posts tagged with 'camping'

camping 2016: heading home, eventually

Finishing this story. We wrapped up our 2016 camping experience with breakfast at the Cafe followed by a quick trip to Compass Harbor, a hidden Acadia gem right outside of town. It has everything you want in a Maine coastal location: rocks, trees, a little bit of sand, and cold cold water. Of course that didn't stop Leah from going for a serious swim; can you see her in the picture?

the peaceful waters of Compass Harbor; Leah swimming in the distance

last Maine ocean time

Like I said, we might be getting good at this camping business—and by day five we were settled in and comfortable. I think any of us Archibalds would have been happy to stay another couple days, if circumstances had allowed. (And having decided to leave we made a great job of packing up: Harvey did a great job entertaining the little ones, and our carefully stowed load took up even less room in the car than it had on the trip up.)

Certainly all the hiking and exploring left the boys feeling independent and adventurous, and as soon as we reached the shore—just a few minutes' easy hiking from the cars—they changed into swimsuits and headed out to explore.

Zion in the distance up on a headland

expanding their horizons

Certain mothers were a little nervous, so I tried to relieve minds: what could possibly happen?! Besides deadly falls, drowning, and seagull attacks, that is... Everyone was happy that some children at least were content to stay close by.

swmsuited Lijah playing in the sand

content with this patch

Of course, as awesome as we are at camping, it takes a lot out of us—between the exercise and the fresh air and the not really sleeping our four days of adventure left us all a little tired.

Harvey and Zion lying down on the rocks

all you sleepy campers

So there wasn't too much protest when we turned our backs on the ocean and headed back to civilization. The first sign of civilization was pillows in the car.

the boys asleep in the car

a little more comfortable

But vacation doesn't end when the drive home begins, and we made sure to time our trip so that we could stop for supper in Wiscasset. It was a special request of the boys, who so enjoyed our emergency stop there last year. Just like on the drive up we had some rain going home, but it stopped in time for an outdoor meal; and with the car packed so well I knew just where to find towels to dry off the seats.

eating on the wharf in Wiscasset

Maine picnic

Wiscasset is the prettiest little village in Maine, officially, but I confess that by the time we got there I was too tired to do more than get a few snaps with my terrible phone camera; but it's good enough for documentary purposes. And we still had hours to go, hours of driving into more and more traffic and hotter and steamier weather. On the other hand, our dog, chickens, and beds awaited us at home, and we were happy to get there and go to bed, ready to wake up and start the next adventure!

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camping 2016: the best day

Harvey and Zion checking out a big big rock on the shore

vacation activity

Over a month ago we were camping, and the third full day of our trip was just the most delightful time. We started it off with breakfast in the campsite.

colored plates around the campfire after breakfast

who needs tables?

I had put together some pancake mix at home, so it was easy to just add eggs and milk and turn out a dozen perfectly presentable pancakes. We also had eggs, toasted bagels, and cereal—and Leah figured out that a paper towel could stand in for a filter in the aeropress, so she could enjoy her morning cup of coffee. Then we said goodbye to Becca, Andrew, and Henry—who were scheduled to head home even before medical issues made an early departure doubly necessary—and to Tim, Katie, Nathan, and Liam, who were going to spend the day with other friends. Our reduced group enjoyed a few relaxing moments before splitting up: Leah and the younger boys were looking forward to spending some quiet time at the campground, and Harvey and I wanted to climb another mountain!

Harvey and me posing by the sign on Champlain Mtn, with lots of other people around

busy peak

With Kyle and Margaret accompanying us it didn't take long to get up the north ridge of Champlain. We were so quick we weren't really hungry for lunch at the top; but of course we ate it anyway. The way down was even more interesting, with plenty of steep pitches, narrow paths alongside precipitous drop-offs, and picturesque overlooks (such as seen in the last photo of this post).

Harvey, Kyle, and Margaret hiking a steep-sided trail on Hugonaut Head

real hiking

Watching Harvey soldier along it occurred to me that he actually hiked the most miles of anyone on the trip: he was the only one to go on every hike on offer. But even all that hiking wasn't enough for him, and he was delighted to be able to turn his hand to some spelunking too.

Harvey squeezing out of a cave opening

I couldn't fit there...

There was a pretty nice cave among the tumbled-down boulders beside the trail; he went in the bigger entrance lower on the trail, then back-tracked 20 feet or so to emerge higher up through the little hole there. I found rocks to climb on, but you don't need more pictures of me.

The long descent left us a little footsore, so we were very happy to reach the Sieur de Monts nature center and, following Harvey's example, dip our feet in the eponymous spring. It was cold. We had a contest to see who could keep their feet in longest, and Harvey won easily.

Harvey and Kyle dipping their feet in the pool at Sieur de Monts Spring

refreshing

The only disappointing thing as Sieur de Monts was finding that the dead animals are no more. Well, I suppose they still exist, but they've been moved off the island to the part of the park no one visits to make room for an updated space and exhibits about climate change. Which I suppose is worthwhile. It was also a little disappointing to miss the bus by mere seconds when we first reached the center... but on the other hand, if we had caught it we wouldn't have been able to chill our feet! And another bus came along soon enough.

Back in town we reconnected with Leah, Zion, and Lijah, and went looking for ice cream. Zion was especially excited about getting something at the Big Lobster store: ice cream, fudge, or preferably both.

Harvey and Zion with the ice cream lobster statue

ice cream lobster 2016

As it happened, while we had no theoretical objection to that plan, the store turned out to be a madhouse of crowds, confusion, and overpriced cones. So we retreated to the much calmer Bar Harbor creamery, where I was very happy with my kid-sized cone of blackstrap banana. The kids were fine with their flavors too—maybe they'll remember em if you ask.

Lijah eating his ice cream in the park wearing a blissful expression

I think he likes it

With energy waning, we thought about heading back to camp but decided we needed just a little more time by the shore. It was a good call. For the next hour or so we hung out by the water; Harvey changed into his swimsuit and threw giant rocks into the ocean, and Zion and Lijah played imaginative games with stones. Separately, of course.

Harvey throwing a big rock into the ocean, making a big splash

by a big rock throwing big rocks

As for me, I tried and failed to get to the top of the boulder. I've done it before, as recently as six years ago, so I attributed my inability this time to old age. But after seeing some younger people manage it Leah suggested it might rather be a question of technique, and sure enough with a little less climbing a more jumping I made it—and even less bloodied than last time!

me atop the big boulder on the Shore Path

I've still got it

Eventually we made our slow way back to the van, pausing briefly to discipline the children when their fighting led Harvey to push Zion in front of a (slowly) moving car. Having fun all the time is hard work! But spirits quickly revived when we reached the campsite and a delicious feast of burgers prepared by Kyle and Margaret.

Leah holding a double hamburger with lettuce and tomato

big burger

As the final cooks of the trip they bought all the ingredients at the supermarket just before dinner time. When they started cooking they wondered if three and a half pounds of ground beef was excessive for four adults and three small kids. It was not. When there's ketchup and mustard and pickles and lettuce and tomato and two kinds of cheese and delicious campfire-roasted red onion, it's impossible to stop at one burger. It was about the best food I've ever had.

As we say at Passover, that would have been enough. But driving past the mini golf course at least twice a day all vacation had awakened in at least Harvey and me a fierce desire to play the game again (we did, once before). So we made that happen.

Harvey putting, Zion watching

I think it's going in!

It was great. Harvey and Zion loved the golf, and Lijah loved the pirates—the only tears came when we had to drag them away, back to the tent to sleep. But until then we enjoyed a beautiful cool evening, a perfect end to a perfect day.

the moon over the rigging of the golf course pirate ship

pirate moon

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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

gorgeous

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

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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!

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camping 2016: are we getting good at this?

unsettled weather over the beach at Lincolnville

this is when we feel like we're on vacation

A week and a half ago we hopped in the car for a trip to our favorite place ever (well, besides our house). In the several hours before hopping we packed, adjudicated fights between the kids, and finished building a coop for our smaller hens so they could be unsupervised outside in between visits from the neighbors. You know, the stuff that everybody does before going on vacation!

All those tasks meant we didn't get out the early start we might have hoped for, but by hitting the road at 10:30 we were within just a half-hour of my "realistic" goal time, so that was fine. Also because we got them in the car early to stop the fighting, the kids were all settled in and already watching their shows as we loaded up the final items and checked the house, which was helpful.

the boys in the car, watching a show before we even leave our street

settled in for the long haul

Since we're old pros at the camping packing by now, we only forgot the lantern this year; much better than last year's oversight of the chairs. But despite our proficiency, I was still feeling pretty stressed as we rolled away from home—besides the chickens I was worried about my garden in the terrible scorching heat, and about how things would carry on without me at work—so I appreciated that Leah was driving so I could try and calm down.

Unfortunately, the mid-morning traffic was the least calming thing imaginable, and since I wasn't behind the wheel I was free to keep constant tabs on its sprawling extent via my phone. Unable to bear a backup on 95 that stretched for that road's entire length within the state of New Hampshire, I directed us off onto Route 1 in Salsbury. I had earlier vowed never to venture onto Rt 1 in NH again; apparently I need a reminder of why I feel that way every 15 years or so. Using ever-smaller local roads we eventually made it to Maine, after a little more than an hour of New Hampshire purgatory.

Once in Maine—and as soon as we crossed the mighty Piscataqua everybody in the car calmed down considerably, especially me—we made our first stop at Maine Roasters, as has become our tradition. Leah needed a coffee and Harvey a bathroom; Lijah was glad to whine and beg his way into a bag of trail mix that was displayed right at his eye level, of which he ate only the M&Ms. Never mind we had a gallon of our own trail mix to eat M&Ms out of—that's why he's a two-year-old. At least the other two boys are rational human beings and could be content with the homemade stuff (which of course we had to break out for them).

Before long we turned onto Rt. 1 again—this time in the right place, Brunswick—and happily left the highways behind. Now there was plenty to look at: oceans, antique stores, weather. The week before our friends had told us there were thunderstorms in the forecast for the day of our drive up, so it was gratifying to see them really deliver!

threatening clouds over the road ahead

and we're going that way

We stopped in Waldoboro for a grocery run (emergency chicken nuggets—something else we forgot—batteries, deli turkey, and beer) and got caught in a delightful downpour in the parking lot.

And then the phone redeemed itself, because for the first time ever we managed to detour successfully around the Wiscasset traffic. Very gratifying. And Camden wasn't bad at all: we diverted ourselves by playing I-Spy with letters, and didn't even make it all the way though the alphabet before we got through town (just Z was left).

After Camden, of course, comes Lincolnville beach—and gratifyingly the weather cleared up (as pictured at the head of this post) in time to let the boys do what they've been looking forward to for weeks...

Harvey and Zion wading in the ocean

they're content

Lijah, unfortunately, has developed something of an ocean phobia—never mind that the waves were maybe two inches, except when a wake washed up. But there was plenty for him to do as well, and he and I had fun exploring around the shore, playing pirates, and ringing bells.

Lijah tugging on lobster bouys hanging from a tree

he prefers more terrestrial amusements

And Leah went swimming.

Leah swimming in the ocean

that's how she relaxes

The stop was far the highlight of the day, and in fact we didn't need to make any more—not even for the bathroom! (Lijah asked "can I pee in the car?", and was reassured to be reminded that yes, he was wearing a diaper). There was a little more rain before we got to the island, but once again it stopped in plenty of time for us to be able to set up our tent in dry comfort. And all our friends had arrived long before us, so as I worked my family enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken fajitas. Don't you worry, I got some too: had to keep my strength up for a busy day of hiking the next day!

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moments from the week

Leah and I wading on the cobbles in Bar Harbor

Maine feet

Moments and images from a vacation week. Many more to come, along with words, when I have time and better health.

a hiking selfie of me carrying Lije in the backpack

hiking buddies

me airplaning Lijah in front of the tent

coming in for a landing

Zion sleepily looking at the wooden schooner America

yacht watching

Zion on a little toy motorcycle at a Cambridge playground spray park

meanwhile, back at summer camp

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back home

Harvey, Zion, and Nathen heading down Bald Peak

vacation land

We're back from a lovely trip to Mt Desert Island with our friends, full of hiking, swimming, good food, and pirate golf (well, maybe not full enough of golf for the boys).

the crew on the beach in Compass Harbor

a beach to ourselves

Even with all that activity it was wonderfully relaxing, and it was hard today to get back to work in the 100° office here. We were all still thinking of mountains.

Harvey sitting on a rounded cliff edge way above a road

relaxed and happy

Well, mountains of laundry too. But Leah handled that, and I got all the camping gear packed away, and now we're thinking about the next adventure: an adventure in organizing!

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camping 2015: homeward adventures

the tarp shelter Andrew built, standing proud in the fog

Maine morning

After four hot sunny days, we were delighted on our last day of the trip to wake up to some real Maine weather—even if it did mean we'd have to pack up a damp tent. With four adults and five kids (and some trouble with Harvey last year!) we were a little nervous about how the pack-up would go, but we needn't have worried: they played wonderfully together and even helped gather the things. Lijah drank beer.

Lijah sitting at the picnic table with a bottle of beer

not sure what he thinks

I don't think he liked it much, though.

With everyone cooperating it was easy to take down the tent and load up the car. For the first time ever I managed to pack as efficiently for the ride home as I had for the trip up, which meant we had plenty of space for our friends' air mattresses when they couldn't get them in their own—much smaller—car. Minivans are just the thing for camping.

looking back on the boys amongst the things packed in the back of the car

just like the way up

Driving through the fog to breakfast was lovely.

Leah driving the car through the fog

poor visibility

As was breakfast itself: just nine of us felt like an intimate gathering. After breakfast we took a walk around town and acted like tourists.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan posing on the ice-cream-holding lobster

there's always room on lobster's lap

Harvey knew what to do with a giant ice cream.

Harvey licking the lobster's wooden ice cream

how's it taste?

Down by the shore the boys put the cannons to good use.

Zion, Mama, and Lijah looking down the cannons at the fog-bound ships

ready, aim...

Closer still to the water we spent a good long time playing and throwing rocks. We have ocean in Massachusetts I suppose, but it's just not the same.

Zion picking up rocks on the foggy beach, docked schooners in the background

collecting rocks for the trip home

All good things must come to an end, and eventually we hit the road. Not that we had far to go before finding something else fun to do: our friends the Stevenses were in Searsport, just an hour away, and like last year we met them for some playground and beach fun.

Harvey and Zion trying to get a large log out of the water onto the beach; grayhound Hammy in the water behind them

another beach

The tide was lower than last year, and the kids (and dog) enjoyed having a little sand to run on. Of course, it was still Maine so there were also lots of rocks.

naked Lijah climbing on the rocks

exploring

And apparently Maine apples start to ripen in August; I'd foraged a few back in Bar Harbor that Leah enjoyed eating on the drive to Searsport, so when the kids noticed an apple tree right on the beach she knew what to do!

Leah smiling triumphantly, standing on a rock in the midst of apple branches

beach apples

After the beach, of course, we went for ice cream.

Lijah holding a melting ice cream cone

vanilla, so the drips won't spot

The boys had all worked hard for days, and they were happy enough to nap as we drove west in and out of the fog. Our luck held and traffic was light—though of course you can never just breeze through Camden.

a bit of traffic heading south on Rt 1 through Camden

bustling

Our plan was to just make one more stop, at the McDonalds in Bath for dinner (they have an enormous play space), but halfway between Camden and Wiscasset we got a text from the V-Bs, who had left Bar Harbor several hours before us: their car had overheated and they were stuck in Wiscasset! Well, there are worse places, I suppose.

Lijah looking back towards the bridge

plenty to look at

Only problem was, their car was at a garage a few miles outside of town. We stopped just over the bridge and Leah packed up supplies for herself and the kids so they could hang out while I picked up our friends and took them... somewhere. Leah's phone was out of batteries so we felt like pioneers as we made a series of contingency plans for how we would find each other again.

As it happened it wasn't any trouble: the car was borderline driveable, so I took Katie and the kids (just in case) and Tim drove the car back into town, where we planned to get dinner and wait for Katie's dad to come up and caravan with them back to Massachusetts. Just half an hour after leaving them, I found my family in the first place I looked.

Leah at the gift shop counter, smiling at the camera

buying souvenirs

I owed the boys prizes for various things—I can't always remember—so Zion came away with a couple of pirate figures, and Harvey chose a book on treasure hunting. Then we went to dinner, choosing Sprague's Lobster Pound over Red's Eats (not that any of us got seafood: besides the price, Zion was delighted to finally have the chance to order chicken and french fries, which would have been his first choice at the cafe every morning). They took their time with the food, but that wasn't a problem because we had to wait anyways—and there was plenty to see and do!

Harvey hauling a rope--connected to a lobster pot--over the railing of the pier

heave away boys, heave away

And then when we were hungry enough there was food.

five boys eating supper on the pier

seaside dining

As the sky began to darken Grandpa Bill arrived, to much delight from Nathan—two and a half hours out from Boston. His daughter bought him some crab cakes to show her appreciation. They didn't need us anymore, so—with hours of dark driving ahead of us—we turned sleepily towards home.

Mama and the boys walking along the train tracks

following the rails

A good vacation; we'll do it again next year.

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camping 2015: full vacation day

a schooner sailing away from us, among lobster bouys

Maine view

No, we didn't take a boat trip. One day we will, but this year it was all we could do to find time for the hiking. But we saw that boat!

On our third full day in Maine we woke up knowing that half of our group (going by number of adults, anyways) was going to be leaving us in time to get back to Massachusetts before bedtime, so we hurried off to the cafe to get the day started. By this point we had things figured out vis-a-vis parking, and I tucked the car in an all-day spot just around the corner from the restaurant and bus stop.

After breakfast we said goodbye to Becca and Andrew—or in my case, failed to say goodbye, since I was somewhere else trying to keep the kids busy—and hopped on the bus for a short trip to Sieur de Monts Nature Center and the many trails that originate there. After visiting the dead animals—and hearing from the Park Ranger about the ozone warning—we headed out for a reprise of our family hike from last year... just with one more family. Harvey remembered the stairs fondly. There were stairs up:

Harvey walking up a long series of stone steps on the trail

working hard

And stairs down:

Harvey walking down stairs under a rock bridge

under the bridge

Harvey took em all like a champ, without a word of complaint; Zion did better than last year in that he walked some—most of the way up—but digestive issues slowed him down before even the halfway point, and as on Monadnock last fall, he needed an unplanned carry. This time it was Mama's turn, since I had a sleeping Lijah in the backpack. She is a strong Mama.

Leah carrying Zion, scowling at the camera

how did it come to this?

But we made it—and even better, we made it right as the bus back to town was pulling in. The timing was important because Leah and Tim were planning a trail run with Kyle, who wanted one more adventure before he hit the road. Since we finished our entire hike in the time it took he and Margaret to pack up their things, we didn't feel bad about holding him up. As the athletic three synchronized their watches and took off to run to the top of a mountain (ask Leah for more information), Katie, Margaret, and I led the boys on a more sedate expedition.

Harvey in the bookstore looking at Robert McCloskey books

topical reading

Wandering through town, we soon made it down to Agamont Park, which was a great spot to have lunch and run around a bit.

the three boys looking into the fountain, with the ocean beyond

they love fountains

From there we made our way slowly down the shore path, stopping eventually to experience the ocean up close.

Zion, pants rolled up, on the rocks at the shore

water and rocks

The runners found us there, but they didn't feel as relaxed as we were; Tim and Leah wanted to change and Kyle needed to hit the road. As happy as we felt to be by the shore, we let them draw us away with a promise of ice cream. Zion was delighted to find seesaw camel at Mt Desert Island Ice Cream, and Harvey insisted he loved the London fog he chose (it was a delightful, but unsweetened, Earl Gray with vanilla).

Back at the campground by early afternoon, there was finally time for me to visit the pool too! While there we chatted with another homeschooling family, and all three boys had fun immersing themselves more fully than they could in the ocean (or fountains).

Mama and the boys playing in the pool

finally some warm water

As we started to get dinner together we realized that we'd said goodbye to four adults but only one kid, tipping the balance in favor of the young people, who now outnumbered us five to four. That didn't seem right, but with the kids doing a great job entertaining each other we though we might survive. I made a wonderful fire for Tim to cook hamburgers and hotdogs on.

After dinner we went for a walk—up at the pool we'd heard that there was a tent suspended from trees somewhere by the shore, but once we got down there we forgot to look for it, so distracted were we by the shore itself.

Leah, holding Lijah, watching the sunset at low tide

peaceful light

Harvey walking through the salt grass at sunset

day is done

the sun setting over the low tide mud

gone the sun

When we made it back to our site there was enough energy in the banked fire for Harvey to make a very impressive torch, but none of us had enough even for smores, and after a hasty cleanup we were all in bed well before 9:00. Vacationing is exhausting!

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camping 2015: beach and more

Zion contemplating the water

beach boy

On Monday of our vacation we went to the beach. After breakfast, of course. Leah got an ocean preview: while we were eating breakfast she ran to Compass Harbor and back, with a stop for a dip. Nothing like Maine ocean water to get you going in the morning! In her absence I was in charge of Lijah, and I happened upon the bright idea of ordering blueberries for him just as we sat down at the cafe. It worked! (just that once, but I was still proud of myself).

Lijah reaching for blueberries at the cafe

food he approves of

We got going quicker than the day before, but there we still packed enough into the morning that, when we finally made it onto the bus, Lijah didn't get to take in too much of the trip.

Lijah sleeping on the bus

all that enjoyment is tiring

The bus to Sand Beach passes by the Precipice trail up Champlain Mountain, and some of us couldn't resist: Kyle, Andrew, and I hopped out, and—with admonitions from loved ones to be careful—headed up the ladders.

Kyle and Andrew on the ladders of Precipice

going up

Unlike last time, the view was fine.

the view from one of the ledges on the way up Precipice

carefully

On the down side, it was astonishingly hot, and when we reached the top the murky waters of the summit pond/puddle were a little tempting...

a pond puddle at the top of Champlain

anyone for a dip?

After a relaxing lunch, we headed down. Our original plan was to continue over the top of Champlain back to the Nature Center, where we could get back on the bus; looking at the map Andrew suggested that it would be better to just follow the South Ridge trail right to the beach. He was right! On our way down we had occasional views of our goal.

a view of Sand Beach from above

that's where we're going

On the way we passed a real inviting mountain pond, and it was hard to limit myself to dunking my head and splashing my face. But as hot as we were, we were actually disappointed when we got to within a couple hundred yards of the shore and felt the temperature drop maybe 15 degrees: we wanted to be able to really enjoy that cold water! Never mind, the delight of my children playing in the waves pulled me right in.

Zion and Harvey running from the waves

ocean fun

It wasn't all joy for the beach party—the sun was beating down there too, and three-plus hours is a long time to sit exposed—but Leah has all the pictures of that part of the day. My beach time was short but intense—the bigger waves were breaking about at my shoulder height—then we packed up for the bus ride home. (That was also a little intense, but the boys were awesome about helping and waiting patiently.)

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan waiting for the bus as Sand Beach

beach bus stop

Off the bus the kids ran around a bit more, but not too much: we had to get back to the site where it was my turn to make dinner!

Lijah bringing something to throw in the fountain

getting to work

While the boys washed the salt water off in the chlorine of the pool I turned out a passable chili and cornbread, which was ready just as soon as they straggled back, tired from cumulative hours of swimming. But while Zion and Nathan dropped right off to sleep after dinner, Harvey took a moment to enjoy his camping evening to the fullest with a flashlight and a book.

Harvey in a camp chair in the twilight, reading with a flashlight

calm-down time

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