We drove Route 68
East over to Friendsville and then cut through Deep Creek Lake and
Oakland, before taking Route 219 down to Thomas.
A short way past
Deep Creek, I noticed the Mt. Nebo cache marker on the GPS. This
coincided with a need to have a pit stop, and to free a tailgating
driver behind, so I hooked the access road and drove to the trail head.
Here I learned the
cache was a multi, and that it was not something we could cover in the
time we had. It definitely did not match our plans. So we
conducted our break activities, during which we noticed a snake sunning
in the leaves near the parking area.
In Oakland, we
stopped at Candyland... Now it must be noted that we all love
candy but Tom and Maria have been nicknamed "Candy Rats". So with
some ground rules established, we went into the store and each picked
out a pound of candy. Ted had to put some back because he got a
little carried away. I pulled two pounds (shopping for the two
adults) plus some coconut rainbow strips for everyone. With that
we got back on the road.
Driving down to
Thomas we noted the sprawling Maryland farms and how well kept they
were. The weather was incredible - sunny and dry, not hot.
On schedule we
reached Thomas. We were about an hour early for lunch so I
suggested we take a quick ride up to Olson Tower on the Canyon Rim.
The kids were
psyched and so we went. When we reached the tower, Maria opted to
take a break in the Jeep while the kids and I climbed the long series of
steps to the top. The view was great.
disappointed to see that the plaque describing the tower is AWOL... Here
is what it looked like for this visit and from a previous time we went
At the bottom the
kids discovered tadpoles in the puddle so we spent a minute trying to
fish some out. Fortunately they were hard to catch and the kids
realized we had no place to transport them.
Once we got done
with that we headed back to Thomas to have some lunch and check out the
We found the area
appears to have stumbled a bit. Some of the rapid improvements we
observed when we last came appear to have stalled. A couple of the
businesses we saw then were closed. And there appears not to be
any new improvements except for an outdoor area being constructed at the
old General Store. We are hoping they do not completely lose their
momentum and that they get some traction to continue the good work that
We decided to eat
lunch at the General Store. The food was good. The kids
played chess while they ate, with the game not favoring Ted or Tom.
When lunch was
finished we took a walk past the stores and did a little browsing.
I purchased an used LP and then we left for the Blackwater Falls State
At the park, we
determined the location of the stables and went there for the Pony
Rides. When we arrived, we learned that Ted was too big for a pony
so both the boys rode horses. For six dollars they rode for five
minutes down a trail and back with handlers walking the horses. I
wouldn't say it was a memorable experience, but given that the boys do
not ride, it probably was about what we had a right to expect.
Trail rides were $25 per hour. Why we weren't going to do that
didn't make sense to the kids until we explained about how that cost
would be times four, and would involved the handlers walking along the
whole time. We probably need to go get riding lessons if we want a
real horseback riding experience...
From the stables we
drove up to the Trading Post, parked and walked down to the Falls.
It was a busy day with lots of people, but it was still very pleasant
and the 216 steps to the Falls not too difficult to manage...
The Falls were
beautiful. Even with the large numbers of people, we were able to
see the Falls from the decking that is built to corral the visitors to
the viewing area.
We spent a few
minutes at each station to take pictures and let the kids explore to the
limit of the railings.
Back up at the
trail junction I took a couple pictures of the kids on the large rock in
the center, before following the inclined trail back to the parking
area. We spent a few minutes drinking something and then browsing
in the Trading Post. Tom got a wooden flute and Ted got a smashed
Souvenir Penny and a stuffed critter.
Then we hit the
road again. Now it was my turn... We took the Canaan Loop
road around Canaan Mountain. This road is quite good at both ends
but suffers a rough section that starts below the Conference Center and
continues for several miles to where it emerges near Mozark Mountain.
But for the middle stretch, a regular vehicle could drive through.
The middle section
at the very least would require a skilled driver operating a high
clearance vehicle. An idiot like me with four wheel drive could do
just fine. I like the drive because it is pretty easy for our
vehicle and there is some pretty country. We saw two vehicles over
the whole loop.
Once done with
Canaan Loop, we aired up and reconnected, then hit the road for home.
We stopped in Deep Creek to get dinner at one of the large restaurants
on the main drag. There the kids spied the Go-Cart and Water
Bumper Cars tracks so we took them to drive the road track go-carts
We had a nice meal
and all went on the Go-Carts. Tom was just shy the height
restriction so he and Maria took a two-seater while Ted and I each got
our own cars. Needless to say, we had a blast. Tom is
looking forward to next year when he will be tall enough to get his own