It was a pleasant 84 mile drive to Fort Meade, MD from Falling Waters, WV. We were in Maryland almost as soon as we left and it was mostly interstate highway until about 20 miles from Fort Meade. Fort Meade is the home of the National Security Agency and we had to go through the truck entrance and inspection lanes upon entering the base. When we arrived at Camp Meade RV Park, we had to wait on the current occupants of our site to leave and then we made short work of getting set up. We have a very large, 50 amp full hookup, pull-through site with a concrete pad and patio area. Verizon is not great but OK and the satellite was pretty easy to sight in. This is probably the nicest FamCamp we have been in including the one in Tucson, AZ which wins the best FamCamp west of the Mississippi every year. If they would only get their act together with their WiFi it would really be great.
Monday we went driving around to see how easy it would be to access DC from here and found the Maryland train terminal just outside the gate, while very convenient, was impossible to use as there is no parking spaces after about 7:00 a.m. We then headed for the closest DC Metro station (College Park) to see how bad that would be and found it to be only about 20 minutes away in tolerable traffic. That would be the same station accessed from Cherry Hill RV park. We found that station to be close enough and we loved our current campsite so much that we cancelled our reservations for Cherry Hill and extended out stay here at Camp Meade for another week instead. It will be almost as convenient as Cherry Hill and will save a substantial amount of campground fees, almost enough to finance all of our tours and attractions we will see while here.
Tuesday we went into the southwestern side of DC to see the Great Falls area of the Potomac River. On the way we had to traverse the infamous DC I-495 beltway. It was as bad as advertised, especially between the I-95 and I-270 intersections as the traffic was stop and go for about 12 miles, consuming over 40 minutes for that short section. We finally made it to the falls and they were some of the prettiest falls we have seen. Remember we have seen Niagara and a bunch of others as well. After that we went across the river to the C & O Canal Historic Site. They have a working lock their and we had planned to ride the boat through the locks pulled by the mules like they did in the mid 19th century. But, alas, they don't run the boats or mules on Monday and Tuesday so we didn't get to experience that adventure. We then went to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
at Dulles Airport which is part of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. It is free like many of the Smithsonian Museums but they charge you $15 to park - ouch!!! The museum is in a large hangar and is very well done, with many aircraft that are unique or have some historical significance such as the B-29Enola Gay
and the French SST airliner. The space shuttle discovery is also on display there. After about two hours of walking on the concrete, we had had about all we could handle so came on back to camp, finding the trip back to be a much faster ride but also noticing the same section was still stop and go in the westbound direction.
Wednesday was a catchup day and we went to the commissary to stock back up a bit and each of us also managed to get a haircut at the PX. We now have food and look good too!!!
Thursday we headed for Annapolis, MD, the capital of Maryland and also the capital of the US for a short period after the Revolutionary War. Annapolis is also the home of the US Naval Academy and we wanted to visit it as well and that is where we started. We were able to actually drive onto the academy since we have our DOD sticker and that enabled us to drive around the whole campus though there isn't really a lot to see but some very large buildings, especially since they had already held graduation and there were little to no cadets on campus. It is a very nice campus though and we spent a good deal of time in the USNA Museum gathering the history of the USNA graduates as part of our military successes throughout the Navy's existence. Most prominent Naval historical leaders have been graduates of the Academy. My experience in my 22 years in the Navy also lead credence to that as the academy trained officers seemed to make much better leaders than most of those that hadn't attended the academy.
We next parked Libby at one of the four main parking garages and rode the free Circulator trolley to explore the small town itself. It is very commercialized and reminded us a lot of St. Augustine with the quaint stores and lots of them. We had a nice late-lunch at one of the taverns and returned to the Mothership. The opposing traffic was backed up for several miles as we left and we were grateful we were not caught in it!!
Saturday we made a dry run into the National Mall just to make sure we knew what was required to get from here to there on the DC Metro and to buy our Smartcards and learn how to use them - BAD IDEA! It appears that yesterday was some kind of city wide Girl Scout day to Rock the Mall and there were a million girls running around the mall and clogging the Metro. A million may be exaggerating a bit as there were really only 989,562! It turned out to be pretty effortless (except for the monster crowds at the Smithsonian station) and much like Boston a couple of years ago.
Today (Sunday) we are going over to our daughter, Misty, and her husband's (Gary) house to spend a little time with them before Doris and Misty attend a Christian concert tonight and then we will bring Misty back to stay with us until next Saturday as we visit the sights of DC. I will post again next Saturday before we leave Ft. Meade.