We left Shenandoah National Park a day early in order to catch Hans, a shipmate from my time on USS Carney, and his wife Rachel before he headed out of town on business. Since he is now residing in Burke, VA, which is just a bit west of D.C., this placed him right on our path to our next destination, Annapolis. After a bit of quick research using the Big Meadows Lodge’s WiFi, we found a Moose Lodge in Fairfax, just up the road from Burke. There were few other options in the way of legit RV campgrounds in the area that could accommodate a rig our size, so after a call to the Moose to confirm we could overnight camp behind their building, we headed up the Sky Line drive the 22 miles to Thornton Gap, the next park exit point.
In addition to another exciting drive through twisting mountain roads with periodic fog, the trip also entailed going through the Mary’s Rock Tunnel, which has a height restriction of 12’8″. I was quite confident we were under this limit, but we pulled over at that stop just south of the tunnel to climb atop Serenity and verify that the 12’3″ height listed in our manual was accurate. They seem to put a bit of slop in that measurement; I found our highest point to be a closer to 12′ even.
We continued through to the pass and then east down the mountain range towards D.C., arriving at the Centreville Moose Lodge in the mid afternoon, and set up camp in their nearly empty back lot, save for one other long parked RV. We stepped in for a drink or two and to socialize, making sure the bartenders and patrons knew we were members and that it was our rig parked out back, rather than a portable meth lab.
Once evening rolled around we headed over to Hans and Rachel’s house for dinner, to meet their kids, and catch up on everything. Many sea stories were (re)told, much wine was drunk, and we were entertained by the imagination of their children, Josiah, Annika, and William, particularly Annika’s personally created and fully realized manga-style graphic novels. The problem with visiting friends that are still employed is that they have this annoying interference with their lives called “work.” In deference to that, we made it an early night and headed back to our home for our one night stay.
The next morning it was on to Annapolis. We had attempted to secure a site at the small Navy owned campground just across the Severn River from the Naval Academy, but they could only accommodate us for three of the four nights we needed. Since it was the latter three, we needed another one night spot nearby, and bit of research revealed that the Annapolis Moose Lodge was one of the rare one’s with official RV parking including electrical hookups. Our call to them confirmed the situation, so we were pretty pleased with the way things were turning out.
Unfortunately, the official RV parking sots with electrical hook ups were almost impossibly positioned in the grass area hemmed in between trees and a hedge line, and the one readily accessible spot was already taken. We gave it a go, spending about an hour carefully backing and filling to work our way in, only to find that we could not reach the electrical connection without completely overrunning a group of landscaping bushes. Frustrated, we worked out way out and back to the parking lot, and got permission to drycamp there for one night before moving on to a real site at the Naval Academy.
During our four day stay we managed to continue our USS Carney mini-reunion, meeting up with the Hoffmans and Robertsons at Davis’, a great little restaurant grill just a couple of walking blocks from Derek and Sarah’s. Since we were in Maryland, we had the mandatory crab cakes, improved from their already great condition by the addition of a local craft IPA. Lubricated by such fare, the sea stories, ranging from exaggerated to purely apocryphal, flowed like rivers of B.S. combining with our tears of laughter. Having been five years since we had seen them, it was fantastic to catch up with them and the four fantastic kids, Max, Charlie, Holly, and Sean.
Later that week we were able to meet up with Derek and Sarah again, attending a cub scout meeting for which Derek is, masochistically, the Troop Leader. I was introduced as the guest judge for a rain gutter boat race contest. We very much look forward to seeing Chris and Krissy again, in Annapolis or wherever they end up next, and visiting the Robertsons in Dublin following their impending move there.
Beyond the visit with friends, Annapolis was all about dining out, something we try to limit in most of our towns, but this one called for a bit of splurging. So in addition to our meal at Davis’ we also had a set of drinks at Pussars Dockside Bar and a great happy hour dinner at the very hip Preserve, the highlight of which was the Sangria and a fantastic hot goat cheese and garlic bowl with soft bread. Budget-wise we knew the three outings in four days would require us to crank down a bit during out next few stops, but since we planned to be in a state park in Delaware and a Navy campground in New Jersey, we were confident that the temptation would be significantly reduced.
Thus we left Annapolis and Maryland, heading 80 miles south east to or next destination.