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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


February 11, 2013

Escapes Within Easy Reach Part 2

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Last week’s column focused on the motives for a serious case of wanderlust. It isn't hard to satisfy those cravings; it isn't really expensive and you don't have to go far.

 

Right here in Frederick County we have excellent facilities for experiencing the fullness of nature. Two state park campgrounds, Cunningham Falls and Greenbrier, put you in the thick of the woods and mountains. Both have large mountain lakes with swimming and picnic facilities.

 

If you fear sharing restroom and shower facilities with strangers, don't. The camp hosts, who maintain the bath houses, keep an incredibly clean "house." I've never felt the least bit uncomfortable in any of these places.

 

There are a number of really good campgrounds in and around Frederick County offering a wide array of amenities. Some are public, like Brunswick's Campground along the Potomac River, and others are private, like the Irons' family-owned Old Mink Farm resort outside of Thurmont.

 

The primary difference is amenities. Public campgrounds focus on the basics, while the private facilities add significant amenities for their visitors.

 

The motorhome acquisition adds a new dynamic, though. No more bundling up towels, soap, shampoo and clean clothes and dashing to the bath house. No more late night flash-lit walks through the woods to the restroom.

 

While the shower and toilet in the camper is small (I'm talking too small to change your mind small), it's ours. No waiting in lines and all your stuff is right there.

 

This concept of stuff, and access to it, becomes increasingly important as we advance in age. Comedian George Carlin had a great bit he used to do about the importance of our stuff, and now at 54, I finally understand.

 

You see, I want to experience Mother Nature and all she offers. I just want to do it in a way that lets me stay warm in the dead of winter and cool in the heat of summer. I want to use the facilities when I want, I want a cold beverage, and it's amazing how important access to electrical outlets has become.

 

The way this works now is that we plan our trip, where we'd like to go, how long we have get there, see what we want, and then return.

 

We make a list (actually, the list is already made up, we use it as a recurring checklist) of what supplies, food and other stuff we need. We stock the pantry, fridge and freezer with the food we need. We already have card and board games aboard, there's even a TV installed. It's never been used, seems there's always something on the outside to see that's better than whatever is on television.

 

There's a large drop-down awning that effectively doubles the living space by adding a well-protected outside patio. In spite of the three burner range and gas stove inside, we'd almost always rather cook outside under the awning.

 

The last step is to carry out clothes. Since it's mere steps from the front door to the camper, clothes go out right on the hangar, transitioning easily from bedroom closet to camper wardrobe.

 

While this is obviously easier and more convenient than bags of clothes inside a tent, there is something to be said for the purity and immediacy of pitching a tent, unrolling a bed roll, and looking up through a screened roof to see the stars.

 

Until it starts to rain, that is.

 

The motorhome is a major expense. You have to know that you're going to use it, otherwise its stands like a stark reminder of the money you spent and the plans you've neglected to make.

 

A tent, air mattresses and all of the paraphernalia of outdoor living is less than the cost of one weekend in a hotel in Ocean City.

 

Speaking of that idea, this is the final case to be made for a more nomadic vacation lifestyle. Visiting the beach is a favored past time of many. The warm sun, the chance to frolic in the waves, the smells and sounds of the boardwalk and the chance to read a great book with toes buried deep in sand draw us to the tens of thousands of high-rise and motor hotel rooms that line the beach.

 

Mere miles south, the dunes of Assateague Island hold similar appeal to the beach campers, less the traffic, crowds and noise of the more populous beaches above the Inlet.

 

Sure, these native beaches are lacking lifeguards. It makes one pay more attention to kids, which is what we ought to be doing anyway. Instead of the obnoxiously drunk under the nearby umbrella, or the blaring boom box thundering the latest Snoop Dogg rap tune, your only neighbor on Assateague might be a wild pony or curious shorebird.

 

So, give in to your inner wanderer. I'll loan you the camping gear, along with instructions on how to put up the tent!

 



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