365 photos [36 - 42]

Before I get started on this week's photos, there's a quick formality I have to address. Last week I asked readers to identify the eight different flags of Hoss's Ice Cream Stand and promised a mystery prize to whoever could name the most. I was completely overwhelmed with the number of entries I received (over three) and now the wait it finally over! The flags were - from left to right - Ireland, Columbia, New York State, Romania, United Kingdom, Serbia, USA and Poland. Here is the leaderboard:

1st - Dave (8/8)
2nd - Shalli (8/8)
3rd - Josh (5/8)
4th - Owen (4/8)

Congratulations to David Lennon from Wales who correctly identified all eight flags in the fastest time! He will receive the deluxe mystery prize, and all other entrants will receive a complementary Long Lake postcard. But what is this deluxe mystery prize you keep mentioning, I hear you ask? Well, it's none other than FIRE PASTE!


FIRE PASTE is a wonderful product that prides itself on being "useful for starting camp fires, fireplaces and for priming stoves in cold weather". It will allow David to ignite "even damp wood" and has the added perk of squeezing on "like toothpaste". However, FIRE PASTE should not under any circumstances be confused with actual toothpaste because it "contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm" and urges anyone who might have shallowed some to "call a Poison Control Centre or doctor immediately". Enjoy FIRE PASTE responsibly, David.

Alright lets crack on with these photos, shall we?


Satan came to visit me on my evening shift at the ice cream stand. His ability to perform evil acts was restricted by his decision to occupy the body of a moth instead of a more dangerous animal, but you could still tell it was him. Normal moths don't look this evil.


Hoss's has an actual tree growing from the floor and up through the ceiling. If you don't believe me, look at the photo of the outside of the store I uploaded a couple of weeks ago. It might seem like a fun little quirk, but actually it's a massive liability because whenever it rains, water leaks through the hole and onto the floor and nearby shelves, hence the buckets.


In America - the land of convenience - beer bottles have caps that you can screw off with your hand! On my first night in Long Lake, someone passed me one such bottle and I asked around to see if anyone had a bottle opener. They laughed at me and told me to twist it off with my hand like a normal person. Why doesn't the UK have this incredible technology?


I've broken the usual protocol slightly by including a photo taken using a camera other than my own, but the story behind this one is too cool to not mention. On Wednesday night I met up with Dave and Leigh (minigolf people from last week) and got talking to their (also British) friend Chelsea, pictured. Our conversation went something like this:

"So you say you're at Lincoln? That's cool. I know people there." "Yeah?" "Yeah, do you know.. actually you definitely won't know him, you're three years younger than him" "No, go on" "Do you know Owen..." (I briefly forgot his surname, probably because he recently changed it to something ridiculous on facebook) "Owen Johnston?" "Wait, what?"

She then produced photographs showing her and my good friend Owen together at some party. I did statistics at uni and understand these little "small world" moments aren't actually that improbable, but it still blew my mind.


The view of Long Lake Motel from across the lake.


My boss's son is getting married this weekend so I was pulled from my usual job and tasked with helping prepare food for 250 wedding guests instead. I actually quite enjoyed spending three hours peeling and chopping asparagus.


This is where I live. "The Trailer" (as it is known) has housed foreign summer workers for many years and sits exactly where the old trailer used to sit before it suddenly and dramatically burned to the ground. I share it with a Columbian named John and we each pay $20 per week in rent. Last summer on Martha's Vineyard I was paying five times that for accommodation and it still seemed like a pretty good deal.

365 photos [29 - 35]

Photos from week five.


You might remember last week concluded with a photo of Hoss's Country Corner, the place I work two days a week. Here's the ice cream stand, also part of the Hoss empire, where I work three days a week and steal wifi from seven days a week. The flags represent the different nationalities of Hoss's employees. I'm offering a *MYSTERY PRIZE* to whoever can name all seven, not including the blue one, and a *DELUXE MYSTERY PRIZE* for also naming the trickier blue one. Answers next week.

Clarification: Googling allowed but frowned upon. One submission per entrant.  


My third job is at "Flavor", a brand new catering business, where I work once a week. Technically it's a job, but it feels more like being paid $72 to attend weekly cookery lessons and eat lots of really, really nice food.


Long Lake isn't always as idyllic as my photos make out. Sometimes it rains hard enough for water to start pouring out of the extractor fan (?) and onto whatever I happen to be cooking at the time.


My name written in the Cyrillic alphabet, courtesy of my friend (whole nationality I won't give away, but nice try), Lazar.


Would any of my photo compilations be complete without one of these? Lovely.


I was absolutely delighted to encounter my first fellow Brits since arriving in America while crossing the road in opposite directions and overhearing one of them pronounce the word "Germany" correctly. I ended up hanging out with Dave and Leigh, who work at the nearby Long Lake Camp, for the whole afternoon. We played mini-golf and I won by literally one stroke. I messed up the score card a bit but it should show Dave and I tied on 54 going into the final hole. A nailbiter.


A really unfortunate choice of font. This book is not about Martin Luther King and other prominent black figures, written by a enthusiastic racist. It's about loons, a type of aquatic bird.

Boston

The first city I visited on my year away was Boston. I'd deliberately chosen to fly into Boston instead of New York City for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I flew into Boston last summer so had some familiarity with how things work and some sentimental attachment to arriving there. Secondly, Boston is close enough to where my friend Shalli lives for an early reunion to be feasible.

I'd been looking forward to seeing Shalli for ages. We worked together last summer and stayed in pretty good touch throughout the year. My stopoff in Boston would only last two nights so it was important we made the most of our time together. Plans to share accommodation imploded when she realised the only people she knew living in Boston over the summer were either insane or had really tiny houses. She squeezed into one such really tiny house and I stayed in a youth hostel, the same one as last year.

I've been meaning to write a little account of exactly what we did over those two days, but to be honest I've reached the stage where I can't really:

1) remember that well (it was almost a month ago)
2) be bothered

so I'll just post a few pictures instead. One thing we did plenty of was driving around looking for empty parking spaces. Then when we eventually found a space, incurring parking tickets. Then repeating the above procedure many times but using the old parking ticket to guarantee immunity from further tickets. Parking was a central theme, anyway.






Another non-"365 photos" post to follow soon. Something quite exciting. Don't say I didn't warn you!

365 photos [22 - 28]

Here are the photos from my fourth week in America. I realise this little project is dominating my blog somewhat but I quite like it that way. I'm amazed I keep managing to find vaguely interesting things to photograph. I honestly expected half a dozen photos of my feet by now. Having said that, there is something specific I'd like to talk about so expect a normal post soonish.


Billy from work invited me and a couple of friends on his boat for an evening of cruising around the lake, fishing (unsuccessfully), drinking beer and wasting fuel by accelerating more abruptly than strictly necessary. Nice weather, beautiful scenery and good company. I was exactly as happy as I look.


It's an Independence Day tradition in Long Lake to attach wheels to beds and race them down a stretch of closed-off road. Here are my friends Jordan and teammates winning this year's competition and earning themselves $80.


The shortcut to the beach goes through the forest. Very pretty but almost impossible to navigate at night, as I found out to my cost.


Long Lake has a beach. Because it's a lake, the water isn't salty meaning you can accidentally (or purposefully) swallow entire mouthfuls without feeling the need to vomit everywhere. There's a platform 30 metres out with a slide and tarzan ropes and a trampoline for diving. Good fun.


My ex-alarm clock. I was scheduled to work at 7:30am on Thursday which meant I had to be awake at 6:45am. I set my alarm accordingly and went to sleep. It woke me up at the correct time but I was drowsy and played that dangerous game where you go back to sleep and hope to god your body realises it really ought to wake up again soon. I woke up over an hour later at 7:48am. I swore a lot, put on some wrinkled clothes I found on the floor and literally sprinted to work where my boss shouted at me and made me buy a proper alarm clock.


All dumpsters have to be surrounded by an electric fence to stop black bears getting inside and making a mess. At home, pigeons are considered a pest. Here, it's black bears.


I realised the other day I hadn't included any pictures of where I work, so here you go. I work here. Except it's a bit more complicated than that because I actually have three different jobs. I guess you'll have to wait until next week to see the other two.

365 photos [15 - 21]

I'm still in America. Here's the evidence.


It's hard for me to imagine, but Long Lake gets seriously cold in the winter. My friend Bobby, a local, told me it reached as low as -30°C one year. At that temperature, your nostrils close up and your spit freezes before it hits the ground. There are snowmobile signs littered around town, presumably to mark where it's safe to drive one.


Taking in the stunning Buttermilk Falls. What I want you to think I'm thinking: "What a beautiful scene. I feel at one with nature." What I was actually thinking: "Oh god I hope my £400 camera doesn't slip off that rock I balanced it on just so I could take this pretentious Facebook profile picture."


I was horrified to discover this definitely venomous snake chilling next to my bike. I was torn between sprinting in the opposite direction and reaching for my camera. In the end, my desire for everyone to think I'm a badass outweighed my evolutionary instinct to flee.


Long Lake is actually a hamlet. One summer, there were enough Serbs working at the store to officially comprise one percent of the town's population. It's that tiny.


Campfires are popular so wood is big business. Looks a bit like tetris.


Perhaps the least imaginative hole on the mini-golf course. I guess the design meeting was held late on a Friday afternoon and the office was really stuffy. "Just put a rock in front of it" probably seemed like a great idea at the time.


Hoss's Campground just one week after I photographed it empty, now packed out with July 4th revellers. Just like last year on Martha's Vineyard, the town has really come alive in preparation for the big day. I feel the British government should receive at least a small cut of the tourism money our little squabble generates every year.