Jul 18, 2009

Trip report: Old Quarry Campgrounds, Stonington, Maine

These are the minutes from the Sebago Canoe Club trip to Stonington, Maine on July 12 to 18, 2009. All relevant committees reporting.

Cruising committee:
All members present and accounted for at beginning and at end of trip: Walter, Tony, Dottie, Fran, Shari, Elizabeth and Denis.

We arrived to find a beautiful, newly built bunkhouse on the lovely Old Quarry Ocean Adventures grounds. The launch site was just below us--we never re-loaded the boats until it was time to go home. Off the coast were multiple little islands, which we visited as follows:

Monday: Green Island (Elizabeth's favorite, of course!) has an old abandoned quarry, where you can swim and have lunch, which we did. The water is naturally collected rainwater, and it is bracing but delightful. Little fishies might check you out. We stopped also at Steve's Island I believe that day. Despite some late afternoon wind, we landed safely back at Old Quarry, where the Hospitality committee served an excellent dinner.

Tuesday: We went to...the island with the trees and the granite rocks...then to the one with the rocks and the trees. What can I say, Walter has the chart and he will show you. One of the stops was the island where the footings for the Brooklyn Bridge came from! I thought of all the men who died building the Brooklyn Bridge, and wondered if less famous men had died in granite quarries for our bridge. It was quite a feeling to stand on that same bit of stone and look at the wonderful natural setting--I will give the bridge a fond pat and a shout-out from its brother stone next time I am down there. (I would have taken a stone with me, but we were very strict in our Leave No Trace practices.) It was a great day of paddling, with clear blue skies and good cheer all around. And lobster for dinner, cooked on site by Captain Bill.

Wednesday: The Hard Core Salty Dogs (Dottie, Walter and Tony) made an early departure for Isle Au Haut.
View Larger Map This is a far paddle, perhaps 15 miles or more round trip. Normal people do not do this. As a matter of fact, I bumped into people the whole next day, who started conversations with "Did you hear there were some people who actually PADDLED over to Isle au Haut? Can you believe it?" Yes I can. Walter reports that his greeting at the Isle au Haut General Store was "paddled ovah I hear;" thus we see the Salty Dogs reputations preceded them. Chalk one up for Sebago fame and fortune. The remaining travelers supported the local economy by purchasing jewelry, a bird feeder, and various and sundry other items. We also made a stop at Brooklin, which had no hipsters and no bridge. In the photo (to be posted) you can see us correcting the spelling error for the town. Ice cream was had by all.

The HCSD's were off the water early, and we all got cleaned up and went to a concert at the Stonington Opera House. We saw an amazing performance by two of these guys. (Aren't you glad the Cruising Committee knows how to embed links?) in which they sang all kinds of folk songs from the immediate vicinity. Some were bawdy, some funny, and some touching. It was a remarkable performance. The instruments included accordion, guitar, banjo, fiddle, and shoes on a wooden plank, as is seen in Quebecois and Maritime folk music as well. Sebago got culture, yo.

Thursday: More paddling, more beautiful weather, and a trip to Wreck Island. By afternoon, there was a bit of fog wisping over Isle au Haut, so we paddled our butts back to camp before the real weather could roll in (and roll in it did--fierce thunder and lightening, but we were high and dry by then). Denis and I were in a tandem that day, which was a good thing when it was time to really put our heads down and paddle like crazy. As we passed Shari's Island with Shari's Amazing Summer Home Compound with Room for Many Guests, which she will buy when her Ship Comes In, we knew Old Quarry was just around the bend, and like the old grey mare who sees the barn, Denis and I paddled to our rental dock. Phew.

Friday: Drive home. This part sucked. All arrived safely.

Hospitality committee: Wow, these people can sure eat and drink. Pots and pots of coffee (sorry, Fran), yogurt, scones, cereal, and fruit for breakfast; packed lunches of PBJ and some goodies in their dry bags; dinner out some nights and in other nights. It was a non-stop feast. Local goat cheese from the "leave the money in the cigar box" refrigerator; tuna steaks from a fish caught off a party boat, and Bill's lobster as mentioned above. When a crucial ingredient was missing at the last second, Bill gallantly supplied it from his own fridge. (It was tonic.) Wines included: Happy Camper, Menage a Trois White, Menage a Trois Red (keep dreaming, boys) Mandolina various varietals, port, big honkin' bottle of Yellow Tail and...um, I forgot after that. But paddling burns calories, right? Let's hope so, because we ate fresh local pie every night.

Safety committee: All members and all gear returned to Sebago in good shape. We battled bravely against mosquitos, and although many battles were fought to victory, we must report that the mosquitos won the war. There was one participant who threatened bodily harm against other members. There was talk of chopping off heads with a machete, using the remains of said victims as chum or as bait in lobster pots, etc. Thankfully no machete was available. Apparently, this tirade was related to the nocturnal snoring habits of some Sebago members. The complaintant was appeased with wine, vodka, tonic and lime. Committe budget will include earplugs in the future.

Culture committeee: As was already reported, we had an outing to the Stonington Opera House, but we also had a poetry reading by our own Denis on Thursday night. This was well received by all who were still awake and not too drunk yet. Denis is a talented poet. In response to the folk music we enjoyed, many songs have been written on this trip in the Down East Deer Isle tradition. Some are not appropriate for reporting in the minutes. These songs have not been written down as of yet, but, as in all folk traditions, improve with age and reputation (like wine). Particularly the song Frannie on the Waves, or was it Adrift in a Plastic Boat...

Membership committee: Membership brochures were given to a local paddler who is planning to circumnavigate Manhattan in October; to a couple from Long Beach, NY, and to Captain Bill, who now operates Sebago's northernmost membership outreach department.

Naturalist committee: We saw porpoises right in front of us, bald eagles right above us and some saw harbor seals (not me, alas). Wildflowers everywhere, including wild iris. They got a lot of nature up in there. It's breathtaking. The stars at night are thick, thick like soup.

This concludes the report (for now anyway) of the Sebago Crusing Committee and all other relevant committees. Smart paddlers are advised to keep an eye out for notices from the Cruising Committee as they are posted, and reserve spots early. We have fun wherever we go.

Respectfully submitted,


Reverend Shari said...

If you don't leave a comment, how will I know you read it?

MozMan said...

Sorry I missed this year's trip! How were the blueberries? As far as food, I think I miss the pies and the lobster most of all...

Reverend Shari said...

Too early for blueberries from what I could tell. Although we did eat some local wild strawberries.
We missed you!