Austin’s birthday, hard to believe my oldest son is 23. It certainly doesn’t feel like I should have a son so old as I don’t feel that old, well… at least on most days. I feel bad missing his birthday and I think out of the three boys I have missed his birthdays the most. My time in the Reserves seemed to have me scheduled for something around Austin’s birthday many times. He will have dinner at home, steaks, and everybody but me will be present. Sheri insists he understands the circumstances and is very supportive, it doesn’t make me feel any better though.
The air is still heavy when we do the morning walk around the campsite which is nice and I like the rustic nature of the tree lined sites. You feel as though you are in the woods because you are, while the nature of the camp shouts family campground. I liked my spot by the river and the morning view was well worth the price. I would have liked to stay a while, canoe the river or just relax with a good book. The owners, young looking grandparents are from Colorado and purchased the property about a year ago. Seasoned RVers, they knew what they wanted in a campground as they limit the number of full timers so not to appear like a work camp. I stayed in a work camp type site and they warned me that there are a number in the southeast so I will be careful when selecting sites when down that way. They are close to having their home built on site and moving from the trailer they have stayed in since purchasing the place. The couple seem happy and determined to succeed.
Mabel walks over to the neighbor’s site and makes new friends. People are amazed at how calm she is when I tell them she is still a puppy. They are from Maine and here on a week’s vacation. A former potato farmer, they live on the farm but don’t farm it. He works as a parts manager at a farm equipment repair company and can relate to the “farmer's bitchin” when they come in, glad to not be farming anymore. I ask about what I heard in Southern Maine about letting the kids off from school for the potato harvest. He confirms it is still practiced but questions the practicality as the child must be 16 to work and today, all the picking is done mechanically. I told him about the potato farmers on Long Island and some of the problems at the labor camps. “No migrant labor is used for potatoes” he continues, “possibly for the broccoli harvests but they are treated relatively well, bus rides to Walmart and the like.” I am curious about the windmills I saw on the ride North and he is not in favor of them agreeing that they spoil the natural view. “The electricity is going North to Canada” he explains, “and the windmills require maintenance they don’t talk about. A whole army of technicians is needed to just keep them running.” I can’t agree or disagree because I have limited knowledge of windmills but the small, personal ones I have seen on a few farms seem to make sense. I wonder if they are practical in a neighborhood like mine? Maybe a windmill will pop up on 7th Avenue, would the neighbors contest it?
The man likes solar energy and explains that computers can adjust the panel’s pitch allowing for maximum exposure. I like solar and have thought of it on my garage roof, the battery question is the problem; how do I economically store my power for future use. I think Elon Musk is attacking the problem, he can solve it if anyone can. “Potato farming requires a lot of energy for the fans to keep the potatoes dry,” he says, “the solar panels make sense.” The old potato cellar type buildings we saw on Long Island have been replaced with steel buildings, their roofs filled with large fan blades. We continue our packing and pull out to follow Interstate 95 towards Dexter Maine.
A friend from High School, Joe Garbowski, lives in Dexter and I can’t remember the last time we visited. Bad phone reception has plagued me for the last few days and it prevented us from meeting as my Facebook message didn’t get to him in time. I asked Sheri to do a little Facebook stalking and see where Joe works but I couldn’t find it on the map. Thinking about it more, I don’t know what I was expecting of Dexter. Maybe the town would be small enough to allow me to drive in and see Joe walking down Main Street or possibly just finishing up lunch downtown. Trying to happen on me by driving into Hopkins would prove equally as impossible, like finding a needle in a hay stack. So, realizing the futility of the endeavor, I gave up. We were back on the highway towards Skowhegan and eventually backtracking to the New Hampshire border. I would have liked to talk with Joe though.
I feel a lack of progress and am out of sorts as we pass our first Maine campground. I almost honk the horn, wanting to be familiar to someone and no longer anonymous. Would the owners recognize me as the guy with the cool tear drop or the cool guy with the tear drop? They would probably just wonder who is honking. We stop for a second time at the Riverside Rest Stop and Mabel wanders up to a woman with a dog on a very long leash. The dog was abused before rescue and is afraid of men. I, being a man, give the dog distance to reduce its stress. Mabel wanted to play but the dog had no interest. The woman says she is 69 years old and doesn’t accept my attempt to flatter. “Yeah,” she says in response to my, “I would have never guessed you are 69.” A seasoned Mainer, she moved away to NYC with her second husband who worked at FIT. They took trips across the country when young, often with their dog. She doesn’t pay attention to politics thinking most people are tuning out and instead likes Animal Planet.
We leave Maine on HWY 2 and pick up HWY 3 heading North with our sights on Lancaster. I attempt to find the small white motor court Steinbeck wrote about in Travels with Charlie without any luck. Maybe I should have gone left instead of right as I passed through town, we will never know. Maybe I should have turned around but time didn’t permit it and I saw the loop on the map later in the day. Still no service as I wanted to call Austin on his birthday, getting more annoyed.
Following the Vermont/New Hampshire border I cross over to Vermont at Bloomfield with an eye on camping at Island Pond. It’s getting late and I am kicking into survival mode. Passing the campground because I thought it was part of the state park, we continue into town and stop at a convenience store/chicken place combo to ask for camping suggestions. They were busy and suggested the campground I just passed so that’s where I headed. My site overlooked the playground which overlooked the lake. It was an easy site to back into so I was happy. Mabel wandered over to the neighbor’s site and the teenage girl correctly guessed that Mabel was Sheba but didn’t pick up on the Jindo. I thought it was pretty good she figured out half of Mabel’s stock.
We hit the sack early only to be woken up by a passing train, the tracks run close to the campground. It doesn’t bother us much, I don’t think Mabel even stirred.