Thursday, August 7, 2014

Schoodic Penninsula

We got a deliberately late start yesterday.  We lazed around the cabin, ate blueberry pancakes, and then played through the first part of Sneax and company's journey up from the town of Phandalin to the ruins of Thundertree. The company traveled safely the first day, but their camp was attacked by a band of orcs that night, and in fighting off the orcs, they gained enough experience to get to Level 3.  At some point today, I have to sit down and help my Players level their characters up.

This, by the way, is how my book was born. It's a set of short stories inspired by our travels in Maine, starring my kids' D&D characters.  This particular trip has seen a little more focus on my wife's new character, Salamatu, and her incipient romance with the dashing young Eldritch Knight/Artificer Wolfgang Amadeus, of House Amadeus.

The story goes like this: Salamatu holds a Ranger's commission from the King, but her mother was a woman of Ill-repute, and if the nobles of the city respect her abilities, she's still not the kind of girl you'd actually marry.  Wolfgang, meanwhile, is the son of the famous general Anaeus Amadeus, victor of the Battle of Gorham's Grove.  But Gorham's Grove changed Anaeus, and it's become the family scandal that he drank himself to death in its aftermath.  Worse, Anaeus's title wasn't hereditary, meaning that although House Amadeus was raised to partician status, they're now basically broke.  Wolfgang's mother is a vain and grasping woman who hopes the allure of the family name will help her son marry well, but it's a ludicrous hope, especially since the glory of Gorham's Grove is fading with each passing year. 

Wolfgang and Salamatu meet during a hunt that Salamatu is leading for the King.  Though hunting wild boar, the King's party stumbles upon a troll, which injures Salamatu's horse and threatens her life. Wolfgang beats off the troll with magic, allowing Salamatu to save her horse, and in the process earns public praise from the King.  But, of course, the King merely laments that Wolfgang has left his service, that Wolfgang isn't more like his father. Wolfgang tries to argue that his current service--as assistant to Wanderhaven's City Engineer--is also important, but the King isn't having it.  Anyone can inspect bridges and tunnels; House Amadeus is supposed to be a martial house. 

Wolfgang and Salamatu ride back together on Wolfgang's horse and talk about their fathers. Salamatu is the youngest of six and the only member of her family to have elven blood. Her father was a Sea Elf trader who loved and legitimately pursued her mother, but her mother refused to settle and eventually Salamatu's father gave up and married another.  He and Salamatu were close despite the scandal of Salamatu's birth, but he was killed recently in a shipwreck. This left Salamatu alone with her crazy family.  Salamatu has a career and decent prospects for herself but little else, and she rages against her family for the weight that their sins have hung over her head.

That's all we've got, but it's not a bad start. It's what we discussed as we were walking through the woods yesterday. 

That's not how the day started. It started with pancakes and the decision to head out to Schoodic Peninsula.  Schoodic is another part of Acadia, smaller and physically separated from the rest of the park, but "no less compelling" according to the guidebooks.  

We headed out around 11:00 am.  As it happened, our first stop was a little used book shop on Highway 1.  

The owner was an obvious veteran, and I tried to draw him out by asking about his colors, but he didn't want to talk. I left it alone, but I will say that he had an excellent military history collection. I walked out with Rick Atkinson's An Army at Dawn and McKay Jenkins's The Last Ridge. The former is a history of the War in North Africa; the latter is about the 10th Mountain Division's "assault on Hitler's Europe".  I have in mind to read The Last Ridge and then give it to a buddy of mine who served in the 10th Mtn Division. 

We reached the town of Winter Harbor just after noon. Strange town. Ten art galleries but only one tiny, overcrowded cafe. Beautiful harbor, though. 

From there we finally headed into the park. Our first stop was the windswept crag of Schoodic Point, and it really was every bit as compelling as advertised.  These pictures don't do it justice.

From there we headed over to the Schoodic Trail. We were hoping to walk out to Little Moose Island, but the place is only accessible at low tide, and as you might've guessed, we were running a little late by then. 

It's okay. We decided to hike up to Schoodic Head despite the drizzling rain. It was supposed to be a .7-mile hike up an easy trail. After going up Cadillac Mountain the previous day, the girls shrugged and said of course they'd go. 

The trail started out easy enough, but the guidebook was misleading. We had to walk .7-mile just to get to the trailhead, and then we started what turned out to be a 1-mile climb straight into a cloud bank. This was rocky and in places very steep.

Great climb!  The weather was wet but comfortable, and spirits were high. Unfortunately, the weather started threatening to turn nasty on the way back down, and with the wet rocks, the trail became treacherous. Added to that, we went down a different way than we'd come up, and late in the descent, thunder and lightning started rolling in. Then, after we'd been at it for nearly two hours, the sun started going down.  

It was, all told, quite a bit of adventure for our little family.  Some of the descents were very steep.

We made it down just as the weather turned for real. It was a close call and probably not the smartest thing we've ever done with our kids, but they're troopers, and it turned out okay.  

All told, yesterday was my favorite day of the trip so far. It reminded me of the kinds of things my dad took me to do when I was a kid, and I felt good about passing that part of our family's legacy on to my own kids. We got a little lucky with the weather, but I'll take it. Sometimes, you've got to have a little bit of luck. 

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