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02 July 2005

Day Hike Adventure

So we woke up this morning, the first official day of the 4th of July weekend, ready for some big time R&R. We had talked about playing tennis, going to Pine Point Beach for a few hours, and then taking the dogs for a long walk on Mackworth Island.

However, we do these things all the time. Since it's a 3 day weekend, we were up for something a little bit different. Also, it was my first week working at Tom's of Maine and it rained most of the week, so I wanted to do something special with the dogs, too.

Because we went out last night, we were moving slowly this morning, and we ruled out camping when we realized it was already 11:00 and we would have to spend a few hours packing everything up. I hopped online and looked up some hikes outside of town. We settled on Bald Pate Mountain near Sebago Lake. It was only an hour's drive away, and we could even go to the beach later in the day after a nice hike.

Fast forward several hours to find us circling Sebago Lake like fools (though it wasn't a total loss; we found someone who sells affordable firewood, so we took his card and plan to call in a few months) in search of what we now believe to be a mythical trail. Neither the website or Mapquest directions make sense, with their promises of imaginary roads and non-existent signs. If anyone can prove its existence, please post your evidence here.

At 2:30 we stopped at Sebago Lake state park and thought we could hike around there, but we couldn't park at one trailhead because we had dogs, and at the other, they charged $4.50 per person for the day. We thought that was excessive, though we did get into an argument about taxes and fees and what should and shouldn't be free, and at one point, Raf said, "So since you're house hasn't burned down you shouldn't have to pay for the fire department?" and then I shut my trap and kept driving around the dumb lake.

At 4:30, we found a sign saying "Douglas Mountain." Tired of looking for Bald Pate, we decided to go for it. It turned out to be a very short hike straight-up (and then straight back down - my poor knees!), but the vista was terrific and the dogs had a blast. Gamma Ray did try to eat a toad, but she quickly spit it out (thank goodness) and then drooled and foamed for a couple minutes. The toad must have secreted some type of poison or something, but she seems fine, now. After ejection, the toad sat there, impervious and still. He did not act afraid and looked almost proud, so we named him Bob, Mayor of Douglas Mountain.

After the hike, we scooted back to Portland in 50 minutes. The dogs seemed satisfied with the long drive in the car, and despite the frustration of wasted gas, we enjoyed ourselves, too. Once in town, we hit the Deering Park tennis courts for an hour (we found 3 nice new abandoned tennis balls, too), and then home again to grill burgers for dinner.

Tomorrow we're thinking of driving a little farther - maybe to the White Mountain National Forest. There are supposed to be some great day hikes there. We'd love to camp, too, but a quick survey on the website says that everything is booked for the week. This certainly isn't Alaska, where I never once had a problem finding a campsite, except in Denali.

All White Mountain toads should be on high alert tomorrow. Gamma Ray is on her way.


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