Thursday, July 29, 2010

Liberty, ME

How long has it been since my last post?

Who knows.  I’m working on camp time people!!  When I leave camp for the next adventure you can rest assured that posts will come fast and furious…  But for now, I blame the RV.

About 3 months ago I purchased a 24’ Class C Motor home.  It is a Rockwood motor home body on a 1993 Ford Van Chassis.  Stove top, Oven, Refrigerator, AC, Furnace, Generator, Shower, Running Water, Hot Water, Bed in back, Over Cab Bed, 65000 miles, no real leaks to speak of.

 aka, Awesometown, USA.

 So after a month or two of going out to take a look at various RVs, I finally found this one which was in good shape, drove well, and had low miles.  Bought it and parked it overnight in my development.  Went out the next day to find a nice handwritten note telling me that I needed to move by vehicle, citing the attached section of the Homeowner’s Association Neighborhood Rules.  Sadly VA is not like Maine, space for parking an RV is hard to come by…

Seeing no other alternative, I asked my office if I could park the RV in their parking lot.  Was able to leave it there for almost 3 weeks before their Business Park Association threatened to have it towed away.  Sheesh.  Poor little guy.  Turned away by everyone…  So one weekend in Mid May I jumped in the RV and headed north.  Dropped it here at camp and then proceeded to fly home the next day.  Crazy, but effective.

So now it has a beautiful temporary home here at camp.  And we’ve been taking the opportunity to live in it a bit as a good way to test everything.  Took it down to an RV place in Saco a week ago to get the systems checked out.  Everything works great except for the furnace which they needed to fix.  Picked up a bike rack and other random accessories while there.  Next week I gotta take it to an automotive place to get a few small things fixed up.  Then it’ll be ready for the open road!!  Hope it is ready for 3 months plus of travel and Walmart parking lots…

**As a side note, it’s now only a week and a half before Megs and I embark on our cross country tour.  Exciting for sure, little scary too though.  Ma and Megs will be up to camp this weekend and I am sure that next week will be a whirlwind of preparation…**

Other random thoughts:

-          No matter how long of a time I spend here at camp, I always want it to be longer.  It’s kinda ridiculous.
-         I realize it’s been like 2 weeks between posts…  Rest assured they will be frequent once the trip gets going.  Everybody it seems wants to be kept in the loop!
-         That whole waking up at 6am thing…  Yeah, it turns out I have even become really good about sleeping through loud construction for hours…
-         Speaking of which, the house is coming along great!  The roofers came yesterday, and the insulation guys are here now.  All there is left really is the exterior siding, drywall, kitchen and bathroom stuff, and then finish electrical, plumbing, and lighting!  It’s already bizarre to see the house as finished as it is now, can’t imagine what it’ll feel like when fully completed!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Liberty, ME

So you could say that quitting one’s job, moving to a lake in Maine for a month, and planning both a cross country trip and a long distance hiking trip is a pretty significant lifestyle change.

However, over the past week I’ve been instituting a few other life changes. I figure if I am doing so many new things already, what is a few more. Especially if they are things that I probably should have been doing long ago, but was too busy enjoying my DC social life. No regrets there, it was fabulous. But I’ve been feeling like it’s time to try out some new life experiments.

Experiment #1:

Goal: Wake up at 6am every morning and go to bed at a decent time.

Basis: Obviously for those of you who know me, this is not how I am wired. At all. 2am to 3am bedtimes were common occurrences, like, 5 days ago… But, I have heard some good things about early morning rising and figured that while I was at a place where there is basically nothing to do after sunset, I might as well give it a shot.

Findings: Waking up early is actually kinda cool… Now granted, regardless of what time I go to bed at night, getting up by 6am or 7am is still ridiculously hard for me. And I slept in til like 9:30am on Wednesday on the excuse that it was pouring outside. But, it’s actually kind of amazing how long the day seems and how many things you can get done if you have a whole morning added to your day. Now on the down side I am extremely tired and sore half the time because I have been pretty much working that whole time on various camp projects that I’ve been meaning to get done for years. In between the frequent swim breaks of course!!

Conclusions: It’s a keeper. Especially for my time here at camp and on my upcoming trips. The main reason for my being a night owl, besides my internal clock of course, was that I never wanted to go to bed because I didn’t want to miss out of anything. The sports game, the movie premiere, out on the town with friends, etc. But again, when I am someplace that has pretty much nothing going on when it gets dark, having the whole morning to fill is a big bonus. Let’s see if I can keep it up… Maybe I’ll become a morning person. Ha! Not likely.

Experiment #2:

Goal: Eat healthy and on a budget.

Basis: I’m a meat and potatoes kinda guy. And when it’s not that it’s stuffed crust pizza, hot pockets, frosty and fries, cal tor, etc. Oh man, it’s all great!! Generally over the years I have been active enough to thwart the effects of this amazing diet. Besides that high blood pressure of course… But over the last almost two years now I have been recovering from two herniated discs in my back which have proved to be ridiculously stubborn at not healing. As a result I’ve now truly acquired the love handles and gut of my dad when he was in a similar situation. And on a budget because, well, I quit my job and am not planning on getting a legit 9 to 5 career job again until November of 2011!!! Soooo, learning to eat light and healthy is going to be pretty important.

Findings: Thankfully, my lovely girlfriend Sara is amazing and is here to help me. She has been working on eating healthier for as long as I have known her. Also, for as long as I have known her, I have been able to fool her into eating what I eat. I am an awesome influence like that. But, over the last three months or so Sara has made a plan of eating right and running, and she has been keeping up with it too, thanks in no small part, to her blog which you can check out at Running with Teaspoons. So basically what we have done over the last week is broke out the normal 2 to 3 big meals a day that I am used to into 4 or 5 meal/snack times. We planned out the various snacks that we’d eat over the course of the day, sandwiches for lunch, and the yummy dinners that Sara would cook for us each night. Went to the store and spent $100. Which actually was probably a bit higher than what would be normal because it was our first trip to the store, had to pick up some things that should last us longer than a week. Also had to get a few things that Sara needed for her recipes because we are living in an RV, obviously not much in the way of spices, herbs, etc. So a normal day for me this week has been a banana and nutrigrain bar for breakfast, a turkey or PB&J sandwich for lunch, chicken and rice for dinner, with various fruits and veggies for snacks.

Conclusions: Actually it’s been good! Sure I have cravings from time to time, but I think I’ll be able to spread those out over a one meal a week type basis. The eating a bunch of light meals has been good because I never am really hungry and am never really full. It’s kinda nice to be even keeled for a change food wise. And I feel like the food we are eating is pretty good quality compared to the money we’ve put in. Sara has been teaching me a lot about serving sizes, calories, blah blah blah. I’ll get there. Still pretty anti veggies though. Don’t see that one changing for a while. It will be interesting to see over the next couple weeks what we need to change in the diet and what the average costs per week will be.

Experiment #3:

Goal: Limit my addiction Dr. Pepper to once per day.

Basis: When I say I’m addicted, it’s an understatement. As most of you know, if I’m drinking something over the course of the day, the majority of time it is my beloved Dr P. And I know it may not seem like a big thing, but it’s not just about the DP. Basically, I find that I am craving sugar all over the place, which is probably not the best thing.

Findings: Sara again is helping by limiting her Diet Dr. Pepper intake to one per day as well. Even though it’s really not the same thing… So far it’s been good though. It’s kinda been nice to declare at some point during the day that it is now Dr. Pepper time. Just sitting by the lake, relaxing, me and my Dr. P, like old times. And Sara too… The sugar craving hasn’t really subsided much sadly, but the various fruits and whatnot help a bit.

Conclusions: We’ll see what happens. Going to one per day certainly hasn’t stopped my cravings, and getting rid of soda all together from my diet still seems like a ridiculous idea. So for the time being we’ll stick with this plan and see how things go…

Hi. My name is Scott Edmond. I am addicted to Dr. Pepper. It has been 7 hours since my last fix…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Liberty, ME


Over 23 years ago, my parents bought a quarter acre piece of waterfront property on Lake St. George in the tiny town of Liberty, ME. At the time we were living in Topsham, ME and they wanted a place where we could easily get away from our lives of work, work, and school for me. In true Maine fashion, they only found the place when they got lost looking for another property and our future neighbor came crashing out of the woods and, in an incredibly thick Maine accent, asked my parents if he could help direct them. Ray Banks then proceeded to convince my parents that what they actually wanted to do was come and take a look at this secluded little piece of property right next door to his lake home, which he shared with his wife Pearl. Apparently there had been a couple from Connecticut interested as well, but Ray and Pearl felt a nice young Maine family would be best. From that day we have been close friends with Pearl and Ray, until his passing. We couldn’t have gotten to this point without them…

When we bought Camp, it was a sloping piece of land with three flat levels. From the water there was a shoreline strewn with rocks, up to a grassy level ringed by trees. Slopping up a bit further to a intermediate level that also served as access to the Banks’ property on one side and the adjoining camp on the other. Originally that other camp shared our access road with us. Those neighbors used to be pretty boisterous and just about every one of their friends had a motorcycle. There are multiple great stories of my Dad chasing after motorcycles that had peeled out past us late at night. On the Banks property side, there was a stream that created the boundary, as well as countless hours of enjoyment in my youth. Finally the land sloped up to an open area perfect for parking our sweet Dodge Ram van that was converted so that my parents could sleep in the back, me in the middle seat, and my sister Megs across the two front seats on a makeshift mattress.

A dock and raft were added in the water. A couple trees cut down at the water’s edge to improve views. The rocks at the shore organized into stepping stones. A stone ringed fire pit installed in a corner of the grassy level, and a screen house platform in another. Small gardens were added ringing the grassy level as well. Thankfully our neighbors created their own drive from the main road. A swing set was added to the intermediate level as well as a new bridge over the stream so we could more easily go visit. And with all these changes, the lower levels of camp became basically what they are today.
Perhaps 16 years or so ago, we had a little bit of money so we cleared out the parking level and built a septic tank, and foundation, complete with a good sized deck attached. Ray Banks, knowing everyone who was anyone, acted as our general contractor and added the lonely deck to this initial phase because he knew that if we had added it later, that would count as our once lifetime allowed addition to a home on waterfront property. He also let us build a leech field slightly further up the hill on his land for a dollar. No big deal. Incredible. We upgraded our accommodations to one of those sweet silver bullet trailers that we got from my grandparents, and parked it up on the leech field overlooking Camp. Technically the Banks’ property, but again, they are amazing.

5 or so years later, and a bit more money, we finally added a house on top of the foundation. Although it was just a shell, no insulation or even drywall to speak of. No power or plumbing. A port-a-potti in the bathroom and blankets on studs for walls. Over the next 12 years we spent our time at camp in this house. We filled up water bottles from Pearl Bank’s spicket. Eventually got basic electricity so that we could have a stove and refrigerator and whatnot. But we still had to empty the port-a-potti by hand into the septic system, and we could obviously never visit during the winter… But we made do because just being here was worth it.
Well finally, Camp is being finished. Being an architect, I drew up the plans. Ma put together a massive book of details and specifications. We officially bought the leech field and access road so that we now have a full acre. We hired a contractor and construction is underway!!! To this point, a 6’ addition has been extended off the back of the original shell, and work has begun on the final room configurations inside. In the end, we will have a year round home with all the usual amenities, and which can be used anytime our hearts desire. Ma plans to move in when she finally gives up her crazy work life. Although her plan as of now is to live here through about January when the winter generally gets unbearable. She will then escape to stay with friends in the south, before returning the end of May to do it all over again. Her years down in VA have made her a bit soft to the good Maine winters…
So there you have the history of Camp. With all the changes to it over the years, the one constant has been our love for the place and our desire to be here as much as possible, regardless of the accommodations.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Liberty, ME

Today was all about things that I miss…

We had Bennett’s subs a couple days ago but couldn’t resist going back down to Kennebunk again for another one. Meatballs & cheese. Sooo good!

Once we got our subs, we took them down to the beach to eat. Growing up I never really appreciated how lucky I was to live in a town that had multiple beaches. To us, it was just a place to go, a place to meet up, a place to watch all the crazy tourists. Then I got down to Virginia Tech and made friends with people from Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, etc. They all talked with reverence about the epic beach weeks that they used to have in high school. I was totally confused. Why would you rent a house with all your friends and go to the beach for a week?
Well, after 10 years of going to school, working, and living in places that have zero access to any ocean or other clean body of water, I completely understand their motivation. It’s like there is a hole in my heart where the water used to be. Because going to the beach was such a regular part of my life, no longer having that as an option is like subconscious torture. Where do I go to meet up with my friends? The drill field at Virginia Tech? The food court? The National Mall with all the DC tourists? And where do I go if I want to get away from everything a just feel at peace? I started taking walks at school down to the duck pond for solace. And because it was the only place to see stars well on campus. You can imagine how great DC is for star gazing…

So anytime I can go back to the beach, even for a short meal, is great. It just feels right.
But always more things to do and places to go…

I headed to the complete opposite end of Kennebunk, just past my old house actually, and picked up a screen house that some family friends are letting my family use. After an entertaining process we got the large old school tent on top of my car and it now looked like we were the hillbillies from VA. All we needed was that rocking chair on top and it would have been perfect.

We of course had to stop in Freeport, ME on the way north, not only to check on our cumbersome rig, but to visit the wonderful world of LL Bean. There are many fond memories of late night trips to the huge outdoor outfitter store, one of the few places we knew of at the time that was open all night. That and all night BK (Burger King) at the highway rest stop… Well now Bean’s has expanded to multiple buildings, selling pretty much anything you could imagine. Came out with a new pair of hiking shoes. I’d be willing to bet that I will get my money’s worth out of those in the next few months…

But the place that I always miss the most? Camp. A 100 foot patch of waterfront on Lake St. George that my family has owned for over 25 years. Spring fed, crystal clear water. Raft, dock, a grassy level area complete with fire pit, screen house. A little bit up the hill, our cottage which has been haltingly built over the years. Further on the hill beyond, my RV, our temporary accommodations while the final phase of house construction is being completed.

If the beach is the place I go to feel calm and peaceful, camp is where I go to leave the world behind completely, besides blogging obviously… Can’t get completely away from the world anymore, sadly. But what I love about camp is that time doesn’t matter. There are no plans. No appointments. No deadlines or schedules. You eat when you feel like it. Swim when you feel like it. Read, nap on the hammock, take a boat or kayak ride, make smores, etc. Whatever you want, whenever you want.

No worries. Just live. I don’t think I could ever get enough of this place. Guess we’ll see…

Kennebunk, ME

I love people watching. At a bar, on the beach, in a busy plaza, it's all interesting. It's fun to try and figure out their personalities and what makes them tick, just from their appearance, demeanor, and maybe small snippets of conversation you happen to overhear. Not stereotyping mind you, just getting a read on things. I like to notice the things that many others don't...

As it turns out, a 10 year high school reunion is another great place to people watch, especially when you can remember the old high school days and compare and contrast. Although the setup wasn't the best for mingling and folks did make some attempts, it was interesting to see that people generally stuck with their friend groups of old. It makes sense because if you are going to catch up with anyone it is going to be the friends you knew back then.

For the most part it seemed like people were much more interested in the lives of classmates outside of their old friends than in the past. The cliques still there but the lines aren't really drawn anymore. And in some cases friend groups have merged and split of the last 10 years for various reasons as well.

In the end we had about 25 people come out of a graduating class of about 150. About what could be expected I suppose for a small town where you generally see half of your graduating class everyday around town... But it was good to do, had a few people travel back from long distances so it was nice to catch up with them. And it was good times rehashing the old stories and talking about the high school days. I really did enjoy my high school years. Lots of great memories. And it was nice to tap back into them with others who were there, even if only once every 10 years or so...

Other random thoughts from the last day or so:

- Hand held electronic Yahtzee is just about the most addictive game I have ever encountered. I can't put it down. It's like crack. I just have this unbridled desire to better my score. And the next game will be the one that does it...
- I love camping, but it gets sooo friggin hot in my tent. Maybe it is just the way the tent is designed, but I feel like someone could make a ton of money designing a tent that breaths, even with the rain sleeve on.
- I don't know what it is but my mood instantly darkens when it starts raining outside... Rain is just so annoying. I know it's necessary and even vital, blah blah blah. It's dumb. You can't see very well while driving and everything just has a generally damp feeling.
- Bennett's is so good that I contemplated driving from South Portland to Kennebunk just for a sub yesterday evening. Drive 30 minutes, eat a delicious sub, then drive 30 minutes. Didn't end up doing it, but def contemplated it... Going to go back down and have one again before heading farther north for sure!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kennebunk, ME

Normally when I am going on long drives, I don't really end up eating much. Just a lot of snack and go. Which is great for getting to places in good time, but means I am usually terribly hungry upon arrival. But this trip it has seemed like we started eating as soon as we got here and just haven't stopped...

When Sara and I got into town Thursday night, my friend Jesse and his gf Jill, who also happen to be our hosts for this leg of the journey, took us to this place in the Old Port of Portland for flatbread pizza. As you will discover later I am horrible with names, but suffice to say that the place was great, as well as the food. We sat outside of a deck overlooking the bay. All the food was some sort of chemical free and/or organically prepared... I swear the menu was twice as long as it could have been because every ingredient to each dish was described as "nitrate-free sausage", etc. But it was really good and really cool. The kitchen was all open to the rest of the restaurant and looked more like a commune or village of brick oven pizza lovers, rather than your typical kitchen.

The next morning we were pointed in the direction of a good breakfast sandwich place, which also turned out to be a pretty earthy establishment. So much so that Sara walked away wondering if every place in the Portland area was like it. Def not every place, but there certainly is a decent hippie movement in the area. And in Maine in general. Perhaps not to the scale of say, Oregon, but pretty substantial. It's a fun lifestyle.

We then headed down to my old hometown of Kennebunk, ME. I missed it terribly. Everything just feels so comfortable there... Hard to describe that feeling. So after running various errands and getting reacquainted with the beach, we found ourselves at yet another food place. One of my favorites, Bennett's General Store. Greatest subs ever. Amazing bread. Prepared right in front of you. Yum. I got my usual, large meatball & cheese. Housed it. Definitely stopping by there again before I leave.

Then I went to my old High School to setup the first of a weekend of events that I put together for the Kennebunk High School Class of 2000 and our 10 year Reunion. Friday night was to be a casual flag football gathering at the old high school as a throwback to the friday night games we all used to go to in school. 150 people graduated with me, had about 8 of us show up. Not exactly enough for football... Not to fear, the back up plan was a local pub. The rest of the night was spent reconnecting with various old classmates and generally getting a little nostalgic. Saturday night is the main event and it is looking like there will be a decent turnout, so more walks down memory lane are to be had coming soon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

South Portland, ME

What is it that normal people do on the day after quitting their job? Sleep in? Make a nice breakfast? Languish in the extravagance of all the free time in the world?

Normal is overrated.

What I did this morning was wake up at about 6:30am, showered, and threw everything I could possibly need for the next 4 months or so into my car. Including my girlfriend of course. 14 hours of traveling later:

- I successfully avoided needing gas in New Jersey as it is immensely annoying to me that I can't pump my own gas there.
- I also succeeded in only stopping at a rest stop in Connecticut as the rest of the trip through the state reestablished my contention that I have absolutely no desire to live there.
- I decided that people should really think about how much they are going to inconvenience their fellow motorists before getting themselves into an accident.
- Large tractor trailers are exempt, however, as the wreckage is always well worth it.
- It took the girlfriend approximately 25 minutes to tie a single slipknot, even with step by step instructions. She then proceeded to somehow misplace one of her large, 8 inch, fuchsia, metallic knitting needles. This does not bode well for her future in knitting...
- From the department of common sense, getting 4 hours of sleep before embarking on a full day of driving does not bode well for the efficiency of your trip.

In the end, however, crossing the border into Maine makes all the trials and tribulations of a long journey suddenly seem worthwhile. The first welcome sign along the highway sums it up perfectly.

"Welcome to Maine: The Way Life Should Be"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alexandria, VA

I quit my job today.

If you are reading this post then chances are extremely high that you know me in some capacity.  Even if you don't, that sentence is all you really need to know at the moment.  I'd hope that who I am and what I am doing with my life will take focus as these blog posts tick by.

At a time in history when millions of people have been forced to join the ranks of the unemployed, I am giving up my seat freely.  You could say that I am having a quarter-life crisis, that I am lazy and spoiled, that I am a stupid dreamer, or that I don't appreciate all the great advantages I have had thus far.  It honestly doesn't matter to me how it looks.  I just want to feel like I am doing something meaningful with my life.  I want to take the next step.  I want to feel like I am actually living life.  And I've decided that today is as good a day as any.

July 7th, 2010.  A Wednesday.  Let's see where life takes me tomorrow...