Bugs, bugs, bugs. It’s cicada season as Brood II emerges from its 17-year slumber for a few riotous weeks of raucous noise- and lovemaking. It’s hard to hate a creature with such a wacky life cycle. Best to do what Sister Bear did and embrace the red-eyed monsters.
Our Memorial Day weekend at Pohick Bay Regional Park started out a bit on the chilly side but turned into a gloriously sunny, dry vacation. The park itself is located a mere 30 miles south of DC which makes it one of the closest campgrounds to our house. The campground has sites with electric at all sites for a $3/night fee and water at the RV sites. Not having a spigot at our site wasn’t a huge deal since the camping loop is small and the comfort station a very short walk. As for the tent sites, we booked late, which meant we didn’t have our pick. The sites are highly variable and the one that we got, #14, is steeply sloped in two directions which meant we ate at a listing table and slept with heads higher than feet. I wouldn’t choose this one again. Others for tenters to avoid: 17, 21, 35, 36, 39, 58. The whole campground is shady, so while we brought our canopy we didn’t need it.
Each site has both fire pit and stand alone grill. Good thing, too, since we forgot the camp stove! I had, of course, planned every meal down to the condiments and was now faced with making coffee, eggs, biscuits, soup, etc. without the stove I had finally learned to use effectively. But campers are nothing if not resourceful so we rejected the idea of going to the local sporting goods store to buy another stove and decided to try to tough it out with just charcoal and wood. We did just fine. This was fortuitously also the weekend I decided to break out the double pie iron and put it through its paces. So several of the meals were planned to be cooked over the campfire.
The campground loop surrounds a large central play area. The playground set itself isn’t anything to write home about but the large field draws everyone in for soccer, catch, picnics, and running the dogs. The girls spent a lot of time in the field with their instant new best friends. This is also where the park staff hold demonstrations. One night there was a demo of furs of nocturnal animals that are found in the area, including red fox, skunk, beaver, opossum, squirrel, raccoon. The kids loved feeling the furs and guessing what the animals eat. Later a star gazing group hosted a demo with telescopes. We all marveled at how bright Saturn appears in the scope. We were also able to see it with naked eye as a bright star.
It’s just a short walk to the Bay where there’s an active marina and a boat rental house with canoes, kayaks, and jonboats. We considered renting but were deterred by the three-person maximum on the boats. We satisfied ourselves with a spin on the other good playground set near the boat rental place. Chiara and Clio picked up some huge snail shells by the shore and Clio could not get the stink out of her hands despite liberal application of soap and water. Poor thing. Later I found out from the Mason Neck state park rangers who did the fur demo that they are “mystery snails” because naturalists are not quite sure where they came from.
Perhaps the best feature of the park for the non-boating crowd is the Pirate’s Cove water park. Campers get in for $4 each and there’s reasonably priced and even some healthy food within. Features include a jungle gym with ginormous tipping bucket, two giant water slides, and other pirate miscellany. I could easily see whiling away lots of hours under the many large umbrellas while the kids have fun. Despite the teeth-chattering temperature of the water, which significantly shortened their time in the water, the little bears claimed this was the best part of the trip. We’ll definitely plan on going back when it’s warmer.
Dinner 1: ramen plus tofu and artichokes. Not a great meal but quick for set up night.
Breakfast 2: pancakes (definitely premix the batter, brilliant!), sausages, precut fruit.
Lunch 2: egg salad (premade), PBJ, carrots, grapes, three bean salad
Dinner 2: pizza pies
Breakfast 3: biscuits, eggs, fake bacon sandwiches. Yum! Next time bring some cheese. Made the biscuits in a pot over the coals. Takes about the same time as in oven.
Lunch 3: same as Lunch 2
Dinner 3: tuna steaks, corn on the cob
Breakfast 4: rewarmed leftover biscuits in pie iron (yes!), omelets in pie iron, hash browns