-an afternote, at the begining: I decided to stick all of my stuff for 2003 here on one page. it's not all one long trip, and it's not all really related, but don't feel like making a bunch of tiny pages for some of the short trips I went on.
February 10th-????, 2003
there were a few other odd little things that really got me wanting to get on with this trip. First it was a Godspeed you Black Emperor! CD I bought.. fealt like something I should be listening to while backpacking/hitching out west someplace.. then I saw the latest LoTR movie, Two Towers.. and the scenes in the beginning when they were going through the mountians gave me a greater urge to go west and see the mountains again, maybe a bit closer than I saw them while driving around the country last August.
suppose I should mention a bit about how I'm dealing with money while traveling like this. I tossed most of my money in a bank and got an ATM/debit card. first time I've had a bank account, but I would not feel comfortable traveling with $1200 in my pocket. I've also started out with $100 in postal money orders that I made payable to myself.. so I don't have to carry cash but can have enough money for a bus ticket if I can find a post office.
journal entries begin here:
Columbia, SC; 3:30am
been here since midnight, waiting for my 4am bus. Night 2 of trip to Charleston. Last night was spent in the NYC bus station. it was not as bad as I had expected. It was a big place, but not quite what I imagined from Kim's descriptions of it. Saw the "NO STANDING" signs he mentioned seeing on the sidewalks there. I've been sleeping a lot and not eating quite as well as I should be.
Charleston will only be a couple more hours from here by bus. I should be getting there at about 6:15am. Then I have to figure out how to cheaply get to Laurie's place 11 miles away in Mt Pleasant. she doesn't drive, which is cool cause I don't much mind walking. I sort of remember where her house is from looking at online maps and compairing them to satalite images. Gotta find out about public transportation between Charleston and Mt Pleasant, if there is any; or take a cab to the other side of one of the bridges. Laurie said no pedestrians are allowed on the bridges. If I can take a cab across the bridge (rt 17), it looks like I'll only have to walk four or five miles. it'll give me a good chance to see how my idea for repacking my packs for walking rather than bus travel will work. Pulled a muscle in my shoulder the other day while transfering in Boston.. one of my carry on bags, the one with chainmaille and food stuff was heavier than I thought it would be. Its warm down here (at night!), yay!!
Feb 14th; Mt Pleasant, SC.
made it down here, been here a couple days now. had a cab drop me off near the end of the bridge, repacked and walked up Matthis Ferry Rd looking for the road Laurie lives on now. was not sure exaclty where it was, thought it might really be a sideroad off from a road branching from Mathis Ferry, so I eventualy found a gas station and was able to find it on a map. just a half a mile or so up Mathis Ferry from where I was. saw the stained glass cat hanging in the window, then saw the house number. yay, I was there after a 36 hour bus trip and a little over two hours of walking. I'm hoping I can leave my mailling stuff at the maille gathering, boxed up and with some cash to send it to where ever I need it to be sent to, either Portland or back to Bangor.. those are the only two places that I'll need it after these next couple weeks are over. I've also brought along some small metal working projects - hairspikes, a belt buckle, and a couple things I did not have time to get pictures of before leaving: another small dragon head similar to the one on the first page of this site, and a chain made out of metal leaves. I picked up a new copy of Fellowship of the Ring to read along the way.. to pass time with something that does not weigh as much as my mailling stuff. had a copy at home, but it was about 30 years old.. $7 for a new copy is better than ending up with an old copy that might become soaking wet and growing some thick green mold.
If anyone actually reads these pages, ya'll might have been wondering if I left my mortal remains rotting in a ditch someplace... I'm still alive (as of typing this on the 16th of September '03.. which happens to be my birthday ~yay me~ ), just forgot to update this page to mention where I ended up after visiting my friend in Mount Pleasant SC. so anyways, here's the long overdue update:
stayed in Mount Pleasant for about a week, ate very well.. much better than usual or than during any other part of this trip. then it was time for me to get on a bus and head off to Springfield, MO for the Chainmaille Board Winter gathering.. which is a gathering of people who post on a chainmaille discussion board. A few of us get together once in a while to hang out for a few days, making chainmaille and watching movies or whatever. real exciting stuff. They usually meet on memorial day weekend, but this year Lord Charles, the guy who runs the discussion board and hosts the gatherings, decided to have a winter gathering as well. I'd been wanting to make it to one of these, so I planned it into my wanderings.
I think the bus trip from South Carolina to Missouri was about 20 hours. when I got into MO I repacked my bags for walking and pulled out the small map with the suggested route from the Greyhound to Charles' house that I'd printed up at Laurie's place. It was about a four to five mile walk, though I broke off from the suggested route to make it a bit more interesting... the suggested route was a strait line west for about 15 blocks, then south for five blocks. I made it there fine, listening to a minidisc full of Godspeed You Black Emperor, which had become my favorite music for walking down roads I'd never seen before.
The chainmaille gathering was a blast. met some people I'd previously only known from online, got to see everyones creations (like Buddha's Dragonscale shirt and some of SecondHandHippie's work with Half-Persian weaves that I hadn't seen pictures of before). made a titanium bracelet that is still permenantly attached around my wrist, and hung out with Lord Charles for the week after the gathering to help him get caught up on orders. I guess he was behind about a month, but we got everything caught up by the next friday, shipping out over a hundred pounds of chainmaille rings each day. boy were my hands sore by the end of that week!
so anyways, one night while I was sitting there at the gathering watching some movie and weaving with the other maillers, I got a telephone call. It was my cousin and good friend Mookie... you know, the guy I drove across country with about six months prior to this trip. He was getting that crazy urge to drive again and asked if I wanted to go to an SCA war. He said that he was going to pack up the van and leave Maine in about an hour, and that if I wanted to go to the SCA war, he'd swing by Missouri to pick me up. 'bout a day passed and I got another call or email from him saying he was going to have to put off the drive until he could officialy get the time off from work and school. Sometime in there Charles asked me if I'd mind house sitting for him for a week while he took off to go visit some friends and go to a couple SCA events. said sure, I could do that, but then remembered I had also told my cousin that I'd go drive around with him... spent a couple days stewing over what I should do... stay and house sit for Charles, like I said I would; or go galevanting around the country with Mook, like I said I would.
Eventualy I talked to Charles about it and he said he could get some other local friends to check in on his place and animals for him (he had a dog, a kitten, and a big ol' grizzly looking ferret). the kitten was awesome.. she'd climb up my back and sit on my shoulder while I was working on maille or cutting rings, just sit there and watch the rings fall into the tray and not try to play with them which would have been very annoying. anways, I decided that I'd go with Mookie instead of house sit (though I would have had soooo many nice little chainmaille rings to play with). but the problem was, that if I was going to go to a week long SCA event, I'd need to pack up my SCA stuff (clothing and armor that was scattered all over my house and a friends house back in Bangor)... so I'd need to take a bus back to Bangor for that. sometime after the gathering I also got a really nasty cold or flu. fealt like I was going to die. was not entirely sure if I wanted to sit on a bus for 48 hours while feeling like that, or if it would be better for me to sit there and slowly die in Missouri. I decided to head home, back to Bangor.
So the friday after the gathering I jumped (not really that easy... had to pay $145) on a bus back to Bangor. The duration of the bus trip was estimated to be about 48 hours with two transfers (philly and NYC). The bus was at least four hours late, as was all the other buses from there to Philly, and somehow we ended up with four or five transfers. After all of that, I somehow got to NYC ahead of schedual and jumped on a bus that was leaving before I should have been there.. didn't have another early morning layover in New York. That bus got into Boston just minutes before a bus was leaving for Maine, so I jumped on that bus too... again, ahead of schedual. I somehow ended up back in Bangor about eight hours before I should have been back home, and for some unknown reason I was feeling better by the time my first bus was taking me out of Missouri.
Home... I just sat around for a couple days, then it was back on the road again.. this time in a blue mini-van with Mookie at the wheel. We left Maine and drove to Atlanta GA; tried to track down a friend's parents in Atlanta to say hi to them but could not get ahold of them; went to check out the Museum Replicas (India-based company that makes medieval weapons and armor) showroom-store outside Atlanta, I think Mook bought a periond jacket and some other clothing; went to an SCA rapier/rattan practice in Atlanta; and slept in a parking lot... then we continued on to Mississippi which is where the SCA war was.
Got to the war. There were a lot of fencing melees; most of them with schlauger and guns, and in a wooden fort with buildings. Mook and I kicked butt in some of them. There weren't really any good parties like at Pennsic, in fact, the nightlife sucked.. combine that with the Mississippi monsoon season, and we decided to leave a few days before the event was over. The big tent we borrowed from a friend did not come with any stakes so we'd used large jugs of water and other heavy things to hold down the corners. It also was not waterproofed so all of our metal was starting to rust before our eyes.. and we had a lot of metal stuff... my full suit of plate, a bunch of rebated swords, and our huge pile of fencing gear (most of it made by Popinjay's, not the cheap modern looking junk). So despite our great success in battles, we decided to pack everything up and head for New Orleans. We had some important business in New Orleans... Mookie needed to pick up a new Bourbon Street shotglass to replace the one he got when he passed through a couple years before.. Before we left Maine we were told that if we ended up in New Orleans we had to try a Po'Boy. we knew it was a kind of food, suspected it to be a sort of sandwich, but had never had or seen one before.. and since we were in New Orleans, we also had to try some Gumbo and a Hurricane. We found a place that sold those things... the Po'Boy was very good, the gumbo is something that would take very special cercumstances for me to think about trying again (okay, we're going to take some spicy green gruel-like substance, break a crab into several smaller chunks and toss it in the gruel.. whole crab torso and all, then we're going to hide it all under a big clod of rice. doesn't that sound yummy?), and the hurricane was good for a mildly alcoholic fruity frufru drink.
From there, we drove back to Atlanta and went to the Museum Replicas store again... this time the people working there were able to find the helmet I was looking for before. Their computer said a damaged one was in the warehouse somewhere but the people working their on our first time through could not find it.. the people working there this time eventualy found it for me... their bellows visor close helm, with one of the pivot points of the visor damaged or something. I bought it to draft a pattern from.
From there, I think it was strait back to Maine, with a bit of our usual "car madness" (if you've ever seen the "Space Madness" episode of Ren & Stimpy then you might get and idea of what car madness is) and other strangness which seems to follow us around.
Thats about it for that bit of wandering... overall it was very strange and chaotic. Plans and destinations seemed to change every few days. I did not see the mountains again, I did not see the west coast again, I did not see Portland again, I did not hitch hike anywhere, I did not ride a frieght train through the rockies, and I did not crawl down any old mine shafts in the desert... and all of those things I did not see will soon be taunting me to take off on another crazy bit of wandering around, but not for a while... I'm finishing off updating this several months after getting back. It's October now, summer has gone, and I'm out of travel money. A few months and I'll have enough saved for more wandering around, and maybe a desire to be someplace other than Maine in the winter.
okay okay, I have more to tell... I mentioned winter, and some of spring, then said it was fall. what happened to the rest of spring and summer? in the last months of spring, or earliest of summer... when it was still a bit cold on the water... I bought some new kayaking gear and set out on an open ended kayak trip. I only had to be back in time to sell my work at the Maine Renaissance Faire in July and August. I bought some partial-dry-cloths... not a full drysuit for kayaking, but stuff that would keep me somewhat dry for a few minutes in the water.. and a few other bits of gear I wanted to try out, like neopreme paddling mittens.
I think I left Bangor on a very cold and rainy Wednesday morning. That weekend there was going to be an SCA event at Fort Knox and I packed my SCA gear to travel down in a car with friends who were going to the event. On past trips down the river it had taken at least an entire day and several hours the next morning to get to the Bucksport/Prospect area where the fort is, and I knew it could take a lot longer if the wind was blowing up the river... so I left a few days early to get down there on time, taking possibly unfavorable weather into account. It was cold, rainy, and windy the entire day of my departure.. but the wind was at my back and I caught the tide as it was going out, and I was plenty warm and dry enough in my new dryclothing and a layer of wool clothing under that. The paddling mits kept the salty water off my hands, which is good... salt water will cause your hands to dry out and crack open after a few days... but my hands pickled themselves in their own juices, which caused some raw spots on my knuckles where they consantly rubbed on the inside of the mittens. that's prolly more info than you wanted... but overall, I like the mittens.. next time I'll try a good layer of snowseal to waterproof my hands while in the mittens. anyways, I made it to bucksport in about six hours, a personal record for me. found a telephone and called my parents to let them know I made it, then paddled down past Verona Island to a smaller island I'd seen before and thought might be good to camp on. It was well after dark by the time I got down to that island and I could not see much with my headlamp. I decided it would be easier to find a spot to camp near the boat landing on Verona Island.. so I paddled back up there in the dark and against the currents.. I sort of remember feeling my arm start doing bad things again, as it often does when I push myself too hard while kayaking.. but I made it back up to the boat landing and found a spot to camp.
Something else new with this kayak trip... while walking with my pack in South Carolina and Missourie I decided my tent was too heavy to carry around. So for this trip I bought an Outdoor Research's Standard Bivy Sack... which is like a waterproof sort of sleeping bag cover. So no more setting up tents... I just pull the bivy sack out of a compression bag and unroll it, with my sleeping bag already inside it... now the only trouble is getting into bed in the rain while keeping my cloths dry.. for that purpose, I did bring along the my tent's fly, and was able to change into dry cloths while standing under the fly, then crawl into my new sleeping arrangement, which was also under the fly with me.
I camped out for a couple days on Verona Island. On the second day I moved my camp a ways down the rocky beach, away from the boat landing where people sometimes came to put boats in or fish. It was very cold in the mornings and I caught a bit of a cold. the weekend came and I paddled over to fort knox in the morning for the SCA event. I'd forgot to pack some stuff in my bags that my friends were bringing down for me, so I was not able to fence, but it was fun to watch. Because it was so chilly in the mornings (and afternoons and evenings too... it was fine at night when I was in my sleeping bag) and I'd caught a cold while sitting around on the island, I decided to end the trip there.
I spent the next few weeks getting ready for the Maine Ren Faire. Another mailler, who I knew from the Chainmaille Discussion Board, split the cost of the vendor space ($420) with me. Several months before this I was really interested in doing it, but as it got closer I realized that I did not have a lot of stuff to sell, and did not have very good displays for some of the stuff I did have (a chainmaille bikini top looks pretty lousy sitting on a table). heh, I was more or less perpetually grumpy for the last few weeks leading up to the start of the faire.. I was really not looking forward to the whole thing and was really hoping that JV would decide not go through with it. but I remember one email I got from him was encouraging in an odd way and got me to almost start looking forward to being there... I don't remember exactly what he said, something about himself not being entirely ready for it either, but "if being there was being ready, then he'd be there bright and early on opening day"... which I sort of took to mean that if were there, then we're ready to sell at this thing and will just have to make the best of what we have... so for some reason that really psyched me up and I didn't really care too much if I did well there or not... it'd be fun anyways.
So my dad drove me down to southern Maine early in the morning on the first day of the faire... we got there, drove around onsite trying to find JV. every thing was very chaotic on opening morning in the few last hours before the place opened for the 2003 season. Could not find JV anywhere, but found the manager and she showed me where JV and I would be setting up. I sat around there for about half an hour... ate an apple and cleared out some branches from our spot, then JV showed up. We got to work setting up his A-frame sort of viking wedge tent and were ready just as the first few patrons started filtering in.
The faire was a lot of fun, though I did not sell a lot. I ended up a couple hundred dollars short, mostly cause of travel expenses. The faire was only open on weekends, so I took a bus back up to Bangor a couple times to work on more stuff to sell. I stayed with JV at his house in NH for a couple of the weeks, and stayed onsite a couple of the weeks. Thinking back on the whole thing, staying onsite during the weeks might have been the most enjoyable part of the whole thing, except for when the faire was actually going on. The first weekday I woke up, made myself some breakfast, then started working on maille. A car came down the back road we were set up on, and the guy driving it was just doing a security sort of check to make sure everything was okay out there. I'd gotten permission from the managers to stay onsite during the week, but I guess no one had told this guy. He seemed suprised to find someone still onsite and said it was fine for me to stay, but that no one else was staying onsite... okay, cool, I have the place to myself for a week! So I stayed at my camp all day and worked on stuff. The next day I got my pack out and decided to head offsite to find someplace where I could buy water and food. An SUV was comming on site as I was heading out, it was one of the managers. She told me of a shortcut through the woods that would take a mile or so off my walk, but it was back the other way.. so I walked back that way, passed their office and she offered me a ride into town. sometime during that, she mentioned that the faire's cafe was open during the week and there was coffee there in the mornings.. then I found out that there were some other people staying onsite as well. There was another vendor, Lynda the games and roses lady; one cast member, Jed, who was from the Men of Action show; the managers, Val and Ken, and their two kids; A few others where there sometimes as well... Peter, who built some of the buildings and played a drunk pirate was there working on stuff some days; and the directors were also there sometimes...
so I spent those weeks sleeping in my bivy sack in a hammock that was strung up to the poles of our wedge tent.. then get up and scrounge something to eat, grab my mailling and drawing stuff and head down the road to the cafe where I spent my days working on maille, sketching and drafting patterns for stained glass stuff, and hanging out with the other folks who were staying onsite. and on the morning of the sixth day, our quite and secluded woodland retreat was once again invaded by hoards of noisy renfaire patrons. Overall, it was a lot of fun.. but I'm not very likely to do it again because of the amount of money I lost. So the renfaire was over... I went home. I'd bought a new bike somewhere in there, and new pannier packs so I'd not have to use the heavy wire basket-thing that was on the other bike I used for bike trips.. and I took off for a few short trips around central Maine... Only one that was really interesting was a ride from Bangor to Bald Mnt in Dedham. I wanted to camp out at the top of the mountain but did not want to leave my bike at the bottom because I did not have a lock at the time... so I pushed my bike and thirty pounds of gear up the steep rocky path to the top of the mountain. Had a wonderful time camping out under the stars (using the bivy sack instead of a tent again). I remember counting at least twenty something shooting stars that night.
The next day I rode around Phillips lake (which for some reason when I was growing up my family called Lake Lucerne) where my grandparents had a camp years ago. I tried to find my dad's old cabin that was off in the woods someplace down there, but could not find the spot... I had never known a time when the cabin was standing.. my only memories of it are an old rotten floor full of holes, broken remains of walls barely clinging to the side of a deep gully, old cookware and bottles scattered about, and an old cast iron woodstove. Last time I had been there was over 15 years ago, so it would have been interesting to see what was left now. Failing to find the old ruins, I did manage to wander aimlessly around in the woods for a couple hours, and somehow come out of the woods just a few feet from where I had stashed my bike. I then took off down the dirt road, a ways around the lake, to search out another place my parents once took me to about twenty years ago. A few years ago I asked my dad where that place was and he told me... go down to the old stream that always washed the woods out. head up into the woods and along the stream for about half an hour and look for the cliffs on the left. The cave is on a ledge up there someplace. So did that... I followed the stream into the woods, but the forest was still thick enough with foliage to see very far. So I headed off to the left a while going in. Eventually I could start to make out the granite cliffs through the trees. It's always suprised me how easily big rocky cliffs can blend into the forest from a few dozen yards away... I went to the cliffs, walked along the bottom of them, climbed up to some ledges, no caves, climbed back down... went back to another area and climbed to the top, climbed down on some ledges, climbed around some more... no caves. After walking along the top of the cliff and down the other side I found one more ledge, must have been the only place I had not checked yet, and it just happened to be the one I had been looking for... it's not a very impressive cave, only goes back into the rocks about ten or so feet, then up into a sort of chimney-like fissure. yay, that was cool... well, really not all that interesting.. I've seen more interesting caves around that area... so I headed back to my bike to check some of them out.
I rode to an area of small dirt roads and houses, where there were more cliffs. I rode around in there for quite a while, up some very large hills, trying to find the area I remembered from a few years ago... I eventually came out on some areas of bare granite that were visable from a few miles away when I was on Bald Mountain. I had never been to that spot before, so I looked around a bit, then back to my bike to continue riding around dirt roads that might lead to the spot I was trying to find. I eventually found the place, again, after searching every other area of a small mountain. The place I had been looking for was a place with two fissures going down into the bare granite ground of that part of the mountain. They were twenty or so feet deep in some places, and its possible to walk down in from one end.. some areas are just large enough for me to get through turned sideways, and I'm a skinny person... 5'8 and 120 pounds. One of these fissures has a cave at the bottom of one end, and another cave off to the side about half way in... to keep me from babbling on forever about a bunch of random clot, I'll just end here. having found what I was looking for there, I got on my bike and rode home. .... and that's about it. I'm home working on stuff again, back to whatever it is that I do when I'm not biking or kayaking, or sleeping in a hammock or on the tops of mountains.