When you’re camping with small children, it’s only natural to wish for the impossible: A carefree trip during which bugs don’t bite, nobody bleeds and you never, ever have to set up camp in a rainstorm.
A year ago, when I embarked on just such an adventure, none of those things happened. Well … maybe one did. I can’t recall anybody actually bleeding (but it was raining so hard, I’m not sure I would have noticed).
Still, there were enough pitfalls (have I mentioned the rainstorm, and the resulting mud?) that I spent much of those camping excursions asking myself a very basic question.
How are we ever going to convince the kids to go camping again?
Thankfully, it seems time is the ultimate healer of bug bites, soggy drawers and unpleasant memories.
On the way back from tee ball Sunday, one 6-year-old camper asked me a typical 6-year-old question.
Read that: There was no preface and it made little sense at first.
“Remember the plane crash, where only a few people survived?” he asked.
After unleashing my professional journalist skills and quizzing him for a bit, I finally figured out what we were chatting about.
He had not been watching the world news when I thought he’d been watching SpongeBob. Phew.
He was talking about the B-52 crash on Elephant Mountain, not far from Greenville.
We’d hiked to the site last summer, after the rain fell and the bugs began biting.
“Can we go there again, if we go camping?” he asked.
Although I finished that weekend believing that our foray into camping had been a success, I wasn’t quite sure.
Maybe they’d only remember the rain. Maybe they’d only remember the bugs. Maybe they had bled, and I was too busy hiding from the rain and the bugs to notice.
Maybe (gulp) they hadn’t had any fun at all.
Now, out of the blue, one young camper wanted to talk about heading into the woods again.
And he was smiling.
“Remember the egg-in-a-bag?” he asked, referring to one morning’s kid-friendly breakfast.
“I do,” I told him.
“I want that again,” he said.
Then, after a brief pause, he asked the big question.
“Can we go camping again?”
I think you all know the answer to that one.
Salmon total at 478
The second week of June is upon us, and many avid anglers are enjoying their favorite time of year.
Over on the Penobscot River, another kind of “fishing” is taking place, and those taking part are faring just as well.
The staffers of the Department of Marine Resources’ Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries and Habitat (formerly the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission) have been tending the trap at the Veazie Dam, and their “fishing” expeditions have been very productive.
According to biologist Oliver Cox, who files a weekly report on activity at the trap, 478 Atlantic salmon had been caught at the fish trap as of Sunday.
That total is higher than any total compiled as of the same date over the previous 31 years.
Last week an average of 42 salmon per day were caught in the trap, with 66 salmon caught on Saturday alone — the top daily total from this year’s trapping season.
The five other highest totals (as of June 7) over the past 31 years: 409 salmon (2008), 375 (1999), 285 (2006), 274 (1985) and 234 (1981).
Last year a total of 2,115 salmon were trapped at Veazie, the first time the run had topped the 2,000-fish mark since 1996.
Cox reported the water temperature in the Penobscot has risen to about 65 degrees, and the flow is about 7,000 cubic feet per second.
While a single week (or a single month) doesn’t make or break a run of salmon — in 1986, just 119 fish had returned by June 7, but the total seasonal run was a whopping 4,137 — the recent totals are encouraging.
Here’s hoping the trend continues.
Coming up …
On Tuesday I’ll join Andy Goode for an evening of shad fishing on the Kennebec River in Waterville.
Goode, the vice president for U.S. programs for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, is heavily involved in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, and has long maintained that removing dams and improving fish passage on the Penobscot may turn the river into a top-notch shad-fishery.
Salmon are often mentioned as beneficiaries of the project, but there are myriad species of fish that fall into that category, proponents will often tell you.
Shad is one of those species.
The sizeable fish return to rivers to spawn, and the Kennebec already has a healthy return that some anglers choose to target.
I’m not a veteran shad angler, but I’m confident Goode will show me the ropes. I’m also confident we’ll generate a tale worth sharing in a future column.