In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A different sort of Monday morning

I'm not trying to rub anything in here, but it's Monday morning and I know that most of you started your Monday off quite differently then I started mine. Most of you probably woke up when the alarm went off and then hit snooze a time or two before finally dragging yourself out of bed. If you didn't hit the snooze button three times you made yourself a quick breakfast and then headed out to work, all the while wishing it was still the weekend. A routine I'm very familiar with.

Let me tell you how my Monday morning started.

Since it gets dark at 6:30 I went to bed pretty early the night before. I woke up at a quarter to seven fully rested. It had been a chilly night with temps dropping into the low 40's. My face was chilly but the rest of me was pretty warm under tucked away in my sleeping bag on top of my cot. I laid in bed about an hour just thinking about things and watching the sky brighten out the window. I was happy it was Monday. That would mean it was the work week and I'd have pretty much the whole Maine coast to myself. It was late in the season so most peoples vacations were over. No matter where I went in the next 4 days I could count on likely being alone.

Since there was no place I had to be and nothing I had to do I rustled myself out of bed when I was good and ready too. I slipped on my hiking boots to get some extra warmth in my feet instead of my tennis shoes and then put on my jacket and hat to keep myself warm. I stepped out of my house and looked around. I was on top of a small hill overlooking the ocean. The reversing falls near Pembroke, Maine were to my left. The tide was rushing in causing a furious current, it sounded (and looked) like a fast flowing river. I took a short walk down to a overlook of the reversing falls and watched the water churn around the sometimes exposed/sometimes covered island in the middle of the channel.

That's what makes the reversing falls you see (actually a better term might be standing wave). As the water rushes through a narrow channel during the tide changes it's disrupted by an island that sticks out during low tide and is submerged during hight tide. When this island is slightly submerged it causes some pretty intense rapids and standing waves.

The tide was coming in when I got down to the water and only the tip of the island was still showing. Even though I've been here a few days and seen it plenty of times I was still amazed at how fast the water was churning through; some of the fastest and nastiest current I've every seen. I stood there a while just admiring the scenery. I could see a few lobster boats out and about dropping their lobster pots to try and earn a days wages. Apparently the lobster take has been down a bit in the last few years, causing hard times for some. Add to that a new law just put in effect to protect the endangered Wright Whale. The law says that all lobster fisherman must use sinking lines (the ones that connect the underwater pots) to keep the whales from becoming entangled when they dive. This has most lobster fisherman quite upset as it entails a large up front cost of switching to different ropes and an even more expensive yearly cost to pay for all the lost traps due to the sinking lines getting caught on the rocky sea floor of the Maine coast.

I watched the boats putz around and drop their traps hoping that one would try to go through the channel by the reversing falls, but none did. I guess they don't want to end up like the two ship wrecks just a short walk down the coast. I was a bit chilly so I walked back to the house and started up a small fire in the fire pit. I sat in my chair and warmed myself by a fire for a little while before adding some water to my boiling pot and placing it over the fire. In a few minutes the water was at a rolling boil and I was ready to start my day with some hot chocolate. This past winter Sarah had shown me how good hot chocolate could be with a little Bailey's. She was right, it did indeed make it even better so I started carrying a bottle with me on my travels. The other day while at the grocery store I saw a bottle of Amaretto and thought that might make a nice addition to the brew as well, which it indeed did. So in my little double walled vacuum insulated stainless steel mug I mixed my powered hot chocolate mix, Bailey's Irish cream and Amaretto for a delectable brew to start my day off right.

As I sat in my chair and enjoyed my drink while I pondered what I'd do that day. It didn't take long to figure it out; I decided I'd do whatever I felt like. Most likely that would involve a leisurely morning before heading up the coast a little to Eastport where I'd walk around the port a little bit before finding a library to sit down and catch up on some work. The nice thing about being on perpetual vacation is that you don't feel the need to do something every waking hour of the day. There's a freedom that comes from the knowledge you can pretty much waste an entire day by not doing anything meaningful. In fact, not doing anything meaningful seems to make the day all the more meaningful. It seems to help you relax and enjoy what you're doing more then if you were rushing around trying to see everything you could see.

By now my drink was gone and I was thinking I should probably get up and make myself some breakfast. Similar to what Sarah put my dog Rudy on I've prescribed myself a starvation diet. OK, not really a starvation diet, but I've started eating only twice a day on most days. Since I no longer have the physical exertion that comes from working all day I've found myself putting on a bit more weight (and losing some muscle). No matter how hard I try I have a very hard time cutting back on my portions of food when I comes to meal time. Instead I try to put off my breakfast until mid-morning, skip lunch (maybe a snack if I'm doing something that requires energy) and then eat dinner in the late afternoon. This way I can still eat my normal portion of food but not eat as much total through out the day. It also gives me a good excuse to over eat and get desert if I happen to stop at a restaurant.

I was too comfortable in my chair next to the small fire though and figured I could put off breakfast a little bit longer. Instead I poured a little straight Amaretto in my stainless steel double walled vacuum insulated mug and went back to pontificating todays actions. The Amaretto was good all by itself so I added a little more and thought how nice this was. How much I was enjoying my trip so far. That I couldn't believe how slow time was going by (and this was a good thing). It seemed like I'd left Iowa after my short visit a month ago but when I thought about it I realized it had only been two weeks. An awful lot of fun and relaxation has been crammed into that two weeks.

I started to think about how my Monday mornings used to start. Waking with a sort of dread when the alarm went off. Hitting the snooze button a time or two before dragging myself out of bed to face the work week that I really wasn't looking forward to. If I hadn't hit the snooze button a third time I'd have time to eat a couple bowls of cereal or some oatmeal and a bagel before heading out the door to start my work week. I'd be dreading my day (week) as I made the short drive to work. Thinking how I'd give anything to suddenly realize it was really only Sunday and that I had whole 'nother day to do whatever I wanted. Only five days I'd tell myself, only five days and it will be the weekend again. Then I can do whatever I want for two days, whatever makes me happy.

And now here I was. Sitting next to a fire on the Maine coast only 100 yards from the ocean, listening to the water churn in its endless cycle of in and out and in and out and in and out. This hour, this day, this week, this month, this year I could do whatever I wanted. I felt lucky to be born where I was born and to be born to the parents I was born to. I congratulated myself on working as hard as I could to pay off my mortgage early as well as all my other loans so that when something came up that I really wanted to do I could just do it (like this trip/adventure/lifestyle) . Those are what made this whole trip possible, which in turn is what's made me happier then I've been in a few years now.

I was starting to feel hungry but decided to put off eating just a few minutes longer so I could jot some thoughts down into a program on my computer. After all, what was a few more minutes when I had the rest of my life ahead of me.

Now that this is done I can make myself a peanut butter and banana sandwich for brunch that will tide me over through the rest of the morning and afternoon. Maybe this evening instead of cooking for myself over a fire I'll try to find a nice, small, local restaurant and go out for some seafood. You know, just to help the struggling local fishermen. As I look out the window of my house now I see the clouds that blanketed the sky have broken up and the sun is shining. The weatherman promised a nice, sunny day in the low 60's today and it looks like me might be right after all. A perfect day for doing whatever I want.

And that's how I start off my Monday mornings.

Congratulations to those of you who wake up and go to work on Monday mornings looking forward to the week.


Mark said...

Hope the novelty does not wear off. I like my Monday mornings. Enjoy your search. Simon says hi.

bjbuell said...

Actually, today we are celebrating Native American Day here in South Dakota so I had a wonderful day here at home on the farm. The sun was shining, the chickens were crowing and all is right with the world. I am exactly where I want to be too. Keep up the good writing, Alan!

Roy Gage said...

No job, no cares, getting fat and drinking in the morning.

Reminds me of Gus, the old wino used to live next door, till he died.

Anonymous said...

GeeWhiz Alan I was gonna share my yellow raisins soaked in Tangeray Gin for all your aches and pains homeopathetic remedy with you , 9 raisins a day (one shot) is all anyone needs to help with arthritis or other ailments.
Wanderlust is incureable unless it's tied to a mortgage, good luck my friend, hope to see you soon.
Guess Who?

Alan Gage said...

"I was gonna share my yellow raisins soaked in Tangeray Gin

Guess Who?"

Is this Snoop Dogg?

You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.