I felt pretty poignant the night before last, as I packed up my truck. My four-month stay on the family farm in Prince Edward Island was something special, and in many ways I wasn't ready to leave.
Leaving meant turning the page on another chapter, one in which I was immensely fortunate to get to spend a lot of quality time with my parents, and in particular my mom. I'll cherish that time for the rest of my life.
And leaving meant setting out more or less on my own again, after four months in a safe environment to rebuild who I am in the best possible light. Now comes the test: can I stay committed to this new healthy physical and mental way of life when the training wheels, so to speak, have been removed again?
It's a daunting question.
But anyway, you can't stay home forever, and so yesterday morning at 0730 AST, Lucy and I climbed in the truck and drove off into a beautiful sunny morning with a new singalong playlist on my phone and an anti-anxiety med for the hound.
We're setting out on an eight-city overland book tour across America, but yesterday our objective was simple: get across the border.
Given that I'd be crossing into America with a truckload of crap and also a dog, I wanted to give myself plenty of time at the checkpoint and not have to worry about making an event on the same day.
So we had a pretty easy day, a straightforward drive to the small and seldom-used port of entry at Vanceboro, Maine, where the US Customs staff was polite, friendly, and genuinely curious about my writing career.
One of the agents was a big John Sandford fan, so I naturally drew her attention to the Sandford quote on the cover of my books...
(Incidentally, we chose Vanceboro because of its proximity to the fantastic old train station in McAdam, NB, which we scoped out beforehand while I ate what fruit and nuts I'd packed in the truck.)
It was an absolutely lovely day for a drive. Spring is in full force here in northern Maine, and we'd eschewed the Interstate system in favour of a succession of rolling, meandering two-lane roads through sparsely-populated woodlands and lake country.
And of course, we chased some trains, too.
The thing is, when you're trying to shoot trains in an area you're unfamiliar with, you wind up doing a lot of running around pursuing the action, instead of planning for its arrival and setting up in a good position.
Or I do this, anyway.
We spent a lot of time driving, covering and recovering ground in search of a decent vantage point or some predictable action, and ultimately found ourselves hiking deep into the woods to a deserted crossing where I predicted a train would come.
The train did not come.
The bugs were hellacious, and also there was scat on the ground that looked suspiciously like bear.
Lucy, you can imagine, was not impressed.
So we canned that idea.
Instead, we turned for the hotel, which we found at about 1800hrs EST. It was a place called "Anthony's Moosehead Motel & Lounge" and it was cheap and pet-friendly, even if the jukebox in the lounge was pressed right against the wall of my room.
In any case, Lucy and I were zonked, so even the dulcet tones of Def Leppard couldn't keep us awake.
Beforehand, I'm looking forward to exploring Portland's food and craft beer scene with the Chris and his wife, Kat; their Instagrams alone are enough to make a guy want to move to Maine.
If you're in Portland tonight, come check us out!
And if not, watch this space for tales from the road, more train pics, and wall-to-wall Lucy coverage as the #ProjectNomad express continues south to Boston, Gaithersburg MD, Harrisburg PA, Ann Arbor MI, Milwaukee, Missoula MT and Bainbridge Island, WA.