Monday, July 12, 2021

Bull Run Campground: 24 hours of Outdoor Fun

Last birthday we gifted 5 year old S. camping gear and a promise that we'd do a camping adventure. And then Covid hit and we went a year without leaving the house. Now that things are open we were all more excited then ever to tackle our camping adventure.

When Shira and I hiked the BROT we learned that at the Bull Run terminus there was a campground. We did some research and learned that not only was there camping, but there was also a Water Park. That sealed the deal: we decided we'd have our camping adventure there.

Friday night, after just 40 minutes of driving, we found ourselves at a classic car-camping site. We had a fire pit, picnic table, space for a tent and 100 yards away, clean bathrooms.

It was fairly late, so we quickly went to work setting up camp. Shira and S. worked to setup the tent, with the highlight being S. pounding in stakes using the mallet we purchased. Once the tent was setup, S. realized there were various tree nuts scattered throughout the campsite. He collected them up and started cracking them open with his mallet. Let me tell you, collecting up nuts and smashing them may not seem like much, but you've got to try it. Talk about a simple pleasure in life. S. was happy. We were happy S. was happy.

Shira and I finished setting up the tent, filling it with sleeping gear and then I clumsily started a fire.

As the sun went down, we roasted marshmallows over the fire and looked forward to a full day of adventure the next day.

We had quite the packed schedule on Saturday. We started with a treasure hunt to a nearby Geocache. S. found the cache, but alas, there wasn't any exciting treasure to be found in it. I'd brought 3 mini-"Lego" sets camping for S. to build. The idea: he'd leave one in the cache in exchange for a treasure and take the other two home. With no loot to be had, he was glad to keep all three vehicles. I always over-think what to leave in Geocaches, and I think these small knock-off Lego sets are ideal.

After Geocaching, some playground time and lunch, we walked the short distance to Atlantis to cool off. S. enjoyed exploring the kids area and getting dumped on by the massive water bucket. And then he and I made our way into the pool. They had life jackets for the kids, which S. donned. This let us roam the whole pool, from the area where he could stand to the deepest parts (5 feet!). While an older kid may have scoffed at Atlantis, S. loved it all. We finished our water time adventure with ice cream sandwiches. Yum!

We had one more adventure to tick off before I could call our camping experience complete: fishing. We grabbed my ultralight fishing rod and headed out on the Bull Run Occoquan Trail. We made it to Cub Run where we turned off the trail and headed up an un-named path to follow the creek.

We finally found a spot where the fishing looked like it might work. I asked S. what color Trout Magnet lure he wanted to use, and he picked solid gold. Nice. I gingerly tossed the tiny lure into the stream and waited a few moments. Bam! Fish on! I reeled in a 3 inch Sun Fish. Whoo! There were fish in the water.

For the casts after that I had S. reel in the line. On his second attempt he pulled in a whopper: a 4.5 inch sunfish! We were all overjoyed. S. had caught the biggest fish of the day, and I'd delivered on my promise that we'd be able to go fishing.

We walked more of the trail to see if we could find other fishing holes, but ultimately, returned to our first spot on Cub Run. There we pulled out sunfish after sunfish, marveling at each catch.

I have to say, Bull Run Campground really delivered. It blows my mind that we got the complete camping experience and did so a mere 30 miles from our home.

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