Day 12 – Tuesday, August 1, 2017

During the night, things evidently got interesting.  In the morning, I heard the story.  Evidently, Annette had woken up during the night while sleeping outside and seen a skunk cozying up to Isaac.  She woke up the older boys and told them about the skunk.  Ben chased the skunk off with a light.  The skunk came back again, and again Ben chased it off.  Finally the skunk stayed gone.  I was so happy to hear that the skunk had not sprayed.  I dread the idea of having to deal with that.

The sun was up nice and early as it has been every morning.  This morning, though, most of the kids were up early too, as in by 5:45.  The sun is fully up and shining at that point, so they think it is playtime.  I went outside to see what they were doing and found them walking around with older boys and being fairly quiet, so I left them alone.  After a little more sleep, we got up and moving, had breakfast and headed out to do some activities in Acadia.

The Rabideaus needed to get their park pass, so we went straight to the Hull Cove Visitor Center.  While we were there, Kathy asked a ranger about a recommendation for a hike to do with a lot of kids, some of whom were little.  Strenuous hikes were fine as long as they weren’t very long.  Kathy wanted something memorable with cool features on the hike, so the ranger suggested a hike that she enjoyed up to the summit of Dorr Mountain.  She said that it was about 3.5 miles long and would take about 3.5 hours.  After she gave us the location of the hike and a list of the trails we would need to take, we were off.  We Whisonants had not yet done a hike on this trip, and I was feeling it was high time to do one, so we were excited to get moving.

We didn’t get very far up the first trail when we started going up these cool stone steps.  Well, we did A LOT of stone steps and just kept going up and up in elevation.

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Dominic and Nicholas (looking thrilled to be having his picture taken) walking under some huge rock formations.

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The stone steps

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On the trail (I’m lagging behind which allowed me to take this pic of everyone above me).

After the stone steps were gone, we were going across huge pieces of exposed granite (at least I think it was granite).  We just kept going up and up.  Charlie actually hung back with Dominic and I while Kathy and Tom led the way.  They had Damien up front.  Ben and Ryon took turns carrying AnaClaire in a backpack.  She was not very happy about this for very long, but it was a lot easier on the rest of us (excepting Ben and Ryon).  We saw beautiful views on the way up, and there were wild blueberries all over the place to snack on, which Dominic and I took advantage of.   IMG_0781When we reached the top of the trail, Dominic looked at the view, stretched out his hands, and said, “I’m on top of the world!” IMG_0786 Just then, my alarm on my phone went off indicating it was 12:00, time for the Angelus.  We all stood on the top of Dorr Mountain and said the Angelus together on such a beautiful day.  That was a special experience.  We all sat down and had a much-deserved snack and rest while we basked in the view.IMG_0789

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View of Cadillac Mountain from Dorr Mountain.

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After our little break, we began the descent.  The hike was mapped out for us like a loop, so we were happy to be going down a different way.  At least we were happy in the beginning.  We soon discovered that this way down was definitely not better than the way we went up.  We went down steep granite slope after steep granite slope, and then we had to scramble down rocks.  Fortunately, marking our path down the mountain were placed many markers that were called cairns.  These are piles of stones that are used to point the way on a trail.

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A cairn

Dominic was with Charlie and me again.  He was goofing around a lot, so we were worried that he was going to take a major tumble on the rocks.  We were holding on to him a lot and trying to keep him from pulling us down the mountain.  Charlie finally took charge of him, so we began to move a little quicker.  By the time we reached the bottom of the mountain and were back to the van, my legs felt like jelly.  We were all exhausted and ready for a fresh supply of water.  Fortunately we found a water fountain that dispensed nice, cold water.  We all hopped back into the van and the Rabideau’s truck and drove off to find the ranger program that the upcoming junior rangers needed for their badge.

After PB&J sandwiches on the way, we reached the ranger program that they called Touch Tank.  Here they had a tank full of intertidal sea life, which the ranger introduced us to.  She explained which creatures were herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, and what their roles were in the intertidal zone.  The kids were able to touch most of the creatures.

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At the touch tank

They had crabs, whelks, sea urchins, sea stars, sea cucumbers, bladderwrack, etc.  The kids seemed to learn a lot, and I was really encouraged when Dominic told the ranger something that I had read to him in a book about the Atlantic seashore.  Sometimes I feel like they don’t pay much attention when I read to them, so it really helps when they start talking about something that I read that interested them.  The ranger signed their Junior Ranger books, and off we went back to the visitor center to complete their Junior Ranger program.

Some of the kids had one or two pages to finish up, so we helped the kids to complete those pages and then interviewed a ranger (the last requirement for the Junior Ranger program).  Then they turned their books in, said their pledge, and received their badges.  This program has been so good for the kids at whichever national parks we have participated in the program.  They learn a lot and it keeps them involved in learning about nature and respecting the beauty and design of the world God has given us.

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Annette, Dominic, Damien, Amelia, and Isaac reciting their Jr. Ranger pledge.

Next, we had been promising to take the kids swimming, so we drove to Echo Lake for a swim.  They had been begging us for a swim, so we were finally getting to it.  The water temperature was listed as about 65 degrees, but no one complained.  The swimmers in the family went out pretty far while the adults waded in with the little ones.  The water felt great.  We were hoping the cool temperatures would help our knees that were so weak after descending the mountain.  We all had a great time.

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A nesting loon at Echo Lake

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The nesting loon’s mate. Evidently they take turns sitting on the nest.

This day still wasn’t over.  The Rabideaus had not had a chance to travel the Park Loop, so we gave them our audio tour and let them listen while we all followed the Park Loop Road.  While on the Park Loop Rd, we stopped at Sand Beach.  Temperatures at Sand Beach were at the balmy temp of 56 degrees.  Needless to say, there weren’t many people spending a lot of time in the water.  Our kids decided to give it a try.  Some just waded in and others took the full plunge.  Nathanael, Ben, Isaac, and Amelia went completely under, but didn’t stay in for very long.  I got my feet wet, but that was all I was willing to do.  After rinsing everyone off, we jumped back in our respective vehicles and finished the loop tour.

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Dominic and Damien jumping waves at Sand Beach.

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Dominic and Isaac enjoying Sand Beach.

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AnaClaire at Sand Beach.

Wow did we get a lot accomplished that day.  Charlie and Tom left Kathy and I to drive the kids back to the campground while they went to the grocery store.  Kathy got dinner ready while I got kids ready for bed.  We fed them quickly and put them to bed quickly.  We were all exhausted after a very busy and fulfilling day.   This was our last day in Acadia, but we used our day to the fullest!  Tomorrow we would be on our way to our next stop.

Blessings,

Rebecca

Day 11 – Monday, July 31, 2017

Some of the older kids had been begging me to go shopping at the LLBean outlet in town because they had money burning holes in their pockets.  Since we didn’t make it there yesterday in favor of going into Acadia, we had promised them that we would go shopping there first thing this morning.  We made it there soon after they opened the kids made their purchases.  Then we had to make what is beginning to feel like the requisite daily trip to WalMart.  Other children wanted to make still more purchases there.  I managed to stay in the car with some of the younger children so that I could get some writing done for the blog.  After WalMart, we headed to a different part of Acadia National Park called the Schoodic Peninsula.  This peninsula is separated from the main part of the park (called Mount Desert Island) by about an hour’s drive and is less popular because of its distance.  However, that always appeals to us, so off we went in a different direction than most of the crowds.  They also had a loop around this peninsula, so we did the loop drive as well as stopped at the education center where we were able to get some hands on experience learning about animal tracks, Morse code, using the tools of a naturalist, etc.

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Cadillac Mountain (I think) from the Schoodic Peninsula. The things you see floating in the water are lobster trap buoys.

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Winter Harbor Lighthouse

DSCF2008DSCF1995We also found a great spot to climb around on the rocks at low tide.  The younger kids were participating in the Junior Ranger program that is offered in the national parks, and they needed to find some tidal pools to explore for this program.  So we climbed around on the rocks, looked into the tidal pools, and tried hard not to fall and hurt ourselves.  The older ones and Charlie really walked a good ways off.  DSCF2029

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Alex and Ryon. They were quite far away from me when I took this picture.

DSCF2026DSCF2038AnaClaire and I were lagging behind of course .  She was so funny.  At one point, she and I were looking into a tidal pool when she said, “Mom – look at that dead chicken!”  Well, it wasn’t a dead chicken, but she had seen something that I later found out was called Bladderwrack.  It’s like a seaweed that has these little nodules at the ends.  The nodules are like little bladders that are full of air and help the bladderwrack to float.  I think those bladders gave somewhat of an appearance of a dead chicken to AnaClaire.  Anyway, it was quite funny.  The plus side of this was that my usual child that lags behind (those of you who read the Trip of Blessings blog series know which child I am writing about) climbed around with absolutely no difficulties by himself and went off to catch up with the rest of the bunch.  I usually don’t think of him as being very sure footed, but he sure did prove me wrong on this occasion.  The views were great and we managed to find some wild blueberries to munch on too.

After our adventure on the rocks, Charlie was determined to find a place for a picnic as opposed to eating lunch in the car.  Unfortunately, the only picnic grounds on the Schoodic Peninsula loop were on the opposite side of the loop from where we were, so we drove the one-way road back around to get to the picnic grounds.  Lunch was delicious although we had a bout of tempers flaring up.  After explanations and apologies most of us managed to move on from our hurt feelings and have a great day.  We drove to see another lighthouse off the Schoodic Peninsula, but the grounds were closed off by the Navy, so we weren’t even really able to get at a good spot for a picture.

We then decided to travel back to Mount Desert Island.  We went to see the Carroll Homestead, but they didn’t keep a ranger there full time, so the house was closed when we arrived.  We were told that we were free to pick the wild blueberries that were growing on the edge of the woods, so we had a great time munching on those for a little while.  These are the wild low-bush variety as compared with the high-bush varieties that we grow in the South.  The berries stay much smaller, but they have a very sweet, delicious flavor.  We then left and drove to nearby Echo Lake.  This is apparently a favorite swimming spot as it was very busy.  It is a freshwater lake in Acadia National Park.  The temperature was supposedly around 65 degrees.  We had not brought swimsuits with us today, so the kids just waded in a little and begged to come back in appropriate clothing.  The temperature of the water felt pretty good according to those who got wet (I was not one of them).

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Damien and Alex wading in Echo Lake.

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Damien, Annette, Dominic, Amelia, and Isaac trying not to get their clothes wet in Echo Lake.

Back we started to the campground to get dinner ready.  We were to meet up with our friends, the Rabideaus, that night, and everyone was anxious to see them.  They will be traveling with us for most of the remainder of our trip.  The Rabideaus have 7 children, most of whom are grown.  We met them when they lived in Rock Hill, and although they live in Pennsylvania now, we remain close and try to see each other as much as possible.  Their youngest son Ben is their only child still at home and traveling with them.  He is between Ryon and Nicholas’ age, so those boys always enjoy getting to hang out together.

Tom, Kathy, and Ben Rabideau

When we reached the campsite, the Rabideaus had just pulled in.  It has only been about 2 months since we have seen them, but everyone was jumping out of their seats to run and say hi.  While they settled into their campsite, I got dinner ready.  Kathy came in and cut vegetables for a salad while I mixed up the chili and cornbread.  We all sat down to a delicious dinner, and the kids were able to make s’mores afterward.  We put most of the kids to bed but let the older kids stay up way too late visiting.  We adults went to bed at a much more reasonable time.

Day 10 – Sunday, July 30, 2017

After a great night’s sleep, we got the kids up at around 6:45 to go to an 8:00am Mass.  After Mass, we went back to the campsite for breakfast.  Nicholas mixed up the pancakes while Charlie cooked them.  I sat to the side doing pretty much nothing.  Eventually, they needed someone to cut up the pancakes for the younger kids, so that became my job.  I believe, out of habit, I even cut up pancakes for all the older kids too :0  Oh well.  After brunch, I headed out to take care of the laundry.  It cost $29.50 to do the laundry for all of us for a few days.  Wow!  Meanwhile, Charlie and the kids had a good time just playing at the campground.

When I got back, we discussed the options of what to do for the rest of the afternoon.  We decided to go into Acadia National Park to pick up a park map and schedule.  That way we could decide what we wanted to do tomorrow.  After buying our pass for a week, we saw that they were also selling an audio tour CD.  We bought that so we could take an audio tour in our van.  After we got back to the van, the kids pointed out that we don’t have a CD player in the van (we just bought a new radio for the van so that we could have Bluetooth and listen to music we have downloaded – however the new radio did not come with a CD player).  I had a quick moment of panic until I realized that I had my laptop in the van, so we downloaded the CD to our iTunes library and then copied it onto an iPod.  After finally getting through all the technical difficulties, we started following the audio tour, which did a good job at explaining various aspects of the park.  The trouble we ran into didn’t really have anything to do with the audio tour; Charlie had thought we would do this quick audio tour to give us an idea of which parts of the park really interested us and that we would come back to see.  However, the rest of us were having a hard time passing by all the beautiful areas of the park without stopping and getting out to see them and taking pictures.  This was a perpetual conflict the entire time we did the tour. DSCF1954DSCF1972DSCF1984DSCF1979

The tour finally culminated in a drive up Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the East Coast.  The sites from there were stunning.  A wonderfully friendly woman took a picture of all of us, and we all had a great time walking around on the exposed granite to see the stunning views.IMG_0758DSCF1945DSCF1946IMG_0759

We also had the difficulty of kids whining in the back seat about being hungry.  We had made the mistake of not bringing dinner or any snacks with us because we weren’t going to be gone on the tour that long.  Hopefully, “we” (let’s just clarify and say that I was NOT the one who made this decision) have learned from this mistake and will at least bring snacks along in the future.  When kids have only had brunch and it’s about 8:00pm before you ever make it back to the campsite, they are pretty hungry.  I did finally remember that I had 2 ½ granola bars that we split among 10 kids.  I don’t think that even made a dent in their hunger, but it satisfied them enough that we didn’t have to listen to any more whining for maybe all of 15 minutes.

We finally made it back and fixed a quick meal of tuna on top of salads.  Tomorrow we would venture back into the park, but for now we were all going to get a good night’s sleep.

Day 9 – July 29, 2017

We had a good night’s sleep at the shop of the gentleman repairing our camper, despite the mosquitoes.  We got up, had breakfast, cleaned everything up, and closed up the camper so that it could be repaired as soon as he returned with the part.  Then, off we went to run an errand.  When we returned, he was back from picking up the part and beginning to work on the camper.  An hour later, it was done, so we paid him and thanked him, hooked up, and took the camper down to the campground.  Finally!

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Another beautiful view of a bay.

After we settled into the campground, we headed out to explore more of the Maine coast.  I came across the fact that a couple of well-known authors in sustainable farming, Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, live in Maine.  They are a married couple who own Four Season Farm in Maine and are open on Saturdays to sell produce.  Always wanting to see what other small farmers are doing and how they are doing it, we decided to drive over there.  I managed to pick up some veggies for dinner, and we were all able to walk around and see their greenhouses and all of the growing that they have going on.  One of the books that Eliot Coleman wrote is The Four Season Harvest in which he describes his methods of raising vegetables on his farm in Maine year-round.  Although we don’t have difficulties in SC growing produce year-round, it has always interested me that he and his wife are able to do so in Maine.  I also always enjoy seeing farms that are growing things in the summer that we aren’t able to grow in SC during the summer because of our heat.  For instance, I really dislike that it is too hot to grow lettuce in SC during the summer because I would love to have a salad full of cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers at the same time that I am growing lettuce.  Maybe if I tried to grow my summer vegetables in a greenhouse in the spring (like Coleman and Damrosch do), then I would be able to eat lettuce with my summer veggies.  If we ever build a greenhouse, it will be well worth a try.

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Tomatoes growing in the greenhouse at Four Season Farm.

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Damien climbing an apple tree at Four Season Farm.

After leaving Four Season Farm, we drove to another homestead that turned out to be only a few properties down the road.  This place is called The Good Life Center at Forest Farm.  The Nearings moved to the Maine coast in 1952 and established a homestead where they lived very simple lives.  They provided for many of their own needs, authored books, and welcomed people to their homestead to teach them some of the skills that they had developed.  They were pioneers in the modern homesteading movement.  Although I had heard of them, I knew very little about them, so we decided to stop and visit their former homestead.  Scott Nearing died in 1983 and Helen in 1995 and since then their homestead has been kept as a center for learning.  We met their farm manager as well as the couple who are currently living there and taking care of things.  Evidently, each year someone applies to become a resident there for the year and gives tours and helps to take care of things.  We were able to see multiple stone buildings that the Nearings built themselves as well as a stone wall that they built around their garden.  That stone wall around their garden inspired Charlie and I into thinking that we may take on something like that one day.  It was beautiful, and although it wouldn’t keep the deer out, it may keep out rabbits and deter guineas, chickens, and such.  If nothing else, it would be beautiful!  There were also a couple of yurts that a friend of theirs had built on their land that we enjoyed going into.  They were truly works of craftsmanship.  We had a great time learning about this couple, and then we headed back to the campground.

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One of the yurts at Forest Farm.

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Annette and AnaClaire sleeping in the van.

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Isaac, Dominic, Alex (under the blanket), and Damien in the van.

Dinner tonight was made up of some of the delicious produce that we had purchased plus our own home-grown sausage.  We managed to get everyone into bed at a decent time and hid in the camper away from the mosquitoes for the rest of the evening.

Blessings,

Rebecca

Day 8 – July 28, 2017

Today was another travel day.  Charlie and the kids cleaned up the campsite and played games while Ryon and I made our requisite run to Dunkin Donuts for wifi access.  Ryon is finishing the second draft of his paper, so he will hopefully turn it in by the end of the weekend.  Then we will be done with having to worry about class deadlines!  However, all these runs to Dunkin Donuts are helping me to stay on top of publishing the blog.  Just in case you are wondering, we discovered that Dunkin Donuts was started just outside Boston, so there is at least one Dunkin Donuts in every small town.  I prefer going there over McDonald’s many times.  They definitely make a better iced coffee than McDonalds.

When we returned, Charlie had everything completely ready to go, so I backed right up to the camper, Charlie hooked us up, and off we went.  We didn’t have a long day of riding in front of us, so we took our time.  As our fridge doesn’t hold a lot of food, we stopped again at Sams Club to pick up more bread, veggies, canned goods, etc.  We thought we had a tail light out, so Charlie walked down to WalMart to buy more bulbs while I took the kids into Sams.  As it turned out, it wasn’t the bulb; evidently we blew a fuse, but we decided to pick that up later.

We drove along seeing beautiful views of Maine’s coastline.  The kids saw a large bridge that they wanted to drive over, so we were fortunate that our route was taking us that way.

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On the bridge going over Penobscot Narrows

As we got closer to our destination, we thought the silly kayak racks were coming loose, so we stopped to check them.  Nope they were fine, but there was a funny smell of burning wood.  We couldn’t find anything wrong, so after yet another bathroom stop, off we went again.  A little later, I was sure that I heard a noise that sounded like something was loose or dragging.  We found a place to pull over, and sure enough, Charlie found that we had a broken leaf spring on the camper.  We hobbled along to a mechanic who referred us to another mechanic, who made a phone call to another mechanic to make sure the 3rd one could fix it for us.  Sure enough, the 3rd gentleman could fix it, but he would need to go to the nearest city to pick up the part and wouldn’t be able to fix it until tomorrow.  Fortunately, his shop was also at his house, so he was happy to let us sleep in our camper for the night.  As it turned out, his shop was on the same road we needed to be on to go to our campground, and we were only 8 minutes away.  Oh well, we’ll make it there tomorrow.IMG_0714

We left our camper at the shop to go find some dinner.  We managed to find a great restaurant for BBQ and had some really tender shredded pork, ribs, bbq chicken, and Italian sausage along with potato salad, coleslaw, and baked beans.

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Nicholas and Amelia waiting for dinner. This is as close to a smile as I can get Nicholas to give me when a camera is pointed at him 🙂

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Isaac and Nathanael enjoying their dinner.

It was delicious.  It was a place where you eat outside at various tables (we ended up taking up 4 tables), and they had a playground where the little ones were able to play after we ate.

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It was a blessing that we were able to hobble to his shop and not have to have a tow, and most importantly, we made it there safely.  We were also very grateful that we were able to sleep in the camper for the night.  It was a nice cool evening, so opening the windows really cooled the camper down well for us; however, as it turned out, one of the screens opened when we opened the windows and boy did we get a ton of mosquitoes in the camper.  Charlie and I spent an hour or so playing a card game and killing mosquitoes all over the place. Thankfully, it was cool enough in the camper that we wanted to be under the blankets which helped protect us from the mosquitoes, and we still managed to kill enough to get a good night’s sleep!

Blessings,

Rebecca

Day 7 – Thursday, July 27, 2017

Today was a day to sleep in.  We had a lot of tired people, and of course I woke up at the horrible hour of 4:00am and didn’t get back to sleep. Ryon and I had been at the Dunkin Donuts the night before for wifi, and as they were getting ready to close, they asked us if we would like to take home any of their remaining donuts, bagels, or muffins.  They were going to be throwing it all away, so we took home muffins for breakfast the next morning.  Everyone was very excited about the muffins for breakfast in the morning, and it meant that I didn’t have to cook.  Yay!  We took some showers (that was the nicest campground shower I have ever used) and headed out to the LL Bean outlets in Freeport, ME.

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We all walked around and looked at the various outlets, and in the end we bought absolutely nothing.  We all saw lots that we would like to buy, but nothing that we needed or needed to spend that much money on.  Oh well.  Back to the campground for a lunch of leftovers and a nap for me.  After my much-needed nap, we left to go back into town.  Nicholas wanted a new book (for some odd reason he didn’t bring his Kindle and has already read all of the books he brought – I don’t know what he is going to do for the next 2+ weeks), so we dropped he and Alex at the bookstore while we went to drive around for a little bit.  The little ones were in desperate need of a nap, so they slept in the car.  After we picked Nicholas and Alex up, we drove to find some views of the bay.  When we finally found it, the views were beautiful.IMG_0663

Our AAA tour book for Maine that we brought listed something in the area called the Desert of Maine, so we decided to check and see what that was.  We got there in time for the last tour, paid our money, and hopped on the tram.  A tour guide took us around an area and told us how a family had purchased this land in the late 1700s.  The family began farming the 300 acres of land, but they really used poor land management techniques and over time their topsoil began to erode away leaving patches of silt exposed.  The silt had been left behind by the glacial eras.  The patches expanded over time until pretty much the entire area of land was covered in the sand-like silt.  At one point in time, a spring was discovered and a spring house was built over the top of the spring.  Well, eventually even the spring house was entirely buried under the silt by another 8 feet of silt on top of it.  Some of the sand dunes are over 70 feet tall.  Many of the trees have been largely buried in the silt but have adapted to continue to live and grow.  Today, because the land is no longer being mismanaged, acorns and pines are beginning to establish roots in the silt and grow.  Reforestation is taking place, and maybe hundreds of years from now, topsoil will again exist and the land may again be arable.  This was a very interesting stop for us and really helped to drive home how important the management of your soil is when you are farming.  They also had the oldest known barn in Maine on this one-time farm as well as gem-hunting for the kids and a butterfly house.  The kids really enjoyed playing in the “sand” and hunting for the gems.  For once, the older kids were wishing they were younger as the gem hunting was for kids ages 12 and younger.

After the Desert of Maine, we drove to Wolfe Neck State Park which is a peninsula into the bay.  We were able to walk down to the bay, climb around on the rocks and just enjoy nature’s beauty.DSCF1903

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Dinner was a treat of Italian (again) for the family and ice cream afterward.  We were able to eat outside and enjoy the cool temps.

The high was in the low 70s today, such a treat.  Charlie wore long sleeves all day and was comfortable.  We pulled out jackets for dinner as it was getting chilly.  What a wonderful break from SC temps.

Blessings,

Rebecca

PS  Alex has something to say about our day in Boston.  The passage below was written by her.

Tuesday, Ryon locked the keys in the car, so it took a little longer before we could leave.  We finally got on the road to go to Boston, which was over a 2 hour drive.  When we got there it took a little while to find parking, but we finally found some.  After we parked, we walked the Freedom Trail, and on that trail we stopped and looked at a lot of historical sites. The Freedom Trail was pretty cool.  1 of the things we saw was Paul Revere’s house, and we got to go in there and see what it was like.  After we finished following the trail we went to this AMAZINGLY GOOD ITALIAN RESTAURANT and got 3 amazingly good pizzas for us kids and 2 salads and 1 french fries plate for mom and dad.

Love

Alex

Day 6 – Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This morning, fortunately, wasn’t nearly as adventurous as yesterday morning.  We were leaving Campton Campground today and heading to Maine, so we had the typical morning of getting ready to leave and head for a new place.  That also involved getting laundry done too.  There were no laundry facilities at our campground, so I drove into town.  On the way, I decided to take the scenic route instead of the interstate (I’m sure that doesn’t really surprise anyone who knows how I like to travel 🙂 ).  Ryon and I came across a covered bridge, so we had to stop and take pictures.

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Blair Bridge

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Ryon in front of Blair Bridge

We didn’t actually drive across it because there was too long of a line, and we were in a hurry, but it was a beautiful bridge.  I then dropped Ryon off at Dunkin Donuts to get more work done on his paper and went to a laundrymat.  That was the nicest laundrymat I’ve ever been in!  They even had wifi, so I was able to get a couple blogs finished up and posted while the laundry was going.  After we finished, we quickly headed back to the campground to get hooked up and out of there.  The campsite across from us was reserved for today, so we were praying that no one would move in there before we had a chance to pull out.  Charlie certainly did end up using that spot to get our camper out.  What a blessing that no one was in there when we left.

We drove through quaint New England town after quaint New England town.  I saw antique store after antique store that I would have liked to go into.  These aren’t stores full of beautiful, formal, expensive antiques.  These are more hole-in-the-wall kinds of stores that have all kinds of old miscellaneous stuff.  Maybe I will be able to traipse into one or two on this trip, but that will have to be minus young children.  As we travelled on, we saw a couple of farm stands on the side of the road.  Charlie finally stopped at one for me where I was able to pick up some organic produce.  I was really wishing we hadn’t just gone grocery shopping last night because we filled up the fridge in the camper, but I managed to buy some goat-milk cheese, cucumbers, and a bunch of red potatoes.  We then stopped at a little park on the side of the road where people were climbing around on the rocks in a river.  That was a great little break for all of us.  The kids had a great time climbing around, 1 or 2 accidentally taking a little swim in their clothes.

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Climbing around on the rocks

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Damien pondering how to get down without falling.

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Isaac opting to carry his shoes

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We finally made our way back to the van, having really enjoyed our little adventure on the rocks.  We weren’t too far from the campground and made it there with no problem.  This time, I had picked the perfect site as Charlie was able to just make a turn in the campground and back directly into the spot – no turns or adjustments, just perfect on the first try.  We finally had a little time to just play around in the campground, pulling out our new KanJam game.  Even I took a couple turns in the game after making dinner.  The kids had fun just goofing off for a while.

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AnaClaire wearing Nathanael’s jacket.

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Dominic being his usual goofy self.

What a blessed day we had arriving safely at our campground, getting blogs caught up, finding awesome organic produce, and laundry done too!  You can’t ask for much more!

Blessings,

Rebecca

Day 5 – Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Today, of course, turned out nothing like we thought it would.  First of all, we had NO plans to visit a big city, but after some begging from several children, we decided to take a day and go to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail.  We made that decision Monday night, so Tuesday we were going to get up, have breakfast, and head out around 8:00 for the 2+ hour drive that would get us to Boston after rush hour.  Well, no one could find the keys to the van – until someone finally looked on the front seat of the van, which of course was LOCKED.  IMG_0620Hopefully the guilty party learned a small lesson about keeping track of keys – I’ll be nice and not mention names.  We called AAA, and someone showed up probably 1 ½ hours later to open the van.

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AAA person unlocking the van. He needed to use our stool because the van was too tall 🙂

The kids all decided that we must have that tool.  We decided that despite the late start, we would give Boston a try for the day anyway.

The drive to Boston was uneventful, fortunately.  It took quite a while, but we finally found a place to park the van.  That was the blessing of the day.  Finding a place with enough clearance to park a van is a challenge, but we saw one that listed a tall enough clearance and pulled in.  Then we discovered that all the tall parking seemed to be reserved for valet parking.  We pulled into one space just to take the kayak racks off the top of the van (we had been smart enough to leave the kayaks at the campsite, but not the racks), when we saw a parking attendant coming toward us.  He told us that it was fine for us to park there and then explained the procedure as to what to do about oversize vehicles.  All the attendants that we dealt with were so nice.  They explained to us how to get to the Freedom Trail.  We had even managed to park near Boston Common where the trail starts, so we found the beginning of the trail, picked up a trail map, and off we went.

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Boston Common

 

The Freedom Trail has a red brick line that you follow to each and every of the 16 sites along the trail.  Along the trail you can see The Old North Church where a lantern was hung to signal to Paul Revere.  This is the oldest church building in Boston.

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The Old North Church

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The kids sitting inside one of the pew boxes in the Old North Church

The site of the Boston Massacre, the Granary Burying Ground where several famous Bostonians are buried, the site of the first public school in the US, and Boston Common (the oldest public park in the US) were all locations along the Freedom Trail.

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The Old State House Museum where the Boston Massacre took place.

Disappointedly, the one thing that I really wanted to see along the trail was closed – The USS Constitution a.k.a. Old Ironsides.  Evidently it is closed due to ongoing restoration.  I thought the kids would really enjoy seeing Old Ironsides, so that was very disappointing.  Since Old Ironsides was closed and the kids were already tired, we also decided to skip going to Bunker Hill.  I really enjoyed seeing Paul Revere’s house.

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Some of us outside Paul Revere’s house

It really drove home to me how old the house actually was when I heard that the house was almost 100 years old when Paul Revere bought it.  I also enjoyed reading that he had 16 children – 8 with his first wife and 8 with his second wife.  Sadly, 5 died in infancy.  We saw one room where they believe most of the children would have slept, but there was also a note that due to the various ages of the children, only 5 to 9 children would have lived in the house at one time.  The room was larger than the room where my 6 boys sleep, so I had to smile seeing that. 20170725_155353

Walking the end of the trail on our way to Paul Revere’s house and Old North Church, we walked through the Little Italy portion of Boston.  Wow did that smell good.  None of us had a big lunch and it was around 4:00, so we were all starving while we were walking past delicious-smelling Italian restaurant after delicious-smelling Italian restaurant.  We waited until after we retraced our steps along the trail to get dinner, but we did end up at a pizza joint where the kids took no time to gobble down 3 large pizzas.  Charlie and I both had huge, tasty salads.  After getting some nourishment, we climbed back into the van.  It was a little after 6:00 when we were trying to pull out of Boston, so I was rather worried that we would spend a great deal of time sitting in traffic.  However, the traffic was much lighter than I expected.  What a blessing!  Charlotte and Atlanta traffic would have been much worse at that time of day.   We made it back to the campground late again but having had yet another wonderful day together.

Blessings,

Rebecca

Day 4 – Monday, July 24, 2017

We had a nice cool night in our campsite.  After breakfast, we finally all took showers!  Yay!  It was so nice to feel all clean!  These showers are pay per use showers, so it cost $2.50 for a 5 minute shower.  You weren’t able to add more money for more minutes.  It just cut off at 5 minutes.  Charlie thought it would be a great idea to install one of those machines in the showers at our house in order to keep certain people from staying in there for hours.  Mom and Dad may have liked that for certain ones of us growing up too, isn’t that right Robert?

After showers, it started raining.  We pulled out in the rain to drive to Northeast Catholic College.  We have a family friend who graduated from there last year and now has taken a job there.  We were able to get a tour and visit with our friend Connor.  The school was great!  I would love for some of our kids to attend there.  It would give me a great excuse to go visit, especially during the winter.  I would love to experience a New Hampshire winter!  I know what you are all thinking; Charlie thinks I am crazy too.   I always enjoy seeing people that I know from home in a totally different location in the country, so it was great to be able to spend some time with Connor.  We had lunch together at a great little mom and pop restaurant where the kids were able to eat a lot of brunch food inexpensively.  I like those kinds of deals!

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The church at Northeast Catholic College.

After lunch, we left Connor and Northeast Catholic and drove back toward our campground and the White Mountains. We decided to just spend some time driving around trying to try to see the sights since it was still raining. We chose to drive the Kancamagus Highway since it wasn’t too far from us and was supposed to offer many beautiful sights. Despite the rain, I could definitely see the beauty. One of the first stops we made was at an overlook near the peak elevation of the highway, 2855 ft. Even I was surprised that the elevations weren’t a little higher here as we easily get to over 3000 in the Blue Ridge Mtns. However, the temperatures were definitely chillier than in the Blue Ridge Mtns in July. At this point, our van thermometer said it was 48 degrees outside. I definitely wanted to experience 48 degrees in July, so we hopped out of the van and took some pictures. Actually, I wasn’t going to take pictures, as the fog was obscuring our view, but when Nathanael made a comment like, “I see why they call it the White Mountains. Everything is white!” I decided that was very appropriate and needed to take a picture of the White Mountains on a very rainy day.

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Yes, the mountains are certainly “white” 🙂

We stopped and saw a small waterfall and a covered bridge.

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Charlie and I at the waterfall

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Nathanael on the covered bridge.

The kids got out of the van and played on the rocks in a river on one quick stop, where of course most of them managed to get their shoes wet.  Thank goodness we bring two pairs of shoes.  Getting their sandals wet is one thing, but when they get tennis shoes wet, they take forever to dry out!

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Amelia, Isaac, and AnaClaire standing IN the river wearing their shoes.

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One of the views on the Kancamagus Highway

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We even managed to find some wild blueberries, most not being ripe yet.  We ate just a few, but hopefully will find plenty to pick on this trip.

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Wild blueberries – very small compared with the type we grow in the South, but still delicious!

We had a great time driving the Kancamagus Highway and headed back to the campground for a quick dinner and bed.  Ryon needed to work on his paper for a class, so he and I headed to Dunkin Donuts again for wifi and work.  Hopefully tomorrow the rain will let up, and we will have a day of being able to get out and sight-see!

Blessings,

Rebecca

Day 3 – Sunday, July 23, 2017

WalMart was our lodging location for Saturday night too.  We drove into Newburgh, NY, Saturday evening and started driving to the Catholic churches in the area to make sure we could find a place to park.  Every Catholic church that we drove to had no place to park a van and camper.  Two of them were in the downtown area where the roads were very narrow and certainly weren’t going to allow for parking for a large camper.  We decided then to go ahead to a WalMart and we would find a Catholic church that was in a smaller town.  Charlie found one with a school, hoping that because it had a school, it would have parking.

We had another hot night in the camper, but when we woke up the next morning it was blissfully cool outside.  I guess we need to start opening the windows before we go to bed.  Hopefully from here on out, we will be in areas that will be cool enough at night not to even need to start out with the air condition.  We woke the kids up around 6:45am to get up and out to a 7:30 Mass in a nearby town.  We drove to Walden, NY to Precious Blood Catholic Church and managed to find a nice wide open parking area on the main street just a couple blocks away from the church.  We hurriedly changed into our church clothes and walked the couple blocks to Mass.  Our children are used to more of a High Mass, so they were little surprised that there was no singing.  However, the Mass had a wonderful homily and a beautiful simplicity.  After Mass, we started our next full day of driving.  We drove up I-87 to Albany, where Isaac commented that all of a sudden there were tall buildings in the middle of nowhere.  After that, we headed east.

When I think of New York, I tend to envision New York City, which is a place I have no desire to go to again.  So, it was really nice to drive through the countryside of New York and see so many small farms and rural locations.  I now have a desire to come back and just spend time exploring the more rural areas of this beautiful state.  One thing that Charlie and I commented on during our drive through Pennsylvania and New York was how the scenery doesn’t seem to change as much as when you head west.  In the Northeast, you have lots of hardwood forests, just as you do in the Southeast.  However, in the Southeast, you tend to pass more planted pine forests than hardwood forests.  We have plenty of hardwoods, but I do think many hardwoods in the Southeast have been displaced in favor of planting pines.  At least in Pennsylvania and New York, I saw many more hardwood forests than pine forests.  I know that I will see many more pines in Maine, but for now I am enjoying seeing the hardwood trees and imagining how much color one could see during the fall.

When we passed into Vermont, I fell in love.  Rural Vermont is so beautiful.  I loved seeing the small towns, the mountains, the old farmhouses and barns.  I did see more pines in Vermont, but they were more mixed in with the hardwoods instead of planted.  We passed a couple signs for U-pick blueberries, which I really want to do.  The blueberry crop in our area was severely damaged by a late freeze.  We managed to pick 2 gallons on one day at our local blueberry farm and then the picking was done, so I have really wanted to pick while we are up north.  While we were seeing the U-pick signs, we noticed that the outdoor thermometer on the van said that it was 71 degrees outside.  I remarked that 71 degrees would make the best blueberry picking experience that we have ever had.  71 degrees is very different from the low 90s with 90% humidity.  Although we didn’t stop to pick any blueberries, I do hope to pick some to bring home.  However, first we will have to eat some of the delicious meat in our freezer so that we have room for blueberries.

After Vermont, we entered into New Hampshire.  We stopped at the Welcome Center for some much-needed lunch of more sandwiches and cherries.  IMG_0570

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Lots of cherry juice-covered faces!

After lunch, we drove toward our campground.  New Hampshire and Vermont are my kind of places.  Everything we saw was very rural, lots of older New England-style architecture and lots of trees.  I couldn’t stop looking out the window.  I had heard descriptions before of houses with attached barns, but I had not seen any yet.  Here, I finally see them.  I also love to take pictures of old barns.  Maybe that comes from my grandfather as I remember a picture he had hanging in his den of an old barn with a thatched roof.  My kids are always pointing barns out to me to take pictures of them, but I tell them that I only take pictures of barns that “speak to me.”  Here are some of the old barns I loved.  DSCF1811DSCF1807I also loved the many, many rock walls that we saw everywhere.  Charlie particularly liked this view.DSCF1810What a wonderful drive we had.

The campsite that I had reserved was an adventure for Charlie to get into.  He actually had to pull into the campsite across from us in order to back into our campsite.  If another camper comes and takes the site across from us, we may be stuck in that campsite until they leave.  However, Charlie always impresses me with his camper-parking abilities.  He is like my mom – he always talks about how difficult it will be to get the camper out of this site, but he manages to make it look so easy.  My mom always used to say she would have a difficult time with some sewing she needed to repair, but she always did it and made it look perfect!

The kids really appreciated being out of the car and running around the campsite.  After dinner, Ryon and I were able to head to the Dunkin Donuts down the road for Wifi service, Ryon to write a paper for school and myself to get some blogs published!

Blessings,

Rebecca