|2012 07 – Rob Anna and Nolan camping trip Highpoints of PA MD VA|
Highpoints trip and camping with the Kids June 5-7, 2012
Rob Runkle, Anna Runkle, Nolan Runkle
In my 50 state highpoints pursuit, I still had a couple of highpoints remaining that were within a reasonable driving distance. Two of those highpoint was the highpoint of Pennsylvania, and the highpoint of West Virginia. A drive to get these highpoints would be about 6-7 hours each way, and about 2-3 hours in between. I had considered making a weekend trip to grab these points for a while now. As I pondered the idea again, I decided that I’d like to try and make it a camping trip, and bring the kids along with me. Anna is 5 years old, and Nolan is 3. So, a camping and hiking trip with the kids might be somewhat challenging. But, I decided to bite the bullet and see how the kids would do. For a few weeks before the trip, I tried a few ~2 mile hikes with the kids, and they did great; although I had to carry Nolan at times. The high points that I was targeting would be no more than 2 miles round trip, and I felt that I could carry Nolan for portions if needed.
Since the kids would be going with me, I decided to go ahead and grab the highpoint of Maryland also. I had done Maryland in 2006, but the kids hadn’t. And, the highpoint of Maryland was a particularly nice hike, as I remembered it. So, our rough plans would look something like this:
• Get up and start driving by around 9 AM in the morning.
• Drive to Mount Davis, PA, and make the 2 mile hike (~7 hr drive, 1.5 hour hike).
• Drive to Backbone Mountain, MD and make the 2.4 mile hike (~2 hr drive, 1.5 hour hike).
• Drive to Spruce Knob, WV and make the 2 mile hike(~2 hr drive, 1.5 hour hike).
• Drive towards home, and visit some sightseeing locations in West Virginia, depending on time available (~7 hr drive home).
• Camping locations and other stops would depend on progress each day.
July 5, 2012 – Thursday – Day 1
On the morning of July 5, we packed up the car, said by to Meg and Weston, and started our drive towards Pennsylvania. During the drive, the kids occupied themselves by watching the iPad and by napping. As we approached Pennsylvania – after about 4 hours of driving, the kids started getting antsy. Also, it was time for lunch. So, I found a McDonalds, and we grabbed some lunch. At the exit that we chose for lunch, I also noticed that there was a Toy and Train Museum just down the street. So, I asked the kids if they wanted to go to a Toy Museum. Of course, they were interested in going to see some toys. So, we made a visit to the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia. The kids enjoyed the museum, but it was really focused towards the parents. They had plenty of toys from the 1970 and 1980s; toys that I recognized from when I was a kid. Anna and Nolan moved from room to room quickly, only briefly viewing the toys. I think the thing that they liked the most was a race track that was setup so the kids could run the cars. I’d say we spent a little over an hour at the museum. After leaving the museum, we got back on the road, for our final stretch to Mount Davis.
We arrived at Mount Davis around 4 PM in the afternoon. I found a parking spot, grabbed a water bottle, and the kids and I started walking. The actual highpoint is really only about 1000 feet from the parking lot. You can’t see if from the parking lot, but it is a short distance, along a paved path. But, when I grab highpoints, I have a 2 mile minimum distance rule. And, that rule would be followed, even if I had a 3 and 5 year old tagging along. From the parking lot, we followed a paved path a short distance, towards the right. As the path opened up to a paved loop, the kids and I followed a dirt/rock trail to the right, rather than follow the loop around to the high point. The trail actually led us away from the high point. But, the kids were having fun, running along the trail and rocks, and we were building up some additional mileage. The trail that we started down was the Shelter Rock Trail. I knew that this trail was approximately a mile in length, but I didn’t know exactly where it started and ended. So, we were just winging it, and would see how it went. As we continued down the trail, another trail – marked “Mt Davis Trail” – turned off to the left. I didn’t know where the Mt Davis Trail went exactly, but assumed that it headed back towards Mount Davis. At this point, we had only gained 0.3 miles or so in mileage. But, the Shelter Rock Trail was starting to become very rocky and almost unmanageable for Nolan. So, we took a left, onto the trail heading back towards Mount Davis. We followed the Mt Davis trail, where it eventually intersected with the “High Point Trail.” We took a left on the High Point Trail, heading us back towards the Mt Davis loop. When we popped back onto the paved loop, we had only gained about 0.6 miles. But, I decided to go ahead and lead the kids to the high point, and go ahead and check it out at this point. We followed the loop around to the right (counter clockwise). We walked until we found the watch tower, which I knew designated the high point.
The kids and I climbed the watch tower, which was about 4 stories high. The stairs on the tower were very airy, and although the kids didn’t have any problems, and they weren’t scared, I was a bit nervous about them; especially Nolan. Needless to say, we made the top without any issues, and the only scared one was me. The kids enjoyed running around the top of the tower. The view from the top was pretty nice. Without the tower, the view from the Mount Davis highpoint would be limited, completely blocked by trees. The kids and I spent about 10 minutes on top, as daddy took pictures, and continuously warned the kids about playing/running to close to the top of the open stairwell. I was mildly worried about climbing down the stairs; for fear that the kids would struggle or be afraid of the height. Needless to say, the kids, and I, had no problems getting down the steep and open stairs of the tower. I led the way, just to make sure that I could catch any tumbling children, but there was no incident, and we safely returned to terra firma.
From the bottom of the tower, we walked about 30 feet to a grouping of large rocks. The true highpoint was actually these rocks; the highest one being obvious. Mounted on the tippy top of the highest rock was the USGA marker, which Nolan and I both climbed up to check out. It was about five feet off the ground. Anna wasn’t interested in leaving the ground again. But, I held her up to show her the highpoint anyway. After checking out the highpoint, the kids and I set out for some additional hiking. We had to get a little over a mile additional mileage in order to hit the 2 mile minimum. We started back down the High Point Trail, as I felt that this was the cleanest and easiest trail for the kids, with minimal rocks. As we continued down the trail, Anna and Nolan noticed that there were red paint markers on some of the trees. These were “blazes” denoting the trail location, used for hikers to make sure that they could follow their path. After I pointed to the kids that these were “markers” to help follow the trail, they made a game of pointing out each of the markers for me. As we approached the 1.2 mile mark, both kids started to finally get tired. At this point, I started to switch off carrying each of the kids on my shoulders, in short stretches. I let Anna lead the hike, and also set the pace, so she took a break when she needed it, and also went at a slow enough pace that she didn’t get too tired. Ultimately, the pace was a bit much for Nolan, and his tiny legs. So, I ended up carrying Nolan a lot more than I did Anna.
After going down the High Point Trail a bit, we turned around, and hiked back up to the paved loop. We still needed another 0.5 miles to get two miles overall. So, we hiked back towards the car, and just kept on hiking down the road that we had driven up. At an intersection down the road a bit, we continued back into the woods, down a nice, but steep trail. This trail was different than the other trails we had been on. It was almost all dirt, but it was steep, going quickly downhill. Both kids struggled on the hill a bit. But, we managed to hike to the bottom of the hill, where we turned around, and headed back to the car. We ended up with about 2.1 miles of hiking in about an hour an a half. Overall the kids did awesome. But, it was clear to me that we would not be able to do more than a single 2 mile hike per day. The remainder of today would be focused on getting near the Maryland highpoint, and finding a camp spot.
We hopped back in the car, and started heading south. We checked out a couple state park camping grounds, but at this point it was 7 PM at night, and I could not find where to check in, or pay for camping. So, ultimately, we drove to a private campground, called Abrams Creek Lodge and Campground, just 3 miles east of the city Mt. Storm, West Virginia. This campground was really nice. It was very rustic. The bathhouse was moderate, with a Porta-let for a toilet, and old trailer for a shower house. But, the camping spot itself was beautiful. They weren’t very crowded, so we picked a really nice camp spot, just down from the bath rooms, and right on the creek. We heard the soothing sound of running creek all night long.
We checked in, just around the time it was getting dark. I quickly put up the tent, and threw all our gear into the tent. I must have left the tent door open too long, because Anna just about had a meltdown regarding “BUGS” in the tent. And, of course, Nolan followed Anna’s lead, and all I heard for the first 15 minutes at camp, with the kids playing in the tent was, “Argh… Daddy, BIG BUGS, Daddy, kill the big bugs.” I finally was able to cull the bugs enough to satisfy the kids. I guess the one disadvantage of being close to the creek was the additional bugs that this brought. I started a camp fire, and the kids loved that. And, I cooked up some dehydrated chicken and rice, in a foil pouch; classic camping food. Anna liked the chicken and rice, but Nolan didn’t touch it. Nolan survived on chips, apple sauce and McDonalds the whole trip. I also had some glow sticks that I carry in my safety gear for hiking. I had carried these sticks for 10 years or more, without ever needing them. So, I figured that it was time to replenish them. So, I broke two of them open, one for each of the kids. These are heavy duty glow sticks, not the cheesy ones that you find at the grocery cash registers. The kids absolute loved the glow sticks.
After dinner, and after the fire died down a bit, we closed ourselves up in the tent, to try and start getting to sleep. I killed a couple more bugs in the tent, and zipped up the tent, locking us away from additional buzzing creatures delivered by Mother Nature. The kids and I have camped in the tent in the yard before, but never away from home. In the yard, the kids have shown to be very hyper while in the tent. It has been difficult in the past to get them to calm down, and just go to sleep. In the wild, they were no different. They were just too excited to sleep. And, if one of the kids was excited, they didn’t let the other one sleep either. It was the perfect storm; each kid feeding off of the other one, for a very late night. I think we finally got everyone to sleep around 11:30 PM.
July 6, 2012 – Friday – Day 2
When I woke up at 7:30 AM, both kids were still sound asleep. I got everyone moving, and we spent some time having fun down at the creek. Anna was being daring, walking on the rocks in the creek, when we had our first mess-casualty of the trip. I saw it happen. Anna, slipped, and landed right on her butt in the water. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy about it, and Daddy had to walk out and save her. All was well pretty quickly though, and the slip didn’t stifle here sense of water adventure.
After the water fun, we packed up our stuff, took down the tent, and jumped in the car. We departed camp around 9 AM. It took a little over an hour to pick up some drinks, and drive to the trailhead of Backbone Mountain. Although Backbone Mountain is the highpoint of Maryland, the trailhead is actually in West Virginia. I had done Backbone Mountain back in 2006, on a trip that Meg, Shelby and I had taken to Delaware. The signage at the trailhead was upgraded from the last time I was here. Previously, the only indication that this was the trailhead was orange paint markings on the back of a street sign. Now, there was actually a dedicated street sign indicating the highpoint of Maryland.
The kids and I got started around 10:30 AM. I was glad that I at least knew what this highpoint had to offer, since I had done it before. But, I was slightly concerned that this would be a pretty steep climb for the 1.2 mile ascent. I wasn’t sure how the kids would handle to steady uphill, and I could not carry both of them. So, I decided early in the hike that I would again let Anna set the pace, and I would continuously ask her if she needed a break. Needless to say, we took a lot of small breaks during the ascent hike. I ended up carrying Nolan for about half of the ascent. If you could just see his little legs pumping up that continuous incline, you’d understand why I was surprised to only carry him half the time.
During our ascent, we ran into another couple doing the hike with their two King Charles Cavalier dogs. The kids were excited to see the dogs, and as tired as Nolan was, he chased the dogs around like he was completely fresh. We made it to the top in around an hour. The couple with the dogs was at the top when we got there. At this point, I’ll describe the trail a bit, since it is such a nice little hike. As I mentioned before, it is a pretty solid uphill hike the whole way. For the first mile or so, you was walking on a pretty descent logging road. I wouldn’t want to drive a car up it, but I think that I could get something like an Explorer up that road. But, I wouldn’t do it, as the hike is much more fun. The road is completely wooded, and it switch back and forth maybe a half dozen times during that mile ascent. At that mile point, the trail takes a hard left, and switches over to a single track walking trail. At this point, the terrain is mostly flat. Another 0.1 of a mile, there is a junction, where you can go left or right. We chose to go right on the ascent, and left on the return. The path right is pretty easy; it drops a bit in elevation, then leaves the trees to cut through an area that has been clear cut. It goes up hill a bit more, back into the trees, and in moments, you are at the top. The top has a marker, a mailbox with the register, and a nice picnic bench to rest.
The kids and I spent a few minutes on top. They pet the dogs, we got some pictures, signed the register, and I tried to get them to eat something. But, they were tired and starting to get cranky, so they wouldn’t eat. I kept them well hydrated though. On the descent, we took the alternate path. That path ended up being a challenging little scramble across a large rock pile. The kids were a bit nervous at first, but I kept hold of them, and in no time they were excited about out rock scrambling. We made it back to the logging road, and started our downhill. The downhill was a bit easier on the kids, but they still needed their breaks, and I still had to carry Nolan for about half the trip. At this point I was starting to feel that Nolan more wanted to be carried, rather than needing to be carried. But, I couldn’t argue with a three year old that kept on throwing his body in front my path, whining, “carry me daddy,” not letting me pass him on the trail. Total round trip for us was just under 2 hours. We hopped back in the car, and headed towards Seneca Rocks, West Virginia.
Upon arriving in Seneca Rocks, we checked out a couple of the campgrounds in the area, and ultimately picked a state campground just south of the downtown intersection. We check into our campground for a single night. We picked a camping spot that was right next to the bath house, in section A. We checked out the bathrooms ahead of time, and they were spotless clean. I was looking forward to getting myself and the kids a shower tonight before we tucked away in the tent.
We hopped in the car, and decided to try and find the local swimming hole that the campground caretaker told us about. We went back through town (north), and took the first right towards the day parking area for the rocks. At the point, we took a quick left, and followed that road all the way back to the furthest parking lot. We parked near an obvious trailhead, grabbed a water bottle, and started walking – hopefully toward the river. About 0.1 mile walk, and the trail opened up to an awesome swimming hole along the river. There were probably 20 people already there, but it was not crowded at all. The swimming area and beach was huge. The shore was not exactly a sandy beach. It was small and medium rocks and pebbles. It was a bit tough to walk around in bare feet, but we did anyway, and waded out into the water a little bit. I wished that we had packed the kids swim suits. The water hole was completely still water, and very clear and clean. It would have been fun to wade with the kids out into the water, and maybe even walk to the opposite side. We hung out at the swimming hole for about an hour, and then headed back to the car.
After leaving the swimming hole, we checked out the visitor’s center at Seneca Rocks. It was nice, but most importantly it was air conditioned. After leaving the visitors center, we headed to the country store to get some special treats and for me to log onto the internet (for $2 an hour). I should mention that at Seneca Rocks I had zero cell or 3G service. But, I wanted to at least check in with Meg via email. So, I wanted to grab an hour of internet service. The kids and I each got an ice cream treat, and a couple other items for snacks and breakfast. As the kids ate their ice cream, I logged onto the internet, sitting in the air conditioned car in the parking lot of the country store.
After checking in, via email, I logged off, the kids and I grabbed a gas fill-up and headed towards our campground. It was nice to actually arrive at camp before dark. We had already setup out tent, when we first checked in. But, when we got back, we unloaded the car, and started getting ready for dinner, and lit a camp fire. As we were preparing dinner, and getting the camp fire started, Nolan said, “Daddy, it’s Mommy’s car.” I looked across the road. In the camping spot just across from us a Porsche Boxster, just like ours was pulling up. It turns out it was the exact make/model, even a special edition RS60 (2008) as ours. Since there are only 1960 of these cars in existence, it was a surprise to me. It was also a surprise to the Boxster driver. Of course, I had to go up and say “hi!” I said, “Nice RS60.” The guy stepped out of the car, and had a very shocked look on his face. He said, “You must really know your Porsches to recognize the RS60.” I told him that we had one also. We chatter a bit about the car and how long they’d had it, etc. His wife/girlfriend were in from DC, and they often took quick trips like this in the Boxster. We bid them goodnight, and the kids and I headed back to finished getting dinner ready.
We cooked dehydrated camp food for dinner again. This time, the meal was not as popular. Again, Nolan didn’t eat any, and Anna only ate a little bit. I ate about half of it, but it wasn’t very good really. The kids and I supplemented out dinner with chips and goldfish. Around 8:30 PM, the kids and I took a shower, and put on their PJs, and tucked into the tent for the night. The kids stirred a bit, but they were pretty tired. I think that they eventually fell asleep around 10 PM.
July 7, 2012 – Saturday – Day 3
We woke up around 8 AM, and slowly got started. We cleaned up camp, packed up the tent, and all our gear. By the time we got going, and drove to the highpoint (just under and hour drive), it was around 9:30 AM. The kids and I jumped out of the car, and started down the trail, towards the high point. The actual highpoint was about 0.1 mile from the parking lot. I thought that we could get the highpoint, and then find a nice 2 mile hike around the highpoint to get our mileage. From the time that we got out of the car, I knew that things were not going to go well. Anna started almost immediately, wanting to be carried. So, I threw her on my shoulders. She mentioned that her legs hurt. She had hiked more than 5 miles over the past two days; pretty tough for a five year old. So, I wasn’t surprised that she might be a little tired today. But, once I put Anna on my shoulders, Nolan wanted to be carried also. And, he was being very persistent about it. I asked (more insisted) that Anna get down and walk. And, I put Nolan on my shoulders. With half the leg length of his big sister, I figured that Nolan would be worse off, if he was tired also. That did not go over well with Anna, and she was an absolute basket case, throwing a tantrum all the way to the highpoint. We got to the highpoint, and climbed the 2 story tower to the top. Anna’s tantrum was somewhat amusing. She even tried to block Nolan and I from going up the tower stairs. At the top, Anna was grumpy, and Nolan was dancing around all giddy and having fun. The time on the tower gave Anna a chance to cool down, and that set a much better stage for the rest of the hike. Once we switched off Anna’s “crabby switch” everything was much more fun. We left the tower, and I told the kids that we were going to take another way back. I knew of another trail that was about 0.5 miles long, and I found the end of that trail at the highpoint. The trail that we returned on was the Whispering-Spruce trail. This trail was short, but absolutely amazing. The first section (from the highpoint) was a nice trail, with great rock piles off to the side. It continues counterclockwise circumnavigating the highpoint area. At the furthest point from the parking lot, there was a great view of a rocky area, and a really nice field off in the distance. If it were just me, I would have gone cross country to check out some of the rock pile, and the field. But, that would have been a tough trek for the kids. Plus, I was still treading on thin ice with both of them, and trying to get their spirits up. We continued around. The trail continued into a pine tree area, with nice soft pine needles on the path. There were several really nice view spots along the way. Eventually, as we got closer to the parking lot, we found several picnic bench pull offs. We chose a picnic bench where we would stop for a snack. Since we were really close to the car, we walked over to the car, and grabbed some snacks, and walked back to the picnic bench. I sat the kids down with their snacks, and started jogging back and forth in the parking lot. I wanted to get the full 2 miles, but I didn’t think that the kids were up for much more. They enjoyed watching me running back and forth, as they sucked down chips, candy and drink. I got to about 1.5 miles total, and decided to check and see if the kids wanted to do one more lap of the 0.5 loop that we had just done. They were up for it, and were actually were in very high spirits at this point. Maybe I should have fed them candy for breakfast.
We dropped out stuff off at the car, and started back down the Whispering-Spruce trail, in reverse this time. Along the way, we pointed out all the pretty flowers, and other sights. As we came back around to the rocks, Anna wanted to climb along the rocks. I thought, “What the heck.” At first, they were both very clumsy and awkward on the rocks. Nolan – with his mini legs – was struggling a lot. I held his hand for most of the rock scrambling at first. But, eventually they both got more confident and stronger on the rocks. It even got to the point were Nolan didn’t need me at all. We was compensating by using both feet, both hands, and his belly sometimes to help haul him up and down the rocks. It was funny watching him use his belly as a fifth appendage to climb up on rocks. After playing on the rocks for a bit, we hit the trail again, and finished our second visit to the highpoint. The kids were more excited this time, and we even climbed the tower a second time.
We left the highpoint, and continued the last 0.1 back to the car. Along this short path were some more rock scrambling adventures for the kids to play on. The first time that we passed this area, we were having a child double melt down. So, we hadn’t noticed the rocks, and other neat things to check out on this short path section. But, the kids didn’t miss a thing on our final trip through this section. Eventually – after all of the rock scrambling was exhausted – we made it back to the car. We hopped in the car, and started heading towards our next adventure.
The remainder of our plan was to start heading towards home, and stop for some sightseeing along the way. Option 1 was to visit a retired congressional bunker – the Greenbrier Hotel – in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Option 2 was to visit a retired coal mine in Beckley, West Virginia. I knew that time would be tight, and that we would most certainly be getting back to Cincinnati very late. So, I dropped the gas pedal a little bit closer to the floor than I would normally do. As we cruised south, towards option 1, we spent a short amount of time in the state of Virginia. Let me tell you, “Don’t speed in Virginia.” As I pulled out of one of the small towns, I sped back up from 35 mph to the posted 55 mph. But, I also kept pushing the pedal, until I was around 70 mph. At least, that is what I was told, by the Virginia State Trooper that pulled me over in a Chevy Cavalier. It should be illegal to radar someone in such a non-descript vehicle as a Cavalier. I pulled over. The trooper was nice. First I struggled to find my license. Then, I struggled to find the registration for the Saab. Luckily, I ultimately found them, because I think this guy was going to stack up the tickets as high as he could. Before going back to his car to write me up, he pulled out his window tint detector, and showed me that the driver’s side tint in the Saab measured 12% light emission. Well, no tint is 100%, most cars have some factory tint around 90%, and legal (in Ohio and Virginia) is 50%. Opps! So, he got me for 71 in a 55, and the tint. But, in 20 minutes, we were on our way. The kids were completely unfazed by the traffic stop. They were sleeping when I first got stopped, and thought the trooper was neat, but didn’t get the whole idea that daddy was in trouble.
We continued towards White Sulphur Springs – at the proper speed limit, especially in Virginia. When we arrived in White Sulphur Springs, we had two goals, McDonalds and the bunker tour. It was surprising hard to find McDonalds. Both google maps, and my Garmin GPS showed McDonalds located in the middle of town. That was wrong. It was about 3 miles west of town. I had to use the old fashion method of directions to find that out – as a gas station attendant. Traveling around town, we also found out that they had some sort of PGA event going on this weekend. That made for some extra traffic, but it wasn’t too crazy. They had bus services driving people from parking lots to the tournament, and honestly, traffic through town flowed pretty good. We grabbed lunch, and drove to the Greenbrier Hotel. As we got to the hotel entrance, a guard at the guard shack asked if we had reservations for a tour today. I said no, and asked if we needed one usually. He said, “Yes, but especially this weekend, with the PGA tournament going on.” Option 1 was not available. So, we set our sights for Beckley, WV. About an hour later, we were pulling into Beckley.
We followed GPS instructions across town, and to the Coal Mine. The Exhibition Coal Mine was part of a complex that had a Kids museum, a miner’s museum, a small ghost town, old church, and a small gift shop. The kids and I bought tickets for the 4:30 mine tour, and checked out the museums and such while we waited. At 4:30, we arrived for the coal mine tour. The coal mine tour is operated using an old coal mining train, which goes down underneath the town of Beckley. As we took our seats on the mine cars, the kids were both very excited. Nolan was notably the most excited. The tour guide gave us some history, and the tour commenced down into the mine. Outside, the temperatures were in the 80s, and approaching 90. It was hot outside. In the mines, the temperatures dropped about 20-30 degrees almost immediately. We also noticed that it was damp, and very dark down in the mine. The car ride continued up under the city. At several points, our tour guide would stop the cars, get out, and show us some of the sample mining equipment, and gear, and tell us about the history. It was all amazing to me. On our tour, we just happen to have an old miner in the group. This guy was neat. Often throughout the tour, he would inject some additional tidbits and information about the equipment, gear and about mining in general. Some of the high school kids would snicker whenever he spoke up, because he did sound like he was trying to “steal the attention” from the tour operator. But, I enjoyed what he had to say. He added a lot to the tour, and I thanked him afterwards.
The tour doesn’t go too far into the mine. But, with the history lesson, it definitely gives you and idea of what those guys had to deal with, some of the improvements that have been made, and what the miners of today still have to deal with. That is certainly a dangerous profession, even with the improvements that have been made. As the tour ended, the guide operated the mine car up and out of a second entrance, around the city park, and back to the station. The kids really seemed to like the coal mine tour. I was a bit worried, since I knew that it would be more of a history lesson, than an exciting amusement park ride. It was definitely neat, and very interesting.
After treating the kids to some trinkets at the gift shop, we hopped back in the car, and headed for home. We had about 6 hours of driving ahead of us. I estimated that we’d get home around 11 PM. During our drive home, our route took us from West Virginia, into Ohio, skirting the border between Ohio and Kentucky. Just to make things exciting (oh so exciting), as we skirted the border, the kids and I took a quick u-turn through the city of Ashland, Kentucky, then continued on our normal route. That 3 minute side trip gave us our sixth state for this three day trip: OH, PA, WV, MD, VA and KY. How exciting. The trip home was uneventful. The kids, slept, fought, whined, ate, slept and fought some more. We arrived home around 11 PM, as expected. Both kids were asleep when we got home, and waking them up to bring them into the house was like stirring a sleeping bear. You didn’t know if you would get a big yawn, or if they would bite your head off. Needless to say, there was a lot of crying, and mini tantrums as we transferred the kids from the car, into their pajamas, and into bed. With 18 hours of driving, six states, three state high point, over 6 miles of hiking (on 18 inch legs), two nights camping in a tent, a toy museum, coal mine, and 3 days of very sporadic sleeping and eating, can you blame them for being a bit cranky.
The kids talked about this trip for the next three days. It was a bit more challenging than I expected. Alone I could have probably done the trip in a day and a half, and the family would have hardly noticed that I was gone. Doing the trip with the kids was much more challenging, and slower, but priceless!