Camping and kayaking – Aug 17th and 18th

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Friday, 17AUG12

 

Rain rain, go away,

come again another day,

Ben and friends all want to play…

Rain rain, go away.

 

Why does it always rain on Friday nights? I mean… I understand the physics of it – the particles from car exhaust slowly builds up over the week, and thus increases rain chance as the week goes on. But just because I know the science… can’t it just… not?

But unfortunately as I sat in the passengers side of Daniels car eating Doritos Locos Tacos (say it 5x fast) the science made sense. In fact… it main poundingly loud sense. The kinda sense that appears to be grape-size hail stones.

It was, incidentally. A “severe lightening and hail storm” warning had gone out around the region that we were in. The region that Mike was going to meet us in. The region that we were planning on camping and climbing in.

But, we persevered. We doggedly headed up to the campground, and moved to check into the site we’d called ahead about earlier in the day.

Checking in took a rather interesting turn when the camp owner showed us his awesome antiques collection though – not a small box, but instead an entire garage full of memorabilia – everything from an analog TV remote (which was wired to the TV and mounted on your recliner) to the original newspapers celebrating the end of World War II. It was honestly breathtaking, and we spent a rather inordinate amount of time exploring around and poking through some of the more esoteric collection pieces that he had.

After almost an hour of exploring though, we got a bit restless and moved on to our campsite. The rain had settled for a bit, but we set up as quickly as we could, since we could feel the drops starting up again almost as soon as we stepped out of the cars. Thankfully all of our tents went up quick, and soon enough I had a rather cheery fire roaring away in the little fire pit in the middle of the campsite. We even pulled out some rope and strung a tarp over the fire, so we could chill out around it out of the rain.

And chill we did.

When we bought firewood from the campground, they said that they’d drop off “a bucket” at our site. When they said “A bucket” they literally meant a massive oil drum attached to a golf cart, full of firewood. Thus, we chilled out by a roaring fire, nearly hot enough to steam the rain away as soon as it landed nearby.

And because of this fire, we stayed up late into the night – Mike played guitar while Daniel and I filled the air with badly-sung lyrics, inane banter about politics, or some of the most entertaining relationship advice that I’ve ever heard.

Basically, it was the perfect night of camping with friends.

 

Saturday, 18AUG12

 

Screaming children.

Why?

Why are they screaming?

More importantly, why are the screaming in a campground, near me, when I am hung over? This is less than idea. In fact, this is non-ideal in the highest. Also, my sleeping pad is flat, and I’m on the ground. This is uncool.

The children? There was a playground next to our campsite.

The hangover? Yeah… fun night around the fire.

The sleeping pad? Same as the weekend at Rumney. Still had a hole in it.

The solution? Eggs and Coffee and Blueberries to start, and then a drive down to the nearest town to find a diner to eat a boatload of pancakes and bacon. Awww yus.

And that is exactly how our morning went.

I woke up, we ate breakfast and packed up camp, drove in and ate a second breakfast, and then headed out to find ourselves a place to kayak.

The original plan was to go climbing at Crow Hill, the reason why we were in Northern Mass in the first place, but thanks to the rain that was a rather obviously poor option. Crow Hill is awesome, but once it gets wet it tends to stay gross for a while… not really something I wanted to climb on, to be honest. But since climbing was out, kayaking was definitely in – the campground owners knew a solid place that would rent a kayak out to Daniel while Mike and I took his inflatable one (the Bogmaster 3000), and so we made a beeline over right as soon as breakfast was devoured.

Setting up took nearly no time at all, and soon enough we were on the river, starting a bit of exploring. And there was a lot to explore – the river was actually an old canal from when Leominster and Fitchburg were mill towns, and so the banks were cut with mule trails and cool old play-forts that the nearby kids had constructed from the tall trees overlooking the river.

Our first stop was to explore an amazing tree fort / rope swing setup over the river, and from there we hit a small sandbar (used by Daniel to ditch us when we were trying to run him aground), and even stopped in to explore an old railroad bridge.

The railroad bridge was actually a rather long stop-over, where we pulled the boats ashore and clambered around on the old tressles. It was rather somber, a reminder of the older lines that would run through the area, but also quite neat, especially to see the many jump-points that the areas hooligans had set up. There were at least three jump-points, but none of us had any desire to see how deep the water was underneath us… instead, we did a bit of exploring inland, where we stumbled upon a rather buccolic little New England farm before heading back to the boats to push onwards.

But the bridge was not in any way our last exploration stop – small tributaries let the Bogmaster 3000 live up to its name, and a rescue mission into the reeds at the edge of the canal led to Mike and I recovering two pool noodles. Two pool noodles that were immediately pressed into service as weaponry when we assaulted Daniels Kayak. They gave a strong account of themselves, though unfortunately one was kidnapped by Daniel and used to attack us right back.

The battle lasted for a ways down the river, but finally ended when Mike jumped overboard, with a scream of “Screw it I’m bored!” I quickly lashed our kayak to Daniels boat (much to his chagrin) and followed suit. We relaxed and let the current pull us down the river for a ways, before tying up to an overhanging branch to eat a quick lunch before heading back to the rental place.

And at the rental place… yeah. The trip had been slightly break-neck, since we needed to get Daniel’s kayak back before 6:30, and we didn’t want either of the cars to get locked inside as collateral. So Daniel was understandably tired when we arrived, and thus felt the need to stretch out a bit. Stretch out using the rental groups shed as a pull-up bar.

But unfortunately… the shed wasn’t designed to hold a grown man’s weight. Instead, it was designed to hold less. And so when Daniel pulled down… it came to him.

Yes, that’s right. Daniel single-handedly pulled the shed down on top of himself. No injuries were had, thankfully, but it took us a little while to rig up a remedy to hold the thing together before it collapsed. Again, an upside of having two Mechcanical Engineers on-site – Mike quickly set up a beam to hold the weight, and I lashed it together with some rope I’d comandeered for the purpose. A jury-rig by any means, but a rather successful one from any perspective. I don’t know how well it lasted, but Mike and I actually went as far as to make a quick force-diagram in order to make sure it’d survive at least ’till the morning…

From there, we headed back towards Boston – stopping in at the Border Cafe in Burlington for dinner, and then hitting The Dark Knight Rises at the Jordans TemperPedic Omni-theater. Yeah… it was pretty awesome, I have to admit. And definitely a great way to end a rather entertaining Saturday…

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