Bar Belle: The Great Outdoors

Certain things are granted to you as a senior that, (sorry under classman,) you just don’t have access to before putting in those three long years. Turning 21 gives you the right to march into McFaddens, avoid permanent X’s on your hands from 9:30 club, attend happy hours (regularly) and the ability to rent a car – don’t do it in that order though; safety first my friends. Last weekend, with my 21-year old status in hand, I decided to introduce myself to Zipcar and take a drive on the wild side in order to leave the inner city behind. My destination was the Prince William National Park in Virginia, specifically Oakridge campgrounds, located off exit 150B on I-95.

If you are planning on taking a camping trip I would say get your act together soon, but with the weather we’ve been experiencing lately I’m pretty sure you could spend winter break outside and still find yourself sweating. No matter when you go, try to plan a little more in advance than my partner in crime and I did. Despite the initial plan to leave for the campgrounds at 2 p.m., my homework and a very, very intense LSU vs. Kentucky game pushed that deadline back about seven hours – yikes.

After grabbing a pair of sweats, our 30-rack (Miller-good call) and crappy sleeping bags, we set out for the great outdoors at about 9 p.m. You may think that’s a little late, but as a senior you also earn the right to go out whenever the hell you feel like it, so 9 p.m. still seemed pretty legit to us. A couple missed turns and slow drivers also inhibited our course of action, but three rotations of “Hey There Delilah” on the radio and 45 minutes later we made it to exit 150B and our reserved campsite.

Upon meeting up with the rest of the crew, who managed to make it out at the said 2 p.m. departure time, we realized that 10 p.m. constituted quiet hours and our foreseen ghost stories would have to be put on hold until Ranger Rick vacated the area. With extra time on our hands we decided to plunge into those Miller Lites in an attempt to catch up on the others’ eight hours worth of drinking.

Most people come to this school because they love the metropolitan area and the hustle and bustle of city life- but who doesn’t love a good s’more and a campfire every now and then? If you have a free weekend and are feeling a bit tired of the bar/club scene, you should definitely research campgrounds in the Maryland and Virginia area. You’d be surprised how many scenic places are located steps outside of the city. Sure, you may have to splurge for a Zipcar, but the only tab you’ll be opening is that one separating your lips from the nice, cold Miller Lite. (By the way, Miller, I just plugged your name like three times, so if you’re reading this I think I deserve some kind of compensation or endorsement.)

Sitting with friends around a campfire, sipping on some brew, grubbing on s’mores and listening to the eerie and beautiful sounds of nature, I felt so at ease outdoors. The fire was a bit tricky to keep lit, but the rest of the night went off without a glitch. The campground was pretty full, but each group had their own large spot so that you didn’t feel like you were disturbing your neighbors with that last round of “never have I ever.” The bathrooms were surprisingly well kept, and I didn’t feel like we were impeding the woods. Our tents were set up in an area that was a bit more cleared out than the deep forests that reached just beyond out site.

For bringing me back to my roots and encouraging adventure outside of the Foggy Bottom boundaries, I sincerely recommend the trek to Prince William National Park. The facilities include bathrooms and showers, picnic tables, fire-pits, parking, and tents for those slacking on that end. Check out their Website to get more information on prices and reservations.

Bar Belle Rating: four of four bells.

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