Monthly Archives: September 2011

The road to adventure is paved with ” *Crash* The hell was that? Did my Axle just explode?”

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So today was supposed to be the start of my big trip; traveling around the world and going on uncountable adventures.  But… no.  No, it was delayed yet again by random bureaucratic nonsense.

So my mom and I (thankfully she offered to drive me, so I didn’t have to try and get a cab into Boston at 4:00 in the morning) woke up at 3:15 on Thursday morning, threw my bags into the car, and headed onto the road.  I was exhaustedly tired, but full of adrenaline, expecting that I’d be on an airplane flying to Aruba for seven hours on the beach.  We parked with little fuss, found the check-in area without any trouble, and I walked up to check my backpack in before the flight.  As I went through the pre-flight check-in procedure everything went rather smoothly; I swiped my credit card, swiped my passport, entered emergency contact information, and picked out how many bags I’d be checking.  And then it hit, “Please show the printed slip to an airline representative”.

I handed the woman behind the counter my slip, she uttered a “hmmmmm” while pressing way too many buttons on her keyboard, and then finally looked back at me.

“When is your return flight booked for?”

What? “Umm… never?  I’m going to be traveling around the world for a long time” I replied.

“Ohh.  Dear.  Well you don’t have a visa to Venezuela, and you need a return or continuing flight booked in order to enter the country.  Same with Aruba, so you’ll have to sort this out in Miami.  I’ve checked you into this flight though”

“Wait… so I could be stuck in Miami?  I’d prefer that not happen… is there anything we can do now?  How can we make this happen right now?” I asked her, my voice slowly starting to creak and strain.

“Here’s the Priceline customer contact information, give them a call.  I can’t do anything from here.”

Great.  So I call Priceline, and their not open until 6:00.  My flight is supposed to leave at 6:40.  While I’m waiting for them to open I try to quick-book a flight into Brazil for myself, since that should theoretically clear this entire thing up.  Kayak has a flight!  I check it out, but of course the link from Kayak to the airline doesn’t work, so I try to go there myself.  Its in Portuguese.  I fill it out as best I can, only to find out that I need a Brazilian visa, and to get that I need a flight exiting Brazil.  I nearly punch my computer across the terminal in frustration, instead somehow burying myself in trying to figure out what to do.  My mom’s pacing around behind me, trying to keep herself calm too… I feel horrible, todays already stressful enough for her, seeing her son starting on a trip around the world with no plan on returning home soon.  And now this…

When 6:00 rolls around I call priceline, since I didn’t have any luck booking myself a flight (A combination of the slow netbook, Google trying in vain to translate the website, and my lack of a Brazilian Visa).  I talk with the woman on the other line, and end up canceling my flight, saying that I’ll rebook it for another day, once I have my shit figured out.

So here I am… sitting at home instead of on the beach in Aruba, trying to figure out how the hell I’m going to deal with this shit.  I figure I’ll drop the entire “plan as I go” scheme, cut away my ability to improvise and make “in the moment” decisions, and just book my entire South-American section NOW.  I’ll loose a lot of my flexibility, which was a huge goal for this trip, but at least I’ll actually be able to go, right?

 

Fuck.

Relaxing at the Loj, Sept 5 – 7

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So after visiting Justine and camping out and hiking through Acadia, I jumped back into the car and headed onto the dusty road, driving down Route 2 the four hours to the Loj.

Monday –

The drive from Old Town to Gorham was long, rainy, and annoying.  Luckily for me I had a mostly-charged iPod, lots of good music, and the “mad driving skills” to survive the epic downpour that was tearing through Maine at the time.  I picked up some food for the next few days at a random Hannafords along the way, and met T in the parking lot before walking up to the Loj in the rain.  Thankfully no one was around when we got there (people had been up that weekend, but I was kinda hoping to not deal with people on this chill-trip), so T and I worked through opening up the building before settling down to some chilling, chatting, and drinking.

See… T’s a dangerous man.  Not in the “HE’S A NINJA!” sort of way, but in the “this kid brought us Absinthe and Scotch” sort of way.  Yeah… 110 proof absinthe to go with the very strong single-malt scotch that we had.  The night went amazingly well, with lots of great conversation, some late-night snacking on quesadilla’s, and a few too many glasses of drink.  By the time we crashed we had knocked down 1/4 of the Absinthe and about 1/2 of the scotch… a successful night, to be sure.

Tuesday –

Ouch.  Hangover… how long has it been since I actually had a hangover?  Not long enough, thats for sure… but the advantage of not having lots of random people at the Loj is that you wake up when you want, and only when you want.  I finally tore myself from the bed once my headache was at a reasonable level, and started making breakfast while T finished rousing himself from his bed.  I made up some Bacon and Eggs to go with our jet-fuel coffee and aspirin cocktail, helping make the morning much more pleasant.  After some more lounging around we decided that we really should do something with ourselves, so we put on our rain gear and walked out the back door and onto the trail through the woods.

I’m a member of the Loj Committee, so part of my “training” was to learn the land around the Loj like the back of my hand.  I’ve hiked pretty much every trail around the building at least a dozen times, so saying that I know the area pretty well can be a bit of an understatement.  Because of this, we didn’t really worry too much about where we were going, what trail we were on, or any of the usual “trip planning” stuff that I’d make sure to to.  Instead, we hopped between trails, backtracking and picking out random paths to take deeper into the wilderness.

We walked like that for a few hours before it started to get dull, and we started to get hungry again.  T and I turned around and took a pretty direct route back to the Loj, instead of the winding road that we had taken before, and got back within half an hour or so… just enough time to get us hungry for lunch.  We cooked up a pair of Quesadilla’s each, heaped salsa onto them, and chowed down like there was no tomorrow (possibly having a glass of scotch as well, I admit to nothing)

After yet more relaxing and chatting we headed back out into the wilderness, this time wearing our lumberjack hats locked tight to our heads.  See… going for walks is fun, but its not particularly MANLY.  Chopping down trees, sectioning them into usable chunks, and then splitting them, is.  So we walked deeper into the woods, found four “standing dead” trees (you know, the completely dead ones that’re somehow still standing, so their not wet/rotten?), brought them down, and then hauled them back to the Loj yard.  There we two-man-sawed them apart, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon splitting them up for the outside firewood pile.

A job well done we cooked up a dinner of Big Ol’ Mess (recipe below) with some warm bread.  It took about two hours to cook all the way, so while it was going we did a quick stretch up to the Ledges and then back down via a path called the ropes trail.  Now, I don’t think its very steep, but it is rough enough that I’d helped a few other NUHOCers put up ropes on it to aid people in getting up/down safely.  I enjoy the trail, since its a nice combination of hiking and climbing… T did not share my enthusiasm for the conditions, however, and so we had a rather long and hesitant hike down, with many threats of T turning back because the trail had become too steep.

We didn’t turn around though, and when we got back to the Loj dinner was nearly done.  I threw the rolls into the oven to heat up, and we pulled chess out as well, to pass time while waiting for the food to cool down.  The game went fairly quickly, with T laying an epic-beat down to me with the old “rook/bishop tagteam” attack.  Since it was still early, we decided to start a game of Risk as well, to help occupy the rest of the night. Well, it also occupied our time from when we sat down to play at seven until I finally wrecked his last army a little after eleven.  Both the food and the game were epic though, so we just spent the rest of the night sipping scotch and reminiscing about random adventures we’d had over the last half-dozen years.

Tuesday –

We woke up much more refreshed and non-hungover on Tuesday, but the morning was rather bittersweet, knowing that we’d be heading back to our respective homes at the end of the day.   The morning was spent eating breakfast (Bacon and Eggs again) and cleaning up the Loj in preparation for closing it up.  We didn’t actually do the entire closing yet though; at least one small hike was required.

So we struck out into the woods again, deciding to retrace a bit of the hike from the day before, but instead of ending back at the Loj already, we decided to take a stop in at the swimming hole first.  I had gotten pretty sweaty, and even though I was trying to keep my new dreads dry, I definitely needed to take at least a “most of me” swim in Connor Brook.  I even convinced T to take a swinging leap into the swimming hole, using the rickety old rope-swing to its finest.

After our swim we finished closing up the Loj, packed up the food and trash, and put away all of the random lumberjacking tools that we’d used the day before.  We finally made it onto the road mid-afternoon, deciding to stop into Boston on the way back so that we could grab dinner, and I could drop off a package with Chirag.  The drive, the drop-off, and the dinner were all excellent, with good music for the drive and good company for the dinner.  We all chatted and rocked out, and then all went our separate ways to our separate towns, looking forward to the next time we could all be living in the same city, and rocking out on a regular basis.

*RECIPE*

Big Ol’ Mess

Ingredients:

1 lb Chicken

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage

1 green pepper

1 large yellow onion

1 can (12oz) of chunk pineapple

8oz BBQ sauch

8oz Sweet and Sour Sauce

8 dashes Creole Seasoning

8 dashes seasoned salt

Preparation:

Combine the entire set of ingredients onto a big piece of aluminium foil, mix, and cover with another piece of foil.  Crumple / fold the foil into a large bowl-shaped mass, poke a few holes in the top, and put it into the over at 325 F.  Let it cook for 2-3 hours, or until the internal temp is ~250.

With about 10min left to go, throw some rolls / bread in to heat up; Big Ol’ Mess is best served with some warm crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Pro-tip!  make sure to put the foil bag on top of a tray (or more foil) to catch the juices as they run out.  Because they will drip out.  And it will make a mess.

Roadtrip up to Maine, Sept 2 – Sept 5

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I’ve moved out.  I can’t believe it, but I actually moved out of my old Boston apartment on Wednesday, and back into my folks place.  This was only in preparation for my big trip, but still… living with my folks was not really part of my plan for this part of my life.  So to make myself feel a bit better, I packed my gear into the car and headed North, to visit some old friends (both ex-girlfriends, actually) in Maine.

 

Friday –

Friday I drove up to Portland to check out my first friends new apartment, cook up some dinner, and relax for a bit before the long drive up to Acadia, another 4 hours away.  I met her at her work, helped close up the store (and tried on the ultimate hat… definitely have to pick it up next time I’m there), and then we headed out to grab food for dinner.  Instead of the usual “go out to a restaurant” that she usually goes with, I got to pick the recipe and cook at home.  Partially to save money, but mostly to impress her roommates, hehe.  Well… impress them I did; I pulled out all the stops and cooked up Allison’s recipe for Shrimp Scampi for us.

The dinner came out nearly perfectly, if a bit overcooked, even without having the basic kitchen instruments that one expects… spatula, salt, etc… We ate with her roommate and chatted about this, that, and many random other things, mostly shooting the shit about the state of the world, and trading funny army stories (none of my own of course, but stories / jokes I’ve heard.  He told direct stories from his time as an LT in the national guard).  After dinner we chatted and watched movies for a bit, then retired to the bedroom for fun and sleep.  A simple day, but very relaxing and full of contentment.

 

Saturday –

Saturday started out with Kasia’s other roommate knocking on the door and then immediately barging in, followed by me throwing the blankets over my body just as she mentioned that the room smelled like sex.  “Whoa ok, you have a naked boy in your bed.  Hi!” she followed up with, and we all had a nice conversation, focused primarily on who I was, what I was up to, and her bending over to show off her chest, ass, or legs at least ten times.  Yeah… flirty girl, to say the least.  But she seemed pretty cool, and did finally take the hint that we wanted to continue our fun (I gave her the option to stay and have fun, but she said no).  After playing and showering we headed downstairs, cleaned up the rest of the kitchen from the night before, and then headed into town so I could drop her off at the train station.  She was taking a SCUBA trip out in Boston on Sunday, so had to get to the store to pick up the oxygen tanks early in the afternoon, so we didn’t really have any time to kick around the city or anything.

Thus, after dropping her off at the station, I headed back onto the open road, cranking up Flogging Molly on the iPod and rocking out all the way to Old Town, ME, a town right outside of Acadia and home to my friend Justine.  Its a nice town, though a little small, with the exciting fact that its both home to U of Maine, and Walmart.  Yep… Walmart’s really the biggest thing in town besides the YMCA where Justine works at the Rock Gym.  Anyways.  We hung out for a bit waiting for her roommates and friends to arrive, then once most of them showed up we fired up the new grill that she had picked up and started rocking the burger-making.  Ohh yeah… we iron-chef’ed all up in here, making the fancy Walmart patties into something vaguely resembling something Chef Ramsey would approve of, then chowing down like there was no tomorrow.  After annihilating nearly 20 burgers between 5 of us, we headed inside and sat around chatting for ages.  A few excerpts are as follows:

  • We drank more than a few Strawberry Daqueries, beers, shots of rum, etc…
  • I gave at least one girl a lapdance
  • we played “act out the porn story”; I got stuck acting out both sides of a blowjob (at the same time), but got to watch two girls acting out getting railed from behind
  • I learned that there is a job titled “Holistic stripper”, where she “balances patrons energy levels” by giving them lapdances, possibly while naked
  • I learned that this same stripper can still be grounded by her parents at age 24

So yeah… more than an amazing night, a quite epic night indeed.

 

Sunday –

Sunday started out slowly, with me taking my time to actually wake up.  After finally gaining mobility and freedom from the clutches of girls and beds Justine and I headed out to open up the climbing gym at the YMCA.  I only climbed a few routes, mostly feeling tired and achy… I still had a minorly sprained ankle from moving myself home, and really didn’t want to make it any worse than it already was.  And… I was exhausted from the amazingly late night the evening before (honesty: the morning ’till 0500 or so), so I ended up climbing up on top of one of the routes, curling up with some pads, and reading / napping for a few hours until it was time to close the gym and get ourselves on the road to Acadia.

It took us a while, but we finally had the car completely packed up and ready to move out; it was Justine and her boyfriend, myself, and he roommate Steph.  Steph and I had a fairly good rapport going on by then, so we cuddled up in the backseat and chatted / read books for the hour or so drive out to the Bass Harbor campsite; the same one that NUHOC comandeers every Memorial Day weekend in the spring.

I’ll admit that it was pretty weird to be up in Acadia without the whole NUHOC ensemble, though it was a bit of a breeze of fresh air to just do whatever we wanted.  The Problems cropped up in that none of us had ever actually reserved or paid for a campsite at Bass Harbor… we had no idea how to go about it, and the main office was closed.  So we stuck to the tried and true method of “set up tents, move then when someone says we’re in their campsite”.  Yeah… see, I’ve always just set up wherever I felt like, so I have no idea which area’s are sites, and which are not… kinda awkward for a poor couple to show up back at their campsite only to find us sitting around a fire, hanging out and drinking in what passed for their front yard.  Yeah…

Anyways, fun times.  We hit up Captain Nemo’s for dinner (nacho’s and a HUGE beer, seriously it was 28oz.  Awesome!), played some Jenga and Go Fish!, then headed back to the campsite to chill by the fire, drink, and generally make merry.  We hung out for about 7 logs worth of fire (we had turned off our cell phone), then headed into the tents just as it started drizzling a little bit.  Steph and I got to sleep in style this time; I provided the tent and she provided the massively comfortable inflatable mattress, with sleeping-bag-sheets and everything!  Yeah… we were roughing it.  It was tough.

 

Monday –

Waking up in the morning was a little strange for me… its been a while since I’ve camped out on an inflatable mattress, and I’m not used to waking up that comfortable.  It was actually a bit rough, cause I didn’t actually start moving for a good chunk of time… pretty much ’till Marc and Justine got back from getting breakfast supplies.  Once they got back I started up the grill, Marc and Steph started cutting up and prepping food, and Justine headed out into the woods to find some sticks to use as chop-sticks, since we didn’t have any normal utensils.  Strange, I know, but it actually worked out really well in the end, was a good call.  As for breakfast?  Scrambled eggs and spam… mmm… spam… hehe.  Better than I expected, I’ll admit.

The rest of the day was pretty chill, spent hiking up and down the Beehive (yep, we even helped out a lost tour group who weren’t sure how to get down.  Was rough… I even had to chat with the smoking-hot woman leading the group… what I do for people…), relaxing at the beach (climbing the rocks and jumping in the -10,000 degree water), getting ice cream, and driving home.  Yeah, not too insane of a trip, but it was really relaxing and definitely a solid way to spend the long weekend.  The ride home was filled up with me reading my books on the new Kindle, curled up with Steph in the back seat, listening to music and Justine / Marc rocking out.

After we got back to their place we all chilled for a bit before I headed out for my next adventure, driving down to the Loj to meet my buddy Big T to relax, drink scotch, and have a “bro weekend” before I left.