I have been to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY, exactly one time: as part of a familiarization trip while I was teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The only significant things I remember about that visit is how short the USMA parades were compared to Annapolis and that I met Senator John McCain at a social event. We had a short and casual discussion about the value of keeping the Naval Academy Prep School (me pro, him con, with legislative complications iirc.) So it was of interest when my research into where to stay in the Bear Mountain area of New York, per Rose’s regional priorities, lead me firmly to the Army recreation area at Round Pond, managed by West Point’s extended command structure.
Through one leg of the Chesapeak Bay Tunnel
Of course, we didn’t get there without some mild drama. We needed to break up the drive from Norfolk, and I found another Air Force Base, Dover in Delaware, roughly half way along the route. Their Family Camp is quite small, about 13 hook up sites, but with plenty of drycamping overflow. A phone call to the office just prior to our arrival revealed that the hook up section was completely full, but as we pulled through the place there was an empty spot. Turns out the previous tenant left early without checking out, so it worked out well for us, and we got another stamp in our Frequent Camper book as well.
Our site at Dover AFB’s Family Camp.
Though I had looked into routes to minimize the toll costs, I could find no realistic way that didn’t significantly increase the drive time, so we bit the bullet and just took the shortest recommendation from Google Maps. We had already spent $31 between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and the Delaware tolls. New Jersey and New York added another $47 between them! Still not as bad as our first trip through New York in 2016 where the George Washington Bridge alone cost us $82.
Heading deeper into the land of toll roads.
The timing of our West Point visit happened to fall on academy graduation week, a coincidence that might have made reservations difficult in a smaller campground, but the army has a lot of land, and they were able to fit us in. I suppose we can be thankful that this was Annapolis’ year to have the president attend, so neither traffic nor my personal opinions were overly offended. The situation reminded me of our last minute and random selection of an RV park in Indio, CA, which turned out to be the town on the outskirts of the Coachella Festival the week before said event. Then, as now, we were lucky to get a spot.
Our site at Round Pond Recreation Area near West Point.
We had miscommunicated our travel intentions with nearby Mahopac friends Star & Michael; they had already committed to plans for the weekend, so we had a couple of days to ourselves. The campground had a surprising variety of wildlife, not just birds and chipmunks, but also a family of woodchucks that visited our site on a couple of mornings.
Hard to get a size appreciation here, but looked as big as the cat, though a lot of that is probably just the thick fur.
PKM was very interested, but momma looked to be bigger than the cat and pretty tough, so we were extra careful about keeping her on her leash and monitored when outside. Which didn’t prevent her from catching one of the chipmunks, but we got her to let it go and given the speed with which it ran off, we think it survived.
PKM and I watching the wildlife.
The Bronx contingent of Rose’s extended family descended on us on day 3: Titi Mari, cousin Dwayne, and KK. They originally planned on just swinging by for a short visit and to drop off some things for Rosemarie, but the peaceful beauty of the park and the intrigue of our lifestyle kept them most of the day. We had a great time catching up and telling stories of our misspent youth.
A bit tired after near continuous visits with family and friends over the course of the last two months, and having trouble securing reservations at our next stop, we extended extending our three day stop to four. This allowed as a short day trip to Bear Mountain State Park, which was nice but the drizzle and fog limited the potentially great views.
The view from the top of Bear Mountain State Park’s observation area.
We tried to visit the West Point Museum and visitors center, but the GPS was confused as to how to navigate the base, and we even ended up blowing through a guarded check point in our confusion. It was pretty poorly marked, the guard was not visible, and we approached it from the side rather than the front, but still my fault for being distracted. Had we not turned right around and come back out there would have been some excitement. By the time we got oriented, the visitor center was closing, so all we got was a walk through the gift shop and a picture outside. Ah well, we are not museum people anyway.
Since this might be the last commissary we would see for some time we stocked up on meat and other supplies before heading east towards Rhode Island.