Winter Wildlife

Every day over school vacation week, I’ve gone to visit Tami, expecting her to be working hard on the manuscript for Cooper and Packrat’s fourth camping adventure. And every day David tells me she’s put on her snowshoes and trudged through the 35 inches of snow we got, to go down to the lake and visit the otter.  Sheesh!  Who’s the mascot around here anyway??

Max on Playground blog

Buuuuuut, I have to admit, that otter is kinda cute.


Tami says those little ears, hear really well. And that nose, he can smell well, too. But otters don’t see so well. That’s how she’s able to get some good pictures of this shy guy.


Today she was down there for two and a half hours!  As long as she stands really, really still, and she uses her adapter to extend her camera lens, she gets some okay pics when the little guy isn’t looking.


While she was standing there a couple days ago, waiting for the otter to show up, a Common Merganser flew in!


These duck-like birds act a lot like loons. They dive for fish, and carry their chicks on their backs.


Loons don’t have that messy hairdo though!


There wasn’t a lot of open water down there by the beaver hut, but this guy made the most of it.


Today, the eagles soared as a pair over the house. You should have seen all the squirrels run for cover!


There are extra sticks on the nest, so it won’t be long now. Nesting will happen sometime in March and I’m sure Tami will get pics for you!


We’re looking forward to eagle chicks this year . ..

When The Campers Are Away . . .

While all of our campers are away, the wildlife comes out to play!

In early January, a Barred Owl perched on our front lawn for over four hours, hoping for a quick meal!


He even sat right on top the bird feeder at one point!  The smaller song birds didn’t pay him any mind, but I swear the squirrels didn’t come back for days.


He was not successful that day, but I can’t walk by a window, or go to the car without looking up to see if he’s returned.



In mid-January, during an ice storm, the foxes burst into our backyard . . .


At first we thought they were fighting, a territory thing.



But it quickly became obvious, it was more of a mating thing.


Love was in the air!


And just last weekend, while I was hiking (wish it was snowshoeing) the camp trail, I came across an otter catching Sunday dinner down by the beaver hut!


He lay next to holes in the ice, watching, waiting, then slipping soundlessly into the water.


Most times he came out with nothing. But one time, he emerged with a fish!


Holding it in his front paws, he ate it right there on the ice.


I was quite a ways away and needed an extension on my 500mm lens in order to capture these photos.


Even after 26 years, I’m still finding new creatures to photograph!


We’ve seen the eagles, but there’s no signs of mating or nesting quite yet. It’s still early, though. Normally, they begin to nest at the end of March, with the chicks being born around May 1st.

Come back often for updates on them!

And We’ve Started the 2015 Nesting Season!


The happy couple is expecting!  And if Tami’s calculations are correct, they should be born right around opening day.  Which means, we’ll be able to get a head count (when they can hold up their heads) around two weeks after that.

Tami has marked it on her calendar. She’s all ga-ga and well, you know how she gets about her eagles and her loons.

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Look at how big the nest has gotten!  Isn’t that like, an eagle mansion or something?

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The last time we saw the nest grow to this size, there were triplets.  But Tami keeps telling me that we already had triplets, just a couple years ago.  And THAT was a miracle.

But I can’t help wondering . . .

Because they’re still adding to it!  Tami just watched the mate of the nesting eagle bring a branch in today!

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Tami still has to put on the snowshoes to get to the lake.  She tried to go without yesterday, ’cause she was in a hurry, but she sunk up to her knees one too many times.

There’s still ice on the lake too.  We can’t wait for the wood ducks, geese and loon to get back.  Tami’s getting a little tired of taking pictures of chickadees, Red-breasted woodpeckers, and nuthatches, as cute as they may be.

We’ll keep you posted on those eagle babies!


Five to Ten Days From Now . . .


A quick, quick post, because it’s past my bedtime and if Tami catches me on the computer, I’ll get grounded!!

But it’d be worth it to show you these!  Look!

We’ve been watching the eagles bringing grasses and pine boughs to the nest for about a week or so.



They’re pretty picky about how everything gets arranged too.


AND then we got to see something pretty cool –


The eagles mated.



This will give us a timeline for when the eggs will be laid and for when we can expect eaglets!


So, 5 to 10 days from Wednesday, means we’ll see an adult sitting on the nest between 3/15 and 3/20.  And then we’ll see eaglets between April 19th and 26th  !


Tami’s already marked it on the calendar.  We can’t wait to see how many there are this year.


Hiking and Geocaching at Preservation Park!

Hey! Maax here!

Last Year, the weather was so super, duper, amazing on Easter Day, Tami and David took Ben and I geocaching with a picnic lunch up at the Poland Spring Preservation Park.

They have five miles of well kept, awesome trails!  And you know what?

They’re only two miles from the campground!  Two miles!

We decided to start on the trail behind the original Poland Spring Water Spring House.

That trail, followed the edge of the golf course for a little while, and we were able to step onto the edge to look at Lower Range Pond

See the first jut of land, just over the tree line?  That’s our campground picnic and swimming area! It’s pretty cool to see it from this side of the lake.

If you like to hike, we have lots and lots of trails within half an hour of the campground!  Just click on the hiking link to the right to see some more!  Or when you check  in, ask Tami.  She’ll give you directions and talk your ear off about all her favorites.

As for the geocaching, we were able to make four finds!

Mt. Apatite

Hey!  Maxx here!!

A couple summers ago, Tami, Dave and Ben discovered another awesome hiking trail.  It’s only 15 minutes away, you can look for gemstones and it has many geocaches. You think they would have found it sooner . . .

I am talking about Mt Apatite in Auburn Maine, just off of Route 11.

Mt. Apatite was an important part of Maine’s mining history.  They mined commercial feldspar, and found (among other precious minerals and crystals) green and pink tourmaline. So if you like rock hounding, this is a great spot!

Tami said she saw lots of quartz and mica on the trails, and she brought me a couple pieces.

Dave said he and Ben got to play with their new hiking GPS a little bit . . . this photo makes me think of the commercial for UP

“With my handy dandy GPS, we’ll NEVER get lost!

Not only didn’t they get lost, but they found two geo-caches with it!

mt_apatite-our-first-geocache-findblog mt_apatite-2nd-geo-cache-find

Ben was pretty excited to have found these humongous polywogs sunning just below the surface of the water, too.

He said it was the best hike ever!

But he says that about aaaaaaallll the hikes.

Grafton Notch State Park

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Whether you want to go sight-seeing, beat the heat, get away from the crowds or go hiking, there is a lot to do at Grafton Notch State Park. There is a small fee of a couple dollars a head that you pay on the honor system.


There are several fabulous natural attractions if you are just in the Mood for sight-seeing. Start off with Screw Auger Falls a series of cascades that includes a 30 foot plunge. One of the most visited falls in Maine.

Screw auger falls at Grafton Notch State Park in Maine
Screw Auger Falls, Maine

Mother Walker Falls, a gorge in the summertime, is more than 40 feet deep and 980 feet long.

Moose Cave. In this 200-foot-long gorge, lying within a 45-foot-deep canyon in the bedrock, water skirts boulders and disappears temporarily into a cave beneath a huge granite slab. (I don’t go in there, the last moose who did, never came out)

Moose Cave at Grafton Notch State Park in Maine
Moose Cave


The Appalachian trail crosses thru Grafton Notch, so of course you can hike to Baxter Mountain or all the way to Georgia. If you are a little less adventurous there are several shorter hikes that are quite a challenge. We have tried Table Rock (2.5 miles with 900′ elevation gain) and the Eyebrow Loop (2.1 with a 1300′ ft elevation gain). There are also trails to the top of Old Speck Mountain and Baldpate Mountain a couple of the highest mountains in Maine.

The Eyebrow Loop Trail at Grafton Notch Maine
The view from the top of the eyebrow loop trail
The Eyebrow Falls Grafton Notch Maine
The Eyebrow Falls


There are several geocaches in and around Grafton Notch including one that brought us to a spot we had never found in several trips called ‘The Jail’ it is a sort of box canyon off one of the many gorges throughout the park.

The Jail at Grafton Notch Maine
The Jail

Grafton Notch is about an hour north right on Rt. 26, you can’t miss it. It is a nice leisurely and scenic drive with almost no traffic that is perhaps worth the trip itself.

Old Speck Trail Sign

If you happen to visit the geocache on top of Old Speck, write my name in the log book for me, thanks.

Rattlesnake Mountain

Maxx Here

One summer  Tami, Dave and Ben hiked to the top of  Rattlesnake Mountain off of Rt. 85.


Tami said it it was a nice hike with an early upward climb and fabulous views!   They took a picnic lunch and looked out over Sebago Lake, Panther Pond and Jordan’s Bay.


Then they kept following the trail across the top of the mountain to another lookout point with a view of the White Mountains.

Unfortunately, the geocache on this mountain was missing, but Dave and Ben left a note in a bottle in it’s place so the next treasure hunters would have something to find.

Tami and Dave love to try out new hiking trails and area attractions.  After 19 years of exploring with the kids, they have a wicked long list of local things to do from hiking, to beaches to shopping to wildlife farms to museums!  Everyone who checks into the campground is given a list.  If your looking for recommendations, just ask Tami!  Or you can click on a tag at the right of the screen to bring up past blog posts.

Did ya notice that Alex and I didn’t get to go hiking this year?

We had to stay behind and work.

I think we’re gonna have to do something about that next year!

Monhegan Island

In July and August, my family and I try to arrange one day a week to play outside the campground. It’s become a tradition we call Family Day, and has been a fabulous way to connect with our kids as well as recharge.

It also allows us to experience/experiment with day trips, seeing which ones our kids like vs. what we adults like. Then we pass on the information to you, our campers.

Last year our favorite trip was Monhegan Island. It had everything! Hiking, wildlife watching, quaint stores, views galore!

We chose to ride the Hardy Boat Cruises Monhegan Ferry out of New Harbor, a pretty little coastal town. It took approximately 1 hour to drive there from the campground. Parking was $2 for the day. The boat ride was $30 per adult and $18 for children under 12, and well worth it. This was not our boat, but we rode one similar

We sat on the top deck and enjoyed the view. The captain kept us entertained with historical information about the harbor and the coastline. Pretty soon, he slowed down to show us a basking shark. A little while later we saw puffins!


Once on Monhegan, you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. There were very few vehicles. Dirt roads wound past quaint shops and homes.


We were there for the hiking though, and we set off to find it. We were not disappointed with the views:




There are short, fairly easy hiking trails and then there are the longer and more difficult ones. We chose the longer trails that wound along the islands shoreline. Ben, who had just turned 10, had no problem. He totally enjoyed the opportunity to climb to his hearts content. We packed a picnic lunch to eat on the trail, but there were plenty of places to sit and eat on Monhegan itself. A tip: if you plan to hike, bring a plenty of water with you or buy it on the island before you set out. We saw too many families who hadn’t taken any water at all, and were tired and thirsty halfway through their hike. We ended up sharing some of our water with an older couple.

Toward the end of the trail we discovered a huge display of fairy houses! Visitors to the island are encouraged to build them. There had to be at least fifty



Back in town, we found some ice cream (we always manage to find ice cream!) and wandered the streets to find photo opportunities like these:



I had more fun taking pictures of gardens, homes, signs, views, piles of lobster traps, the lighthouse . .. Monhegan is a photographer’s dream.

Before we set out on this trip, one of my friends said, “You can’t walk two feet without finding an artist”. She wasn’t kidding! Painters are everywhere on Monhegan. Even on the trails.

As we sat on the top deck of the Ferry heading home, I thought for sure my day was complete. But then we saw this guy


A seal! We actually saw five or six more before our trip was done.

Back in New Harbor, we watched some lobstermen unload their boats. Then we had a fabulous seafood dinner right on the pier at Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf.