Camden for the Weekend (September 1-5)

As events of our registration, which was a little confusing to people since we don’t exactly live someplace yet, continued to unfold, we had little else to do but enjoy the area for the holiday weekend!

And so, on Thursday, we went to check out the nearby Owl’s Head Lighthouse and State Park.

It was a bright and sunny and beautiful day, with a great view, and it was fun to listen to the history of the lighthouse, and the life and times of the family that lived there as caretakers back when everything was manual.

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And then we headed for the State Park, to see if there might be a beach-y place to have a nice picnic lunch…

Ummmmmm, okay, it’ll have to do!

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This wonderful sandy and rocky and foresty spot made us feel right at home!

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I hadn’t quite prepared for swimming, but we made do, because you just can’t pass up a prime location like this!

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It was chilly, but actually not as cold as some glacial lakes that we’ve played in, and it was crystal clear, and the sand glittered and the sun was warm, and the swimming was fine!

And while we were there, we discovered the cutest little birds…I first noticed them as they flocked and swooped along the water…

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And then I noticed them again, as I stooped down low to look at shells and rocks, and I realized that they were making their steady way all along the beach in search of snacks…”Is this food? No. Is this food? No. Is this food? No. Is this food? Yes! Num-num-num!” They seemed to test everything, often discarding, but often enough finding some little delicious morsel, picking the beach clean as they went…

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Oh, they were the cutest little guys…And Joe discovered them too, as he explored along the rocks, flocking and nibbling through the seaweed…

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We realized that, though they were all flocking together, there were two distinct types of bird here…And through later research, we identified them as Semipalmated Sandpipers (the tan and white birds with the black legs) and Semipalmated Plovers (the gray and white birds with a white collar and yellow legs). Do you think they used to hang out together, even before we gave them the same first name? Anyway, they were adorable, and endlessly fascinating to watch.

It was a lovely beach and a lovely day, always such a nice surprise to discover these special places!

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On Friday, we had a couple of things on the agenda. We wanted to stick close to town, to finalize some correspondence on our registration, and so we first headed into downtown Camden. And had a soda. Yep, Vivi’s is Strawberry.

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We wanted to check out the Windjammer Festival.

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And I said, “What’s a Windjammer?”

Okay, so a Windjammer is a sailing ship with a metal hull that was used for maritime trading. A number of these historic vessels sail in to the port of Camden for the festival, to celebrate the town’s history and the ships’  preservation. They are beautiful, and many have found renewed vitality in tourism, offering seasonal cruises.

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As we wandered around the dock, a festival staff member saw my boys and said, “You guys are signing up for the Crate Race, right? You have to sign up for the Crate Race!”

And I said, “What’s a Crate Race?”

Okay, so a Lobster Crate Race is a competitive event in which contestants have to run from floating-crate to floating-crate for as long as they can without falling off. This was enough of a description to convince the boys to sign up, but I have to admit, I still couldn’t completely picture how this would unfold. “Mom, how many people race at once? How many crates are there? What does a lobster crate look like?” I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, but we’ll find out on Saturday! (stay tuned 🙂 )

Next, I wanted to go to the nearby Farnsworth Art Museum. I wasn’t sure what we would find there, but it just sounded good to me!

We went to the Visitor’s Center, where they informed us that, unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to tour the Farnsworth Homestead, as we had missed the last tour for the day. But, wouldn’t you know, there was a staff member standing at the desk who looked at our family and said, “You know, if you guys would like to see the house, I could go ahead and do a tour for you.” Yes, please! It’s always great to see an old homestead, and this one had a pretty cool story…Back in the 1840’s, Mr. William Farnsworth had moved his family to Rockland and built this homestead. Rockland was a growing town due to a rich supply of limestone that was being turned into cement and exported to build the distinctive skylines of cities like New York and Boston, and Mr. Farnsworth developed a very successful business in lime, as well as running a general store. Unfortunately, after a number of happy and successful years, a variety of illnesses left Mr. Farnsworth’s wife and daughter, Lucy, to run the business and manage the homestead themselves…Faced with preserving the family name, the family business, and the family home, Lucy never married, but concentrated her efforts on quadrupling the family fortune over the next 10 years or so, and then establishing a museum in her father’s name. As part of her will, the house was to be left exactly intact, nothing added, and nothing removed, not a museum of items collected from other similar times and places, but a museum of a real house, as it was actually lived in. It was awesome!

And, it was the only tour we have ever been on in our socks. 🙂 No shoes on the lovely floor-coverings, so it was stocking-feet for all!

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It really was a most interesting tour, through a house which Lucy had chosen never to electrify, although it was plumbed throughout with hot and cold running water, which continued to operate off of the very-fancy wood stove in the kitchen, and heated with central steam heating from the cellar that traveled through ductwork and floor grates throughout the house. The doorbell was an original, actual bell, connected by wire from the door to the front hallway. It was just really cool to realize that this furniture, these draperies, these oil lamps, this ice box were actually from the late 1800s, and had been part of Lucy’s normal, daily life until she passed away there in 1935.

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Still, no matter how interesting a tour in sock-feet is, the kids are always excited to get back into an open space!

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The art museum itself was, of course, also lovely, with multiple buildings full of rotating exhibits, a wonderful art library…

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…and an impressive Wyeth gallery, dedicated to three generations of famous Wyeth artists from right here in Maine.

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And now it was Saturday, Crate Race day, and we wandered on down to the Windjammer Festival to see what we were in for!

So here we are, at the Crate Race course.

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27 crates are strung together from dock to dock, wooden crates stuffed with seaweed to keep them a bit low in the water, and painted with a little non-skid on the top to make them less slippery. Each contestant has 2 minutes to run across as many crates as possible. When you reach the opposite end, you run up onto the dock, turn around, and then run back across the crates, so that you don’t have to turn on the crates themselves. If you fall in the water, that ends your time. The key, apparently, is to move quickly with a single step in the center of each crate. It keeps the crates from sinking and slowing you down, and keeps you on balance.

Asher was #3 in the line-up, and Spencer was #31, so we enjoyed the full spectrum of Crate Race contestants, from first-timers like our boys, to veteran locals who set Crate Race records last year. Asher’s and Spencer’s races are below – you’ll have to forgive the long videos, but if you have time for them, it’s just fun to see the entirety of what a Lobster Crate Race is, from start-to-finish!

This is the way we watch the Crate Race, watch the Crate Race, watch the Crate Race…!

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Oh, what fun!

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And a pretty respectable outcome for first-timers! Asher ran 132 crates and Spencer ran 216. They weren’t in the top 3 – the winner ran 336 crates! – but they were somewhere around 5th and 8th!

And then, it was time to take a look at the Windjammers, beautiful ships!

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What a fun day, great times in the sun and on the water, just a really enjoyable experience, well-ended with a picnic dinner back at camp, overlooking the ocean…

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And then on Sunday, for our last day in the area, we spent some more time out at the beach. We returned to our favorite spot down near Owl’s Head, arriving early when the tide was at its lowest…

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…and we could see the mysterious artwork that is left behind by the retreating waters…

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…and climb around on the rocks…

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..and search for low-tide critters…

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…and then continued down the coast to the Drift Inn Beach for more sandy fun times…

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Beautiful days, beautiful coast…And tomorrow, it’s back to work! We’ll be moving on up the state, looking for a place to stay while we look for a place to live!


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