posts tagged with 'camping'

camping 2021 part 3

the boys asleep in the tent

cozy

Our first day's hike was hard work, so the tent felt super comfortable for a long sleep. And there were no worries about sleeping late, since the boys had requested breakfast at a restaurant for our second morning—or should I say the restaurant, one of the central pieces of our Bar Harbor vacation experience. Knowing how hard it is to park in town, I cleverly had us pack the bikes, so we could leave the car out by the playing fields and ride to the cafe. We arrived to a 15-20 minute wait, but there was also a giant connect four game so no worries at all. Before we knew it, we were sitting down to a tremendous feast.

our laden table at Cafe This Way

camping is hungry work

After we ate we headed down to the shore (experiencing some difficulty navigating the bikes through the extremely crowded streets and sidewalks; now we wished we didn't have them). We played on the cannons, threw rocks into the ocean, and climbed on cliffs. Like you do.

Elijah posing atop a rock tower

he climbed up twice as fast as last time

On our way back through town we stopped at the department store for the boys to buy some fuzzy souvenirs. Then we did something new (a rarity when we go on the same vacation every year) when we stopped at the skate park and rode some lines. It's a great spot, and I wished I had a BMX bike! I borrowed Elijah's for a few minutes but it's not quite the same.

Zion and Elijah riding in the bike park

every town should have a skate park this good!

Since I hoped to do some slightly longer riding, I persuaded the boys to try a few miles on the carriage road network. I hadn't ridden on the carriage roads for years and years—since Harvey was born, for sure—and the main reason I brought bikes was to give them a go. The boys were feeling pretty tired but allowed me to psych them up ahead what I promised would be a fun and beautiful ride... and then, a quarter mile in, we hit a long steep steady uphill that almost brought on a mutiny. In their defense, it was super hard! But in mine as a cycling instructor and encourager, everybody but Elijah was able to ride up with just a break or two along the way. Lots of the adults we saw couldn't manage that! We paused for a tired picture at the top or so, then everybody enjoyed some downhill miles that made it all worthwhile. If you ask me, at least.

Harvey and Elijah on the carriage road overlooking the ocean

too tired to admire the view

Cycling is my favorite, but you know those boys want to be in the water. So, back at the campground, we finished the day with a good long swim in the pool.

Harvey and Zion in the pool

another day, another pool soak

Dinner was just spaghetti and red sauce, so that was easy. After yet more smores, we went to bed in the tent for the last time on the trip. How was it we were going home tomorrow?! It seemed like we'd just got there!

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camping 2021 part 2

On our first full day of camping we had big plans! After a breakfast of toasted bagels and cereal, we packed up lunches, swimsuits, warm clothes, and enough snacks to sustain us on an epic hike over a couple of mountaintops. As we picked up our park pass and investigated bus schedules we learned that our hike would have to be even more epic that I had thought, since the closure of the bus stop at Bubble Rock meant we'd have to walk almost a mile and half on the flat around Jordan Pond before we could start climbing. The boys were still game to try, and it was a beautiful start to the expedition, as seen in the first picture of this post. We also got to walk across this super cool bridge:

the boys crossing a timber bridge at the north end of Jordan Pond

timber suspension but no railings

Then it was up and up as we ascended the steep east side of Sargent Mountain, the second-highest peak in Acadia National Park (and the highest without a road to the top). I hadn't gone up Sargent since 2012 and the boys (obviously) never have. It's a hike, and we were doing great up the steep part over the first half of the distance up but started to feel a little sloggy as it rounded out at the top and we had to cross over one false summit to see the real top still a quarter-mile away in the distance. But we made it, and only a couple minutes late for lunch! We were hungry enough to put off the celebratory summit photo (made possible by the timer on the camera) until after we ate.

the four of us posing on top of Sargent Mountain

mountaineers

Of course, the real reason to go up Sargent is to visit Sargent Pond, and after a mile or so of descending we were more than ready for a swim. There were enough people there to have some pleasant chats but not so many that it felt crowded, and our time in the water was entirely delightful and free of leeches (leeches had been something of a concern in the planning process).

the boys playing in Sargent Pond

refreshing waters

(Harvey had actually been there before, but he couldn't remember it.)

From Sargent Pond it's only a third of a mile to the top of Penobscot, so it seemed like a waste not to summit there too. Energy was flagging a bit by the time we reached the top, but you can see that Elijah still had enough juice to throw a pose.

the boys at the top of Penobscot Mountain

sit down for a minute

We perked up on the long gradual south ridge of Penobscot (over a mile long), but at the end of the ridge the trail turned steeply downward and there were some very nervous moments descending steep cliffy bits on tired legs. I couldn't photograph any of the hardest sections, but this gives some sense of the overall steepness:

Zion on the trail looking up at a sheer cliff

good thing we didn't have to come straight down that!

Just before we made it back to the Jordan Pond House and civilization we crossed a stream, where we stopped to soak our sore feet. Everyone was cheering up until, just as we were moving to leave, Lijah slipped and fell entirely into the water. He was very sad. It was a worn-out crew who stumbled onto the concrete paths and mowed lawns at the Jordan Pond House after about six miles of walking and well over 1000 feet of climbing.

Zion and Elijah resting amid a pile of cast-off gear

made it

The bus trip back to the car was very relaxing, as was an hour or two in or around the pool before we had to head back to the site to start the fire and cook our rice and beans. That day's smores were very well deserved.

Elijah eating a smore at the campsite

yum

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camping 2021 part 1

We missed going camping in Bar Harbor last year. And since this year our friends weren't feeling up to taking part in our usual annual trip, we figured we'd go on our own at some point. Last Monday that point arrived, rather suddenly, at breakfast. I realized that the summer was running on and we'd barely done anything vactiony—so I decided we were leaving right then. Or at least, as soon as we could get ready. It would be just us boys: Leah needed to stay home and work and the dogs would stay with her. That meant the packing was all up to us too (she did volunteer to help but I told her that wouldn't be fair). I'm proud to say that we managed it beautifully, including a trip to the grocery store for camping necessities like ice and chips, all in time to be on the road before noon.

We were all excited to be on the road! The weather was fine, there was no traffic, and the EZ-Pass transponder we took out of the old car after not using it for two years was getting us though the tolls. We thrilled at each of the big bridges we crossed—over the Merrimack and the Piscataqua, the Kennebec at Bath and the Sheepscot at Wiscasset. As old as the boys are we could have driven the whole way without a stop, but what fun is that?! For old times' sake I called our first pause at the little playground in Warren, ME, that we haven't visited since 2014. The older two still had some memories of it—mainly the river which runs through it (and which improved mapping technology in 2021 lets me correct that old post with the actual name of the river, the Saint George River). And then we made some new memories when Lijah took off his shorts so as not to get them wet but, in kicking them off his foot, sent them right into the water! We also had a great time playing on the awesome old-fashioned playground equipment.

the boys wading in a river

every playground should have one!

As we approached Camden we were greeted by a proper Maine fog. While it was just the thing for atmospheric effect at the beach in Lincolnville, it did keep us from thinking too hard about swimming. But of course there are lots more ways to enjoy a beach! Plus it was fun to see the ferry to Isleboro disappearing into the fog—and then reappearing, despite still going away from us, when the fog pulled back.

the boys watching the ferry in the fog at Lincolnville Beach

this is when it really feels like Maine

We also stopped for a second in Trenton to get some campfire wood—cheaper there than on the island—but since I didn't even turn off the engine I don't think it counted. Arriving at the campground a little before 6, we found a site and quickly unpacked, in a hurry to put the firewood to its appointed purpose. The boys were a huge help! I rewarded them with a supper of hot dogs (and veggie burgers) and Annies mac-and-cheese. There were smores for dessert of course.

the boys toasting marshmallows over the campfire

classic

Then it was off to bed on our beautifully soft camp mattresses... there was lots to do the next day!

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summer vacation

The boys are just coming to terms with the idea that we won't be going camping in Maine this summer. Leah and I haven't missed a year in Acadia since we've got married, which of course means none of the kids have missed at least two nights camping in Bar Harbor every year of their lives. So that's kind of tough. As Zion has said more than once, "stupid Covid." But that isn't to say that everything is terrible. Sure, we're stuck at home. But with everything the way it is, home is actually feeling pretty vacationy!

Zion and Lijah in swimsuits by the fire, Zion enjoying a smore

our life these days

At least for Leah and me, the thing that does the most to make every day feel like vacation is getting to eat outside at least two meals every day. Breakfast outside in Bedford isn't much less special that breakfast outside on the Cape, and our fire is just as good at suppertime as any we've ever had at a campsite. Sure, we're missing out on all the delightful attractions of those locations—but we have our own kitchen! (Young people: when you get old you come to appreciate kitchens at least as much as beaches.) And of course we have some serious flexibility in our work hours that's letting us take as many exciting outings at the pandemic allows. The dogs have walked in every woods inside a 30-mile radius, and we've done plenty of cycling and even some swimming. Only one boat trip so far this year, but we've got that leak patched up now so more of that will be coming. So while Covid is indeed stupid and we're really going to miss camping with our friends, things aren't entirely terrible around here. At least we'll always have smores.

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July's camping adventure part 1

the boys posing atop Dorr Mountain in Acadia National Park

mountains!

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.

Zion and Lijah considering the water at the beach in Lincolnville

just toes in

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.

Lijah sitting next to Mama on the bus and looking out the window

bus!

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.

Lijah going up stairs between two slabs of rock

the interesting way up

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.

the crew scattered about rocks eating lunch

fine for lunch anyway

With the benefit of rest and food, we made it there not too long afterwards and posed for the usual celebratory photos.

all the Archibalds smiling atop Dorr

all of us

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!).

Zion, Lijah, Nathan, and Liam lying on their backs on the gravel path

wored out

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.

Zion at the picnic table looking at his plate with chicken, mac & cheese and french fries

and plenty of ketchup!

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.

the magic show audience watching Katie recline on stage

what's going to happen next?!

And that was only just the beginning of the vacation!

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moments from the week

Zion standing on a cliffside looking way down at the road

adventurous

Moments from the past week.

Lijah, Liam, and Henry sitting on the railing of a bandstand watching itinerant musicians

watching the concert

Zion and Lijah sleeping in the tent

sleeping well

Zion and Lijah posing with the ice cream lobster in Bar Harbor

touristing

Zion photographing Nathan as Nathan climbs a rock tower in Bar Harbor

action photography

Lijah swimming in a pool

camp pool!

kids posing atop a rock

and then summer camp

Zion and Lijah watching a

library action

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vacation accomplished!

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!

Lijah sitting in front of our tent looking tired

home away from home

camping back in 2018, day 2

our tents in the fog

back in the mists of time

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.

the gang having breakfast at the campsite

our own cafe

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!

Lijah climbing up a steep part of the trail up Pemetic

upwards!

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 Archibalds posing at the top of Pemetic Mountain

Lijah's not feeling it

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.

hikers spread out moving down the South Ridge of Pemetic

the side with a view

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.

Tim and the boys playing Pokemon on the grass

of course

Then it was early to bed for the Archibalds, without even a peek at the stars. Camping vacations are hard work!

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camping 2018, part 1

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!

Mama and the boys in the water at the beach

already enjoying vacation

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!

our van ready to go with canoe on top and bikes on back

adventure car!

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.

the boys making faces in the packed car

happy campers

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.

Lijah running on a big lawn

running free

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.

the beach at Lincolnville

mid-trip oasis

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!

Harvey and Zion at a picnic table eating pizza

luxury camping!

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!

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camping 2017, part 2

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.

Mama, Harvey, and Lijah in warm pjs and sweatshirts in front of the tent

good thing it was the summer!

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.

pancakes cooking in the skillet over the fire

blueberry pancakes, natch

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.

Harvey, Zion, and Nathan over their heads in a shadowy crevasse

how do they get out?

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!!).

the Archibalds posing at the signpost atop Champlain Mtn

we're getting good at this!

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.

the boys walking along a sloping ridge on the west side of Champlain

mountain goat boys

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.

Harvey's feet, dipped in the spring

how beautiful are the feet...

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.

Zion skipping away from the small waves on a rocky beach

there isn't a wave born that can touch him!

(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.

the boys playing with toys at the cafe

breakfast time fun

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.

a smooth boulder spotted with raindrops

gray

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.

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