We have an insane calling to be where we aren't

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two weeks in Maine

We are still here after two weeks

11,000 staff and camper converge on the Sabago Lake area between June and August.
Camp is big business in this area. The Fedex trucks have been hard at work delivering footlockers for the soon to arrive campers. 3400 eggs were delivered to our kitchen. The epi pens were purchased and counselors instructed on their use. The health and wellness speech was given and every person inspected.
 
Many of the boys arrive by plane or bus. Some arrived on charter buses that run the east coast, others flew into Portland or Boston and then were bused. The vans have been rented and picked up so the campers can be picked up in Portland and used on the overnight get trips.
The international campers arrived a day early.
 
I bet the ice cream parlors in Raymond are stocked and staff hired for the ritual of families stopping for a treat on drop off day.
It rains quite often in Maine. Even the dog has a raincoat.
He didn't appreciate that I was taking his picture. As I was walking towards him and aiming my phone, he started barking at me like I was doing something he did not like.
 
 Each first year boy is teamed up with a friend with experience that is older and a counselor. The counselors go through psychology lectures the week before camp. A little boy at our table cried our first night but was much better in the morning.  Scoby, a counselor, was able to take him outside and sit and talk with him. I made sure they both had some food after everyone was gone and took apples out to them.

One counselor told me that he had a bad case of homesickness his first year at camp. Now he is heading to college and is thankful for his time here. He met another counselor that is going to the same university and 2 hours after they met, they decided to be roommates in the fall.
 
Many of the camp alumni return and do volunteer work. A dermatologist that was at the girls camp as a girl across the lake gave a presentation on using sunscreen and melanoma. A couple of school psychologists gave presentations to the staff.

The boys come in all shapes and sizes with distinct personalities. They have been respectful and rambunctious.  One afternoon, we skipped out on lunch for a nice seafood and prime rib lunch in town. We commented to ourselves that they were probably glad that they got our deserts.  We were right. They got to split our apple crisp.

  We were returning to our cabin on the hill and could hear the
boys cheering and singing in the woods.

 At breakfast, a camper at our table from Mexico pulled out little packets of hot sauce. Everyone at the table started ribbing him about his contraband.
 
Many of the staff are from England, Ireland and Poland.  A counselor from England told me he wishes he could have gone to camp as a kid but they don't have them there. One morning a vehicle with a government license plate pulled up. The people in charge were making sure all of the foreign paperwork was in order.
 Mike gets his list of things to do and heads out to fix the place up. There is more than enough work to keep him going for a couple of months.
Infirmary
At dinner each night a young camper who loves to read about the presidents gives us a new fact about Calvin Coolidge (the most underrated president).
Reading mail after returning from rafting trip.
 
Outdoor camps are getting more competition from specialty camps such as sports, opera and music. This one is celebrating its 100th year and attempting to plan for the future.
  
We are finally finding our groove here. On my mornings off, I skip breakfast with the boys (we have our own kitchen) and take a walk. I enjoy listening to the birds, loons and wind in the trees before the boys pull out their outside voices. After breakfast, both nurses are in the infirmary to check out the dings while the other nurse pours the  medication for the next day (mostly vitamins and allergy medicine) and then are free to do as we please unless needed on our off day.
 
 The only thing worse than the tics and leeches has to be the boy's feet. Often, I send them to the bathtub to wash their feet before proceeding.
 
 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Camp Timanous in Maine

What were we thinking?

I am not sure how I decided that we should work at a boys youth camp. Fortunately, Mike was on board. We had looked at a few camps but decided on Camp Timanous which is north of Portland, Maine after interviewing a few places. He will be the maintenance man and I will be one of the nurses.
We arrived a week before the boys are scheduled to arrive and settled into our cabin. We are up on the hill behind the infirmary and campers. Our cabin has a refrigerator, microwave in the kitchen with air conditioning in the bedroom and is four times larger than our trailer. Our meals are served in the dining hall with the boys and laundry picked up on Tuesdays.
 

 The head of the camp has the office on the left and the infirmary is behind it to the right overlooking Panther Pond which is a huge lake.
 
The counselors are enjoyable and witty but have needed medical attention of their own. My first day, I had to take a counselor to the Ready Care for treatment. His difficulties were above my pay grade. Doc fixed him up and in no time he was back at work.
 There are a number of counselors from England. One of the girls said she could tell who they were by looking at their legs. They are red and swollen from the bug bites. They have not been exposed to Maine's bugs and react pretty badly from the bites.

Many of the counselors that come from overseas travel with Trek America before or after their contract across the US. They are having the time of their lives. Some work in the kitchen, as naturalists or photographers while at camp.
 There is plenty to do to get ready for the campers but we had Sunday off and decided to head to Portland for the day. Once the campers arrive, I will only be able to leave once a week for any extended period of time.  
 
It really isn't a bad place to spend time even if I can't get away more often. They can contact us by walkie talkie if we are needed while away from the infirmary on a walk or kayaking.

Portland, Maine

 Our last visit to Portland, many years ago, was brief. This time after walking around, we opted for a lighthouse boat tour.


 We spotted this osprey while leaving the harbor.

 
 Civil war armory
 One of the over 100 islands in Casco Bay
 The fog was rolling in and the lighthouse faded rather quickly in the fog.



Another armory
 Fort Scammel (Portland's Ellis Island) served as a first checkpoint for immigrants coming to America once Ellis Island became overwhelmed.


Pocahontas, the smallest lighthouse at 6 feet tall and registered with the Coast Guard is on Diamond Island.

The fog drifted in and out at times.



We plan to take the ferry with our bikes to Peak Island while here.

Each lobster fisherman's buoys have specific colors. We weren't able to watch them pick up their traps since it was Sunday. 

Lunch!

It will be interesting to see how this camp works out for us. But 7 weeks, good pay, nice housing and meals provided, it should be ok. Hopefully, the campers and counselors will stay healthy and happy. Fingers crossed.....


Friday, June 16, 2017

Franconia State Park, New Hampshire

We had visited Franconia State Park 14 years ago while I working in Connecticut. We knew that we wanted to return someday and this was someday. It didn't disappoint.
 

Echo Lake 

Cannon Mountain Campground is a small campground with 7 spots with full
hookups at the base of Cannon Mountain Ski Resort and around the corner from Echo Lake. It was in a great location between Lincoln and Franconia in the state park.
 
 
 Wood ducks have the coolest hats or is it a pinhead?
 
A great spot all alone.
The rec bike trail was just around the corner from us.
 

Franconia Notch

 
 
  We had visited Franconia Notch 14 years ago and loved the area and Polly's Pancake Parlor. We
had the opportunity to return and had to try the pancakes again. My favorite was the cornmeal and
coconut but the gingerbread and walnut weren't so bad themselves.

The Lupines were out again on our return visit.   
 The Only Blast Furnace Still Standing in New Hampshire

Hiking to Franconia Falls

After several days of reunions, eating and visiting, it was time to get some more exercise.
We headed out for a 6.8 mile hike to find the Franconia Falls. The Lincoln Woods Trail started
with a bridge crossing and along the creek in the White Mountains near Lincoln, NH. The ranger told us that the moose and bears were very active but must have been hiding from us.
 
 
 
Almost there 
With all of that walking, you would expect a bigger waterfall. Some boys were using the falls as a waterslide. It looked enticing.
The lake would close at 9 pm to the public but was empty by 7:30pm. We would walk down and listen to the frogs and  start their night songs. 

The Basin

We spent the next day seeing the sights and walking in the state park.
 
 The Basin, located in Franconia State Park is a giant nature-made pothole formed thousands of years ago by ice and river rocks. It's granite bowl spans 20 feet and is filled by a roaring spout.
 It was peaceful listening to the rush of the water making us want to follow the trail even further.

The Flume Gorge

 
 Mount Liberty and Mount Flume as we leave the visitor's center.
This picturesque covered bridge is one of the oldest in the state. It was built in the 1886. Such bridges were often called “kissing bridges” because of the darkness and privacy they provided. This bridge was built across the scenic Pemigewasset River. Pemigewasset means “swift or rapid current” in the Abenaki Indian language. 
Heading into the Flume Gorge 
 
The Flume Gorge
  The 2 mile walk includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allowed us to look at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here.
 
At the top of the Flume is a close view of Avalanche Falls. The 45-foot waterfall creates a roaring sound as the Flume Brook enters the gorge. The falls were formed during the great storm of 1883, which washed away the hanging boulder. As we walked along the boardwalk the mist would blow across us.
  Liberty Gorge, a beautiful cascading mountain stream that flows through the narrow valley.
The Pool is a deep basin in the Pemigewasset River. It was formed at the end of the Ice Age, 14,000 years ago, by a silt-laden stream flowing from the glacier. 
 
 
 This is a narrow, one-way path that involves crawling on your hands and knees and squeezing through rocks called Wolf's Den.
 
Coming out of the Wolf's Den
 
The trees have to be hardy to hang on around here.
 
We could spend a few weeks here and not run out of new things to do and see. I was glad that we were able to take some time here before heading to Maine for the summer.