State Park visit #6 and family camping trip #2 brought us to Lake St. George State Park in Liberty, Maine. Full disclosure, this trip almost didn’t happen because of busy lives and some big life changes. Yet another wonderful lesson in learning how to roll with the punches. On top of an already busy summer with probably too many things planned in July and August, our coach and the mom (Danielle) started a new job. This has caused for longer work days, a heck of a lot more coordinating around Eloise and she’s also starting from scratch with minimal vacation time so she couldn’t take Friday off. Without scrapping the weekend and tossing in the towel for a couple quiet days around the house, we came up with a plan B. The assistant coach, or more like the waterboy (Dad), drove up after work on Friday night, fully knowing most of the set up would have to be done in the dark. Then mom and baby would come up first thing Saturday morning. This way we weren’t setting up with a baby in the dark. Lake St. George State Park is only 90 minutes from our house, so taking two cars wasn’t a big deal. Taking two vehicles to places seems to be our M.O. It’s been this way for all 15 years that we’ve been together. We don’t plan on taking two vehicles, but somehow it always ends up happening for logistical reasons. Not ideal, terrible for the environment, but it works.
First impressions of the park were not good. Not going to sugar coat it at all. It was like meeting a friend’s new boyfriend and you immediately realize you liked their ex a lot better. It was going to be a hard transition from the privacy of our site at Camden Hills. THANKFULLY we had one of the best sites (#36) and it’s not because of any research we did beforehand, it was pure luck.
The park map can be quite deceiving. About half of the sites are completely in the open; even the ones along the water which you would have thought were the best sites before seeing them in person. It was like going to a music festival and setting up your tent in an open field.
Even our site had its cons; we were close to our neighbors to the left and close to Route 3, which has the speed limits of a highway. Vehicles were whipping by all day and into the night. Also, it didn’t help that our neighbors weren’t there for “family camping”. It would actually be a challenge trying to incorporate as many f-words into a sentence as they did. Maine State Parks have a lot of rules and their family campgrounds have even more, but they certainly weren’t enforcing any here and our neighbors seemed to be quite familiar with this, judging by the many visitors they had that night.
I had everything set up by 930PM and it was officially pitch black by then. I could hear loons on the lake in between the blasting of Nickelback songs. The only thing worse than a Nickelback song is a Nickelback CD! All joking aside, people were pretty good about the quiet hours, even the neighbors. When the rest of the Ruby crew rolled in early Saturday morning, the site was all set up and food was planned and purchased for the next two days. All food was purchased at a local IGA called Tobey’s Grocery less than 10 minutes down the road on Route 3. They had everything that you’d need and the prices were very comparable to a large supermarket. Danielle and Eloise arrived around 9:00AM and now that the band was back together and all the leg work was done, it was time to relax. Well, relax as much as we could with a 7-month-old.
Life is busy and anyone with kids knows that it runs at rate in which you think the machine will break down at times. But it doesn’t run like that when you’re napping in the hammock or swimming in the lake. Time has a way of disappearing when you’re not on your phone 24/7 or burning through episodes of a show. Not saying these are bad things because they have a time and place for sure. Just breaking from the normal day to day and enjoying the moment. Dinners take longer to make but nothing tastes as good as a meal cooked over a fire. All these experiences add up and quickly erase any worries or stress we had going into the weekend. It makes it all worth it.
I started to ignore most of the blemishes of Lake St. George State Park once I was in good company. After a couple naps in the hammock, a long walk around the park and a wonderful lunch, we had a special visitor to our site. Aislinn Sarnacki who writes for the Bangor Daily News (BDN) stopped by and spent a couple hours with us. The BDN has an outstanding outdoor section and Aislinn is very well known for her blog “Act out with Aislinn” and her “One-minute Hikes.” She actually just released a new book called Family Friendly Hikes in Maine
Aislinn is amazing. When it comes to hiking in Maine, she has seen it and done it and she couldn’t be more humble and down to earth. Eloise was a big fan of her hair, notepad and pen. We spent time chatting about our State Park adventures/plans and also our approach on parenthood. It was great getting to know Aislinn as well and fun to share our thoughts with someone who understands a lot of why we are doing what we are doing. When this idea came about, it was long before we thought of creating a blog and detailing each trip. We were just going to visit each park and keep the memories for ourselves, but like a lot of ideas, they start to morph into other things. It would have been great if Lake St. George State Park had hiking trails so we could have covered some ground with Aislinn, but we had to settle for a walk to the beach instead. After playing for a bit in the shade, enjoying the cool breeze, we said our goodbyes and it was back to just us three. Hopefully this is the start of a new friendship and we look forward to seeing Aislinn again. Maybe next time, we can meet her husband and their dog Oreo as well.
After a full morning and afternoon, it was time for some family swimming before dinner. This lake is absolutely beautiful. The beach area is set up perfectly. The grass leads right up to the water and they have twin stairs to help you climb in. The swimming area is roped off from boats, but we didn’t see many. It was July, 80 degrees and sunny and I don’t think more than a few boats went by. You visually cannot see a camp or house on the lake from the park; it’s truly gorgeous. Just pure green wrapping all around.
It would be a great spot to kayak or canoe. You can rent some from the park but mama bear isn’t quite ready for that with the cub just yet. The trees come right to the lake’s edge and the water is crystal clear. We’ve spent a lot of time in and around Sebago Lake, which is massive compared to this. It was a nice change of pace swimming in a smaller lake. Eloise kicked her feet around in her float for the first time and seems to be getting more comfortable in the water. She figured out how to splash with her hands as well.
After a nice swim we made our way back to the site to settle in for the night. Mom prepared a feast for the baby while dad prepared a feast for mom. Eloise had a wide variety of finger foods but she seemed to really love her corn off the fire. She even tried some grilled chicken for the first time, but the jury is still out on if she likes it.
We had grilled chicken, baked beans, potatoes, and corn on the cob all cooked over an open fire. By the time we all finished up dinner, it was time for Eloise to go to bed.
She fell asleep with ease in the comfort of the camper. Then we did something we haven’t really done in a while, we just talked, stared at the fire, had a few drinks and quietly enjoyed each other’s company, uninterrupted, for hours. We all slept comfortably in the camper together but Eloise had an extra good night’s sleep compared to at home. Who would have thought?
After we woke up in the morning, we had coffee and a monster breakfast over the Coleman grill, then it was time to pack. The better you pack and clean up, the better the unpacking is when you get home. We already have a good system going and it made this trip seem like a lot less work. Before we knew it, we were home by 1:00PM and had the rest of Sunday to get things done around the house.
This was a hard State Park to rate because it had a few different faces, so we will split it in half to be fair. If you are going for just the day to use the beach and public area, we give Lake St. George State Park 8 Rubies. If you are camping there as well, it warmed its way up from a 4 to 6 Rubies after spending two days there. Like I said, the place starts to grow on you, but it might also be the company.