• Jacob Winter

Some New England Explorin'

Updated: May 31, 2021

**Shoutout to my sister, Kasey, for graduating! Yew! Congrats of c/o '21**

**Check out the photo gallery if you have any interest. Uploaded and reorganized them a bit**

As my time in Maine ticks by, I've realized I need to start road tripping to the places on my ever-growing Northeast Destinations list which has been contributed to by just about every stranger to whom I've told my story. This urge was also poked by the medley of jumbled existential thoughts stemming from my recent Vision Quest (a small bit on this later). I have driven out to a couple of ski resorts and spent plenty of time at Acadia National Park, but folks ranging from ski lift singles line companions to Main Street conversationalists have encouraged my visiting to a number of other places throughout this region. These places range from historical coastal towns and national forests to locally-revered used book stores and resort towns. On a side note, Maine is so GREEEEEN right now! The maple's leaves have bloomed, the sun has been shining, and our gardens are blossoming.

Yard Maples

This leads me to my past week as I currently write this update lakeside in Gilford, NH. Gilford is on the Southwestern end of Lake Winnipesaukee and where I'm staying in a simple one-bedroom Airbnb for a couple of nights. Rewinding a few days, I drove two hours south of Bangor to Portland, ME to the wonderful company and hospitality of my dear college buddy, Matt. Matt's been in Maine the past three years working on his Doctorate of Physical Therapy and I don't believe I'd seen him since the summer before he originally left for Portland. My four days there consisted of food, drink, taking graduation pictures, a ride, a run, some beach time, and a few games of Catan, of course! Despite being Maine's largest city, Portland boasts a population of just over 60,000 people. It fits the image of a state's main metropolis, but holds the feel of a smaller historic town. From Portland I pointed it toward the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I unfortunately timed this visit in line with a closure of the auto road to the top of Mt. Washington, but exploring the encompassing national forest was fantastic. I got my feet dirty when invited to join my new friend, Drift, on a bare-footed scramble up a nearby ledge. From there I drove south to this lake and am enjoying some down time.

Mt. Washington From the Highway
Drift & Me Looking Out Over Mt. Washington

A week prior to leaving on this mini Northeast road trip I was walking out of the woods in the early dawn light after having fasted alone for four days. Through a series of events (I'll save you the intricate details) I got in touch with a program run all over the world, but locally by a guy in a neighboring town to me. There were seven of us questing and three people helping organize and run the quest. We had a day and a half before and after for preparation and debriefing and the four days between for undistracted thinking. The idea they present is "fasting from all things familiar" (I did have plenty of water). I had a ~10 foot diameter area that I walked out to at first light on a Monday morning and remained there until Friday morning. I had a tarp to string up in case of rain but no tent, phone, books, journals, etc. We were told to come prepared with questions about ourselves or our lives we wanted to think on without distraction. I got a lot out of that exercise and also really enjoyed observing how my body and mind reacted to being dragged out of its homeostasis. By day four I was hungry, irritable, and had planned out my meals for the whole week, but I felt very fulfilled and accomplished upon completing this experience.

Sunny Day, Replenishing Post Fast

I last wrote about being in the middle of reading Jack Kerouac's On The Road. I finished it a while back and probably hold it in my top 10 list. Great semi-autobiographical storytelling and easy to read. I have a couple more of his works on my list to read, including Dharma Bums.

The past couple of weeks I've been working on a new one: How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. This work is by Michael Pollan who has written notable pieces on food and plants such as Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire. How To Change Your Mind is a comprehensive look at everything known about psychedelic compounds, specifically LSD and psilocybin. The non-fictional narrative includes many scientific studies, a handful of not-so-scientific personal anecdotes, and the timeline in and out of cultural taboo this class of drug has undergone. Many folks today may not realize that there were hundreds of government-sanctioned studies on and tens of thousands of participants in LSD and psilocybin trials in the 1950s and early 1960s (there is still limited research going on today at Johns Hopkins). These compounds were being used in conjunction with talk therapy to very successfully treat alcoholism, addiction, end-of-life anxiety, depression, and more. When these compounds jumped from the lab to the streets and became closely aligned with the counterculture movement of the late 1960s, the potential benefits and promising research were halted amidst public hysteria and some targeted government messaging. This time period also had a large impact on Nixon enacting the (unsuccessful) war on drugs. The topics in How To Change Your Mind may not be your cup of tea, but it does an incredible job dispelling myths, explaining fears and risks, and informing on the new wave of psychedelic science that is on the up and up. For more info on the latest related trials, check out this book or explore the website of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).

A glorious advantage the East has over the West is a much deeper history of our country and its founding. I had started taking an interest in the history behind our early presidents when I came across a sweet find in a used book store. This book is a complete collection of all letters written between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adams and Jefferson are widely regarded as having one of the most notable correspondences of all time. As the second and third presidents of our country, and significant players in the politics behind the Revolutionary War, their letters hold some incredible first-hand accounts of the war itself, as well as the deliberations between our founders during the writing of the U.S.' official documents. I was also turned onto an HBO biopic docu-series about John Adams. The seven episodes helped me build a picture of the people and places significant to that time period.

Adams and Jefferson also have a notable death story. They were the last two living signers of the Declaration of Independence and died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the U.S.' founding. John Adams lived to 90 (!!), incredibly old for that time and the oldest age a president lived to until Ronald Reagan died in 2004! Wicked!

One of the most interesting parts of this study, however, has been learning about Abigail Adams. She is still known as one of the most intelligent first ladies to be in office, and this is especially important given the lack of intellectual opportunities afforded to women in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Even if educated, the woman would almost certainly be homemaking instead of putting her education to work professionally. John Adams frequently noted Abigail as his closest presidential advisor. The book I referred to also has letters written between Abigail and Jefferson. These and other letters written by Abigail have served as well-written, eye-witness accounts of the Revolution.

Related to East Coast history, and something many people find strange about me, is my interest in cemeteries. Yes, they hold a bit of somberness and death (quite literally), but I find it fascinating to see memorials of people who were born in literally 1750 (for example). I think that's one reason I've been so intrigued by history in general lately: it is the COOLEST thing to me to think about a person just like me going about their daily business in SUCH different times. Cemeteries can also be quite beautifully designed as well, almost like a public park. I see cemeteries all over the place back East. I think the early establishment of many of these caused them to frequently be located along main roads. I see small town cemeteries all over the place driving around out here. I could maybe tell you where two or three cemeteries are back home in WA. Anyways, enjoy a couple of my favorites from some recently-visited burial grounds.

Looking forward to my last two months in Maine, I have a few different visitors coming out to my area, I'm seeing a Grateful Dead cover band, and I'll be trying to spend more time in the sun. My plan is to leave Maine near the 1st of August and spend 4-5 weeks slowly making my way out West. After seeing Tame Impala at The Gorge in central Washington on September 10th, I'll head down to Linden, CA to work on the farm of my good buddy Jason for the walnut harvest.

I'll write again before I leave Maine, but until then, find happiness in the warming weather and the flowers that come with that!


Check out the edit I threw together from some clips Alex, Blake, and I got from a fun day skiing Silver Fir back in February!


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