June 13, 2011

Luxe Life: Deacon Goes Camping (There's a First Time for Everything)

Welcome to West Virginia. Photo Courtesy of L. Streit.
Yes, we really did it - some of the more hardcore in our party called this "glamping" (but we know that that really, we'll be glamping when we head to Paws Up later this year) but Deacon's pretty darn sure ... he camped. I mean, there was a tent, there was a fire, and we had to trek to find a bathroom.

How did we get into this predicament, you ask? A group of friends planned a tubing trip, and, never one to miss an adventure, we signed on. Until we realized that "signing on" meant spending the night in a tent. Which we hadn't used since we were about eight, and even then, it only got set up in the basement. But that's beside the point.

We headed to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, just about an hour's drive from DC, and planned a full-day of tubing on both flat and white water through River Riders, a reputable tour company whose full day excursions cost about $50, slightly more if you opted for a "deluxe" tube with a headrest or chose to drag along a floating cooler for your beverages (which, naturally, we needed).

After a brief safety video and a quick overview on where we'd be picked up, we piled into good old fashioned school buses for the five-minute jaunt down to the first river.
A lovely view. (photo courtesy of L. Streit)

We came, we saw, we dominated. One of our party kindly brought Jello shots. We piled back into the buses for lunch and part two. We learned the benefit of drinking water and pacing ourselves ... we still had half a day to go. 
After a quick break for lunch and yet another safety video (River Riders has a decent, if rather slow, food stand, where you can snag lunch for under $10), we were back on the buses and headed to the second half of the day ... white water tubing. We'd been rafting before, and these rapids weren't quite as impressive, but the current was moving faster, and the river had a number of rather treacherous looking rocks that did a number on some of our friends. Don't try to swim, except in the calmer patches. 

Deacon's review? Even for a less than outdoorsy pup, this day was a great way to while away a summer Saturday with friends. But of course ... it wasn't over yet. 
Tips For a Day on the River:
  •  Avoid flip flops - try for shoes that have attachable backs (like pool shoes or gasp, Crocs and Tevas).
  • The life jacket or "Personal Flotation Device" (PFD) can handily be used to tie two tubes together on the calmer water.
  • A cooler comes in handy, and, at $8, is well worth the investment. BYO, however - rules technically state that no alcohol may be consumed ... but you'll benefit from purchasing ice and packing away a few cold ones. 
  • The first "river" takes only about a half hour - plan to pause strategically to enhance the fun. 
  • Three words: Sunscreen. Bug Spray. Bring both. Apply heavily. Reapply at midday.
  • Don't bring anything with you other than a bathing suit, shoes, and hat or glasses ... and of course, your beverages. Leave the rest in the car and you can re-stock, re-group and re-apply at midday.  
After the Party ... There's the After Party 

Welcome to Brunswick. Sadly, the campground didn't have a large sign.
Instead of driving home, we opted to spend the evening in nearby campground in Brunswick, Maryland at a friendly campsite that thankfully boasted bathrooms, showers and power hookups. The cost? $28 per tent, which we thankfully negotiated to an even lower rate.
Home, sweet home. No men required to help in this assembly. Just my trusty tent mate, Christina.

Deacon assembled our tent. Yes, we'd borrowed one. And rolled out our sleeping bag. And then we inflated our air mattress. Which was totally.worth.bringing. (and no, we weren't the only ones!) 
Entrance to the campsite, just beyond the train tracks. If you get stuck behind a train, prepare for a long wait.

We ate hot dogs cooked fireside, roasted marshmallows, and enjoyed the warm night... and, in perhaps one of the stranger circumstances we'd never seen, watched a yellow cab arrive to our site and inquire if anyone had called a cab. Whoa. We've had harder times getting a cab to our metro-centric home in Arlington. After a few hours, we retreated to our tent to slumber soundly ... until about 7 AM. 

Eschewing breakfast over an open flame, we re-packed the car and headed into nearby Brunswick to test the fare at Mommer's Diner (although we heard from friends that the notorious El Sloppy Taco was pretty delish the evening before ... it just didn't seem like breakfast food. The quaint small town diner served exactly what our group was seeking - everything from bacon and eggs, cooked to order to pancakes, french toast, biscuits dripping with gravy and ... strangely enough, one chicken fried steak, despite the 8:30 AM arrival on a Sunday morning. 

The food arrived promptly, despite our group of nearly 20, and the service was friendly and attentive. If you're expecting fancy, this won't fit the bill, but for $7.25, we enjoyed what we just might dub "the perfect post-camping breakfast." 

The best part? We were home again before 11 on Sunday morning, only to shower and discover ... that we'd lost power again. So we "camped" once more - this time in our high rise apartment. Thankfully the power came on late last night. 

Deacon's overall assessment? We just might be a more outdoorsy puppy than we thought. But we still think that our next camping trip will be greatly improved by the addition of a butler, bed and Big Sky Country in Montana. 


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