Camping Trip 2019 Summary Poem (and Route Map)

Camping Trip 2019 Summary Poem (and Route Map)

Camping Trip 2019 Summary Poem

We left home
squeezing a tent, two cots,
two big chairs, two little chairs, two stools,
two sleeping bags, two easels, two art bags,
two boxes of food, a stove, a cooler,
a hammock, a lantern, a tablecloth,
clothing, toiletries and towels,
hiking boots, backpack, camelback,
cameras, phones, maps, and books
into a hot red Honda Civic
with new tires, great gas mileage,
and one mother (me),
a couple stuffed friends
(a walrus and a hippo),
and one 22 year old daughter (Laura).

First stop was Acadia National Park.
We stayed on the Schoodic Peninsula
in the newly donated, plush campground
where the Acadian forest greeted us
with peepers and crashing waves,
fog and donuts.
We bought shiitake mushrooms
at the farmers market,
saw a juvenile bald eagle,
painted representationally on Sand Beach,
and abstractly at Thunder Hole.
We then ate in Winter Harbor:
smoked scallops at the Salt Box,
and fiddleheads
at the Pickled Wrinkle.

Crossing the border,
we headed to the
Bay of Fundy National Park,
(on Laura’s life list)
and dealt with rain and bugs
while marveling at the tide
going so far down–
we walked it out at least a mile,
crunching muddy underfoot.
We slept well
with the sound of the water
surging back and forth.
A spitting day was good for
the Dickson Falls hike, it was
so mossy and green and gushing.
Next, we explored
the marvel of Hopewell Rocks
on Canada Day, wet yet again,
but our spirits were undampened.
We went behind the scenes
at the Alma Lobster Shop,
seeing thousands of crates of huge
lobsters ready to be shipped to China,
and ate a lobster roll, and scallops
cooked in bacon and maple syrup.
We bought fresh scallops too,
and ate them by a campfire
made with wood gifted
from a fellow traveler.

Driving to Nova Scotia
we visited a Costco in Moncton
for organic tomatoes and berries
and discovered a gem
of a vegetarian restaurant
called Calactus, where we feasted
on pakoras with plum sauce
and veggie pate.

We arrived in Cape Breton
Highlands National Park,
Ingonish Beach Campground
as it was getting dark,
after a long, winding, but pretty drive.
Thankfully, the weather was better there.
The beach the next day was divine,
with rounded rocks
that the waves trickled through
and jostled just slightly enough
to make the most miraculous sound.
We drove the bumpy dirt road
to Meat Cove, the northernmost point
in Nova Scotia, and watched the fog
slither up the hills from the sea.
The next day, we hiked the Skyline trail
in the sunny heat, where the moose
have eaten all the vegetation,
and we peered past the precipice
looking far down over the sea
as it merged far off with the sky.
We drove the Cabot trail,
learning how the highlands of Scotland
used to be attached here in Pangea days,
saw carnivorous pitcher plant flowers
on a bog walk, and spotted a real moose.
(We also added an adorable and essential
tiny moose named Scotia to our caravan.)
We ate seafood pizza
a stone’s throw from the ocean.
I painted at Black Creek Cove,
where the bay was obsidian,
and at Corney Brook,
where the water looked like root beer.
The hills were alive,
as the Sound of Music would say,
in the brightest garb of spring green,
dazzling in steep chartreuse swards
that look simply surreal.
Juxtapose that
with lavender lupine everywhere
and who would not be happy?
The lilacs and peonies
were still in bloom too,
for this was no July back home.
Laura climbed down
an impossibly precipitous
overlook above Cape Smokey,
and was satisfied.
I had one last listen
on Ingonish Beach
before we moved on,
and felt the same.

At a laundromat, we met
fellow travelers we’d bump into
a few times more, and then
dined at Flavor Downtown in Sydney,
before being among the first
on the Newfoundland Ferry.
We were giddy, both of us
beside ourselves with excitement.
We had the cutest little berth.
After sleeping on the roll of the waves,
we arrived at remote Port Aux Basques.
(The postcards I sent from there
still have not arrived!)
We drove north along
a barren mountain range to
Gros Morne National Park
(on my life list),
and the place did not disappoint.
We hiked to Baker’s Brook Falls
in damp weather and saw lady’s slippers.
The supposedly “partly sunny” day
for our boat ride down
the long awaited, fabulous fjord,
was marginal at best,
and we missed the upper third
of the mountains and waterfalls,
which I mourned a bit.
Still, it was glorious and fun,
and we celebrated hiking eleven miles
with salad and local garlic mussels
at Java Jacks in Rocky Harbor.
The next day in perfect sunshine,
Laura climbed Gros Morne mountain,
again eleven miles, but this time
mostly vertical ones, on scree.
Meanwhile, I hiked the Tablelands,
where the earth’s actual mantle
has heaved up to the surface
proving plate tectonics to be true.
Next we headed up
the western edge of the peninsula
to the northern tip of Newfoundland,
enjoying seaside arches, icebergs,
and whale sightings from shore.
The first American Viking Settlement
at L’Anse aux Meadows
was a highlight,
saturated as it was
with discovery, history, and import,
where Laura played with
Norse swords,
and we had the best cod
we’d ever had
at the Norseman Restaurant.
We sang hymns
and listened to audio books
while we drove back,
hoping there would be
a gas station eventually,
in all that vast quiet,
with mountains on one side
and the sea on the other.
We studied the exhibits at the
new Discovery Centre,
marveled at the curious
and geologically significant
rock formations at Green Point,
and visited an artist’s studio
in Woody Point. We examined the bugs
and photographed the butterflies
at the excellent Insectarium,
adding a funny, fuzzy mosquito
to our car companions, now totaling four.
(We chose to do those last several things
because of inclement weather, so alas,
we missed some hikes we wanted to do.)
This time, we were the last on and last off
the ferry, but our berth had a window!
We were foot draggingly sad
to leave Newfoundland,
knowing it was the pinnacle of the trip.

The ferry to Prince Edward’s Island
was refreshingly sunny, and the undulating,
vivid green, well-inhabited farmland
was a bit of a shock
after the place we had just come from.
The Cavendish Beach Campground
in the National Park was crowded,
but we had a site with an ocean view.
We could tumble out of the tent
and be on the beach at daybreak
when the dune swallows were swooping,
and the full-throated songbirds
were bodaciously auditioning their tunes.
We spent a whole day lounging
on the Cavendish beach (reading), and
another on Singing Sands beach (swimming),
and this was interspersed
with a visit to Anne of Green Gables’ house,
intense sunsets over the Saint Lawrence Bay,
and eating our other best meals of the trip,
notably, the halibut at the Blue Mussel Cafe,
the brie, pesto, pear, and cranberry flatbread
at the Dunes Cafe, breakfasts and jams at the
Prince Edward Island Preserve Company,
and a lobster roll worth waiting in line for
at Richard’s Fresh Seafood.
It was all very nice,
but we were not sorry
to head back into the wild
over the huge, new, Centennial Bridge.

Going through Moncton again,
we returned to that Costco
for more victuals,
and found our way back
to Calactus Restaurant
this time for mushroom cannelloni
and beet and goat cheese salad.

Kouchibouguac National Park
was a delightful surprise.
It was a hushed, understated wonder.
We loved our hike-in, unserviced site,
right on the water,
and didn’t want to leave.
We did very little there
but absorb the place,
read, write (Laura), and paint (me).
We did take an eight mile hike
along a remote and untouched
sand bar to see the seals.
Otherwise, we mostly
gaped at the amazing sunsets,
in awe and relief,
promising to be back.

Again, leaving was sad,
but that feeling fled
when we saw our next spot
in Baxter State Park.
South Branch Pond was
remarkably pristine and lovely.
We had no cell service.
There were lots
of harmless snakes
and gargantuan rabbits.
We floated on the pond
in a $1/hour canoe, listlessly
playing games of categories,
languishing as the water lapped,
and the loon calls to their babies
echoed, reverberating off the hills.
Afterwards, we swam
in those crystal clear waters.
I saw the underwater
infrastructure of a beaver home.
I painting five paintings
of those hills, while
Laura made a seed bead necklace
framing a piece of sodalite.
We didn’t explore the park;
we could come back for that.
We rested and worshiped.
We focused on gratitude
for this marvelous time
we’d had together.

On the way home, we took
the two legs, instead of the hypotenuse,
and visited a friend in Vermont,
glad we’d taken our return by stages.
Re-entry was hard enough as it was.
(Running hot water; what was that?)

Driving home through Brattleboro,
we bought two beautiful cabochons
(amazonite, and blue calcedony)
for Laura’s Christmas present
(she’ll bead them into something),
and then all of a sudden,
we were in Connecticut,
surrounded by my husband’s flowers,
and then, engulfed in his arms.
It was so good to see him again!

To be honest, it is weird being back.
Life here went on as usual,
but not for us, with all that
stunning beauty we have seen,
in five thousand miles, in five weeks,
without the crushing mess of civilization,
no news, no politics, no strife, no pressure.
We are not changed so much
as resuscitated and replenished.
We are both full to overflowing,
unruffled and calm.
Every sort of berry crumble
has been duly savored, including kinds
we’d never heard of before.
The mother/daughter bond we’ve
enjoyed and cultivated remains
to be treasured always.
Instead of feeling sorrowful this trip is over
we are being glad that it happened.
Laura is soon off
to her next grand adventure
(her own apartment and PhD program)
and I’m going to pray and paint
my way into mine.

Thank you God!

Polly Castor
8/8/19

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.

1 Comment

  1. Gillian Smith 4 months ago

    Oh Polly, beautiful word-smith, thank you for these glorious glimpses – a bugle call to ‘hallow all we find*’ as God’s wonderful unfoldment. Bless you.
    *(Christian Science Hymnal No 140)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*