Sunday, August 12, 2012

Perseid Bust

With the Perseid Meteor Shower around the corner we decided to take the girls to the only dark sky in Maryland for camping and (hopefully) a celestial show. Oh, there isn't any dark sky in Maryland, so we had to go to West Virginia.

Originally we thought we'd go camping, but C43 found a place with cabins on Monongahela National Forest. So he called up, got us in for one night, and we drove up. On the way up we called in to get the code so we could get through the gate and into the Middle Mountain Cabins.

Middle Mountain Cabins sign with girls 1

Except that the National Forest Service is closed on weekends. So, despite getting a code (that didn't work) from the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, we couldn't get through the gate to the campsite. So we parked the car in front of the gate, and walked down the lane to the cabins. You can just see the gate blocking the car here.

Middle Mountain Cabins sign

And this is the main cabin (there were two others) and the fun water pump. 

The main cabin and pump

We couldn't get the lock on the door open, but we pulled a screen off a window and the window was unlocked ... so in I went. C43 & I had both thought about bringing the tent just in case, but neither of us did. I physically took the tent OUT of the car. Not the brightest thing I've ever done.

I didn't take a picture, but there was also a vault toilet. That is a fancy name for an outhouse. Nobody actually LIKES outhouses, but C7 was physically scared of that thing, thinking she could fall down it. Luckily there was a railing next to the seat so she could hang on while using the toilet. 

Instead of going for a hike, we bummed around the camp, hoping a forest ranger would come by and let us in, and because the girls were having fun. There was a little pond and path right by the house to explore.

In the ferns Q6 crossing the bridge
The pond, the cabin, and my reflection

We saw wildflowers and wild mushrooms!
Native plant 2 Native plant 1

Mushroom Toadstool

We found sticks on which to roast marshmallows so we could make s'mores.

Finding smores sticks

One of the draws to this place was the gas stove in the cabin and the pre-cut wood outside, and the ready made fire pit. Cooking was going to be easy. Despite the fact that the wood was already chopped, it needed a little more chopping to get some kindling. C43 chopped, and we watched.

Chopping wood

We got the fire going and made dinner  (Hot dogs! Baked beans! Mac n' cheese!) and finally it was time for s'mores. C43 had initially bought Jet-Puffed JUMBO marshmallows, but although my inner sweet tooth craved those monster-mallows I'd luckily been at a backyard fire where somebody had brought them to roast ... and know what? They are too big. The inside doesn't melt when the outside is at toasty perfection. So sad. So C43 went back to the store and got regular sized marshmallows before we left. Phew. C7 had a ton of s'mores. I like a deconstructed s'mores, myself, so I ate the marshmallows and chocolate,  Q6 had a s'more, and lots of marshmallows. C43 is beyond s'mores.

After we were sick with s'mores we sat around the fire and we read The Hobbit to the girls. Q6 took  a turn reading, too, although C7 didn't like that at all. Q6 saw the first shooting star of the night (it must have been a stray!)


Eventually it got dark, and we decided to go to bed and wake up later (around 1:00) to see the meteor shower. Q6 and C32 were planning on spending the night on the porch, and C7 decided she would too. See the screen window behind them?

Porch and Window screen

 Eventually C7 thought she was too cold and came inside and slept on the bunk beds, while C43 and Q6 stayed outside. Until a mouse ran over C43's arm. Ick! So C47 slid Q6 in through the window, and climbed in after her, and headed over our bed. But we both had a hard time sleeping (um, mostly C43) thinking that in the middle of the night a forest ranger was going to come by and bang on the door and demand we get out, even though we had actually reserved the space. This was good, in some respects, because along came midnight and nibble nibble the mice headed to the table and the granola bar box. C43 got up, waved the mouse away and hung the food up on the hooks above our heads. The forest service had warned us that we needed to protect our food from bears and mice!

At that point C43 was a lost cause, sleeping wise. So he climbed out the window to see how the sky was. Clouds had rolled in, and fog. Bugger. But he sat by the remains of the fire and read for a while until the night sounds creeped him out too much and he came back to the porch and then inside. I think he slept 2-3 hours tops that night.

The girls were disappointed that we'd missed the Perseids. Me, too. We had breakfast (The girls had cereal, C43 a granola bar, but I roasted another hot dog!) and then packed up and drove off to take a little mini hike at Spruce Knob.

When we were packing I told both girls to bring long pants (jeans) and a warm sweater. How that was interpreted was not the best, and C7 didn't bring long pants at all, and her sweater was a 3/4 sleeve shrug. Q6 brought footie pjs and a bathrobe. So, the girls (and I) were cold at Spruce Knob, so they were wearing blankies and bathrobes, and I had my fleece and C43's sweatshirt.

Q6 and C7

Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia. The view from up there was fantastic.


The view  Another view

And we took lots of photos up there of us up there

Highest Pt in WV E & C

E and the girls

3 girls 

After coming down from the mountain we stopped at Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, which included a stop to "pet" the fox behind the glass.

E & Q6 Petting the fox

So, in short, no shooting stars but we had fun anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I saw on Facebook that you went to middle mountain cabins in WV. Did you go in the 2 smaller cabins at all? Do they have mattresses on the beds? Anything else good or bad you would comment on . Any information you could give would be appreciated. Rob - Columbus, Ohio