On Friday we started the first of our cluster trips. A cluster trip is a whirlwind adventure where we try to fit in as many parks as humanly possible in one extended weekend. On this cluster trip we planned on visiting Kiptopeke, Chippokes Plantation, False Cape, First Landing, and York River.
Our first stop was Kiptopeke. This park is located on the eastern shore on the other side of the bay bridge/tunnel. From northern Virginia it is about 4 hours away. So keeping that in mind we loaded three sleeping children into the minivan at dawn and headed out. The drive was peaceful since the kids were asleep and we finally roused them when it was time to cross the bridge. They seemed less than impressed in their sleep dazed state as we drove up and over the bridge. The humorous part was their confused little faces when daddy pointed out that the bridge stops at that block building and we had to get on the other side. The kids then started imaging that we would have to swim to make it, or that there was a large boat waiting to take us across. Daddy claimed he could jump over the channel, which the kids insisted he could not. When we finally hit the tunnel their eyes became the size of saucers as we kept going down and eventually came up again on the other side. The amazement was a little less when we hit tunnel #2, except for the middle child who felt the need to hold her breath in case the tunnel was not there.
After the excitement of the bridge and tunnels, I was not sure how my kids would react to the park. We drove in, parked and went in search of our treasure. If you have not read the precious entries, our treasure is the 75th anniversary geo-caches that are placed, I believe at every park. Other than entertaining mommy and daddy with the search, they make a great motivation to get kids to walk a trail. The playground is the return motivation. This treasure was located at the pier at the end of the park. I have found out that our kids’ attention span is directly related the proximity of water. It was daddy’s speed location skills that saved us from chasing kids to the water front.
Once the cache was found and returned we took the kids to the beach area. This park has two beach areas. One is a really nice and sandy which has a sign “swimming beach”. The other has all the flotsam washed up by the sea. Mommy and daddy were amazed by the huge concrete ships acting as breakers; my kids were amazed by the odd skeleton that had washed up on the beach. We walked the beach and told the kids only go as deep as your ankles in order to keep their clothes dry. Well that only works when the smallest does not go out to her ankles and promptly sit down. The funny part was when she stood up her diaper had absorbed enough water to reach capacity and she waddled around with a full (seawater) diaper. The others played in sand, built sand castles, and chased the waves. Mommy was glad she had packed 2 additional outfits per kid for this trip.
We finally convinced the kids it was time to leave the water and go in search of at least one other treasure. When looking up the information for the 75th anniversary geo-cache. I located another geo-cache group, the Star-Spangle Banner (SSB) caches. This group of caches is fairly easy to find and are located in parks along the SSB trail. We decide to get this one as well. Note to self remember to compare the gps to the park map, we went the long way around a circle trail and added 1.5 miles to our hike, but the butterflies everywhere made it worthwhile. After finding the cache we headed to the playground. It was a pretty significant playground surrounded by pavilions, picnic tables and large open fields. Since it was fairly hot out there and we had done a good bit of walking already my kids looked a little wilted. It was not hard to convince them to leave the playground and go get lunch.
On the return trip we stopped on the overlook for the tunnel. Which was great, since my kids were less amazed and my son proceeded with his 6 year old non-stop questions like how deep is the tunnel? While on the overlook, I noticed a sign that had all the answers to his questions. Finally with a camera full of pictures, sandy little kids, sun kissed faces and arms, and a tired family we headed to Chippokes Plantation where we had rented a cabin to complete our cluster visit.
Kiptopeke was a nice little park; it had many trails that meander around the park. One cool feature I noticed is that if you want to RV and you do not have an RV, you can rent on there. Also, their cabins hold 16 people. So this is a great park for a family reunion or a group of friends heading to the beach.