Overland Expo to TBEX: Maryland, West Virginia, & Washington D.C.

By the time we exited Philadelphia, we’d been on the road for 37 days in the Overland Expo to TBEX expedition. As we slowly moved southward back towards home we could feel the trip winding down even though there were still many more places to visit and two weeks remaining.

Going into Maryland, we had the comfort of knowing we’d be camping for a few nights and not have to do the overnight hotel bounce. This eased my urban worries. Even though visiting Washington, D.C. would be part of the plan, I could rest easy knowing I’d be able to curl up in the tent at night.

Patapsco State Park…

After most of the day in Philadelphia and a short stint in Delaware to claim a quick rest area geocache smiley, we didn’t reach our campsite until late afternoon. The lush Maryland forest was so similar to Georgia that it made us feel quite at home and we were instantly at ease. So we set up camp, went out to resupply, then returned to relax in an environment that felt familiar and comfortable.

Finally, West Virginia…

So way back in our journey (like three weeks earlier…), you’ll recall we had to reroute and ditch our plans to grab our West Virginia geocache on the way to Toronto. Well, now it was time to get it or we’d miss our chance entirely and fail in our no-state-left-behind mission. So for our first day in Maryland… we went to West Virginia.

Clever geocaches are always appreciated. We had a very good laugh over the nano training series we found in West Virginia.

It was a long haul but we made it to Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, visited the park for a short time, then set about nabbing our geocaches. Truly creative geocaches are fairly rare so we were tickled by a series of “nano” training caches. For those of you out of the geocaching loop, nanos are tiny… seriously tiny geocaches and have a reputation for being a little bit annoying. This series poked great fun at them and was added a lot of fun to our very brief visit to West Virginia.

When we returned to camp that afternoon, we spent the rest of the day relaxing and playing hackey sack, triumphant in our geocaching mission. And that evening, as we were delighted by fireflies dancing about us, I realized it was the summer solstice. You can lose track of these things on the road but that realization brought me back to where we were exactly one year before… at Great Sand Dunes, and me in utter misery.

It took some effort to get back to West Virginia, but George was so excited to put the sticker on the map when we stopped in Harper’s Ferry.

Visiting the District…

Sooo… since apparently our urban adventures in Toronto, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia weren’t enough, we felt the need to do Washington, D.C. Obviously there are countless educational opportunities there and George was so young at his last visit, he doesn’t remember having been there.

And like our other urban adventures, we had to be very selective in what we took the time to visit. It was a bit of a drive from our campsite so I only allowed one day to pack in everything we could manage. With those constraints, the boys top picks were the Air & Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Lincoln Memorial. George also wanted to just see the Capital building and the White House… much like his desire to see the Statue of Liberty.

And so we set ourselves loose in D.C…

We started our day off at the Air and Space Museum…

George and a mini Hubble.

The boys loved seeing the donations at the Air and Space Museum. They were impressed people from all over the world come to visit.

We didn’t do the entirety of the National Museum of Natural History but we did spend a good deal of time in the geology section. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the only one who was giddy about the exhibit… although I may have been more excited than most.

Hands-on fun will always win over curious kids…

Like the Statue of Liberty, George simply wanted to see the Capital Building so we walked by to let him get a sense of the scale.

I consider the Lincoln Memorial a place to pause and reflect but amongst the throngs, it wasn’t meant to be. George felt better for having experienced the grandeur of the monument in person.

On a Saturday in June, the Lincoln Memorial was overwhelmingly packed but a visit to D.C. wouldn’t be complete without a visit.

George may have been a little more enthusiastic about the National Mall than my exhausted Fred.

In addition, we managed to work in a walk along the Potomac, getting stuck in D.C. traffic, and some virtual geocaches at places like the Lincoln Memorial, the Botanic Garden, and the Korean War monument. To say we were exhausted would be an understatement.

Unraveling teen…

During our stay at Patapsco, it became clear that Fred was coming unglued. He was sleeping poorly and constantly exhausted. As many of you probably now, growing teenagers require lots of sleep, lots of food, and lots of space. Food was easily remedied but the other two factors were not possible to address. His teenage body was rebelling and trying to manage another growth spurt amidst this kind of travel wasn’t working for him. He’d been a trooper for over five weeks at this point and he needed a break so it was here that I made another fairly major excursion modification and lopped and entire week off of the trip.

That meant leaving without exploring Patapsco and skipping Williamsburg, the Great Dismal Swamp, and the Outer Banks. With some consideration, I realized those destinations were close enough to home that we could take another trip to reach them later on if we decided later on that they were still important to us.

I still owed George a promised trip to a water park, however, and Fred agreed he could manage that since it was on the way home. Just knowing I was responding to his needs and making changes was enough for him be able to hold on a little longer.

And with that, we packed up camp in a drizzle on day 40 and hightailed it to Greensboro, North Carolina for the water park.

And now for your moment of green…

After long, hot, crowded day and walking many miles around the National Mall, to find this little green oasis was refreshing.

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