Relaxing at the Loj – taking a quick break before starting a new job


11DEC12 – 15DEC12

Tuesday, 11 Dec 12

So I got a job.

It had taken me a while to finally find an interesting position, so I was honestly a little bit concerned about making the transition from “not really too busy” to “busy every day of every week for the next ever”.

My solution? Spend a week at the Loj.

The original plan was to leave Medway nice and early on Tuesday so that I could get some short hikes in before actually starting in on the home-making chores that are part of staying at the Loj alone. But as I packed I got lazier and lazier, realizing that this may just be the last week that I’d have to really sit around and not do anything.

So, I stayed in. I relaxed. Had a good breakfast, played a few rounds of FireFall (a shooter game I’m playing), and took my time. Rushing and stress weren’t welcome today.

So by the time I did actually make it up to the Loj it was a bit late. The drive had been quick though, thanks to buying food in Medway I actually made it up in less than three and a half hours… not bad for starting nearly an hour South of Boston. But even so, it was starting to get dark when I finished getting the gear out of the car. Hikes were ignored, and instead I made a beeline for the front door. I was feeling pretty excited about the prospect of a relaxed evening chilling by the fire.

And I did. Dinner was a nice Apple & Bacon chicken over spaghetti, and the evenings entertainment consisted of a bit of reading, a bit of writing, and more than a bit of sitting and stargazing with a cup of cocoa as my companion.

Wednesday, 12Dec12

When I woke up, it was freezing.


The inside and outside temperatures were nearly identical – both nicely below freezing at 30 and 25 respectively. There’s only one thing to do when the temperatures are that cold – and unfortunately that one thing isn’t sit in your sleeping bag and go back to bed.

So I braced myself, took a deep breath of warm air from inside the bag, and leaped toward my bag of warm clothes, tossing on shirts as quickly as I could.

From there, cocoa was made first, followed by bacon and eggs and bagels. With a good breakfast inside me I was feeling a bit more up for facing the day, and so I started up a small fire in the wood stove, made sure it was nicely controlled and burning slow, and then headed out into the wilderness for a day of exploring.

My walk took me all around the Loj grounds – I wasn’t feeling overly ambitious, so I stuck to the well-worn trails that I knew best. I visited the boulder field, the Ledges, and even stopped by the hunters cabin next door (“next door” in Loj terms means about a mile away) to make sure none of their windows had been smashed by the previous storm.

From there I headed back to the Loj to check up on the fire and have a short snack, but quickly kept wandering, following a small trail that I could just barely make out that snaked into the woods. I tracked it as far as I could, but after a while it just petered out and I left it to its own devices, heading back for a legitimate lunch.

Chicken and Cheese quesadillas, with some nicely mulled cider, woke me back up from my afternoon lethargy. The energy was enough to motivate me to do another quick trip outside to gather up some firewood – I’d seen a ton of “standing dead” trees out on my walks, so I brought a small bowsaw with me and gathered up a few arm fulls of dead. It wasn’t much, but looked to be just enough to keep me warm through the rest of the night. And doing a bit of manual labor was a nice shock to my system, which had gotten a bit sleepy after having such a good lunch.

It wasn’t enough to fuel another full outdoor adventure, but it was just enough to keep me awake and focused as I broke open my old heat transfer and fluid flow books.

I was hoping to find some information and theory about the new project I’d be working on. But unfortunately it seems that Steam Ejectors aren’t really something that undergrad textbooks discuss, so after an hour of so of random review I closed up the book, put away my notebooks, and started in on a book I’d been meaning to read for a long time: Slaughterhouse Five.

It was a good book, if rather fractured, and definitely fit in with what I was wanting to read about at the time. And reading about World War II reminded me that this was one of the first nights of Hannukah.

With that memory in my mind I set to work building myself a Menorah. See, I’d meant to bring one up for the week, but it was one of the few things I’d forgotten to toss into my pack as I left on Tuesday. So I found a nice looking branch, pulled out the old Loj tools, and got to work.

It wasn’t the greatest menorah ever made, but it was mine. I’d planed down the sides of the branch, and used a small Y in the end as the Shamus holder. It looked rustic, but viable. And I was happy that I’d made it myself; somehow that made Hannukah seem a bit more personal this year.

So I lit the candles (I’d found just enough in the cupboards), said a prayer or two, and set about the process of making myself another amazing dinner.

Tonight was basically the same plan as the night before; not particularly creative, but quite delicious. After I finished eating my apple chicken and cleaning up the dishes I snuggled down into my sleeping bag with a cup of Cocoa, a new book, and a clementine as dessert.

I was asleep within half an hour.

Thursday, 13Dec12

Thursday morning was when I learned that waking up to a cold room can be useful, since it actually helps me wake up and get moving. I mean… I’d learned that the day before, but on Thursday I learned what happens when I wake up in a room just warm enough that I don’t really need to get up to keep warm.

I’d actually woken up a bit after 8:00… but it was nearly the afternoon by the time I got out of my sleeping bag. I wish I could say that I’d shuffled around in the bag itself, but instead I simply laid back and spent the morning daydreaming. I don’t particularly remember what it was about, but I hope it was worth it, because thanks to those daydreams I didn’t have very much daylight left to use.

So, once I was moving, I kept moving at a nice clip.

First up was brunch – french toast made with mini-bagels, with bacon on the side. With, of course, a nice tall mug of instant coffee. Not the greatest, but definitely just what I needed to get myself moving.

Once I was moving, I headed out to find the end of the trail I’d started the day before.

A quick passage from the notebook that I kept that weekend;

“A few times I thought I had lost the trail – I couldn’t see any markers ahead of me. But I could see my footprints leading steadily onward.

So I assume that I’d seen something that I couldn’t see, and plowed on ahead. Trusting to my past-self to keep me on track.”

I did finally make it to what I believe was the end of the trail, a small clearing on the top of one of the larger hills in the area. I’m not 100% sure what that trail was, but it was a fun little adventure in the snow, and I was happy as I wandered my way back toward the Loj as the sun started to dip below the horizon.

On the way back I did my daily chore of gathering a bit of firewood – pulling in a few more dead trees that looked like they’d be good for firewood, then cutting them up into usable segments with the bow saw that we have.

Once I finished up I made myself another Quesadilla and relaxed a bit, mentally armoring myself for the trip into town I had to take. See, I’d used up the last of the birthday candles with my Menorah the night before, so after building up the fire I headed into the darkness of Wal-Mart to find some new candles.

I tried a few small stores on the way in, but unfortunately none of the carried anything that I could use. So I braved the fluorescent lights of the Super Wal-Mart of Berlin and quickly made my escape back to the solitude of the Loj.

Once I was back I set about making myself some dinner, with the assistance of one extra thing I’d picked up on my shopping adventure – D-size batteries. With their help I powered up the old CD player that we keep up at the Loj (as an emergency radio), and listened to the new Killers album as I cooked up my usual Chicken and Bacon.

The rest of the night played out the same as the previous few: I ate, cleaned, relaxed, did some review of my old textbooks, and finally drifted off to sleep.


Nope, no sleep.


Why can’t I fall asleep.

Ohh right, because I got up at noon.


Friday, 14Dec12

Friday was a bit better of a morning than Thursday had been – I was actually up and moving a few hours before the noon bell rung. (Ed note: there is no noon bell) My morning went just about the same as all the previous ones had – French toast, coffee and bacon followed up dishes, a bit of reading, and then finally heading out to do some walking around.

Today my walk took me up the Shelbourne-Moriah trail, following the tracks of two hikers who must have headed up earlier that day, or maybe the day before.

As I walked I followed their footprints, slowly spinning a story about them as I walked. See, the tracks would follow roughly parallel to each other, sometimes straying apart for a while and sometimes coming together in a mess of footprints.

As I walked I “read” the story as it unfolded in my head, barely noticing where I was walking and how far I was going. By the time I surfaced from my daydreaming I was at the end of the main trail and heading into the deeper woods.

I hadn’t planned on going particularly far, especially since I knew that people were coming up from Boston at some point tonight, but I decided to keep going on, at least for a little while. The trail was nice – snow covered, but not deeply enough that I had any real trouble making a path. Just enough that I felt good hiking along, and just enough to give the woods that winter magic.

Finally, I knew I had to turn around if I was going to have enough time to finish opening up the Loj and warming it up for everyone. So I pulled out my walking apple, and enacted the “turn around at the end of this apple” rule. And since I was hungry (and love apples), I was soon heading back to the Loj.

Stoke that fire!

Carry those logs!

Open them shutters!

Pump that water! Now carry it back!

And with that, the Loj was fully open. See, when I go up myself I don’t really “open” it. I keep the windows shuttered, the firebox low, and the temperatures low. But when significant numbers of people are coming up, all of those things should be put together, and the kitchen should be prepped for larger-scale use. Technically I didn’t have to do any of that (people normally do it as part of the act of arriving), but I figured that I should act the good host… especially since I’d been away so long.

But once it was all done, I set about dealing with my own stuff – AKA dinner!

Tonight was a bit different, in terms of food, if only because I was coming to the end of what I had packed up with me. Instead of a single large course like I’d had previous nights, I whipped up a bit of everything, burning up different parts of what I had left.

I ended up eating, while listening to the rest of the album I’d started the night before, half a quesadilla, some leftover apple-and-chicken pasta, and a pair of clementines for dinner. It was nice, and I finished up just as the first group of people arrived.

So we hung out and chatted as I did my dishes – I hadn’t seen Chris and Kate since I came back to the States, so we had a lot to catch up on. We made another batch of cider, and chatted on as more people started trickling in – I stayed up later than I had any other night in the past few weeks just remeniscing and getting up to date on all the juicy NUHOC gossip.

Saturday, 15Dec12

The nice thing about staying somewhere alone is that when you wake up, it’s on your terms. Not on the terms of a dog who’s owner doesn’t want to wake up and take him out.

Instead, said dog woke the whole Loj (but not his owner, somehow) up nice and early on Saturday. Thankfully I’d been wanting to actually get moving earlier today, so that I could get a bit of wandering in before I took the drive back down to Medway. So I got up and went about making myself some nice breakfast.

I always appreciate having a hot breakfast, but nothing makes me appreciate it more than eating while watching other people eat a boring cold breakfast. While everyone else wolfed down their bagels and cream cheese I slowly worked my way through a plate of the remainder of my bacon and eggs.

It was nice, and I stayed slow even after everyone else had rolled out for the day of skiing. I didn’t have any reason to rush, but I still wanted to get on the road before noon hit, so I cleaned quickly, packed up my gear in a quick, but unrushed pace, and the finally started the short hike back down to the car.

One response »

  1. I “love” your writing/storytelling style, Ben! I can actually “feel” relaxation entering my older, slightly creeky joints as I settle in withat hot cocoa and a couple clementines…I can taste the sweetness of a relaxed weekend to the NUHOC Loj that I never had the time to visit during my years at NEU (1978-1983) EE83′. Thank you for a well drawn picture !!!

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