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?


Winters Icy Caress

Winter days bring visions of parkas and scarfs, blowing snow and icy sidewalks. But there is a beauty in winter, a change in the air more than the cold. Pictures seem brighter, clearer. People walk with a purpose, cars move slower. Each street a window into another business, another career, each house another birthday, another newborn. Walk with me through Portland Maine today and see this wonderful city the way I see it.

New Years Day In Maine

I left Bangor Maine this morning with my next load heading for Georgia. I will deliver it on the 4th and pick up another to come back by friday to start my vacation! It snowed alot over the last few days and it makes for a beautiful ride early in the morning. Maine has some incredible beauty in all 4 seasons. Here’s some pics of the first 100 miles of my day.

28 Days Until A Real Vacation!!!!!

Can’t seem to get my mind off of you
Back here at home there’s nothin’ to do
Now that I’m away
I wish I’d stayed
Tomorrow’s a day of mine that you won’t be in

When you looked at me I should’ve run
But I thought it was just for fun
I see I was wrong
And I’m not so strong
I should’ve known all along that time would tell

A week without you
Thought I’d forget
Two weeks without you and I
Still haven’t gotten over you yet

[Chorus]
Vacation
All I ever wanted
Vacation
Had to get away
Vacation
Meant to be spent alone

A week without you
Thought I’d forget
Two weeks without you and I
Still haven’t gotten over you yet

Vacation – The Go Go’s

When you think of a vacation, what comes to mind? Do you think of a beach house, a cabin in the woods, a 5 star hotel on the Rivera? How about flying to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, maybe see the Tower of London and the castles of Europe? I’m sure you can think of many things you may have done or wish to do, but I have done none of these in my 51 years on this earth.

When I have taken “Vacations” they have always been something that cost very little money. Camping trips, cheap motels or sleeping in my car have been the norm. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself, but I have always wanted to stay in a nice hotel, enjoy fine dining and take in the “Sights” of a nice city. Well, I’m 28 days from doing just that!

62742280This is the Hyatt Place Hotel in Portland Maine. I know, not going very far are you! This is a 3 star hotel right in the “Old Port” district of the city, perfectly placed in the midst of the best Portland has to offer.

I grew up in and around this city, I even worked for it’s Parks Department for 7 years, so I have a history here. In all the times I have worked, played and passed through here, I have never been to the Portland Museum Of Art, the Longfellow House, the Victoria Mansion and many other historic places within it’s limits. It’s time I immersed myself more deeply into the city I called home for so long.

62742289I chose the Hyatt due to it’s location as well as the view from the private balcony overlooking Casco Bay and the islands surrounding Portland Harbor. There’s so much history in New England but the harbor towns are where the United States began it’s long journey towards the true meaning of freedom.

For the adventurous types you can climb the Portland Observatory during the season, visit Portland Headlight in nearby Cape Elizabeth, or maybe ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad. There’s so much history in this city I could spend hours just trying to touch on the highlights.

64315538Portland’s “Old Port” is filled with foodie hot spots, brew pubs and the working waterfront. You can walk out on the docks and watch the fishing boats unload, take the Casco Bay Ferry out to one of the islands, or just walk the storefronts on Exchange or Market streets. It’s going to be exciting having the time to do more than just drive by all these places, I’m really going to enjoy this time in my life starting now!

I just purchased a new lens for my camera. Well that wasn’t cheap! They say you get what you pay for, and I will give it a good workout on this trip and bring you many photos over several posts of Vinny and I on our great adventure!

Here’s some photos I have taken along with some “Creative Commons” photos from the web.

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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Camping In Western Maine

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It’s hard to express how good it felt to take this picture.  It was more than just the view, the soothing breeze with the smell of pine.  More than the sound of the wind and a nearby stream.  It was a sense of coming home to the place where I feel so connected to the land, a place I am the most comfortable.  The mountains of western Maine are like no other place I have ever been.  If this was the 1800’s, I never would have come back to write this.

As a young man I spent many weekends camping in this area.  Back then I could not afford great gear and I had to rough it much more than this trip.  Many times I woke up in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin, and slept the remainder of the night in my car.  Even with bad trips like that, the pull of the woods brought me back again and again.

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Today, as I drove in the 12 miles of sometimes single lane road to the campground, I felt the rush of going back in time.  Back to a time of my youth that was so full of promise, a time of simpler joys and quiet nights.  But I also thought of what it must have been like to be a pioneer in this area, riding my horse through the woods along a clear stream.  Breaking into an open field to see this beautiful lake in front of me.  I would have broken out my ax and built my home right here on this shore.

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This was the view from the stony shoreline of my campsite.   The main campground was across the narrow lake by the sandy beach.  Even though it was so close, I felt miles away in my mind.  I shut off the outside world and started thinking like a weary traveler from the past.  First things first, set up camp.

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Everything I brought fit in two large duffel bags, a cooler and a backpack.  All fit in the canoe along with Vinny and I with room to spare.  In future trips of longer duration, I will forego the cooler as ice will only last 2 to 3 days and stick with canned or fresh food.  The site was fairly level, very shaded and about 10 feet above the waterline of the lake.  Once the tent was up and covered by the tarp, I took a little paddle around.

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Can you imagine waking up to this every day?  Going out in the lake to catch your dinner. Stalking deer and moose, partridge or ducks to put food on the table.  Growing vegetables in the fertile soil by the shore.  Building your cabin from the spruce and cedar trees that grow all around here.

The pioneers had many hard times, many died in search of their place on this earth, but they had something many people will never have.  They had true grit and determination, the intestinal fortitude to go out there and make a spot in the wilderness their home.  They had the joy and pride of having done it themselves.  They had a spirit that is lacking in most people these days.

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As I come back to the campsite I am thinking about a good dinner and a quiet evening.  Just some time for Vinny and I to be alone with the soothing sounds of nature.  Unfortunately for us the people at the next campsite, about 200 yards up the lake, decided they were going to share the music they love with everyone!  I could hear the echo of it from the opposite shore it was so loud!  So much for going to bed early!

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This is why I hate going to campgrounds.  To many idiots!  Oh well, make the best of it.  I knew this was going to be a “Shakedown” of my new gear and a refresher of my outback skills, but next years trips will be away from all people.
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Campfire going, food cooked, full belly and a good wine to end the first day.  Goodnight Vinny.

 

 

It’s 1:30 am, and idiot next door is singing!  It took all my self control to not go over there and give him a piece of my mind.  I regain my composure, look up and realize he did me a favor.  Look at the sky!!!!

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Yes, those are the “Northern Lights” along with about a billion stars.  I spent the next 2 hours sitting there with tears in my eyes.  This one moment made the entire trip worthwhile.  How do you top something like that?  How can anything else stir my soul more than the unbelievable beauty of this evening?  It’s mind boggling to think about the vast stretches of space, the distances between stars.  If only the idiot next door was so far away!  He finally shuts up, and I crawl back to my sleeping bag to find Vinny blissfully asleep, and join him.

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It’s 5 am, and this is what greets me.  WOW!  I grab Vinny and paddle out into the lake.  I can’t put into words the scene, so I will just post the pictures.

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Is that incredible or what!  Just amazing what happens when the water is 70 degrees and the air is only 40!  Brrrrrr, a little chilly this morning.  “Look Vinny, a loon!”

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It took an hour and alot of paddling just to get these shots.   They are tremendous divers, they can stay underwater for 30 seconds or more, and then pop up 100 yards away.  Good thing I brought my 300mm lens!  And just for a laugh, it was not 20 seconds after that shot of Vinny that he jumped up on the wet plastic seat and proceeded to fall in the lake!  So much for bird watching!

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Breakfast of champions!  No, not Wheaties.  A 24 oz ribeye with southwest rub, new potatoes with garlic, shallots, thyme and parsley with 3 over easy eggs to round out the meal.  Something about all the paddling and the cool temps made me hungry!
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OK Vinny, time for a walk to burn off breakfast.  From my site a few trails lead off into the forest.  Vinny starts off down one and I follow.  “Hold on Vinny, I’m hurrying!”

 

 

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What did you find Vinny?  The Maine woods at her finest!  In the spring this waterfall runs hard, but late in the season it flows with the most tranquil sound, captured in small pools surrounded by moss, fallen branches and inhabited by water bugs.

 

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I sat beside this pool for an hour while Vinny ran up and down the rocks.  It was great to see the little guy having so much fun.  His age is showing as he struggled with the inclines and the moss.  He fell a few times, got all wet, but jumped right back up as if to say, “I’m not going to let age slow me down!”  When we got back to camp, he flopped down by the bank and watched me wash the dishes.

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I can’t blame him.  The view from our site is wonderful.

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By mid afternoon, Idiot started with the music again.  He and his wife had been out fishing and it was time to cook fish and start drinking again.  I could smell the fish, and as the booze was consumed the music and laughter became louder and louder.  Not again!  I had wanted to stay another day, but I decided to leave in the morning.  Maybe he would shut up early?  NOT!  You just can’t fix, stupid!

Next morning was the same beautiful sight.  I never get tired of this.

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Why do so many people not see what is right in front of them?  Why do so many complain about not having anything to do when there is so much around them?  If they just look away from their smart phone for a moment, walk away from the hustle and bustle of the city and get back to nature.

Out here there are no cell phones, no internet.  No taxis or buses, no traffic or mobs of people.  Just you and nature.  Just think how much better you could connect with your children without all the distractions, the memories they would carry the rest of their lives.  What’s more important than memories?  They are the only things you take with you when you die.  (I put an 8 instead of a 9, but you get the idea)

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It’s Been To Long, And I’m Very Tired

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I like being alone.  Alone with my thoughts, away from people and civilization, I’m comfortable with solitude.  I don’t consider myself antisocial, I can hob nob with the best of them.  I just find the longer I am around people, the more drained I feel.  It’s like the life force is being sucked out of me, albeit at a very slow pace.  I think that’s why I have gravitated to solitary jobs like truck driving.  My daily interactions with other people are brief, and I feel like I’m in my little cocoon of a cab while going down the highway, a slight separation that makes it tolerable.  Does that make me the “Weird Guy?”  Maybe, but I’m ok with that.

 

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Tumbledown Mt. Weld Maine

As a young man I used to go camping alot.  I’ve told you about one of my crazy escapades at Tumbledown Mountain.  Many wonderful memories fill my mind of adventures, some good and some bad, all in Tumbledown field or at the pond up top.  The best camping trip I have ever had to date was at the top, forever etched in my minds eye with the clarity of yesterday.

 

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View From Blackcat Mt. Poland Maine

I also used to camp on Blackcat Mountain by my home in Poland Maine.  I spent almost every night up there one summer.  I was young then and heavy in the drug culture, and I came very close to dying on that mountain one night.  My so called “Friends” 40 feet away, oblivious to my condition.  Close call indeed.

Its been 23 years since I have been camping.  The last time I went was on my first wedding anniversary with my wife, sister, and my folks at Tumbledown field at the base of the mountain.  That was also the last time I have been to the top.  Because my wife did not like camping, along with other life distractions, the one escape I loved above all others came to an end.  I sold all my gear and became someone other than my true self.

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Upper Range Pond Poland Maine

Since then I have tried other distractions to “Recharge the Batteries” as it were, but nothing can compare to the feeling of being out in nature, away from the stress of modern life.  Away from the demands of work, the endless miles and bad weather driving.  Cooking breakfast on a campfire, the smell of fresh coffee, Vinny begging for bacon.  Paddling a canoe on a flat calm lake at sunrise, no sound of cars or boats.  Watching an Eagle wrest his breakfast from the waters in front of you, a moose enjoying the fresh plants from the shallows.  Nothing can compare to that time spent in the outdoors.  Nothing has ever meant more to me then my time in the woods.

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View of Lower Richardson Lake from lakesofmaine.org

I told you recently about all the new gear I have been buying.  Well it’s time to put it to use!  I have decided to go camping in a remote area of Maine for labor day weekend.  Since this is a trial run of the gear and my recollection of past skills, I have reserved a campsite at South Arm Campground on Lower Richardson Lake.  They have a campground for motor homes tents and trailers, but they also have remote campsites as far as 17 miles up the lake that can only be accessed by boat!

The remote site I reserved is across the narrow part of the lake from the main campground, but just an easy 1/4 mile paddle.  Vinny and I will spend 3 nights and 4 days alone with nothing but what I bring in the canoe.  No phones, no internet, no electricity, no running water, and best of all…NO PEOPLE!

I can’t tell you how exited I am!  Just thinking about the trip is making me feel young again.  I can feel the pull of the Maine woods all the way down here in Virginia.  It’s been to long, and I’m very tired.  Just a few more days!