Camping on Mount Desert Island, Part I

Tent in the mist.

Monday July 17

We got up early and finished the last frantic packing. Which was very last minute on my part. I’m not sure why the procrastinating bug had hit me quite so hard, but I had done hardly anything and so it was rather a scramble. But we managed to get out with very few oversights, so once again it worked out well enough.

It was a good day for driving and a nice drive. Ben got the audiobook of Swallows and Amazons for his birthday, which was one of the very best bits of preparation I managed to pull off. It is the perfect book for a family to listen to who are off on an adventure. The kids and I of course have already read our way through the whole 13 book series. But Dom had only been acquainted with the Swallows and Amazons by hearsay. And Lucy and Anthony didn’t really remember much about the first book, which we read in the spring of 2015. Dom was properly appreciative of the greatness that is Swallows and Amazons and I love the narrator. Sadly, through the whole week I kept falling asleep every time we started the book playing. I missed many of my favorite bits of the story. Audiobooks only really serve to keep me awake when I’m a driver, when I’m passenger, they are just too soothing. Or something.

We had a lovely lunch at a beautiful rest stop by a marshy river. There was flowering milkweed and we spotted some flitting monarchs and even a stripy monarch caterpillar.

We got to the campground around 4 and set up the tent and then went to dinner at Beale’s Lobster Pier, a great place right on the water where almost everyone got some seafood. Some small people did opt for chicken fingers… I had fish and chips and it was very very good.

Back at camp we had a campfire. Dom and I each had a beer and the kids had some chocolate muffins I’d brought from home. Then I put them all to bed with Winnie the Pooh for a bedtime story. Sophie was too anxious to sleep easily so she and I said Compline and chatted for a bit before she finally settled. (She knew she’d be fine after the first night, but getting to sleep in a new place is hard for her.) The air mattress we brought for Dom and I wouldn’t hold any air and the camp cot Dom had bought was too big for the tent… so he ended up sleeping on the cot outside while I put up with sleeping on the deflating air mattress– not great for my back and hips, but I survived.

We’d been hoping for stargazing, but Monday was foggy and overcast. So, alas, we didn’t get our glorious sky. Though the fog was rather lovely. There are compensations.

Boys and penguins at rest area for lunch stop.

Everyone finds monarchs and milkweed.

Milkweed flowers with betle.

Monarch caterpillar.

Bella snaps a photo of the monarch caterpillar.

Beale’s Lobster Pier.

Campfire and Cadillac Mountain stout.

Boys with campfire.

Misty night.

Tuesday July 18

Woke up very early, as one always does the first morning of camping. I think it must have been right at dawn, 5 am. I heard crows cawing and a chorus of other birds. I rolled over a couple more times but was good and awake by 5:45. Dom made breakfast: bacon and scrambled eggs. With muffins for those who don’t like eggs.

After breakfast we drove into Bar Harbor to have a stroll around town. Still foggy with low visibility in the harbor, but there was some sun. We stopped into a fancy coffee shop and got some coffee. Sat and looked at the ships in the harbor and a drone flying overhead. We found a hardware store and bought some tarps and a new air mattress and some camp chairs and rope. (Camp chairs being one of the things we’d forgotten to bring.)

We had lunch back at the campsite and we rigged up the tarps and the kids played at the campground playground. While we were eating and rigging the tarps the boys noticed a bunch of wasps going in and out of some holes among the roots of one of the big trees in our campsite. I was rather alarmed to have a wasp nest in our actual campsite where one of the kids could easily stumble on it or just forget and walk over it. (They piled some stones on the nest before we realized what they were doing. So glad they weren’t stung!) So we contacted the office and within half an hour they sent out some guys who emptied what seemed like half a can of spray at the nest. I was happy with how thorough they were.

Thunderstorms were expected overnight with rain starting at around 4pm, so we didn’t plan to cook a camp dinner. Right around 4 the rain started and we headed out for the Seafood Ketch where I had a delicious grilled salmon with blueberry balsamic glaze and a kale-cabbage-Brussels sprouts medly. It’s the sort of restaurant where every table gets loaves of fresh bread and where the kids’ meals come with both applesauce cups for everyone and also ice cream sandwiches (and they even scrounged up a pretty fruit plate for Lucy who can’t eat most desserts.)

Back to the campsite where the downpour thankfully held off until after bedtime. Bedtime story was The Neverending Story.

Misty morning.

Camp breakfast.

Bar Harbor in the mist.

Cannons at Bar Harbor.

In the tent.

Wednesday July 19

I woke up not quite so early as Tuesday morning. Dom made me tea and eggs and back.Though it rained all night it stopped soon after dawn and by 8 the clouds had mostly burned off. Air clear and crisp, the rain had finally done away with the mist. Goodbye to yesterday’s fog!

Since it was so clear, we decided to head up to Cadillac Mountain first thing. After breakfast and clean-up we headed to our first day in Acadia National Park. First, the visitor’s center to buy our pass and then the mountain.

At the top the kids picked wild blueberries and scampered among the rocks like goats. Bella spotted a warbler. After some wandering about, we went to the little gift shop where we got the kids some blueberry soda– which firmly cemented what I already suspected would be a family tradition since we did it the first time we were here too. Welcome refreshment after a scramble in the warm sun.

After we finished our soda we headed down the park loop road. We stopped at Fermi picnic area and made sandwiches and had boiled eggs and chips.

Then to Otter Cove to play in the waves and collect shells and rocks. We watched a song sparrow singing in a spruce tree and Dom took some lovely photos. The tide was coming in– by the time we left the beach was less than half the size.

After the beach we headed back to camp, a longish drive. We stopped at the grocery store for provisions and cooked hot dogs on sticks over the fire and then s’mores. Then we let the kids play for a little bit before it was time for bed.

Ben had an asthma attack at pajama time– too much smoke, perhaps. Much falling over and fussing, poor thing.

We had a clear night, though. Dom set up the camera and took some photos. Sophie walked to the bathroom with me and we spent some time stargazing. She was thrilled to be able to find the Big Dipper.

Lots of mosquitoes, we were all covered in bites. At least the new air mattress held up well and my hip was surprisingly uncomplaining.

Bella on Cadillac Mountain.

Blueberry picking on Cadillac Mountain.

Blueberry soda on Cadillac Mountain.

Otter Cove.

Lucy throwing stones at Otter Cove.

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