Monday, June 5, 2017

What We're Doing This Summer or Upwest and Downeast


In just over two weeks Rebecca and I will launch our kayaks from our most recent backyard, and embark on a two-month paddle along the Maine coast. This has been a good place to live, watching the tide come and go in Greenlaw Cove where just offshore, a pair of glacial erratic boulders perch on a ledge like sculptures on a pedestal.

Our plan is to head southwest along the coast to Kittery, and then turn around to return to Deer Isle before taking a similar foray up and down the Downeast coast. I suppose if heading toward the Canadian border is considered heading ‘downeast,’ we might call the opposite heading ‘upwest,’ so if we were to give our trip’s parameters a name, it might be Upwest and Downeast.

This trip has been a long time coming. I have a tendency to rationalize these things, to make-up excuses as to why we’ll do the irresponsible thing and evade work and other responsibilities during  our busiest time of the year. But I think most people understand. We’re doing it simply because we want to and we can. Life has a way of throwing curveballs that keep one from realizing fantasies, and even as I write this I can sense potential trip-interfering events looming on the horizon. For awhile, we hesitated to even tell people what we were doing, as if speaking the dream out loud might jinx it.

But there are advantages to telling people what you’re up to. I’ve mentioned it to people who immediately offered the use of a rustic cabin, or offered to mail us supplies, or put us up for a night and a shower… or even to join us for a day or two of paddling. I can hardly express how much we appreciate these offers, as much for the show of support as the concrete logistical help, but also because we know the adventure will be richer if we’re open to sharing it in various ways with others. And besides that, we could use a little help, especially in some areas that have little in the way of MITA campsites, like the stretch between Portland and Kittery.

We’re hoping that having two months will allow us to move at a comfortable pace, to still have some time for painting and writing, and just appreciating the places. And, by essentially paddling the coast twice, we’ll be able to visit more variety of places – offshore islands, inland rivers… ice cream shops. You could say that, as much as embarking on a journey, we’re hoping to continue the lifestyle we’ve enjoyed, living close to the ocean, spending time in our kayaks exploring, and trying to express it through art.

It often seems these days that outdoor trips longer than the average vacation getaway are heavily played-up, with sponsors, a marketing identity with a catchphrase and maybe a logo, fundraising websites, as well as a purpose or cause that often seems to go beyond anything that might come organically from the place or the experience. This is a big trip for us, but as far as sharing it, I’m viewing it as another chapter of this blog that I’ve kept for the last decade.

But we’ve been experimenting with clever names for it, and here’s one: Michael And Rebecca’s Most Excellent Maine Sea Kayak Adventure (MARMEMSKA). The acronym sounds like an Eastern European city, or perhaps a code name for a mission in a spy thriller novel, but hey, I think it works. Or maybe Upwest and Downeast. Or maybe it doesn’t need a name. What do you think?


FeetonRock said...

Hi Michael, It was good to meet you and Rebecca in the flesh at OQOA. Thanks for the local knowledge for may solo trip around Isle au Haute, another check mark on the bucket list. Tidal timing and mild conditions where perfect. Now it's time to find a couple of cowboys to try it in bigger conditions and/or see how fast I can paddle the trip out and back without a landing in my Epic 18X as part of my prep for the Blackburn Challenge.

When you're headed Upwest take out up at the ramp of the Seahorse Lobster pound and have a home cooked meal with Diane and me. We live right next to the Pound facing Carrying Place Cove in Phippsburg. You can see my boatyard if you look on Google Earth. You are welcome to stay with us if you want and I'll paddle with you as far as Jewel Island or some other island on the Trail across the mouth of the New Meadows River and half way across Casco Bay or we can go across the whole bay to South Portland and I'll ask have Diane to pick me up.

Michael Daugherty said...

Thanks Sid, it was nice to meet you as well, and I'm glad to hear your trip around Isle au Haut went well. And thanks for your generous offer; we'll give you a holler when we're in your neighborhood, going south or north. Our plans are a bit loose, but I can try to keep you in the loop if you email me at

Irina said...

Hi Guys, this is awesome. If i can find someone who can take that much time off, i would do something similar. Have fun, be safe and fare weather.
Ps : when are you planning to be in NH? Let me know,i might drive up to paddle together!