Back in Utah, my pet parakeet/road trip companion had set a precedent for going absolutely nuts every time a flock of birds flew by his window. Cheeky’s excitement, although a bit distracting, was endearing. On this particular late afternoon somewhere between West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Cheeky was quietly staring out his window, when suddenly he let leash a torrent of squawks. Nothing would calm him down and there was not a flock of birds as far as I could see. I did not want to stop the car but Cheeky could not be consoled and I began to wonder if he had hurt himself. He had been a generally pleasant passenger throughout the trip, so I got off at the first exit I could. As I exited the car to check on him, it was then that I noticed that my roof rack (which had a 75 pound, 16 foot canoe strapped to it) had come loose and was only attached by two of the four legs to the roof of the car. After thanking Cheeky for saving the day and rewarding him with one of his favorite seed sticks, I rummaged through the glove box to find the keys so I could reattach the roof rack. I soon discovered, however, that the keys were no longer in the car! Fast-forward 3 hours of waiting for a locksmith and shelling out $160 for 10 seconds of labor, I was finally able to re-attach the roof rack. Back on the road, Cheeky was fast asleep in the backseat, with the trip now extended by a day due to this unexpected mishap.
A day later and several dollars shorter I made it to Maryland, my new home state! After spending several days sorting out the movers, furniture, and getting the utilities set up, I was more than ready to get out outside and stretch my legs. Fortunately for me, there are several state and national parks (not to mention the Appalachian trail) within an hour of my new residence – all I had to do was pick one. I settled on a place called Sugarloaf Mountain and it was just what I needed.
Point Of Interest – Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain, which is roughly 14 million years old, is known as a monadnock. “What is a monadnock?” you may ask. Well, it is a mountain that remains after the surrounding land erodes away around it. The mountain is criss-crossed by a network of trails and dotted with numerous small cliffs, which make the area popular with mountain bikers, hikers and rock climbers. The area is maintained by Stronghold Incorporated – a private organization that cares for the land that encompasses Sugarloaf Mountain (along with other groups that work in conjunction with Stronghold Incorporated, such as Mid Atlantic Climbers.
Sugarloaf Mountain at an elevation of 1,282’, commands a tremendous view of the surrounding countryside, farmlands, and the Potomac River. While not the highest point in Maryland (that honor belongs to Hoye Crest with an elevation of 3,360’) it still a wondrous place to visit. Because of the ease of access, close proximity to the urban sprawl of Washington DC, and the great views, this area can become quite crowded on the weekends. With striking quartzite outcroppings dotting the landscape that is traversed by nearly 17 miles of trails, it is easy to see why this area is a popular destination.
As I sit here and finish the final installment of my road trip adventures, I am watching the wind toy with the gold, red, orange, and yellow leaves. I have never experienced a fall quite like this. It has been a fun transition moving to the “right” coast. There is a lot of rain here – surprisingly, even more than Seattle. My new hometown averages 3.4 inches a month or 40.3 inches a year, while Seattle averages 3.0 inches a month or 36.3 inches a year. The temps are much colder than Southern California, too. I guess it is just the way it goes out here and in some strange way I am looking forward to raking leaves and shoveling snow; just another experience to add to this adventure called life. I will always remember my cross country road trip, but in retrospect I think it went by too fast. Isn’t that true for every adventure, though?