OLD ORCHARD BEACH, MAINE - MAY 21 -- I couldn’t help but think we were just like the kids from ‘Stand by Me’ as we headed south down the railroad tracks. I sang all the songs I could think of from the film, which included the title track, the one about the rollercoaster, and Lollypop - the one that calls for you to pop your thumb out of your mouth followed by buh-dum-dum-dum. Denny joined in on this part, helping finish out a series of butchered songs duet-style. We didn’t care how it sounded. There appeared to be no one around for miles.
I had always wanted to walk down railroad tracks, but it never seemed to be an acceptable thing to do in familiar territory. I associate it with exploration. So this was the perfect chance to try it for the first time since our new friends Tom and Lynn had just dropped us off at an endless row of tracks they promised would lead to the Eastern Trail, which would take us all the way to New Hampshire. They might as well have blindfolded us in the back of their black pickup truck filled with kayaks and other outdoor gear, because we had no feel for where we were going. After a little less than a 10-mile lift, we hopped out of the truck bed, studied Tom and Lynn’s map, shook hands, and thanked them for their generosity and for being the first friends we made on our adventure. As we began to forge on, Tom asked if we’d like a beer for the journey. We couldn’t say no. We walked along the tracks that ran parallel to the Atlantic, sipping our beers, oblivious to our aching feet and shoulders, nothing but smiles and some bad singing.
We were feeling independent, almost a bit too independent. It seems as simple of a task as any, to find a place to sleep, but it’s more intimidating than one might think as they lie in their cozy bedrooms at night. As the sun threatened to set on our first night as amateur outdoorsmen, I scanned the landscape for a good place to set up our tent. I could sense Denny was doing the same. We were also both listening for the whistle of a train, but none ever came. The sound of the ocean grew louder as we neared the edge of Maine. A few modest hotels and beach houses appeared to the left of the tracks. We eventually decided to walk intro the trees along a trail off to the right. The trail carved it’s way through a thick gathering of trees along a perfectly smooth lake where many geese called home. A few plastic chairs along the lake looked like they hadn’t been used since last summer. A bundle of blankets made us a bit skeptical as they screamed homeless person. But hey, who were we? We walked down the path until any sign of human life was nowhere to be seen. Denny cooked up a packet of Ramen noodles as I set up the tent – chores we agreed to trade off every other day. We were asleep before the sun set in our new summer home. Train whistles woke us throughout the night, but in between, the sounds of nature made us sleep like babies.