Photographs by Frank

26 May 2012

Maiden Voyage

Having decided that we were too old to sleep on the ground but too young to quit camping, we spent some time mulling the options and decided on a teardrop camper. A teardrop camper is basically a bed (queen-sized in our case) on wheels with a camp kitchen on the back. They are light enough to be pulled behind a small car.

After a bit of research (and some last minute mind-changing), we decided to buy a Silver Shadow model made by Little Guy Campers.  We picked the trailer up at the  “local” dealer (Dan Kearney’s  in Rutland, VT) a couple of weeks ago.

On Monday, we took off on our maiden voyage in the camper. Our destination was Rangeley Lake State Park in western Maine. We spent two nights at Rangeley Lake,  a third night in Errol, NH and made it back home for a late dinner on Thursday.

We meandered the back roads both going and coming and covered 679 miles total, including a “loop” to Grafton Notch without the trailer (see below). The “rig” (i.e  Joan’s Forrester with two kayaks on top and the trailer) averaged 23.7 mpg for the trip. We averaged 21.9 mpg on the 218 mile return leg. The unburdened Forester gets about 32 mpg.

Here are a couple of photos of “the rig”:

We arrived at Rangeley Lake around supper time and had our choice of campsites; there were only two other sites in use. Although, the ranger who registered us was anticipating with a bit of dread the crowds on the coming holiday weekend.

After setting up camp and cooking our first meal on the propane stove, we took a walk along the lake. Upon returning to our campsite (which was right on the lake) we were treated with a great sun set:

Tuesday dawned gray with the forecast of scattered showers (the first of which occurred while we ate breakfast). We decided to take a drive to see (and photograph) the various waterfalls in the Grafton Notch (ME) State Park area. During the day we made five or six short hikes to various falls and encountered a few more light showers but we had fun anyway!

We arrived back at the campsite at dinner time. After cooking dinner we launched the kayaks from the campsite and set off towards a small bay nearby. I had made an “executive decision” to leave the camera gear in the car as the light was drab and would quickly begin to fade.

The lake was quiet. We encountered a single boat close up shortly after we launched and only saw a couple of others in the distance as we paddled the lake.

As we headed back towards the campsite, we were treated to the sight of a bald eagle passing overhead. Joan watched through her binoculars as the bird cruised across the lake and made two attempts at fish. (I, of course, had forgot my binoculars!) The bird alit in a tree on a small island and after a short interval took flight again carrying a large stick. Again, she (or he) flew directly overhead at an altitude of maybe twenty or thirty feet. The bird was so close (and it was so quiet) that we could hear its wing beats! A short time later the (presumably) same bird made a return tip back across the lake to the same small island. At this point we headed back towards the campsite in the rapidly gathering dark. It was quite the experience and sometimes the experience is all that matters says he who left the camera back in the car!

Wednesday dawned cloudy but the forecast was for clearing weather. We decided to head for the Magalloway River near the headquarters of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, NH. We had camped nearby and explored the lake twice before, but had never headed upriver from the NWR headquarters. We figured that we could have a nice relaxed paddle and then decide whether to head home or camp a third night.

The paddle was nice, although not as isolated as the down river (towards the lake) stretch; we did about 4.5 miles before turning around. We got back to the landing at the NWR building around 4 PM.

As we were carrying Joan’s boat back across the road to the car we both did a double take… there was a three-legged bear standing on the lawn near the NWR building!  Upon seeing us, the critter unhurriedly headed down the bank and swam across the river. Our last sight was of its rear end disappearing into the woods on the far bank!

I do not think that the woman in the NWR office really believed our story, but I can’t say that I blame her! I’m not sure that I would believe such a story but having seen it with my own eyes I guess that it is true!!!!!

We decided to camp one more night and headed to the Clear Stream Campground in Errol. This is a nice quiet, but mosquito-filled private campground; nothing had changed from our previous stay here in July a couple of years ago! We set up camp and, instead fighting the vampires, we headed to the Bull Moose Restaurant for an early dinner.

After dinner, our plan was to head out on route 16 to “hunt” for moose. On our way back towards town after dinner we encountered a small cow moose eating the salt-laden mud at the side of the road. There was already a car stopped when we arrived and by the time a couple of more vehicles went roaring by the moose hightailed back into the woods. A good start to the evening!

We headed south of town along the Androscoggin River without seeing another moose but I made a couple of nice landscapes by a wide part of the river where we turned around and headed back north.

It was still light when we got back to the center of Errol so we decided to try Route 16 north of town. We drove as far as Wentworth Location and found another nice sunset scene to photograph but no moose. As we headed back to town in the near dark, we encountered another moose crossing the road as we drove.

After breakfast at the campsite (the mosquitoes were not nearly as bad as they had been the previous evening) we packed up with the intention of meandering home through the White Mountains… and meander we did! We stopped at the pull off in Kinsman Notch to photograph but mostly I drove while Joan, with map in hand, “told me where to go”! We both enjoyed the scenery and arrived home about 4 PM.

All-in-all we had a successful maiden voyage.

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