Blogger and outdoorsman Rhon Bell loves to get outside and explore his home state of Maine. He’s been sharing his adventures, stories and favorite outdoor gear on his blog, Backwoods Plaid, for over three years. Rhon isn’t just any blogger, however – he’s also an L.L.Bean employee!
We invited Rhon to write a guest post about his recent “urban” camping trip right down the road from our company headquarters and flagship store in Freeport, Maine.
For me, a truly relaxing camping trip isn’t a simple find. It usually involves a three- or four-hour drive, followed by a long paddle – to a secluded corner of Maine. Here, the abundant wildlife and crystal clear waters seem to be (and often are) untouched by man.
But it turns out that come early fall, the journey to a peaceful, scenic getaway doesn’t have to be so far. This time of year, southbound highways fill up with the taillights of seasonal tourists, heading home to turn up the furnace and settle in for a bitterly cold New England winter. For the rest of us, now is the perfect chance to explore the rugged, granite coast right in our own backyard.
Just a 30-minute drive from Portland, and a 5-minute drive from L.L.Bean’s backyard, is Recompense Shore Campground at Wolfe’s Neck Farm – with over 600 oceanfront acres, local hiking trails and multiply areas to launch a boat.
My wife Gabrielle and I arrive mid-afternoon and work fast to choose a prime camping spot. We pitch our two-man tent on an overlook – perfect for watching the tide roll in from our chairs on the bank. It feels like we have the best spot in the entire campground. The season makes itself quickly known. Crisp fall air is calling for adventure, and an extra layer.
Our afternoon is spent setting up camp, splitting firewood and simply unwinding. As the sun soon settles beyond the pines, the heat from a brilliant campfire comfortably cuts the chill. This moment, in my mind, is the true start of every excursion. Watching the oranges and blues meld into the dancing yellow flames above our axe-split logs incites the spirit of the outdoors. We sit on the ground with a map, near the fire, plotting out tomorrow’s hike. With checkpoints circled, we’re able to focus on more important things – dinner over an open fire.
We wake early with the sun and set out to photograph the jagged granite rocks that jet out from the coastline near camp. We aren’t hiking long before a few heron catch our attention. We stop and watch as they patiently fish along the shore, silent and still. They teach me that I still have a few things left to learn. The afternoon brings a conversation with two local clammers, each digging for a peck of clams – the personal limit here. It seems today’s catch was a breeze. As afternoon approaches, we shed our packs and settle onto the beach – staring out at the distant islands – ideal scenery to accompany a packed lunch.
Back at camp, we break out a deck of cards at the picnic table until our chocolate lab interrupts, ball in mouth and ready to play. We make our way down to the water and burn off some of that famous Labrador Retriever energy. The waters are a little cool for my taste, but he doesn’t seem to care. He dries off by a fire that will last long into the evening.
Tomorrow’s adventure will be a paddle along the calm coastal waters of the coves nearby. Taking to the water will give us a new vantage point of the coast. This trip reveals an exciting new camping destination – just a few quick miles from downtown Freeport. It’s the relaxing trips like these that serve to remind us why that big blue sign as you enter Maine reads, “The Way Life Should Be.”
Freeport is full of wonderful outdoor surprises. Have you ever camped in Freeport?