A book that looks back on 45 years of outdoor adventures is a fulfilled senior aspiration

A book that looks back on 45 years of outdoor adventures is a fulfilled senior aspiration

A team of mountaineers ascends Cathedral Ridge on Mount Katahdin. Contributed

Seventeen years ago, I retired from a 33-year career with the Internal Revenue Service. My immediate plan was to travel and experience as many outdoor adventures as possible while I was still young and fit enough to enjoy them. My wife, Nancy, joined me enthusiastically.

Besides traveling while enjoying the outdoors, I had a nebulous idea that I would like to try writing professionally. Combining my love of the outdoors with literary endeavor seemed like a logical formula. How I was actually going to achieve the goal was a mystery.

Shortly after retiring, we loaded up an RV with bikes, whitewater kayaks, hiking gear and set off for the southern and western United States for the winter. I decided to keep a diary of our exploits and write a travel diary when I return. If I had known the difficulties usually encountered in finding a publisher, I would have dismissed the idea as chimerical.

When we returned five months later, I had put together a chronicle filled with detailed descriptions of our many exploits. Unfortunately, my many attempts to find a publisher have been unsuccessful. By chance, I came across the opportunity to write an outdoor column for a Maine newspaper and also began contributing articles to regional magazines.

Years of fruitless efforts to find a publisher for my travel journal came to an end when I contacted the editor of Menasha Ridge Press. He wasn’t impressed with the idea either. However, since I was an avid hiker, he asked if I would consider researching and writing a New England mountain guide. My first book, “Mountains for Mortals – New England”, was born.

Encouraged by the guide’s success, I began marketing a satire on life in the IRS. Dozens of rejections later, I met a man on a winter hike who had known legendary Vietnam War hero, bank robber, and Maine native Bernard Patterson. The result was a biography of Bernard titled “The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery”, published by Downeast Books. The three-year journey of researching and writing the book has been a very rewarding endeavour.

The disappointment continued in my efforts to find a publisher for the IRS satire. When I researched the North Country Press website at Unity as a potential publisher, their submissions schedule was full except for a possible outdoor Maine book. This spurred on a proposal for a concept I had considered for several years; a collection of short stories about real-life exploits in Maine’s harshest and most scenic environments with a guidebook-style addendum at the end of each chapter. Owner/publisher Pat Newell was interested and procedural discussions ensued.

We settled on a book on Maine’s Fifty Greatest Outdoor Adventures. Included are mountain hikes, bike trails, island bike tours, sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking and canoeing, Nordic skiing, lake paddling, canoe trips, backpacking trips and canoe and kayak races downstream. Topics I had been writing about since early retirement, writing the book was the fulfillment of my original writing aspirations.

What constituted Maine’s Fifty Greatest Outdoor Adventures was clearly subjective. Some, like climbing Mount Katahdin, sea kayaking the Bold Coast, exploring Acadia National Park, boating Moosehead Lake, canoeing the Allagash, running Kenduskeag Creek, and paddling on the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers were evident. The cumulative experiences of my friends and I dictated the remaining choices. A labor of love ensued.

A team of tandem canoes descends the gorge of the Kennebec River. Contributed

Coincidentally, I had been preparing to write the book since the beginning of my outdoor adventures over 45 years ago. Besides the actual exploits, the most important ingredient was the buildup of a large group of exceptionally capable outdoor friends who are an integral part of every episode. The end result is a collection of getaways we’ve shared over the decades. The publisher and I believe we have created a very unique book that will inspire while simultaneously providing advice on how to participate safely in activities.

Upon reflection, “Maine Al Fresco: Maine’s Fifty Greatest Outdoor Adventures” is the culmination of my original retirement goal. I was a young senior then. Now, at 74, I am an old man and time is running out. However, my senior experiences left me optimistic. I’ve finished writing the IRS satire tentatively titled “Up Your Tax Bracket” and continue to search for a publisher. Pat Newell and I discussed the possibility of future outdoor guides. I have other book themes in mind.

This senior who does not look his age will advance as long as fate allows.

Ron Chase resides in Topsham. His latest book, “Maine Al Fresco: The Fifty Finest Outdoor Adventures in Maine” is available now at Visit his website at He can be reached at [email¬†protected]