Camping’s biggest challenge — packing

We are headed to Assateague Island National Seashore for a weekend of camping with the horses. I’m so excited; I made these reservations back in January. However, I am a bit nervous. I’ve been warned that there’s no supermarket on the island. And I have a tendency to be a forgetful packer.

The roughest part about camping, in my opinion, isn’t sleeping on the the ground or having to cook over and open flame. It’s remembering all your equipment. So, I’ve assembled a master list of things to bring. What else should I add?

  • Equipment:
    sleeping bags and pads
    pillows (often forget)
    Flashlight, lantern, or headlamp
    duct tape
    ground tarp (forgot this last time)
  • Cooking supplies:
    frying pan
    olive oil (in a plastic bottle)
    salt and pepper (also in mini containers)
    coffee mugs
    plates and bowls
    chopping knife
    cutting board
    bottle opener (for beer of course)
    dish rag and sponge
    dishwashing detergent
    trash bag
    Bottled water
    (and food, of course)
  • Cooking equipment;
    burner and kerosene
    cooler and icepacks

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DC Fringes: Travel links round-up

I’ve been accumulating links for the past two weeks. Here’s a round-up from the DC media of interesting — and easy on the wallet– things to do this summer.

  • Washington Post: Weekend trip to Lynchburg. The Post profiles this quirky Virginia town as a “perfect place to while away a long weekend.”  There’s even the “hipster” Craddock Terry Hotel, which is housed in a converted shoe factory and contains a brewery. I’m sold.
  • 100 free things in DC — Like many of these “top 100” or “50 best” lists, this one contains many obvious suggestions. (really, the Smithsonian is free?)  However, I really enjoyed the first section, which detailed how to obtain free or heavily discounted tickets to cultural events.
  • Outdoor movies — While Screen on the Green may be history, the DC legacy of outdoor movies lives on. One highlight is the  NoMa (North of Massachusetts Ave.) showing of music documentaries. Check out it’s lineup here.

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Gravity Hill Caught on Video

A few weeks ago for our post on gravity hills (stretches of land that appear to lead uphill, when they actually on a decline), I couldn’t find a decent YouTube video to illustrate the phenomenon. So over Memorial Day weekend, I filmed one myself in Bedford County, Pa.

Here’s the very short video:

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Destination: PA’s wet and (not so) wild Ohiopyle

Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, has a lot of water. It’s most famous attractions are Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, a weekend get-away/mansion perched on top of a creek, and the rapids of the Youghiogheny (pronounced – “yock-i-gay-nee”) River (below).

Waterfall overlook

We skipped the rapids. The class V rapid trip that our friends signed up for cost $140 each, not suiting our cheapskate travel budget or my fear of tumbling out of the raft and bashing my head on a rock. However, trips on the milder sections of the river run about $50 a person.


Instead, we hit up the other watery attraction: Fallingwater.  The famous home was supposed to be a weekend retreat for the Kaufmann family of the Kaufmann department stores (now Macy’s). But Frank Lloyd Wright created a mansion of stone floors, cantilevered balconies and picture windows. Wright designed the home in 1935, but it still looks modern. The structure itself, hasn’t fared so well; the Pennsylvania Conservancy had to make major repairs to the foundation of the home.  I’m a sucker for architecture and loved Fallingwater. It was worth dealing with the crowds and having to order our tickets online (and pay the $2 surcharge). When we arrived for our noon tour, the day was entirely sold out.


Also in the area, is the tiny town of Ohiopyle (pop. 77). The one-street village is entirely whitewater rafting outfitters and restaurants.  There is one bar, with not a single woman in it.

Fox’s Pizza Den: When we arrived in Ohiopyle, we were starving. And pizza seemed just right. This local chain sits at the corner of town and serves up a delicious Philly Cheese steak pizza. It also has on the menu a local creation, the wedgie. Wedgies are a sandwich served on a pizza crust instead of a bun.

House Cafe: I want to say only nice things about this restaurant, but I can’t. Sure, the setting, an old home with front porch and patio seating, was cute. The staff were friendly. But the food was over priced (almost $9 for a skimpy chicken salad sandwich) and the service horribly, horribly slow. Our lunch lasted a more than leisurely 2.5 hours.

Christian W. Klay Winery: Although buying beer in Ohiopyle requires an afternoon and a half tank of gas, purchasing a bottle of wine is not nearly so complicated. There’s winery ten minutes outside of town, located in a restored barn.  The decoration is cheesy, but the back porch is nestled in pretty rolling hills. Had it not been pouring when we visited, it would have been an excellent spot to sit and drink a bottle.

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Destination: Frustrated with PA’s baffling beer laws

I just returned from a weekend in Pennsylvania.  More memorable than the rolling mountains, green forests or gushing rivers were the state’s convoluted liquor laws.

Before this trip, I assumed that a state famous for its craft brew (home to both the Troegs and Victory breweries) would have a plentiful selection of beer — and maybe even a few things we couldn’t get back in DC. Instead, we found ourselves driving from convenient store to gas station to supermarket and emerging from all empty-handed.

Finally, we got to a small shop in the center of Ohiopyle. The owner was used to tourists from the surrounding states being baffled by PA’s dry mini-marts.  When I asked her where we could find beer, she replied with a question I’ve never been asked before: “Exactly how much beer are you looking for?” I shrugged, and she laid out our options:

a) Purchase a six pack from a nearby bar with an “off-license.” However, you will be charges the same rate for the carryout drinks as you would pay to sit at bar and drink them.

b) Drive to the other side of the mountain and buy an entire case from a beer distributor.

With time to kill, we went with choice (b)  The distributor turned out to be a garage with a walk-in freezer attached to someone’s house. It was $31 for 24 bottles of Sierra Nevada, a decent price by DC standards. I know what I’ll be drinking for the next month.

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Of videos and contest entries, part 2

We’re Out of Here blogger, Emily, entered Delmarva Beach’s contest, Host Our Coast, for a chance to spend the summer as the resort area’s official blogger.  Entries are up online now, and she need votes.  Go here and vote for her.  It only takes second and you don’t have to sign up for any mailing lists.  Thanks!  Happy Memorial Day.

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Break out the tent, it’s Memorial Day weekend

As of Monday, summer is here. It’s the official start of flip flops, white and my yearly scramble to fit all my travel plans in a few months. I’m beginning this season with a holiday weekend camping trip to Pennsylvania, my first this year because the rain ruined my attempt in Asheville (see here).  My friend from high school who organized the trip, picked Ohiopyle State Park. The place is known for its rafting, but I’m a cheapskate and plan to skip that part of the trip.

Here’s what I plan to see instead:

Here’s the links: Fallingwater, Gravity Hill, whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle.

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