i was going with my parents this weekend to go camping up in vermont. they weren't leaving until sometime after 2:00 at the earliest, so i had some time to kill. most of my stuff were still unpacked but all lying around the living room, waiting to be stuffed into my large hiking backpack. i ate some oatmeal for breakfast, took a shower, and headed over to belmont.
what should've been a 2 1/2 hours drive to coolidge state park in plymouth vermont became a 4+ hour long ordeal because of the traffic going out of boston. 95 to 93 to 89 then route 4 through woodstock and finally route 100A to our destination. coolidge state park is named after calvin coolidge, 30th president of the united states and a native vermonter. there are two camping loops, one for tents, the other with lean-tos. the lean-tos are the more popular sites, with less than a dozen prime spots that sit on cliffs overlooking the green mountains of vermont. naturally those were already gone by the time my parents made their reservation earlier in the week; all that remained were a few tent sites. we ended up with site 17.
the "no vacancy" sign posted by the entrance meant it'd be crowded. i only really like camping when there's nobody else around, which wasn't the case here, as i could easily see the neighboring campers. there were a lot of families with screaming children (the remaining few weeks of summer vacation before school starts) and i even heard a dog barking. it was definitely noisier than what i would've liked, but things quieted down once it got dark. we didn't get to site 17 until almost 7:40. it wasn't very large and strangely split into two tiers. a nearby brook snaked through the woods but not close enough to hear the water trickling; the only sign we were close were some blossoming jewelweeds. the bathroom and water was about a 5 minute walk away, and hot showers a farther 10 minute walk. my mother made dinner (over the portable coleman gas grill) while i helped my father set up the 2 tents. when we finally ate (some rice noodle soup) it was already dark.
one of my my main reasons to coming out camping this weekend was to see what kind of insects i could find at night. i set up my black light bug trap around 10:00 using a portable power generator and began waiting for critters to show up.
i didn't see anything particularly interesting, mostly moths. i turned off the lights after an hour, figuring i wouldn't be seeing anything else tonight. just for fun i was shining the flashlight around the fireplace when i saw what looked to be some red earthworms. upon further investigation, they turned out to be red-backed salamanders. i'd never seen them at night before, always during the day sleeping underneath a log or a rock. apparently they live inside the stone cracks of the fireplace.
it was warm enough inside my tent that i stripped down to my underwear and slept on top of the sleeping bag. there was a bug inside the tent but it wasn't a mosquito so i swatted at it blindly in the dark until it stopped fluttering. later it started to get a bit chilly and slightly damp so i put on my t-shirt and crawled inside the bag. i found out i was actually sleeping with my head downwards on a slight incline, but was too lazy to switch position. i got out of the tent just once to go use the bathroom (i.e. peeing in the woods). later i heard the "who-who-who" call of an owl (great horned owl?).