Historic Harpers Ferry

Historic Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is located magically right where the Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers become one, and three states meet: Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The place is an exquisite combination of stunning landscapes and history. As we set out on a rainy Saturday morning, I had no idea what a perfect setting this was going to turn out for a weekend with Isabella, my four-year-old granddaughter, in spite of the weather.

Our plans included a tubing trip down the Potomac to start the day but after the first hour we were cold and uncomfortable. A warm lunch was more inviting. The excitement of tubing led into the waiting for our pizza. Isabella doesn’t like waiting and she’s bored. I can totally relate. She has resources, though, for dealing with boredom. Everything around us is now considered a toy. Drinks and spices are lined up, arranged and rearranged in different sequences. Mommy, the Lemonade, is placed carefully on one side of the line, and Daddy, the Diet Coke, at the other end, offering plenty of protection to the kids: Salt, Parmesan Cheese, Black Pepper and Red Pepper.

Waiting for lunch at Harpers Ferry on a rainy Saturday

Waiting for lunch at Harpers Ferry on a rainy Saturday

Things get a little more complicated when hunger intensifies. We may need to sacrifice one family member…

How about some Parmesan cheese?

How about some Parmesan cheese?

But after several family rearrangements, waiting is getting old really fast. Crisis approaches.

Why is my pizza taking so long?

Why is my pizza taking so long?

I finally see the waiter walking towards us and am relieved to be able to give Isa the good news. In the meantime, the rain is getting heavier, but with a large pepperoni and extra cheese now in front of us, we have more important things to worry about.

Later, with the rain giving signs (misleading, we would find) of easing off, we venture downtown. Isabella is kind enough to take this picture for me as a reminder that Lewis and Clark, travelers and explorers for whom I have great admiration, had been right there where we stood.

A reminder of Lewis and Clark's visit to Harpers Ferry

A reminder of Lewis and Clark’s visit to Harpers Ferry

To my surprise, my four-year-old granddaughter likes the old town. She wants to see the quaint train station.

Harpers Ferry Train Station

Harpers Ferry Train Station

She is enchanted by the old houses, and takes photos enthusiastically.

Harpers Ferry seen from the Train Station

That is, until we are forced to run and find shelter from the returning rain. Our best immediate option is Ten Fold, a craft store right across the street from the train station, packed with trinkets from all over the world. If I were religious I would have had to thank all saints for this little store. The toys and musical instruments, ornaments, jewelry and, as if those weren’t enough, another child (!) provided much needed entertainment while heavy rain poured outside.

Inside Ten Fold, Harpers Ferry

Inside Ten Fold, Harpers Ferry

Now, too much time in this store can turn expensive. Besides…

Time for ice cream!

Time for ice cream!

Ice cream from Swiss Miss, Harpers Ferry. Equals happiness.

Ice cream from Swiss Miss, Harpers Ferry. Equals happiness.

The next morning, clear blue skies encourage us to get out of bed early. After breakfast, we park the car in front of the train station and make our way to the other side of the Potomac for a walk along the C&O Canal and into the Maryland Heights Trail. I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story:

C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry

C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry

On the Maryland Heights Trail

On the Maryland Heights Trail

Wow, a cave!

Wow, a cave!

Who do you think lives here?

Cave off of Maryland Heights Trail

Cave off of Maryland Heights Trail

Wow, two caves!

Wow, two caves!

Where to eat: Our wait was worth our while at Mena’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant. The pepperoni and extra cheese pizza was really good. Mena’s is located at 914 W Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425‎ and their phone number is (304) 535-6362.

What do do: Hiking, biking, kayaking, white water rafting, tubing, you name it. We did a little bit of tubing with the help of River & Trail Outfitters and were very happy with their service: http://www.rivertrail.com/index.php. A great place to start planning a visit to Harpers Ferry is the National Park Service’s excellent website: http://www.nps.gov/hafe/planyourvisit/index.htm.

Tip: Have a  ten-dollar note if you intend to park downtown by the train station. This is the park entrance fee and they only take the exact amount in cash as you fill in your information, add the cash and deposit it into a collection box.

For more photos of this trip, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/chieftravelwriter/sets/72157635019645514/

Beatriz Coningham

Beatriz Coningham

Why write about travel? Travel and exploration have always fascinated me. I marvel at history’s navigators and explorers who expanded the frontiers of the world and of human existence.

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