smile stuck on my face to keep from laughing. Paid, got a key, rushed back over to McDonald's, and ate $20 worth of their gourmet fake food like a garbage can bear before they closed at midnight. I was the only one there, and I must have looked a little on the rough side…the manager with the cute little updo brought me an extra large cup of coffee when she saw that I had finished the first.
They locked the door at my heels when I left, and that was that, I was in eastern Maine, piece-a-cake, and despite the hour, I wasn’t feelin’ humble. After all, when you pass the point of no return, it ain’t the right time to quit.
I was needin‘ a little Tennessee pick-me-up about then, and I might know where to find it.