Camping at Bradbury Mountain

Jenna has been asking me all summer to take a family camping trip. It seemed that there was always someone who was busy (with work or other summer activity). Realizing school would start in only a couple of weeks, I decided I needed to plan something very soon, so I began preparing for a camping trip to Bradbury Mountain State Park for the 3rd weekend in August.

Together the girls and I decided on the menu and purchased all the necessary ingredients. I searched for foil dinner and breakfast ideas, and found a couple winners. I prepared the individual foil dinners ahead of time, but because I was working the two nights prior to our departure, I didn’t have the time I needed to get everything done that I wanted to. As it turned out, I did forget a few things, but we made do. The girls and I drove up to Bradbury Mountain State Park (only about a 45-minute drive north) Friday afternoon after I slept a few hours. My car was packed full, and the girls were good sports about the small amount of room they had. Fortunately my new Subaru Crosstrek has a bit more space than my old little VW Jetta! Brent planned on meeting us there that evening after he got off work. After the girls and I secured our spot and set up camp, Brent arrived…with the firewood and some newspaper. He got a nice fire going. He’s a regular boy scout. ;-)

Campfire...photobombed by Hayley. ;-)
Campfire…photobombed by Hayley. ;-)

Orange is the new green.
Orange is the new green.

The campground at Bradbury Mountain had only a couple of campsites available, and we were lucky to find one of them. It was a decent spot… right across the path from the outhouses. ;-) We couldn’t smell them from our campsite, but Hayley was quite repulsed by the stench each time she used one. Not quite having the hang of simply mouth breathing, she held her breath as long as she could and did her “business” at a record speed.

Brent is the master campfire maker. :-)
Brent is the master campfire maker. :-)
Hayley and Brent share a hug near the campfire.
Hayley and Brent share a hug near the campfire.

Other than “Top Gun,” Brent’s favorite movie is “The Big Lebowski.” He conveniently has it saved on his iPad, and suggested we take this unique opportunity out in nature to enjoy this classic, poignant film. I happened to have brought a couple pans of Jiffy Pop, so Brent proceeded to cook one over our campfire. Unfortunately, it turned out to be quite difficult, as the fire was not hot enough to pop the popcorn right away, yet quite hot on Brent’s hands which had to be right over the fire in order to shake the pan as directed. The packaging read “As fun to make as it is to eat.” I’d like to have a little chat with the genius who thought to use that as a marketing strategy. :-( Eventually Brent did get it popped, and it turned out not awful tasting. Skye then popped the other pan. She had an easier time, as the fire was at just the right stage to start cooking the popcorn right away.

Jiffy Pop...a bunch of liars. :-(
Jiffy Pop…a bunch of liars. :-(
Brent's idea for "roughing it": Watching the "Big Lebowski" on his iPad while eating campfire popcorn.
Brent’s idea for “roughing it”: Watching the “Big Lebowski” on his iPad while eating campfire popcorn.
Skye braved the heat of the campfire and successfully cooked some popcorn for the movie.
Skye braved the heat of the campfire and successfully cooked some popcorn for the movie.
Popcorn and a movie in the tent #thedude
Popcorn and a movie in the tent #thedude

The girls took several walks along the trails throughout the campground. At one point they convinced me to join them on a hike. When Hayley and I were the only ones left on the trail, we quickly noticed how many different types of mushrooms we saw. We decided to make it a mushroom photo excursion. I got pictures of about 24 different apparent varieties. I had no idea so many existed! Hayley turned it into a game in which we compared each mushroom to something else. I thoroughly enjoyed our hike together!

Hayley demonstrates her amazing balance as she walks along the rock wall that lined one of the hiking trails.
Hayley demonstrates her amazing balance as she walks along the rock wall that lined one of the hiking trails.
I almost did this....almost. But then I decided not to.
I almost did this….almost. But then I decided not to.
My sweet little Hayley and me during our little hike in the woods.
My sweet little Hayley and me during our little hike in the woods.
A few of the different mushrooms Hayley and I spotted during our hike.
A few of the different mushrooms Hayley and I spotted during our hike.
Some more of the different mushrooms Hayley and I spotted during our hike.
Some more of the different mushrooms Hayley and I spotted during our hike.

Shortly after returning from our hike, Brent, Jenna, Hayley and I headed for the closest grocery store (in Freeport) to purchase some additional food items and supplies for our camping trip. Brent pointed out some disposable Solo cup “shot glasses.” Jenna immediately rolled her eyes and remarked “They shouldn’t be called shot ‘glasses.’ They should be called shot ‘plastics’.” She is always quick to spot fallacies and offers her honest appraisal, which comes across unintentionally humorous and witty.

Brent noticed a MAD magazine on the magazine rack and showed it to Jenna and Hayley. For some unknown crazy reason, they had never before been introduced to this historic, classic magazine. Seeing it brought back much nostalgia from my own childhood/teenage years. Both girls were quite engaged with the magazine as soon as they began reading it, and neither wanted to put it down as we ventured up and down the aisles at the store. We purchased one for each of them, which made the drive back to the campsite fairly quiet as Hayley and Jenna buried themselves in the wonder of MAD. It turned out that the chairs around the campfire pit were ideal for reading MAD magazine as well. I regret that I did not expose my daughters to MAD sooner. ;-)

Clearly, both Jenna and Hayley were quite engrossed with the MAD magazines we found during our shopping trip.
Clearly, both Jenna and Hayley were quite engrossed in the MAD magazines we found during our shopping trip.
My buddy and me
My buddy and me

After the standard roasting of hotdogs over the campfire, I pulled out the s’mores fixings. The girls enthusiastically began roasting–er, burning–their marshmallows in the flames.

My breakfast idea didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped it would. I brought hashed browns, pre-cooked sausage links, eggs (already cracked), shredded cheese, and seasonings. Unfortunately the foil packet idea didn’t work. The hashed browns wouldn’t get crispy, and after making pans out of the foil to cook everything separately (Skye’s and Brent’s ideas), we did manage to turn out a pretty decent breakfast. Next time I’ll just bring a pan. I was more prepared with the tinfoil dinners. (Technically “aluminum foil” dinners…it isn’t really made of tin.) I had the kielbasa, fresh green beans, carrots, potatoes, and onion all cut up in individual packets ahead of time, with a little butter, oil, and seasoning. Everything cooked perfectly, and tasted delicious! #win

My tinfoil dinner was a success!
My tinfoil dinner was a success!
One of the best parts of camping. :-) --Photo by Brent
One of the best parts of camping. :-)
–Photo by Brent
Jenna prepares to eat her perfectly assembled s'more.
Jenna prepares to eat her perfectly assembled s’more.
We each labeled our drinking cups. There was no mistaking which one belonged to Brent. aka, "The Man" :-)
We each labeled our drinking cups. There was no mistaking which one belonged to Brent. aka, “The Man” :-)
The girls prepare to go to sleep (or not) in their tent.
The girls prepare to go to sleep (or not) in their tent.

Camping with my family was a wonderful adventure. I enjoyed being away from our daily lives, enjoying each other’s company, not distracted by technology (um, except Brent’s iPad). Each of the girl’s and Brent’s unique personalities contributed a great deal to the whole experience. I regret that we haven’t done this more often. A weekend camping is something we can easily plan for, especially when it’s close by and inexpensive like Bradbury Mountain State Park. Brent and I made a camping list in Evernote with the things we want to purchase, and the things to always bring on future camping trips (things that we appreciated having and proved useful, and things we forgot or wish we’d had with us). We’re already discussing our next camping excursion. I definitely want to go again soon. I love living in Maine.

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