The second phase of my Halloween started out with the nearly four hour drive from Old Town, ME to Gorham, NH. Not the most exciting stretch of road to be sure, but it was honestly a really nice chance to relax and get my thoughts in order… the road went on forever, there were nearly no other cars, and I had a pretty solid playlist of songs rolling through the cars speakers. There were a few “high-excitement” moments though; one when I stopped to shake a kink out of my leg before dashing back into the car after hearing a wolf-pack howling, and the other when I got pulled over for speeding… doing 42 in a 30 zone, when I could see a sign saying 55. Seriously… like five feet in front of my car was a sign saying 55 MPH zone. Which is likely why I got let off with a warning instead of anything worse.
The ride itself took me until nearly 01:00 on Monday morning, and by the time I actually arrived at the Loj I was dead tired and ready to just crash. I went through the basic motions of opening up the Loj – not bothering to fully open it up mind you, just bringing the gas system online, getting a few lights working, and making sure that there weren’t any leaks in the system / monsters in the lofts. I made myself a small glass of cocoa, opened a beer, and stretched out in my sleeping bag to read / drink / doze off to sleep.
Or… I tried to sleep. I read for half an hour or so to let myself relax, and then took out the contacts and turned off the lights. Unfortunately the Loj was not quiet, even though I was alone… in fact it seemed louder than it ever was when I was there with a group. Wooden groans, creaking floorboards, skittering mice and falling snow surrounded me, and my sleepy brain was convinced that every since one required bringing my body back from near-sleep to full-combat-readyness. Seriously… I’d hear a snap or a squeak, recognize it, and then feel the adrenaline pumping into my system half a second after my conscious brain realized there was no threat. And this happened a dozen or two times, my body alternating between full-alertness and near-sleep, swapping between the two every ten minutes or so. But it didn’t last all night, thankfully, and after the millionth mouse skittered by my head I finally fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up pretty early, even though I hadn’t gotten to sleep until nearly 3:00 the same morning. I didn’t really feel like getting up though, so I spent the next two hours or so lounging in my warm sleeping bag (Yay for North Face bags!), reading and napping. After a while I finally got up and started moving around, doing a quick exploration of the Loj grounds before striking off in a random direction. My walk took me around the swimming hole (nope, no swimming. WAY too cold, though it was really beautiful out), across the river, and through the old (and some newer) logging roads that’ve been cut through the woods around the Loj. A few of the more notable discoveries I made:
- I finally found the “hidden campsite” near the Swimming hole… after five years. Bleh. Pretty cool though – completely open area with a fire pit and everything.
- There is a third cabin in the Loj area, besides the Loj itself and the Hunters lodge. Not sure who owns it, but its a small little place with glass windows and a screen door down by Route 2, off one of the primary logging roads. Place had a farm-stand-style table and everything.
- The bridge at the bottom parking lot of the Loj is being repaired finally! I stopped and chatted with some constructions guys who were dropping fill nearby. No ETA on actual work starting, but hopefully it’ll be in the spring.
- There are definitely bears near the Loj – I saw more than one set of pretty impressive prints nearby, though I didn’t notice any cub-sized tracks, thankfully. Though they’d likely be in the den right after a snow, I think.
I finally finished up the walk about four hours after I had stepped out the door; I was strongly reminded of Bilbo’s warning ( from Lord of the Rings): “Its a dangerous business, going out your front door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to”. When I stepped back into the Loj and brushed the snow off my boots it was nearly five, and the sun was starting to set.
After relaxing and brewing myself another pot of tea I started cooking myself up an early dinner, planning on having one small dinner now, and then a larger supper later on before bed. I kept it rather simple, so I wouldn’t have many dishes to clean the next morning, and cooked up some spaghetti with ground beef, seasoning it nicely with some leftover BBQ sauce and lots of other random spices. I ate, I drank (Mead and tea make for a damn fine drink on a cold night), I read, and I did a bit of writing. I actually read for nearly three hours before making my second dinner, though I alternated it up a bit with building a small fire and doodling in my notebook.
My second dinner was just as delicious as my first, actually a bit more-so since I measured the spices based on what I felt it needed more/less of. And again I ate, I drank, and I went back to huddling against the cold in my little sleeping bag cocoon of warmth.. It wasn’t honestly that cold, but both nights it dipped down towards the high 30’s; easily within range of my gear, but too cold to really be lounging around without some kind of warmth. Thus armored against the cold I hung out and relaxed before finally falling asleep around 11:30 or so.
Side-Note, before I did fall asleep I got the chance to play executioner to a rather stellarly unlucky little mouse. It had gotten caught in a snap-trap that I had set earlier, but instead of having its neck cleanly snapped it had gotten the bar across its back – breaking its spine somewhere around the middle of its back. Since it wasn’t actually killed, I got to hear it trying to drag itself across the floor for 10min or so before I finally realized that the noise wasn’t just death-throes. I got up, executed the poor mousey, and threw the whole mess outside by the wood pile. And then spent the rest of the night imagining that every single noise was the ghost of the mouse coming back, or one of its furry friends seeking vengeance.
Keeping with the rest of the trip I took Tuesday morning pretty slowly and relaxed. I heated up leftovers from my second supper the night before, made some amazing hot cocoa and meditated for a while before finally starting to close up the Loj. Before finalizing the closing process I took a quick run up to the Ledges and back down the ropes trail as a sort of parting act before heading home. The whole upside of not actually opening the Loj all the way was that closing only took me about 20min. I took my time walking down though, and so I wasn’t actually on the road until nearly 3:00 in the afternoon. Perfect timing by my reckoning though, since it meant that I’d be getting into Boston just as my friends got out of work.