An Old Familiar Place

Another week behind the wheel, another week closer to my goals. I’m parked in Dingman’s Ferry Pa again tonight, and I took Vinny for a walk up the hill. Anytime the weather is good we go up top to stretch our legs.

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I say hill, but it’s not much really. This may only be a parking area by a McDonald’s, but it’s better than a dirty old truck stop! It’s a short steep hill but worth the climb.

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The wind is strong today but the temp is 70 or so and Vinny just stands there as it blows past, slowly sniffing the scents we will never notice.

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I think it would be good to be a dog. Every moment a cascade of pleasure surrounded by the people that care for you and the simple pleasures only a dog could know. Sometimes he stares at the sky and I wonder if he can appreciate the beautiful blue color.

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When the wind rustles the dry leaves in the woods, does he sense the rhythm of nature, the symphony it places before us if we listen?

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I can’t help but feel a sense of comfort, a feeling of calm as I sit here. I’m in my element outdoors and I relish every moment I have to spend in the sunlight. Tomorrow I will drive 600 or more miles, and by Wednesday morning I will be in Georgia and half my week will be over. I hope to be back by Saturday so I can visit some people that have an existing charity in Maine and have offered to help me start my plan of sailing adventures for veterans and their children. I’m very excited to get started down my chosen path, my chance to make up for past mistakes and make a real difference. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.

Am I Alive Or Thoughts That Drift Away?

Jan lays down and wrestles in her sleep
Moonlight spills on comic books
And superstars in magazines
An old friend calls and tells us where to meet
Her plane takes off from Baltimore
And touches down on Bourbon Street

We sit outside and argue all night long
About a god we’ve never seen
But never fails to side with me
Sunday comes and all the papers say
Ma Teresa’s joined the mob
And happy with her full time job

Do do do do do do

Am I alive or thoughts that drift away?
Does summer come for everyone?
Can humans do as prophets say?
And if I die before I learn to speak
Can money pay for all the days I lived awake
But half asleep?

Do do do do do do

A life is time, they teach us growing up
The seconds ticking killed us all
A million years before the fall
You ride the waves and don’t ask where they go
You swim like lions through the crest
And bathe yourself on zebra flesh

I’ve been downhearted baby,
I’ve been downhearted baby,
Ever since the day we met

Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand – Primitive Radio Gods

I needed some downtime today so I went for a ride down the coast of Maine to recharge my inner battery. I’ve had a difficult couple weeks as of late and time alone with Vinny and my thoughts always helps to refocus my mind back to what I am working so hard for. Interactions with people have drained me to the point that the only person I wanted to see today was my mom, and I stopped to see her during my escape. She’s the only person that really matters to me at this point and I was happy to see she was doing well.

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There’s something about the coast that gives me a feeling of peace, the toils of life seem to fade ever so slightly into the background. The smell of the salt air combined with the mud flats bring me back to a more innocent time as a child sitting by the shore in Cape Elizabeth. I stopped many times today when the view called to me.

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I made my way down to LL Bean again to look at canoes for this summers adventures. They have a wonderful assortment of kayaks and canoe’s to choose from. I think an “Old Town Discovery 119” solo will do the trick. I don’t mind paying a premium for quality that will last a lifetime and these canoe’s fit the bill.

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When I made it to Brunswick I stopped at a wire bridge to walk Vinny and get a closer look. The river is roaring right now and the day was brilliant. A great day to be in Maine.

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As far as I have come over the last few years I still find I’m wrestling with demons of my past, still looking for release from the sometimes harsh reality of the world we live in. As I sat beside the water today I’m reminded of what it is that has always given me the most happiness, the soft blanket to rest my soul on. Walking with my dog, the solitude in nature, no sound but the wind, the sun on my face. Some moments are so surreal I ask myself, Am I alive or thoughts that drift away?


This Way And That

I spent the night at the TA truck stop in Southington Connecticut last night. I try to frequent the TA chain more than others as they have better shower facilities, they are generally cleaner, (at least on the inside!) and I receive points for every gallon of diesel. Most chains give points but I’m not setting foot in their showers! Eww! As I walk Vinny this morning I am treated to a brilliant view.

First the truck stop looking west…You can just see the nose of my truck on the left.

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Now east!

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Enjoy your day and stay safe!

Reset In Maybrook New York

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Like most every reset I like to take a walk with Vinny my dog. Today we are at the TA in Maybrook NY. I was told by someone who works here of an old farm that used to be in the area, so we went to take a look.

Here’s the stone entrance he spoke of.

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Whats that smell? The smell of death is never mistaken for anything else. Here is the carcass of a dear and other trash dumped by someone.

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A little further up the road and one would think they arrived at the town dump.

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Even more around the next corner. Many people have no respect.

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Some of the trash has been here a long time. When was the last time you saw one of these?

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A little farther in I found the old farm well and what looked like a large stone BBQ.

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Here’s the remnants of a cement block barn, and even more trash!

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Past this point I come into an area that looks like it was open pasture some time ago.

 

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As we are walking back to the truck I notice something shiny in the crotch of a tree. What in the world is that doing there? You never know just what you will find at old homesteads.

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As we walk back into the truck stop, I thought it fitting that this truck came out hauling hay.

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Well Vinny, time to kick back, pluck all the ticks out of my socks and your fur and take a nap. Goodnight all!

 

What Inspires You?

Anyone who knows me understands that I am obsessed with sailboats, right mom? But realistically the boat is only a means to an end. The boat is one piece in the lifestyle I have been searching for my entire life, even though I didn’t understand the “Big Picture” until recently.

Some years ago I moved my folks to a town in central Maine called Sebec. We bought 2 plots of land and a 34 foot motor home. (If you look closely you can see Vinny in the windshield) 

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We stayed at a nearby campground for a month while my father and I cleared one lot to move the camper to so we could live while setting up their home next door.  Here’s a few pictures of the initial setup for the camper.

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Once this part was done we could place the camper and not pay for the campground. I had a power pole placed and we moved onto what would become my lot.  I think it was only a week or so until we had a bad hailstorm come through. Pretty big hail for Maine!

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My mother and I still talk about how much fun it was living in that camper.

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Later, after my folks home was complete and they moved in, I cleared further back on my lot to build a shelter for the camper. I rented a small excavator to do the heavy lifting then built the structure. At this point in time my father was recovering from cancer and couldn’t help much even though he tried.

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Vinny thinking with his stomach!

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This picture above shows the left side of the camper. What you don’t see is the area to the right and the whole reason I set the lot up this way. This is Meadow Brook, about 50 feet from the right side and down a small hill. (There are the young cinnamon ferns Jessica!)

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This was the point in my life I had broken from the drug use of my past. Every day was a struggle to suppress the urge to fall back on the “crutch” I had relied on for so long. My goal in doing all this was to help my folks live in a less expensive area and remove myself from all the reminders of my past, including every person that I knew from a very troubling time in my life. I wanted the freedom of my little spot on this earth where I could get away from the stress of everyday trials, my safe haven. What I didn’t realize at the time was I would not find my peace tied to one spot. My wandering spirit and lust for ever greater adventure was bubbling forth now that my mind was clearing.

Some years later when my father lost his drivers license, my folks could not stay here because they were to far from stores and no public transportation was available. My fathers dementia was also becoming more apparent along with his angry outbursts. Not long after my folks gave up their house to the bank and moved to an apartment I sold my camper and land. I started to see I was never going to be happy in one place, never going to feel at home living a “Normal” life as most do.

Just let it go

My lust for travel was partially satisfied when I bought my truck and rode through almost all the states with Vinny at my side. It was at this time that I started to understand what inspired me, what gave me a true feeling of freedom. The idea of having your home with you all the time means you always have your comfort zone. Like a turtle, your always home no matter what. Everything you need is within reach anytime you need it. I felt in control for the first time in my life.

laura-dekkerThe idea of a sailboat came from the story of Laura Dekker. Laura was the 14 year old Dutch girl who had a dream of being the youngest person to sail around the world alone, and she did it! If you have never seen her movie “Maidentrip” on Netflix you really should. I was totally inspired by her strength and tenacity even when her own government tried to stop her.

I don’t know if I will sail around the world, but I know living free on a boat, no rent or property taxes, no electric or phone bills, it’s the way I want to spend the rest of my life. Even now as I watch her movie again I feel a strong attachment not to her, I don’t personally know her, but to her spirit and her strength, her unwillingness to give up. Just like my father, she never quit and neither will I.

I’ve looked at many boats, read many stories and articles about this design and that. Studied what made this boat or that the ideal candidate for me, but I finally realized I was not really forming a plan, setting a goal. I think now I have the perfect boat in mind, the goal I need to focus my aspirations toward.

Lin & Larry Pardey Books and Videos

Lin and Larry Pardey are among America’s (and the world’s) most knowledgeable and recognized cruising sailors. They are known as “America’s first couple of cruising.” Together, Lin and Larry have sailed over 200,000 miles, including two circumnavigations east to west and west to east aboard self-built, wooden, engine-free cutters under 30 feet. Author of a dozen books, countless magazine articles, and co-creators of five cruising documentaries, Lin and Larry have shared their sailing experiences with tens of thousands around the globe prompting many to take up the sport and live the dream of the cruising lifestyle. Their motto has always been, Go simple, go small, go now!

The above image and script comes from Lin & Larry Pardey’s website. Of all the information I have read I believe theirs is the idea I should follow. I see no need for a large boat, all the amenities and all the costs that go with it. A boat 30 feet or less, very stout and strong, good storage and easy to sail single-handed. A boat that has a proven record of seaworthiness and open ocean passages. A boat I can trust to get me there. I have chosen a Baba 30.

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Watch this video for a complete understanding of just how beautiful they are.

Granted this one is in “Bristol” condition, and the one I purchase may not start out as nice, but I can purchase one for $40,000 to $50,000 or less. If I work really hard I can save the money over the next 2 years to purchase it, then work maybe 2 more years to fund a complete refit with enough money left over for a long vacation to give her a long shakedown cruise. After that I can drive part time or go back to landscaping in the summer, the one job I truly loved.

This is what inspires me, this is what I have been looking for all my life. The freedom to go where I want when I want. The freedom to work a job I love not just the best paying one. What are you willing to give up for the chance to live a life worth living?  I’ve made my choice.

The Happiness Clause

I think we are all born with a life contract of sorts, replete with all the things that could happen to us in a lifetime. From the length of our lifespan to our quality of health, our disposition to our empathy for others all wrapped up in triplicate. But, like all contracts, in the fine print is the addendum, stipulations and clauses.

When we are young, we only glance at the contract. All we see are the platitudes like “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and other such quotes. We rush through everyday life with a selfish and single minded purpose, the mindset of immaturity governs the day. We fail to understand the complexities of our deal, the interactions that our daily decisions make on the totality of our existence. We don’t see the results of our actions on our lives and those we care about, sometimes until it’s too late. Such is the folly of youth.

As we mature we start to see the effect of our decisions on our lives and those around us. We start to realize how we neglected some of the most important people in our lives due to our blind trust in our ability to comprehend the impact we have on others. As we reread the contract we start to understand more of what it means to be an upstanding person, how foolish we were to think we had it all figured out. Hopefully we discover our mistakes before it’s to late. Sometimes, we fail miserably.

I am one of those miserable failures. I neglected my relationship with my father until it was too late, now I have to live with it. I think I could have recovered the lost time if I had put more effort into closing the rift between us, if I had been more of an adult than I was. Yes, I was struggling with my addictions, but that’s no excuse for my pushing him away when he wanted to improve our relationship. I shut the door on a time we could have both used the support only family can give, and I will die with that guilt.

Because I’m no quitter, I must accept my mistakes and move on. As I read my contract I see the “Happiness Clause” in the fine print. It says for me to find happiness I must understand what in my life is the most fulfilling, what brings me the most joy. I feel most people think happiness will be found in retirement after working their entire lives to build some sort of nest egg. They may see a home paid for, vacations overseas, golfing in the tropical sun and other such pursuits.

I will never have any retirement savings, no home or land, no nest egg. I can cry and bemoan my situation, or I can stop and realize I’m still better off than many, I still have enough time to make amends and achieve some sort of balance between the mistakes of my past and the time I have left. I have the opportunity to fill the remainder of my time on this earth with the happiness I feel when out in nature.

The majesty of a brilliant sunrise, the feel of a cool breeze on my skin. The gental sway of the tide as it imposes it’s will on the meager tether of my future sailboat anchored in a secluded bay. The simple understanding and friendship between a man and his dog as they while away the afternoon in the shade of a tree. The feel of a moment captured in a photograph, forever caught and brought back to life with each viewing.

My Happiness Clause can be appeased by accepting what has happened and focusing my will on what will be the best use of my remaining time. Only through diligence and persistence can one achieve a fulfilling life, understanding that it’s the simple things that can bring the most pleasure, the most reward. I hope that when we die, all the bad memories of our lives stay here, only the good ones go with us. Many people believe there is another life after this one, and if that’s true I hope I’m right. If I am, my father will wake up with all the joy and happiness he felt in this life, nothing of the hardships and pain he suffered, and I can think of nothing in this world I want more.

Plan, What Plan?

Nothing ever go’s as planned. I started off yesterday morning with the hope of finishing early in the day, maybe doing a little laundry, having a good meal at a clean truck stop and taking Vinny for a walk. My drive took me through Virginia, a state I love driving in because of the beautiful countryside. The mountains here seem to just erupt from the earth like giant anthills.

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So much for a day full of plans! About 2 hours into my drive, guess what!

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Great, just great! I turn on my CB and hear there is a crash ahead and the left lane is blocked. Well, no sense getting upset, I’ve been here before, relax and make the best of it. I get out my camera and look around for something interesting. Here’s some weird looking grass.

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Some cows beside an old barn in this field.

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More cows up on this ridge.

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An old abandoned farm being used as a barn now. Such a shame to squander history.

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More cows that Vinny spotted! Bark bark!

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Cant you see yourself playing as a child on this grassy ridge? Riding a horse or chasing your dog in the summer sun? I can.

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Here comes the sign saying whats up with the traffic.

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That’s not very helpful, what else?

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Sigh…I’m at mile marker 22. This is going to take awhile, like 3 hours!!!  I take a deep breath, pull over to the side real quick and grab a snack. Pull back in line and go with the slow flow. It’s all I can do. I thought of you Miriam when I took this picture! It’s a chain of convenience stores in the US.

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When traffic starts to pick up we move further up the mountain into the heavy fog. These mountains separate the moisture laden air from the Atlantic and the drier air coming from the west. When the temps are right you get dense fog.

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It’s now 6 pm, I’m still 2 hours from my stop, and by the time I get there I’ll be to tired for anything but dinner and sleep. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry!

 

It’s Christmas In Maine

I started today just east of Harrisburg Pa, drove to Lewiston Maine and dropped the load I had on. I then drove to Bethel Maine to pick up the next one. By the time I arrived I did not have enough time to get to a truck stop for dinner so I’ll have to stay here. Here is a sawmill in western Maine, far from any store or restaurant, tucked away in nothing but a parking lot. Not what I had planned but this is trucking.

But lets take stock of the situation. I enjoyed a great sunset and a spooky ride through the mist on the way to Bethel. Vinny and I dine on “Beefaroni” and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and it tastes as good as any gourmet meal I have had. It’s not very cold tonight so I will leave the heat off, the windows cracked, throw on an extra blanket and sleep with thoughts of the stars above and the sound of the wind in the trees.

It’s times like this I remember how much I have, how silly it is to complain about the little things that cause us inconvenience. There are so many that will be hungry tonight, no warm bed to sleep in, no friends to share their lives with. I have these things and more. All is good in my world tonight and I’m thankful. Goodnight Maine.

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Beautiful Day

The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
There’s no room
No space to rent in this town

You’re out of luck
And the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you’re not moving anywhere

You thought you’d found a friend
To take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace

It’s a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away

You’re on the road
But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud
In the maze of her imagination

You’re lovin’ this town
Even if that doesn’t ring true
You’ve been all over
And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
It’s a beautiful day

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Reach me
I know I’m not a hopeless case

What you don’t have you don’t need it now
What you don’t know you can feel it somehow
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
Don’t need it now
Was a beautiful day

Beautiful Day – U2

Thanks Natalie for the inspiration for this post!

Another holiday spent on the road. I do it so another driver with a wife and kids won’t have to. Freight still needs to move no matter the day, and I drove over 600 miles again. I’m back in the truck after a disappointing meal at a truck stop, but upon reflection it was still a beautiful day…

It started bright and cheerful

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I stopped midday to walk Vinny and stretch my legs

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He had to sniff everything!

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I saw this vine growing in the fence, it reminded me of how life can be…

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Vinny got to bark at people walking by

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And I was treated to a spectacular sunset!

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It was a beautiful day…Don’t let it get away.

The Woods Of Maine

Fall is a great time to be in Maine. Let’s go for a walk Vinny!

This trail is behind Cole Farms restaurant in the town of Gray Maine, the same town I grew up in. This trail will be under a foot of snow soon.

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Vinny had a great time with all the smells.

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No matter where you go in Maine you will find a stone wall or two in the woods. Many, many years ago they were used to mark property boundaries.

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It’s the end of the day so the sun looks great shining through the trees.

There are remnants of past logging. The old tree stumps slowly decay and provide nutrients for the new trees.

Does this tree look funny? If you cut it down you would find barbed wire deep inside it. I’m sure there was a pasture with cows and horses here at one time.

We walked into a little clearing and found a stand of paper birch trees.

Another thing you always find is boulders of various sizes. Thousands of years ago Maine was covered by a glacier during the last ice age. As it retreated millions of rocks of all sizes were deposited on the landscape.

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We climbed up this little hill on the way back. You can just see the truck through the trees.

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OK Vinny, were home!

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