Bethel, 2012

Though labelling this diary as being about Bethel is misleading since I think I managed to completely avoid going through that town during this trip to Maine. Vanessa had rented a "cabin" (it slept 12, with half in real bedrooms) in a secluded area near Bethel for her birthday weekend, and invited a few friends to join her. I had convinced Cris to team up one last time to do Canadian Thanksgiving since we would have a full kitchen.

Friday October 5, 2012

After a bit of back and forth about when our jobs would let us out for the long weekend, we settled on Cris leaving work at 5pm and then picking up Ann and then me. I left work at around 4:30pm to ride my bike to Mayflower Poultry so that I could pick up the 12lb turkey that I'd reserved. The oddness started even before I walked in the door as a truck delivering to the shop almost backed into me as I walked my bike toward the door to lock it up to a sign post. Then a woman poked her head out the shop door to invite her friend in since the leashed dog was deemed okay. In a butcher shop. *boggle* I edged around it, and another woman waved me to go ahead of her. I did, since I thought my task was simple, just pay for my reserved bird. Then the guy couldn't find it in the back. Then he brought out two boxes with 5 birds (and smirked at me as he threw them down on a table - yeah, I could get them home if I'd brought my bike trailer, but that's not what I ordered! I had my rack trunk that had transported a Thanksgiving turkey in a previous year). Then finally another guy and I managed to convince him that I only wanted on, and my name was on it. The dog picked now to bark loudly and the other guy asked the woman to get it outside again. The other woman who wanted an order filled (for "enough to feed 8 people") finally had a clerk to take care of her, and we were both able to get our stuff and escape. The turkey nestled snuggly on my bike rack, I hauled it home, mildly cursing on the way up the hill to my place. They'd given me a 14lb one, but I figured the frozen water, neck and giblets probably accounted for at least a pound so it would work.

I had time to stage the bags holding dinner ingredients and cooking utensils before Cris and Ann rang the bell, and we got the frozen turkey into Ann's cooler first thing. Then there was some rearranging so that everything fit in the hatchback, in the end the cover didn't quit come down, but we got everything low enough that you could see out the back window, with a few things in the spare back seat with me. :) Cris drove us down into Union Sq to grab supper before we left, I had a good mango curry at Sweet Ginger. Ann ran to the bank and Cris ran to Bloc 11 to get his coffee beans ground, and then the GPS took us on a bit of a round about route to the highway. By this time traffic was fairly light, though we'd seen updates from friends saying that early evening rush hour was insane. One traffic accident slowed things down for a bit, closing two lanes, but otherwise no problems. I called for a bio break at the NH rest stop, but it soon felt like we were in Maine. Half the drive was on a smaller local highway, but it had been resurfaced and went quickly. It was twisty enough that I couldn't look down very long to check my phone for directions but despite overshooting the last turn we made it with no problems. I think I was the only one to spot a large porcupine waddling across the road at one point - it was dark and near the end of the drive.

Forest came out of the house, a three storey log cabin with a hot tub under the deck, to help us unload the car. Kitchen stuff got piled around the breakfast bar and personal stuff went into the bunk bed room downstairs. I claimed a bottom bunk and thought ahead enough to dig out my pjs and put them on the bed. Then we went back upstairs to join in on the drinkin' and chattin' and probably played Cards Against Humanity since I think we ended up doing that every night. :) I don't think we stayed up too late that night, most everyone had been up early for work and if not still had a long drive that afternoon/evening. I think I went down to my bunk (and even managed to avoid making any Firefly references) at around midnight or 1am.

Saturday October 6, 2012

I was determined to go hiking today, since I'd probably be stuck in the kitchen cooking on Sunday. I'd brought my own breakfast food, though I ended up eating my granola dry since we hadn't had a chance to stop for groceries on the way up. I shared my tea with Jen, the other early riser, since I'd stuffed my teapot in with the kitchen stuff and she'd brought a kettle. :) Becky also had a tea pot and tea, so we swapped cups as well. Once most people were up, I got a count of who wanted to go hiking (Christian got caught with the question right as he woke up and answered "hell no", understandably :) ) and then said I wanted to leave at 11:15. It took a bit of nagging to get everyone out the door, and in the end Rich and Jen decided to take a flatter trail with waterfalls since the former wanted to take pictures with his large format camera and tripod. Cris gave Ann and me a lift, and Forest and Vanessa went with Becky. Our car needed to make a food stop since I hadn't had a chance to pick up any lunch or trail food. We ended up at Gordie Howe's convenience store, a very rural slice of life in mid Maine. :) I grabbed a packet of nuts and two chocolate bars and we gassed up at the manual pump as well (Prius + pump made an incongruous pair!). It was a bit of a drive to get to where the Appalachian trail intersected with ME26, heading into Grafton Notch State Park, but it was pretty. The other car had pulled over at the Moose Cave parking lot, we picked them up and went on for another couple of minutes to the trail head parking lot.

Rain was forecast for noon, but we started up the trail just after that and the skies were still holding off. We were doing Table Rock Loop off the AT, with the option to do the other peaks if the weather was okay. I had on a wool baselayer and my rain jacket, but was soon down to the baselayer, as the trail was fairly steep. Great views as we climbed up the face of the ridge, with colourful swaths of trees undulating away into the distance. The trail was fairly improved, with rickety wooden ladders, solid metal rungs and slippery wooden beams bridging steeps or wet spots. The steep but not vertical parts of the trail had granite blocks set as stepping stones. We took a short break at one lookout point, I know Ann got a good picture of us all there. Once we made it up to the top, a huge bare rock outcropping, we were all fairly happy to sit and have a snack, enjoying the view back down (very far down!) to the road below us. The hills on the other side of the valley started getting dark on their tops and a dark cloud soon rolled over and sent us scurrying back to the shelter of the tree lined trial. The way down was much gentler, though I managed to slip on a bit of wood put down as a bridge over some mushy forest floor. I caught myself on my hand but it didn't break this skin, I just had to nurse an inconvenient bruise for a few days (luckily it was on my left, so cutting things up for dinner the next day was fine, I just had to watch how I'd support myself to get up from the floor or out of a tub).

The rain wasn't too hard, and had almost stopped by the time we got back down to the road, though we opted to do the 2.4 mile loop rather than going on to the mountain peaks. Becky didn't have a rain jacket but was fine with making a short stop to do the quarter mile trail to see the Moose Cave up the road. It turned out to be a spot where a huge face of rock had fallen down and trapped a moose in some water (no sign of the skeleton). Very pretty in that area, with lots of neat little overlook platforms, though the titular cave wasn't that big/deep. Then a few more minutes back up the road and we stopped at Screw Auger falls, the rain had stopped by then, though another set of dark clouds were threatening. Forest and Ann tried to cross to the land in the middle of the river, but only one was was shallow enough to make it. The landscape was really neat, a series of short waterfalls and hollows that the river had worn away in the rock. I even spotted one arch.

From there, Cris and Ann and I used the car's GPS (cell phone signal was low to non existent the whole weekend) to find a Hannaford's in Rumford. Some breakfast and lunch food was procured, as well as more gin and mixers. Once we made it back, I made up some soup since I was starving. Becky was up to make dinner, and she put on an amazing spread. I had the marinated salmon and chicken, as well as a fair amount of the cucumber dill salad. There were mushrooms and lentils (with an assist from Jess). Kevin and Sarah made their own meal but ate with us (well, I think I went to sit on the couch with them). Cards Against Humanity came out again, along with the impressive booze collection, and we all went downstairs to watch Cabin in the Woods (the main living room tv, above the fireplace, was having some AV issues). Even though it was the second time I'd seen it, I still screamed at the jump scares, but at least it drew attention away from the other people hiding behind pillows and blankets. :) I think a few of us stayed up a bit longer after the movie, but I seem to recall getting to bed around 1 or 2.

Sunday October 7, 2012

Tea and granola for breakfast, and then pretty much went right into prepping for the turkey dinner. Kevin and Sara and Jess were going to be leaving early, so Cris and I tried to get things ready so that they could at least have something before they left at 3. A group went to Sunday River to ride the gondola up and hike down. I took breaks when the cooking was at a pause point, reading on the deck or soaking in the hot tub. Cris took care of the turkey for us, as well as doing stuffing, brussel sprouts and an eggplant salad. I did rice and peas, roasted veggies (after the hikers came back with more veggies), and a coconut curry bean soup. It was a bit of a challenge working around all the dietary restrictions, and some ended up not needing to be taken into account since one car of people left early, but everyone got enough to eat and it was tasty. Before food coma set in and the sun went down, I went for a walk down the road with Jen and Rich. I'd seen a blue jay earlier in the day, but we just heard birds this time, as well as seeing the cows and horses at the nearby farm. I voted for a turn around once the sun went behind the hills, and we just made it back before dark (though I'd brought my headlamp just in case). Christian made a scorpion bowl to try to use up some of the almost done alcohol, I made myself and Vanessa a No.43 from Hungry Mother (well, a variant, with wine from dinner instead of port, and bourbon instead of rye). Cards Against Humanity went on for a long time, twice through the white cards, with a winner and a drinker each round. That actually kept me from drinking very fast, since I'd hold off on taking a sip after every round until the person who had to take a drink had been designated. Then we went downstairs to watch Expendables 2 and things started to peter out a bit after that. I seem to recall hitting bed last in the bunk room (though Becky had moved to the fold out couch area) since I'd gone upstairs to clean a bit more and drink more water. Maybe 3am?

Monday October 8, 2012

We had to be out by 11am, so I think most everyone was up and cleaning up by 9am. We hit the road at around 10:30 but after hitting the interstate and stopping for a bathroom break, Cris couldn't find his wallet. We were able to get in touch with the cabin owner and find out that the cleaners were there and we could go back. 1.5 hours back to the house and a thorough search and it was finally found stuck between the frame of the bunk bed and the drawer underneath it. *phew* By that time I was getting hungry for lunch, so we stopped on the way back to the highway at the Smiling Moose tavern. I ended up having to swap lunches with Cris since I got soup with bacon and a sandwich with pecans in it. He'd already eaten a slice of his quesadilla, so I was going to get dessert, but all but one had to be warmed up so I skipped it to not use up any mor time. Traffic was fairly light, and we stopped at the outlet stores in Kittery, mostly to hit up the trading post there. I tried on a slew of down jackets but didn't find a perfect fit. We also hit up the Gap and Banana Republic outlets, but I had no luck (though if they'd had one silk sundress in my size, it would totally have been worth the $8). I was dropped off first, and had time to unpack a bit before heading to bed.

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