camping 2016: various plans

Zion and Nathan wading in Bar Harbor

relaxing ocean

On our second full day in Maine, we planned to split up so that Mama could get a chance to hike with Harvey while the littler boys had some fun with me in town. But before that we needed to visit the Cafe! We were reminded why we hadn't gone the morning before when it took over half an hour to get all 15 of us seated, but at least there were fun things to do to distract the kids from their grumbling tummies.

boys of the expedition climbing a tree

the waiting area

After a delicious breakfast we put Mama and Harvey on the bus (he needed some forcing, since the hiking expedition was pitted against possibly visiting a toy store in town, but we made it happen). The rest of us sat around and played in fountains.

Lijah kneeling by a fountain to put his hands in

like you do

After we changed Lijah's clothes—and missing one family for medical reasons—we activated full tourist mode to take in the attractions of Bar Harbor (yes, including the toy store). There's lots to see and do; the only problem was that the five-year-olds were about entirely worn down from the hiking and swimming of the day before, and didn't show much enthusiasm for... anything. You'll notice them lying down on the grass behind the cannons where Lijah is posing happily.

Lijah astride a giant cannon, Zion and Nathan lying down in the background

somebody's alert and on guard...

They did enjoy putting their feet in the water and throwing some stones, as pictured at the head of this post (for his part Lijah, though energetic, was still scared of even those tiny waves).

Harvey, who had done just as much hiking and swimming as they did, luckily has more reserves of energy to draw on, because as we lazed around town he was headed up Mt Pemetic via the delightful and challenging Pemetic Northwest Trail. It has wooden ladders and boulders and a gorge, and though Leah doesn't take nearly as many pictures as I do she did manage to capture this one for documentary purposes.

Harvey climbing up steep boulders in a dark gorge


While he struggled upward (and then back down) the little ones and their caretakers had a relaxed picnic lunch, and then they finally found an activity their speed.

Zion and Nathan playing cards on a picnic blanket, Lijah looking on

still enjoying the outdoors

We were kind of waiting for Harvey and Mama so we could give them a ride back to camp, but patience wore thin and we abandoned them to their fate (me, Zion, Lijah, and Nathan that is—the other adults and toddlers stayed behind with other plans). All three boys fell asleep on the ride, and Zion stayed sleeping once we got there for a well-needed two-hour nap in the car (while poor Nathan had to make do with playing with Lijah). Harvey and Mama made it to the toy store after all, once they came down off the mountain, and didn't even need to ride the bus to the campsite, thanks to good timing and plenty of space in Kyle's car.

It was my turn to cook, and swimming, reading books, and campfire chili and cornbread were a fine end to an easy day.

chili and cornbread cooked over the fire

looks edible


moments from the week

the boys looking at the choppy surface of Walden pond

Walden waves

Moments and images from the past week.

Zion huddling in his towel on the breezy pond beach

chilly in August

Zion smiling with a personal pizza he made

personal pizza

Harvey pushing his brothers in a shopping cart car

shopping car

Zion and Harvey eating corn on the cob by the playground

picnic with corn

lots of tomatoes of different colors and sizes in a big blue bowl

tomato season

Lijah sitting on the side of the koi pool at the nursing home

relaxing at the nursing home


squeezing the summer

While we're starting to think about fall and school around here, we aren't ready to let go of summer yet—and the last couple days we've been working on enjoying it to the fullest! On Thursday we took a picnic up to the playground and relished in the cool evening breeze after a hot humid day. Then at the library we were delighted to stumble upon a party celebrating the end of the summer reading season, and got to enjoy a popsicle dessert—several popsicles!—and some loud crazy family entertainment from the Toe Jam Puppet Band.

the boys watching the antics of Toe Jam's Vinny

grippingly entertaining

I was impressed with Harvey, who raised his hand at almost all of the (many) volunteer opportunities but never got picked; with Lijah, who despite the volume and zaniness gradually moved off my lap into the second row with his brothers; and with myself when I volunteered to go up front and try hula-hooping. At least I had Lijah there to help me. Zion was cool too.

Lijah, still, surrounded by kids trying to catch bubbles

still amidst the craziness

It was a beautiful cool evening, and besides the music it was super fun to hang out with lots of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. After the show lots of the families drifted over to the playground, and Harvey continued to show off his confidence as he jumped right into the game the other kids were playing. It was dark and we were tired as we biked home, but I couldn't imagine a sweeter evening.

kids jumping for big bubbles against the evening sky

setting bubbles, day is done

Then yesterday we got to be part of the last day of summer camp for the year: the traditional group ride to an ice cream place. Despite the staggering humidity it was fun to ride on an urban bike path through Cambridge and Somerville, and we enjoyed delightful stops at a grassy embankment and a playground, where we had lunch.

kids and a parent rolling down a steep grassy bank

1, 2, 3, roll!

Harvey, Zion, Ollie, and Eliot on a bench having lunch

hot lunch

Of course, the best stop was the last one, at JP Licks in Davis Square for ice cream. They boys said it wasn't as good as Bedford Farms, but it was still nice to share the moment with friends.

kids eating ice cream in Davis Square

ice cream party

Then after a long rest time to recover we closed out the day with a lovely pizza picnic dinner with friends here on our lawn. We took the opportunity to make some farm-school co-op plans for the coming year, because there's no mistaking but that fall's around the corner; but we're loving summer while it lasts!


camping 2016: family hiking

the Archibalds posing atop Parkman Mtn

the family that hikes together poses together

Here are some more words about our camping trip. It may be a bit much but we appreciate the record ourselves, even if it doesn't have so much appeal to the wider world. We do a lot on vacation, and it's nice to be able to revisit it!

Our first full day in Maine this year we broke from tradition to eat breakfast at the campsite, rather than going into town to the Cafe. It was partly to save money, and partly because thee two-year-olds aren't the easiest crowd to wrangle in a crowded restaurant as they wait half an hour for their first food of the day. It was cool enough when we woke up that I enjoyed lighting the fire, and the bacon, eggs, and toast went down well. The only unhappy moment came when Leah realized she had forgotten the filters for her Aeropress. The little boys had no such concerns.

Lijah and Henry working on coloring pages by the remains of the fire

after-breakfast entertainment

As for the bigger ones, they're such old hands at camping that we could leave them entirely to their own devices.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan sitting under the trees far away from us

doing their own thing

While the kids played we packed lunches and snacks, then we hopped in three cars and headed to the day's trail. We meant to hike up Bald Peak and then Parkman Mountain, but in our enthusiasm we reversed the order; all we cared about was that we were going up.

Nathan, Zion, and Harvey climbing up the steep trail

upward and onward!

And up and up; as per Harvey's request, there was lots of steep scrambling on the trail (but no ladders). The boys were full of energy and handled it all without a problem. They totally earned their top-of-the-mountain snacks.

Harvey and Zion at the top of the mountain getting snacks out of bags

snack at the top

Lijah, too, did a great job; he didn't have to walk, but he had to allow himself to be carried in the backpack, which was probably even harder! He had a moment of rebellion when it was time to get back in after our first mountaintop start, but I was able to enthuse him enough that he remounted without any real screaming. Zion was ready to go too.

Zion, holding his tiger, leaning on the backpack with Lijah in it

carried and carrier

I didn't take nearly as many pictures on top of Bald Peak, where I think we had lunch; it's always thus for the day's second summit. I did manage to use my phone to snap one of Leah, celebrating her freedom on her first hike in five years not carrying someone!

Leah by the sign at the top of Bald Peak

she proves we did it

The way down was just as steep, and the boys (and some of the adults!) found that controlled sliding was the best way to manage the grade safely. Harvey wore two big holes in the seat of his pants.

Harvey sliding down a steep rock face

and this wasn't even the Giant Slide Trail

By the afternoon it was pretty hot, and we were all footsore and happy to make it back to the cars for a bit of a rest. But back at the campsite the boys quickly revived and got ready to hit the pool!

Zion, Harvey, and Nathan doing a silly pose in their swimsuits, goggles, and life-jackets

silly swimmers

While some swam, others cooked dinner, and as the sun started to get low in the sky we sat down to a lovely meal of pasta and meat sauce. We'd all earned those carbs—especially the little ones, who permitted us to have so much fun.

all five of the little kids eating pasta at the low table

kids table

Yes, they all know how to do this camping thing!


at the art show

fiber art by a 10-year-old

creativity on show

Our friends who are running a day camp this summer also hosted a kids art show Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful to see the variety of art on display, created by kids ages two to twelve: drawings, paintings, sculpture, poetry, fiber arts, and cartography. There were maybe a dozen artists involved, and a good crowd of kids and parents there to take it all in.

kids and adults looking at the art

appreciative audience

Besides the static display, we were also treated to performances of storytelling, jokes, and live and recorded music. Lijah took advantage of the projector for some impromptu performance art.

Lijah playing in the beam from the projector


Many but not all of the kids involved are homeschooled—and all of them could be, given the dedication they showed to their artwork. They didn't all know each other going into the show; while they didn't leap to connect with each other, there was definitely a feeling of shared kinship as artists.

two boys playing with lego art together

artworking together

We weren't organized enough to be part of the show (I think we were the only family in attendance without a name or two in the program). Or I should say I wasn't organized enough; as soon as he heard of it (on Friday afternoon) he rushed some lego models and experimental cooking into production for the display. For my part, I was inspired by many of the pieces with ideas for the upcoming year of learning. There's another show planned for the winter; the boys are looking forward to being there with lots of their own art to show off!

Harvey and Zion looking at some illustrated poetry

impressive work