Plans, and an absence of.

I was standing in the warm garage, talking to the mechanic.

“We know where to find you,” she said, smiling. I can’t remember what we’d said before that, but I know that I replied, “Always in the same place.”

I’d meant the mountain, but it occurred to me how odd it was for that to be true.

Five-year plans. I’ve never, in my life, had a five-year plan. Even when I was a junior in high school, when everyone who wants to go to college has a five-year plan, I didn’t. For me, it was more like, I’m going to design school. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll become a doctor. Eh. We’ll see…

Do people actually make those things—five-year plans? I suppose they do. I went to J-School with a really ambitious guy who wasn’t content with a five-year plan. He had a “15-year plan.” It may or may not be worth noting that it began to disintegrate even before we’d graduated. I can say that without feeling bad because he’s doing really well now.

But yeah, I thought he was mad, and for exactly that reason: Plans are arbitrary. I believe that there are reasons why things happen, but I do not believe that the plans we lay, should we choose to do so, have much, if anything, to do with it. “The best-laid plans…”

I prefer a vague plan full of qualifications and the freedom of ambiguity:

  • I’d like to do that. Some time.
  • I’ll probably be [insert whatever here] six months from now/two weeks from now/Saturday…

Flight map.A year ago, I was heartbroken, not by a person, but by a country. I was about to leave a place that I loved. Love. Will always love. People who I love. My “plan,” if you will, included two months of intense, intercontinental travel, a couple of surf comps, and many, many youth hostels. And then, big, glaring—if kind of glamorous—blank space.

What would I do between France in October and Sydney in December? Well, I’d figure it out, I reasoned. But last July, it was a mystery, and one that became less and less sexy with time.

A few weeks in Bali put me off living there for any real length of time. Vietnam was still a quasi option. A girl who I met in Malaysia invited me to Nepal. I could do Nepal. This is how these things happen, you know. You meet a girl in Malaysia who invites you to Nepal. But I couldn’t afford the flight. Truthfully, I couldn’t afford anything. Change of plans.

I returned to the States disheartened, with designs of getting my proverbial shit together. (I’m still working on it.)

I only intended to stay here through a single ski season, but I sensed pretty quickly that Maine numbed my nomad tendencies. Eight months in, I’m surprised to find myself calling this place home. More than that, I’m surprised that it feels like home. I am surprised every day when I don’t want to leave. Then again, I’m astonished every day by the beauty of this place. And that of its people. I feel the occasional searing pang for the inconstant, but it only takes a minute of clarity to see that it’s all around, regardless of venue.

So, I think I’ll use that airline credit for an actual vacation—or two—instead of a one-way ticket. And then come home.

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The Yankee Beer List

Water, Water Everywhere And Not A Drop To Drink

This is what happens when you don’t eat dinner before a Friday night at BK Brewery. Photo: Ms. Megan Whitney Moore

In my five legal (and absolutely zero illegal) years of beer swilling, I’ve had quite a few American-made concoctions. I feel it would be painful to retroactively track down each and every one of them, so I’m just going to start anew and add as I imbibe/recall. As usual, they’re in vaguely alphabetical order and the newest additions will be in bold. Enjoy…

  1. 16 Mile Brewing Company Harvest Ale
  2. 16 Mile Brewing Company Inlet India Pale Ale
  3. 21st Amendment Brewery Hell or High Watermelon
  4. Abita Amber
  5. Abita Purple Haze
  6. Allagash Black
  7. Allagash White
  8. Anchor Brewing Co. Steam Ale
  9. Anchor Brewing Co. Liberty Ale
  10. Anchor Brewing Co. Summer Beer
  11. Anchor Brewing Co. Our Special Ale (Merry Christmas 2012)
  12. Atlantic Brewing Company Bar Harbor Real Ale
  13. Ballast Point Big Eye IPA

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Five Questions with Colin Boyd and Jackie Paaso

the first chair

You might think that something with “free” in the name seems out of place in our Competition Issue, but in the case of the Freeride World Tour, you’d be sorely mistaken. The FWT is one of the most intense competition circuits—and competitors ride some of the most extreme faces—on the planet: Chamonix, Revelstoke, Verbier… the list goes on.

Jackie Paaso, 31, who finished third overall last year and just won her favorite event at Chamonix, started skiing at age 4. At Sunday River. Colin Boyd, 27, managed to qualify for the FWT this year with no sponsors to speak of and banked a solid eighth-place finish at his first event. Both are graduates of Gould Academy and the Sunday River School of Awesome, which totally exists, so we asked them to tell us a bit about life on Tour and, well, life in general. They happily obliged (as…

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Tough Mountain Challenge Does. It. Better.

the first chair

I have never participated in a Tough Mudder. But I’ve kind of always been drawn to them. Blame it on some weird, G. I. Jane-style aspirations leftover from when I was a little tomboy, I guess.

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Simon Dumont. Go Bigger: Go Home.

the first chair

What does a guy whose nickname is the “Godfather” of freestyle skiing aspire to? Bigger and better, of course. Simon Dumont has arguably done more for halfpipe skiing than any other, and he’s got 10 X Games medals and an AFP world title to prove it. While Dumont mostly splits his time between Colorado and Florida, home will always be Maine. Six years ago, Dumont created The Dumont Cup at his home mountain, Sunday River, which also happens to be where he set the world quarterpipe height record—just sayin’. After a knee injury in late January, he’s on the mend at Olympic facilities in Park City, Utah. Come March, though, he’s returning to Sunday River for his annual event, and he’s bringing grand designs of designing the grandest terrain park in the East and, just maybe, in North America.

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Learning Curve: The Road Less Traveled.

Wizard's Gulch

Full disclosure: I have been skiing for a long, long time. Well, I’m 28 and I’ve been skiing since I was 3. Okay, here comes the disclosure part. I’m still not that good at it. I mean, I suppose “good” is all relative, but I can’t ski the way a lot of my friends do, flying between moguls or dropping cliffs with seemingly small effort.

I grew up skiing the East Coast, exclusively, where groomers rule and rules abound. My parents also happen to be strictly on-pisters. Last year, I skied New Zealand, which is what I like to call a lawless land.

Deterrents. Cardrona.
Deterrents. Cardrona.

While it may not truly be “lawless,” New Zealanders are definitely a lot more blasé about what actually constitute boundaries and who may ski within (or outside of) them. Continue reading

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A Tale of Two Climbs.

The thing about tequila is… just kidding.  Unlike this story, today’s tale of misadventure has nothing to do with tequila. It has to do with lots and lots of vodka and one damning, ill-conceived shot of some horrendous cinnamon liqueur. (It was free.) And also, some unfortunate weather.

I woke up on Saturday morning and asked myself, “Where am I?” And then I looked down at my watch, which read 10:30, and asked, “Is that a.m. or p.m.?” Friday night was a doozy. I think…

Here’s the back story: Red Bull’s Frozen Rush, a truck race that took place on ski slopes, has been the center of our universe for a while. It didn’t just go off without a hitch on Friday. It was a great success. So, we celebrated.

Saturday morning didn’t go quite as smoothly. As laid on the floor, gingerly sipping ginger beer and forcing down some DiGiorno, I heard from various sources how terrible the roads were. Sheets of ice = general consensus. It was 12:45 before I deigned to attempt a homeward journey. I successfully (if slowly) navigated 90% of the trip, which was great, because I didn’t have my license on me. But then, I got less than halfway up my mountain-climbing road before my car, Ethel, would go no further. The road hadn’t been sanded at all and the car just couldn’t gain any traction. I bumped the first of many snow banks and somehow turned my car halfway around before it began sliding, sideways, down the hill. I’m not sure if it was the powerful over hang or extraordinary mental fortitude, but I remained calm. I was able to get the car facing the right direction, which gave me false hope. From that point on, I had absolutely zero control over the vehicle. I slid into a snow bank, crawled out of the rut, slid straight into another one, five feet down the road. Rinse and repeat.

As much as it pained me, I decided I had to leave Ethel. The question at this point was whether to hike up to my house or down to someone else’s and call for a ride. Down was a lot shorter. But my phone was dead, so I’d have to knock on a stranger danger’s door and request to use his or her phone, reeking of poor decisions. I opted for the climb.  Continue reading

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The year is new.

Oh, so it is. I’m usually much more on top of my New Year’s posts, but 2013 was one heck of a year and I wasn’t really sure where to start. Then I thought, I’ll just begin with what’s always closest to my heart: the food. (And drink.) And I’m gonna preemptively put a few dollars in the proverbial jar, because I’m about to sound like a… well, maybe just don’t read this if you’re prone to fits of jealous rage. Right, the food…  Continue reading

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Sap Sap Sappy Thanksgiving 2oThirteen.

This Thanksgiving Eve finds me sitting at an Ikea kitchen table that I shared with an ex, once upon a time. It’s now in my bedroom. In my parents’ house. There’s only one chair. (The other one was lost in a flood.) It’s also from Ikea. This visual gets more depressing with every passing detail. There’s even a candle. Unlit. And an opened box of Entenmann’s “donuts.” And a feline reposing in my lap. Just kidding… about those last two things, anyway.

The floor behind me is, literally, covered with books and laundry and 10 pairs of shoes and five pieces of luggage and 37 pieces of cameras and a statue of Ganesha.

So, at 28, this probably isn’t exactly where most people would want to be. But I am thankful to be here.

This has been one crazy year (so far). I didn’t realise until my mum brought it to my attention, but I set foot on five continents in eight months. That’s, like, the definition of a crazy year. But also the definition of a remarkable year.

Continue reading

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