Sunday, March 25, 2012

Occoneechee State Park

On St. Patty's Day weekend, hubby and I went camping with some dear friends of our who we hadn't seen in over a year. They are located over on the North Carolina coast, and since we are just outside of D.C., we wanted to find a place to go camping that was in between the both of us. Four hours away from both of us was Occoneechee State Park in Southern Virginia. This park is located near the John H. Kerr Reservoir, and the campsite we reserved was right near the water. I have to say, this was one of the nicest state parks I've visited. The facilities include a bath house with showers that were always clean. And the campsites themselves were very well maintained and had a picnic table and a fire ring. Some pictures from are weekend are below.

The bath house.

View of the reservoir from our campsite.

View of our campsite.

Flowers near our campsite.

They have several short trails that you combine together to hike the distance that you want.

The park is named for the Native Americans that once lived in the area.

There also used to be a plantation on the property. Unfortunately, it's not there anymore due to a fire.

Overall, we had a great time. A lot of people camping also had their boats with them so they could go fishing in the lake. We saw a wonderful variety of birds, including some beautiful eastern bluebirds, red-headed woodpeckers, and tufted titmice. This is a great state park, and I highly suggest you go if you get the chance. You can reserve camping sites online, but if tents aren't your thing, you can rent a cabin.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dog Owners Vs. The Parks

I recently read this article on NPR The gist of the article, dog owners are upset that they are having to leash their pets at the Rancho Corral de Tierra, a new addition to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Also, they are nervous after an incident where someone walking their dogs off leash got tasered. It should be noted that this individual did not stop when the ranger tried to give them a ticket and then proceeded to give the officer a false name. Anyway, rangers are trying to save an endangered plant in this area, and don't want the potential of them being trampled on by a dog.

So, what do you think about all of this? Here are my two cents. While dogs are beloved companions, we have to respectful of the fact that these parks are trying to preserve natural wildlife areas. Many parks do have dog friendly areas, and so owners can be mindful of that and take their furry friends there. I live right near Rock Creek Park where dogs are supposed to be leashed, but they usually never are. I'm greeted by many a puppy on my weekend hikes. Often, their owners are not far behind, however, there have been instances where the owner was nowhere in sight. Some people are not comfortable around dogs, so I would hope that as an owner, you would be nearby in that case.

And while I love dogs, they can sometimes do horrible things. I won't recount the full story, but a lady walking her dog in our neighborhood lost control of her two large dogs and they cornered and injured our neighbors cat so badly it had to be put down. This sort of thing would happen in a wildlife area where protected wildlife could be injured instead.

So, let's remember, National Parks are for both dog owners and non-dog owners. The parks try to make accommodations for dog owners by providing areas where dogs can be taken along. I would hope dog owners would apply the same respect and understanding as to why some areas are just off limits to dogs, or ask that dogs be leashed.