So the other week I traded days off with a dude at work which left me with a wonderful problem to have; what to do with four days off in the middle of the summer?
There are many wonderful answers to this question when one has money to spend, but what to do when one, say, buys a new computer instead of a big trip and therefore has to figure out something cheaper to do?
Well, if you live in my house, and your name is Nate, the answer can usually be answered with the works "head up to Maine for a spell."
Which through a series of awesome events, is exactly what I did.
Short story short, this other dude at work has a camp in Maine that he was kind enough to proffer up if I was willing to bring in water and food, deal with no lights, and be sure to not invite any bears or moose into the cabin to wreak havoc due to the perceived "city boy" stupidity by leaving picnic baskets or cooling pies in an open window or whatever anti-logic people whom get themselves into these situations don't use to get themselves into this (usually new yorkers) trouble.
I can do that.
I can definitely do that.
So I hurriedly dial up my ever shrinking list of friends that either still live in the city, and/or might have that amount of time available to them on relatively short (i.e. none) notice.
Needless to say a couple of days later I loaded up the car with the only companion willing to tag along, my dog Emily.
To tell the truth I was looking forward to spending a couple of days alone in the woods. I've some major soul searching to do that I've been meaning to get around to anyways, so this seemed like the perfect time.
I envisioned myself going into the woods a broken, hallowed out shell of a man and returning whole, a complete version of myself that I haven't known in a long, long time.
I couldn't wait.
A nice 8 hour drive with just my thoughts and my iPod, followed by three nights and four days of actual living.
Fishing for food, camp fires, demon wrestling, and maybe a good cry or two followed by some scream therapy, and howling at the moon until I worked it all out.
I mean that's what people do, right?
So was I then... So was I.
When I arrived in town (it's a small town called Weld in western Maine), I immediately discovered there was no cell phone reception. I was cool with that, I was even looking forward to it, but I needed to let Liz know I got there safe, and since there's no such thing as a pay phone anymore, I was given the advice to look for higher ground. Which I did, and was rewarded not with and AT&T bars (we all know those are fake now anyways) but with this:
Things were looking good for my "man alone" weekend.
I was psyched.
When I eventually got the keys, and escorted to the camp site, another of my worries was wiped away. For this was no little dinky shack in the woods with sheet metal sides and a hole dug in the ground with a 5 gallon bucket with a hole cut out the middle of it turned upside down to shit into, this was a real deal, albeit still a work in progress, cabin in the woods:
I mean it's so cute and charming and rustic that you almost want to be mad at it, but then you listen... And. Hear. NOTHING.
Complete silence aside form a rustling of the trees, or a distant birdsong, and suddenly despite your best eeye-rolling effort, your douche bag, snotty nosed city facade slowly melts into a comfortable smile, and the stale smell of wood and sun-warmed fabric hits you and you realize suddenly that all you want to do is sit and stare off into the mountain.
And that's exactly what I did for the first night. I made a modest meal of eggs and bacon, washed it down with some beers and stared just stared into this:
Eventually, a short time after it was totally dark outside, and with the silence ringing in my ears so loud it was almost keeping me awake, I blew out the candles and fell into the kind of sleep that you can only achieve in total darkness with a gentle wind singing you to sleep through the branches of the trees...
Day two I spent poking around through nearby towns. I found a local farmers market and spend way too much money for a guy who was cooking and eating for exactly one, and still had naive plans of catching his dinner, but it was fun to talk to these people and it seemed like they were excited to talk to a food guy form New York, so we swapped recipes and I bought too many cans of pickled things, and of course about 10 lbs of garlic scapes (it's truly becoming the summer of the garlic scape).
Here's a picture or two from my poking adventures (that sounds way more exciting than it actually was):
That night instead of starting a fire and cooking I ate some biscuits and jam and read a book until it was dark and fell asleep at what couldn't have been later than 8:30/9 o'clock.
Day three I decided was going to be the "all the shit I was going to do but hadn't yet" day. So I threw Emily into the car and set out for a day of hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, mountain climbing, parachuting, speed boating, or whatever else that day was going to offer up to me.
I bought some bait at a local place-that-you-buy-bait, and drove off to the local place-that-you-use-bait-to-fish-with, with my brand new fishing pole that I got for christmas that was practically still in the wrapping paper all wound up by yours truly in the back seat. I was determined to eat well that night.
When I got to the lake, I tied Emily up to a tree just far enough away that she could bark like a lunatic at everything I was doing, but also far enough away that the annoyed campers couldn't see who she belonged to. And with a determined and confident look on my face I threaded up a lure and cast into this:
After a legendary fishing session that consisted of exactly three cast, after the first two resulted in two spools of line that had to be cut off because it had become so tangled that I couldn't possibly reel it in, and the third one which ended with a lost lure, I decided I was there to swim anyways, so I threw my fishing pole at Emily to try and get her to shut up (it just made her bark at the fishing pole instead of at whatever else had been morally offending her up unto that point).
Here are some pictures I took while wasn't fishing ever again.
Also there were ducks:
And there was a dog. His name was Fenway (fuckin Maine...)
Fenway tried to get the ducks.
But Fenway didn't get the ducks.
I didn't get any fish.
Fenway and I have so much in common.
So Emily and I decided to go hiking instead.
About 13 steps into the hike I realized I had cell phone reception (yes, in the middle of the woods on the side of a mountain) and went back to the car to call and talk to the girls.
Plus, Emily was tired.
Probably from all that barking she was doing earlier at the lake.
I'm sure we'll go hiking next time.
So to wrap up my tale I did eventually cook a campfire worthy meal, but seeing as how this post is getting mighty long as it is, I think I wrap it up tomorrow (or the the next year), but I leave you with this:
And an assurance that it was delicious.
See you guys whenever...