with the SRM project wrapping up, i was able to take friday off from work. i woke up and walked to harvard square to cash a check at the bank and to browse some bookstores for any good nature books. this late in the summer is the best time to see all the new harvard freshmen (first year smarties) with their parents taking campus tours. as much as they find everything here in new england rather quaint, i in turn enjoy watching them, our social symbiosis.

i came back to the house just in time to shower, record the progress of my vegetables, and to pack up my things for the weekend, where i was going camping with my parents again, this time up in northern vermont, at groton state forest. my father came to pick me up soon afterwards, where i had some lunch at the cafe, before the three of us left around 2pm.

we hit some traffic on 93, and didn't arrive in groton until 6:30pm. i snacked on a packet of sunflower seeds and took regular swigs from a gatorade bottle. along the way, we stopped off at a information rest stop near lebanon, new hampshire, then got some roadside barbecued ribs in quechee (meat falling off the bone, although the homemade barbecue sauce was too tomatoey for my taste), vermont. i had a flashback at white river junction, where i passed through last year when i came up to randolph. we stopped one more time at a rest stop in bradford before finally arriving at our destination. groton state forest actually contains several campsites, the main one being stillwater state park, where we went first to sign in. i looked on the bulletin board where people have posted photos of animals spotted (a lot of moose sightings), and someone even typed, "200 phish fans, sighted everywhere." there was some mistake, and they actually gave us a reservation in stillwater, which wasn't what we wanted, but they were able to clear it up. the campsite we wanted was big deer, further into the forest. while stillwater borders lake groton, big deer is more secluded, with the vast expanse of the 25,000 acre forest as a backdrop. nobody seemed to want to stay at big deer: besides us, there was one other group (a mother and some small children) and the host family. we had site 11, a big area covered in crushed stones. we pitched the tents first (i had a tent of my own this time), before my father started the fire to make dinner. there was a large pile of wood out by the campsite entrance, with an honor pay system of 7 pieces for $3 that went into a metal collection tube, and that's where my mother and i went to get our wood.

while my parents were making dinner, i took a walk in our "backyard" while there was still enough daylight to see. there were a lot of mushrooms, mostly spindle shaped yellow coral, which was my first time seeing and identifying. i read they're also edible, but didn't dare try to eat them.

waxy cap

yellow coral

(earth tongue?)

yellow coral

white coral

(unknown cup mushrooms)

illuminated by lamp light, we had rice noodles for dinner, which reminded me of old school taiwanese roadside "little eats" at nights. we also cooked some corn on the cob over the open fire, and roasted some marshmellows. still later, my father prepared some drumsticks for tomorrow's breakfast. behind me, the partial full moon slowly came up the horizon. occasionally i'd wander into the woods with my headlamp, hoping to catch glimpses of noctural critters (nothing but mushrooms, and a few spiders).

i heard from my father that there wasn't any hot water in the men's bathroom located 6 sites away, despite the fact that you have to pay 25 cents for 5 minutes of showertime. i didn't need to take a shower anyway so i wasn't too concerned for the moment. while brushing my teeth, a wolf spider crawled out of the sink and scared the crap out of me (i flushed it down the drain without thinking twice). the bathroom reminded me of two things: every camp bathroom i've ever been in, how everything's made of wooden with many seasons of polyurethane treatment. it also reminded me of damp bathrooms in taiwan, where the climate is so humid the walls and floor sweat. the toilet seat cover was one size too large for the bowl, cantilevering outwards like a perch. the sink was one of those things where you have to hold on to the knob in order to keep the water going, which meant i had to do everything one handed (or use a very dextrous foot). the water was cold, but since it was still a warm night, it was actually kind of refreshing. i came back to camp and went to bed around 11:30, thinking about what kind of things i'd see in the forest tomorrow morning. i quickly fell into a deep sleep, snoring my way into the next day.