Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Upwest and Downeast: Almost Done

I nearly titled this 'almost home,' but knew that it wouldn't be quite correct. We'll be back to Deer Isle by Thursday or Friday, and it is about as close to home as we have, other than this feeling we carry with us as we paddle up and down the coast, a sense of being where you should be. We get our mail in Stonington still. We have friends there, and a rented storage space where our stuff is stored and where Rebecca keeps her studio, but no house or apartment or place to live (we've mostly house-sat the last couple of years). We rent a few spots in a kayak storage space by the town boat ramp,  and until summer kicked-in, were regulars at pickleball, twice a week at the Community Center. 

This was our fifteenth summer living in Maine, but it's the first in which I've tasted the sense of joy and freedom that I hoped I'd find when we came here. Much of that comes down to economics. We haven't worked since June. And yet we've spent very little money on this trip. Probably less than we usually do on food,  two nights at a commercial campground... a tank of gas at the beginning of the summer. And of course the usual overhead: health insurance, phone bill... a tank of gas in a car that's been parked all summer.  The storage and studio... subscriptions to unwatched Amazon and Netflix.

We haven't lived in a way that most people would find comfortable. It's been weeks since the last real shower, and pooping into a plastic bag has become surprisingly normal. We've eaten well, including a shared pint of ice-cream in most ports. We're a bit damp much of the time, with a layer of salt that seems to permeate the skin. I do look forward to a long soak in a tub of hot water. Obviously this existence- even as a temporary foray- isn't for everybody. Which is good. We've had little competition for campsites and have encountered amazingly few kayakers, especially those who seemed to be going somewhere or camping.

It's premature to recap the trip, but knowing that we're almost done brings-on a wistful sense of melancholy. All those summers we worked so much, and they went by so fast. Well, this one went by fast as well. Many people tell us this is the trip of a lifetime, and they're right, but all we can think is that we want lots of trips like this in our lifetime, or even that we want our life to be more like this.

Right now I'm sitting on a comfortable slab of rock on the south end of Stave Island, in Frenchman Bay. Rebecca is nearby, painting. I don't know what she's painting- the fog has come in pretty thick, obscuring most everything out there, but a little while ago you could see it rising over the Porcupine Islands with Cadillac Mountain in the background. There's a storm forecast for tonight and we decided yesterday that this might be a more comfortable spot than the ones ahead. I think we also just liked the idea of one more time-out on an island, without rushing back to Deer Isle.

Since my last post, we left Dickenson's Reach, up at the sheltered head of Little Kennebec Bay in Machiasport, and made our way down to Jonesport, where we once again bought a few supplies and refilled water at the Moosabec Variety (you can still rent VHS tapes there too). We continued on to Sheep Island off of Cape Split and spent 2 nights there to wait-out predicted rough seas (don't  think they got too rough, but we were glad to stay there). We identified the nearby home of modernist watercolorist John Marin (the weird-sounding seabird that turned-out to be an alarm system helps give it away) but never got over to see, up-close the bluffs of Tumble-Down Dick Head. It's good to save things for future trips.

On Sunday morning we paddled into Milbridge for groceries and headed out to Bois Bubert Island. From there, yesterday morning, we went around Petit Manan Point, on to Corea and then around Schoodic Point during the eclipse. Quite a crowd there;  it felt as if we were sauntering along the outskirts of a party, where everyone was waiting for the band to start, but had kind of forgotten what they were doing there and hey, the light is kind of funny now, isn't it? And we'll give the eclipse credit for the big eddy that took us all the way here, against the dominant current.

Just after lunch today, we spied two skiffs coming our way, and they turned out to be MITA boats, carrying the Maine Island Trail Association's Trail Committee. We're not on a MITA island, but they were checking things out, and we had a sort-of impromptu meeting right there, discussing such things as the need or feasibility for sites along the Bold Coast. They took our trash away and left us with some extra water. And provided us with more human contact than we've had in awhile, which was welcome.

Over the next couple of days, we'll meander back to Deer Isle- only two or three days and nights, and maybe a stop at Old Quarry for a shower before we pack our gear into the car an head over to a family lake home in New Hampshire, where we have a week to recover a bit while hanging-out with some of the constant people in our life. Then we're sort of transient again. Maybe a little teaching and guiding in September... a dentist's appointment... and maybe some time up in Newfoundland with Rebecca's parents. For now though, this fog has come-in thick and cool. Time for some food.


Wayne said...

Michael, another wonderful post as usual. I just completed a recent crossing to the Isle of Shoals which had been on my to do list for a while and found your guidebook chapter on it very useful. Keep up the good work. Wayne

Michael Daugherty said...

Thanks Wayne, it really is nice to hear that the book was helpful. Happy paddling!

Mark said...

Wow, just came across this blog and what a great story! We really enjoyed reading through the posts documenting your journey. It reads just like a book I once read about a person reconnecting with the wilderness in up-state New York. Nicely done!