Thursday, August 19, 2010

Camping Completed

Well, we're all home safe and sound.  I started this post this morning, but am wrapping it up now because I got long winded (not me!) and didn't get this done before a boy woke up and we all had to rush out the door this morning.

I do have to say though, that the Cherry Hill Park campground is wonderful.  They've got an area that's just for tents, no RVs or pop-ups allowed.  It's all very wooded and there are plenty of water taps (sinks actually!) and trash and recycling cans throughout the area and a very nice, large, clean wash house very near by.  We'll definitely have to head back there again!  (The staff is very courteous and helpful and the women at the cafe remembered us, well Boo actually, from the evening before when we stopped back in.  The whole experience with the campground was great!)

Ok, so let me tackle this chronologically.  Saturday morning I drop Gak off at work and Boo and I go do laundry.  After that we come home and eat some lunch and Boo helps me finish up the packing and the hauling of stuff to the car.  Well, most of it.  I don't take down the cold stuff as I didn't have any ice and was going to pick that up when we left to pick up Poppa.
I debated if I should keep Boo up so he'd sleep most of the ride down, or let him take a nap so I could relax a bit myself before the drive.  Well, after a while I compromise.  I put "Follow that Bird" on the DVD player and after bopping around half watching it Boo falls asleep on the sofa halfway through.  (That movie itself deserves it's own post... especially watching it as a momma now....)

I manage not to forget the cold food and even picked up ice on the way to get Gak from work.  (There were a few odds and ends that I forgot, but no trip, camping or otherwise, would be complete without that!)  Gak manages to escape right at 3 and we're on our way!
Traffic wasn't too bad until we got to the tolls on 95 to get into Maryland out of Delaware.  It's just about 5:00 at this point and Gak and I are both hungry and there's a sign for a Cracker Barrel in about 5 miles.  So, we slog through the tolls (yes, even the EZPass lanes were backed up) and stop for a stretch and some food. That was an adventure right there.  (It seems most of our trying adventures this trip involve food...)  We had a brand new waitress, which meant even though it wasn't overly crowded, she was slow.  And, to top it off, the power goes out right as we're finishing up.  Thankfully we had the right amount of cash on hand to be able to pay and not require change.  Of course, this puts us back an hour in getting to the campground, something that has me a bit anxious.  (I shouldn't have been, but... I worry...)

The rest of the ride down was pretty uneventful, arriving at the campground around 7.  I'm so thankful that our son does well on long car rides.  We check in and get to our camp site and get everything set up.  It took about a half hour total to set everything up.  (We need a new twin mattress though, or an adapter for the electric pump... I'm not sure which...)  We then pile back into the car to get some firewood (didn't have room to pick any up when we checked in), check out the store a bit and hit the wash house.  After we got back to the site it's time to put Boo to bed.  He doesn't really want to, but with a little soothing and a snuggle, he eventually just drifts off.
This is what we get to wake up to.  A very awake, happy boy who wants to crawl all over his parents.  He actually slept in a bit until almost 7!

I manage to only burn a little bit of breakfast.  My propane burner doesn't seem to have a "low" setting and I forgot I was using a non-stick pan.  Luckily bacon is pretty forgiving, and lots of butter in the pan makes some awesome toast.  (I gave up on the idea of pancakes...)

So, after this minor adventure in cooking, we clean up and head out.  Since it's Sunday and there aren't many buses running to the park, we drive over to the Metro station at College Park.  I'm just happy that the parking is free on Sundays (Saturdays too I think, but I'm not sure).
If you ask Boo what he wanted to do all vacation, you were likely to get the answer "ride trains".  So, he was quite happy to ride the Metro.

We get to Smithsonian Station with little effort and realize that the Museum of Natural History doesn't open unitl 10, and it's only 9:30.  Oops.  That and my camera batteries died on the Metro.  And I didn't pack extras.  Double oops.  So, we get an over priced water and an even more over priced pair of batteries at the refreshment stand and let Boo run around in circles for a while.

We quite enjoy the Natural History Museum and even got to see "Big Trey!".  

Boo did very well.  We stopped in at the exploration (hands on) area and he was happy to pull all the books off the shelf and wander around in circles for a while.  Once we were done in the museum itself, we had lunch there and then headed over to the American History Museum.
I'm so glad that we did.  Boo, of course, passed out within about 5 minutes of getting there and getting a dry diaper on.  That's OK, it meant Gak and I could look at things and not fight a squirmy two-year-old.  (Although, he's much better at things like this than many kiddos I've known, which I'm so very thankful for.)  They're not quite done the renovations, so a lot of things weren't out for viewing.  The new exhibit for the Stars and Strips is open however.  I remember seeing the flag when it was hanging in the main entranceway.  They would show it for 5 minutes every hour or something like that.  It was quite impressive.  Even though you can barely see it now because of the ultra low lighting, it's even more impressive.  Before, it was hanging on a wall and far away.  It seemed large, but with the way they have it displayed now (lying on a display behind glass) I got a much better impression of the true size of the flag.  No pictures are allowed (although at least one person doesn't read signs... and it wasn't me).  It really is quite a sight.
Gak of course, loved the small display they had open of the TV and movie artifacts.  It was pretty cool to see Kermit and some of the other neat things.  I hope they open a bigger exhibit in the future though, there is so much American history there.
We also went through an exhibit that was about the way America travels and how it's changed through the years.  It was pretty neat and fun.
We rounded out the day with a short (too short) visit to the Native American museum.  I've noticed that each of the museums has it's own personality, not just outside or with what they're displaying, but in the atmosphere inside.  The Natural History is loud and vibrant and exciting.  The American History museum is a little quieter but still has an atmosphere of fun and I guess you could say both pride and hope.  The Native American museum is much quieter, almost reverent.  I'd like to think it is to honor the stories that are told within those walls.  Maybe it's because it forces everyone to rethink what they know, or think they know, about the Native cultures of this continent.  Maybe it's a mutual respect between the curators telling the story and those absorbing it.  There is a kind of peace in that building that permeates everything and makes you slow down a bit, to really read and look at and experience the exhibits.  We didn't get much time there, but it was quite enjoyable.
It's a good thing that we did the museums on Sunday.  That was the only day that it actually rained.  It actually rained a bit while we were in the Natural History museum, but mostly while we were in the American History museum and was clear and sunny by the time we left.
Dinner that night was a disaster.  So was trying to build a camp fire.  I guess I was just a little too cocky in my skills and not paying attention to what I was doing.  So, I was cranky and tired and it was getting late, so we just ate at the cafe.  It was pretty good.
Monday we didn't get quite the same early start, but headed back into DC.  The main objective was to go see the Navy Memorial.  Now mind you, it got really humid after the rain and it was nice and hot too.  Also, none of the memorials we wanted to see (other than the Navy Memorial) are anywhere near the Metro station.  And to top it off, we had a cranky, out of sorts boy.  

We did make it to the Navy Memorial, which was very, very important to do.  My son is the son of a son of a son of a sailor after all.  The Navy tradition runs strongly in his veins and it would be sad to be that close and not get a chance to see it.  I didn't get pictures of the really cool fountains, but every year they get water from the 7 seas and the great lakes added to them.  The whole memorial is very beautiful and moving.
After dealing with a cranky boy and walking for a few blocks trying to figure out what we were going to do.  We decided after a cranky discussion that it might just be better to head back to the campground and get some lunch, go for a swim and just hang out for the afternoon.
I'm so glad we did.  The pool was beautiful and nice and cool.  They've got a big lap type pool and a smaller shallow family pool with a couple of water elements.  Boo didn't want anything to do with those, but was more than happy to hang out and splash in the water.  It also felt wonderful to cool off a bit.
Dinner went much better.  I was able to make a fire and Gak took Boo down to the playground (which I don't have pictures of) and he enjoyed it.  I made some pretty yummy foil packet dinners of chicken, bacon, sausage (clean out the cooler time...) and some onion and BBQ sauce.  They didn't burn and they didn't stick either.  I also made some campfire biscuits and even Boo ate one of them!  I also finally got my toasted marshmallows.  (I would have had s'mores, but the chocolate had been melted and solidified and melted again a bit too much.)
We tried to go to the outdoor movie that night, but Boo wasn't having anything to do with settling down and snuggling and Night at the Museum 2, while appropriate considering we were at the Smithsonian museums the day before, just wasn't that catchy.
The next morning we broke camp in fairly short order.  (There were some cranky moments, which were mostly my fault.)  After checking out and picking up some more ice, we were on the road.  Our first order of business was to head to the Zoo.  Of course, this meant driving in Washington, DC itself.  Yep, I drove through DC and lived to tell the tale.  I wasn't so sure about it at one point when traffic was at a complete stand still for what felt like 20 minutes.  I also made a few wrong turns, but thankfully we have a nice GPS (thanks Gak!) and it got us back on track quickly.
We got to the Zoo right around 10:00 which is when it actually opens.  We started at the kids farm area and got to see a good part of it.  It was a bit too hot and humid to really enjoy it all though.  Boo did very well.  He really liked the tiger and enjoyed the invertebrate exhibit a lot too.  (Of course, I think that was mostly because it was inside, cool and dark.)

Even Trey enjoyed the exhibits.  There was even a life sized Trey at the Zoo.  Boo sees it and happily exclaims "Big Trey!"  Apparently it was used in a movie and used to live outside the Natural History museum for a while before moving into this flower garden.  I think it looks right at home here.

The drive home was fairly uneventful.  The biggest downer was that the Games Workshop store we stopped to visit had closed.  I was so bummed.  I know Gak was looking forward to spending some time browsing, drooling and planning his armies.  We did have a nice lunch at Bob Evans though, so that was a plus.
Once we got home I stopped at the now non-Wawa at the end of the block to get some cash and the boys walked home.  I was able to abscond with both Trey and Kelly and throw them, the sleeping bags and most of the laundry into the wash.  So, now we have a clean dino and bear.
So, yes, it was a good trip.  Not a perfect trip by a long shot, but a good trip.  We all enjoyed ourselves most of the time.  It was nice to get away, but it's also nice to get home too.

I'm going to wrap up this novel here.  There are lots more pictures on Flickr.

Peace to all and may your adventures be fun and your vacations enjoyable.

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