Bear Brook State Park is massive, by the diminutive outdoor standards of New England. It sprawls over 4 towns in southeastern New Hampshire, and offers some old-school outdoor recreation, including fly-fishing pond, kids-only fishing pond, stone beachfront pavilions, horseback-riding and archery range.
We inhabited the park for 3 days and nights at a beautiful campsite at the quietest end of the 101-site campground. Two trails headed off into the park directly from our site, and glimpses of both Spruce Pond and Beaver Pond were visible through the trees from our tent. Aside from some truly jerkwad campground neighbors in violation of all the rules (quiet after 10pm, no more than 6 people per site, no alcohol, and no chopping down trees with the chainsaw you brought) it was a lovely stay at a campground topped only by the stunning Pillsbury State Park farther west, the main tradeoff being amenities; Pillsbury has only pit toilets and no showers/laundry/fancy stuff.
This trip marked my and Malcolm’s first foray into geocaching, and we located a stash of goofy plastic toys about a mile from our campsite. Malcolm was enthralled by the process, counting down the distance to the cache in the one hundredths of miles, and obsessively checking our compass bearing. For those not in the know, geocaching is a GPS based treasure hunt where members of the public hide stashes of little trinkets, or just a simple logbook, and upload the coordinates to a geocaching website. Anyone with a GPS unit or a smartphone can download information on caches nearby, and then set off to find them using a combination of techy gear and old-fashioned maps and orienteering skills. It was a profound motivator for Malcolm, who trekked almost effortlessly to the cache, and was gleeful over the plastic McDonald’s toy he retrieved. In exchange, we offloaded a few stupid little toys of our own for the next searcher.
We used an free, intro geocaching app for iPhone, which permits the finding of three caches. It’s a good chance to see if you like the activity, and we will doubtless be buying the $9.99 version so we can continue with this geeky new hobby.
It also happened that our camping trip coincided with a park outreach program on the threat of bad news beetles arriving in New Hampshire as stowaways in transported firewood. The kids played games, looked at specimens of various beetles, and learned to recognize the beautiful but destructive Asian Long-horned Beetle. They also got a huge amount of invasive beetle swag, including patches, temporary tattoos, and water bottles emblazoned with this difficult-to-explain-to-children slogan:
Really? “That’s What Tree Said?” In any case, the info was great, and Simon was thrilled with the temporary tattoo of the beetle, which made it look like an insect was feeding on his forearm for the remainder of the trip. Awesome.