We finally had a chance to get out for a long awaited shakedown trip (and it got shook, but more about that later) with our Forester. We started in Portland, Maine and followed I95 to Bangor. Then down to Ellsworth to jump on RT 1. We went all the way downeast to Lubec and Campobello Island.
We followed RT 1 from Lubec - actually we went to West Quoddy Lighthouse, the easternmost part of the lower 48 - then north.
We went all the way north to Ft Kent through Houlton, Presque Isle and Caribou via RT 1.
At Ft Kent we found the start of RT 1 at the US/Canadian border, now we need to drive to Key West for the other end!
After Ft Kent we worked our way down Rt 11 to Millinocket. Having been a fan of the American Loggers series on Discovery Channel, I had heard about the "Golden Road" that links Millinocket with all the timber cutting areas to the Canadian border. The Golden Road is a private road owned by the timber companies - their road, their rules. Rule #1, logging trucks have the right of way - that means get out of their way if they're behind you and give them room to pass if they're coming at you. Rule #2 - see Rule #1.
Parts of the Golden Road are paved, and parts are gravel. The gravel parts are pretty much in better shape than the paved parts.
We decided we wanted to go as far west as Abol Bridge about 20 miles out of Millinocket. Going west we went on RT 157 to the entrance to Baxter State Park. Motorhomes are not allowed in Baxter unless they're less than 9' high and 22' long, so we continued on to Abol Bridge on the "Old State Rd"....and it was certainly old. It's 4 1/2 miles from RT 157 to Abol Bridge on Old State Rd....and the last time it was paved was probably when they were driving Model T's on it. It took us almost an hour to go the 4 1/2 miles because we couldn't stand the shaking and bouncing at any speed faster than 10mph.
Although, the washboard surface and potholes didn't bother the locals....this guy went by the other way doing about 60...I guess if you're going that fast you only hit about every 3rd pothole.
We got to Abol Bridge where the Old State Rd connects to the Golden Road and met a logging truck that probably weighed in at around 200,000 lbs coming at us. Again, it's their road so there's no weight limit..and the logs are held on the trailer by the sides of the trailer - no chains or straps.
On the way back to town we figured we'd go on the Golden Road to avoid a return trip on the Old State Rd. Good choice, but we still couldn't go over 35mph because of the washboard and potholes...on both asphalt and the gravel portions. About halfway back to Millinocket we saw a cloud of dust appearing on the horizon, a few minutes later it was this..
The hard winters wreak havoc with their roads leaving frost heaves, pot holes and split asphalt all over. They are working on updating as there are a lot of sections of freshly paved roads, but there's still a lot of the rough roads.
The shakedown really shook the camper and nothing broke (other than some rivets on a wheel liner, but it was a quick fix). No doors fell off, no drawer handles fell off, everything worked great. I found that according to the onboard dash computer I got better gas mileage on the back roads than I did no the interstate highway, about 1mpg better.
After the pounding we took on the rough roads for a week I feel confident in the quality of my Forester. I guess I got one that was built on a Wednesday! Got home and checked it over and everything is where it's supposed to be and where it was when we left a week ago.