Small Pursuits of Happiness: Week #1: Visit a New State Park Categories#ThisIsTheYear

Small Pursuits of Happiness: Week #1: Visit a New State Park

How we love state parks! Our tax dollars at work in the best possible way. Virginia has a magnificent state park system (http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/), but every state offers its own glories, as does the National Park System (https://www.nationalforests.org/who-we-are, https://www.npca.org/about/our-story.

To launch the Small Pursuits of Happiness adventure series, my family decided to take in a state park that we had driven by often, but had never visited: Caledon State Park, located in King George County, VA.

The closest larger towns are Dumfries and Fredericksburg, so Caledon is within an hour of Washington DC. We’ve lived in Virginia for almost 20 years and had never discovered this treasure. What makes it so spectacular is that it has waterfront access, the water being the Potomac River. The 2500-acre property, founded as a plantation in the 1600s, was originally owned by the Alexander family—who also founded the city of Alexandria. The land came under state ownership in the 1970s. About 300 of the acres comprises a National Natural Landmark, the Caledon Natural Area, which contains old growth tulip poplars and a bald eagle habitat. The park has a Visitors Center and some nice places to picnic (when we finally have the Spring thaw), and great trails to the water.

We arrived in the park somewhat late on a mild winter’s afternoon, intending to follow one of the main trails, Boyd’s Hole Trail, down to the Potomac. It was an easy trail and we (husband Rob, me, college-age daughter Alex, and beloved mutt Coco) totally enjoyed ourselves but completely underestimated the distance. So, we had the unexpected pleasure of a winter sunset over the river. Coco was delirious over the chance to jump in the water and we could hardly say no. After letting her doggie paddle for a while, we started to walk back on a different trail through the quiet and quickly darkening woods. We forgot to leave breadcrumbs but fortunately Rob is both a professional navigator (US Air Force) and Boy Scout, so we were in good hands and emerged from the forest safely.

As a reward, we set our sights on a good restaurant. We found a GREAT one: Tim’s II at Fairview, 5411 Pavilion Drive, King George.

We were cold, hungry and tired, and this casual waterfront seafood bar and restaurant was fabulously cozy and welcoming. The big neon palm tree outside beckoned like an oasis in the chilly desert. Because it was winter, the outdoor deck wasn’t open but, in the season, it must be really rocking. Apparently, there is also live music, which we will return and check out in the near future. However, in the meantime, I got my favorite seafood pasta and a glass of wine, Alex had her favorite seafood bisque and fried calamari.

All was right, so right, with the world. With the ladies happy, Rob was happy too, and he even caught the Sunday night football games on the bar’s big screen TVs.

By the way: Virginia is wine country, so almost any day trip can lead to a vineyard. Here are some options if you wish to follow up a hike in Caledon State Park with a wine tasting:

Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery in King George VA

Potomac Point Winery and Vineyard in Stafford VA

Ingleside Vineyards in Colonial Beach VA

Week #1 adventure a total success! Way to start the new year!! While the restaurant obviously had a cost, the state park adventure is great fun for so little money. We had the best day.

Cherie R. Blazer
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Cherie is a late bloomer Boomer, born at the tail end of the Boomer generation. She was playing with Barbies while her older sisters marched on Washington and fought for equal rights, but watched and learned. Now she is an empty nester with a whole new future to explore and share at www.BoomerConnections.com! As “Philosopher in Chief” Cherie merely wants to change the world with this blog: to encourage those of us in the midst of our “second act” to look at life with new eyes, open to a life filled with new beginnings rather than endings, and to apply all we have learned to a way of living that is more meaningful and profound. There is SO much to live for, up until the very end.

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