Saturday, August 23, 2014

Big Red Gets Ice Cream

We bring all of our toys with us on vacation. The car is not happy about lugging everything to the far reaches of Maine, but that is the car's raison-de-etre. So, we spent four days in Searsport camping.
On Friday, we biked around Belfast and found a Cool Spot that has great ice cream and coffee.
On Saturday, we wanted to use the kayaks. Bug mostly wanted to hang out and it took us until mid-afternoon to get our acts together. We used ice cream as the lure to get Bug's buy in for the adventure. The paddle to Belfast is along a pretty protected coast with no major crossings. I'd guessed that it was maybe four miles one way, and would take about an hour.
Once we got on the water Bug cheered up. She enjoyed playing with her paddle and looking for birds on the water.
We moved along the coast at a nice pace until Bug had to pee. I didn't think this was a big deal. I suggested that she just climb out of the boat, hang on the side, and do her business. There was no chance of Bug tipping Big Red and she was wearing a PFD. It would be a quick in and out stop. I was overruled and we headed into shore to find a decent place for Bug to get out and pee in shallow water. It took a little doing, but we did find a spot.
Back on the water, Bug and chatted about all sorts of things as we made our way to ice cream. Then we repeated the pee stop.
The last third of the paddle was free of stops and involved the only crossing of the trip. The Passagassawakeag River empties into Belfast Bay. The currents are barely noticeable, but it was enough to stir up some anxiety.
The paddle turned out to be more like six and a bit miles. It took closer to two hours. Our time for ice cream was going to be short. If the return trip took as long, we would just beat sunset.
Once on land, we rushed to the Cool Spot for yummy, and deserved, ice cream. We each got our own version of chocolate decadence. The flavors are lush. It was hard leaving.
After ice cream, the fun stopped. Bug didn't want to get back into the kayak. She refused. It was clear that the return trip was not in the cards, despite our best efforts. Fortunately, we were in a populated area and could call a cab. H returned to the campground and got the car.
The trip was good until it wasn't. H and I learned that you cannot always push a four year old. Bug is usually pretty flexible, but has her limits. Our plan was ambitious for adults.
I'll take a good oneway trip with the family any day. Even if we don't complete the whole mission.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bug's Big Adventure

This was the first weekend day in a long while that we didn't have any obligations, so we decided to take advantage of the perfect weather and have a family adventure. Many options were discussed including kayaking at various locations and biking on the Providence to Bristol trail. I wanted to kayak and, fortunately, the rest of the family agreed.
To my pleasant surprise, H mentioned kayaking out of Hingham Harbor and checking out Grape Island. We had talked about camping on Grape several times, but the camp sites were booked full since early in the season. The weather was perfect for the paddle and the tides were favorable, so it seemed like a great idea.
We planned on launching around 10 or 10:30. That put us on the water when there was plenty of water and give us more than enough time to explore before low tide turned the harbor into miles of sticky mud. Plans are funny things....
We got a very late start. We all slept in a little. We tried a new way to tie Big Red to the roof. We had to revert back to the original way of mounting Big Red. We forgot the sunscreen and had to make an extra stop on the way to the beach....
We managed to get on the water before noon. We still had plenty time to play. We brought along a bunch of sand toys for Bug to use on the beach at lunch. She also had her new paddle along for the ride. It is a "daddy" built greenland paddle. It is not terrible effective as a paddle, but it put a smile on Bug's face and made her feel like she was part of the team.
Bug's new paddle also makes it easier for me to paddle. She used to bring along half of a real kayak paddle and drag it in the water... That could create a lot of drag. The new paddle doesn't create nearly as much drag and it is double sided, so she can actually paddle with it.
The paddle over to Grape is about 2.5 miles and is mostly along the shore. It was a nice relaxing paddle. Bug pointed out all of the boats and birds and planes. H paddled along nearby in her kayak. There were a few bumpy spots, but nothing major. Bug wasn't sure what to make of the bigger waves, but seemed to enjoy them once she realized we were safe in the kayak.
Lunch on Grape was nice. There were a number of people waiting for the ferry to bring them home. We spoke to one of the park rangers who told us that the island, despite what the reservation site says, is rarely full. Apparently, you can all over the day you want to camp and they can usually accommodate you. It is cheaper to pay for the unused site than cancel a reservation....
After lunch we were going to play on the beach. Bug was all set to play near the kayaks, but H wanted to go on an adventure to see what was just around the corner from the kayaks. After some protestation from Bug, we made our way around the corner. H sat down on a nearby bench and figured Bug would stop and play in the sand.
Bug didn't get the memo and wanted to continue the adventure to see what was around the corner... We walked around the corner. There was plenty of interesting things to see as we walked around the corner. We saw crabs, all sorts of shells, interesting trees, more kayaks, and even some other people. After a while, Bug started getting tired and wanted to be carried as we continued the adventure around the corner. By that time, it was shorter to keep going than to turn back. After a nice walk around Grape we returned to our kayaks.
Our trek ate up all our time on the island. The tide was receding and we didn't have a lot of time to get back before the mud flats took over the boat landing. On the paddle back we went around the back of Slate Island before crossing over the closer to shore. Bug curled up in the front cockpit for a little nap. It was a pleasant paddle back.
We got back just before the mud flats raised their sucking maws. A few people who came in after us were not as lucky.
We finished the day off with some nice cold brew coffee and excellent burgers. What a great day!