Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Change is in the air...

... and all over the ground, and piled a foot high on my car...

In case you haven't guessed from the change in background it snowed today. Either that or I did laundry, I'm not sure if that image is snow or powdered soap. Well, in any case, that's what it looks like outside. We got six, maybe up to eight inches. It's pretty nutty, especially because, despite the fact that yesterday morning was a frigid 19° it was bright and sunny, whereas today, with it snowing like a Christmas scene in a sappy movie, it was in the thirties even at 6:40am when I took Hastur for a walk.

She loved it of course. Bounded around like she was made for it. And to think that I was worried because she is such a short haired dog, she even has a completely bald belly. She couldn't care less about the cold, she just wants to run in the snow. I gotta find her a sled team to join because she needs to find a way to work off all the energy she gets from being in the snow. She'd have a blast dragging someone around, it's what she does to me every day anyway.

It snowed for pretty much the entire day. Big fluffy sticky powder, the good stuff, not the lame mush that fell in October. By the time of our long afternoon walk it had died down to the snow equivalent of a drizzle. Our afternoon walks take us to the school. Since it was practically deserted due to the holiday I decided to let Hastur off leash on the soccer field. Man did she take advantage of that. She raced around in big circles, falling into snow banks, tripping and rolling around, chasing snow balls I made for her.

Foolishly I decided not to bring my camera on our afternoon walk thinking that pictures of a snow covered school would be boring. I will not make that mistake twice. The campus will definitely be abandoned tomorrow so we'll do it again and this time I will capture it.

Being in the snow really brought me back to my childhood in Utah. I didn't really remember what it was like to be in a snow storm like this, but I can recall it now. I remember that I never really felt cold in the snow, even with my gloves and hat off. I remember how annoying it was when you stepped in a pile of snow that went about your boots and big chunks of snow got between your boot and your pants and you either had to let it melt into your socks or try to dig it all out. I remembered the serenity a freshly laid sheet of snow can bring. I didn't remember, until our evening walk, that fresh snow also illuminates everything. It's not an illusion caused by it's whiteness, it actually makes the night noticeably brighter.

Well, this snow isn't going to be long lived, it's going to get up into the 40s again this week, and probably rain as well. I'm pretty disappointed, especially because the longer it takes for a solid, long lasting snow pack to form the longer it will be before the school pond freezes and I can do some skating.

Ah well, in the meantime, here are some pictures I took this morning.

Hastur dressed for the weather   

Our morning walk with a huge high tide

Main street

View outside my bedroom

A very serene graveyard (search for ghosts in the picture... if you dare)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seasonal adjustments

The weather has been very fickle lately; warm, cold, rainy, sunny... often all for in the same day. Last night when I went to walk Hastur at about 7:30 it was 55°, by morning it was 22°. Tonight it's already in the mid-twenties which means long underwear for the morning walk. But, despite its inability to pick a state of being, I think the weather is finally forming a pattern. It's supposed to snow Wednesday, after which it will start to get a little bit warmer, but not much. I believe it is starting to move towards Winter around here, which could be a lot of fun, or not. I don't know yet just what kind of Winter it will be. If it continues to be more often sunny then not, as it has been, then I won't be overly thrilled. Freezing temperatures without snow are pretty pointless. Snow would be great, heaps of it even. Who am I kidding, I just want to skate on the school pond, play a little hockey.

Apart from the weather the other big change is the sudden animosity towards my dog. People up until recently have been really nice to Hastur. A woman even stopped me the other day to have a conversation about her, during which Hastur surprisingly just sat and waited prompting the woman to describe her as "very well behaved" which is, of course, a completely false. I don't know what got into her to cause her to act like a well trained dog, she must have not been feeling well. On that same day the woman complimented me on Hastur, another man came out of his house while we were walking past just to scold me ahead of time in case she should drop a load on his lawn. Hastur was not leaving anything on his lawn, nor has she ever, so there was no call for the attitude this guy was giving me. He was preemptively mad at a dog turd that didn't exist. I'll grant him that his lawn is one of the best maintained in town, most of the lawns here are left pretty unattended, the idea being, I assume, that the elements will take care of the mowing, but regardless he could have simply told me he didn't want her pooping there and I would have politely assured him it wouldn't happen. Instead I got a lecture about an incident that happened in his mind. And just because I know people don't quite get what happened, it's not that he was mad about some dog poop in his yard, he was lecturing me to make sure I understood that he never wanted any poop on his yard.

And then on Saturday the man who owns the antique store on the bottom floor, who was very nice to Hastur in the past, came out of his shop while she was peeing on the lawn to yell at me about letting her do so. I mean, c'mon, it's a dog peeing! It's not like it's rude, she's a dog! I mean, if she was peeing on some of the wares he displays in front of his store I'd understand, but we were a good fifteen feet away. In fact, we weren't even in front of his store, we were along the side, and it's not even his lawn to begin with, it's my landlord's.

If you've had too many incidents where some uncouth dog walker has left his dog's dirty little business on your lawn I can understand not wanting to risk the same with any other dog. In that case you ask nicely if the person walking past with their dog not allow it to poop there. Fine, I think most dog owners wouldn't begrudge a politely worded request. There is no need, however, to prejudge anyone like the guy did coming out of his house to actually yell at me. Further, who gives a flying fuck where a dog is peeing? You know why we let dogs take a piss in public when we ourselves do not? Cause they're dogs! We can't impose our social mores on them, otherwise they'd always be in pants and only mate under the covers behind doors they've somehow latched. And of course we'd expect them to wear a yarmulke and learn the torah. She's a dog, she's gonna pee on grass, that's what they do. Sorry if the thought of urine is uncomfortable to you, but it's not, nor will it ever be, to her. Just deal with it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Natural tendencies

I saw a bald eagle this morning while walking the dog. It is the best wildlife moment I've had so far. I've seen deer, plenty of deer, but I've seen deer in the wild plenty of times. Even in Sacramento they were practically in my back yard (along with an extended, multi-generational skunk family). I'm not sure I've ever seen a bald eagle in the wild. I know I've seen them in captivity, or recuperating at a rehab facility, but not flying across a river as I walk past with my dog. I may have seen a wild one on the Alaskan cruise I took, or the few times I went to Yellowstone... I really can't remember.

Obviously Maine has a lot of wildlife. Some of the animals that I know are here include; badgers, wolverines, skunks, racoons (saw a dead one already, roadkill), porcupines, beavers, a bunch of weasel types, and of course, moose and (flying) squirrel. Other then the many deer and the eagle the only other thing of significance that I've seen is maybe a wolverine. I don't know what it was because I only caught the last quarter of it as it crawled into the brush. It was very low to the ground, the tail was dragging, and it had greasy thick black fur. Honestly, it may have just been a huge cat, I caught the briefest hint of it, without knowing for sure I can't really call it a wildlife experience.

I did see some huge tadpoles today at the school pond. I wonder if this warm weather has fooled them into hatching early or if it's common to get tadpoles just before everything freezes over? I think I heard, many moons ago, that tadpoles can sort of hibernate. Or maybe they'll fast track it to frogs, which i know hibernate, before the pond turns to ice.

If I may be allowed off topic for a moment there was a question that came to me tonight. Which has done more to advance the market of the other; milk for Oreos, or Oreos for milk?Discusss amongst yourselves.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The show goes on

Things have really begun to settle down here, beginning to feel like home. For one thing, the dog has finally remembered that she enjoys eating anything off the ground that even remotely resembles food, something she'd forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of moving. We walked through the cemetery today and she shoved her nose behind a gravestone and came out crunching on a bone. What kind of bone I have no idea. Let's hope someone just happened to be eating chicken there.

I've been trying to get the apartment decorated. I have quite a few nice pieces of art to hang up. Problem is, I'm not too keen on putting more holes in the walls. For some reason there are nails hammered in everywhere, but not in a way conducive to hanging anything. They are placed with no discernible planning or pattern. On one small spot of wall there will be two or three nails in a row, each a different height... too close together to really put any one frame on them, let alone three. Or there will be two nails, one about normal height for a picture, the next a good foot or so lower so I can hang one picture, but two would look ridiculous.

I could always remove a few nails, set things up right, but like I said, I'm not sure I am comfortable putting a bunch of new holes in the wall. I guess the last tenants didn't really care, but for the life of me I had no idea what it was exactly they were doing. I did take advantage of some of the more well placed nails, but for now a box of art goes unhung.

Still cooking for myself almost exclusively. It's sort of difficult to really cook here. A lot of ingredients I'm used to are unavailable, and the ones that are are sort of dumbed down. Like yesterday when I wanted to make enchiladas but couldn't find any corn tortillas. The wheat tortillas I did find were as thick and doughy as lavash bread. They ended up soaking up far too much sauce and basically liquifying. The enchiladas didn't turn out that great. Asian food is a little better represented, except one of the brands of Chinese sauces is called AH-SO written out in a stereotypical Chinese script. I think the sauce's one defining trait is that they are all neon colored and thick as jam. The store does carry more authentic sauces too, but the AH-SO sauce is the most prominent. Also, the store's habeneros have been green for two weeks now. I don't think anyone knows it should be any different then that.

Weather's been absolutely fantastic though. If you look at a color coded temperature map the entire state of Maine is blue, except for this strip of orange and yellow running up the coast. I guess this kind of weather runs right up into New Brunswick a bit too. In a lot of ways this place is like San Francisco. This morning when Hastur and I went on our walk it was cloudy and rained a little bit, this afternoon there was not a cloud in the sky and it was warm and still, and then when I took Hastur out on her long evening walk it was cloudy and windy again. Still, this coastal weather should make for a nice mild winter. I hope there's some good, light snow, but I don't think I'll have to beware any blizzards or extreme storms.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm dreaming of a grey Channukah

When my stuff was delivered one of the movers, who was from Bangor, warned me that it was probably going to be a wet Winter. He believed that all we were going to see was wet, sloppy snow. I sort of trusted his judgment, but hoped he was wrong. Now, I'm worried that he was right.

It's raining today, rained yesterday as well, and the forecast for the rest of the week is more sun and rising temperatures. I realize that it's not even mid-November, but looking ahead I don't see this weather changing anytime soon. Not only that, I anticipate that, when it does change, it will do so gradually, keeping things wet, warm, and not exactly Wint'ry. In Sacramento the dog didn't seem to care about the rain at all, but around here she really doesn't want to be outside in it. I'm not sure what the difference is. It's quite warm here right now, so it's not that she's cold. I dunno, I guess it's her new thing.

I actually really wanted snow. More then that I wanted ice so I could break out my skates, maybe play a little pond hockey. I'm sure it will eventually get cold enough to ice over the pond at the school, but maybe not enough to thicken it to the point where people can skate on it. Especially not if the snow storms are interspersed with rain. It makes for a Winter I'm not exactly looking forward to.

In happier news I met with my adviser at school this week, his name is Marcus LiBrizzi (look him up, he's got a couple of books out). He's really excited to have me in Machias, mostly cause he's a total ghost and monster nut so we have a lot to talk about. We spent about half the meeting talking about the supernatural, and the other half finally getting some classes together. He's putting me into a directed study course, basically the class is meeting with him once a week for half an hour with the object to try and complete the book I've been planning to write for awhile now.

He's an entertaining guy. This Winter break he is going to the Amazon to do some ghost hunting. Where and how, I don't know, but he's really excited. Remember how I told you, my readers, about the town Atusville? Well, he worked on the cultural aspect of the project that revealed the former existence of the town to everyone. We talked about that for a bit too, since I worked on a similar site when I was an archaeologist in California called Allensworth. He mentioned that the area (which is way back in the woods, too far for me to randomly roam) is very haunted.

It's sort of interesting talking to him about that kind of stuff. He really believes in it, at least in ghosts. For Marcus, these things are very real. I'm not sure what his goal is in studying and writing about ghosts. Does he want to prove their existence, or reveal their nature to the world? Or is it purely a personal thing? Does he want to prove it to himself?

For me, I prefer the mythology of the thing. I don't know what the hell ghosts are. I've had my own experiences that I know were real, but the cause is less clear to me. I like the mythology involved. I'm fascinated with the human need to create monsters, sort of like I'm fascinated by what drives people to racist ideas. Human's, by nature, are rarely willing to admit their own flaws, and I think that the monsters we create are our own ways of dealing with those flaws. People have all the traits of the beasts that haunt us, and by telling stories, especially stories where the humans prevail, is often our way of fighting our own selfish and destructive tendencies. I'd love it if ghosts and vampires and werewolves and the like existed, not because I want to fall in love with some eternally pubescent sparkly vampire, but because it would give the world so much more depth then it actually has.

Believing in ghosts and the supernatural is kind of like believing in soul mates and true love. It probably doesn't exist, but when you deny it your reality becomes so much more grey and dismal. To allow yourself to believe, whatever the reason is, creates a richer, fuller life. At least, that's how I see it. Maybe that's the driving force for Marcus's forays into places like the Amazon, all in the name of hunting ghosts and ghost stories. Maybe for him, ghosts are a symptom of a vast, uncharted world that he's only one photo, or one experience away from tapping into. Hell, I'd like very much to join him in that world.

In other news: I wash way too many dishes in a day. How am I, one person, using all these dishes? Like, three times a day I have to wash! I have to figure out how to use fewer dishes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moved in

So finally, after over two weeks, my stuff arrived today. I took the whole day to build my bed frame. For those of you who have never had to build Ikea furniture, it's difficult enough to do with their recommended two person system, doing it by yourself, especially a queen sized bed... no fun at all. But, I did it so this is my first post since arriving in Maine not written uncomfortably on the floor. That's really about all I did, though, so tomorrow is going to be one long day of unpacking. I'm really going to have to take a trip to the trash place this week.

There's something I want to address about New England that I've noticed ever since I got into Massachusetts. People are constantly smoking at gas stations here. There's a gas station across the street from my building and I walk past it two or three times a day and every time there are two or three people smoking.Actually, people hang out at that particular station a lot. Not sure exactly why, I think hunters meet up there before heading off... or maybe it's just the best available spot to gather around here. Anyway, it's not the only place. Every time I've gotten gas in New England, from driving through to filling up here in town, people are smoking. Put that on the list with driving fast, thinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee is good, and not knowing what a chile relleno is.

I really miss chile rellenos. If there was one thing that I am desperate for from back in Sacramento it's chile rellenos. In Sac if I ever felt the desire for a chile relleno I'd just go down the street to the nearby taqueria and get one. Or, if I wanted a much more expensive, but heart-stoppingly good chile relleno we had a restaurant for that as well. I don't think there is a place closer then New York City where I could get a chile relleno. Maybe Boston... maybe.

So I finally broke down and got food from a restaurant tonight. There was just no way, after spending all day building my bed and doing more general unpacking, that I had the time or energy to cook for myself. I got pizza from this place called Fat Cat which is surprisingly far away from me, and by far away I mean probably a 15 minute walk. Still, since every single other thing in town is within, like, a five minute walk of me, Fat Cat is a bit of a shlep. Pizza was actually quite good, made far better by the box of hot sauce that came with my shipment today. Still, I don't want to eat out much, I like being able to cook my own food all the time. Now that all my kitchen stuff and spices are here my meals will be even better.

Well, time to remind myself what sleeping in a bed is like.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reality is setting in

I've been dealing with my recyclables a lot today. I remember when recycling first sort of took off and cities began to offer it as part of their garbage service. You had to have separate bins for all your different types, you had to make sure each container was washed and I remember smashing your aluminum cans was the thing to do. I don't remember if it was mandatory or not, but everyone seemed to be doing it. Eventually cities got the hang of it and everyone stopped caring about all that. In Sacramento I'd just throw all the paper, aluminum, tin, plastic, glass, and cardboard I had in one can, sometimes still full of food, and just let the city sort it out.

Well, the good ol' days are back.

In order to recycle anything I have to wash it, remove the label, and smash it as best as I can. It's just one more thing in regards to my trash that I never anticipated having to deal with. For those of you who don't know yet, I don't even have garbage service out here. I have to take all my trash, in city approved bags that I have to buy, to, well it's not a dump. It's called a transfer station which I assume just means they transfer it to the dump. Their recycling program is not that old, only a few years I think. I'm not even sure their transfer service is that old.

It's just one more thing that has really got me thinking about whether or not I'll ever truly get used to living out here. Is two years enough for me to find a way to be truly comfortable in Machias? I realize that things like trash service and ethnic restaurants (or really, just restaurants) and coffee shops are modern conveniences that for the vast majority of human history no one had, but I've become very used to them. In all my years on Earth I've never had to go without these things. You think about all the stuff we have to take for granted these days and people wonder if they could get along without internet, or ATMs, or texting... but no one wonders about garbage service, or where I'm from, fresh vegetables, or even having to make your own meal every night.

Machias was first settled by Europeans in the 1760s. At that time vegetables in Winter were completely unheard of. If they heard me complaining about having to take my own trash to the dump they'd probably slap me with the broadside of a plow. But I still feel like I just can't get used to this whole thing. I'm here for at least two years and I'm not sure that's going to be long enough to get acclimated to a way of life far different then the one I grew up in. Of course, I've also only been here two weeks, have no furniture, have no friends yet, and other then walking the dog no real schedule. I could look back on this post in six months and laugh at how naive I was, or I could look back on this post in two years and think "Yep, I was right on the button there".

I totally get it, it's a different way of life, simpler. Even the trash issue makes it sort of simpler, in a lack of modern contrivance sort of way. Everyone here just acts like it's the way things are, but I know things are another way too. It's weird cause I am in no way roughing it, but I feel like if I was roughing it I wouldn't be having this issue. Like, I'm in an apartment with electricity, running water, refrigeration, heat, even internet... but I have to take my own trash to the dump!? If I was in some wood stove heated cabin, getting my water from a stream and getting all my news from the rare merchant that happens to cart by I'd probably think nothing of dealing with my own trash.

Ok, I seem to be making a huge deal about the trash thing. It's not that it's that big of a deal, it just happens to be the illustrative example of how different everything is here for me, and it hasn't even really snowed yet! I'm just not convinced that I can really settle here, that I can ever be at home here, fit in. I said that people really should live in smaller communities like this, that it's better for us socially and psychologically, and I'm not saying I'm wrong, but it turns out it's A LOT different then what I expected. City life leads you to expect certain things from your existence that town life isn't even aware of.

Well, here's to the next two years, let's hope it's worth it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Finally, the ocean

I've been hesitant to make any day trips, even though I was worried that the days were on the verge of becoming far less pleasant, because I never knew when exactly my furniture would be arriving, that is, until I got a call from the moving company telling me it would be this coming Saturday.

Armed with that information I picked the first clear skied, warm day to pack up the dog and head to Roque Bluffs State Park. Roque Bluffs is this little area almost directly south of Machias which sits at the end of a kind of peninsula in Englishman Bay (Machias Bay, which is kind of like the San Francisco Bay of the area is just west of me and also has some parks I'll need to visit, along with some very old petroglyphs). It's got one of the only natural white sand beaches in Maine, as well as a large pond and a few miles of hiking trails. After making a couple of wrong turns we finally found the right road and drove straight to the park.

Now the park technically closes for the season on October 15th, but they leave all of the trails open. What they don't leave open is the parking. I discovered that there were only two ungated parking areas, and one was so far back from the beach, and what I thought was the park, that I didn't even notice it. The other lot had four spaces, two of which were handicap spaces, the other two were occupied. I pulled in briefly and thought about just parking there, what were the chances that I would get a ticket from a closed park? In the end I decided to back out and find another lot. Funny thing; as I was pulling out a couple wanted to pull in behind me. They didn't know yet that both of the spaces were handicap. As I drove off I saw them hestitate to pull in and I knew they were wondering the same thing... what were the chances?

Turns out the other parking lot was far better for my purposes because the trails led out directly from it. There were a number of trails to choose from, but not really knowing the difference between any of them I just picked one and set off. The way that trails are marked around here are with colored paint on tree trunks, an interesting solution that is by no means permanent, there was one marker tree I found that had fallen. Each trail has a different color so you can tell whether you've found yourself on another trail or not.

That's one muddy beach
We followed our green trail until we reached a little inlet, Pond Cove it is called. The beach, if you could call it that, wasn't exactly on the trail, but the dog and I went down a small embankment and went out towards the water. It was low tide and the beach was as thick with seaweed as the land behind it was with trees. It also was almost entirely shin deep tidal mud.

Let me take a momentary tangent here to address something about Maine. Maybe it's just the season, but everything around here seems like a total swamp. Navigating the trail down to the water was very difficult because every thirty feet or so was a huge muddy expanse I had to find a way around. Sometimes there would be boards set out so people could cross, but the other side of those boards would just be mud hidden under leaves and moss. There were two things that I found lucky, however. The first is that the mud and water always seems very localized, step just inches outside the border and it's completely dry. The second is that, for whatever reason, the mud does not stick to anything. If i accidentally missed a mark and stepped in the mud, or if there was a hidden puddle in the loam, my shoe would come out wet, but totally clean. Tidal mud... now that's another story.

The dog went totally nuts in it, racing around like, well, a kid in a mud puddle. A stinking, rotting mud puddle. She tried a bunch of soggy driftwood, drank from fetid tidal pools, and got mud in every conceivable nook on her body. She even had the grand idea of shaking to get the muck off only to end up spraying it on parts of her body that was nowhere near the mud, like her face.

Did a glacier leave you here?
The area is heavily scarred from glaciation, as is pretty much the entire state. There were some very large rocks that were probably dragged there by ice tens of thousands of years ago and have been sitting in the tide ever since. There were also some interesting rocks which I was took some pictures of.

This rock was quite small, but had a huge striation running through it. The interesting part was the crystal vein that followed the crack. It extended out into the crack in a kind of bulbous, almost pasty fashion. My theory is that, after millennia under tons of ice, once the glacier finally melted away the crystal was allowed to expand and kind of melted out like wax. If one of my geologist friends who is supposed to be following this blog would like to chime in and correct me, I would really appreciate it.

This rock also had some great striations. I can't tell if it's due to glaciation or something in the tides, but in either case the gouges were deep and numerous. Not sure what kind of rock this is either. Most of the rocks around here are granites or slate, this, I believe, is something else. Maybe a shale. Again, geologists, put your two cents in.

When we got home the dog immediately went into the bath. She really, really stunk. It took two washcloths to finally get her clean enough for me to allow her into the house. Of course she immediately laid on my sleeping bag.

That was one of the last times, however, she would do that. I got some packages yesterday from my mother who included an old dog bed for Hastur. She took to it immediately. In fact, she's barely gotten off it since it came. That meant last night was the first night since I got here that I could actually sleep in my sleeping bag rather then unzipping it and spreading it out to share with the dog.

Turns out that's not exactly as good as it sounds. Physically, sleeping in the sleeping bag instead on on the wooden floor does not make much of a difference. The biggest difference is not things like my knees and elbows have a little bit a cushioning so they don't bother me while I'm turning around, but my back and hips still are very awkward. Emotionally, there is a very big difference having the dog on the bed instead of sharing a sleeping bag with me. It was comforting to have her pressed up against me all night, now I'm just some lonely schmuck in a sleeping bag on the floor. Well, only two more nights of having to suffer through this, then I can finally start to settle into this place.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Get lost

As I've said, there are a lot of little hidden areas in Machias. Small spaces that are probably missed by people who don't care to look for them.

Things such as a plaque signifying the location of the former town of Atusville, a town founded by a former slave just after the Revolutionary War for other former slaves that is now nothing by forest. Machias is something like 98% white Christian, and other then a farm across the street from the plaque and the plaque itself there isn't any evidence of Atusville's existence. It's too bad, for one this city could use a little color, but also it's sad that a community like that could completely disappear. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I'm sure that Atusville was abandoned naturally. There are surely hundreds of cities that never made it scattered all around Maine. Actually, the citizens of Machias are pretty proud that a black community, and there certainly weren't many then, let alone now, was right in their very midst. The plaque, and by extension the missing city, are way out on the very edge of Machias, the only reason I ever found it at all was by walking pretty much as far as I was comfortable along the Down East Sunrise Trail. It's easy to miss if you don't have an eye for things like two foot high pedestals in the middle of the forest like I do.

Also nearby Atusville- Sylvan Park, and old harness racing track that has been abandoned for... I dunno, at least 50 years, probably more. Apparently harness racing is a big thing in Maine. Right now there is a ballot proposition (or as they say here, question) that if passed will create a bunch of jobs in harness racing. Plus I found out all about Sylvan Park from a website that catalogs long lost Maine harness racing tracks. You know if there's a whole catalog there must have been a lot of them. There are a bunch of buildings sitting in Sylvan Park rotting, but the track is still pretty visible. I'd like to run my dog around in there but it's fenced off as private property. Now why do people do that? Why do they fence off land that they will never do anything with? Why do they deny people access so it can just sit there and rot? So they can horde it all to themselves for some reason? I guess if someone were to enter one of those buildings and get hurt you might be liable, but I'm sure that a fence all the way around the place won't do anything more to stop people entering those buildings then just a fence around the buildings.

Yesterday the dog wanted to go on her afternoon walk early so I said to her "Fine, we'll have enough time to get lost somewhere". In the afternoons I like to walk her around the college, and they just so happen to have a series of trails that run behind the school. I took her back there once and we just did a quick loop, but I made note of some other trails that branched off that I'd like to take sometime. So I figured it was the perfect time to do a little exploring. We got to the point where the trail looped back towards the school so I took the opportunity to go the opposite way. The trail this way was wide and open. It was a bright day and there was both human and dog prints in the snow so I was pretty confident that I was headed somewhere other then the deep woods. Soon though, thanks to all the melting snow, the trail became a deep bog so I had to turn around.

We got back to the point where I had turned away from the school but my desire for adventure had not been satisfied so I took the first side path I could find. This path was far thicker then the last one I had taken, and I also, unlike the last one that led directly in the opposite direction from the university, I couldn't tell which direction this path was taking. However, like the last path there were footprints so I figured it was bound to lead somewhere.

The going was so much more difficult on this path, and it didn't help that instead of my boots I was wearing my Adidas indoor soccer shoes. The going was so rough that I let the dog off leash so she wouldn't just be trying to drag me through the brush. She went along the path, nose down, so I let my attention drift off into the forest trusting her sense of direction.

Soon, however, I became less confident that I was following a legitimate path. It was obvious that it was some kind of path, but whether it was one maintained by the school for people to trek on their free afternoons wasn't as obvious. There was no more snow so there were no more footprints to follow, but the dog was still following some scent and I figured, what's the worst that could happen?

Very soon after those doubts came to me we came into a clearing with a bench along side the trail. Proof, to me, that we were going a right way. There was snow in the clearing, but no footprints, still the bench bolstered my confidence so we continued the way were were going. Past the bench was yet another bench, however, past that the trail became even less distinct. A couple of times I thought about turning back, but I checked my phone and had service, plus it was warm and there was a lot of day left so I continued. After hiking for awhile we came to an open area on the side of the hill we were on. It was all granite, snow, and ice, but there were two benches there as well so I continued to think we were on a path that led somewhere. The site posed a lot of problems. The granite was at a steep angle and every part of it was slippery. When there wasn't snow, there was ice, when there wasn't snow or ice, there was wet moss, or a deep puddle hidden under wet moss. The worst part was, on bare granite, you can't find the trail. I wandered back and forth on the bare granite trying to find a path out of there, but now I couldn't even find the path we came in on. My dog, with all her four wheel drive glory, was bounding up and down the hill mistaking my pacing for excitement and trying to get me to chase her. I kept telling her to find the damned path so we could get out of there.

I knew this was one of those situations where I was less then a mile from civilization, I could hear cars and thought I spied roofs, but I didn't want to try to forge my own path and possibly get even more lost, especially because I wasn't entirely sure which way the school was. Every time I took a step into the forest Hastur came running through like she had found a path only to try to lead me through a bog, or across a steep ravine, or just some random direction in the woods. Finally I decided that I would just head down the hill. As long as I was heading down, I figured, I wouldn't get lost, and I also believed the road was that way. Hastur actually managed to find a decent way down that only had a few branches head height that I had to deal with, and after trudging through the underbrush for a bit we came out in someone's backyard. I got the dog back on leash and we headed towards the road.

Turns out we were about two blocks away from the school, but in a different direction then I had believed. I'm still convinced there was no path out of there, which makes me wonder what idiot put two benches on a hillside that you can't escape from? Or maybe that was the point and had I tried to spend the night there I would have been killed and turned into a carpet. Well, it's moot now since the dog and I survived our forty minute (I kept the time) harrowing journey through the Maine woods.