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.


  1. Yay! I did something sorta right! Blew a tire my ass! I can't believe the driver won't be there until Tuesday. Trucks blow tires constantly and just keep on driving. Doesn't take two entire days to get a tire replaced.

  2. The is a lot of what I think is called Schist or as we often call is scheist. But Much of Maine is what my scientist husband calls a terminus of a glacial morain. Supposedly all the fresh water from Yarmouth north is alkaline from having broken off the super continent and to the north west is acid. Well I can attest to the alkalinity of our water.
    The reason the coast is marshy is that we have rocks interspersed with inlets and fjords where rivers meet the sea. The brackish water makes it possible for some stuff to grow and there are not too many long sandy areas like a beach. I have found a raw tourmaline on the beach. useless to all but me.

    There are two old timey books aboutMaine I love and may be at a library. Tales from Old Squires Farm and Sailing on the ice. Stories, but with tons of information about the geology.

    The first book to have here is the Delorme Maine Guide and Gazeteer. Best maps and every little thing you could want to see from reversing falls in the Damariscotta area to all the state parks. It is better than GPS.

    Glad the furn is coming soon. Offer is still open.

  3. That small rock looks like it had a vein of quartz running through it and it was weathered out. The other rock looks weathered too, but with some striations maybe. Kind of hard to be too specific :p
    How many geologists do you know anyway