Week 2 (ish)
It seemed appropriate on this, the day Starbucks brought back the Pumpkin Spice Latte, to post this picture. It's (almost) Fall. Sad, but true.
The first blushes are creeping along maple branches all over the North Maine Woods, which is where we've been (mostly) for the past week or so. In fact, warmer hues are in almost every tree. Not orange, not yellow. Definitely not red. But not still verdant green, either. Hard to believe it, but we've been on the road more than half a month already. So, what have we done? Here's the latest update.
DAY SEVEN: Family time Up early so we could go have lunch and dinner with Brandon’s grandmother. Drove some beautiful back roads to get out of PA, the kind of roads we’d both been hoping to travel on this trip. We promised ourselves we’d stop at farm markets and creameries and other places that struck our fancy… today just wasn’t that day. Spent the day visiting. Telling Grandma about all the work we’d done on Humboldt, how well everything has been working (knock on wood), and all the places we’ve seen so far. Spending time at a retirement community once again reinforced what we’re doing out here - living now, rather than waiting for some day. Also inspired us to get our butts back to yoga and biking and hiking and just plain exercising. Taking care of yourself doesn’t seem to be a top priority… until yourself stops being able to take care of you. Stopped for the night at Mahon Dickson Reservation, near Lake Hoptacong. Turns out Brandon’s grandmother used to come here quite often as a kid - pretty neat! It’s also near a military artillery and a rapid firing of some weapon went on for quite awhile after the sun went down. While on his evening walk with the dogs, Brandon came across some pretty bizarre creepy crawlers - they glowed in the dark! Seem like some cross between a caterpillar and centipede, which are ENORMOUS here, BTW. Leigh stayed in Humboldt, which was safer, obviously.
Not sure where we’re off to tomorrow, but our window to visit PEI is rapidly shrinking…
DAY EIGHT: When the carnies roll into town With work deadlines looming and hours needing put in, we decided to head straight for Maine and our friends’ house. It was an all-day drive after our late start, but we were excited to see happy faces and old friends. Seriously, our friends, the Costas, have what appears to be a full camp full of gypsies parked in their lawn. Humboldt's disreputable appearance, our infrequent shower situation, the dogs tied to the van, and wet washing hanging up everywhere is quickly making them the most popular neighbors on their street. All we need now is a crystal ball and a spit to roast roadkill over. The carnies are in town, no doubt about it.
We've met up with the Bowmans (our travel partners for at least part of this crazy adventure) at the Costa's house. Zach, Beth, and little Lucy are all here. Since arriving in Maine a few weeks before us, they were immediately bitten by the water bug and embarked on a hunt for inflatable kayaks (being all too familiar with the need to conserve space while living on the road.) Zach, a black belt in Craigslist, found a pair of boats in nearby New Hampshire. Nearly new, hardly used, and just $200/each. We couldn't resist and as soon as we hit the Maine state line, we knew giving in to the call of the water was the right thing to do. Brandon immediately unpacked it and tested it out. Perhaps he's doing it wrong?
Backing up for a minute... The best part of the drive were all the backroads we had to take to get here. Beautiful farms and hills. The bridges of Merritt Parkway through Connecticut made Leigh’s day. Each one is different and beautiful. She’ll take it over a 75 MPH highway any day. Check out the slideshow on the official website. The slow day reminds one of the line from Cars. “Cars didn't drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.” Trite, but true. It’s when we slow down that we have the best time. DAY NINE: Supporting our habit Full day at the salt mines for both of us. Leigh had an audiobook due and Brandon needed to put in hours in order to stay current (let alone get ahead) so we can be off the grid for a few days in PEI or wherever we end up. Went out to dinner at the Twin Lights restaurant we’d been to the last time we came to Maine. Lobster rolls, enormous whoopee pies, and the Atlantic Ocean as far as you could see. First day of house keeping stuff as well- did laundry and cleaned. Had a little problem with the power situation in Humboldt. We actually drained the battery to the point of making it turn off to protect itself. Luckily, our friends had a trickle charger and we were able to get everything back to full power by morning. Planning to get to North Maine Woods tomorrow and then see what happens. DAY 10: Best laid plans Should have known better than to make plans! Slight delay due to a diesel fuel spill in a borrowed car that has to be cleaned. Good for both of us as we can get caught up on work given the free wifi here. Unfortunate as it put PEI completely out the window. Hoping to get out either tonight (late) or early tomorrow morning after we get the car put back together. Looks like it’s just North Maine Woods and Baxter State Park for us before we head to the off-grid cabin we’re renting with our friends near Ellsworth, ME. DAY 11: North Maine Woods Did not make it out of town until this morning. Headed to the North Maine Woods - which is really remote and primitive. Stayed the night at Pittston Farms. Everything we’d been told about the place was inaccurate. Campsite was $25 and had basically no amenities. The loons calling each other all night long were beautiful, though. Since we’re headed even deeper into the woods we’re hoping to stock up on supplies before leaving tomorrow. Sure at their ‘store’ all supplies will be grossly expensive, but it’s what we have to do. DAY 12: Off grid Ha! Store. As if. There were about six bottles of iced tea, four Gatorades, and that was it. We thought they at least had a gallon of milk, but it was for their kitchen. We bought it and shared it with the Bowmans. Had to drain what milk we had left so it could all fit in our half gallon bottles. Chugging competition in the parking lot was funny. Got into the North Maine Woods (a more expensive endeavor than we’d been told as well) and boy is it dense! Claustrophobically beautiful. Drove for hours into the woods over some pretty rough roads. Humboldt had no issues and waded through some big potholes with ease. Ended up at a campsite on the lake and the boys took the kayaks out for the first time. Very pleased with our $200 purchase, for sure!
Rainstorm came through in the evening, it was a good thing we'd put up the ARB Awning and Room. The dogs don't like waiting around out there, but it's a great floor space addition to Humboldt. We can't recommend it enough! Getting out of the weather, getting out of the bugs, and getting out of the dirt are all incredible luxuries. A combination of no yoga, too much heavy lifting and long hours in the car over bad roads has made Leigh’s back as bad as it ever was. She’s been pretty useless. Lucy and the dogs loved the lake and are happy to splash in it for hours. Stayed up late (10:30!) and played Cards Against Humanity. Brandon had a particularly good hand - Leigh won it with 'not wearing pants'. Good end to the day. Probably staying here a half day tomorrow and then moving on, closer to the exit of the North Woods so we can have fewer hours in the car on the way to the cabin with the Costas.
DAY 13: Roughin' it Moved to second site, right on a very wind-swept lake. Glad the wind was blowing for most of the day. When it stopped, the bugs came out. We were sitting in the van that night and Zach asked if he was hearing rain. Disturbingly, it was bugs flinging themselves endlessly at the van windows and the pop-top tent sides. Disturbing doesn’t really describe it. Lake was too rough to kayak on. Decided to move on in the morning and take in a trip to some abandoned steam locomotives left up here from the serious logging days.
DAY 14: Chatta-nada Choo Choo No trains. Anywhere. Brandon and the Bowmans tried for hours to find the site… nada. You can see how cool they would have been though. Apparently the going was rough. We did find them on Google Earth later that night, though it did little to assuage the frustration of those who took on the woods.
Did see part of a moose for about half a second. Went back and saw it’s ass-end disappear into the dense underbrush. There are only two moose in Maine, apparently. This is the other one.
We drove out to Lily Bay Campground on Moosehead Lake. We thought some pictures of Lily in Lily Bay would have been adorable, but dog discrimination runs rampant and our canine friends were not allowed on the beach. Again. We are out of pretty much everything. Covered 200 miles of dirt road through North Maine Woods. Everything is filthy... understandable given that this was our view most of the time.
Moving on tomorrow to the cabin Adam found for us near Ellsworth, ME. Stopping by the site of a downed B-52 on our way. DAY 15: Foiled again No plane. Anywhere. We had lots of directions (none of which agreed) and ended up giving up. The van’s fan switch power got jostled loose on all those back roads so we stopped to work on it. Got it running again and will do more work upon arrival at the cabin.
Cabin was a score. It's right on the ocean at the end of a calm little bay. Beautiful sunset to welcome us tonight.
DAY 16: Ahhhhhhhh Went out on the ocean. This place is really beautiful. A Bald Eagle lives in the area and we spotted it a few times flying around. No seals, but lots of sea birds. Took the kayaks into some little fingers and watched small crabs and fish for awhile.
Much eating and drinking and laughing was done by all... our little clan of six adults has grown into a tribe of nine. Costas have two beautiful girls, who are loving playing with Lucy. Going to Acadia tomorrow. DAY 17: Home away from home Unpredictable baby napping patterns prevented a trip to Acadia. Stayed close to the house all day. Not the worst place in the world to be. The dogs have been having a good time sprinting around and exploring. Piper Discovery #1201: The seaweed is not land. She jumped from a rock onto what she thought was solid ground covered in plants and ended up shoulder-deep in the Atlantic. She stayed there a long time, utterly affronted while we damn near peed ourselves laughing. Of course we didn't have a camera.
This is a cabin Adam found while working - he's currently on the crew producing a cabin remake show (set to air soon) and this was one of their projects. The dogs couldn't come in any further than the porch, which made for funny pictures - we're pretty sure they've recovered from the 'neglect'.
DAY 18: The carnies return! Left for Portland. Again. Have work to do on Humboldt. The back top cabinet shook loose while we were trekking through the North Maine Woods and we still have CV boots to repair. The water heater is leaking a bit as well. Bowmans have work to do on their truck as well.
Got laundry done and cleaned Humboldt. Ran a few errands as well. Zach scored a garage space for Brandon to work in tomorrow. DAY 19: Ready to roll All repairs have been made. Prepared to depart tomorrow for the O’Dea Cabin in Vermont (our brother in-law's family has very kindly offered us a beautiful place to park and indoor plumbing). Then we begin our trek back over to the West Coast in time for the Mazdas at Mazda Raceway event on Sept. 29. Our plan (ha!) is to hit the VT cabin, see Leigh’s friend Ben in Buffalo, see Mt. Rushmore/Badlands, go to Yellowstone/Teton, visit Leigh’s grandparents in Boise, and sail on in to Monterey. We’ll see how that goes. Tomorrow, we'll have been on the road for three weeks...