It’s so nice to get away and enjoy the outdoors! Troy and I escaped last week to Rocky Gap State Park for some camping, kayaking and hiking and to literally unplug from our day-to-day lives.
Rocky Gap is just about a 2 hour drive west from Baltimore. (For those of you who don’t know: I volunteer with the Park Service doing trail maintenance and am a big proponent of the state parks and wilderness conservation.) This is a beautiful park with tent sites, cabins and RV hookups; a large lake stocked for trout fishing, kayaking, canoeing and swimming; and plenty of wilderness to hike in! Should you need to stay indoors during your stay, there’s also a casino/resort (we barely noticed it was there, it’s not terribly intrusive).
Troy and I both love hiking, and kayaking has become one of our favorite activities since visiting Deep Creek Lake last summer. Rocky Gap offered us a bit less of a drive, and less people!
We were only a handful of yards from the car, so it was easy to bring coolers and chairs, and we stores our food in the car during the trip (a bonus because there is an abundant amount of hungry wildlife about. Our first night, we saw a skunk the size of a medium dog!) We haven’t backpack-camped yet, but we’re working up to that in the next year or two. We pitched our tent, started a fire and got to cooking the first night.
We’re not quite “glampers” (people who bring every luxury and convenience with them camping), but we still like to live more-than-basic. Our first meal was foil-wrapped bbq chicken and quinoa. No astronaut food here!
Other meals were more traditional, like beef franks “onastick”, baked beans, fire-roasted corn on the cob, burgers, pancakes, oatmeal, s’mores, and instant coffee. I sprung for those Starbucks VIA instant Italian roast packets. They really weren’t that bad!
As we went to sleep the first night, we heard the distant rumble of thunder. Hmmm, I didn’t remember the forecast calling for rain, but you just never know. We had water-proofed the rain fly before we packed the tent, so we thought we were okay.
The next morning, we realized that the deluge was defeating our tent from underneath! We woke up with the sleeping bag edges soaked (thankfully we were on an air mattress so we were relatively dry). Try as we might, making pancakes in the rain just wasn’t as belly-filling as we needed, so we abandoned the camp for the nearest Bob Evans (about 6 miles away).
After a nice (and dry!) breakfast, we headed to a surplus store and bought tarp and rope. Once it stopped raining (around lunchtime) we were able to hang out stuff to dry.
The rest of the day was gorgeous! We rented a tandem kayak and paddled around the lake. We put in at a ‘beach’ and swam for a bit, then we went back to our home site and swam some more. The lake water was the perfect temperature and the weather was just right.
One day, we took a day trip down to Cumberland to ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to Frostburg. I love love LOVE trains, and it was a real treat to ride with the steam engine! We had lunch on the train, as well as desert and coffee.
Once we got to Frostburg, they pull the engine onto a turntable and spin it around for the return journey. What a thing to see! I’ll see about uploading the video at some point.
During the layover, we visited the Horse-drawn Carriage Museum. That was a cool little place. They had a presidential carriage, several funeral carriages and quite a few buggies and sleighs.
Most of our time was spent swimming and cooking over the fire. You never truly miss a TV when you have a great campfire to watch. We also visited the park aviary and saw several varieties of owls (including the Great Horned owl), an American Bald Eagle, hawks and a vulture.
On our final day, we took a short hike up to an overlook, and just as I was straddling 2 rocks to take the first picture in this post, my husband grabbed my arm and pulled me away. I looked down and saw a copperhead, just underneath where my foot had been! (click the pic to enlarge) This North American Copperhead was really beautiful, and not inclined to bother us unless accidentally stepped on. Copperheads are more likely to freeze when threatened, and are prone to ‘warning’ strikes rather than full bites, but it’s still wise to steer clear!
We had a GREAT vacation! It was just the recharge needed before getting back into the swing of things here at the station.camping, fun, outdoors, vacation