Northwoods version of holiday travel

This woods life comes with a bit of a tolerance curve. With each experience comes a little more resilience. A situation that might have seemed absurd in my other life, now is just a part of my every day life. If two years ago, I had had a glimpse of last night’s drive into Clayton, I probably would have needed some medication and restraints. My coping mechanism has come in the form of a crazy lady laugh, and several were let out from the driver seat last night as I thought to myself, “Is this really my life?”.

After a refreshing couple of days spent with family and friends, we left Machias around 2 o’clock and arrived in Ashland around 6:30 p.m. My husband got into his truck and I followed him to the dirt. The weather forecast had said that Clayton Lake would only get around 1-3 inches in this holiday storm. They were a little off. It would have been closer to say 7-9 inches.

10444340_10102056692788019_2715316189899788584_nNow, our 64 mile “driveway” usually is plowed Sunday night through Thursday. That is, unless Thursday is a holiday. We followed other tire tracks for a while until they turned to the left and we had to keep going straight. From there on out, the only tracks we saw belonged to four legged creatures.




While putting down the road at 30 mph, my back already tense from the stress of the drive, I had a quick thought about how bad things could actually get, and quickly let out a crazy lady laugh. I’ve learned to not let negative thoughts get too far. For me, they carry a lot of weight in this solitude. There’s a lot to worry about, it could almost eat you up.

For my own sanity, I have to go to positive places. My kids are saints on the drives to and from the woods. I have no idea how they do it. The sky is clear, and the moon on the snow is gorgeous. The snow is light. My vehicle runs like a tank, and in this moment, we are all safe. To go beyond those thoughts would only be counterproductive.

After two and a half hours of driving through fresh powder, we finally reached our home. That’s right! Our home. As crazy as it still seems, we live in the middle of nowhere with two little boys, a dog, a cat, and a couple of chickens. Just part of my life as a Warden’s wife.


BEFORE we hit the dirt…I had a big smile on my face next to the man who dragged me from civilization. Oh the things we do for the ones we love. 🙂

On a quick end note, I will say that my life and the solitude that comes with it, is NOTHING compared to the wives who came before me. Helen Hamlin, Annette Jackson, and many others were saints. Thanks to Hughes Net, Direct TV, and iPhones, I have direct contact with the outside world. I have hot water. I have a vehicle. I have plenty of room to store my family’s food. If you haven’t read them, Helen Hamlin’s Nine Mile Bridge and Annette Jackson’s My Life in the Maine Woods give a clear picture at what life in the woods used to be like.


Rianne Ackley

About Rianne Ackley

I grew up in Downeast Maine but have recently relocated to the North Woods. I live in Clayton Lake where I am a stay at home Mom to two beautifully wild little boys and wife to a Maine State Game Warden. I am a lover of the simple things in life...a good book, a song, a rainy day, a bowl of white popcorn, etc. I have a slight obsession with all things food. Love cooking it, eating it, looking at it, smelling it, reading about it, etc. I am a firm believer that life is what you make it.