As I looked at the maps for the third day, we were going to be biking near various battlefields and other tourist-type places to visit, and so in the interest of resting a little, I decided we should drive for a ways and then maybe bike in the afternoon.

We drove from Williamsport to Antietam National Battlefield. In Antietam, we walked along a road reading various plaques and looking at the cornfield where a significant battle took place 140 years ago.  We also went to the visitors' center and examined a number of cannons and also checked out a construction project for a new sidewalk.

Once we arrived in Harpers Ferry, WV (and the road goes through Virginia for less than a mile, so three states for today), we decided that we wouldn't bike at all that day, and just take some more time to look at some more things  We stopped by a "Tourist Info" center, and I asked them if they had any ideas of things to do with my famiy, and I told them where we were headed for the evening, and they couldn't really think of anything to do.  They asked if we had seen the towpath, and said that probably we should go back to Maryland if we wanted to see anything.  I thought that seemed odd, since I had heard of Harpers Ferry, and presumably there were things to do there.

We drove across the street to a National Park Visitors' Center, and they happily took some money for a shuttle ride to downtown and gave us some suggestions of things to do while we were there.  They gave the boys some Junior Ranger activity books and the boys happily started filling them out as we thought about where to spend our time.   I am not quite sure what the Tourist Information center is there for, if they are not aware of everything you can do at Harpers Ferry National Park - maybe they thought we wouldn't want to walk around, but I specifically asked if there was a place that we could eat lunch by a river, and they didn't think there was.

We ate lunch on the banks of the Shenandoah River, and though there wasn't much shade, it was a nice place.  Jonathan went to investigate the river, and promptly fell in with his clothes on and we hadn't brought any extra clothes with us. I suggested that the boys swim in their underwear, and Jonathan's clothes were mostly dry by the time we left.  We missed the walking tours we were hoping to go on.  We stopped by the Information Center so Jonathan could get a question answered for his activity book, and received some more advice about things that would be interesting for us to do.

We went to the armory (which I had asked if it was just an old field and was assured that it wasn't, and there were all sorts of weapons to look at and touch, etc).  I'm not sure if the info center guy has ever been to the armory.  It is a field with lines on it where the armory buildings used to be.  There are a handful of displays, and a trigger of a gun that you can touch.  One other display had some things that had been found in an archeological dig, so you could look at an old comb, a knife and other boring things.  We were really hot, and the only water available was so hot that another tourist said he'd wait rather than drink the "tea" water.

We walked through the Meriwether Lewis building that had some interesting things to read about the beginning of the famous trip of Lewis and Clark - Lewis stayed in Harpers Ferry for a while gathering supplies and working on some collapsible boat models.

We then headed to the John Brown building, and found a "free ice pops for kids" ice cream place, and spent $10 for Heather and I to get an ice cream and sherbet/soda drink.  But, we were significantly cooled down by the ice.

We stayed at the John Brown museum for the rest of the day - there were various videos that were supposed to play every 15 minutes or something, but I think because it was so late, they stopped playing.  But, we read various things about him and then stayed in the air conditioning finishing the Junior Ranger books.  It turns out no one knew we were there, and the ranger was surprised when he discovered us and said that the building had closed a while ago, and we should leave.

We went back outside to finish the books, and then discovered that the Visitors' Center was also closed, and so the boys couldn't get their badges or whatever for finishing the books.  The shuttle driver said that she thought we could contact them via their web page and they would mail us the prizes.

If it hadn't been so hot, we would have spent more time in Harpers Ferry - there are a lot of things to see there that are probably better in colder weather.

Then we drove to our planned campground, which was a walk-in campsite, but we thought we could manage the third of a mile walk with our stuff.  On the way, we stopped at a grocery store (today had been our planned laundry and shopping day, but Heather did the wash in the hotel) to buy some fresh food for aluminum foil packet dinners.   We didn't bring a cooler on this trip at all, and so planned our food and milk purchases carefully.  I told the kids about Grampa Daley's theory about buying ice cream while camping - you have to buy a half gallon, and since it won't keep, the only thing to do is to eat the whole thing.  I ended up buying Italian ices instead.

We arrived at the campground, and I walked in to make sure there was room (the C&O camping rules say that if there is already a person at the campsite, then you have to go to the next one).  This campsite turned out to be a really huge site - probably three sites there or so, and the family was there was happy to have us stay, "as long as you don't make fun of us for bringing so much equipment".  They lived somewhat near DC and were planning on biking a couple miles each day for two days or so.  They also had a boat and motored around on the river in the morning.  As was becoming our habit, we arrived pretty close to dark, so we tried to setup our tent quickly, and get the fire going, since we weren't going to eat until the fire was ready.  I brought a half bag of charcoal, which turned out to be really good, because while there was some wood around the campsite, there wasn't anywhere you could buy wood, so it was quite helpful.

A fox was interested in our dinner and came pretty close to us, and would only go a little ways off when I went after him.  On his third time visiting the site, I took a big log and threw it at him, and that scared him off until the middle of the night.  It was really hot, and the sweat poured off of us as we lay on our sleeping bags.  The campground is also pretty close to Dulles airport and there were lots of planes flying overhead.  But, I finally did get to sleep, because during the night, I suddenly awoke with something walking on the tent wall (squishing the tent wall onto my leg).  I foggily realized it was some sort of animal, and so I yelled and kicked it through the tent wall and he went about six feet away.  Once I got out of the tent, he was gone, but I brought another log near the tent so I could throw it at him if he came back.  It was really hard to get back to sleep after that.

Statistics for the third day:
0 miles biked (other than a couple trips to and from the car)
  $6 for the shuttle to Harpers Ferry (I think you might be able to park in downtown and skip the visitors center entirely)
  $23 for dinner and Italian ice
  $30 for gas
  $3 for gatorade (we used up all of our 5 gallon gatorade powder in the first two days, and were trying to find some different flavors that tasted good, since we were kind of tired of lemon-lime and plain water)

Posted by Jon Daley on August 20, 2010, 5:25 pm | Read 2304 times
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