Mass was the first thing on our agenda this morning. After a quick oatmeal breakfast, we all went to Mass in E. Millinocket, ME. The van was making Charlie and I both nervous just driving over there, but we made it to Mass and back without difficulty. We hung out in the campground the rest of the day, just spending time relaxing and visiting. Tom and Kathy made tonkas that night for dinner (I’m assuming I’m spelling that correctly).
Tonkas are basically a sandwich with filling of some sort put into the middle and then sealed in between two cast iron forms and cooked over an open fire. They taught Charlie how to make them just right, so after we buy our own forms, we will be able to make them on our own in the future.
Charlie and Tom got up early on Monday morning to be at the dealership in Millinocket when it opened. Unfortunately, that dealership couldn’t work on the van and neither could the next closest dealership, so Charlie and Tom drove down to Bangor. The gentleman at the dealership in Bangor was extremely helpful, but they also uncovered an even bigger problem with the rear axle. Although we had some work done on a leaky seal on our rear axle before we left, evidently the seal had been replaced incorrectly and the oil had leaked out of the rear axle. Charlie had not been far from the rear axle completely failing and leading to a very serious accident. Thank the good Lord for giving us the transmission problem because without it, we wouldn’t have known about the rear axle oil leak. Charlie left the van with the dealership, expecting to get it back late on Wednesday.
For the next couple days, we just spent time hanging out in the campground. We took turns cooking delicious meals. Nicholas even decided to make cookies for everyone one day. Our campground was on the beautiful St. John River, so we were finally able to take advantage of having the kayaks with us. Our older 4 children and Ben as well as Tom and Charlie took turns kayaking 3 to 4 miles on the river over some small rapids and had a great time. The campground had a small playground for the little kids along with a small “lounge” for them to hangout in. Their “lounge” had a game system as well as a video player that we nixed except for after dark. We played all kinds of games while hanging out. I had bought a “Skunk in the Campground” game (basically Old Maid) in Acadia to remember Isaac’s skunk experience. This was perfect for the younger kids, although they were usually excited to get the skunk card and would tell everyone that they had it and not want anyone to take it away. They giggled and laughed so much over this game that we all had a really good time playing it with them.
On Tuesday, Charlie suggested that he and I with Kathy and Tom drive into Baxter State Park where Mt. Katahdin is located (the highest point in Maine and the end of the Appalachian Trail). Charlie knew how much I wanted to see Mt. Katahdin and some of that area, so we left the older kids in charge (along with the TV babysitter) and left for a little sightseeing. Baxter State Park is a huge state park that was put into a trust for the people of Maine and was to remain in its natural state. It is more rustic than most state parks, to the point of most of the park doesn’t have paved roads. We really didn’t venture into the park very far since the rangers told us that the best view of the mountain was at the Visitor Center where we first stopped.
We weren’t in a position to hike the mountain, so we just spent some time admiring it and then began driving back to Millinocket. Charlie and Tom had eaten breakfast in a little café that they really liked on Monday, so they took Kathy and I there for lunch. I was able to experience one of Kathy and Tom’s favorites: fried cheese curds. They were very tasty! I also enjoyed a Cuban Quesadilla with a yummy kale salad. I definitely need to eat more kale salad and will add the sunflower seeds too! After our lunch treat, we stopped by a thrift store to see what we could find. Kathy describes shopping in a thrift store as being akin to visiting a free museum. Charlie didn’t really appreciate her vision – he just sees a store full of clutter and junk 🙂 , but I did come out with some new clothes for a couple children as well as a couple fun learning games to keep us all entertained in the campground. When we returned, the younger ones were enjoying a movie and had eaten a good many of the snacks I was keeping in the camper. Oh well – not an expensive price to pay to have a couple hours’ break and see Mt Katahdin.
Tuesday night was also a big treat. The kids had made friends with a gentleman traveling by himself in the campsite beside us, so he came over that evening and brought his guitar. His name was Captain Dan, and he was from Florida. He captains a fishing boat part of the year and travels the rest of the year. He was formerly a professional comedian, so he entertained us that evening with some great stories and guitar playing. Many of those songs I haven’t heard in a very long time, so I was thrilled to hear them again being played and sung live.
I spent a good bit of Wednesday doing the never-ending laundry.
I usually encourage my kids to wear clothes more than 1 day if they didn’t get dirty or smelly. However, when you are camping, clothes don’t stay clean usually for more than 1 hour, so I have to do several loads of laundry every 3 or 4 days. Ben and Tom went on a kayak trip that morning and then Nicholas and Ryon went that afternoon.
Nicholas ended up in the water on that trip, and Ryon had to catch his kayak. Ryon also stopped on an island in the river and picked a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me. I was having an emotional discussion with Kathy when he brought them to me, so his timing couldn’t have been better. I was really touched at how thoughtful he was.
That afternoon, Charlie and Tom drove to Bangor again to pick up the van. Evidently, Tom suggested that they play a trick on me and leave the van down the road with Charlie riding into the campground in Tom’s truck. I, of course, would assume that the van didn’t make it back for whatever reason and get all upset. Charlie knows me all too well and nixed the idea. In my defense, oftentimes when Charlie does try something like that on me, I am able to see right through him after an initial moment of panic. Thankfully, they didn’t try the joke, and Charlie, Tom, and 2 vehicles made it back in decent shape. What a blessing to finally have the van back and ready to drive home. We had a delicious spaghetti dinner (courtesy of Kathy) and garlic bread (courtesy of Captain Dan) with the requisite s’mores for our last evening of camping at Pine Grove Campground.