i heard my father calling my name and i shot straight out of bed. i quickly checked my cellphone, 7:42am. oh no, i overslept! i ran out of my bedroom in my underwear, looking for my father. "where are you?" i asked the kitchen. he must be outside. there he is! i unlocked the backdoor to let my father in and ran back into the bedroom to put some clothes on. we were leaving for maine at 8am, my father had come by to pick me up, to rendezvous with the rest of my family back in belmont. not fully awake, i threw some clothes into a bag, grabbed my outdoor adventuring bag (which had my camera and photo equipment), then got into the car.

back in belmont, no one was ready yet. besides my mother and sister, my aunt lili and uncle matthew were coming to, seasoned campers who were the ones leading us out into the wilderness of our northern neighbor. we were only an hour late from our schedule, after picking up some dry cleaning (a pair of red pants) and stopping off at a macdonalds rest stop in lexington to get some gas and breakfast. i rode with my father in the camry, my mother went with my sister in her land rover, and my aunt and uncle drove their maxima. we kept in touch with tiny motorola walkie talkies that would occasionally pick up stray conversations from other travelers. my father told me he went to target yesterday and the camping aisle was completely empty. i always forget something when i travel, and today was no exception: i forgot to bring an umbrella and a flashlight (my parents had spare flashlights though). the weather was nice until we got closer to maine, when the clouds suddenly thickened and it looked like it would rain (but it never did).

about 3 hours later we arrived at bradbury mountain state park in freeport, maine. the park is 590 acres of woodland with a nice summit view that rises 485 feet above sea level. there are 41 different campsites, some nothing more than a place to pitch your tent, others with pre-built shelters, while others offer more wilderness action through walk-in sites. each site had a site, and most of them were already reserved for this weekend. we had reserved two conjoining sites of our own ($14/night each, a minimum of 2 nights per site), one for our family, one for mister fan's (fansusu) family, who would be coming later in the afternoon. i made a quick check of the bathroom conditions. there was no showers, but there were enclosed outhouses, nothing more than a simple nonflushing toilet. the smell, to say the least, was not pleasant, but better than doing it in the woods i suppose.

we first pitched the screen house, followed by the sleep tent:

after a quick lunch of boiled hot dogs, we drove across the road to the actual state park (admission's free if you're using the campsites) then followed some trails to the summit of a rocky hill. other than the view, bradbury mountain state park was very much like the many other sanctuaries and nature parks i visit around massachusetts on weekends.

some of the things i found in bradbury mountain:

click beetle

(maroon caterpillar)

clutch of insect eggs



birch bark
(bluish moss mold)
ling chih

ling chih size comparison

striped maple
(AKA moosewood)

striped maple bark

(breast mushrooms)

autumn leaf


orange hawkweed

when we came back to our campsites, fansusu and his family arrived soon afterwards. it wasn't long before we were cooking dinner. my mother made curry chicken for everyone. i would've preferred some sort of barbecue, but we didn't realize there was a grill at the camp (otherwise we would've brought some meat). it was probably around 6pm, the sky not yet dark, that we decided to start the campfire. we didn't have any good firewood except for the free scraps the rangers would put outside his office periodically. we used a lot of rolled up newspapers, dry twigs, and wet tree branches that we cut with a pruning saw that my father just happened to have in the car. the fire that we eventually had was not very large. when it got dark, we could see the fires of other campsites, roaring bonfires as tall as a man, compared to ours, which was always in danger of dying out and had to be stoked continously in order to keep it alive. we also toasted some marshmellows, as well as popping some popcorn in a pot.


coleman stove

makeshift shower curtains

forest curry

fansusu's two sons

toasted marshmellow

mosquito coil


around the campfire

reading by
lantern light

citronella candle

glowing tent

i didn't sleep until 11pm, everyone else had gone to bed except for my father and i. he boiled some water so i could have some instant ramen in a cup for a bedtime snack. i couldn't see anything in the dark except for the stars in the sky and the campfires of our distant neighbors. surprisingly, there weren't a lot of sounds in the forest, other than the loud crackle of burning wood. i told my father i didn't like camping, it was too "roughing it" for me. i liked the nature, just not the camping. when i finally went to sleep in the tent (sharing one with my family), i didn't feel safe, i felt like at any moment some bear would crash through the thin tent material and maul me to death. eventually i drifted off to sleep, my family (including myself) snoring in unison other than my sister.