We had intended our courtesy parking stop in Columbia MD to be a very relaxing time. An old friend and co-worker let us block most of her driveway with the Airstream, so we had a nice spot in a suburban neighborhood with an electric cord running into the garage for three nights.
But it wasn’t very relaxing after the first night, when Eleanor made dinner for everyone. The next day things got away from me (work-wise) and I ended up running back and forth to the local Fedex Kinko’s and worrying about mail that was supposed to have arrived but didn’t. The next day we had a series of frustrations, culminating in a really terrible haircut for me (I now look as if I’ve recently had chemotherapy), my glasses spontaneously breaking, and Emma losing her beloved Kindle. So most of our visit was not particularly relaxing, but at least we were in a place where we could deal with it. Time will fix the bad hair, and large quantities of money will eventually fix the glasses and Kindle. We’ll live. Our hosts had their own hassles too, so there was plenty of commiserating going on.
On our last night Eleanor and Emma did their usual Moon Festival stuff, which includes making “moon water” and putting a tray of round things out under the full moon. Note the very bright planet of Jupiter shining just below the Harvest Moon, visible even near major urban lights.
On the short 95-mile trip from Columbia to Winchester, we paused at Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park just to check out the situation. We knew we didn’t have time for a proper visit, and once we got to the Visitor Center we realized that even a cursory visit would take hours. The park is gigantic, spread across nearby lands and towns. You take a shuttle bus from the Visitor Center to various locales, each of which takes anywhere from one to six hours to explore. This looks like a really great park for a fall visit some year, and I am sure we will eventually be back, but this just wasn’t our chance. Not only was the heat and humidity reaching oppressive levels (this late in September!) but we have — alas — a schedule to keep. At least our visit gave us the chance to replace our expired “America The Beautiful” Inter-agency Pass (good for national parks, forests, and other public lands).
There’s not a lot of camping in the area, except for the super-deluxe KOA that is conveniently next door. It’s not cheap but it does look very good. We dropped in to use the dump station ($5) and refill our water, then pressed on to Winchester VA, where we will spend the next three days attending the Mercedes-Benz Club of America’s “StarFest 2010″. It’s sort of like the WBCCI International Rally, but for Mercedes enthusiasts.
Of course, not having rolling homes with them, the Mercedes crowd books into a hotel. After pondering our options for a while, we have decided to join them for a change. So the Airstream is parked in the back of the hotel where we can see it from our room, taking up six parking spaces. We have converted the hotel room into a sort of quasi-Airstream by requesting a microwave and hauling in food, clothes, computers, etc. — in other words, we’re trying to make a hotel room as comfortable as our Airstream. It’s a tall order. There’s really nothing as convenient as having your home behind you, your own food in the fridge, complete cooking & bathing facilities, no need to pack and unpack, etc., but you knew that already.