Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting Vinalhaven, Maine, a small island in Penobscot Bay. You have to take a ferry to get there. We had dense fog for the entire ferry trip, but it just made Vinalhaven seem like a magical land, hidden in the mists.
Round trip fare for a car or pick-up truck: $49.50. Round trip for a person: $17.50. Round trip for a bicycle: $16.50. Hmm, that doesn’t really seem fair, does it? My bike weighs about 1 percent the weight of a car… Oh well, it’s a beautiful island and it was definitely worth it to bring a bike. I mean, check this out:
What’s that in the distance, you ask? Oh, it’s just three electricity-generating windmills.
I’m sure there was some controversy before they were put up, people complaining about “ruining the view” and whatnot, but I’d say they improve the view – they are a sign of progress and a hope for a future full of renewable energy. Of course, back in the day, people probably thought that smokestacks were a sign of progress, modernization, and industrial strength.
One sign of progress completely absent from Vinalhaven: cell phone towers. I didn’t mind so much, it was nice to be completely off the grid for a few days. It was nice to ride around the island, stopping here and there. I probably didn’t even need to lock my bike (but I did, since I’m a city slicker).
I had a great, relaxing visit to the island, only slightly tarnished by the following interaction with the ferry worker who took my ticket: I was waiting to board the ferry to leave the island, chatting with my friends who were staying for a couple more days.
Ferry Worker: Do you have your tickets ready?
Me: [thinking she was asking for the tickets for me and my friends] Oh, it’s just me going… Oh, you mean the ticket for my bike. I forgot that I bought a ticket for it too.
FW: Some people think we should encourage people to bring bikes to the island, but really it’s the opposite, we should discourage them.
Me: Why’s that?
FW: The roads are too narrow here, it’s dangerous.
Me: [trying to remain upbeat] Oh, I found that everyone who passed me gave me plenty of room, I really didn’t have any problems at all.
FW: Well sometimes, a car can be coming around a curve and you can’t see them.
Me: Well, it’s so nice and quiet on the island, I could hear the cars coming from quite a ways away, so if someone was about to overtake me and I could tell that it wasn’t safe, I just stuck out my left hand and the car behind me would wait a couple seconds until it was safe to pass. I found that everyone was pretty patient and they only had to wait a couple of seconds.
FW: Oh no, these fishermen around here are some of the least patient people you’ll ever meet.
Me: Well, I’ve biked many different places and I found everyone here to be very polite.
FW: I’ve talked to bikers from all over and they say that Maine drivers are the worst.
Me: [needing to board the ferry by this time] Well, that hasn’t been my experience.
FW: People can get killed on these roads, you were lucky.
I was walking away by the time she said this. Of course, once I was in the middle of the bay, I thought of how I should have responded:
Me: Yeah I guess was lucky. Everyone I met on Vinalhaven was very polite, that is, everyone I met until just before I left.
So, thanks Vinalhaven Maine Ferry Service, part of the Maine Department of Transportation. Thank you for the great send-off.
Thank you for providing me a brief respite from the DNC. The scenery looks amazing. I have a theory about your strange conversation with the ferry worker. Maybe everyone else on the island is perfectly polite to bikers, but it’s (dramatic pause for effect) the FERRY WORKER who secretly roams the streets, picking off bikers whenever she has the chance. She was simply giving you a coded warning to beware…of her!
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. When I walked my bike off the ferry and back onto the mainland, I noticed that
THERE WAS A HOOK ATTACHED TO MY PANNIER!
GASP! You must never go back. You have been marked.