Tag Archives: Acadia 2012

Acadia 2012 – The story of Leaving


Sunday mornings are always melancholy at Bass Harbor, the campground that NUHOC stays at. Everyone’s usually a bit hungover, a bit sore, and more than a bit unhappy about the prospect of driving six hours just to be back in Boston again.

I don’t remember when I woke up, but once I did I was thankfully able to bring myself into gear quickly enough to catch the last dregs of breakfast before they were all gone. Daniel had cooked up a few eggs for us, and I believe I comandeered a bit of milk as well… but to be honest I was way too asleep to really form any coherent memories until a good bit later.

While I had driven up with Daniel, I planned on hitching a ride back into Boston with Mike now that he was up here. So we played some more car-jenga, this time trying to fit a kayak, a guitar, a bike, my climbing gear, and all of our camping gear into the back of Mike’s Eclipse. It was difficult, but possible. The real challenge came from trying to focus on packing a car while we were under heavy assault from Marshmallows.

NUHOC had bought S’more material for the weekend. But whoever had been left in charge of buying the Marshmallows had made a major logistical error – they had bought the “jumbo” size, instead of the more usable “normal” size. Thus, Sunday morning found NUHOC staring at dozens of bags of Jumbo Marshmallows with no home for them to go home to. The solution? Full on Marshmallow war was declared.

On one side was… anyone on that side of the campground. On the other side: people trying to pack their cars up. Tents were quickly dropped in favor of marshmallows, and the vans were re-purposed into defensive walls. At one point, I got tackled clean into said van after I made an ill-advised flanking attack on our opponents… Mike didn’t take that point-blank marshmallow too well, to say the least. Hey, I can’t throw for crap accuracy, so may as well sneak around, right?

The battle raged on for nearly an hour, culminating in one person trying to drive through the middle in a vain hope of escape. That allied the two warring armies, and we both gave chase, throwing our “grenades” through the window as it was desperately rolled shut. They escaped, but in doing so carted off nearly half of our ammunition supply.

Thus disarmed, we finished packing and headed onto the open road. Mike and I made a quick stop in to see the coffee girl at the small town near the campground, since she had been serving us our morning brew every morning for the entire weekend so far… it just seemed rude not to stop in and say our goodbyes. We stayed in for one last story-swap, where I told one about New Zealand and she told one about her stay in Australia, and we all promised to reconvene again the next year.

After leaving Acadia National Park behind, Mike and I made a scenic-route path back towards our home city. The “scenic” part may not have been completely intentional… but thanks to a quick google maps search on my Kindle (thank you free 3G) we found our way without much stress. Our only other stop in was for a quick lunch at applebee’s, which was quite excellent, but aside from that one indulgence we trucked onward, listening to random CDs and talking about what the heck we wanted to do with the next few years of our lives.

Acadia 2012 – Of campfires and singalongs


If you ask people about their trip to Acadia, you’ll hear dozens of stories – climbing, hiking, cycling and kayaking. Everyone will have a different tale to tell about different trips and different adventures. But they’ll all align on one subject – hanging out around the campfire after a day of excitement.

There’s a pattern to the night life at Acadia. Friday nights are usually pretty crazy after being trapped in cars for hours, Saturdays are low-key since people are tired out, and Sunday nights are an all-out party because no one plans on waking up early just to drive six hours home. So when we pulled into camp at 11:00 on Friday night and didn’t see a soul, you can imagine our confusion.

This year was… strange. The atmosphere was different, and the camp had taken on a muted spirit. There were people, to be sure, but the people were quiet and guarded where they would usually be loud and welcoming. As Daniel and I set up our tents we talked to our friends who had already settled in, trying to figure out what the source of this lethargy that had settled over NUHOC.

In the end… we had no idea. Thankfully a group of Iranian’s settled into camp a bit after midnight, and they brought a bit of the party back to life – bollywood-style music blared from car speakers, and headlights illuminated a dance-floor covered by a canopy of trees. I only joined in for a short while, but that short time was enough to remind me of how amazing this weekend was going to be.


I hadn’t expected too much partying or loud insanity on Saturday night, and so when I settled into a chair around the fire I wasn’t at all disappointed about the lack of loud music crashing through the trees. Instead, I had the sound of Mike and Sam playing old Chili Peppers songs… which was the perfect mood-music to accompany my devouring of a few double cheeseburgers.

After I finished eating I did a bit of wandering around to the other fires, but I found that the rest of the camp was even more muted than I had expected – no one else had any music (aside from the alumni camp that had a stereo blasting Katy Perry), and everyone seemed quite happy with the people around their own fire – no one else was really necessary… or particularly wanted.

Thus, I headed back to camp. I picked up a few other fire-hoppers along the way who, like myself, had received rather lukewarm welcomes at the other places and were looking around for a place to veg out for the night. The new blood reinvigorated our little group, and we chatted and joked into the night, listening to the guitars strumming their songs.


Sunday was… strange. It kept with the theme of the weekend. The few people who were about (I later learned that only 75 people had signed up, out of the usual 150+) tried doing the whole socializing scene for a bit, but quickly fell back to old habits and formed off into their own circles.

The event of the night, like every Sunday night at NUHOC’s Acadia, was the bonfire. Since we order a ton of wood that we can’t really take home with us, we’ve found the best solution is to burn it all in a sky-igniting pillar of fire on the last night. Last year Mike and I had helped out by chopping apart a rather large fallen tree and using it as the center-point of the fire… causing the unlit bonfire to rear nearly 10ft above the campground. This year we aimed to go even bigger, hoping to draw all of the myriad camps into one cohesive group.

Unfortunately Mike and I arrived back at camp a bit late thanks to a massive feast of lobster, ribs, quesadillas, and beer.

Someone else had taken the lead in building a fire and it was almost ready to be lit by the time we jumped out of the car. It wasn’t as huge as the year before, but it still easily reached 7+ feet tall. And more importantly, it was doing its job – almost everyone was gathered around the fire pit waiting to see it go off.

As it was lit, a great cheer broke out around the fire and people finally started mingling and chatting. I had gotten to catch up with most of my old friends already, so I took this chance to sit down with some of the newer kids and get to know how the current club was doing. He laughed, we joked, and had a rather nice time – I even scared the whole fire at one point by throwing a few packets of fire-color into the blaze… Turning a bonfire blue and green is always a good camping trick.

However, the bonfire didn’t last. I kept tending to it, but after maybe 45min or an hour of getting along people started grouping back into small insular groups. I ended up giving up on the main fire about two or three hours in when I realized that everyone from my camp had went back to their fire, and I was alone with a few small groups of people who were too busy with inside jokes and drama to be very good conversation.

I left to wander, and ended up finding what turned out to be the best fire of the weekend – the Iranian grad student’s camp. Mike was already there, playing to an enraptured audience. Seriously, most other groups would shout out requests, try to sing along, or generally be loud… but these guys were completely enthralled by Mike’s playing. I joined in the “music appreciation” fire, and played cameraman for an hour or so as Mike kept rocking out.

The guitar died out after the loss of a string (Mike did fix it, but was too tired to keep going much longer afterward), and so we all stretched out by the fire to chat about the universe. Literally the universe as it turned out, because most of the folks around the fire were theoretical physicists or engineers. We talked about quantum entanglement, relativity, and how quantum entanglement could feasibly get around relativity. We talked about space travel and politics, and discussed whether I should ever go to Iran.

The consensus on Iran was, by the way, “hell no they’ll kill you”.

I finally found myself back at my tent around 03:00, completely exhausted from the weekends activities and the nights discussions… but quite happy about the whole trip. True, the feel of the camp was still quite alien to me, but I was happy that I had gotten to meet so many new people, and actually had the chance to discuss string theory while camping.