Not surprisingly, Kyle was gracious enough to loan us a third kayak and other gear, for a family paddling/camping trip in my old stomping grounds. The weather window looked superb, with a careful eye towards the end of the trip, the forecast warning of the September hurricane aftermath.
The prospect of loading food into our kayaks for the three-night trip was not a little daunting, given the complexity of meal preparation that lay ahead. At length, we pushed off from Cousins to the incoming tide on this sunny low-wind day, M in the white Aquanaut (originally gifted to N, who did not fit well), N in his loaner boat (The "Grey Ghost," which he would purchase @ the end of the trip), and me in the tried and trusted "School Bus."
We split the Moshiers, given the tide situation, and landed on a very small beach on little French, for our first PB&J meal.
Anon, we reached the southern tip of our destination island and scoped out the tent sites. Though I had reservations for the northern end, we unanimously decided this would be our 3.5-day base of operations: an all-tides beach, southern (buffer from the wind) and western (glorious sunsets) orientation were a few of the deciding factors.
We set about erecting our tents, gathering firewood (remember to secure a permit), and other various tasks associated with homesteading. We all agreed to keep the food (and there was a lot of it!) in our kayaks during the daytime, and within tent vestibules at night; success keeping the furry marauders at bay.
Food preparation was slow and deliberate, as we were to enjoy all our meals without opening any packages, save for the Kind energy bars. A below-high-tide fire allows a special ambience that cannot be imitated, and we lingered long each night in that circle. Our first supper would be veggie (sauteed onions, peppers, eggplant, and mushrooms) chili accompanied by cheese quesadillas-scrumptuous!
A tentative plan call for spending two nights here and the last night on Jewel, but Mother Nature warned that it would be “blowing a hoolie“ (thanks,Nick) on Sunday, NE, making it perilous to return to our cars. It was an easy decision to stay put for all three nights, and Friday offered the opportunity to explore one of my favorites, Jewell, sunny skies and light winds prevailing.
Day 2: We launched early and meandered through the island chain, stopping at Bangs for a look-see.
We paddled through the unusually placid waters around Cliff, entered Cocktail Cove, and beached our boats up high. The kids got the nickel tour, tracing the entire trail system except for the spur southeast trail. Smugglers Cove was a favorite, where we enjoyed a fine repast of PB&J‘s.
Charlie and company (MITA) have done a supreme job of maintaining the wide and smooth trails; new signage is a bonus feature. We launched early at 3 PM, at the top of the tide, water lapping at the skeg boxes, allowing for the two-hour paddle back, and diminishing daylight for our extensive food prep.
Though never a contest (ha!), I felt the pressure to at least meet the standards of the previous night, and my mind was occupied with supper menu planning. With gobs of fresh produce, I hatched the following brainchild: sautéed vegetables (duh!) first, then a second round of sautéed onions and finely-cubed potatoes (home fries); add the first round to six beaten eggs, add shredded raw cheddar goat milk cheese, cook in the cast-iron skillet (omelet-not just for breakfast), and complement with toasted homemade bread, topped with hummus and avocado; cheese/mushroom quesadillas for dessert.
Knowing that day #3 was to be a rest day, the kids slept until 10, to my delight, and I circled the low-tide shoreline of the entire island, collected firewood, and chilled.
We enjoyed a late morning brunch of apple and chocolate pancakes topped with homemade maple syrup, which attracted some curious boaters who wondered "What's for breakfast?"
Given the weather and tide situation, I felt compelled to do an 8 mile paddle along the island chain to the north, while the fam. soaked in the Casco Bay Island experience. We discussed the option of breaking camp and heading back, before the expected windstorm overnight into the next day, but decided unanimously to roll the dice and stay one more night.
Post-bath, I took the 10 minute stroll along the path to the northern end, and was pleased to meet up with my friends Ricardo, Dana, Cath, Beth, and Joe, who would be camping for the next two nights. They had spent a big part of the day with a Bates geology professor, learning about the special characteristics of the coast and island shores of this area.
Back to the Homestead, to find M preparing the feast of the night: slow-roasted spaghetti squash with pesto (add usual sauteed veggies); a second round of skillet mushroom pizza (unbelievable crispy, yet chewy bottom crust); q’s for dessert; Cosmic Wimpout as a late-night favorite.
As expected, the wind started to ramp up around midnight, and I instinctively went down to the shore to tie up the boats, then returned to the tent for a surprisingly restful sleep until morning.
Most of the other pod came by in the early morning to bid us farewell and good luck, and we launched at 9 AM into the teeth of the windstorm, nastily greeting us broadside. We stayed as a tight group and paddled (drifted) hard to the S of French for a brief respite, then around N ‘Lil Moshier, before enjoying the final downwind push to the landing, at exactly LT. We finished loading up the cars, and wondered aloud if there was even a miniscule chance of finding a Pat’s Pizza nearby? Of course, and we were randomly seated @ tables of my former institutions of learning!
A special thanks to MCHT, who allowed this glorious getaway to happen!