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Sunday, August 30, 2020

A.T. Hike Through Trumbo Hollow

 Sunday, August 30, 2020
Hi Blog!

After a fun week with William, we had the weekend off. Unfortunately, Saturday was a washout as Hurricane Laura passed by and dumped buckets of rain. On the bright side, Laura did pass by quickly, leaving us with a beautiful early Fall day on Sunday. We decided to take advantage of the good weather and drove up toward Front Royal, Virginia so we could hike another section of the Appalachian Trail.

Here we are at the trailhead, which is known as the Trumbo Hollow Access. Notice Dave sporting one of our new National Park Face Masks. Today's mask was Big Bend National Park.

We started our hike around 11:00 a.m. The trail was cool and shady.

It's always fun to start a hike with a bridge.

We continued along the old plank road.

Just after leaving the boardwalk we had to cross an active railroad track.

We were not the only ones on the trail. This Eastern Box Turtle was working his way south. While in the pond turtle family, and not a tortoise, the box turtle is largely terrestrial. Box turtles are slow crawlers, but as we passed by, this little guy really picked up his pace.

The one thing the Appalachian Trail is know for is rocks. Here is Dave with a few examples.

Virginia boasts a full quarter of the 2,135-mile Appalachian Trail, around 550 miles of hiking glory. The AT in Virginia features hikes leading to overlooks, waterfalls and wildernesses, as well as scenic, cultural and historical sites.

Our first scenic view was the Trumbo Hollow Overlook. The wide meadow gave us views both East and West of the trail. If you look closely, you can see tiny little hikers working their way across the field.

With summer foliage closing in, the trail was very narrow in spots. The blazes in this section are on posts next to the trail.

This was once someone's farm.  There are still sections of old fence standing.

Winter is Coming... For many, many years, legend has held that caterpillars can predict whether the coming winter will be mild or harsh. This little guy is sporting a very fluffy coat. Better get ready to hunker down for a long, cold winter... or not.

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses. Other times, you have to stop and pet the ferns.

After three miles, it was time for lunch. There is nothing better than a squished peanut butter and jelly sandwich after some hard hiking. The jelly gives you a quick sugar rush, the carbs from the bread give you energy and protein from the peanut butter helps to sooth and strengthen those aching muscles.

Our hike back was more of a meander. The day was beginning to warm up so we took our time and explored remnants of the old farm.

We didn't notice this nest on our way up the trail, but happened to see it on the way back down.

As we returned to the trailhead parking lot, we were greeted by a flock of chickens prancing on the side of the road. As soon as they saw us, they skedaddled back to their coop.  In doing so, they showed us the meaning of...

The End!

Overnight Camp Sharktooth!

My Gosh!  It's already here!  Overnight Camp Sharktooth!

On Wednesday, August 26, 2020, William joined us at our campground in Lothian, Maryland to spend three days learning what it means to RV and hike with NaiNai and YeYe.

As soon as we got to the campground, it was time to give Ruby kitten her walk.  William helped David.  No sooner did Ruby get outside than she raced over to a nearby tree and climbed right up into it, high above their heads.  David explained to William how you get a kitten out of a tree without the help of a fireman:

We got the cats settled and then headed out for our hiking adventure.  We chose to return to Glendening Nature Preserve and the Butterfly Garden.  William showed us how to hold butterflies:

In the Butterfly Garden we spotted lots of butterflies.  They did not sit still for photos, so it was difficult to take their portraits, but we caught photos of one or two of them.  Here is one of the best butterfly photos:

After the Butterfly Garden, we drove on to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, where Kathy and William demonstrated the best way to cross a bridge:

The wetland is cool.  It is called Glebe Marsh.  It is filled with water lilies and other plants.  If you look carefully, you can spot ducks and other waterbirds out there!

After checking out the Marsh Boardwalk, we followed Otter Point Trail to the Railroad Bed Trail, and turned out the Railroad Bed Trail toward the Patuxent River.  Before long, we heard the roar of helicopters and spotted this one flying overhead!

We made it to the Patuxent River, where William checked the GPS to determine where we were:

On the way back Railroad Bed Trail, we stopped at one of the wildlife observation blinds, and William used it to spy on great white egrets in the nearby trees:

That was an exhausting hike.  Returning to the campground, we rested outside the RV with little Ruby kitten, who entertained us with her antics:

We watched a movie that night, and all of us slept in the RV.  We woke up bright and early on Thursday, and William helped us move the RV from its campground in Maryland to a new campground at Bull Run Regional Park in Virginia.  William had the most important job:  he was in charge of the checklist, and he watched Kathy and David like a hawk to make sure that we completed each step to pack up the RV to leave camp.

We arrived at Bull Run Regional Park after a drive of only a little over an hour.  It took an hour or two to get set up in our new campsite, but we were equal to the task!

Before long, it was time to put up the tent for sleeping under the stars.  Kathy and William were the tent engineers, and we think they did a fine job:

All work gets its reward, and William, that hard worker, got his.  Here he is, roasting his first marshmallow of the evening over the campfire:

No marshmallows are complete without the full S'More makings!  William and Kathy look like they especially enjoyed the chocolate:

There is no doubt that William has Rug Rat Camping genes.  He roasted the most perfect, golden-brown marshmallows we have ever seen, just about as perfect as Gugu Katie's.  Hers are always the most golden brown when she roasts them.

Our second night at Overnight Camp Sharktooth boasted a second movie.  Here, William cuddled in his sleeping bag watching the movie, while that blur coming into the photo from the right -- Ruby kitten -- leapt onto William's tummy to get a reaction.  Ruby loves movie night!

William, Kathy and David all slept in the tent on the second night, and we all slept very well.  The crickets were very loud, but we were so tired that we fell asleep right away.  Before we knew it, the morning light was coming into the tent.

We woke up, got dressed and, after breakfast and morning chores, we headed out on a scooter (for William) and bike ride (for Kathy and David), doing several loops around the campground.  As we set out, William spotted two balloons lying on the ground.  We saved them and took them home to the cats.  Ruby especially loved to bite the knotted end of the balloon and try to drag it around the RV.

On our earlier coffee walk, Kathy and William tried out the campground swings.  It looks like the swings worked perfectly:

Returning to our scooter and bike adventure, we found part of the campground road with a yellow center line, and all of us practiced running along the line without falling off.  There is no doubt that William was the best line-runner:

It was our third day at Overnight Camp Sharktooth, and we had some spare time, so we played some games.  We played one game of "Ticket to Ride" and three games of "Potato Pirates."  But the most exciting game was "Pass the Pigs."  William won the deciding game.  But, alas, no one got a Leaning Jowler.  NaiNai oinked out and William scored some great Razorbacks!  YeYe was concentrating on some mysterious thing in the background.  It looks like YeYe wasn't too happy with whatever he was doing.  But that's all right; YeYe bounced back and we all had a great time.

During Overnight Camp Sharktooth, William could earn Campbucks doing various camp chores.  He did lots of amazing things, such as making a pancake breakfast, helping haul trash, and other very useful work.  Overall, he earned $12!  He found a camp fan and some Oreos to purchase with part of his earnings; but he saved about $5 to spend at some later date.  He put his $5 into the RV bank and made a credit card to record his bank balance:

I'm sorry, you can't see William's bank balance.  His credit card is protected by a password, and it cannot be seen except by someone who knows the password.  So only William (the customer) and YeYe (the banker) know what the exact balance is in The Bank of Areveing.

Save wisely, my friends.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Hiking the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is located within the tidal reaches of the Patuxent River in Maryland southeast of Washington, D.C. It was established in 1985 and is operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. The Sanctuary protects about 1,700 acres of unique tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the Patuxent River. This protected land provides a safe haven for a high diversity of plants, insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and microbes, and to rich native american cultural resources.  The sanctuary is recognized as a Nationally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society. Jug Bay is located within the Atlantic Flyway and is a haven for more than 100 species of birds, including native and migratory waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors.

Most beneficially for us, the sanctuary is located only 2 miles from our campground, which made it easy for us to get out early and enjoy an almost-5 mile hike before it got too hot on this sunny Sunday.

The sanctuary boasts several short hiking trails which can be strung together into a longer dayhike.  We started with the Marsh Boardwalk, a very thoughtfully constructed boardwalk along the margins of Glebe Marsh, part of the Jug Bay wetland system.  Our approach through the woods was pleasant and gave us a view of the low forest flora near the wetlands:

Eventually, the boardwalk burst out onto the marsh and turned along the margin toward the Patuxent River:

Looking down, we realized we were seeing the first leaves of Autumn -- already!

From the Marsh Boardwalk, we climbed some quirky wooden stairs back up to the level of the main hiking trails --

-- and turned onto the Otter Point Trail, where we soon spotted a wide variety of interesting mushrooms:

We soon reached the Railroad Bed Trail leading out to the Patuxent River itself, and detoured to see what an observation blind offered.  We weren't disappointed.  We spotted these snowy egrets or herons perched in nearby trees:

Our path out to the observation blind was via a boardwalk that was as straight as the railroad bed itself:

Soon, we reached the Patuxent River and spotted the site of what was probably a Colonial plantation on the western shore:

We gazed for a while at the river, watching two kayakers paddle by and imagining ourselves out on the water.  We even spotted Jackson Landing across the river where we had hiked a week or two ago.  We had hoped to paddle Jug Bay from Jackson Landing, but it appears that we have run out of time here on the Maryland Eastern Shore, so we may have to put that aside until a future visit.

We returned along the Railroad Bed Trail, turning back onto the Otter Point Trail, and soon came to another observation platform known as the "Swamp Blind."  Kathy inspected the blind from the water side --

-- and we turned out to look at the swamp and Jug Bay itself:

Further down the main trail, we reached Otter Point, which was a natural spot for lunch.  A young couple and their toddler lunched at a picnic table a respectfully social distance away from us.  We wished them a good hike as we worked our way onward, back up Two Run Trail toward the Visitor Center where we had started.

Kathy spotted a huge old growth tree, that David had an irresistible urge to hug.  And so he did:

...And, again, more interesting mushrooms in the humid, shaded forest along Old Beaver Pond, an arm of Jug Bay -- both coppery colored --

-- and copper-green:

The final leg our our hike followed Two Run Trail, Middle Trail and Forest Trail back to our parking lot.  By the time we returned to our trailhead, the number of cars had more than doubled from the number when we originally arrived.  Most of the hikers were families with young children, or older couples such as ourselves.  Because the sanctuary is in a thinly populated section of Anne Arundel County, some distance from metropolitan Washington, D.C., the crowds were bearable.  We were pleased to see that almost everyone sported face masks and respected other people's distance on the trail.

This may have been our parting outing near Lothian, Maryland, because we will move this Wednesday back to Bull Run Regional Park.  Sir William will be helping us move, so we're sure you'll see a blog entry about that adventure.  Stay healthy, my friends.