Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And travel I did - Part II

Sat'y 4/11
I woke up to light rain hitting the tent and snuggled back into the sleeping bag to the sounds of breaking waves and the distant clang of an off-shore buoy.

It stopped raining by 9 and we had a lovely breakfast of oatmeal, bananas and tea, using what was left of the milk.

We de-camped, packed the car and headed for a trail on the south side of the island - stopping once more in Bar Harbor to return the milk bottle, pick up truffles for friends and popped into the Patagonia store to see if there was anything one couldn't live without (there wasn't).

The hike was nice, but the geography was similar to that of Kelley's Island here in Ohio: pines, moss, juniper and water eroded rocks - it was a bit disappointing to find that Arcadia is not contiguous - interspersed with residential areas that made it seem quite un-National Park-like. It was decided that we would travel down the coast, stopping when the urge struck, and ending up in Portland for the night.

In a small town, we piggybacked onto WiFi coming from coffee shop and used Priceline (who knew?) to secure a low-cost reservation at the Portland Wyndham (the posh girl in me squealed internally) and headed south, determined to stop in Freeport to see the L.L. Bean campus that his colleague spoke so highly of.

The campus...
Open 24/365.
There are no locks on the retail store.
And a 20' tall Bean boot out front.

I left with a camping mug for $0.95 and a pink headlamp from the outlet.

The day left me decidedly punchy, so we made our way to the hotel, cleaned up and decided to set up the camp stove in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on. We dined on Trader Joe's Jaipur Vegetables from a pouch, naan and tea.
Again, excellent.

Easter Sunday 4/12
The Physicist had shared that he was impressed with Vermont and it was decided that we would stop there en route to Ohio.

While at the hotel, I got on the laptop and found that the Appalachian Trail intersected with the small town in Southern Vermont I knew well and was, coincidentally, on the way back.

Unfortunately, I woke up stubborn.

I was unimpressed with the lighthouse I had seen and knew there were a number around Portland - I chose Two Lights State Park for what seemed to be its close proximity. It was suggested that we have breakfast in the room - oatmeal made with the camp stove. But I was worried that we would set off the smoke detector (don't ask, I got over it the night before - only after frantically fanning first the sprinkler heads, then the smoke detector. But for some reason it made me anxious to attempt it again.)

I wanted eggs, but the Wyndham seemed too pricey and with it being Easter Sunday, I was worried we wouldn't find somewhere to sit down without fighting crowds.

We ended up at a Tim Horton's - which quickly turned into a bad vaudeville routine that ended with a bag of fast food, cold coffee and a half filled thermos of water.
I marched to the car with the food and immediately had a bit of a falling out with the GPS.

After a few false starts, we were headed for Two lights, feeling ever more anxious as I saw no signage for the park or evidence that we were anywhere near a coast.

I got us there, parked near the sad little lighthouse, grabbed my bag of food and picked my way across the trash-strewn beach to a rock where I sat, watched the water, looked at the disappointing lighthouse and tearfully ate my Everything bagel with tepid, rubbery egg, out-of-season tomato and limp lettuce that I asked they exclude from my sandwich. As I walked back to the car, I handed over the keys - sulking that I had put us an hour behind for bad food, bad views and general bad behavior.

We got into Manchester, Vermont around 3pm. It was cold and the occasional flurry drifted past. We drove north to Dorset, where I had spent the two summers flanking my senior year of college.

I saw that the house I had lived in was for sale, that the market I loved had changed hands and that the theater was expanded. It was nice to be back, but ten years does much (and very little) to a small town. I stopped to see the marble quarries, said goodbye to Dorset and drove back to the Green Mountain Ranger station outside of town.

We found the parking lot for the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail (I was again speaking to Gypsy) and decided to pack in, as there was a shelter about 2.5 miles south. It was cold, but I put on 2 layers of long underwear, 3 pairs of socks, and had a tent and cold-rated sleeping bag. We agreed to turn around if the shelter looked too exposed, but hoped to camp there - or at least have dinner.

The trail was lovely - the blazes easy to see (mostly). There was packed, icy snow in places and at least one stream was difficult to cross due to the melting mountain snows. It had been 6 years since I have hiked with a pack and I forgot how much I enjoy it. I warmed easily and loved winding my way uphill.

About 1.5 miles in, it was close to sunset and getting colder. We had come to the summit of one mountain, but there was at least another to climb. We decided that prudence was necessary and chose to turn around for safety's sake. Making the trip back to the car in the dark would be difficult, especially given the ice and snow.

But we found a nice bridge 1/2 mile from the road over a rushing stream - so we stopped and cooked dinner (rather, the Physicist cooked and I messed about adjusting my 30 layers of clothing and texting a friend that I was on the AT.)

Dinner was rice and lentils, bread, Vermont cheddar and tea - eaten on the bridge, legs swinging over the water and rocks while watching the sun set pink and orange between hazy mountains in the distance. We talked about how difficult the hike had been from Georgia and wondered aloud what state we were in.

We got back to the car at 9pm and decided I would drive while he slept in the back (my car seats fold down to about the length of a sleeping bag) and then would switch out when I tired.

I took to the back around 11:30pm and woke up to a cloudy dawn on 90 West just outside of the intersection with 271 - it was 6 am and we had safely returned home from the unplanned adventure in the Northeast.

Grand totals (for those keeping score)

2006 miles
6 states
1 National Park
16 stops to replenish hot water for tea
6 stops for gasoline
34.09 Average MPG (37.7 High: 30.17 Low)
1 night couchsurfing in NY
1 night bad motel in NH
1 night camping in ME
1 night good hotel in ME
1 night in the car

Springtime Wanderlust successfully remedied.
(except that now I keep looking to see what portions of the AT are closest to Cleveland...)

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