Category Archives: Travel and Adventure

Follow Your Bliss

It has been a VERY long time since last I posted (July of 2017).

As a catch-up, I had been more than totally consumed leading a client’s program to launch their medical device company in 11 European countries (simultaneously) on July 1, 2018. I’m pleased to say that we (the client’s outstanding team, their external business partners and I) completed this extremely complex initiative on time! A good thing, as failure was simply NOT an option 🙂

To ensure success I decided it would be necessary for me to live in London (the client’s EU headquarters) from April through July of 2018. Without going into the nauseating details, I can simply say that this was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life (both professionally and personally).

While in London, in the heat of the project, I decided that once this one was complete I would go on sabbatical and do something TOTALLY different.

Quick background: When I was but a young lad I wanted to be a Forest Ranger, so that I could work in the woods of Maine. On getting older I forgot about this ambition and pursued a career in technology. That said, during a high percentage of my nights, weekends and vacations I would find myself on adventures in the woods: mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, fishing and camping with family and friends.

During the summer of 2013 I hired a Registered Maine Guide to take 2 of my boys and I on a trip on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (an absolutely outstanding northwoods adventure). It was at this time that a seed was planted: wouldn’t it be cool to be a Registered Maine Guide.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

~ Joseph Campbell

My decision in London was to become a Registered Maine Guide. This being something I could do “in addition to” continuing to operate my consulting business.

As stated on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website:

Registered Maine Guides are outdoor professionals who are licensed and permitted to accept any form of remuneration for their services in accompanying or assisting any person in the fields, forests or on the waters or ice within the jurisdiction of the State while hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, snowmobiling, using an all-terrain vehicle or camping at a primitive camping area.

For many years, a Maine Guide was not required to submit to any standardized testing. Interested parties simply had to pass muster with the local game warden. If the game warden considered them qualified and fit to guide in the outdoors, they were licensed as a Registered Maine Guide. In 1975, a standardized test and procedure was established for licensing.

I’m happy to report that as of January 29, 2019 I passed the test and have received my Specialized Recreational guide license. This means I’ve met the qualifications to guide watercraft, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiling and camping activities in the State of Maine.

57046916947__5d5a0268-0e6c-4e55-9022-2c6ba5affc1e

After receiving my license and guide patch (above) I learned that 60% of applicants fail. Wow!

Fortunately, to prepare for testing I felt it was important to hone my skills and fill in any gaps by attending training with Captain John Rogers of Maine’s Outdoor Learning Center. Based on the outcome of the test I’d suggest this training is highly recommended for anyone considering becoming a Registered Maine Guide.

As stated on Capt. John’s website:

The process of becoming a Licensed Registered Maine Guide is the most difficult in the country, which is why Maine Guides are held in such high regard.

Testing involved a 100 question written test and oral exam including topics such as: first-aid, survival, dealing with clients, wildlife identification, ethics, boating laws, lost person / catastrophic scenario, as well as demonstrating proficiency with map and compass. The latter few items are a pass or fail. That is, if you cannot effectively use a map and compass (with extreme accuracy) or deal with a lost person / catastrophic situation, deep in the woods of Maine, they don’t want you taking people out there for fear you won’t get them back again…

Now that a major goal of my sabbatical is complete I am putting my businessman’s hat back on to prepare to launch a guide business. Building on that, I’m currently planning an Allagash Wilderness Waterway adventure as an inaugural trip for the business, early in June. I’m happy to say that all (canoe) seats are taken for this initial trip 🙂

And, to confirm, if the right opportunity comes up “perhaps” I’ll take on a consulting gig or 2 between now and this year’s prime adventure season…

In closing, I’ve spent many years guiding my business clients to the successful completion of their mission critical projects. Now, I’ll “also” be guiding my adventurous clientele into the woods and waters of Maine. This is especially important, given an article I recently read in the Bangor Daily News, where it was mentioned:

As people spend more time in front of screens and children grow up with what author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder,” the role of the Registered Maine Guide may be more important than ever.

If you’d like to experience a guided adventure into the woods or waters of Maine, please let me know. I’d be happy to discuss this with you and put together a trip to match your ambitions.

Hope to see you out there! And, stay tuned…

The Traveling “F-bombs”

Cindy and I recently returned from a 5-day / 4-night camping trip to Mooselookmeguntic Lake, in Maine. We again stayed on Students Island, only reachable by canoe. This being our 5th trip to this amazing territory.

We had beautiful weather with only 1 minor thunderstorm for which we were totally prepared.

We still cannot get over how peaceful a setting this area offers.

Mooselookmeguntic happens to be the 4th largest lake in Maine, depending on which statistics you reference. And, for its size, there are very few carbon units (people) and boats. We believe this results from 2 things: 1) Its remoteness – It is about 2 hours from the nearest major highway (Interstate 95). 2) A good portion of the shoreline and the 2 largest islands on the lake (Students and Toothaker) totaling over 6,000 acres of land, is owned and managed by Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve. And, this land is only available for camping. You can learn more by clicking here.

There is a public boat launch on the southern end of the lake, and some homes along the shoreline, with the majority of the land remaining undeveloped.

Each time we visit we observe an abundance of wildlife. This time it again included viewing a bald eagle soaring overhead. These large birds of prey are easily identifiable with their white head and tale, as they majestically flap their wings during flight.

And, my personal favorite: the loons. As previously mentioned, I’ve never seen or heard so many loons in one place. In a typical (less remote?) lake, you may see 2-3. Here, it is not uncommon to see them fishing in packs of 7-8. Then, there is their unforgettable call, which echo’s for miles, across a large lake. Once a loon’s call is out, you will frequently hear another’s reply. The other loon(s) could be close by or miles away. When there are several loons in this calling frenzy it is absolutely incredible to listen to.

You REALLY must experience this, if you’ve not already.

To learn more about loons and the sound of their calls visit Wikipedia, by clicking here. Scroll down to “Etymology and taxonomy”, to hear the short audio recording – “Loons calling”.

As always, we did a lot of fishing and miles of paddling around the lake.

On our first day cruising the lake we were peacefully fishing a few hundred yards off the northern end of Students Island. It was a gorgeous, calm morning. The only sounds came from the loons and the voices of campers (young and old) off in the distance.

Until…

We began hearing the sound of a boat coming towards us with 2 middle-aged fishermen, who were trolling with 4 lines in the water. We could just barely make out the shape of the boat, which was well over a mile away.

How then, you might ask, did you know there were 2 middle-aged fishermen, trolling, with 4 lines in the water?

Well, it was quite simple…

You see, when trolling, the sound of the motorboat engine causes the occupants to speak loudly so that they can hear each other. And, sound travels a SIGNIFICANT distance over a calm lake.

As such, Cindy and I could CLEARLY hear every word of their conversation, which went something like this:

  • Well, we’ve got 4 “F’ing” lines in the water. We ought to catch some “F’ing” fish.
  • We have a “F’ing” fly on this one and some “F’ing” live bait on the other 3.
  • I’ve been “F’ing” drinking so much this summer.
  • What a “F’ing” beautiful day.
  • You get the picture. ALMOST EVERY sentence was enhanced with an “F-bomb.”
  • And, their voices were deep, with distinct Maine accents: our clue to their middle-agedness.

To be clear, our ears are not so tender that we can’t take an “F-bomb.” We’ve actually been known to utter a few ourselves 🙂

That is NOT the point.

The point is; we both cringed for the parents and their young children onshore, just behind us. Because, if we could so clearly hear these classy fishermen, then so could ALL the campers within 1-2 miles of this “scene.”

We just wanted to yell: “Please, shut up! There must be a dozen young children in earshot of you!

We realized that these class-acts would not have been able to hear our plea over the drone of their engine. So, we just laughed it off over the next hour or so until they finally trolled out of earshot (miles away), unaware of the sizable audience to their conversation.

But, it made me think…Think (again) about how we (knowingly or unknowingly) portray ourselves – ONLINE!

Without trying, I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook that I just cringe thinking about how others (who “may” look up to these individuals) shape their opinion and even their life, based on what they witness.

I know, some may say things like:

  • It is a free country. I can say what I want. Freedom of speech and all.
  • I don’t have any young children, so who cares?
  • My children are too young to read or use the computer, so who cares?

Have you thought of the following?

  • Some day you may have kids, or grandkids (3-5 years from now)?
  • Soon your little ones WILL be able to read and use the computer?
  • Do you have any nieces or nephews? Might you in the future?

You see, the stuff we post online DOES NOT SIMPLY GO AWAY.

And, have you experienced the Facebook feature, which seems to have recently been implemented? You know, the one that hauls-up a post (photo, etc.) from 1, 2, 3 years ago as an “anniversary-type” reminder?

Oh, how quaint. Or, is it?

Just what might that feature dredge-up for any new, tender young eyes who we’ve “friended” since that post originally took place?

The point: Just like the traveling “F-bombs” of our classy fishermen, we may “say” something online to a perceived, limited audience, which may ultimately reach a much broader audience than we had imagined – over time.

Remember: Facebook is a place people can go to check us out. Check us out in advance of offering a job, for example.

Considering ALL of the above, how do we want to be perceived?

As a free-spirited, loose cannon, who any good manager or company owner would find risky to hire, for fear of what may be said online about them, or their company?

This is very real: there are people who have actually lost their job due to an inappropriate Facebook post. As they should have!

We must realize, our every act has immediate and potentially longer-term implications that we simply may not be able to foresee. All the more reason to carefully consider our every word and deed.

Just something I was thinking of, as we peacefully floated on the smooth surface of Mooselookmeguntic, listening to the traveling F-bombs.

IMG_3669 (1)

We did catch some fish on this trip, none of which were the prized trout or salmon known to be in these waters. This included each of us catching our share of suckers (silvery, undesirable fish). And, I caught a good-sized small mouth bass.

IMG_0012

Will we go there again, this summer? Very likely!

On our day of departure we spoke with the campground manager and learned that they had just experienced a fire in their office, which had pretty much burned up their charts of campsite availability. So, over the next few days she has the onerous task of reconstructing this information from reservation slips that were salvaged from the incident. As such, she couldn’t immediately share campsite availability for August or early September. So, we’ll have to call them in a few days to determine our options.

All the best!

Proof of Leap

Cindy and I have returned from an awesome 9-days at Moosehead Lake, in Maine.

We shared the experience with 3 of the 4 boys, for a few days early in the week. During that time we rented a pontoon boat, which we affectionately referred to as: the garbage truck. We did so for 2 reasons: 1) The inside of the watercraft was well worn and dirty. 2) When going across the lake it was barge-like slow. So, garbage truck was quite fitting.

Just the same, we had a great time swimming, fishing and visiting one of the most beautiful spots on the planet: Pebble Beach, which provides an unbelievable view of Mt. Kineo (partial photo below). Since this spot is most easily reached by boat, there is typically few carbon units (I mean people) to contend with 🙂

After the boys left, Cindy and I had a couple days of solitude and viewing of wildlife. This included seeing more deer than squirrels on the property, a pileated woodpecker tearing at a tree (sounded like a sledgehammer), a bald eagle, ducks, a moose and, my personal favorite: loons. Cindy wanted to make sure I mentioned the crows. Not that they are rare: the ones we saw were HUGE. We agreed that they must eat well in this territory 🙂

Then, we had a chance to spend a quality 2-days with my parents, and their real, nice, FAST boat (a 19′ Bayliner).

Here is a shot of the 4 of us at Pebble Beach. Mt. Kineo, with 700′ cliffs rising straight-up from the lake, is in the background.

IMG_3581

Notice the beach. It is made-up entirely of small rocks that have been worn smooth by nature. Many of these “pebbles” are of skipping quality. We had an unfortunate incident here several years ago when one of our boys was playfully skipping rocks while Cindy was floating on an inner-tube. A rock caught her squarely in the mouth, splitting her lip open and breaking off a tooth. Being in the middle of God’s country, the nearest hospital was quite a distance away. After nearly 2 hours travel time (partly by water, partly by land) we got her all fixed-up (several stitches). Thankfully, after healing, there is no discernible scar!

Another interesting point about this crystal clear lake is that it has some very deep spots, the maximum of which (254′) is directly behind us in the above photo. In fact, after taking only a few steps into the water at Pebble Beach you are over your head!

Not only are there beautiful rock formations above water, there are some amazing sites to view below: while snorkeling. It is actually quite eery when viewing the gargantuan slabs of rock below the surface which literally descend out of site, beyond the reach of a snorkeler.

Earlier in the week I had been corresponding with the owners’ of the house we were staying in, about questions and providing updates on our time there. In one of his responses he made mention of a rope swing that I should try. I let him know that we had already tried the rope swing at Pebble Beach, to which he responded: “This rope swing dwarfs the one at Pebble Beach.”

OK then, I have GOT to give this a try.

In my commenting to this effect, the owner responded with: “No photo – It didn’t happen.

He had laid down the challenge 😎

And now I’m thinking: this is probably much bigger than I imagine.

During the 2nd day of boating with my parents we decided to try and find the rope swing. First, you must realize that Moosehead Lake is MASSIVE (120 square miles). In fact, you must watch the weather because if the wind or a thunderstorm comes up it can be ocean-like dangerous.

Once we found the southern end of Deer Island, on which the rope swing was located, we began the search for the next challenge 😎

Within 15-20 minutes Cindy spotted it, with her eagle eyes. I had been using binoculars, to no avail.

As we approached the swing, the dwarfing comment became clear.

The rope (at least 25′ long) was tied very high in a pine tree. We wondered how they got it up there. But, really, who cares 🙂

My dad stopped the boat nearby…I did my customary backflip into the lake and swam for shore.

I grabbed the rope and began the climb up the cliff. It wasn’t too hard, but not easy, either. Someone had constructed a climbing rope to assist thrill-seekers up the first part of the rock cliff which was quite steep.

I had reached stage one. You see, there was another stage several feet further above: we’ll call that stage 2. I figured I’d do a test run from the lower segment of the cliff. I was NOT disappointed and decided I was ready for stage 2.

You cannot imagine what it “might” feel like to swing from the trees like Tarzan, until you have tried something like this. Once you make the leap and begin the swing, time seems to slow down as you fly through the air. Then, you must pick the spot, at the far end of the pendulum swing, to release, and begin your decent into the lake.

IMG_3624

AMAZING!!! (Click on the image to zoom in)

I emailed the above photo to the lake house owners, as “proof of leap”, shortly there-after.

During our next visit to Moosehead Lake, this will be one of our first stops with the boys. I’m sure we’ll spend hours in this one spot, trying to out-do each other 🙂

After the “leap of faith” challenge was conquered, we boated to Greenville, a small town at the southern-most end of the lake. Here we had ice cream and then returned to the lake house, completing our journey for the day.

In closing, we had an awesome time, at a place we will return to again and again (this being our 6th visit to the area).

All the best!