Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Post-vacation Visit to Bucks County

We headed down to Pennsylvania to drop off the car at Dave's parent's place. On the way we stopped by Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound to pick up a few lobsters. They offered a larger variety of lobster than at Thurstons and they were also used to shipping lobsters to all sorts of places - so it was good that we stopped here for our edible souvenirs.

On our way home we stopped by the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, Maine. It is a very impressive store.

You can buy equipment for any outdoor activity including camping, hunting, and fishing, and they have events and teaching sessions throughout the week. There was even an archery corner of the store where you could try out bows and arrows. We didn't stay long enough to find the famed "brook" area where you can try out fly fishing rods. However, we did pick up an egg carrying case.

We had to throw away a few broken eggs because the carton disintegrated in the cooler. Somebody came up with this simple but brilliant solution!

When we got home we checked on the lobsters to make sure they were still alive. They were.

Here they are packed up in seaweed.

We rustled up three large containers to boil the lobsters although we only ended up needing two. We needed to boil the lobsters for 30 minutes but it took nearly that same amount of time to even bring the water up to boil. We added a lot of salt since we didn't have seawater with us. We ended up fitting three lobsters in one container and one in a container over a gas stove.

They turned out great!

We did a little al fresco dining out on the deck.

I didn't expect our vacation to involve so much lobster, but it was totally worth it!

Car Camping in Maine - Day #9

This was our last full day in Maine. We went hiking up Penobscot and Sargent Mountains (Sargent Mountain being the second highest peak in Acadia National Park; we never did make it up Cadillac Mountain).

David liked this random boulder.

We hung out awhile on the peaks of the two mountains. It was another beautiful day.

After the hike we got another lobster fix at Thurstons. David was very happy.

At home we fried up a mackerel and several pollack.

Dave stuffed them with lemon and fresh oregano, and we had rice-in-a-bag and canned green beans drizzled with Frantoia. The pollack was pretty good but moderately annoying to eat because of the bones. The mackerel was not only easier to eat but very delicious fried. It was really fun eating fish that we knew had been swimming in the ocean just 24 hours ago!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Car Camping in Maine - Day #8

We embarked on a deep sea fishing adventure on the Vagabond!

Dave took a prophylactic dramamine, I packed a lunch of baguette, peach/apricot jam and sharp cheddar (taking inspiration from a popular Saxelby Cheesemonger sandwich), and we were off!

The weather was very misty. My shell didn't do so well at keeping me dry. We stopped by an island with lounging seals.

After about an hour and a half of travel we finally settled down to the business of fishing. Dave and I caught several fish! I had never really caught a fish before in my life. Nor had I ever taken one off the hook by myself. Apparently you have to hold it by the gills and it will open its mouth making the process easier. I'm not doing that at the moment.

The fish keeps flapping its tail as you hold it.

We threw our catches into buckets filled with water. At the end of the trip the captain motored around the sea and brought up multiple lobster traps.

They took out the lobsters, banded their claws, and tossed them into orange baskets; they also returned juveniles and breeding females with eggs back to the ocean, threw out the old bait, attached the new bait, and returned the traps to the ocean.

Dave and I don't really understand how the traps work. I found these two diagrams:

The lobsters climb into the trap to eat the bait but then have to walk through this conical shaped connector to the "parlour" portion of the trap. Why can't the lobsters just back out of the trap and escape after they get the food? Why continue on into the parlour where they will get stuck?

As we pondered these questions, we found out that every person was entitled to one lobster and every family would get a bag of fish! We were lucky enough to get 2 stone crab claws, as well. The crewmembers gutted and scaled all the fish; we asked for ours to be left whole rather than made into fillets. We didn't catch any mackerel but were lucky enough to have a couple in our bag. They were very beautiful.

They made great sashimi and went exceedingly well with sips of Ikkomon soju.

We drove back to Hot Showers and Lobster Pound where they obligingly boiled our lobsters for us in seawater for $2.

It is pretty fun eating lobsters that you've personally seen come out of the ocean. And they were more delicious for it. We learned that a rock (that we borrowed from the firepit) is way more effective than a lobster cracker at breaking through the shell. Overall, it was an amazing day!

Car Camping in Maine - Day #7

Today we went biking around Acadia National Park. There are these nice carriage roads closed to traffic that go around the various mountains of the park. We had lunch at Hadlock Brook waterfall - a baguette with prosciutto, leftover arugula, and a light dousing of Frantoia (Thanks, Mark Bittman!).

We were doing pretty well at finding beautiful lunch spots.

I really learned how to make use of the different gears on the bike. I learned that the lowest gear, the "granny gear", is essential for climbing up hills. There were a lot of nice downhills to balance things out.

Someone almost rode through one of our pictures.

We took a rest by Bubble Pond in the shade of some trees. It was peaceful and idyllic.

We mostly stayed away from Bar Harbor the town, but we couldn't help but stop by a hill overlooking the harbor itself. It was very picturesque. We would have gotten ice cream if we weren't feeling so lazy and nice sitting on the grass.

We stopped by Thurston's for another lobster fix. The lobster salad, which I envisioned as the yummy interior of a lobster roll but perhaps a little more, was a sore disappointment.

I ate all the lobster bits, though.

Dinner was a simple penne dish with tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

Car Camping in Maine - Day #6

We took it easy again today. We went up to Wonderland, a tidepool area. Then we had lunch (baguettes with canned tuna, capers, and tomatoes in a pan bagna-esque style) at the Seawall picnic area. This was yet another amazing place to have lunch - it was sunny, the water sparkled, and the overlying mist was slowly burned off by the sun before rolling in again.

After lunch we drove by this funny outpost:

It is a campstore/lobster pound/shower facility all in one! Apparently the nearby Seawall Campsite does not have hot showers so people drive a few minutes to pay $1/3 minutes for hot showers. After visiting Echo Lake we swung back to do the Ship Harbor nature trail. It was an unexpectedly beautiful walk. Dave really loved the junction where the incoming sea met the outgoing harbor water.

That night we had orzo with corn, ham, and green beans mixed with dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. I can't believe a pound of orzo fit in our modest Jetboil pan. A little parmesan, a swirl of olive oil, some freshly ground pepper (freshly ground as of Friday) and voila!

Dave found these ridiculously enormous campfire marshmallows.

We had smores that night. I was particularly happy because it never occurred to me that we could do smores with dark chocolate. David likes to burn his marshmallows and eat them plain. He calls it the poor man's creme brulee.

Car Camping in Maine - Day #5

We hiked up Mt. Acadia today. It was a gorgeous day, and we had a beautiful view of Somes Sound.

We hiked down and found the junction of a freshwater brook with the ocean. It was a beautiful, secret feeling place with trees and a cool breeze. Our guidebook said that pirates used to sail into Somes Sound and use the brook as their freshwater source. It was the perfect place to have lunch - baguettes with pesto and tomatoes.

Here we barely made it in front of the camera before the timer went off. We ascended again up St. Sauveur mountain, pausing at some ledges that gave impressive views of the Sound again but from a different vantage point.

On the way home, we stopped by Thurston's for lobster roll snacks.

It was quesadilla night tonight. The skillet was good at making the tortilla crispy and melting the cheese but by the time I made the entire batch, the first couple had become a little gummy and not as crisp as before.

No matter - refried beans, sour cream, freshly made guacamole, and an ice cold beer (Thunderhole Ale!) made the meal delicious anyways.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Car Camping in Maine - Day #4

Rain! We woke up and found that our tent had leaked. We temporized by making little crevices along the sides to trap the water. Later during the day we ended up getting some plastic sheeting to cover the sides. That ended up working nicely the next time it rained.

We saw a group of chickens walking around the campground.

They were walking around freely scratching for grubs. They looked so plump and healthy and soft that I just wanted to grab one and give it a big squeeze.

We were still pretty tuckered out from our first hike so we decided to take it easy. For lunch we had another Mark Bittman winner - crab meat mixed with mayo, chives, tarragon, and salt. Instead of making them into sandwiches, we piled them on top of Wasa crackers. We visited Thunderhole and then walked along a beautiful (and mercifully flat) trail that followed the coastline all the way to Otter Point. We visited the "Wild Flowers of Acadia" outdoor garden to satisfy David's botanical curiosity. I got really excited about my first purchase in Acadia National Park - a National Park Passport! You can get stamps at most national parks. I got mine stamped right away.

So we found out that wet logs literally put a damper on making a campfire. We were able to start it but we had to keep blowing on the logs to keep the flame going. Dinner took forever to make. The corn on the cob in foil and baked potato worked, but the skillet just couldn't stay hot enough. We punted and put our chicken thighs (with balsamic vinegar and mustard) on the Jetboil burner.


Car Camping in Maine - Day #3

Josh and Eve had recommended several hikes so we started off with the Beehive, which ended up being somewhat of a terrifying hike/climb with open ledges and iron rungs.

But it was a short trail, and the views at the top were amazing.

We had lunch near the summit of Mt. Champlain overlooking a small lake. I figured out several different sandwich combos for this trip, one of which was a humus sandwich with sprouts, cucumber, red pepper, and boiled egg (from the Healthy College Cookbook, which, for any Ephs out there, was published by a few Williams students as a Winter Study project). We supplemented with...

Ants on a log!

We wended our way past pink granite, random boulders, and funny rock formations. We hiked all day past up stony brooks, past wetlands high in the mountains, and lakes made by melted glaciers. At the end of the day we were famished. Dave and I inhaled a pound of spaghetti tossed with prosciutto (already diced), garlic (bought already peeled, then chopped), and parsley and olive oil.

We had it with some nice red wine that we drank out of our camp mugs.