Monday, April 20

The Hardhat Diaries: The Great White North

As I don't always love to admit, I can be a little stubborn. So when I walked into my boss's office around Christmas and said I wanted to go to Maine in the beginning of February to get stories for our magazines, he told me I was nuts.

I of course ignored him and began gathering leads and setting appointments: Ready to head north.

It was an adventure from start to finish—including that quick day I spent in NYC during an ice storm!

But once I finally got to Maine, I couldn't have been happier, or frankly colder. I mean it was a different in that it was easily the most breathtaking thing I've ever seen. Remarkably, your body just adjusts, and instead of becoming an actual human icicle, as long as you are dressed correctly, -24° doesn't feel like you're shoved naked into a snow pile. I mean, it’s really, really, really, cold, but you can actually move your fingers around.

I will admit I was TERRIFIED to drive in four feet of snow, because I mean, FOUR FEET OF SNOW, WTF. Instead, I quickly learned that in Maine, snow is just a regular thing, and the plows, salt trucks, snow-throwers and other various winter-weather management machines handle the roads so it's actually quite nice to drive on. It was easier to drive on I-95 in Maine with four feet of snow on the ground than it is to drive on I-85 in Alabama during a regular rainstorm.

On the story trip front, there was nothing really out of the ordinary. I had great meetings, and saw wonderful scenery. I mean, seriously, beautiful.

Meeting with Chris and Jason Brochu at a coffee shop directly between their eastern white pine mill in Ellsworth, Me. and their corporate headquarters, and spruce mill, in Dover-Foxcroft, Me. reminded me of what I thought writing human-interest stories would be like. We had a great conversation and I was able to head from our meeting place, down the coast of Maine to their eastern white pine mill, right before it began shutting down for the day.

Once I wrapped up with the mill manager, I asked for a restaurant recommendation, as I hadn't eaten in about a day and a half.
 He recommended Finn's to me, an out of this world, traditional Irish pub. It reminded me of the pub from The Holiday, cozy, full of energy and great food.
So, of course, when on the coast of Maine, and you're told to go to an out of this world restaurant, the only thing you can do after your work is done is have some amazing freshly caught, wild-Haddock and a cider with the most incredible tomato-mac and cheese. #treatyoself

On my second to last day in Maine, I was fortunate enough to visit the continental U.S.'s northern most point: Fort Kent, a beautiful, vibrant small town. It is crazy to think that while I was stomping around in snow in front of the First Mile sign on Route 1, more than a few were probably sweating to death in front of a similar sign, in Key West, at the end of Route 1.

Logger Sherbey Morris and I had a great visit and I was able to see some equipment in action I never had before. As a wrap to our interview, he treated me to an authentic Maine red hot dog, at the best diner in northern Maine, one that’s been open since 1945, Rock's. It was delicious.

Sherbey's story has already been written, edited and printed, but my trip to Rock’s with him reminds me why it is I love this industry: Because when a writer from Alabama calls and says she wants to visit your operation, loggers not only say yes, but go out of their way to show how wonderful their slice of the world really is. 

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