Portage, Hermit Island, and Choices


October 16, 2008 by Bethany

To pick up where I left off last time:

We spent the night at Reid State Park and I dreamt of crashing waves all night long. It was a bad nights sleep. We woke up the next morning. The weather was still bad and forecasted to be that way for a while. Neither one of us had any intention of going paddling in that again so we decided to try and portage around the mouth of the Kennebec River. We packed everything up and moved it all up to a parking lot and started the one mile walk to the Ranger Station. We met a lady ranger who took us to the maintenance shed so we could make a phone call to try and find a ride. We called a lot of places in the phone book looking for a ride or advice or maybe a little positive energy, because we had none. It was a depressing time. There was no way I was paddling and we couldn’t sleep there again. After a while, and some semi-rude and condescending comments from the rangers and mechanics, the lady ranger came in and practically yelled “We’ll take you!” Dan and I felt like we were in trouble and it was incredibly akward. They were doing a nice thing for us but we felt really bad accepting the offer mostly because it seemed like they really didnt want to help. It was very odd, a mix of thoughtfulness with frustration. Either way, Dan and I had a ride up the peninsula and down the next one, avoiding the Kennebec alltogether. They tied our boats on and told the ranger who wasnt there yet that he had an interesting job to do when he arrived. Lo and Behold, the ranger who arrived was the ranger who had helped us the night before and we were again indebted to him. We hopped in the truck and we were on our way.

The ride to Hermit Island Campground was very pleasant. We enjoyed talking to this ranger. He was kind and soft-spoken. He was also a Christian and we told him about THE SHACK, by William P. Young. It’s a great book that you should read too. He dropped us off at the campground and bid us farewell… and there we were, alone, at what felt like the end of the world.

It was cold, gray, wet, and therefore very gloomy. We stood there staring at eachother for a long time, not knowing what to do next and not wanting to do anything at all. We sat down at the picnic table, surrounded by our wet gear and didn’t speak for a long time. It was a strange feeling knowing that we had just made a very hard choice, to Portage. We had officially “skipped” a part of the coastline (Dan says you would have to had you been faced with the same situation) and were now at a place that we had arrived to by truck rather than by boat. It was surreal but most of all, it was depressing. We knew that we had made the right decision but it still stung a bit to our pride. There was no regret at the same time. It wa a mix of emotions and we just didnt know what to say or do other than sit on a lonely picnic table in the misty afternoon.

We finally got our act together and set up camp. The rest of the day was a blur to me. We slept and ate and met our neighbors, Pam and Peter, and watched the other campers build fires and laugh and walk on the beach while Dan and I just sat, shell-shocked by the past two days.

The next morning we woke up to pouring rain. The weather via the radio, although wet, sounded like a good day to paddle. We waited until the rain stopped and got up, avoiding camp break-down for the moment, the thought of our cold wet neoprene was almost unbearable in the circumstances. Pam and Peter came over to say good morning and brought us 2 fresh baked muffins from Shaw’s Bakery. Wonderful. Im sure we looked like we had been run over by a truck. That’s how we felt. We talked to them a while, again avoiding packing up. We learned that they lived in Portland and that this was Peter’s favorite place in the whole world. They talked with us for a while and it was so refreshing to see smiles, since neither one of us had been smiling for days. They left to go back to their campsite and dan and I got back in the tent to pack up our sleeping bags and sleeping pads. As we silently performed the necessary tasks, tears started rolling down my cheeks. Paddling, or doing anything for that matter, was more than i could bear.  We sat on the cold tent floor, face to face, knowing that this was our only opportunity to paddle for the next couple of days because of coming weather, but neither of us were able to force ourselves to go. I cried and cried.  The past couple of days were so damaging to our spirits, that this could possible be the last hour of our trip. We were this close to calling home, our to Barbara Beal, for someone to pick us up and take us home. This close.

We decided to stay another night.

We slept away the day. Dan fished. I made a meal. We ate. Dan read REDWALL outloud to us for hours and hours. Night fell. We slept again.

The next morning the weather was horrible. The wind was whipping across the water and through the campground and we were stuck. It wasnt so bad though. Paddling seemed like an unbearable task once again and we decided to make a decision. We had two choices:

1. Paddle the 20 miles to Portland and live there for the winter, and continue the trip in the spring.


2. Finish the coast of Maine, then go home, stop the trip for good, and begin our new life follwing other dreams that we have.

We talked about it for hours that morning. We sat in the tent, bundled up, surrounded by nylon walls, nearly buckling from the wind. Both options were plausible and appealing. Having a house and following other dreams that we had been discussing daily on the water sounded exciting. We would be done with the trip though. That was depressing. Portland sounded like it would be hard. We would need to find jobs and an apartment and we would need to find them fast. But… it would be more exciting and the trip would still be on. We made our choices, hugged, and went to tell Pam and Peter.

We enjoyed the rest of the day around the fire with Pam and Peter, talking about our choices, and about the Lord. They are Jehovah’s Witness Ministers and spend over 70 hours a month in active ministering roles, telling the Portland area what they believe. We discussed the differences of our faiths and the similarities almost all day long. It was very enlightening and challenging. Im so glad that Dan is eloquent about what we believe and I was able to pour my heart out to them as well, about my beliefs about the Lord. We left feeling fufilled and more in love with Jesus than we had been that morning. We also felt amazing that we had made the choice about what we were going to do next with the trip. We had a fire and Dan read us REDWALL until we decided to go to sleep.

The next morning, the weather was STILL bad and were stuck there for a 4th day and night. We were getting cabin fever and it was then we made a silly decision to go for a walk. We walked out of the campground, up the road, without a real plan at all. We met some people painting their house and they told us that the nearest “anything” was 8 miles away. We kept right on walking, because we were that bored. We got two rides along the way and ended up at the gas station 8 miles away and ordered a pizza and split an orange soda. Not really worth the trouble but then again, what else did we have to do. We started our trek back and got very gloomy again. Why did we do this again? Someone stopped to pick us up because they thought Dan was someone they knew, but they gave us a ride anyway. We got back to the campsite, sat at the picnic table and stared at each other again for a while. Then Dan fished. I cooked a meal. We ate. Dan read READWALL outloud for a while again and then we went to sleep.

The next morning the weather was FINALLY good for paddling. We packed up, energized about the plan and headed out on glassy waters. We made a crossing with ease and then stopped at a point of land for lunch. There were people there diving and some Asian tourists who asked to take our picture.  We obliged. As we left that place, the wind began to pick up and again we were met with a hard paddling expierience, like every day it seemed. It took a long time to paddle across that part of the Casco Bay that we were working on. Our goal that day was Jewell Island, but as we made the turn to head that way we were faced with a head wind AND an opposing tide for three miles. We decided against that and made for Crow Island instead. That was a good choice. When we arrived we were both exhausted and happy to be done paddling for the day. We got into warm clothes, set up camp, and went exploring. Dan went fishing and I made dinner. We ate and watched the sunset, content. We called our families, keeping our choice secret from them for the time being, and sat by the fire until it died. It was a perfect night. Our last night before Portland.

2 thoughts on “Portage, Hermit Island, and Choices

  1. Kacie Damme says:

    um, i love you guys. a whole lot. and i don’t know if i missed the decision or not, but whatever you guys decide, i still think you’re pretty darn hardcore for going out paddling in the fall all the way up north in cold waters. and for being homeless and married at the same time (that’s kind of huge…). sex in a tent does not seem appealing to me. i’m just sayin’… : )

    so anyhoo, i am praying for you both and trusting the good Lord to continue to bless you abundantly. and i think that if all else fails, you should go back to live with the greeks. heck, i even want to come live with the greeks. blueberry pancakes for breakfast have always been a selling point for me. dang. if you throw falafel in the mix later on for lunch or dinner, i am so there.

    hey, i am fairly certain that we are moving to ft. mill, sc (actually it sits on the carolina border) at the end of june/beginning of july. us, and our freshly newborn baby, that is. it’s going to be an adventure (though not of any comparable sort to yours!).

    the coxes are going on our family daily prayer list TODAY. may the grace of God and the love of Christ meet you on your journey…


  2. Daniel Lewis says:

    Yes yes yes!!! I agree, with Kacie, you guys are awesome!! If you want to know how I feel about the whole thing, if you go home your’re going to miss it. I’m sure whatever plans you have for the future can wait. If paddling now is just too difficult my vote goes to staying in Portland for the winter. But if you do go on, try not to pigeonhole yourselves to a strict schedule with long paddling days unless it’s totally necessary because space won’t allow for a slower schedule. This is your new job so be sure to take vacation days Let me read on to the next story and then I can post again.

    *Daniel Lewis is a personal expedition expert and approves this message*

Comments are closed.


The Map

This is the map we created with our Spot Satellite Messenger of the whole trip.

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