William Emrich’s newly released book, “Wild Maine Adventure,” tells the story of how the retiree from Tampa, Fla. built a secluded off-grid cabin next to a pond in the Maine woods. If that sounds fairly uneventful, it wasn’t.
From the search for affordable land, to his difficulty finding a bank that would issue him a loan for the project, to the hard choices he had to make about how to spend his limited finances – including having to forgo a well and a septic system – Emrich faced a daunting string of events that might have caused a less-determined person to give up.
“You can use this (book) as what not to do in many ways,” said Emrich, who recently arrived in Lincoln County for his annual summer stay at the rustic, yard-sale-furnished cabin that features a composting toilet and an outdoor shower. “But I struggled through, despite the what-not-to-dos.” One of those what-not-to-dos was, of course, running out of money.
Another was finding out that he couldn’t build on the property – long after he had bought it – “because it would violate a wetland ordinance,” as Emrich writes in the book.
“That was a surprise, despite owning the property 10 years,” he said. “It whacks you in the side of the head.”
A building permit was eventually obtained after local officials revisited the issue and realized that Emrich’s property was not actually considered protected wetlands, as the book points out. Emrich credits a man named Darrell Goldrup, the owner of Abel Property Management in Waldoboro, with finally securing the necessary building permit – and with building the modest cabin itself.
“He did all the work while I was in Florida,” said Emrich of Goldrup. Ditto for Emrich’s local real-estate agent, Dave Kolodin, of Bristol, who searched long and hard for the secluded Lincoln County property for Emrich while he was still living full time in Florida.
“The very first time I ever saw the property or ever met Dave was after I bought the property,” said Emrich. “With me being in Florida and not having the money to come up here to look around, I really had to trust people in helping me out, and fortunately, it worked out.”
Photographs of fish, moose, beavers, loons, Canada geese, and other animals sprinkled throughout “Wild Maine Adventure” – some contributed by local photographers Nancy White Dickinson, Christopher L. Hayes, and Sherrie Tucker – illustrate part of what Emrich loves so much about spending time at his getaway cabin.
“The pond, the wildlife, the neighbors, the area are just wonderful!” he said, beaming. A photograph of Emrich at the beginning of the book, holding a bass he had just caught in the pond near his cabin, features a similar smile.
Emrich is cautious, however, about revealing his hideaway’s exact location.
“I will say it’s in Lincoln County. That’s as close as I’m going to say,” he said of the cabin, which is located “at the tail end” of a single-lane dirt road. There are some homes along that road, he said, and out of respect for the homeowners’ privacy and his, he won’t reveal the location.
Though Emrich’s sister and her husband donated a small wood stove to the cabin, which “takes the chill off the air” at night, Emrich admits that he would “probably have a hard time staying there year-round,” as much as he loves it. Besides, his wife of 36 years still works full time in Tampa; she is able to visit the cabin for a short time when Emrich is there. On top of that, “living (there) year-round is not the ideal thing in my wife’s vision of what she wants to do when she retires.”
“She’s fine with me coming up here,” he said. “It’s a dream come true for me. And I am retired, so I have the time to do it.”
Would Emrich advise others to attempt to do what he has done, knowing that there could be a series of obstacles?
“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely!” he said. “I mean, it’s one of the best things I ever did in my life. … It doesn’t matter where you start – just start. Because once you start, it flows from there.
“I refuse to take ‘no.’ … If it doesn’t work this way, then you find another way.”
Go to wildmaineadventure.com to order Emrich’s book, which is published by Haley’s, of Athol, Mass. It is also available for purchase at a number of locations in Lincoln County, including Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop, 158 Main St., Damariscotta; S. Fernald’s Country Store, 50 Main St., Damariscotta; and the Granite Hall Store in Round Pond. The book is also on hand at several area libraries, including Skidompha Public Library, 184 Main St., Damariscotta.