posts tagged with 'camping'
The last week in July we took our annual Bar Harbor camping vacation. It went well. We climbed some mountains.
We headed out on a Saturday morning—a little later than we have in years past because Leah had a meeting to go to before we left. That was fine, since it meant we had plenty of time for the best packing job ever; but we did have to deal with a little bit of traffic before we even left Massachusetts. Strangely, then it wasn't so bad through New Hampshire and southern Maine. With big kids in the car and an audiobook running we didn't need to stop hardly at all: just once at a rest stop for a bathroom break and then at our favorite beach in Lincolnville, which we reached at around four. It wasn't too hot out that far north, and though the kids put on swimsuits they didn't jump right in the water this year.
We were almost the last ones to reach the campsite, but that didn't matter since we're pros at getting set up and also we weren't cooking dinner. As always, the boys were delighted to be camping with their friends and jumped right in to enjoying the outdoor lifestyle. Did they go to the pool before dinner? I can't remember. They certainly may have!
The next morning we were up bright and early to play Pokemon—Harvey needed to get some testing in for Worlds!—and start a fire for breakfast. I made bacon and eggs. When everyone was fed and lunches had been made we headed into town, from whence we planned to catch the bus to the hiking. One small hitch in the plan: the Town of Bar Harbor really stepped up parking enforcement since last summer, putting up meters on all the main roads and "no parking" signs on the side streets where we used to park all day. We found a broken meter where we could safely leave the car, but it was a little while before our friends got theirs stowed away. Never mind, the bus is a joy and well worth the wait.
Our goal for the day was Dorr Mountain. As soon as we hit the trail Lijah, who had been doing a good bit of climbing prep, expressed his disappointment that the hiking was "just walking". And this on a trail that was going up at at least a 30° angle! Luckily I had picked the most interesting path available, so pretty soon there was plenty to distract his easily-tired feet.
While I moved along slowly to encourage him, Leah was racing ahead with the big kids. It was hard work! When they saw a signpost on a rocky ledge they figured it was summit-like enough to stop at for lunch, and when we caught up—at least 15 minutes later!—we agreed, even though we soon learned the summit was actually a little ways away.
With the benefit of rest and food, we made it there not too long afterwards and posed for the usual celebratory photos.
The way down was at least as challenging as the ascent, if not more so. It was pretty steep with plenty of rolly stones that made every step an adventure. Everybody was tired when we reached the bottom (and some were pretty grumpy!).
Luckily it wasn't far to the icy cold spring-fed pool at Sieur de Monts, just the thing to sooth tired feet; then it wasn't much wait til we got on the bus; then there was the pool to swim in and the dinner I cooked on the fire with chicken, mac & cheese, and—I was so excited to do this—hand cut french fries.
And then after supper, the kids got to take in a magic show. It happens every week at the campground, and it's been happening every week for years, so we could have watched it before... but we were never interested. It took Andrew having a 5-year-old to galvanize anyone to go. I think he regretted it, but the kids had a fun time. Katie came in towards the end, just in time to get volunteered to be sawed in half with a power saw.
And that was only just the beginning of the vacation!
We went camping. Besides the usual hiking, we also did some bouldering, swam in several bodies of water, saw a magic show, ate lots of snack food, and stayed up late. Vacation is tiring!
We're diving into planning for our annual camping vacation, which, as in years past, has led me to remember that I never finished writing about last year's trip. In fact, I thought I hadn't even started, but in looking back I found that I did describe the first day. Since we've got to get it out of the way before we have more stories to tell, here's the next chapter in the account.
We woke up to a cool misty morning, so I was very happy to get a fire going to warm things up and start piling up the food. Eggs, bacon, and bagels were fine; leftover roasted red peppers from the previous night's pizza made things extra special.
There was lots of excitement for hiking among members of the party both young and old, and it translated directly into productive energy for the 4-year-olds, who hit the steep and bouldery bottom section of the trail up Pemetic like there was candy waiting for them at the top. 4-year-olds can hike considerably better than 3-year-olds—like, way more than 25% better!
The Pemetic SW trail is super interesting, and delightful when you're going up. There's lots of fun scrambling, and the kids' favorite part is one section where the path divides and you can choose to come up through a gorge, or on a more open, dryer path above. The big kids picked the former, naturally!
Maybe there wasn't candy at the top, but besides the beautiful views the boys—and all of us—were rewarded at the top with a delicious lunch. I suppose it wasn't quite rewarding enough for Lijah though, because he couldn't manage any enthusiasm for the summit photo.
The way down the south ridge of the mountain is totally different that the trail up the northwest side. Going down the granite rocks we could walk with almost a normal gate, as we took in the views of the islands off of Northwest Harbor. I would not recommend doing this hike the other direction.
We didn't have the quickest start in the morning, so by the time we finished up the hike we were ready to head back to the campsite. It was my turn to cook, and I cooked tortillas over the fire, which if I do say so myself was pretty amazing. I had the dry ingredients all mixed up ahead of time, which was great... but once I set everything up I realized I hadn't brought a rolling pin! Never mind; a few minutes work with a saw and my pocket knife gave me a perfectly good home-made roller. It worked so well I even brought it home when we packed up! Only I was too busy whittling and cooking to take a picture, sorry.
Naturally, the kids spent the late afternoon in the pool. Like you do! More uniquely, we also found time to play some Pokemon.
Then it was early to bed for the Archibalds, without even a peek at the stars. Camping vacations are hard work!
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!
When we woke up from our second night in the tent it was downright chilly at the campsite. That's why we come north in August; we need a chance to use those sweatshirts! Luckily we came prepared.
Besides warm PJs and blankets, the best way to warm up on a chilly morning in camp is to cook something over the fire. I was all ready with my homemade pancake mix to serve up to a crowd—as soon as everyone else woke up.
This was our last full day on the island, so we had another hike planned—this one a little shorter but just a picturesque. After a bit of confusion with the bus driver, who dropped us off on the side of a busy road quite a ways from the trailhead, we found where we were meant to be and started up the north ridge of Champlain. There aren't many trees there, even at the beginning of the hike, so we all wished the cold had hung on a little longer. Instead it was quickly blazing hot, and all the boys shed their shirts—well, all except for Lijah, who was wearing long sleeves and fleece pants as he always did in those days. The boys who walked the whole way were glad to find some shade at the top of the mountain.
I didn't realize it at the time, but that trip up Champlain was the first time since 2011 that all the extant Archibalds had climbed mountains on back-to-back days (and back then two of the four who went up weren't doing much climbing!!).
Of course we had lunch on the summit. The kids all found their own spot to eat, which was fine, except we didn't oversee them as they packed up... which meant that nobody reminded Zion to grab his shoes and shirt, which he had tossed away looking for his lunch. And he didn't miss them on the way down, despite the steep terrain. All the boys just skipped right along.
Surefooted goats or not, they were glad enough when we made it down to the nature center in the valley to soak their feet in the icy spring pool.
Not for long, though, because we had to catch the bus; which was the first time we realized how unprepared Zion was to reenter civilization. Still, on boarding we were able to assure the bus driver that we would be able to find the necessary items in our packs—it was the assumption we were under at the time!—and when we realized the truth we were already on our way. What was he going to do, kick us off?!
The spring not having been enough water, when we got back to town we wandered down to the harbor beach, where we tossed stones and Zion—in a shirt borrowed from Harvey—played run away from the waves.
(Then he and Harvey together did the same thing on the long paved boat launch ramp, where the surf was rather more impressive!)
The evening at the campsite was so low-key and relaxing that I didn't take any pictures, which means I don't recall it at all. I do remember packing up the next morning, which we did before breakfast—because we all wanted to enjoy a big meal at Cafe This Way before we hit the road. There's always a wait, but that's alright; outside there are trees and rocks to climb on, and once we were seated the kids had their pick of the toys stocked in bins by the bathrooms.
After lunch we headed down to the ocean one more time. We were almost all adventured out, but not so much that we were ready to be driven away by the spitting rain that started falling. Especially not since we were curious about what folks were doing standing around with a bottle of champagne and an American flag; it turns out they were waiting for someone to finish a cross-country cycling trip. Now that's adventure! We got to see him dip his wheel in the water of the Atlantic. Then we turned away from the water to head for home.
At the time, our next Maine trip seemed an eternity away. But now it's just three days away! Expect a more timely report for 2018.
Eleven months ago we went on a camping trip. Somehow I never managed to write about it; now, as we get ready for this year's version of the expedition, I realize I really need to do it or I'll never remember what happened! Luckily I have pictures to jog my memory. Not that there aren't any gaps in the record; for example I have no recollection of how well packing went. But we managed to hit the road not too long after 9:00, so it couldn't have been too bad. And everyone was delighted to be in the car and on the way!
After lunch in the car and a stop at the grocery store in Waldoboro we made it to Lincolnville in plenty of time to stop and enjoy a good long time playing on the foggy beach.
I don't remember anything else from the day, except that we made it to the campsite in time for a dinner of chicken fajitas cooked by Katie and Tim. The lap of luxury!
But the next morning I sprang right to work, lighting a fire and putting together a breakfast of eggs and toasted bagels (and cereal for the boys, who like that sort of thing). Then, thinking about the real reason we had come all that way, we made lunches, packed up, and hit the trail!
For that first hike we started from the Jordan Pond House and walked along the shore of the pond, before heading up the lower slopes of Penobscot Mountain. It was a reasonably easy walk, but still too much for Lijah's friend Henry, with his newly broken arm—or, really, for his parents; he was all for trying, but they wanted to keep him in the stroller for safety. But they walked up the carriage road and met us where the hiking path crossed it at a bridge over a gorge. It was a delightful surprise!
After crossing the carriage road the path headed up more steeply, and the bigger kids showed how well they can hike.
They got pretty far ahead of us, but kindly waited up at crossings in the trail, so we would know where to go. Not that everything was smooth and easy; it was a long way up so some complaints and doubts were inevitable, plus I dropped my camera and dented the ring on the end of the lens body, so it couldn't extend. That made me sad. Lunch at the top of the mountain made everything better, especially when I was able to use Leah's elegant lunch knife to pry the camera back to usability, in time to take pictures like this one:
Going down the mountain we started along the ridge, with fine views all around.
When we reached the trees things stayed interesting, with the path dropping sharply along a steep rocky slope. There were stairs, a bridge, and a few places where it was actually pretty tricky getting down for the two of us carrying three-year-olds on our backs.
The group got very spread out over the last couple miles, with some kids fading while others had enough energy to run the last bit (as they zipped out of sight we hoped they knew where they were going). But everybody recovered once we were back at the Jordan Pond House with access to bathrooms, shade, and good cold water—everybody, that is, except the one who actually didn't have to do that much walking...
Even that one revived when we got back to the campground. Most of us zipped right off to the pool as soon as we returned—just the thing after a hot and dirty day of hard work!
Not me, though; it was my turn to cook, and I was working hard turning out chicken, cornbread, and rice for everybody. Then we went to bed, and though I can't really remember I bet we all slept pretty well!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.