Adventures in Maine: The way life should be

Maine, the way life should be. I’ve been heading north to the land of pine and salty air since I was a baby. My great granddaddy Lawrence purchased 30 acres on Lower Goose Island, 15 miles east of the coast of Freeport Maine in Casco Bay, in 1921. And it’s held a special place in my heart since I can remember and since we’ve moved to Colorado, we’ve realized how even though it’s harder to get to, it’s something we must do every year, as my soul craves it!

This year, we headed to the Island later then years past, Labor Day, so it would just be Mike and I for half of the time, with my Aunt & Uncle joining for the Labor Day weekend. Our journey began at 4:45am the Tuesday before Labor Day, where our Uber scooted us to DIA, where we took an easy flight brought us to Boston. We rented a car, seeing Matt Murray of The Penguins in line (Mike shouted Go Flyers, so kept it classy!) and we jetted off to the Maine Beer co, one of the most delicious places on earth. The drive took a bit over two hours, not bad at all! We had only munched on nuts & plane snacks, so ordered a delicious mushroom pizza to go with our IPAs. They didn’t have any Dinner, so we ordered a Water & Wood and Mo. And oh my lord they were good! After two beers (and lots of carry out bombers!) we headed out to grocery shop for the week. You really have to meal plan when you’re heading to an island, even when you do have a beautiful boat to zip around on, it’s just not as convenient to shoot out of you forgot something. On the list: lots of veggies, black bean burgers, boat beers. Yup, that pretty much covered it!

When my poppa passed away, his kids bought a boat in his honor, keeping it docked in South Freeport Brewers’ Marina. We’ve kept a boat here for the past 30 plus years, and the convenience of carting your things right down the gang plank is equivalent to a ski in ski out condo. Nothing beats it! With the boat being new, I had to ask the dock boy which slip was ours, even though it raised his eyebrows a bit. “Hey, excuse me, I think this is our boat, so if we find the keys, we’re just gonna take it. Cool?”

Thank goodness it was the right boat and the name was a ringer: Goosecraft. That sea air, after a year away, almost made me tear up as it rushed toward me. Flaps open, boat beers in hand, we had arrived. Lower Goose is about 15 miles north east of Brewers and in the new boat, takes about 20 minutes from slip to dock. Arriving at high tide makes the carting of groceries and luggage a breeze, so a few quick trips and we were officially maniacs.

There are three sleeping cabins on the island (technically four if you count the main cabin that does have a futon and single bed in the corner): Sunrise, Sunset and the Merriman. Mike and I had never slept in the Sunrise together, although Mike had slept there about twenty two years ago when he first came up with my family for he first time. Wild!! A new bathing porch had been put on. Few years ago when a tree had fallen on it and it was the best shower I’d ever had! We picked the Sunrise to set up shop in.

We unpacked and headed down to our dock to moor the boat, just in case the seas got rough, the new boat wouldn’t slam against the dock all night. I rowed out to the mooring in the dingy and Mike scooted out in the boat. It was going to be an amazing sunset, so we moored the dingy and took the boat for a quick sunset lap. And it did not disappoint! I was so looking forward to the days that stretched ahead, full of the beauty and calmness that Lower Goose Island brings.

Sunset on Casco Bay

Day 2 on Lower Goose Island

Our first morning in Maine and Mike was up with the sun. I myself slept in until 7:30, which was so delightful seeing as I’m normally up by 6. Having set up the percolator the night before, coffee brewed within 10 minutes and can I say there’s not a better cup of coffee I’ve found in the world then one brewed on Lower Goose Island. The views from the main porch are spectacular and there’s no better way to start the day. Some fresh Maine blueberries, a broiled bagel in the new stove and we were ready to go! 

Our plan that day was to kayak to Bustins Island, one of the busiest and most populated island in Casco Bay. Having read most of my Great Granddaddy Lawrence’s diaries, I learned he had rowed to Bustin’s every morning during the summers he lived on the island to pick up milks, eggs and his mail. The bay was beautiful and the current remedy to assist our paddling, although Mike kept telling me to keep my oats down lower as the wind would blow the drip back on him. It was just shy of 2 miles and took about 45 minutes from our dock to Bustins main dock, not too bad! 

We tied the kayak around the back of the main dock, so as not to block any other boats from docking. Due to the amount of houses on Bustins, the ferry would come once a day from the main land to carry over people and the mail. Last year, we did t make it over to Bustins,  even with the close proximity to Lower Goose Island. It was nice to explore the bay.

Off to the right of the gang plank was a small outbuilding that served as protection from bad weather for those waiting for the ferry. It’s funny I had never noticed it in years past, but Maine weather can be finicky, especially on the water, so makes sense to build some protection. Around the bend was the main building on the island, which used to house a store, restaurant and post office. The post office is still up and running and our family still has a post office box. Flyers about island bike rentals, monarch butterfly preservation clubs and local painters on the mainland. A true community lived here!

We headed out counter clockwise, around the island, getting great views of the cottages on the island, which were as old as 1896! A new build full of wood got us curious, so we peaked through the windows and ended up talking to the builder. He was constructing it for someone and had worked on several others on the island. Mike let him know we’d be heading up to live on Lower Goose the summer of 1921, so if he, MAC, needed any help he’d love to work with him. He gave us a card, Cody Cottages, so we could be in touch.

The trail around Bustins passed the coolest cabins with the best views. Many had veggie gardens, which planted a seed that we’ll need a large garden for when we live on the island! It was a beautiful day, so lots of the Bustin-ers were out and about – it was the most people I had ever seen on the island ever! Our island walk took us past a new house on the island, so we peaked through the windows  and heard someone calling out. Turns out the man was the owner of a custom cottage building company. The home was gorgeous, wood every where you looked, and he had apparently done multiple cabins on Bustin’s as well as around Casco Bay…Mike got his card!

We completed the mile plus walk and got back in our kayaks to jet over to our Lower Goose. The rest of the afternoon was spent in true Maine fashion…relaxing by the dock, cooking by lantern light, and eating on the porch. A beautiful first day!  

Day 3 on Lower Goose Island
There’s something about sleeping in a cabin in Maine, in the crisp quiet air, that makes you want to never leave. Our second morning in Maine, Thursday, was just as beautiful as the first, and we both slept well and were fully rested to explore Casco Bay.

Our plan was to head to Eagle Island that morning to check out Admiral Peary’s summer home. Peary was the first to Treck to the North Pole without any aide of mechanics or technology, just a ship he had made for the icy waters and the help of the Inuits and a dog sled. His gorgeous cottage had beautiful views to the north east, water on all sides, no obstruction out any of the Windows. A really spectacular piece of property. I had been out to the island many times over the years, and not much changes. You could almost see Peary’s family sitting around the huge dinning table with the taxidermy lobster hanging in the dinning room. The original portion of the house didn’t include a kitchen and we learned that when he first built the main house and cottage, he planned to have all meals cooked and eaten in the cottage, which he learned after a few years wasn’t very practical, so built a kitchen onto the main house.
In the great room, there was a giant triad of a fireplace, with three hearths and three different types of rocks, all gathered on the island. Peary was a taxidermist, so there were all types of water birds and birds of prey, a polar bear in the replica study. The narwhal tooth hung above the window adjacent to the piano that he apparently took with him on his expedition. Upstairs rooms were cozy and quaint, almost identical to how I remember them when I was a young girl.
After getting our fill inside, we headed around the nature trails outside that weaved through beautiful gardens Mrs. Peary had planted. One trail took you along the sea coast, dipping down onto a rocky beach. It was a gorgeous Maine afternoon and we were so glad we made the trip over.


Our afternoon was wide open, so once we got dropped off by the intern park ranger, who had actually spent the previous summer in Rocky Mountain national park, we headed out towards Halfway Rock, where a lighthouse and small carriage house were the only two buildings. It was the furthest I’ve ever gone out into the wide open ocean, due to our previous boats’ capacity. Well, this boat could handle the trip and we whizzed by, rolling waves and blue skies. Nothing beats sea wind in your face!

Pauls Marina was next on the docket, for lunch and lobster. The rain was expected later that afternoon, so we thought picking out and purchasing our dinner early was the move.

My cousin Michael texted on the way back about popping over after work, so we told him to grab a lobster and head on over! The icy waters were calling our names and we put bathing suits and and swam in the icy waters in front of camp lawrence, a tradition you have to do! Thank goodness it was a warm day, the sea felt awesome and made our porch shower that much more delicious!

As we were finishing showers, we saw Michael zip up in his boat, just in time for happy hour on the porch. The evening was awesome, full of catching up, hypnotizing lobster and a beautiful sunset to close out the day. We went to bed with sunsets on our eyelids and lobsters in our bellies.

Day 4 on Lower Goose Island
Friday morning on the island and we were excited to have newcomers! Aunt Robin & Uncle Scott were headed up to close camp, so we had set an alarm to get up early and head to LLBean in the morning. After porch coffee, some trash collection to take over to the mainland, we took an early morning boat ride to dock and head to Freeport. Robin & Scott would scoop us up in the boat later, as they’d be at the marina before 10. Puttering around the huge LLBean store, we found great sales on summer stuff, boat shoes, flip flops for Mike. I even got some Christmas presents while there.

Maine Beer Company was releasing their Dinner, a delicious double IPA, so after almost 2 hours, we headed out, not without popping into the bike shop, where argot the lowdown of local mountain biking trails, along with maps of the hut system at sugar loaf, where you can bike from hut to hut. Put it on the bucket list for sure!
It was definitely beer thirty, so we headed to Maine Beer co for some delicious wood burning pizza and scrumptious beer. The place was our Mecca! We wrapped up and headed to the marina, where Robin & Scott scooted us over to LGI.

That afternoon we started closing up the Merriman, sweeping out the cabin and taking down gutters, putting on shutters and covering mattresses. We then took a property path, did some more closing in the main cabin, taking down pictures, putting away pots and pans we weren’t going to use and generally packing up a bit. It was the first time I had closed camp so it was good to see the procedures around what gets done. That evening, we had wine and a homemade vegan lasagna Robin had made, with a gorgeous sunset to wash it down.

Buff in the Boat: A Steamboat extravaganza!

July in Colorado, especially in the Denver area, is typically dry, hot and a bit browned out. The past two weekends have been spent, in the heat, around Denver, so when I recently found this blog draft about our adventures last July, where we took to the mountains, I jumped on reliving our adventure.

Last July, we headed to Lake Dillon when my dad came to visit from Philadelphia, to play in the cooler air and boat on the lake….

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Swan Mountain, Breckenridge

Lake Dillon, Dillon Colorado

Boating on Lake Dillon!

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After our 18 mile bike ride – Broken Compass Brewery!

 

…then Crested Butte with friends, to bike and hike the heck out of this gorgeous area. I really feel we’ve made the most out of the summer months thus far, trying to experience different mountain towns and the unique beauty in all of them. The last weekend in July was meant to be spent in Salida, a beautiful town Mike and I had spent time in a few weeks prior, but rain threatened the areas in the southern mountain ranges….no bueno! When Steamboat Springs, 3 1/2 hours North West of Denver, was offered up by our crew, we immediately boarded the train to mountain town!

Our girlfriend Stacia is a teacher, so with school still out for the summer, her and two other friends set off early on Friday to set up shop on Buff pass, an area 20 minutes or so outside of Steamboat that boasted beautiful views and dispersed camping. Score!

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Buff pass, Steamboat Springs Colorado

 

Mike and I headed out on Friday, July 28th after work, pulling up to a pretty amazing view of the valley. These girls really knew how to scout a campsite! The area was crowded with campers, with cars rolling by our spot until late in the evening, so we thanked them profusely for reserving such a money location!

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Taking in the views on Buff Pass, Steamboat Colorado

 

After pitching tents and cracking beers, we decided to head into town for the free concert happening in town. The Wood Brothers were playing and we rolled into the festival after a bite to eat, ready to jam out. They were amazing, soulful and poetic with beautiful guitars that mesmerized our buddy McFadden, who had rolled into town a bit later and met us at the base of the mountain where the festival took place. It was a wonderful night!

Wood Brothers, Steamboat SpringsOur Crew at the Festival!

The rest of our crew, Nicole and Dusty, rolled up to the campsite around 10, after we had settled in from the show.  The campfire welcomed them with open arms.

The morning broke and Winnie and I were up early, wanting to explore. Ok, she wanted to explore and dragged my arse out of bed. Little Scallywag! After I made some coffee though, I was extremely pleased with the quiet morning that I was privy to, and we explored the area together, wandering through the wildflowers and down the Buff Trail. What a gift to be here in this beauty!

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Winnie and I exploring Buff Pass Trail

Wildflowers in Steamboat Colorado

The rest of the campers began to stir, so Winnie and I headed back to camp to start breakfast and decide the plan for the day. The boys (Dusty, Mike and McFadden) wanted to mountain bike, so the ladies decided to head out for a hike. But first, campfires and guitar solos…

Breakfast scramble: peppers, tofu, hashbrowns & veggie sausage!
Breakfast Scramble: Peppers, tofu, hash browns & veggie sausage!

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What a lovely, relaxed morning. Really, this is what the mornings on weekends should entail….great friends, beautiful views, exploring, soft guitar music strummed by McFadden, scrumptious breakfast!

But alas, it was time to make moves, so the guys headed out on bikes, the girls to the hills, with a plan to meet in town later. Two cars were driven down from the Buff, so guys had the luxury of taking the buff pass trail all the way into town. What service we provide!

The ladies headed to a popular spot, Fish Creek Falls, and when the parking lot was completely full, we had to make a game time decision to hike elsewhere. When in Steamboat in the summer, hike up the damn mountain!

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We parked & headed up to a glorious trail with a bit of everything: uphill climbs, aspen groves, great views and buena vistas, shots of the gondolas, shady groves to protect us from the beating sun….a great little 5 mile out and back trail that left us sweaty and satisfied.

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Hiking in Steamboat!
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Views of Steamboat
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Gondolas in Steamboat

Heading down the hill was a bit rough on my knee (since the ACL injury, I’ve had a tough time hiking, but trying to push it!) but we made it down and heard from the guys just as we got to the car. Perfect timing! They were headed into town for post post-biking beers, and our group was just as thirsty from the climb, so we headed into town.

The town of Steamboat sat right on the edge of the Yampa river, a beautiful backdrop to have lunch. The group decided on Sweet Pea Restaurant, the cutest little farm to table spot ya ever did see. Happy hour beers flowed, veggie goodness was ordered and we chowed down after a day of adventure!

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Steamboat crew!

 

Steamboats’ Strawberry hot springs were calling our name, but before we headed to steam, we popped into Sunpie’s Bistro, a super heady lunch spot right along the river. A perfect ending to our mountain activity.

Next stop: Strawberry Hot Springs! We soaked, we steamed, we waited in line quite a bit to get in and drank some tailgate beers. It was fabulous and such a relaxing afternoon. Heading back to the campsite that evening, we sang Kenny Loggins into the night.

The next day, we mountain biked our hearts out – Stacia and I heading down an easier trail, while the boys headed out for the harder one.

Flowing through aspens, gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, I had a smile plastered on my face for the whole downhill. Until I popped a tire….and didn’t have a spare tube. Huge lesson learned to never leave on a Colorado adventure without extra supplies!

A kind man and wife team stopped close to the entrance to the trail to lend me a tube, just in time to see Mike ride up from town with a fresh  tube to give back to the man.

Steamboat Gang

Kindness is all over the mountains. After a quick lunch, we headed on our way home, with lots of memories tucked away.

Happy Re-Thinking

I’ve been listening to a number of podcasts lately that have inspired me beyond the normal amount a podcast usually affects me and radically changed the way I’ve looked at a few things in my life. So much so, I was inspired to write about them, because I truly feel like they could be of use to someone, hopefully help someone reframe the way they view things that they may of thought stressful or negative. It’s hard to reframe something you’ve had boxed up, or hell, haven’t even thought about before.

These people I’m mentioning are great minds, out-of-the box thinkers and unconventional doers. And isn’t that what we’re all striving for? At least, I know I am. To be someone that can truly state they’ve taken the path that has beckoned them, a path they have mindfully chosen, or made the best of, instead of the path that someone else led them down, or even worse, a path they have no idea how they ended up on.

Paula Pant interviewed Nomadic Mat, a man who’s been traveling the world for the past 13 years. He doesn’t have a ‘home’ base and his story is unique, as in he used to be in the corporate grind with the rest of us, but decided to take a year, and travel. Well, that year turned into almost two and when he came back, he realized he wanted to continue. Mike and I love to travel, and within the past seven years we’ve explored Costa Rica (2012), Amalfi Coast & Naples (2013), Vieques (2014), Ireland (2015), Belize (2016), Portugal (2018) and Chamonix & Lyon, France (2019. The thought and idea of traveling more appeals to me, so loved how the conversation unfolded and here are a few things that wowed me:

  • Think about your day-to-day spending in terms of how it affects your ability to travel (of whatever your ‘IT’ thing is). Want to go to that concert? That may be ½ of a plane ticket. Going out a few times a week to restaurants, where lots of craft beer is consumed? The equivalent could get you a week in an Airbnb in Portugal. When you start putting a price tag on your NOW, you start reframing where you’re putting your dollars and the value you start placing on what you really want. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself, it just may alter some things. Have some friends over who can jam. Pick a new recipe to cook and drink some craft beer in the backyard.
  • Travel slow. This concept resonates with me and is how Mike and I typically travel. As much as I’d like to see absolutely everything, every nook and cranny, every part of a new place, that’s not only not reasonable in the allotted vacation time I get, but it’s not enjoyable. Being able to explore one area thoroughly is a true gift. For example, when we went to Portugal, we spent 3 full days, in the off-season, in a small beach town where we hiked a portion of the Rota Vicentina. There really wasn’t much open, a few great cafes, but not a lot of night action at first glance. Looking back though, we did a ton! Hiked all day, went to a local market to shop like locals, visited several different cafes, went to a vegan friendly lunch joint, meandered through the sleepy town, watched the sunset on the beach…..we enjoyed the slowness.

Tim Ferris interviewed Seth Godin and it was one of the best interviews I’ve listened to, maybe ever. He was insightful, humble, truthful, blunt (in a non-abrasive way), real, but in a ‘you’re way cooler than me’ kind of way….if you know anything about Mr. Godin, this isn’t surprising. What he made me think about though is how we approach things and how we present things. A few things that stood out from the interview:

  • You have more power than you think you do. This. This all day every day. The control is within. Stop searching elsewhere, stop relinquishing. Make a decision, even if it is to take a deep breath and go a different way. Having a crap day? Choose to be in a good mood. Having an argument with your husband or wife? Take it upon yourself to let them have it and move on. Ready to blow a gasket at work? You have the control to let it affect you the rest of the day or remind yourself it’s just a job. This is something I’ve embraced in the past few years, although I’m still a work in progress.
  • Scrolling mindlessly on Social Media isn’t conducive to your end goal and not aligning to your mission. This struck a chord and lately I’ve been extremely mindful on how much time I spend on Twitter and Instagram (I deleted Facebook off my phone six months ago). If I find myself mindlessly scrolling, I realize it’s most likely due to boredom or the need to distract myself, so have tried to replace this with the statement ‘Go do something productive.’ Whether that’s taking the dogs for a quick walk, putting dishes in the sink, anything that HAS to be done. Because social media isn’t something that has to be done for me.
  •  Methods and tools don’t matter as much as the ritual of doing. What time of day you write or workout, what apps you use to be productive, what kind of pencil you use. These things are distractions and will be different for everyone. Just start. If you want to workout, do so when it works for you. But do it. Do not let a ‘method’ or having to do so in just the right way get in the way of putting the time in to actually get your physical activity on.

I’ve recently gotten interested in Ramit Sethi, author of ‘I will teach you to be rich’. At first glance, some of the principles he talks to are diametrically opposed to some of my core beliefs. For example, he tweets a lot about forgoing on lattes isn’t going to make you rich. He also advertises the luxurious clothes, shoes, vacations, he has, which from first glance looks unnecessary to someone who is trying to retire early or think different about money. Listening to a recent Tim Ferris podcast, I’ve changed my tune. Here are some of the nuggets I really took away:

  • Define yourself by what you want, not what you don’t want. This speaks to the core of how I try to live – focus on the positive, move forward with purpose, fill your life with things that have meaning and bring you joy. Stop thinking about things you don’t like, things you WILL NEVER do again, things you CAN’T do. And really think about the former. What DO you want?
  • Spend more money on things that bring you joy, and cut back elsewhere. From someone who lives frugally, with savings on my mind, ummmm always, this is a novel concept. If I’m slicing back in areas that don’t bring me that much meaning or happiness makes total sense. What I’ve never thought about is putting a bit more money into those things that I love or at least shifting my mindset that when I do spend money on those things, it’s a good thing. I’m going to try to do more of this, mindfully.
  • Identify on a scale from 1 to ten, identify with your partner the things you absolutely love doing around the home (or at least don’t mind doing) and the things you hate. Divide these things up and never think about having to ask the other person to do, again. This is brilliant. If you have a serious conversation with your partner, and are honest with yourself, you can stop wasting energy on keeping score of household bullsh*t. There’s no resentment, there’s no, ‘But I do X,Y, & Z….what are YOU doing!!!???’ Maybe you don’t have that problem……but when it’s discussed and assigned, it’s not a problem. Full disclosure, Mike and I had this conversation and it was actually fun….and it brought light to some things he was doing that I, when I was honest, didn’t really want or like to do.
  • Create and strive for a Rich Life. Now, initially this concept didn’t sit well with me, because I truly think there is a consumerism plague that has infiltrated and needs to stop. But as I learned more about Ramit’s philosophy, I realized he’s not advocating for you to blow your money on designer brands (unless you love them). He’s simply asking people to think money differently, as the vehicle that allows you to have joy. Whatever joy is for you. And it’s different for everyone, so this has reminded me to stop being judgmental of those who choose to spend money in different ways than I.

Finding motivation, different ways intelligent people  look at things truly excites me. Discovering ways to become a better version of myself, well that is hopefully a lifelong journey. I hope you find the above helpful and would love to hear other podcasts or people that dish out happy thoughts and insightful ways to look at things.