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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Merlin Makes it to Maine

Yesterday my new friend Merlin Bianco and I rode about 120 miles, over the Kancamagus Highway to Conway, NH, and down US 302 to Raymond, Maine.  
Merlin, Duncan and Dan, with Rocio, Suzi, and Whitehorse Gear in the background.

Before hitting the border, we stopped at Whitehorse Press (and Whitehorse Gear) in Conway, New Hampshire, and had a good talk with owner Dan Kennedy, for whom my son Jesse worked for a year as an editorial assistant, his first job in his professional field of writing and publishing.  Dan and Judy Kennedy hired Jesse from a lifeguard job at Sea World's Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida.  Jesse learned a lot at Whitehorse, and loved the Kennedys.  I was interested in stopping there not only because I like the Kennedys, too, but also because I wanted to look over their choices of high-quality tank bags prior to my June departure for Alaska.
Note that the bikes have crossed the border, completing "48 in 24" for Duke and Merlin!
From Conway we continued east on 302, and soon entered Maine at Fryeburg, where Merlin scored his goal of 48 states in 24 months on his Harley named "Duke," and where I stopped to top up on oil while Merlin charmed the ladies at the Visitor's Center.  Then we headed on toward Sebago Lake for lunch.

As I searched for the first restaurant advertising fresh lobster, I noticed that my oil filler plug was missing, and had an "Aw, shit!" moment.  The Irving station where I bought a quart of 10-40 oil had offered me a paper funnel, which I'd accepted and used.  Hence, I had set the threaded filler plug on the right side cover of the Suzuki's engine, where "I couldn't forget it," in order to hold the funnel with my left hand while pouring with my right.  Then, in removing the funnel and discarding it and the empty oil jar, causing me to walk away from the bike, I did forget it.  My crankcase was open to the air, and a fine mist of oil was coating my right boot.
Two old codgers in Raymond, Maine
As our lobsters boiled, Merlin and I went out to the parking lot, where Merlin opened the plastic spares kit that he carries in the "basement" of Rocio and produced a roll of aluminum duct tape.  He soaked a rag with gasoline and used it to clean the engine case around the oil filler port.  Once applied to a de-greased engine, the adhesive-backed aluminum tape made an excellent field-fix.  After the mandatory, if expensive, celebratory lobster lunch, we bade each other happy travels, and parted.

I rode back to Fryeburg with a wishful eye on the opposite shoulder of the highway, hoping against hope to see a small oil filler-cap.  At the Irving station near the border in Fryeburg, I figured I had my best and last chance to reunite the bike with its missing part.  I parked at the edge of the drive, dismounted, and started toward the convenience store, then saw two women wearing Irving uniforms.  I asked one, "Did anyone turn in an oil plug?"  "No," she said somewhat curiously, leaving me with a faint hope.  "But I found one!"  She retrieved it from a window sill, and accepted a "Thank you!" hug.  "I knew someone would be looking for that," she said, "'cause I'm a biker, myself."

On the way home, I stopped and treated Suzi to a new "Cortech by Tourmaster" tank bag at Whitehorse Gear.
Alaska trip status update: I am presently leaning toward taking my 1983 Suzuki GS1100e on the Alaska trip.  Suzi is an amazingly capable tourer, and a delight to ride in the mountains.  Of course, the new tank bag would also come along if I were to ride my '82 Honda Silver Wing Interstate.

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