Saturday, March 30, 2013

Postcard from Charles County

We went on another little outing today, this time to Chapman State Park, which is about 45 minutes from our house. I don't have a rating system, but if I did? CSP would be 4 stars, 2 thumbs up, 9 pine trees, or something else pretty darn good.

To begin with, the weather (which I'm aware is beyond the control of the park) was perfect: low 60's and plenty of sunshine. T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers were just right for the outing.

Next, although there were five or six cars parked in the lot, we only saw two other couples, and then just to nod as we passed.

Third, the trails were easy, but not flat or boring. They descend and ascend about 200 feet over a couple of miles through hard wood forests punctuated liberally with stands of towering loblolly pines.

Fourth, there is a payoff in the hike. About halfway, the trail opens to a wide sandy beach on the Potomac. We could see another of our favorite spots, Mason Neck State Park, right across the water. Several boats were out fishing, and a bald eagle agreeably soared just over head.

Fifth, there are historical sites to explore first hand. The property belonged to the Chapman family from 1750 to 1914. They were related to George Washington by both blood and marriage and good friends of George Mason, as well. Their plantation survived and thrived through both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The house that was built in 1840 still stands today, and there is also a family cemetery and some other cool ruins within the park boundaries. And, as if that were not enough, in 1954 a Hungarian countess bought the place and for the next thirty years, used it as her country estate and horse farm.

As we headed down the wide, red clay drive back toward our car, I was already thinking of when we might be back and who we should bring with us.