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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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