Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Into the Vortex

We recently acquired two more barnmates, an extremely amicable couple, Joe and Rose who are purveyors of bean burger goodness, definitely not a Paleo cuisine, but I’m willing to make an exception (I’ll forage for any beans that happen to roll across the floor careful not to pick up any houseflies, though that would definitely honor the Paleo spirit). Though the situation they walk into now is not normal by any means, they know not what sort of twisted history they are entering forthwith.

I’ll describe my initial experience nearly a year and a half ago. I was picked up from the Rutland train station from the barn representatives at the time. A guy, a rugged looking preppy (he’d be the perfect model if J Crew and Woolrich ever collaborated on a clothing line.)and his friend picked me up in the boss’s truck and we drove through the mostly pitch black to Pittsfield. I remember thinking how there would be no escaping the isolation of this place, but it was lovely nonetheless. I entered the town at peak foliage, and the colors practically illuminated our way through the night. I carried all my belongings, fortunately stuffed into backpacks, from the estate to the barn, a mile down the road, and the rugged prep’s (I’ll call him Pedro Suave) friend offered to carry one backpack off my load. He was from the exact middle point of the midwest, so just as you would expect, he preceded most of his statements with “aw shucks, guys,” and ended them with a cornpone witticism (“there ain’t no school like the old school” was his fave.)

I stepped into the barn and was thoroughly charmed, as most everybody is, with the long, medieval looking, tables constructed from railroad ties and reclaimed barn wood, and the 25 foot or so tree shaft that is the slightly off center hub of the whole structure. I met a quirkily attractive young woman from Montreal who immediately tried to recruit my help for her current venture. I later discovered she was the drifting other half of an alleged royal marine who had been extradited a few weeks earlier back to some indeterminate shire in the UK. They had been hiking the Appalachian Trail anywhere from a few days to a month, though no one has been able to uncover the real numbers, when they arrived here the past summer. The story changes depending on whom they pitch their tale to. A group of hardcore survivalists, for example, might warrant the entire 2000 mile spine of the range and a couple of death defying bear encounters. A more casual group would only necessitate a thousand give or take a couple hundred and a few dozen deer and rabbit sightings. (All reliable evidence points to around 100 miles, but we had to send some of the evidence to Kazakhstan for thorough forensic analysis, so the truth may never be known.)

Nevertheless, she and her boyfriend/business partner, were on a chronic opportunistic venture, trying to gather resources for an adventure, zip line park of some sort, and ending up in Pittsfield, which is a naturally occurring vortex for those types. And like another well known vortex, often flushes them into a putrid, dank (not the good “dank“, homies) pipe and out to a fetid, algae ridden cesspool. But not always.

They found Joe D, the hyperpreneur, and the farm and this barn and made an allegedly successful backpacker hostel in a short amount of time. The boyfriend entered and allegedly co-won the infamous Death Race fair and square. Unable to entertain their alleged dream of a zip park, the couple started a wilderness survival camp and youtube channel utilizing alleged skills the boyfriend allegedly picked up from his alleged service in the marines, in which he was on an alleged career path, but he allegedly broke his leg so he had to retire prematurely, allegedly.

(One must be careful to qualify any statement about their lives since the boyfriend has apparently constructed his life using the business model of Professor Harry Hill of Music Man fame.)

Anyway......We walked up the spiral staircase twisting around the tree and up top it was wall to wall blue plastic cots provided with a pillow, thin blanket and liability form. The whole barn was heated with a large stone hearth, which contained no fire that night and most nights, on the middle floor. I curled up into the fetal position for warmth and contemplated how I would last out the week let alone the month I promised, as I sit here writing this almost a full six seasons later. (To be continued....)


  1. This blog entry is based on my perception and fallible memory of events at the time they happened (its definitely not journalism). I take some license with descriptions and may exaggerate from time to time for the sake of comedy, so I can't name a particular person, but its based on a young guy who was living here at the time but has moved far away since.