Fort Frederick, by Surprise

I was excited to leave for our first real extended trip in the RV.  I’d moved the RV from storage on Friday, and added the items I’d been thinking about since the last trip.  A device to let me know how many MPG, how much fuel left, temperature of the engine wasn’t ordered in time, so it’s do without.

Stopped by and visited briefly with family before leaving, and it was off.  The traffic was fine, and it wasn’t until we got well into Pennsylvania that the traffic on Route 78 became nasty.  The only change since we were out last was the RV downloaded more frequently as we were loaded as we haven’t been before. Some time around Camp Forty Fort we could see rain clouds.  Shortly thereafter we ran into rain and it really started to blow. I was really glad that I changed out the shocks.  The RV drove like a dream.

We were planning on camping at McCoy’s ferry, a National Park campground that’ on a first come first come basis.  There on the highway was a big brown and white sign that said C&O Canal National Park/Camping.  I couldn’t really find the location of the campsites, so I decided to follow the signs.   We wound up going in the wrong direction, thank goodness for GPS, turned around and traveled through the pretty town of Clear   Spring, Maryland.  Again, we/I got turned around and wound up on Orebank Road, Clear Spring, Maryland, a single, tight, should have been a one way road, lane.  We eventually made it to a “main” road, Big Pool Road.  As we followed Big   Pool Road, we saw the sign for McCoy Ferry Campground, made a left and were anxious to hit the campsite since it was about 7PM at that point.  Again we found ourselves on a narrow one lane road.  Soon a sign for McCoy Ferry Campground appeared, mad the right and was immediately thrown into a Hollywood movie set.  There was a rock cut on the left, and a huge 1920’s style girder and beam trestle with dead vines climbing to the top, and the roadbed missing. Looked cool.

The next thing we see is a clearance sign for the 1890’s tunnel; 10’3”.  OOPs! The RV is 11’2”, we won’t fit.  We walked through the tunnel.  The campground was vacant, there was a clear view of the canal, no vegetation blocking the view and the sites looked really nice.  Problem was, there was a vegetable garden of space to turn around in.  It had been raining so the mirrors were all covered over with droplets and the rear camera was fogged over.  Louise guided me, and after a little hill climbing and a concerted effort to keep the rear wheels on anything resembling gravel, we were turned around.  A little investigation, and we found the only way to the campsite was through the tunnel.  Do you think that they care about advertising that fact?

I knew that Fort Frederick State Park was just down the road, so we headed that way.  We found the visitors center, closed, and I was unsure that we could get to a site so off we went to see if we could get there, all the while remembering 10’3” bridge.  We found all but one of the sites free.  Back to the center, dropped off the payment (didn’t have cash, so wrote a blank check) and back to the camp.

We finally got to the campsite, after registration, and set put the welcome mat and the awning. The site was really level, so there was nothing to do on that part.  There is one other family camping at the park, about 500 feet away.  The place is beautiful.

We took a walk down to the canal, at the rear of the site. The proximity of the canal and the opening in the bordering vegetation is the reason I selected the site; old number 8.  Surprise! The bank is clay and as slippery as grease thanks to the afternoon rain.  We managed not to slide into the canal.  Second surprise, the path to the canal is loaded with poison ivy on steroids.  The canal is beautiful; took some pictures and made it back to the RV as it was late.

Since we emptied out the refrigerator before we left, there was some chicken parmesan and angel hail spaghetti.  Heated it up with some spaghetti sauce, heated some bread, cracked open some good champagne and toasted our good fortune.  “To living my life’s dream with my life’s partner” Turned on a little Harry Connick singing the score to “When Harry met Sally” and ate like a king and queen. During dinner we noticed about a million fireflies making light in the dusk.  It almost didn’t look real.  What a great way to start a vacation.

Louise cleaned up and I composed.  Tomorrow, off to ShenandoahNational Park and Great Meadows campground.  BTW, found out in the middle of the night that a heavy railroad freight line is about a quarter of a mile from the campground, with a turn, so all the wheels squeal on the rails, and they schedule all the freight at night about 20 minutes apart.  No hookups, no electricity, quiet hours from 10PM to 7AM. Sure, brings me back to my NYC Subway days.  The fireflies stopped flashing once it got dark, and the one neighbor is really quiet