You can get here from there

So how does an out of work writer and her recently retired teacher husband “leave it all behind” to move permanently to their cabin in Maine? What’s it really like living ten miles from the nearest stop sign and 37 miles from the nearest traffic light on a big lake with a long name that, in Abnaki, means “moose feeding place?” 

Good questions. In the three months since my big transition north, I’m starting to come up with some answers, which I’ll share in the following posts. As they come, I’ll also share answers to things I’m still pondering, sometimes in the middle of the night, and sometimes after embarking on a chore I used to take for granted that now involves bug spray, a change of clothes, a water bottle, an ice pack and an itinerary posted on the refrigerator so loved ones can come find me. I’ll share how I came to uproot myself after living in the same house in the same city for all of my adult life to move year-round to what had previously been my summer camp. I’ll share how I got here and how I intend to stay.

For now, I do know for sure, that my transition from Flatlander to Rangeley transplant would never have grown past a whim without a few prerequisites. To take this leap of faith and begin to make it work, I needed:

  • Enough money and enough faith to believe that enough will be enough
  • A  vision for a new lifestyle with the guts to follow through when opportunity allowed and the grace to back pedal or change course if it didn’t
  • A sense of adventure
  • A sense of humor
  • A logistical, up-to-the minute project plan that would impress even the most detail oriented spreadsheet gurus from my office working days
  • A soul mate who instigated and inspired and, more often than not, just plain took charge of all of the above necessities, and still thinks he wants to pull up his Adirondack chair next to mine when it’s all said and done

Some folks say we’re crazy. Some say we’re “too young” to retire, to which we say we’re “just young enough.” Some say we’re taking a huge risk leaving the malls, the curbside garbage pickup, and ambulances that can reach the emergency room fast enough to resuscitate us.  Even one friend says we’re way to far from a wine and liquor outlet to make this lifestyle feasible. It’s a bit too early to say they’re wrong. The jury’s still out…at least until next April or May when we can, hopefully, still claim victory with whatever  the winter thaw leaves in working order. And if we can’t, and we truly are crazy, let’s hope it’s sweet old Nana who could marvel at the same birch tree over and over like she’d never seen it before kind of crazy. Let’s hope it’s not standing out in the driveway with a shotgun and a tin foil hat kind of crazy.

Meanwhile, I also know for sure I already have the most crucial element in this whole leap of faith, and have possessed copious quantities of it for the past 23 years. I love Rangeley. I love this place, its people, my new-old house here that holds all my treasures. I love the way I feel when I walk down to my waterfront and can still see my daughters as toddlers running ahead of me eager, as I was, to jump in. I am rooted in this land of lakes and mountains. Always will be. With that grounding force, along with the previously mentioned keys to survival, plus lots of blankets, dried beans, homemade wine and stacks and stacks of reading material, the saga begins!

6 thoughts on “You can get here from there

  1. Great idea to document it all! I am glad you are living your dream.

    I don’t know much about blogs, but I will be looking forward to your comments.


  2. Joy and Tom,
    Nice, very nice, verry vvverrry Nice indeed. Excuse the redundany but I feel well past old enough to retire, but alas, don’t have a Rangeley. Least not yet, but then these things take planning and I have always been very adverse to such activities and must therefore pay the price. I could say other things, but alas if I can read these other comments that means someone may be able to read this, so I will have to keep that in mind. I will have to catch you both on regular mail so I can talk like a Jack Hartford rather than someone who leaves comments. Did I say this was nice. Well, all righty then.


  3. Hi Joy and Tom!
    My Dad shared your blog with us and it’s great!!! It reminds me of Terry and my trip to Boundary Waters about 6 years ago.. that was for a week, I can’t imagine doing it for retirement!!!! I love the photos and your writings, looking forward to more! Good luck to you. Our friends son just moved to New Hampshire to work at a camp for troubled teens, if we ever make our way up there, maybe we can visit you too!
    Barb & Terry


  4. Last Tuesday my brother-in-law announced he would be working another 10 years – because he had a few more millions to make. He’s 60 already and lives in the traffic laden world of the VA/ DC area. My sister just retired.

    Me – I have rivers to kayak, mountains to ski, sunsets to capture, and a dog to walk. So, I won’t be waiting till I’m too old to enjoy it. Getting there… just another couple years til my 16 yr old is out of high school. Can’t wait! I’ll be in NH, but please keep the stories of Maine coming!


  5. Hi Joy – Wonderful to read your journey and your next life chapters.

    You know ~ when you write about your camp, the lake, the mountains and nature ~ All I can see is Mac standing there making comments and off color jokes about you (and everyone else within ear shot). I think he was the inspirational man who led you and Jan both to the corners of New Hampshire and Maine and the love of all things related to water.

    If I may say, I don’t think your “aha” moment is as simple as a Oprah defined pulling of your heart towards the lake but much deeper than that ~ with dear ole dad – directing one last time, where you should plant your roots. I believe as you roam around your camp, you will find Mac is walking right next to you with a big smile and nodding in agreement with your decision to live there full time and make it your permanent home.

    I can’t wait to read more about your adventure and the first winter you spend there.
    One of these days when I am up to visit Jan – I hope to see you.
    Take care – Barb


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