posts tagged with 'adventure'

farewell to summer

We're never quite sure where exactly the equinox falls. On the calendar we marked it down for today, but does that mean that tonight is the same length as today, or was it last night? In any case, we figured that yesterday was the last day of astronomical summer and we determined to celebrate it appropriately. Which, never mind that it was actually kind of chilly, meant taking the boats to the pond!

Harvey and Zion swimming with the canoe, Elijah lying on a rock on shore

waterfront action

We actually haven't gotten them out all that much the last couple months, so it was extra exciting to hit the water. The sun came and went as we paddled around looking for a good spot to set up camp, but by the time we found one, ate our lunch, and got ready to swim, it was solidly hidden by low gray clouds. So while the water was probably warmer than just about every time we've swum this summer, it was a bit of an effort to take the plunge. Of course we all did eventually, and after a while the clouds parted again for a time. Elijah had to take the most breaks to warm up, but there were rocks to jump on (and lie on when the sun was shining) and he and I even took a little mini hike up the hill above the pond. Harvey and Zion just swam and swam, and played with the boat and paddles.

With peaches from the farmers market on the way home it felt like a perfect way to see off the summer. Then at supper time we made a fire, and, though we were a little too busy playing and chatting with the friends who came over—and toasting marshmallows—to do any real reflection on the change of seasons, I think it did the job of marking the equinox the way it deserves to be marked. Now bring on the fall!

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in the waves

Our Cape trip last week was mostly about playing in the waves. With Hurricane Larry somewhere in the mid-Atlantic we expected some heavy surf; in the event I don't think it made much of an impact, but there was plenty of wave action for everybody anyway.

Harvey breasting a wave at Coast Guard Beach

testing them out

As I mentioned our first stop on the trip was Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. We parked in the visitor center lot and the boys and I rode our favorite bike path in to the beach—and this time Elijah made it the whole way without needing to push up any hills! Leah doesn't bicycle these days so she walked, and very much enjoyed the rare opportunity to be out by herself without the dogs. We got to the beach at right about high tide, and the waves were big enough to be fun without being at all threatening. Best of all, they were pushing right up the beach without a lot of rolling chaos, so all the boys were able to body surf without a problem. As the tide went out it got a little more challenging, but no one was seriously injured and all would have been happy to stay even longer than we did. But dinner in Truro awaited!

The beach on the Bay side in Truro is usually pretty sedate, but on Wednesday a steady wind out of the southwest was pushing some pretty good swells against the sand at a 45 degree angle. Expecting calmer waters the boys had the inflatable boats with them, and we spent an exciting couple hours launching them into the surf, riding the swells, then being pummeled back to shore. So fun!

Zion and Elijah launching an inflatable raft into two-foot breakers

waiting for the perfect moment

a view of the launch efforts from above, on the bluff

they're some noticeable waves

the boys playing on and around the raft in the ocean

but once you're in, it's all easy!

There were so many waves packed into those two days that we didn't even mind when Thursday was cool and rainy. We needed a break! Of course, even on the beach it's not all action: we know how to do a vacation right.

Elijah resting on the beach with his legs buried in the sand

what he does when he's not in the water

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a morning out

Cooler weather rekindled our enthusiasm for adventure last week, so on Friday we loaded up the bikes for a trip to Fairhaven Bay. I was interested in seeing how high the water was after the recent flooding, but mostly I just wanted to get out and moving! The boys were amenable.

Elijah climbing up the chimney by Fairhaven Bay

adventure

We've been there plenty of times now, but but it's a big place and there are still paths we've never explored, so we were able to try something of a different route. Elijah is constantly improving as a cyclist, and I was very impressed at how easily he handled the hills—sure, he had to walk up a few of the steepest spots, but he did it with a will and without hardly any complaining at all! Of course, the other boys are awesome as well. It's a great place to ride if you don't mind hills: the ups and downs are exciting, and the paths are mostly smooth and free of rocks and roots.

The river was a little disappointing: it was high, but less so than last time we visited. Never mind, there are other exiting things to visit—like Walden Pond, up on the other side of the woods. Some of us were a little nervous about crossing the train tracks to get there, but we all did it and were rewarded by getting to put our feet in the water. We didn't stay long though, because staying still we started to get cold, if you can believe it. Crossing the tracks again I opined confidently that trains came by very infrequently, so of course less than a minute later, as we were still putting on our shoes, there one was. They're always exciting to watch up close, especially when you're on the same side of the tracks as all your stuff.

Zion and Elijah watching a train go by

whoooosh!

Of course, the best part of adventuring is the snacks—and especially getting to eat them in all kinds of fun spots. Elijah enjoyed half of his on the cliffside perch pictured in yesterday's post and saved the other half until we found this shelter.

Elijah eating a granola bar in a stick shelter

we're not sure it would keep off the rain, but it sure looks cool

All that, and we made it home in time for lunch!

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surprise outing

Yesterday I had a loose plan for the day: do some cleaning, read some books together, and generally get used to living according to a schedule. That's something that we haven't been managing much for the last couple weeks, and with a very scheduled September coming up I though it would be worthwhile to do some prep work. But that went straight out the window when friends invited us to the beach. Because, the beach!

the boys and friends digging in the sand at the beach

it's still summer!

We went to Wingaersheek, which we've never visited (or spelled) before. I'd heard about it, but I was put off by the cost to park and the threat of crowding. The morning's clouds and iffy forecast meant the latter wasn't such a worry, and as for the $30—we'll do it if we get to go with friends! And I'm glad we did, because we had a super fun time. As out friends told us, the beach is best at low tide; sure enough, as soon as we got their (a few minutes ahead of them) the boys headed right out into the shallow water. Way, way out.

the boys walking out into smooth ocean water

this is just when they were getting started...

The other big attraction at Wingaersheek is the variety of rocks scattered in the middle of the beach—not just big cliffs on one side or the other, but littler ones from end-table to tractor-trailer sized. Everyone who wanted could find something that was fun to climb! The rocks also caused the creation of lots of different sized tidepools in the sand around them. We enjoyed rocks and pools for a bit, then at the moment of low tide we headed out onto a spit of sand, oh, a quarter mile or so from the beach—maybe more. I didn't take a camera because we were, you know, in the ocean, so you'll have to trust me when I say that the kids had a great time playing in the little waves that were crossing over the spit in all sorts of interesting patterns.

Eventually we made our way back to dryer land for lunch, and our encampment on a medium-sized complex of rocks was just the thing for eating on the beach without getting sand in all the food. We did have to chase off a number of seagulls though.

the boys and friends eating lunch on a rock rising a few feet above the beach sand

our camp for several hours

As the tide came in, it started to lap around the first of the rocks. After a bit we noticed that one of them made a perfect slide; that occupied us for a while.

the boys sliding down a smooth rock into the water

water park

Then we climbed some bigger rocks, then explored a whole new section of beach on the other side. It had its own points of fascination: another, smaller, spit; super soft squishy sand in one spot; a big temperature gradient from one side of the spit to the other. Plus the sun was out some, lighting up the shallow water a beautiful blue-green so it looked just like the Caribbean. Again, though, no camera.

By this point we were on hour five at the beach, but our interest was sustained by all the changes the tide brought to the already varied landscape. The last couple minutes the water lapping among all the different shaped rocks even put us in mind of a skate park, and we did some sweet tricks. If only the lifeguards didn't tell us we couldn't jump off the rocks (this is Massachusetts, after all) it would have been perfect. And because late August, nobody even got sunburned! Yay beach!

Elijah doing a split on the beach

yay beach

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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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what a week!

I thought this week that the boys and I would have a chance to reset our schedule and get settled down to get some things done before the start of the school year. We've certainly put in some strong work—catching up on weeding and cleaning their room, plus rediscovering the regular daily chores—but it's been hard to stick to a schedule because we've had big outings every day of the week!

Monday we were invited to hike and play with friends we hadn't seen for a while. The playing was so much fun we didn't hike at all, just hung out in their yard for three or four hours. On Tuesday we went blueberry picking; I had promised never to go there again but when friends who we hadn't seen in even longer invited us I figured the chance to hang out with them was well worth the price. Correctly: we had a great time together! Plus got some blueberries that I still haven't found time to turn in to jam. On Wednesday we went to Rockport. On Thursday the boys spent the day at my parents' house, which let me do some brain work (including writing some blog posts!), but which didn't forward our work at home at all. And today we spent six and a half hours out on an epic bike-riding and playground-visiting tour of delight with friends (and then had more friends over to sit around the fire this evening!). So fun, and so tiring. I wonder how next week will go?

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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other adventures

Not content to rest on our camping laurels, we scheduled a full slate of adventures for this week. Today's was a trip to Rockport with our school friends who, despite having lived in Massachusetts their whole lives, have never been there! Good thing we know all the best spots.

the boys at the end of the wharf in Rockport

looks suitably nautical

We started off with a look at the harbor and the shops along Bearskin Neck. The strudel shop was open so we stopped in for some croissants, which we ate along with our lunches from home on the breakwater. Then the kids ran along the rocks to the end of the breakwater where some of them, not content with the amount of danger they'd already exposed themselves to, climbed the warning sign pole.

Elijah climbing a sign pole at the end of the breakwater

he wasn't the only one to go up

On the way back through town we passed by the ice cream store and, despite my suggestion that it might be better to wait a little to get hungry again, the kids insisted we stop for another treat. So we did. They regretted it too and some ice cream ended up going in the trash can, but that's ok: it's all part of the experience. The picture looks good anyhow.

the boys eating ice cream in front of the Ice Cream Shop

you have to, on vacation!

Then it was on to the beach! The water was a little chilly for some of the party, though nothing to those of us who had been swimming in Maine a couple days ago. Plus it was dead calm and shallow for quite some distance off the sand—just like a salt water swimming pool! We had lots of fun swimming and also running and doing gymnastics in the water, and also put in some time climbing the rocks at the side of the beach.

Harvey and Zion in the dead calm ocean

still waters

With a baby along on the expedition the fun couldn't last forever, so we pulled the kids away from the water before they were quite ready. Before we left town, though, we had to visit the higher rocks which I like to think give the town its name (that's right where we were parked anyway). It was an acceptably romantic prospect.

Elijah climbing down giant rocks to the ocean

eponymous rocks

All that, and we were even home in time for supper!

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cousins on the water

The cousin adventures continued yesterday. Nisia came over in the morning to join us for a trip to Walden Pond with the boats. Of course, going to the pond on a nice day is always a chancy proposition; even though I checked just before we left, while we were on the road it reached capacity and closed. Never mind, we could find some different water!

Nisia paddling the canoe with Zion as a passenger, Harvey in the kayak far ahead

giving Nisia a turn

The last time we paddled on the Sudbury River the water was low. It's much higher now, thanks to the constant rain, but the channel from the launch was still plenty gross with algae. Out in the river itself the water was clean and beautiful, but the smell of decaying vegetation coming off the recently-flooded banks was not. So any thought of river swimming soon left us. Still, Fairhaven Bay is a pretty cool place to be regardless!

Thinking of a lunch picnic, we headed across towards the boathouse. Last fall the water was too low; now it's so high that the concrete pier around the boathouse is well underwater. So is a good bit of the building itself. We managed to land (coming ashore on the stairs that lead down from the hill above the boathouse) and found a dry spot for lunch and some tag. On the way out, we of course had to try to get the boats into the boathouse. It was a tight squeeze, but they fit! That's one life goal achieved.

Harvey bringing he kayak out the boathouse door

just fits!

On the shores of Fairhaven Bay I realized that we were only a little over a mile from the shore of Walden Pond—the shore by the railroad tracks where you can just walk down to and jump in regardless of how crowded the place is. So I asked the kids if they wanted to head over that way. They declined: a mile and a bit seemed like a little far to walk *after they swam, plus the paddling that would have to follow. And we hadn't brought the towels out of the car. So never mind, we headed for home.

But then, joy of joys! As we got to the car I checked my phone and learned that the pond had just opened again. So we made another stop and had another whole adventure: a couple hours of swimming! For the kids. Me, I just napped on the beach. Adventuring is tiring!

the cousins swimming in the pond

they still have lots of energy

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slipping and sliding

It's cooled down now, but the end of last week through the weekend it was terrible hot. Monday too, so for our first day of summer school (camp? not-school? what do we call it when we celebrate the end of school but then keep meeting on the same schedule?) the kids came prepared to get wet. But how much fun could we have with just the hose? Quite a lot, it turns out.

a slide held up on a step-ladder with a tarp at the bottom and hose running down it

thrilling!

It was a bit of a process to come up with that setup, and really the kids should get all the credit. I resisted the ladder on safety grounds, and I resisted the tarp because I thought it would be a pain to dry and put away after. But both worked fantastic, as long as we had at least one person holding up the ladder. Zion and Elijah even tried a few runs head-first, despite the kind of tough drop at the bottom of the slide. And nobody died!

Zion splashing down at the bottom of the waterslide

one of many sucessful runs

As cool as that was, it wasn't even the best waterslide experience of the past couple days. As I hinted at yesterday, the boys and their friends—or, to be precise, Zion and his friend—discovered that the algae on the spillway at Estabrook Town Forest makes it very slippery indeed. At first they were just sliding down on their bare feet, but that was of course kind of risky: even though the water over the spillway was only a couple inches deep and the pool at the bottom not more than 18 it was inevitable that before too long they'd fall and get wet. So they made sure that wasn't an issue by just jumping right in!

Zion sliding down a concrete spillway into a shallow pond

the photo fails to capture the sense of speed

(That also reduced the risk of head injuries from falling backwards, which I appreciated.)

The slide kept the kids entertained for well over half an hour, and they would have stayed even longer if we had let them. And it was hot enough that they didn't mind being wet for the rest of the walk and the car ride home. Who needs to pay big money to a waterpark to have all kinds of wet slidey fun?!

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