Greenbrier State Park is located near Boonsboro MD. It is heavily wooded with Maples, Oaks, and Gum trees. They are as leafless as their Oklahoma and Arkansas cousins. They stand gray and silent with their previous summer’s leaves packed around their trunks. It is like a set on Maleficent or the Brothers Grim. The only sound that reverberates through the forest is the ominous call of a murder of Ravens. I gaze ahead in time and wonder how this forest will look fully clothed.
Greenbrier is the Administration center for a series of Maryland State Parks that envelop Interstate 70. It is called the South Mountain corridor and extends for nearly 150 miles. Greenbrier is a very popular State Park due to its numerous camping sites and its lake with a white sandy beach.
Surrounding the park are two story red brick homes with columned porches and gabled windows. They nestle next to curvy narrow roadways that give you the feeling that they are built next to some ancient horse or oxen wagon trails.
Some more modern houses overlook spacious fields of hay and harvested corn. I remember my previous summer’s constant companion of endless fields of corn. Last summer, I followed their progression nearly into harvest time. Here surrounding Greenbrier, I see the remnants of that harvest.
The fields of corn are laid low. They look as if they withstood volley after volley of Civil War Minnie balls. Only an occasional stock rises above ankle level. Their old angles whisper a violent end similar to the ranks of the Irish Brigade when they marched on the entrenched Confederate Army on the battlefield of Antietam.
We are the Camp Host for Cedar loop. Our charge is 41 campsites and a bathhouse nestled along a side hill adjacent to the Appalachian Trail. It is the only loop in the park that has electric and allows dogs. These two amenities make it the most popular camping loop within the park.
The Maryland State Parks do not allow alcohol and users have to pack out their garage. They limit the people who use the day area and they contract with Goodwill industries to have their bathroom cleaned All we have to do is greet the campers, answer questions, make their stay enjoyable and just clean the site when they leave. This is the experience we need? We set out to make ourselves indispensable!
The entire Eastern USA suffered a long and cold winter. Residents here endured Polar Vortexes with continuous winter snow storms and bitter below zero temperatures. We soon realize that this cooler pattern is still present. We don our larger coats and quickly locate where we can fill our portable propane tank that provides us with heat. Several mornings we look like homesick Eskimos with the layers we piled on.
The colder temperatures keep the park nearly empty of campers. It gives us the time to explore. Over the next month, we travel forth and explore the sights. In quick succession, we travel to Washington, DC, for the Cherry Blossom festival, the Antietam battlefield, the first Washington Monument, and nearby Lancaster County in Pennsylvania and its high population of Amish.
The Amish are major cool not for their religion but for the food they produce. We walk into an Amish/Mennonite market and I am blown away on the cheese selection. Only in Wisconsin have I seen such a variety of hand crafted cheese. We quickly settle on a Smokey Pepper, Havarti Dill, and Cheddar Chipotle. All organic and mind boggling good!
Exploring is like fishing. There are so many fishing lures to wash and there are so many things here in Maryland to explore. We visit Harper’s Ferry, the Civil War Medical Museum, and the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. It is so fun traveling to all these destinations as the roadways are like narrow trails through hills and low valleys, in and around little communities nestled around the hardwood forest bands.
With all the rains, the color green explodes. The ability to see far into the forest ceases. The forest is a wall of different shades of green that tower up and even surround the roads in almost tunnels. The trees echo cheerily with calls of Blue Jays, Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse’s and the thumping of Red Bellied Woodpeckers. The forest transformed from a set on a B-rated horror movie to a scene straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Wood Fairy Kingdom! It is beautiful and we are grateful for waking-up here every morning.
After several months of cleaning campsites, I have a new perception of volcanic ash. Every site that had a campfire has given me a total understanding of residents around volcanos and their experience with the ash that has blanketed their farmlands, cars and homes. This is some pretty nasty stuff and I am amazed at how many campers believe foil and Aluminum will burn!
Our enthusiasm for greeting campers and diligently working to keep the area, the bathrooms clean has landed us some compliments and our Maryland State Park Rangers and Supervisors are pleased with our performance. Tomorrow, Mia joins us. We have many plans for her exploration.
Soon we will travel to Maine for our planned volunteer work for the Maine Department of Resources. We are excited to move into a new vast area to explore. Faintly, but clearly, I hear the call of a Loon echoing across a clear deep North Woods Maine lake!