Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Camping with Kids
A whole bunch of us decided to do a little Fall camping in Gambrill State Park this past weekend. 3 Wives, 11 kids, 3 dogs, several bikes, big wheels and fishing poles....this was family car camping at its finest. A few of us went by the campground (with our boys) Friday after work to secure the sites and pitch a couple tents. Beer accompanied us and no one really wanted to leave after a few stouts. Unfortunately Frank was the only one planning to spend the night, so, the rest of us were not prepared for the cool Autumn night. As the temperature dropped we reluctantly loaded the minivan and headed south to Germantown, leaving Frank and Grace as the sole representatives for the evening.
Sunday I awoke to a very excited 5 year old boy who asked "when are we leaving" every 32.5 seconds. Friday evenings anticipation gave way to Saturday mornings stress and I was about to crack while trying to pack a mountains worth of gear for a one night camping trip. Food, coolers, blankets, toys and a slew of other things needed to be pulled from their dusty corners and precisely packed in order to fit in the van. Preparing for a 24 hour race was easier than packing for our overnight trip. Somehow I managed to get all the gear, the kids and my wife in the van and we headed north towards the park, all the while I knew I had to unpack and setup everything once we got there. Hopefully the boy will have let go of my leg by then.
Setup wasn't so bad and I was happy to see Jason and Reilly show up for a little visit. They couldn't stay long, but, it was nice to see him out and hopefully he'll be re-joining the rides soon. Tony also came up from DC with his daughter Lexi, a nice surprise, as well as DaveG & Naomi, the DKEG & Mark clans, Phil with Charlie and Cheyenne and my brother and niece. We really packed those 4 pads.
Dinner Saturday night was an amazing potluck rarely seen while camping. Everyone brought and shared some great dishes and the beer selection was equally as impressive. After dinner the boys went off into the woods and did boy things and the girls went into a tent and did their own thing. The parents finally got a chance to sit back and enjoy the cool mountain air on a brisk Autumn night. David's site became the communal spot and his fire pit played host to the evenings activities. Oddly enough, our host retired at an unusually early hour. Apparently DKEG went in his tent to change his cloths and didn't emerge again until the next morning. Probably a good thing as we received several warnings from the camp host about noise, dogs and more noise. Such is life I guess.
The next day we awoke to a spectacular morning and a hearty breakfast. Bellies full, a large group headed up the mountain for a little nature hike. My two kids are not very familiar with the concept and I had to carry the girl on my shoulders for most of the hike. Jonny kept asking for a ride, but, with 35 pounds already on my back he was getting no love from daddy. Still, the boy pressed on and seemed to have a good time. At the Tea Room the kids played on the swings and explored the mountain top. After a little time Phil needed to head back down and I decided to join him. Back at camp we started the process of packing it all up again....what fun. Loaded up and ready to roll David and I bid everyone farewell as he and I decided to ride our Cross bikes back to Germantown.
With a beautiful Fall day in front of us we headed off the mountain for what was supposed to be a 32 mile ride. He and RiderX planned the course that would take us through Frederick and down some scenic country roads. Our slight detour to the Flying Dog brewery was met with disappointment as the brewery is closed on Sundays. Probably a good thing as the pint glasses would have had a tough time with some sections we added later in the ride. Once we moved further from Frederick the hills began to roll more and we decided to throw in a couple "roads" we've ridden in the past. Prior to Monococy Bottom Road we came across a couple old chainsaws and had to stop for a photo op. Our revised route took us through a stream crossing, a ford and all around Sugarloaf mountains gravel roads. South of the mountain we decided on a couple more detours to continue the adventure. We hit Black Hills park and jumped on every good single track trail the park has to offer. Each of us in a zone, we barely spoke a word as we navigated our skinny tires through the twisting trails. Shortly before the exit onto the double track I hit a root hard and experienced our only flat of the day. Not bad considering where we took our bikes.
Out of Black Hills we hit the Hoyles Mill Connector for one last bit of dirt before the final asphalt stretch. Two more stream crossings (one with a tree bridge) and some small rock gardens added to an already intoxicating ride. Out of the trails we cruised around the soccer-plex and back onto the road. 2 miles later David and I separated as we neared our homes. A little over 46 miles of some extremely varied terrain topped off an already incredible weekend. Can't wait to do it again........soon.