While Lake Champlain remains on my summer list, I was a little sad to say farewell to my kind housemate Carol and her pets I’d grown accustomed to, so it was good that I’d planned a brief stop to regroup at a known New Hampshire hostel. I had both an active and restful few days at the base of the White Mountains enjoying familiar and new places and faces before hitting the road into Maine.
The Volunteer Option
In April 2013, I had my first WorkAway experience in Ghent, Belgium, and there is no doubt in my mind that this trip launched what is now my decade-long journey on the road. While it’s been 5 years since my last WorkAway in Arnaudville, Louisiana, my current Airbnb appealed to me for many of the same reasons I initially volunteered.
Staying on budget is nearly impossible so juggling sleeping arrangements has become a craft. This is one reason I opted to do a “rustic, simple, funky barn space” for $16/night and two hours of daily work. Yet price is not the only reason, as the host sounded so interesting, and this coastal area of Maine is new to me. So, here I am, halfway through an experience in Surry with easy access to gorgeous bays offering views of Acadia. I love the smell of the sea.
My private room is at least 5 times the size of my tent with a shared kitchenette, loo and outdoor shower. Alas, the upstairs studio is empty, so the space is all mine. It’s comfy with electricity and wifi but plumbing does not exist. The loo is a compost toilet and there’s two cisterns to fill – washing and drinking water (and don’t forget to empty the catch bucket!). I’m somewhere between the indoor life and camping, and sleeping peacefully from dusk to dawn. Work-wise, it’s outdoor labor – exterior painting and garden weeding – neither creating stress or strain except when inaccurate weather forecasts bring surprises.
My host, Nancy is a 10th generation Mainer who is soft-spoken and thankful for the help. She is also quite busy, so our conversations are minutes here and there, though I hope we have time to sit together before the 10 days pass. She has done years of Zen Buddhist training in Asia, has been teaching meditation for nearly 50 years, and has traveled extensively. This past Sunday I was able to enjoy a group sitting at the Morgan Bay Zendo, conveniently located across the road.
While biking is difficult (narrow, winding, shoulder-less roads), I’m doing my best pedaling along the neck when the pavement is dry, enjoying walks on the forested trails to the bays, and appreciating the oh-so-little development – a general store, a lobster shack, a gallery or two.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover