11: CH3CH2OH

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"It's real grass. It's a real squirrel. It's real life, and I don't feel real at all right now," Brett said as we wandered the streets of Bar Harbor, Maine.

"A squirrel? Where?" I asked.

I scanned the area to find it, but when I didn't spot anything, I looked over at Jia, and there was a small sparkle in her eye. She ran her hand along the top of the grass, then she let out a breath.

"Wow. I never thought I'd literally miss grass. It almost feels like spring, you know?" she said.

I nodded, then looked back to Darrell, Logan, and Carter, who seemed to be discussing something besides our arrival on real land.

I had grown so accustomed to the smell of seawater and the sound of the foghorn, and since they were gone, all the normal sensory experiences practically smacked me in the face. My eyes itched from the exposure to pollen, and the dull roar of everyday commotion seemed more like a yell.

How was no one else overwhelmed?

"You're absolutely crazy," Darrell said to Jia, then went back to talking to Logan as Carter listened.

As much as I wanted to know how Logan felt after getting off the boat, I hated being rude more than anything. I could wait to ask.

Even if he didn't want to listen to my suggestion of watching the water, I wanted to know if the ginger or peppermint helped, for purely scientific purposes. Of course, there wasn't a good control or a decent sample size, but perhaps it could help lead to better future sea expeditions.

"So I read a bunch of Yelp reviews about places around here, and Bar Harbor can be a bit touristy, I guess. I wonder why," Brett said, and as a city on the coast, it wasn't difficult to guess.

"Lame," Jia said, and as we passed an ice cream shop (the third one on that street alone), her eyes settled on a sign just down the road. "That's where we're going."

"What is it?" I asked, and as I squinted to see, the glare of the sunlight burned my eyes. I stopped squinting and blinked a few times. Saving the whales was difficult with blindness.

Jia turned to Logan. "Hey, I found the perfect place for you."

Another question ignored. Just another day at the office.

Whales are better than people. Carter, don't you think that's true?

"Acadia Drinks. I like national forests, and I like alcohol. Let's go," Logan said.

"It's one in the afternoon, and only pathetic losers drink during the day," Darrell said.

"Sounds like you'll fit right in," Brett said, and I let out a laugh.

Darrell shot a glare at me, even though I didn't say anything (I only supported it). "It's not funny."

"Sorry," I mumbled.

The six of us all walked to the bar, and for the first time in about a month, I was in a real building with more décor than just a shelf of books written a hundred fifty years ago. On the wall was a large flat-screen TV playing a baseball game, which could never really hold my interest.

"Boston at Minnesota. Cool," Jia said, and I assumed she was talking about the game.

I wasn't sure which team was which or what their names were, but Logan, Brett, and Jia all seemed interested in it as we ordered drinks.

As fun as this idea seemed an hour ago, Paradise City's gulls and whales called me back. The grass was greener where there was no grass whatsoever.

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