Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Monday, June 15 -- I emailed my family:

Hi, everybody,

I set up camp at the Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park this afternoon and discovered, after promising my wife and sistert that I'd call every day, that there was no cell service. I stopped in nearby Otter Creek and asked the guy who was hosing out the ice locker outside the market (they hope to be open by June 24) if they had cell service there. He said, "Nope, but yah might be able to get it up theyah on top of that hill," pointing to a 500-foot crag of granite.

So, I'm writing this in the park by the pier in downtown Bar Harbor, which not only has cell service by free wi-fi. The four-masted schooner Margaret Todd is waiting for passengers at the dock and it's "pahtly clouday," with a little chill in the air and some fog in the valleys across the bay.

I stopped at Trenton Bridge for a lobster lunch -- a pound-and-a-half, hard shell. I took before and after pictures of the bug for the blog, which I've promised to get ready for prime time in the next couple of days.



There was a crush of patrons at the Ellsworth DMV office this morning including me. I took a number -- 73 -- and checked the board. They were serving number 61. So I had time to rest and contemplate life.

When they called my number about 45 minutes later, I found I could register the bike in my own name as a non-resident, but first I had to go to the town office and pay excise tax. When I came back, I wouldn't have to go to the end of the line, they'd let me jump to the front. Excise tax was only $19, but when I went back to DMV, they hit me for more than $200 in sales tax (5 percent of the purchase price), plus title and registration fees. Anyway, I'm now legal -- just have to stop someplace and get a safety sticker in the next few days. Jane, my title will arrive at your house in a couple of weeks.

Although I set up the tent in the cottage at the lake yesterday, it was more of an adventure "in the wild." The adventure truly started when I parked the bike. After the side stand sank into the soft, ground, saturated by yesterday's rain, I tried to put it on the center stand. Hauling it up, I lost my balance and over she went with me on top. I'm glad there were no other campers around!

To right the ship, I unloaded everything first. Would've made a funny picture I suppose: Gray-haired man struggling to lift a large green motorcycle in the middle of a pile of camping gear. It didn't budge at first. The tires wanted to slide along the ground instead of giving me a fulcrum. Eventually, they caught and I hauled her up. I suspect I'll feel it in the morning. After that, the tent was easy -- once I found all the pieces.

Well, that's the news from Camp Woebegone.



I still think Dinty Moore Beef Stew makes a tasty meal -- at least when served in the Great Outdoors. Add a fresh whole-wheat roll to mop up the gravy and some cheap Cabernet in a cardboard bottle and we're talking gourmet fare. However, it can't beat the fresh lobster lunch at Trenton Bridge, which for $13 included a bag of chips, melted butter and a diet Sprite.

It's a nippy 55 degrees at the campground at 8:15 p.m. and I'm procrastinating. I've decided to finish the wine before I start blowing up my mattress.

I went to Bar Harbor for food after pitching my tent and picked up the stew, baked beans, pears, fruit cocktail and corned beef hash. I also bought a Bangor Daily News for reading and to start a fire, and some liquid soap and a sponge to clean up after dinner. I headed back to camp, stopping along the way for some "camp wood."

To buy wood, I followed hand-lettered signs and arrows down a dirt drive to a ramshackle settlement of houses, shops, lobster traps and a big blue boat named "Occupational Hazard," put $2 in a coffee can and took a bundle of split logs. Since it's been raining, the bundle I strapped to the bike wasn't enthusiastically combustible.

Back at camp, the fellow in the next tent offered some left-over wood, saying he was leaving in the morning. He and his wife, retired and from northern Georgia, have set out to camp in all 50 states. They had two left: Maine and Vermont. I said thanks but I probably had more than I needed, too. He offered to bring over some hot coals instead to help me start my campfire, which I gladly accepted.

In spite of the coals and lots of twigs from the nearby woods, the camp wood wasn't interested in burning. I gradually sacrificed the entire Monday edition of the Bangor Daily, much of it unread, and eventually stacked the entire bundle of wood in a pyre four layers high. That tactic was successful, but it's still cold enough to see my breath. On June 15 in Maine, summer is still weeks away.

With the fire finally going well, popping sparks, warming my face and keeping the bears and chipmunks at bay, I sipped the last of the wine and deemed my first camping day a success. My first camping night? Well, that's a story for another day.


  1. I love the blog! Great photos, incredible writing and yes, I love the humor and insights. I am worried about your first night camping though. Please tell me the Sierra Designs did not fail you. I will only blame it on the fact you didn't get 2 boxes of wine!

  2. Heidi! I sent out an email yesterday to announce the blog was up and forgot to add your address. Doh! Of course I remembered as soon as I was out in a campground on the wilder side of Acadia where ther was no cell signal, no wi-fi.

    The Sierra Designs tent is wonderful. Easy to put up and pack. Dry on the inside and just long enough for my long bag. I was thinking about going for a 3-person tent, but the 2-person has enough room inside, plus two "vestibules" for any excess. Mine came with the footprint, the attic and two coffee slingy thingies, which I haven't been able to figure out.

    I bought it a present at Walmart: extra fiberglas poles, so I can raise the flies on both sides as awnings. Stylin'!

    First night out, it didn't rain, but everything got wet with dew and condensation. Last night, however, it all stayed dry and snug. Tomorrow, it's supposed to rain, so I'll stay at the lake. My brother and sister will be here this weekend and I probably won't do more tenting until next week.