i woke up at 9am and right away headed downhill into the woods, hoping to find some efts. i immediately saw my first one of the season, just a few yards from the campsite, lying on a moss-covered rock. i loudly whispered for everyone to come down and see. i looked around, and i could already spot a few more - the place was literally crawling with red efts, we couldn't have picked a better site or better time to come. renata got to hold one after i reassured her that efts were poisonous but not lethal to humans (unless you ate one). along with jawei, we explored the trail a little bit before being called back by my parents for some breakfast.
instead of getting our nature on after eating, we decided to drive out of the park and check out a weekend farmer's market in bennington to buy some corn for dinner. bellydancers greeted us at the market. there wasn't any corn but i did buy a cup of really good chai tea. later we went to a brook's pharmacy so i could buy some AAA batteries for a headlamp. i also got a small box of maple syrup candy, which after i shared a piece with everyone, i'd eventually eat the whole box on my own. the streets of bennington were also populated by moose statues decorated by local artists, as well as some sort of antique car festival. returning back to the park we stopped off at a small produce store that did have big fat ears of corn (3 for $1).
once back at the campsite, it was time for naturing. we decided to take the loop trail around adams reservoir, a 2.7 miles hike. earlier we'd stopped at the ranger station to buy some more fire wood (they're not free after all, $4 for 8 logs) and so i could ask where the bogs were. we took a detour into one of these bog areas, but it was more marsh than bog (area covered in marsh grass over a floating carpet of damp sphagnum moss) despite the fact that i spotted some sundews (no pitcher plants however). we returned to the trail that'd take us around the figure-8-shaped reservoir, walking clockwise. my parents were up ahead and soon we couldn't see them anymore. renata, jawei, and myself walked slowly behind them, exploring the area, taking occasional detours to the reservoir's edge, which for the most part was covered in sphagnum moss. across the water we could see the refelection of trees on the opposite shore, some of which were starting to change into their autumn colors. we spotted many efts, which often came in groups: spotting one meant there were probably others nearby. i had to restrain jawei at one point, who doesn't quite respect wildlife like i do, when i saw him roughly flipping over an eft with a stick.
besides efts, there were a lot of mushrooms to discover as well. unfortunately, most of them i've seen before, and nowhere near the numbers (nor colors) i found in groton state park last year. nevertheless, renata and jawei had never seen them before, and i was able to provide some casual identification (mostly in the form of whether or not you can eat it).
despite the rain last night (it wasn't raining during the day though, and the sun even poked through the clouds on a few occasions), some insect activities could be found as well. it was my first time seeing an american dagger moth caterpillar, all covered with white hairs with some scary looking black spikes poking out.
we kept on going around, occasionally my parents would chime in on the walkie talkie asking us where we were, until we met them by the ranger station, waiting on the shoreline of a boat slip. they tried to rent a fishing pole from the station for jawei, who wanted to try fishing in the reservoir, but apparently you couldn't fish without a license. from there we walked back to camp on the main road. a few of the lean-tos were rented out, but most of the open campsites were empty.
back at the campsite we took turns going to the bathroom with quarters to use the coin-operated hot water showers. renata, who was prepared to go the whole weekend without showering, was peer-pressured into getting clean. when it was my turn, the 5 minutes of hot water for 2 quarters was too much time for me (i only needed a minute to soap up and rinse) and spent the rest of the time in the shower waiting for the water to stop. though it was early, we had plenty of logs (from last night and today) so we started a fire in the late afternoon. we had better technique this time around, stacking the logs into a teepee with a bottom layer of crumpled newspaper and dry twigs; the fire started without a hitch, roaring to life within a few minutes.
while people were preparing dinner, i went down into the woods with my gear, looking for efts again. at first i didn't see any, figuring this late in the afternoon the efts have probably all retired for the evening. but then i started seeing them, one, two, three. i studied the efts for a bit with my headlamp then crawled back up to camp.
for dinner we had kielbasa, chinese sausages, porkchops, and barbecued corn. from the farmer's market we got an heirloom melon: although it was extremely fragrant, the taste was bland (though juicy). after dinner i went out of the screen house to go poke at the fire. that's when i realized we actually didn't have as much wood as i first thought, and throughout the night i kept on trying to get more firewood but in vain. when the evening grew dark, everyone gathered around the campfire. like last night, we roasted some marshmellows. i brought out the glowsticks (nobody was in the mood for a rave however). even though it was still early, people started going to bed, first my father, then renata. i planned on staying with the fire until it burned out. around 9:30 we heard choking and renata's head popped out from her tent. "is it smokey?" i asked her, just realizing the wind was blowing towards renata's tent. "yeah," she said, in between coughs. so we decided to put out the fire by dumping water on it, so renata wouldn't be asphyxiated in the middle of the night and ruin an otherwise uneventful weekend.
with the only source of entertainment (plus warmth) suddenly gone, there was nothing to do but sleep. i went into the bathroom to brush my teeth then crawled into the tent i was sharing with jawei. it was a little chilly so i slept with my clothes on. since it was still early i figured i'd have a hard time going to bed but i actually fell asleep pretty quickly. i had my cellphone/alarm clock set to wake me up early tomorrow morning, so i can get one last bit naturing done before we leave.