Happy Birthday USA

The gardens are still filled with lupine and most of our Spring chores have been accomplished…now comes the excitement of the summer holidays…bring on the iced drinks, the smoky bbq and lots of ice cream!

Next week we’re going to celebrate with food, friends and if the weather Gods smile…warm temperatures and sunshine! If you’re here on Tuesday we’ll be firing up our 1921 potato chip machine…if you don’t know about warm potato chips, you’ve missed one of life’s greatest treats. We’ll have sprinkles and dips to share but let’s make it more special: Bring your favorite homemade dip for everyone and get your chips for free!

Wednesday we’ll continue the Makers Guild of Maine sponsored Wednesday at the Shores program. It’s a picking party on the porch (bring your stringed instrument and we’ll have the song books ready to go), pack a picnic, learn more about harbor seals with the Maine Harbor Seal Project and learn to weave a rug with discarded t-shirts (in fact, if you have any old t-shirts or sweat shirts that you’re not wearing please bring them along for our project). We welcome anyone to set up a vending table of hand crafted, grown or produced wares at no charge.

Thursday starts early because we need to be lined up for the Searsport Parade by 10:30. We’ll decorate a float with the kids and add lots of music. Our little town celebrates the 4th just like you remember it…with Chicken BBQ, Firemen’s games and lots of smiling. That night there will be fireworks from Moseman Park…you can travel the mile to get there from the campground or simply catch them across the bay from our beach (oh yeah, we’ll light a bonfire so bring the marshmallows if you can still eat sugar after our free monster hot fudge sundaes).

Saturday we’ll start preparing for the Lobsterbake early in the afternoon…at the moment we’re dithering between Strawberry Shortcakes, Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream and Peach Cobbler for dessert…want to offer an opinion? This is the only thing that you need to plan ahead for…because we only cook for 50 people, make certain that you’ve reserved a ticket if you’d like to join in the fun. You can find more information here.

Steven and I and our incredible crew are looking forward the excitement of summer swinging into full gear. If you’re already coming, fantastic! If you’re thinking about coming, please give us a call because we’d love to have you join our little world for a celebration that brings us together with smiles and generosity across the picnic tables. Just pack your favorite pillow…everything else will be good!

Alexandra Turner…our first 2019 Artist in Residence

It has been hard for me to wrap my head around our upcoming time on the coast of Maine, as it has been such a cold and wet spring. I started to think I was going to have to pack our snow pants! With the emergence of the sun (finally!) and some warmer weather, our snow pants and jackets hang clean and drying on the line and we are really getting ready to head to Searsport Shores!

Alexandra loves making art with children and adults, and offering opportunities for participants to experience the joy, relaxation, and deep learning that comes through the process of artmaking.

My family and I spent a lovely few days there last August, after finding the campground almost by chance. Usually, we camp in wilderness areas, but using Maine as a stop-over on our way to Nova Scotia, we decided to try out a campground and were thrilled with the friendly people and amenities of Searsport Shores! (My gosh- hot showers, laundry AND a sink to wash dishes! Firewood and ice! A playground AND an indoor playspace! For those of you seasoned campground campers, these things might come as no surprise, but we usually pack in everything we’ll need for the week in our kayaks, or maybe a canoe, all our food is canned or dehydrated, and all our firewood found and sawed by hand. Plus my child gets to bring just one toy for the week.) In the relative luxury, the fresh sea air and the calm ocean, my child and pup had their first ocean experiences. We so enjoyed the grounds, including of course the amazing rocky beach, the forest paths, the beautiful gardens, playground, goats, and of course the artist studio last year, that by the end of our 3 days, I was hoping to become an artist in residence for the next season! 

Now, I am tying up loose ends, completing my residencies in my local middle school and preschool, getting my office, studio and home tidied up and ready to be left. We have most of our vegetables and flowers in the garden, with a few more things to plant this weekend, before the last mad-dash week of work and school and then…the magical journey begins!

Alexandra is engaged in work that combines arts integration, Universal Design for Learning, mindfulness, and collaboration to develop curriculum that engages as many types of learners as possible.

Oh, and by the way…My name is Alexandra and I will be the artist in residence at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground for the third week of June. My family, including my husband, 5 year old and sweet pup Lena will be on site for the week as well. We have a few friends joining us and can’t wait to meet everyone else! I am a glass and multi-media artist living in the Burlington, Vermont area, originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York. My passions include finding the beauty in little, everyday moments, celebrating the elegance of nature and helping others find joy in making art! Check me out on instagram @mindfulartscreations, and at my website: www.alexandraturnerart.com .

See you at the beach!~

The Ingredients for a Special Campground

Money can buy a campground. College or apprenticeships can teach budgeting and wise investments. Computer marketing skills can spread the word about a park…BUT the special ingredient is the people who share their talent and love to create a community that energizes, inspires and relaxes the souls that come down the road.

This past weekend we relied on the help of friends old and new to jump start the camping season. Our chore list seemed endless on Wednesday but when folks started driving in on Thursday with rain gear and smiles, suddenly it felt like we could move mountains…and we did…mountains of leaves and debris and odd jobs that have been sitting on the edge of our minds for months.

May the camping season begin! With love and gratitude, Astrig & Steve

Clean Up Weekend 2019

For 27 years now, we’ve relied on help from others to open the campground…it’s not a concept we created but we certainly appreciate the assistance. If you think about a campground operation, there are the camp sites of course, but there are also the ancillary buildings, the landscaping and gardening, the store, the rec hall, the playground…and in our case the beach and the walking trails too. It’s the kind of business that requires us to be Jacks of all trades and masters of none…We’d never be the park that we are without the expertise and the mastery of others and so we welcome you again this coming weekend…here’s the schedule:

May the camping season begin!

Looking forward to seeing you,

Astrig & Steve

Still Playing in the Mud

We’re wet. I know, April showers bring May flowers but enough is enough. Our critters are walking around flooded pastures, our driveway is slick with mud and potholes Wait, this doesn’t sound like a good promotional piece for visiting Maine does it? Let me start over…

The gods have given us ample reason to sit in front of our planning notebooks, big white boards and computers these last couple of weeks. We took advantage of the we weather to attend the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Augusta. Held in the Civic Center, about 500 of us looked around while we listened to statistics, best practices and lots of advice (OK, maybe we were looking more than actively listening). In our defense, these gatherings are about networking, right? After Steve and I got over the surprise that we’re no longer the “young ones” in the room, we enjoyed catching up with folks we’ve known for decades in the Office of Tourism, from the Arts Commission and so many of the lodging and experience providers we’ve come to love from all over the state. Because Maine is so geographically huge, we often only connect in realtime during these sanctioned gatherings before “the season” kicks into gear. My favorite takeaways were the Maine Wine Trail and Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections who gave bags of chocolate covered almonds as parting gifts…the very definition of sweeet!

Both Steve and I had grandfathers and uncles who worked in lumber/hunting camps in the 1930’s and beans have always been a weekend tradition

While Steve attended a session on Search Engine Optimization, I went to the State Library and museum for an update on Maine’s Bicentennial plans for 2020. The packed room was full of eager participants but the majority of details still feel rather vague. If everything works out, there will be tall ships in Belfast and Bucksport (5 minutes and 12 minutes from the campground), a statewide beanhole bean suppah (every community in Maine will hold a public supper on the same night) and lots more that still exist in the “fingers’ crossed stage”. As I learn more, I’ll share but if you’re really interested, it would be a great idea to follow the progress on the official website and all the rest of the social media outlets. In the meantime, I dropped into a rabbit hole to give you more information about the importance of beans in Maine’s history…the hole was too deep so I climbed back out but you might want to click over to the Maine Folklife Center for a little more information and make it a point to listen to the Good Old State of Maine song recording .

Authenticity is everywhere…what a blessing!

I didn’t sit down today to give you a blow by blow report of our time in Augusta but it’s turning out that way. We left Searsport for the tourism conference early because of a snow storm and because of the extra half hour, I got a chance to indulge in a favorite practice: hunting through the racks at Goodwill. Although I’m pleased to say that the expedition led to a couple of great linen tunics, the real pleasure was waiting for me at the door. You know how it is when you’re standing in a line that doesn’t move quickly and you scan your environment with no particular attention? Well I noticed Leo standing by the exit and without really thinking about it, my mind slipped him into the box of “oh, he’s not quite right” and that was it. But after I checked out I found myself right in front of him and when I smiled and said hello, he returned my greeting with a spark of happiness that caused me to pause and chat. Leo spoke with charm and I could have easily spent the day with him. A native of Augusta, he was fluent in English, French, Greek and Italian because he grew up in the tenement housing of the textile mills. The necklace he wore was made of bear claws and seeds and hand carved wooden beads. He has since lost the majority of his eyesight but even without being able to see, he carved the wooden feather on his walking stick to the point that it’s almost transparent and wood burned it by heating a nail in the fireplace during the winter. In our short time together Leo told me about earning a living by guiding sportsmen in the Northern woods. He told of places where the lumber jacks had abandoned camp during the recession and left the cast iron pots still sitting on ancient ashes. He spoke of salmon and moose and bear with the same facility I talk of campsites and reservations. He and his wife have lived off the grid their entire lives and he showed me the horsetail brush he made to brush out the gunpowder from his rifle. I’m not making this up. Leo was the diamond of my day and that 15 minute chance encounter has enriched my life…I wish the same for you.

Don’t forget about our Free Clean Up Weekend on May 17th

Staying Balanced

Well, it’s the second week of April and a foot of snow fell today…which normally would make me seriously happy but yesterday it was 60 degrees and I prioritized getting my wool sweaters packed in cedar ’cause I was channeling my Martha Stewart and feeling good about it…thank the Gods I kept my snow boots by the door!

The view from my window as I write

We’ve been catching the sun when we can and doing things like tending the bees, repairing broken pipes and taking the plastic off the windows of the Art Studio. The little stream that runs through the campground (between the main side of the park and the walk in tenting area) is roaring, the surf is pounding and the sheep and goats are frolicking and butting heads as though they’ve just come out of a deep slumber. All in all, everything in our little world seems just a bit more extreme (thankfully not Nebraska and Kansas extreme).

With all of the freezing and thawing this year, the drainage pipes took a beating but happily, the bees survived and the hives seem strong.

On Thursday and Friday we attended the Artists and Makers Conference in Lincolnville (when you’re in the campground, ask us about Howe’s Point in Lincolnville…a hidden gem of a beach, but I digress.) We go to this gathering wearing both our Searsport Shores hats and our Makers Guild of Maine hats. We make time to attend because we love being surrounded by small businesses and artists who are inquisitive, fully engaged in their lives and looking for the same sorts of things we are…an authentic and balanced life with time for art, friends, staying healthy and a really good IPA. Of course, there’s a bit of Holy Grail in all of this because we learn from every consultant with a slide show that we could do a better job telling our story if only… tell me, do real people actually check their phones as soon as they wake up and just before they go to sleep? Me…I want a nice latte and a weaving magazine in the morning and a good book in the evening…doesn’t everybody? We saw many dear friends and heard lots of inspiring tales of people following their passion. If you like handmade, fun jewelry, check out our friend Willy Reddick ’cause she’s the real deal! She rows a boat in the winter, hikes and gardens all summer, married an phenomenal furniture maker and is a genuinely kind person. We learned of a younger adventurer and painter who lives just inland from us, Abe Goodale

Maine…home to so many incredible artists!

After all the stimulation of the conference, it felt good to settle in and work on our projects. When we were traveling in Mexico last November, we stayed in a little village that was only accessible by boat and enjoyed the hospitality of a retired restauranteur who had the loveliest outdoor kitchen that he shared with guests. As soon as we enjoyed a lunch in the garden, we knew we needed to recreate a Maine version for ourselves and campers. Fast forward to yesterday…Steve and a crew started clearing the goat pen in the back of the garden and drew pictures for my kitchen. It won’t be as open to the elements as the one we enjoyed in Yelpas but the front doors will slide all the way open and there will be a deep porch where 30-50 people can gather for cooking classes, receptions and music. It’s far more exciting than this computer rendering portrays and if we’re lucky, it will be built in time to enhance our Wednesdays at the Shores in July…I’ll post more pictures as things progress.

In order to make room for the kitchen, the brush pile is absolutely touring!

And to close with a few links you might like to check out:

Fiber College launched on April 1st…we invite you to join 200+ spinners, weavers, woodworkers, painters and other happy sorts September 4-8 here in the campground.

Clean Up Weekend is when we exchange free camping for help with all the Spring Chores we haven’t finished before we open…this year it’s May 17-19.

Meet Bubbles and her momma Beatrix…the newest members of our spinners flock

psst…there’s not a link yet but we’re working on hosting the Quilters of Gee’s Bend September 9-14 in conjunction with the Bluegrass and Old Time Music Gathering…more to follow soon.

“Spring is the Time of Plans and Projects”

Leo Tolstoy said it. Do you feel it too? When the clocks spring ahead, it’s time to start gathering up the winter projects that have filled all the corners of the house, workshop and studio and start accessing them with a critical eye…can I get this done in a few hours? is it worth the stress of a deadline to leave it (knitting, carving, painting project) in full view so that I get it done soon? if I pack it away now, will I ever remember how to start next November? AND my very favorite, is it time to admit defeat and get rid of it all together?

We’re living in a landscape of ice, mud, yuck and more yuck. The beach is hard to walk right now because the sand and the seaweed are starting to thaw but when you try to hike along the shore, your boots get sucked into a goo that is unforgiving. Just trying to get down to the water is a trial and I haven’t successfully arrived there without soaking my boots all the way to my socks. In polite company we say “my, isn’t this a wet beginning to the season?” but what we’re really thinking is “March is a wicked pissah this year”.

The other day we went to Delvino’s in Belfast for lunch…we had gotten our chores done and decided that carbs, cream sauce and red wine were the right way to celebrate one of the last snow storms of the year. The mushroom sacchetti was wonderful…but then I pushed it a bit too far. Feeling heavy from the delicious meal, I suggested to Steve that we drive up to the top of the mountain across from the campground and go for a hike and watch the snow fall. Ever the prince, he agreed…up we went…into the ditch the truck slid. It’s safe to say that any buzz we had over lunch evaporated as Steve got out of the truck, trudged down to the campground for a tow rope and farm truck and then struggled back up the alternately icy and muddy road to haul me out.

In my defense, we needed the fresh air. We’re spending most of our time on computers getting Fiber College ready for its launch on April 1st, meeting with people who will be playing music and doing art this summer at the campground and trying to get ahead of all the paperwork the banks, state and insurance companies keep tossing our way. You know, I always thought that as the years go by, things would get easier simply because we had more practice…but they don’t…the software keeps changing, the paperwork gets more complicated and there are simply more layers to all of the bureaucracy. When it all gets frustrating, I comfort myself with the awareness that at least we enjoy a direct correlation between where we focus our energy and the results that follow. Another truly brilliant part of owning a campground in Searsport Maine is that we feel like part of our community. Saturday was town meeting day and Steve was asking for money to support the HOBBA map (you should ask for a copy…it lists all the businesses and hikes and land trusts right around us. HOBBA is the local business alliance that meets regularly to promote and foster the businesses on the 12 mile stretch between the Passagassawakeag Bridge in Belfast and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Bucksport. HOBBA asked for $1000, got it and then we adjourned for fish chowder from Angler’s restaurant…yes, life is good!

And a final note…we’re looking for a few great people to spend the summer immersed in our world. We pay, we teach and we share what we know…would you like to join us from May until October ISH?