From VH to DYT

So yesterday kind of inherently sucked because we had to leave Vinalhaven. We packed up all of our things, stopped at the bakery one last time to say goodbye to the ladies who work there (and get our last cinnamon rolls), loaded up our vans and got on the ferry. The ferry was basically the only good part of leaving. The ride in was windy and cold, but the ride back to the mainland was sunny, warm, and still.

BLB_6200eOne last picture of Vinalhaven from the ferry.

The pain was eased with a lot of singing 90’s music in the car and a stop at an art museum in Brunswick. Which was followed by the best calzone I have ever had. Ricotta, goat cheese, pineapple, garlic, and chicken. I don’t even have the words to convey how good it was, and even if I did I have to stop because thinking about it is making me too hungry.

So then we stopped by a beach whose name I cannot remember if I ever knew it. We laid out and practiced the yoga we had learned (after the one class we had–professionals), and took pictures. Of course.

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BLB_6406e BLB_6399eThe sun was a nice way to end the trip, but also made it tougher to leave. Now we’re sitting in the airport waiting for our flights–some of us later than others. We’ve been here since 9 and I won’t land in Dayton until 8pm. It’s a long travel day, but I have a lot to say about airports and the people in them. So stay tuned?





Leaving Vinalhaven


“I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”

-Harry Emerson Fosdick

The sky was perfect for us on our last night in Vinalhaven, and I’m sorry to see these weeks end. I am so grateful.


The Light that got Lost


We listened to a reading on the marginal worlds, of which I took this photo to illustrate. As soon as I find the passage online I’ll post it here, but I remember the idea that everyday, each shoreline changes. One day the sea may have a little more of the land, and the next the land may take itself back. I’ve been thinking about the interaction between the sea and the land, and the ocean as its own entity. I hope that it never stops making me think and wonder and marvel.


“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the end blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in the water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper the blue.

The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of the land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.”


From journal 6/2:

I didn’t fully understand how I felt about the Vinalhaven community until our visit to hurricane island. The island was beautiful, the landscape was just like Vinalhaven, but all of the people were long gone. I didn’t feel compelled to stay there, in that amazing house on the top of the hill, all alone. It’s not the landscape alone that makes the community, and it’s not the people alone that make the place. You can’t separate the two. The landscape and the people define each other. And that’s Vinalhaven.


From journal 6/2:

Today I feel different. Different than I’ve ever felt on my last day at a place that isn’t home. I always love travel, but there’s this thing about deadlines that I can’t help but anxiously look forward to. I’m a planner, and it’s hard for me to just let myself be somewhere without anticipating leaving. But today I feel calm, and like for once, I don’t want to leave this place that isn’t home. If I said I wasn’t looking forward to it a little, that would be a lie. But I think I finally let myself just be here and be happy. And I hope that the next time I travel I can be this way, be this open to new people and new experiences. I guess I like who I am in Maine.


Hurricane Island

I am determined to use this spurt of decent wifi to catch up to this point in the trip. So here we go, Sunday, June 1 on Vinalhaven.


We started off the day with a lobster parade. We didn’t really have any idea what that meant, but we showed up. It turns out there were plenty of lobstering-themed activities, like blessing the fleet, knot tying, dead fish relays (you read that correctly), lobster trap races (where you run across the top of the crates on the water), and my personal favorite, timed trap heading. Apparently to get a lobster trap ready, one must first head the trap. That means putting a bunch of rope and netting in the trap in an extremely particular way. The guy who we watched was first, and he took 13 minutes and 48 seconds. So yeah, that’s a lot of work. It was $10 an entry, and the winner got to keep the trap.


It’s unbelievable how much we’ve already gotten to know the people on the island. Everywhere we go, we know someone, and the people we don’t know probably related to the people we do know, all of whom are great photo subjects.


I call this one “I’m So Fancy.”

Later on we went rowing with the rowing coach, which was a new experience for all of us. I ended up going twice because we needed one more person in the second group. It worked out great because I ate two lunches before that–extra rowing fuel. What started out being a bit stressful learning commands and knowing that our ability dictated our success and our level of frustration, turned into a relaxing bonding time rowing around part of the island. We’re looking in to starting a crew team at DePauw (not really).

Then, Bobby (the lobsterman) took us out on his boat to Hurricane Island, where there  used to be an Outward Bound program. There are two theories to its name: one is that there really was a hurricane on the island. Yawn. The second is that there was a boy named Cane who lived on the island who they used to call hurricane, and they named it after him. I choose to believe the latter.

BLB_5854eThe island had some of our best views yet, and we learned all about its history. In the 1900’s a whole town lived there, but now a family owns the island. They live in the most amazing home I’ve ever seen, where the top viewing deck gives them a 360 degree view of the island. It’s casual. Basically an HGTV dream home in real life.

We actually found a newly dead baby seal that was incredibly cute and sad, but I’ll spare you those pictures for the much less depressing one of this seal skull instead!


We can’t believe that tomorrow is our last full day on Vinalhaven. I’m going to feel so landlocked going back to Ohio, and I’m not looking forward to a twelve hour travel day on Wednesday. So I just keep remembering how lucky I am that I ended up here, with these people, doing something I love to do in a place I’ve never been. This is a good life.




The Splash and the Sailor

First, a late picture as proof that I was impulsive enough to jump in that ice cold quarry. Courtesy of Sophie Fang, one of the sweetest girls and best photographers I know.

dsc_9889So I thought my submersion in Maine’s water was over and done with. And then today happened.

First we found a perfect little place called Polly’s Cove. There was a boat on the water, the tide coming in on the beach, and more than enough rocks for skipping. We were enjoying the sun and taking pictures of the boat and essentially loving life.



And then this man showed up. His name is Mike and his home is in Boston, but he’s been sailing around on his boat and stopped in Vinalhaven to hike around. But when the tide came in, the rope holding in his little dingy got stuck under a rock and he had no way to get it back. So after some rock skipping and enjoying the sun, Madison and I finally came to the conclusion that we really needed to help this man.


So we (albeit a bit reluctantly) felt the ocean water, confirmed that it was going to be miserable and we had to do it quickly, took off our boots and socks, and waded into the water. I pulled the boat in and Madison fed the rope out from under the rock and we got Mike’s boat to shore. We felt absolutely freezing, but accomplished.

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Mackenzie took these wonderful photos, just another perk of being on a photography trip. No moments go undocumented.


We finished our day off with an incredible three course meal at The Haven restaurant, where we enjoyed everything from baked goat cheese, mussels, lobster chowder, steak, and more desserts than I could name. I know I’m getting attached to this place–I think we all are. It’s going to be really tough to leave.




Taking the Plunge

There’s an old Tanzania proverb that says “One who bathes willingly with cold water does not feel the cold.” After today, I would have to disagree.

But I’ll get back to that. Today was a gorgeous and busy day in Vinalhaven. We started out with a trip to an abandoned granite quarry, led by Jeff, one of the many islanders who have been more than helpful and willing to show us all over the island. One on side of the quarry, there was a series of huge granite steps that you could climb up with a fair amount of effort. This is what it looked like from the top.

BLB_5498eThe quarries were pretty much abandoned by the 1920’s, when granite was no longer used for structures. There’s still one quarry that operates for cosmetic things like counter tops.

Basically the whole area around the quarry was beautiful.



BLB_5508eLater that day we explored the Vinalhaven historical society. Which to be honest sounded boring and pointless until we were inside. It was sort of like a museum but with just a huge eclectic collection of old stuff from Vinalhaven’s past. We could have stayed in there exploring for hours.



BLB_5575eAfter the historical society, we went to Booth’s quarry, which had the coolest pictures of boats carved into the granite right by the water. The water was beautiful, clear, and as still as glass… so I climbed down to see exactly how cold it was. When I saw that it was bearable, I knew I would regret it if I didn’t jump in. So I harassed everyone until Hannah was willing to actually jump with me (Madison wanted to go in, but was understandably worried about the depth). Once Hannah and I made the freezing plunge, Madison and Claire did too. We headed straight back to the motel for hot showers before an amazing dinner at Salt, one of the two nice restaurants on Vinalhaven. And for once, we left our cameras behind and just enjoyed the meal.


BLB_5597ePictures to come of me jumping in this beautiful water–didn’t have the camera on me:)







Lobster Fishing for Dummies

Today was absolutely our best day so far. I had been waiting for the lobster boat experience, and I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting. But there were definitely some surprises. I know how curious everyone must be. Us midwesterners don’t have a lot of lobstering in our daily lives, so here it is folks. Lobster fishing for dummies.


First, you’re gonna need to get on a lobster boat. Trust me, it’ll make your life a lot easier later. It helps if the sun is shining and the temperature isn’t incredibly cold, because you’re going to be touching some lobsters later, and those babies are cold blooded and living at the bottom of the frigid ocean.



(I know that’s not the most practical picture of a lobster boat. Sorry, this is still a photography trip.)

Next, you’re going to boat out to the traps you keep and somehow manage to tell them apart from the gazillion other traps that other lobstermen and lobsterwomen have laid out. Bonus: your buoys and all of the others will look basically identical, as will the landscape and the ocean. And you’re not using a GPS.

There is good news! If you’re lucky (and some lobstermen aren’t), you’ll have a contraption on the side of your boat that’ll pull the lobster traps in for you. If you’re not so lucky, you’re going to have to crank all that rope up by hand. Also, you’re going  to soak yourself with the aforementioned freezing sea water if you don’t have the proper gear. This includes big old rain boots, a pair of… those orange things, and some rubber gloves because those suckers can pinch. A very strong Maine accent also doesn’t hurt. BLB_5218e

Once you’re dressed appropriately, you manage to locate your traps, and have pulled your traps up onto the side of your boat (two with every buoy), you can start checking out your lobsters. If you’re Bobby (pictured above), you’ll just pull the lobsters out of the trap and chuck them onto the side of the boat with no regard for their feelings. Bobby says lobsters don’t have feelings though, because “they’ll bite ya and won’t feel bat at all.”


You use your handy measuring tool to see if the lobsters have reached maturity (5-7 years). If they’re too short you have to throw them back. One more molt in about a month or so and lobster fishing will be a whole different game–lobsters that are right on the edge of maturity will grow a half inch with their next molt.


The other time you can’t take them is when they’re bearing eggs, or if they’ve laid eggs in the past. Lobstermen will put notch in the lobster’s tail with a knife to mark them as breeders. Once you have your lobsters, you should watch out for their pinchers by grabbing them in the middle of their back. If you forget about that, at least you have the gloves.



So once you check three or four of your traps and pull out the good ones, you have to stop them from fighting back. Take your handy rubberbanding tool, pick up your lobsters by the back, put it on their, twist the tool, and pull. Now your lobsters that weren’t particularly dangerous to begin with will be completely harmless!


There you have it, midwesterners. Just take your bucket of lobsters and have them for dinner like we just did. Steam them up until they’re red (about 8 minutes). Melt a lot of butter and if you’re brave, eat the green stuff and pretend it’s guacamole (it’s not. It’s digested food). I would give you the step by step on how to get all the meat out, but that’s a whole other story.


Happy lobstering!