Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

For our summer vacation, we went camping in MD, NJ, and VA. We visited family and friends along the way. We saw sites of historic interest - some just of interest to a few of us, some of interest to all of us. We roasted marshmallows, looked through telescopes, froze some nights, sweated some days, and had a wonderful time!

On Saturday, June 10th, we got a mid-morning start to our first destination, Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, MD. Midway through NC, we saw a sign about a bridge being out between VA and MD. At the VA Welcome Center, I asked about the delay and was told the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Outer Loop of the DC Beltway would be closed that day due to construction. The sweet old lady at the Welcome Center suggested we take Route 301 instead. As my niece later commented, "301 is never a good idea." The 8 hour trip took us 11 hours. Toward the end, my husband was driving very aggressively to get us to the campground with enough daylight to set up camp.

The campground was nice, with hot/cold showers, automatic toilets, and a nice playground. The sites were a bit small, although there were trees and bushes in between the sites to create privacy. To keep the plants there, they had loose gravel at each site and you were only allowed to set up on the gravel. Not the most comfortable for my dc without camping mattresses.

On Sunday, we went to church at Bishops Cummins Memorial Reformed Episcopal. John's brother-in-law, David Crum, was recently installed as the new pastor there. We enjoyed the service and later went to a picnic sponsored by the church. We enjoyed fellowship, food, and volleyball.

Sunday evening, I woke up to the sound of rain starting. We stowed everything quickly and managed to keep most things dry. In the morning, it was still raining, so we went to the Crum's house. After the rain cleared, we went into Baltimore's Inner Harbor for lunch at Five Guys Burgers. Love their fries!

After lunch (Thank you, Aunt Jill!), we went to the Jamestown Experience and aboard the Godspeed, a replica of one of the ships that brought settlers to Jamestown. It was their last day in Baltimore and we were very glad we went. If it comes near you, definitely make plans to go.

The next day we left for NJ. After setting up camp at Voorhees State Park in Glen Gardner, NJ, we made dinner. The campground was beautiful and we were practically the only ones there. There was one guy staying in a camper cabin, but most night he came home at 11:00pm and left around 5:00am! I was less thrilled with the bathrooms, however. The toilets were not flush toilets - just nice seats over a large retaining tank. The showers didn't let you adjust the temperature either - at first you froze and then you roasted! Very hard on young children used to lukewarm baths. They also had the most bugs of any campground bathhouse I have seen!

The next morning, we went to Round Valley State Park to swim. Unfortunately, the beach was closed, so we went to Spruce Run State Park. We had a good, though chilly, time swimming. We left when my oldest boy turned blue.

After lunch, we decided to drive to Madison to go to Whole Foods Market. Along the way, we spent a good deal of time seeing places we used to frequent when we lived up there. By the time we left Whole Foods, we were in the middle of rush hour traffic. We rushed back to the campsite and then headed over to the T**'s house - friends of John's from years ago.

My older boys had a wonderful time playing with their son. The younger boys enjoyed the toys Ms. T** had for her daycare. Sarah enjoyed the horse, Dolly! The adults had a nice time just chatting.

Thursday, my friend A*** came to visit with her 4 children. We had a great time playing on the playground equipment at the campground and chatting together. She took some pictures I hope she will post on her blog. ;-)

That evening, the T**'s came over and we roasted marshmallows. The Feingold approved marshmallows from Elyon were delicious!

Friday, we did more site seeing and then went to Lewis Morris County Park in NJ to see the site where my family used to picnic when I was young. The area has changed some, but we did find the site and take pictures. Then we went to Jockey Hollow and learned about Tempe Wick and about Washington's encampment in that area in the winter of 1779-1780. On the way home, we saw many of the mansions of Bernardsville, NJ. After a quick dinner, we went to the T**'s house. Sarah, William, and Jeffrey got to ride on Dolly while the older boys played with S***. Then they all watched the new Hot Wheels Accelleracers movie together.

Saturday was my father's interment service at Community Congregational Church. Unfortunately, they didn't have the plaques for Dad or Granny up yet, but it was nice to see the ones for Jeff and Grandmommy. We also ones for Alice Wilgar and her mother. So sad.

Afterwards, we drove around Short Hills and Millburn looking at the places I lived and played as a child. After a quick stop at South Mountain Reservation to change clothes, we drove to Budd Lake to surprise some friends of John's. We had a nice visit with them, but hope that next to plan something better.

That evening, we went to a program at the NJ Astronomical Association Observatory. We saw an informative video about how the observatory came to be there. The telescope was closed for repairs, but outside many of the members had set up telescopes. We saw Jupiter (and four moons), Mars, and Saturn (incl. rings!).

That night was rather rowdy at our quiet campground. There were quite a few more campers. In fact, there was a cop at the entrance letting only valid campers into he campground. He chased a group out around 11:00pm. The rest of the night was quiet.

Sunday we got a late start, partly from letting everyone sleep in. We were packing the trailer when Jeffrey got in the van and put it in neutral. The van started rolling backwards, with the trailer heading for John. I tried to open the driver's door, but it was locked, so I reached through the open window and put the car back into Park. Unfortunately, the window frame gave my shoulder a good whack in the process.

After that, we had a rather uneventful (though painful) trip to Burke Lake Park in Fairfax Station, VA. This campground was another nice one. Level sites where we could set up on grass. The restrooms had self-flushing toilets and nice showers. They could use a curtain over the changing area outside the showers for a bit of privacy.

We set up camp and headed over to John's brother's house. After driving in 90 degree heat with no air conditioning, we were disappointed their pool was broken. However, dinner at Five Guys Burgers and cuddling on the couch watching Shrek on their projection TV more than made up for it.

When we returned to the campsite, there were more campers. One group, not far from us, was clearly not there to camp. They were playing loud music and drinking. They turned off the music at 11:30pm when my dh asked, but still kept talking and laughing loudly. When the ranger drove through at midnight, my dh mentioned it to him and he ordered them out of the campground. We slept soundly after that!

The next day, we went into DC, after wasting over an hour looking for Einstein Bros. Bagels. We went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and then to the Air and Space Museum. Then, after a driving tour of DC, we went back to Falls church and found the Einstein Bros. We had been searching for. It was worth it! The bagels were delicious!

From there we drove to Whole Foods, during which it started to pour. Of course, it was the one day I hadn't prepped the tent for rain - moving the mattresses to the middle, making sure the windows were closed. I'm not sure it would have made much difference. The wind was so strong it blew rain under the tarp over the top and into the tent.

That evening, we sang Happy Birthday to Aunt Sandi and had Dominos for dinner. After a dessert of Breyer's Ice Cream and Whole Foods cookies, we watched the rest of Shrek and said Good-bye.

Back at the campground, things were soggy. We debated driving home that night, but decided to stay and leave in the morning, mostly because we would have been at least an hour, in the rain and dark, packing up. Driving home the next day in the heat, we wondered if we had made the right decision. Still, we made it home in less than 8 hours, including stops for lunch and potty.

We are glad to be home! My shoulder is feeling better and the poison ivy I caught is starting to itch less. Many of the children have colds and I am leaving for the hospital shortly as Trey is getting dehydrated from a virus he caught.

I don't think I will plan another long camping vacation until either we get a camper or at least a vehicle with air conditioning. But a weekend trip to the beach sounds like a good idea! :-)

No comments: