from the road

Days 8-9: Camping in Maine + a Contest!

Hello there! Did you miss me? I was in the depths of the wilderness, fighting off predatory bears with my bare hands and rubbing sticks together to make fire.

Actually, I was just away from cellphone service while we camped in Cobscook and Acadia National Parks in Maine.

After leaving St. John, we crossed back into the US and arrived in the tiny town of Lubec, Maine, which is right outside Quoddy Head State Park. Lubec is a tiny town (with five restaurants!), but with tons of charm and the essentials (ice cream). It is hosting its first International Marathon tomorrow–I may have to consider this in the future.

About four miles outside the town, you can visit the adorable candy-striped West Quoddy lighthouse, situated on the easternmost point of the United States.

West Quoddy Lighthouse


Harrison visited Quoddy Head State Park fifteen years ago. My last visit to Lubec was also a long time ago.

Quoddy State Park

There is a rock beach with lots of seaweed and a “violent” surf that thunders in against the rock cliffs. It’s pretty impressive.

Harrison on Quoddy Head State park cliffs


We had fun poking around at low-ish tide:

Harrison with seaweed, Quoddy Head State Park Mica with seaweed, Quoddy Head STate Park


I would not recommend swimming in late June at Quoddy Head State Park. The water in the Bay of Fundy is frickin’ cold!

feet in sea waterI’m a sucker for nostalgia, so visiting Quoddy Head State Park was a real treat. I ran up and down the paths, alternating between saying, “I LOVE THIS! IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL!” and taking in large lungfuls of sea air mixed with the scent of balsam fir trees.


View from cliffs, Quoddy Head State Park



Quoddy Head State Park I even insisted that we visit the rare Arctic bog in the middle of the park. I was so overcome with feelings of nostalgia (from visiting this with my parents) that I took an ironic bog selfie:

Bog selfieWhen I’d had my fill of nostalgia coastal memories, we headed to Cobscook State Park, where my dad claims to have had the best camping of his life.

We finally got to camp, and I am delighted to report that we survived our first camping adventure with minimal issue. We even made a fire “from scratch” (=We got a pack of free matches at the Lubec IGA.).

Whatever, no judgment. Indulge Harrison in his feelings of manliness.

Harrison with campfire

You can’t see from the picture, but our campsite overlooked Cobscook Bay, which also has a rock beach and seaweed, as well as mudflats where campers can dig for clams. (I enthusiastically proclaimed that I wanted to dig my own peck of clams, only to realize that I have no idea what to do with said claims once they are unearthed.) At least we went to sleep in our extremely cozy two-person tent to the smell of salt air.

I was very proud of our ability to pitch a basically fool-proof tent outside of my mom’s living room. “This is easy,” I thought, “How have I not gone camping more? I did so much camping with my family when I was younger.”

Oh right. Bugs (and also spiders). I hate them. HATE THEM. Mosquitoes think I taste delicious, and I swell up a lot when I get bitten. (Also, like a four-year-old, I cannot stop itching any bites once I get them. I had very scabby legs as a child.)  Fortunately, my dad let us borrow these “mesh covers” (=mesh drawstring bags) to keep out bugs. In addition to keeping out the monstrous mosquitos and no-see-ums, it also did a good job keeping my sandwich out of my mouth…until I got creative.

Mica wearing gnat bagI have to say, Cobscook was a little too “rustic” for my taste–or, at least, a little too “real camping”-like after living a non-nature-filled life for the past ten years. For one thing, on my trip to the toilet (a toilet seat over a hole), I was terrified that a predatory bear was stalking behind me. To ward off any bears, I swung my flashlight around erratically and hummed pop songs loudly until I reached the safety of the bathroom, which is to a say a stall in the middle of the woods. (There I found a very large spider guarding the stall handle.)

After surviving that harrowing experience (I kid!), I was happy to break camp and head off to Acadia National Park. First, we made a stop in Bar Harbor, ME, where we were certainly underdressed. Even this moose statue (not $25,000) was full of judgement:

Moose statue in Bar Harbor, ME


We did a short hike in Acadia to look out over the water [Unfortunately, those pictures are on my DSLR, the cord for which I left at home. If you have a USB cord that connects to a Nikon port, I might need to borrow it.] and then headed to the smaller of the two Acadian peninsulas to set up camp at Seawall Campground.

Seawall Campground is, shockingly, located right off the natural seawall:

Seawall view, MaineI highly recommend this campground. The bathrooms are pristine, and there is a nice, smooth paved road around all the loops. It was great for taking an after-dinner hike to spy on see the other campers, many of whom were taking family vacations with pop-up trailers and kids on bikes (Nostalgia alert!!!). The only downside is that the campground has no working showers. You can pay for hot showers at the nearby camp store.

And, of course, we engaged in the most time-honored of camping traditions: Making s’mores!

S'mores at Seawall Campground[Dad, you will be proud that I remembered our long-standing tradition of foraging for firewood in other people’s abandoned campsites. I had accumulated quite a bit of “reclaimed” wood, only to find that the rangers had already chopped up tons of wood, left out free for the taking. We made a huge-ass fire, that’s fo’ sho’!]

So, okay, maybe we’re not the most daring and rustic of campers, but I think we did an okay job. We didn’t burn the campsite to the ground, and we successfully built and broke camp twice.

Finally, we thought we would spice things up on the blog by adding a small contest. There is something hidden/camouflaged in this picture we took at Quoddy Head State Park. What is it? 

What is hiding?

What is hiding here? [Click to enlarge.]

E-mail your guess to info[at] with the subject line “Quoddy Contest” by Sunday, 6/23, at 10:00pm EST. The person with the most specific and accurate guess will be awarded a cool prize (something yet to be determined–a souvenir from our travels)!

[Sorry, only US residents and non-family members eligible.]

Now, I’m writing from the adorable beach town of Hull, MA, just outside of Boston, where we are staying with my dear friend Ashley’s parents. But this post is getting long already.


Urban camping

While we’re in Canada and the Northeast next week on WVT, we’re going to fulfill Harrison’s dream of roughing it in the wilderness a few campgrounds. This meant that we had to buy sleeping bags, an air mattress, and a tent. After significant neurotic (on my part) research and advice from Twitter, we went with the REI Camp Dome 2.

We had planned to go on a trial-run camping trip in Virginia, but several elements (namely, torrential downpours and the un-timely arrival of our sleeping bags) conspired against us. With our June 12th departure date fast upon us, we decided to go with the next-best option: urban camping in my mom’s living room.

The tent fortunately came with instructions printed right on the bag, ha!

REI Camp Dome tent in bag


[Insert phallic joke about the long tent pole.]


long tent pole

Hey, this is looking right-ish!

half-assembled Camp Dome 2 tentTotal set-up time on the first try? Ten minutes. Let’s see if we can get it down to five!

assembled REI camp dome 2 tent

Note the candlesticks in their natural habitat.

Oh look! Some urban “wild” life: my mom!


Bodger was very curious and eager to climb inside the tent.


Our queen air mattress just barely fits in the two-person tent (though not entirely inflated).

M & H in Camp Dome 2 Tent

After feeling sufficiently satisfied with ourselves and our tent construction, we broke camp and foraged for dinner at Avenue 805.

Camping, we are ready for you!

Don’t worry: we’ve made other preparations in addition to buying and assembling our tent. We don’t have it down to a streamlined and efficient process yet, but I think we’ll be okay “roughing it” for a few days. (And my parents did a pretty bang-up job taking me on fun camping trips in my childhood, so this isn’t my first go-round with using the woods as my toilet.) At the very least, I know (1) not to light a fire or use a gas stove inside the tent, (2) to store food in the car so as not to be attacked by bears, (3) use a footprint under the tent so as not to become soaked overnight. 

Any other helpful tidbits of camping advice? Do share in the comments!






Harrison’s camping aspirations

What am I most excited about?

While I am anxiously awaiting delicious meals, sing-alongs in the car, and catching up with long-lost friends, my excitement for one thing trumps all others: the vast expanse of quasi-wilderness between Chicago and Seattle. If you study my expertly-drawn approximation of our route, you will notice that between the two aforementioned cities, there is nothing but frantic squiggles.

Rough map of WVT

Now, I labor under the likely mistaken assumption that in another life, I could have been an explorer. I should disclose at this point (because if I don’t, I have a feeling someone else will) that I have managed to become lost during a few brave adventures in my life, including locating fireworks over Boston Harbor and meeting friends at an Asian restaurant. [*Ahem* Lyric, if you are reading this….] Those isolated events, however, do not dull my desire to become somewhat more severely lost in the untamed wilds of Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, and eastern Washington. I’m pretty sure people live in those places, but I’d prefer to stay out of their way. And what is the best way to get away from people?? Camping!

That’s right, it is my grand aspiration to camp at least part of the 5-day, 4-night trip from Chicago to Seattle. Another disclosure: my camping experience consists of a couple of isolated nights in a tent, plus sleeping in a cabin and eating McDonald’s for breakfast at Indian Guides. And yet I am undeterred. Here is how I envision this happening:

Mica: Hey big, burly husband! How is it going?
Harrison: Not bad, actually. I have pitched our tent, created fire by staring at a pile of sticks really intensely, and prepared a gourmet meal from edible foodstuffs foraged from the woods!
Mica: *swoon*

Just pretend it's a tent. And that this is camping...

Just pretend it’s a tent. And that this is camping…

Here’s how it will probably go in reality:

Mica: What are you doing?
Harrison: What the hell is this thing in our trunk??
Mica: That’s our tent.

Failed tent

Whatever. I will not be deterred. I shall experience the manly pleasures of camping, and there will be much rejoicing. Here I come, frantic squiggles, here I we come.

And…more pictures:

Failed swoon

Failed swoon attempt. It’s harder than it looks.

Not sure what we're doing....

Not sure what we’re doing….