We went camping! On the last Saturday of July we set off towards Bar Harbor for our annual camping trip with friends. Escaping the heat and high humidity of Southern New England was just what we needed, and the trip was wonderful right from the start!
With Harvey leading the charge on early preparations, we had most of the organization under control by Friday afternoon. Then it was just a matter of getting everything in the car. Of course, that took 45 minutes longer than our optimistic estimates, but we were still ready to go before 9:00. Amazing!
The car was full inside and out; we figured there was no need to be minimalist and packed up everything that might be useful. Still, we found a good place for everything—except the camp chairs, which I almost forgot, and the grill cover our friends requested we bring. There was plenty of room for the boys to be comfy.
With the early start we made great time (the only complication was that, now that everyone in the world has a toll transponder, the traffic was heavier under the 60mph reader on the New Hampshire border than it was through the toll booths themselves). We stopped briefly at our favorite Yarmouth coffee shop, then again at a rest stop on Rt 1, last visited at least 8 years ago.
We were excited to get out of the car to run around, but less so when we realized the field was swarming with vicious mosquitoes; then we beat a hasty retreat. Still, running away from their bites was good enough exercise! Then we got some more when we made our usual stop at the beach in Lincolnville. It was as beautiful as ever, and more interesting: the sky overhead was blue, but tongues of fog were moving in from the water to either side of the beach.
We all enjoyed a frolic in the water—Leah took enough of a swim that I was a little worried she would get lost in the fog offshore!—and a relaxing walk along the shore as Lijah waited for his chicken fingers and french fries from the beach-side restaurant. That was Mama's call; I thought it was a little too close to dinner time to be eating that much food, but of course she was right as usual. Dinner is never early on the first day of a camping trip! Not that the delay was at all the fault of the cooks: they got there before us and had their tent almost all set up when we rolled in a little before 5:00. The other two families had had more complicated packing and travel stories though, so we delayed a little to give them a chance to get in. The campfire pizza was worth the wait!
Bedtime was late too, with tents still going up as it got dark. But ours was up and filled with comfy beds, so when the kids finally got tired of running around the site they had a home away from home to hear stories in. I told em to sleep well: we had a busy day planned for them!
For our adventure today I took the boys and a friend to Minuteman National Park. We walked a couple miles from the Concord end of the path to the Hartwell Tavern, where we had lunch and saw the historic sights, then we walked back. All three boys and I did the walk barefoot. It was nothing to them; they did all the hiking of the recent camping trip shoeless as well. My feet didn't mind the rocks on the trail, but that's the longest I've walked barefoot in a while and I felt it in my calves a little. As we got close to the tavern I told the kids how, if they'd been driving sheep or cattle to Boston Market, they would have been able to stop for refreshment there; and also that kids in those days probably would have been walking barefoot. They approved. The tavern doesn't serve refreshments any more, so we brought our own.
You'll notice shoes are on in that picture. We brought them all that way so we could go into the tavern without getting in trouble. It does feel a little funny to put shoes on to go inside, but we're used to it by now. Such is modern America; even when it's pretending to be the olden days. They probably wouldn't have a place to put sheep if we'd brought them either.
Sometimes—often?—I let myself indulge my literary pretensions and imagine that anyone cares about what i write here. Which is too bad, because it stops me from writing all the boring day-to-day stuff that would actually be interesting tom me, the blog's actual audience, when I look back on it in a year or two. Not everything has to be groundbreaking or of wide general appeal. So, here's a short account of what we did today. In the morning the boys and I walked Rascal. Lijah was running and he fell, then spent the rest of the walk whining that he wanted to turn back... continuing when we were well past the half-way point in our loop. Eventually I asked Harvey to take the dog and offered to take Lijah back; he almost went for it, but in the practicality won out over his fighting pride and he just ran the short way home with his brothers.
Later in the morning Leah and tackled the bittersweet vines that are doing their best to take over our back porch. We cut most of them down, but they're all rooted under the ouch, and we didn't dare to venture in there to try and pull them out. So they'll be back before long. It look such better now, though, and now when we eat outside we won,t feel like we're about to be devoured by carnivorous plants.
Harvey and I had grilled cheese for lunch. The little boys were having so much fun at Nicholas's house that they didn't come home to eat.
After lunch we ran a neighborhood Pokemon tournament. Even after a round one loss to Lijah—necessary to preserve the peace—I ended up coming in first, but I ceded the grand prize deck box to the second place player, Harvey. There were also candy prizes for all contestants. It was cozy having six people playing cards at our kitchen table as the rain started to fall. Cozy and loud.
Harvey and Zion went over to Jack's house late afternoon, and wrangled a dinner invitation. Leah took Lijah to Whole Foods where he inevitably got chicken. I enjoyed a quiet solo supper of tomato sandwich—my absolute favorite this time of year. But I made sure everyone was home for dessert: brownie sundaes with home made fudge. Good stuff.
We did things this week, I promise! Here are some pictures to prove it.
After a week of lovely mild weather that had us feeling like fall, it turned hot again. Terrible hot. I don't know if yesterday and today were really the hottest days of the year, or if they just felt that way after a little while of getting used to cool evenings. Anyway, it's back to summer for now. We're trying to make the best of it: yesterday we went tot he pond in the morning for two-three hours, then came home for lunch before heading over to Lexington tp visit the farmers market and play giant checkers at the giant checker board. That last part was where I succumbed to heat exhaustion, so I had to drag the children away before they could finish their third game. I was restored a little later by dinner in air-conditioned comfort at our friends' house; fair exchange for bringing their son along with us on all the day's adventures.
The only problem with our day yesterday is that we went everywhere by car. Harvey rightly pointed out that we should have biked to Lexington; as the eldest, he has dutifully absorbed my prejudice against the automobile. But it was so hot, and I was already feeling weak. Today we made it right by not driving anywhere at all. We took a long walk in the morning before it was too blazing, then Lijah and I had a few quiet hours to ourselves while the bigger boys played with friends. Then after lunch we spent four hours in the cool convivial comfort of the library, reading books, playing on the iPad, and—Harvey and I—practicing Pokemon.
Pokemon is one of our focuses for this fall. On a shorter time scale, so are monarch butterflies. We have at least one—or rather, one caterpillar well on its way to becoming a butterfly. To get us some school credit I thought to academize our informal study a little bit, so we picked up four or five butterfly books to look at over the next couple weeks. I thinking about academic rigor, see, because I'm rushing to finish up the home education plans for the year. It's not that I want to impress the superintendent.. just that I have lots of good ideas for fun things I could do with the kids if only I could manage a little more organization. My thought is if I write them down now they'll have more chance of coming to fruition. We'll see soon enough; because never mid the heat, fall is just around the corner!